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December 4, 2012 7:21 AM   Subscribe

With a 45-point spread between critics and audience, this ten-year-old action film was a box-office failure. It features an actor whose characters die so often on screen that there is a YouTube tribute to his many cinematic demises. The fictional fighting style featured in the film was also used in another film written by the same chap. The lead actor has a body of work that ranges from the sublime to the straight-up surreal. At age 13, he found the media attention so intense that he would run away during press conferences.
posted by DWRoelands (125 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
You didn't mention his name, but I already know who it is.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:28 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Equilibrium, plot holes and all, is definitely guilty pleasure stuff for me. The final battle where you basically have Tai Chi push-hands exercises with guns? Stroke of brilliance. I wish _that_ lasted a little longer.
posted by bfranklin at 7:34 AM on December 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


The answer is Gymkata, isn't it?
posted by nathancaswell at 7:35 AM on December 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I didn't enjoy this movie until I accidentally skipped my dose of Prozium.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:38 AM on December 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


I found the central conceit of the movie sort of quaint. The idea that the government is going to ban stuff like jazz and poetry, because people get so worked up after reading a sonnet that they will want to start world war III, is kind of endearingly archaic. I also don't think you need to force people to take numbing drugs,in fact they will pay to do it.

The "gun kata" stuff was neat though.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:38 AM on December 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gymkata, isn't it?

Don't be silly! It's clearly Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.
posted by Iridic at 7:38 AM on December 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's a supremely silly film and we all love it here at the Creature estate.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:39 AM on December 4, 2012


My favorite scene is when they find the rebels' puppy farm and Taye Diggs doesn't know what puppies are, and he asked, shocked, "Do they eat them?"

I may be misremembering, but I swear it happens.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:44 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had never heard of this film until I saw it at a movie festival years after its release. I loved it - it was pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be.

I believe it's been taken down because of copyright infringement, but there was a wonderful music video done for Jonathan Coulton's "I Feel Fantastic" that was entirely made up of clips from "Equilibrium".
posted by rmd1023 at 7:50 AM on December 4, 2012


Oh Taye Diggs, you just should have called in sick.
posted by Iridic at 7:50 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do any of these links have actual content? Mostly I'm seeing a bunch of blinds links to IMDB. Which ones are leading to something?
posted by jacquilynne at 7:52 AM on December 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


I vaguely remember seeing ads for this and thinking it looked like The Matrix warmed over. Christian Bale and Sean Bean? Seems worth a guilty pleasure viewing. It's available on Netflix streaming at the moment.
posted by usonian at 7:56 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's see:

Christian Bale
Dominic Purcell
Sean Bean
Sean Pertwee
William Fichtner
Angus Macfadyen
Taye Diggs
Emily Watson - All favorites for various reasons

Only $20 million budget - for a sci-fi dystopian movie with that cast that looks good?

Invented tai-chi-with-guns martial art so awesome silly, it works.

Yep, time to watch it again.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:57 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


So Equilibrium is very clearly "Shiny" dystopia. Examples of "gritty" distopia are Max Headroom and Children of Men.

Are there any other types of dystopian fiction? They are all either in the Brave New World mold or the 1984 mold. That is to say all distopian fiction posits either a future government that will rule either through total control of all aspects of life, or control through terror and fear.

Are Dark City and The Matrix a third type?

Which type do we live in?
posted by Ad hominem at 8:09 AM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was hanging around Blockbuster about five years ago and wanted something mindless to watch and the guy there was like 'Have you seen Equilibrium? It's awesome!' and he went on to describe it some and I thought 'That sounds neat' so I took it home and popped it in the DVD player and was about 15 minutes into it before I realized that I had already seen it and it was too dumb to remember.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:12 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well, if that Fake William Gibson Twitter is accurate, we clearly live in the gritty dystopia.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:13 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Came here to say "Gymkata," but nathancaswell beat me to it.
posted by mosk at 8:14 AM on December 4, 2012


I've always thought of Equilibrium as the bar that all sci-fi(SyFy?) channel original movies should aspire to: low budget but ambitious, filling in with style when you don't have time to delve into substance.

