Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Wussiest Version of 127 Hours Ever

Well, I got some good news and bad news. Good news is I've read through a couple of the chapters for this week and from the looks of it, while none of it qualifies as good, at least you don't have to worry about me overusing the f-bomb to the point where it loses all meaning/power. Bad news...well for all those who predicted bad things would happen to Dr. Rose, despite him being a decent human being and a caring physician, well, I read ahead and you're right. But that's not in this week's selection so for now, I'm in the clear. Right now, I'm marshaling up all my profanity to save for that moment, so that when we get there...think of it being like starving a junkyard dog for weeks until it attacks everything that moves. I want my hate to be pure and unadulterated when the time comes.

Okay, lengthy disclaimer out of the way, onto business.

The chapter begins with Lionel, aka the only one of the main characters currently in a dramatically compelling situation right now. Part of me wonders if he's inherited the position of YTF Butt Monkey or if the fact he's the only one who suffers actual harm (but not irreversible harm) as a result of the Apocalypse...if it has something to do with him being Black. After all, you don't have to be a Horror Movie Buff to know that things generally don't work out for Black People in horror movies.

Again the chapter starts off fairly compelling with Lionel being in pain, miserable, and scared, as he wonders about Judd, checks his supplies, and all that. But it very quickly devolves into silliness. Don't believe me? Try to read the next quote without laughing.

Lionel watched a cotton-candy cloud float through the sky. He closed his eyes and looked again, studying the shape. It looked like a face, with two eyes and a nose. Suddenly, Lionel saw Nicolae Carpathia’s face, the old devil himself looking down. Nicolae looked like he was laughing.

I'm going to assume Lionel is hallucinating due to pain/blood loss because I don't recall "cloud control" being one of the Anti-Christ's powers. Not to mention, the egotism in assuming that someone as powerful as Nicky would give a rat's ass about some teenager suffering on the North American continent and decide to punk with him just for kicks. Besides he's got his country's 500th anniversary to plan, his wedding to arrange, his wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; he's swamped.

The next paragraph is less funny as Lionel thinks about how he was before he accepted Jesus Christ. For those too lazy to go through several years worth of posts, before he accepted Jesus, Lionel was an ordinary thirteen-year-old kid who thought about a lot of stuff and just went through the motions regarding church. It's really sick in that once again, an ordinary kid is dumped on and made to feel worse than Hitler because he's an ordinary kid. That was one of the reasons that documentary "Jesus Camp" was so off-putting, even to believers. You think scenes of kids evangelizing at a bowling alley or speaking in tongues would be cute or funny, but yeah, it comes across as sick as they're berated and beaten down for being kids.

After that moment of self-flagellating, Lionel perks up, reminding himself that he's on the right side and how he'll be laughing his head off when the heathens are burning in Hell.
Okay it's not quite that bad--exaggerating for comedic effect here--but it is pretty bad.

Lionel's section ends with him hearing the sound of an engine.

Judd, meanwhile, has arrived at the hospital with Dr. Rose. Dr. Rose, considering to be an awesome person, agrees to let Judd stay in his car, while he goes inside and takes care of a patient. He even leaves Judd the keys, though warns him that if Judd takes off with his car, he'll report him to the GC. I suppose that should count as a Kick the Dog moment but I still think that Dr. Rose is being way too nice to that little punk, Judd. He's helping him out and rather than just stuff him in the trunk, which is what I totally would do, he's given him the keys to his car so Judd can make himself comfortable. In short, Dr. Rose is currently the only decent human being in this universe and he'll eventually pay the price for it.

Judd searches for stuff in the doctor's car and we cut to Vicki.

Vicki talks with Wanda Whatshername about Cheryl and baby Ryan. Wanda tells Vicki that it's important that they make Cheryl eat or drink something, because even though the baby will be raised by the Fogartys, he'll still need his mother's milk, given that formula is difficult to find on the black market.

