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November 1997, Week 3


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"Gareth B." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Fri, 21 Nov 1997 11:48:46 -0700
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> I finally saw this film last night on the recommendation of a friend who
> noted the sadomasochism of the "administrative discipline" and the schadenfreu
> de of the battles.
Sadomasochism is an erotic connection between individuals. To my way of
thinking, not everyone who is tied up and whipped is having an sm
experience.  The lavish cinematography certainly adored his body.
> He could also have mentioned the way in which various
> warriors seemed to enjoy engaging one another in kungfu training.  The SM, of
> course, is in the eye of the beholder, as in Run Run Shaw films from
> Hongkong.
I agree. "Sadomasochism" as a term has become so culturally loaded with
tabloid-style hysteria as to require a definition whenever it's used.
> <<The planet of the Baddies had no plants, no prey, and an infinitude of
> carnivorous denizens.  All the thought was put into set design, none into
> ecology, with the result that although lovely to look at, it was completely
> unbelievable, adding to the comic-book flavor.>>
> Some insects are carniverous, so there was no need for plants and plenty of
> prey.  What was lacking ecologically was water.
Also the prey. 10' tall insects that are 60% mandible must have some
pretty big prey.  Where were they?
> Rather than refighting the
> Vietnam War or the Gulf War, the film appears to me to play on the theme that
> the earth can and must be united in case of danger from outer space.
This is, of course, a standard-brand theme from the Golden Age of
science fiction (which is either 1930 to 1950 or 11 to 14, depending on
> The
> early line about the previous success at peaceful coexistence, a rejected
> option in favor of a showdown in which the leaders of the human race insist
> on prevailing, was not repeated at the end, but the war was not won, only a
> battle.  There is ample room for a Starship Troopers II.
That is the result of corporate filmmaking. They want a franchise like
the STAR TREK movies or the ALIEN movies. It's like having the key to
the mint.
> We are left in the
> end with a view that war is exhilirating to the victors, horrible for those
> slaughtered, but entirely unnecessary if Morgenthauism were to be abandoned.
With the exception of that last clause, this also describes every
wartime WWII movie made by all sides.
> Thus, there is some ambiguity as to the "moral of the film."  Everyone in
> the audience leaves the film believing that their preferred method for
> resolving conflict (violent versus nonviolent) has been justified.  Hardly
> PC.
The message of the movie is that war will be more fun when there are
beautiful babes carrying machine guns there with the men.  The movie's
meta-message is that any classic science fiction story can be improved
with digital graphics and a shower scene with the babes.
I confess to cynicism.  But I think it's impossible to have a meaningful
discussion about the supposed intellectual freight a particular movie
carries without including at all times the economic realities of how
movies are made, marketed, and distributed.
Paul E. Clinco
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