Instead we get MegaSquitoRaptor versus Sharktopusaurus Rex. At least Debbie Gibson is getting work. :/
posted by Uncle Ira at 8:16 AM on December 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Ad hominem: we could posit a third type, between the 'dark' and 'shiny' kinds - like Transmetropolitan, Looper and Minority Report.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:21 AM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ad hominem: Maybe there should be a split between "government will oppress you" and "corporations will oppress you." Also, "there is no government to oppress you - you're just fucked because anarchy" would be another branch.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:24 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, "there is no government to oppress you - you're just fucked because anarchy" would be another branch.

E.g. A Clockwork Orange.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember the movie being vaguely entertaining until at one point when it implied that all the dystopia started with hate crimes legislation. Yeah.
posted by kmz at 8:25 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


At age 13, he found the media attention so intense that he would run away during press conferences.

At age 13, he found the media attention for a totally unrelated movie so intense that, etc. This was a really confusing note.
posted by kenko at 8:26 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gritty dystopia, or GRITTIEST DYSTOPIAtm?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:27 AM on December 4, 2012


Also, "there is no government to oppress you - you're just fucked because anarchy" would be another branch.

The Road.
posted by scalefree at 8:27 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love me some Equilibrium. Not because it's got a message or because the acting is particularly good, but because it's an action movie with some pretense towards a bit of thought, doesn't ape Michael Bay, and has a bit of heart that doesn't seem too contrived.

Awesome gunfights, cute puppies, and the Bean/Bale/Watson trifecta don't hurt, though.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on December 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's been a while since I saw it, but isn't there a government in Clockwork Orange? Someone runs the prison and administers the freaky experiments.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:30 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Mostly I'm seeing a bunch of blinds links to IMDB. Which ones are leading to something?

This is a thread about the cult sci-fi movie Equilibrium that starred a young Batman/Bateman. I'm assuming it's an early reminder of the 10 year anniversary of release (Dec 6 2002) so that you can arrange a proper viewing party or other appropriate celebration of one of the best bad movies ever.


>Also, "there is no government to oppress you - you're just fucked because anarchy" would be another branch.

Solarbabies. Gritty dystopia of water wars and rollerblading.
posted by anti social order at 8:31 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, "there is no government to oppress you - you're just fucked because anarchy" would be another branch.

The Road


The Stand as well. But are those dystopias or straight up apocalypse porn.

Also, dystopia from apathy and distraction. Like Idiocracy and The Running Man.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:32 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wouldn't say the Road and the Stand are dystopic, but rather post-apocalyptic.
posted by Inkoate at 8:34 AM on December 4, 2012


Just to state the obvious.... emotions don't lead to war, corporate profits do.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:35 AM on December 4, 2012


The future I fear most is a twistopia, where the only thing to drink is Twisted Tea. *shudder*
posted by orme at 8:35 AM on December 4, 2012


In line with the dystopia taxonomies, the Treevenge thread is about dystopiary.
posted by Drastic at 8:40 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's been a while since I saw it, but isn't there a government in Clockwork Orange? Someone runs the prison and administers the freaky experiments.

Well yeah but the government isn't particularly what makes that dystopia hellish, is my point.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 AM on December 4, 2012


This is a thread about the cult sci-fi movie Equilibrium that starred a young Batman/Bateman. I'm assuming it's an early reminder of the 10 year anniversary of release (Dec 6 2002) so that you can arrange a proper viewing party or other appropriate celebration of one of the best bad movies ever.

I get what it's about, but usually a thread will be based on some actual content -- an in depth article revisiting the movie and why it became a cult classic or why it doesn't suck as much as we thought it did, for example. Maybe some youtube clips of this Gunkata thing? But mousing over the links, none of them seem to be anything and I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this post that 'Hey, remember the movie Equilibrium, wanna talk about it?'
posted by jacquilynne at 8:44 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The "Distopia" question that occurred to me after watching this movie was about the hypocrisy of the rulers. I get the movie was mostly an excuse for action, but thematically it seems like an easy out to go, "Oh the rulers are keeping all the emotions for themselves." When you make the rulers of your distopia hypocrites, then you get to condemn them without directly addressing whether the underlying principles are wrong. You see what I'm saying?
posted by RobotHero at 8:44 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:48 AM on December 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


In A Clockwork Orange the government uses fear of street gangs to get public approval of mind control experimentation. There is also the minor government official constantly harassing Alex.

