Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Sixth Day


I have returned from my brief desert interlude. It was a saddening experience; I’m sorry to say that Palm Springs has become just another chi-chi resort town, overpopulated and overpriced. The glamour of decades past has been swallowed in neon, antique boutiques without a genuine antique in the place, and semi-drunk conventioneers pretending to have a good time. I sat there on the edge of the stage at the Riviera resort, where such greats as Monty Montana and Irish McCalla had performed before me, and looked out over the sea of polyester wondering ‘whatever happened to class?’

The performance of Lester on Lister , my one-woman solo show on bacteriology, was a success. The only hitch came during my tribute to Pseudomonas aeruginosa when the Trapezuntine tiara I was wearing got caught in a low hanging chandelier. I broke into a time step, which showed off the aqua Chinese silk robe to maximum advantage, while a couple of officious stagehands freed my coiffure. The audience thought it was just a performance art portion of the show so I had my helpers take a bow.

I returned home to Chateau Maine, none the worse for wear (except for the fungal dermatitis acquired from the mud bath - but that should clear up in a week), to find Norman and Nurse Tameka dueling to the death over whether 'quixotic' was allowed in Scrabble. Being exhausted from the journey, I did not join the argument but rather repaired to the home theater where I decided to look for mindless entertainment and happened upon the recent Schwarzenegger opus, The Sixth Day .

The title of The Sixth Day refers to the verse from Genesis where God creates man on the sixth day and sees that he/she/it is good. The film, which I'm sure, God would not see as good, uses this as a jumping off point to become a very silly big budget action flick about cloning. Schwarzenegger plays Adam Gibson (just in case we should forget the religious parallels), a family man and chopper pilot who flies snowboarders up into the mountains so they can get their thrills. He operates out of an unnamed city (presumably Vancouver BC by the surrounding geography but at various times, people drive past Los Angeles landmarks) that seems to be exceedingly close to the kind of Alpine Canyons one finds only in the Himalayas so that we can have a completely unnecessary helicopter flight through them - sort of a chopper pilot video game. One day, Adam accepts a charter from a wealthy businessman (Tony Goldwyn) who operates all sorts of cloning businesses such as Re-Pet (get your dog or your bunny back), and synthetic salmon to feed the world with better sushi. Law has banned human cloning but, of course, our villain is into it with the help of his mad scientist assistant (a slumming Robert Duvall). Through a series of stupid plot machinations, Adam ends up being cloned without his knowledge or consent and watches his clone take his place with his family and ends up on the run from various bad guys (including a constipated looking Michael Rooker and some chickie-poo that seems to keep coloring her hair with various flavors of Jell-O), before anyone cottons on that their are two of him. Will Arnold defeat the bad guys? Will Arnold and his clone end up working together? Will Arnold's loving wife and daughter need to be rescued from mortal peril? Will the secret human cloning lab be destroyed with lots of huge and completely unnecessary explosions? This is a Hollywould be blockbuster - you figure it out.

The true stars of a movie in this genre are the action sequences. Unfortunately, they become rote and repetitive early on. It may be that Schwarzenegger, at age 53, just doesn't have the physical abilities he once did for stunt work. It may be that they just ran out of ideas. The biggest problem, however, is the visual look of the movie. Someone, somewhere, decided to make it look like a gigantic computer game (and this is emphasized by a lot of interstitial shots between sequences of computer generated cars racing along streets which have nothing to do with the plot or the action) and the ultimate result is to make the whole thing look cheesy. I wanted to hit the 'escape' button.

Tony Goldwyn actually gives a reasonable performance as the power mad tycoon and he has a couple of moments near the end of the film where he's wrestling with his clone that are somewhat chilling given the character's attitudes. Robert Duvall tries to bring some gravitas to his cliché-riddled role but a script we’ve seen too many times before does him in. The other performers, for the most part, are marking time for their paychecks, especially Michael Rapaport as the expendable comic relief buddy.

The major redeeming quality of the film is its vision of future consumer technology including smart refrigerators, nacho flavored bananas, and (best of all) a living doll called a Sim-Pal. Sim-Pals, which look like the product of an unholy union between Michael Jackson and a Cabbage Patch Kid, interact with your child in ways that would send any normal kid screaming for their mother but which the adults in this film take as a matter of course.

If you're looking for mindless entertainment, you could do worse, but there are so many more enjoyable choices out there, I'd give The Sixth Day a miss in favor of Five Easy Pieces or the original The Four Feathers .

Doublemint twin Schwarzeneggers. Futuristic helicopters. Gratuitous snowboarders. Smarmy salesmen. Gratuitous cigar smoking. Gratuitous Teddy Bear's Picnic school play. Exploding cars. Exploding secret science labs. Exploding buildings. DNA testing. Incomplete clones. Evil pierced and tattooed henchman.

No comments:

Post a Comment