We then segue into Wanda's Conversion story because Ellanjay really love the overused plot device where the characters dish out their backstories in large expository lumps. I'll give the short version: Wanda made a living, helping to deliver babies. On the night of the Rapture, she was at a hospital assisting with a birth. The woman in question eventually required a C section, but just as the doctor lifts the baby out and says, "You have a beautiful baby girl," both the baby and the doctor are slaughtered bamfed into Heaven, leaving behind the baby's umbilical cord and the doctor's clothes.

Like I've said before, many moments of this series has great horror movie potential. I find myself reading Wanda's recitation of the events and thinking about how a truly great horror writer like Stephen King would handle this scene. Because the elements are all there for a great horror scene, especially with the bereaved unnamed mother screaming and asking what they've done with the baby. But the trouble is, Ellanjay don't realize they're writing horror.

Fred Clark said something similar to those lines in one of my favorite posts about the Left Behind series: What Would Rayford Do? (Do the Opposite). He points out, correctly, that if Rayford Steele was a creation of conscious artifice or in other words, written by authors who recognized what an unpleasant asshole he is, than the Left Behind series would be a masterpiece. But since the authors themselves seem to be as wrapped in delusion as Rayford himself is, the whole series fails at everything it sets out to accomplish.

It's the same with Horror. Writing great Horror fiction requires an ability to recognize Horror for what it is and an understanding of people. Plus you have to have some sympathy for the victims, which Ellanjay clearly don't. Say what you will about Stephen King, but he does have an understanding of Horror and how the survivors are often left more damaged than the dead. I don't like everything Stephen King wrote (it's kind of obvious that he was coked out of his gourd when he wrote Tommyknockers) but still.

As you probably guessed, what eventually happened to Wanda is, she started reading her Bible, and eventually came to Love Big Brother accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

The rest of the chapter is spent switching between Judd and Lionel's perspectives as Judd waits and waits for Dr. Rose and Lionel hears what sounds like a GC search party approaching him. The chapter ends with Dr. Rose, continuing to be a mensch, by giving Judd food and telling him he'll back as soon as he can.

The next chapter begins with Lionel listening as the sound of the GC search party draws closer. Nothing really to snark except that I've got to admire the GC's ability to say the phrase "Tribulation Force" without busting a gut laughing afterwards, especially when you consider the brave acts of defiance that the Tribbles have done in this series. Those disdainful looks/comments they give every now and then, really hurt Nicky's feelings. I know by the Tribbles's own admission that they can't do anything to thwart the all-mighty prophecies, no matter how convoluted they might be, but that didn't necessarily mean that they couldn't be actually doing something like feeding those left hungry as a result of all the dead crops (poisoned water, remember?), tending to the injured following the latest earthquake/nuking, and sheltering the homeless. But that would require actual hard work, pain, and sacrifice, which would take time out of their busy schedule of looking down on people and thinking about how they've got he it all figured out.

Lionel calls Vicki and the next section is from her perspective.

Vicki is horrified as Lionel talks about cutting off his arm. Here's his quote:

“I can’t remember what Jesus was teaching there, but I figure it’s better for me to be able to live without my arm than to stay here and die or get caught by the GC.”

Yeah, once again, what doesn't matter where and when and how Lionel dies? Lionel's said The Prayer. No matter what way he dies, of blood loss after hacking off his arm with a pocket knife, of exposure after being trapped out in the wilderness for days, or after being tortured to death by the GC...all those deaths definitely fall into the not fun category, but given that Lionel's said The Prayer and will be bamfed into Heaven, which is known for its high levels of Bliss. No matter which way it ends, Lionel has confirmation that he'll spend his days bathing in the light of the Undying Lands, so yeah, why his he so afraid of Death?

Besides, ever hear of a verse called Luke 17:33? For those not as educated in the gospels or too lazy to google, here's the verse in question.

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

You think Ellanjay with their hard-on for Christian Martyrdom would be all about that verse. But it's clear: they want the cheap vicarious thrills of martyrdom without actually having to go through with the martyrdom part.

But despite Vicki's protests, Lionel's determined to hack off his arm so she puts Wanda on the line to walk him through it, seeing as Wanda's the only one available who has any medical training.

So what follows is the Ellanjay version of 127 hours with Wanda coaching Lionel through the whole messy procedure. Unlike 127 hours, though, the pain and horror of this scene is only briefly touched on. In fact, most of this scene is told from Vicki's perspective as she paces around the hideout, wrings her hands, and prays. :headdesk: Again, a great dramatic opportunity squandered. In fact, I'm going to post the amputation scene from 127 hours just so you can see how Ellanjay fail. Granted I know comparing a movie and a book is the proverbial apples-and-oranges comparison, because movies are an audio/visual medium and the audience can only experience it through sight and hearing, whereas books can touch on all senses. But even still, Ellanjay fail. I mean, Ellanjay you couldn't have actually written about Lionel cutting at his arm, seeing the blood, feeling the pain, and freaking out?! You had to cut to Vicki, whose currently just thinking nice thoughts in Lionel's direction? I confess I haven't read the book that formed the basis for the movie 127 Hours but I imagine that even though the author, Aron Ralston, is a more an athlete than a writer...even he could probably write the scene in a way that makes it dramatically compelling and conveys the horror and pain of it all.

The Vicki section ends with one of the Tribbles, Marshall coming in and saying, "It's over." Naturally given their natural talent for being able to choose the best viewpoint from which to tell a scene, we don't cut back to Lionel. Instead, we cut back to Judd. He and Dr. Rose have finally left the hospital and are speeding off to go rescue Lionel. Judd thanks Dr. Rose for not turning him in. Dr. Rose, continuing to be awesome, says, "You can thank me when we rescue your friend." I know I shouldn't have shared that bit of small talk with you, but given what ends up happening to Dr. Rose...yeah, felt it was needed.

The chapter ends with Judd finally reaching the place where Lionel was trapped and gasping. I think that's a good place to leave you for this week. As always thanks for reading and feel free to leave your comments, good or bad, on this post. Hope you all have a happy rest of the week.


Firedrake said...

Does Lionel's trapped and amputated arm get bamfed into heaven, seeing that it's now dead? I mean, it's at least as much an independent being as those just-conceived zygotes at Rapture time.

Mouse said...

If you're wondering, given that a year later, when Jesus returns, this time packing heat, Lionel gets his missing arm back. So yeah, another thing that kills any dramatic tension: any suffering the characters endure will magically go away in about a year. And while I'm not psychic--just knowledgeable about Ellanjay's tropes--something tells me Lionel won't be too shaken by what he's been throw. We won't get anything resembling the scenes of Jaime Lannister in A Storm of Swords. In A Storm of Swords, Jaime has his hand cut off. Granted Jaime lost his dominant hand whereas Lionel lost the other one, but even still, I have a feeling Ellanjay aren't going to take into account how hard it is to do certain tasks with just one hand after a lifetime of doing them with both. Like after losing his hand, Jaime finds himself struggling to dress himself and drink a goblet of wine without spilling it all over the place. Plus, when it comes to swordsmanship, he can't just switch and start using the other hand after a lifetime of training with the dominant hand. Basically, Jaime finds himself at square one when it comes to swordsmanship.

But I have a feeling we won't see any scenes of Lionel struggling to do every day tasks like dress and feed himself. Call it a hunch.

Blank Ron said...

A surprising amount of derp in these chapters, most of which requires no further comment, but...

Just how long has New Butt Monkey Lionel been under there? That (and other things) convince me that L&J were away they day they taught 'dramatic tension' in English class. They've actually made life-threatening physical jeopardy BORING. Sheesh.
And exactly how does one remove one's arm with a pocket knife? If there's a bone saw on his it must be the Victorinox model above mine.

Having spent a bit of time in uniform myself, I can assure you that the GC would not be calling 'em the Tribulation Force. They would in fact almost certainly be using the word 'Tribbles.' Because you CAN'T say 'Tribulation Force' with a straight face.

And kudos for a 'Princess Bride,' Weird Al AND Simpsons reference in the same post. That, ma'am, is some world-class snark.