Also a fair point that it is often corporations oppressing people. In dystopian fiction, do oppressive corporations ever create shiny dystopias? Seems like mandating mind numbing drugs and banning all forms of entertainment would be bad for profits.

I'm sure there is an answer to all this in Tvtropes.com.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:50 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dystopias of ontological conspiracy: Videodrome, eXistenZ, Dark City, The Power, They Live...
posted by Iridic at 8:53 AM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I noticed this on Netflix Instant a few days ago and have been considering re-watching it. Basically the only thing I remember from seeing it in theaters is the "martial art" that seemed to be reliant on all of your foes standing in a circle around you.

I have friends who love it, so maybe I'll give it another chance.
posted by brundlefly at 8:53 AM on December 4, 2012


I really liked Equilibrium, unironically, until I read AV Club's very thorough Commentary Track of the Damned feature on the movie. Somehow knowing that the director is so incredibly disappointed with it diminshes it in my mind. It would have been better if he had just embraced his budget limitations.

jacquilynne - there's this link on gunkata, but at some point this should probably go to the contact form or Metatalk.
posted by muddgirl at 8:53 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically the only thing I remember from seeing it in theaters is the "martial art" that seemed to be reliant on all of your foes standing in a circle around you.

That's unfair to gunkata. It also works if all your foes stand in two parallel lines on either side of you. With or without pillars involved. It's very flexible.
posted by Drastic at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Tangentially: Part of my wife's distaste for Bale's Batman I'm sure is still residual resentment for Bale's badmouthing of Newsies. Newsies fans don't kid around.
posted by kmz at 9:15 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah....crap. Never mind.

He was Andy McNabb.
posted by mule98J at 9:18 AM on December 4, 2012


HA, I love this ridiculous movie! I love when McFadyen is explaining the gun kata and it's basically, "We watched a bunch of gun fights and STATISTICS." Hee. And everyone is all shiny and hot.
posted by Aquifer at 9:25 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to compare this to Ultraviolet, which was just fucking terrible, and it's not entirely clear why because the latter had the same gunkata, the same vapid plot points but a much bigger budget for better choreographed fight scenes. I loved Equilibrium but walked out of Ultraviolet in the theatre.

Okay, one obvious flaw in UV: the acting was just horrible. Mila Jovovich requires a really skilled director and editor to get something useful out of her, and she didn't have that here. Paul Grant, just by speaking in a relatively talented way, looked like the only human in a world of robots.
posted by fatbird at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like when the goons kick in Christian Bale's front door to arrest his wife, and he's all flip spin grab gotyourshotgun, and the goon goes "DON'T SHOOT!" The emotion in his voice when he says that really sells that scene. It's a great example of how the little things make the movie. I can just imagine in my head how during the briefing leading to that raid, that goon was probably thinking, "Oh, those Cleric guys. How tough can they really be?"
posted by BeeDo at 9:32 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I had scraped Rotten Tomatoes a few months ago and jammed it into a database, so I can quickly look up what other movies had a 45-point spread between the audience and critic ratings:

Third Star
Troop Beverly Hills
The Reaping
The Whole Ten Yards
The Dukes of Hazzard
The One
Stepmonster
The Day
Police Academy 4 - Citizens on Patrol
Slow Burn
New York Minute
Nina's Heavenly Delights
Love Stinks
Megaforce
I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer
Jawbreaker
First Sunday
Free Jimmy
Bride Wars
Equilibrium
Bed of Roses
Bio-Dome
All Roads Lead Home
Basil
88 Minutes
All About the Benjamins

And the movie with the biggest disparity is Only the Strong with a whopping 77%

In the opposite direction, Daisy Miller. If you're holding out for science fiction, apparently you want Alien Raiders.
posted by RobotHero at 9:35 AM on December 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's interesting to compare this to Ultraviolet, which was just fucking terrible, and it's not entirely clear why because the latter had the same gunkata, the same vapid plot points but a much bigger budget for better choreographed fight scenes. I loved Equilibrium but walked out of Ultraviolet in the theatre.

