Sunday, March 09, 2008

Some rules are not meant to be broken

The truth is, I'm a pretty easy audience as far as the movies go. I like movies. I want to be entertained. If you want me to believe the hero can fly, I'll bite. That time travel is possible, sure. That you can surgically swap faces and voices to change identities, okay. That POTUS is honest, smart, good-looking, and has integrity - I'm in. I WANT to believe.

But, the way it works is - the rules is the rules.

You can make them up. But then you gotta stick to them. This is not rocket science - even when the rules are about rocket science.

Look, suspension of disbelief is a delicate thing. To make it work, you have to remember, the rules is the rules. If you say that only inanimate objects can go back through time, because the way this particular time wormhole that we stumbled upon works is to wreak havoc with electrical impulses, then don't go sending a human being through the thing, for crying out loud, who by all rights should turn up in the past blackened and smoking like one of Emeril's blue-plate specials.

If it takes a multi-million dollar machine the size of a small building to send a human hurtling 650 years into the past, don't give him a little clicker that hangs around his neck like the one the old lady wears in those ads - you know, "I've fallen and I can't get up"? - that can send him back to the present at the push of the button - what about all that machinery??

Time travel in the movies is tricky, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Hello - we're talking about positing that time travel is possible? I seem to remember thinking Frequency (RT Score: 70) did a nice job. And Back to the Future (RT Score: 95)

And this is the movies - you're going to tell the story you want to tell. Don't you ever wonder that? As you watch the opening scene, don't you ever wonder, why this guy? This story? That car? What if he'd turned left? Or not picked up the phone? But this is the movies - and the writer gets to say, "go left, there, not right" "pick up the phone," "get in the car with the innocuous looking man," "forget to turn off the stove," "kiss her." The writer gets to say, "our three heroes travel back in time." She gets to say it. But then she damn well better live up to it.

It's not just about science - though that's a biggie. It's about consistency - hello? McFly? That's all a rule is - you know "as a rule?" Nothing kills a movie faster than "and all of a sudden..." (unless, of course, the whole movie is about "all-of-a-suddens," but that's a whole 'nother kettle of worms).

The bestest thing about the movies (okay, and books - but this whole treatise holds just as true for books as it does for movies, so quit your yammering) is that anything is possible. Anything can happen. You can rewrite history. Imagine the future. You can create smart-aleck pregnant sixteen year-olds with an answer for everything. Emerald cities with horses of a different color. Tall dark and handsome gentlemen who don't give a damn. Mesmerizing serial killers with a taste for fava beans. Homesick aliens with a taste for Reese's Pieces. That's the movies. That's the magic.

And great movie-makers? They know that the rules is the rules.

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