Monday, December 21, 2009

Progress, Dreams, and 2012

I don't have much progress to report regarding Identity; I've been rather bogged down in the first act of chapter two among other real life issues (finals, etc.).  I do think I'm getting somewhere now, but as always, we'll see.

An interesting dream I had last night, though, may provide an idea for a story (original) at some point.  The idea was a commune of foreign nationals in China, collaborating to get information out of the PRC.  They're led by a man, an idealist, a visionary, and this attracts the main character, a woman, who's taken by his charisma to enter the scheme.  These rogue reporters meet in an apartment and have a complex technological setup to get around blocks, but increased government scrutiny leads to a raid on the building, one that the reporters cannot resist, and when they make a scheme for escape, the leader betrays them all--it turns out he's an agent of the Chinese government, trained to infiltrate and impersonate, and everything he's done here has been a lie.  Our main character escapes, however, and...

Well, maybe there's more to it.  Dreams are incomplete, after all.  I have visions of the main character returning to the building to try to get information, but we must remember, a dream doesn't craft things the way a writer needs to have it crafted.  A dream gives ammunition, the creative imagery a writer needs to bring life to the events we write, but a dream by itself won't necessarily be on point or message.  You have to have a purpose, I believe; it keeps the story focused.

Anyway, the other day, I saw 2012.

I won't bother with the long summary of the film (it's almost 3 hours after all), but even in an epic disaster film, we should look at the contrivances a writer uses and ask if they're needed and just to maintain suspense, if they're natural and a consequence of previous characterization or internal logic, or if they simply push the story forward illogically.

I'll give the filmmakers some points: anybody could be planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, a region of known geological phenomena, and it'd be natural for a conspiracy theorist who believes the world is melting to go there, to want to witness it first-hand. That Jackson works for someone who has the fortune to buy a ticket on an ark isn't that far-fetched, either. As usual, contrivances are more forgivable, even expected, at the beginning of a story. We don't have any characterization to contradict them. Internal logic hasn't been established yet.

It's the midgame of the story that begins to unravel. We know the earth's crust will begin to float atop hotter liquid mantle, that it can shift by any rotation. This has the curious effect that Wisconsin houses the magnetic south pole. It also shifts landmasses such that our heroes' jet can reach spitting distance of the arks instead of ditching in water and being totally screwed. Convenient. Jackson's employer just so happens to get stuck in Vegas, where Jackson has to land too. Again, convenient (and also seeming to serve no purpose except give both groups a second pilot. The president chooses to stay behind to satisfy some noble drive when his leadership will then be missed on the Ark (as the vice-president conveniently dies too), leaving command of the Ark to a royal prick that leads to a final confrontation. The scientist who discovered the catastrophe is (admittedly, deliberately) left behind, but he dies in a tsunami that nobody saw coming, that moves up the time to impact by over an hour. For that matter, anybody wonder why the cell phones still work?

I enjoyed this movie (yes, I enjoy most of the movies I see, regardless of the criticism I post here). Yes, these oddities detract. What detracted more, though, what made this a simple piece of entertainment and not a work of art was the lack of pertinent theme. We're supposed to believe that the point of this movie is to be human and show compassion, even if it risks annihilation, but this viewpoint is only in passing juxtaposed against its opposite, the desire to save any section of humanity no matter the cost. That motive is embodied in pretty much only one man, a man portrayed to be a prick and totally unsympathetic. There is no depravity here, no signs of true desperation, no struggle not just for the survival of the human race but the continuation of its soul. That's why, as entertaining I find this movie, it's not wholly satisfying. I know that's probably not what the intent was, either, but still, I feel like the moral conflict, while set up, just didn't matter for most of the story.

No comments: