Monday, February 13, 2006

The Sum Of All (Liberal) Fears

[ r ]

Well, I finally saw “Sum Of All Fears” Sunday night. I skipped it in theaters, since I heard the plot was redone to avoid offending our Jihadist friends. And brother, did that mess up the story! The original design was elegant; the reader could easily imagine the glee with which Jihadist terrorists would use an Israeli nuclear weapon made with American plutonium, on an American city in order to foment a devastating war between the United States and Russia, their two most hated enemies. The convenience of finding their weapon on Islamic soil also fit the theme well, and anyone with even a cursory knowledge of headlines knew about the Jihadists and their plans; since the movie was released by Hollywood in 2002, it would have been exceptionally timely as well.

But no, Hollywood chose a different path; a cowardly, weak, and stupid one. They had to make up a mythical cabal of worldwide neo-fascists, who appeared to have nothing to gain but to somehow avenge Der Fuhrer’s death by wiping out two of the nations most responsible for his demise, even though Europe post-fallout would hardly be a charming spot for the Fourth Reich. Never mind those facts, there’s a story to sell, and never mind that the story they chose was far less powerful than the original. Hollywood, once again, chose the road that was less controversial with their liberal friends, even though it produced a poor product, and less revenue than it should have made.

The box revenues for the four Tom Clancy movies released so far are as follows:

Hunt for Red October (1990) $200.5 Million worldwide
Patriot Games (1992) $178.1 Million worldwide
Clear and Present Danger (1994) $207.5 Million worldwide
Sum of All Fears (2002) $193.5 Million worldwide

Adjusted for inflation, however, in 2005 dollars those grosses become less balanced:

Hunt for Red October (1990) $340.66 Million worldwide
Patriot Games (1992) $277.76 Million worldwide
Clear and Present Danger (1994) $302.52 Million worldwide
Sum of All Fears (2002) $216.0 Million worldwide

(Inflation data source)

In comparable monies, the most recent film was the least successful of the four. Well, at least they managed to avoid making SOAF an action film about gay sheepherders, “Brokeback Mountain”, Oscar nominations or not, has only pulled in $97.6 Million worldwide, and does not appear to be gaining strength at the box office. For comparison, the much-snubbed ‘Narnia’ movie has already grabbed $511 Million at the box office.

Of course, it didn’t help that some 'genius' thought Ben Affleck would make a good Jack Ryan. Sorry, but Ben Affleck is such a poor actor, the only suitable roles for this guy would involve hair products, Canadians, the French, or over-priced skin care products. Affleck tries to look tough, but only manages a slightly constipated look, as though Richard Gere finally talked him into giving the gerbil treatment a try.

But maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on Hollywood. They’ve hard a hard time of it, if you look at their last few decades. We should have known it was coming, this hyper-sensitivity to avoid offending the truly evil. The French influence alone is telling. After all, when Hollywood decided to tell the story about heroin traffic into New York, they called it “The French Connection”. Then, realizing the French might be offended by a straight-action policemen, Hollywood mended fences by making Inspector Clouseau their new hero in “The Pink Panther”. Hollywood seems to have always copied the French, whether in matters of style and fashion, or an unhealthy infatuation with Socialism coupled with Narcissm, or in a peculiar eagerness to submit to thuggery; when the Mob finally began to lose its grip on Hollywood, in came the Culture Police, which demanded supremacy for those outcasts of Society, especially anyone versed in Moral Turpitude. If an act is noted in the Bible as a sin, Hollywood has featured it in film. That sort of thing for so many years can make it hard for a director to understand Reality as most of us understand the concept.

I have noticed that movies which hate America seldom do better outside the United States; indeed, quite the opposite. For whatever reason the ‘Rambo’ movies are still quite popular in Southeast Asia, and many films with strong Western values, like "Chariots of Fire", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and "Saving Private Ryan", did just as well outside the United States as in, but Hollywood films which flop in the U.S. also flop outside it.

It seems if you want to make money in movies, you ought to make sure thoe story is told the way the audience wants it, and sorry Liberals, your version doesn't cut it.

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