Maybe the utterly ridiculous level of color correction?
posted by brundlefly at 9:36 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Funniest part of Equilibrium for me was how the opening montage portrayed a slippery slope from Stalin, to Saddam Hussein, to the rise of the Grammaton Cleric.
posted by steinsaltz at 9:38 AM on December 4, 2012


In dystopian fiction, do oppressive corporations ever create shiny dystopias?

Rollerball. At least the 1975 version; I never saw the remake.
posted by Gelatin at 9:43 AM on December 4, 2012


Also, I had no idea that The Man once suffered Death By Cow.
posted by BeeDo at 9:45 AM on December 4, 2012


This movie had what are perhaps the most cinematic gun fights I have ever seen.

This movie fits with Aeon Flux (the movie, not the series) in my head in terms of the aesthetic. I always think of Ultraviolet as a neon version of the worst parts of the Underworld series.

Corporate distopias, almost by definition have a shiny layer on top for the guests/executives, but a distinct lack of giving a shit for everyone else, which results in grimy.
posted by Hactar at 9:48 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's funny that when I watched Salt I thought there was something about the fighting style that seemed to be trying for an Equilibrium/Ultraviolet style, but slightly more grounded in real physics. And it turns out Kurt Wimmer wrote Salt.
posted by asfuller at 9:56 AM on December 4, 2012


Which type do we live in?

The one envisioned by Douglas Adams, where the universe is incapable of making sense to anyone, except the mildly annoying friends you're stuck hanging out with forever.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:04 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


In dystopian fiction, do oppressive corporations ever create shiny dystopias?

Logan's Run was pretty damn shiny (although not necessarily a corporate dystopia- just a planned society).

The live action versions of Speed Racer and Josie and the Pussycats both play with the idea of a future that is intensively marketed and branded.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:10 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


In response to a legitimate criticism from jacquilynne:

I love movies, and I love talking about movies, and I love hearing what MeFites have to say about movies. I made a similarly-structured post back in July and that post seemed to be received well. I figured it would be okay to do again so long as I wasn't making them so frequently that it became irritating.

If I've breached some MetaFilter etiquette, then I'm genuinely sorry.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:13 AM on December 4, 2012


The Grammaton Clerics had some awesome badass Matrix-y outfits. Just killer.

(Yes, I only watch dystopias for the cool outfits.)

Anyhow, one annoying thing about Equilibrium was the way the guns they used were still shaped so obviously as "guns." I would think in a theoretical martial art/discipline like Gunkata, the shapes, weights and ergonomic relationships between the gun and the user/Cleric would call for more allometric gun/body interactions and it would be foolish not to design the guns to those new specs, but alas, guns qua guns, are fuckin' GUNS, and they hit a pleasure nerve all of their own, and they're certainly very sexy in the way utilized by gunkata's omniscient awareness of every shootable thing within a room...

and very cool, even if perhaps much too imitative of a matrix-y action style.

I watched that film on a bit of a dystopian sci-fi marathon, along with the very good, and frighteningly conceivably possible Code 46 (Starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton, and Robbins is doing some really semi-amazing stuff these days and if you haven't seen it do watch Noise, for some of the ideas it explores about society and the individual and the political...) and the rather frighteningly metaphorical Daybreakers, wherein vampires are the new hip norm and humans are cultivated cow-like, for blood production.

Ethan Hawke, plays a sort of good guy, "abolitionist" vampire scientist looking for a new synthetic blood source and Sam O'Neill plays a ruthless corporatist CEO. And I guess you can sorta see how that goes a bit...but it's really eerie because society now functions in the nighttime (cos everyone's a vampire ya see) and the resistance is made up of outlaw rebel humans, and human blood is such a precious resource...bwahahahaha...

Some pretty good outfits and sunglasses in that film...
posted by Skygazer at 10:15 AM on December 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


In dystopian fiction, do oppressive corporations ever create shiny dystopias?

What about Wall-E? Like many, it's a shiny dystopia covering up a gritty one.
posted by muddgirl at 10:17 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


i love his fight with Diggs. it avoids the usual boss-level fight pitfall of a hero taking out whole rooms full of bad guys and then struggling against just one guy. (not as big of a fan of the Next fight, but i just sort of ignore it.)

Also, anyone else think that the Clerics from this movie influenced The Operative in Serenity?
posted by th3ph17 at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about Wall-E? Like many, it's a shiny dystopia covering up a gritty one.

I was pretty amazed, and thoroughly delighted by the anti-corporate, anti-consumerism message of that movie.
posted by Skygazer at 10:24 AM on December 4, 2012


I'll second Skygazer on Daybreakers. It's a fun film with some neat elements. I liked the commuters ordering their coffee with blood mixed in.
posted by brundlefly at 10:48 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I had no idea that The Man once suffered Death By Cow.

And he was First Dumbledore's son in that! (Also, John Hurt took out his fake teefs so he could look sufficiently like an Irish Walter Brennan for his role.)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:49 AM on December 4, 2012


Are there any other types of dystopian fiction?

Wait, you mention The Matrix and Children of Men, but don't mention BLADE RUNNER!

1979, precedes both those films, and stars Harrison Ford. It's my favorite film, and true story: I attended a screening which was followed by an interview with Edward James Olmos. He talked about his bowl movement.


And to add to dystopia types. I would categorize Delta City Detroit in Robocop as a shiny dystopia, also Starship Troopers the movie kind of counts too.
posted by FJT at 10:53 AM on December 4, 2012


I liked the commuters ordering their coffee with blood mixed in.

Yeah, that was freakish and is one of the really nightmarish and memorable scenes in the film (as well as what happens when the human blood shortage begins) and I sorta wonder what coffee WOULD taste like with blood in it...
posted by Skygazer at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2012


Oh, duh, shiny dystopias! I can't believe I forgot Brazil!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


FJT: "Wait, you mention The Matrix and Children of Men, but don't mention BLADE RUNNER!

1979, precedes both those films, and stars Harrison Ford.
"

Blade Runner came out in '82.
posted by brundlefly at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I sorta wonder what coffee WOULD taste like with blood in it...

Not great, as I remember drinking coffee with a cut lip once, although that may have to do more with the semi-hot coffee hitting the raw cut. Plus, of course, me not being a vampire.

Anyway, I may have to see this not just because of Bale and Bean, but William Fichtner, who was easily the best thing about Drive Angry, which is the sort of movie that you get if you set out to rip off Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim books but really don't get what makes Kadrey great.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:20 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


William Fichtner needs to be in more stuff, generally.
posted by brundlefly at 11:23 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I take for granted that the vampire bloodcoffee snobs might disagree on the best way to prepare hemojava, but they all agree that Starbucks blood always tastes burnt.

Also, I firmly support the motion that Drive Angry should have dispensed with Cage's character entirely, and been entirely about William Fichtner's adventures as a repo demon.
posted by Drastic at 11:23 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I loved Equilibrium unironically.

I also loved Drive Angry (somewhat less) unironically.

I might be the problem with movies.
posted by HostBryan at 11:25 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, you mention The Matrix and Children of Men, but don't mention BLADE RUNNER!

I'm not entirely sure I consider Blade Runner a dystopia. I think all PKD stuff is sort of "just like it is now but with robots". They have shit like time machines and memory implants but everyone has a random menial office job and nagging kids.

We can count it, but I have no idea where it fits.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:48 AM on December 4, 2012


I might be the problem with movies.

No, those movies have problems without anybody's help.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:01 PM on December 4, 2012


Blade Runner came out in '82.

Yes. '79 was Mad Max. My other favorite.
posted by FJT at 12:08 PM on December 4, 2012


I was entertained, which as movies go is why I'm there. I liked the gunkata, I liked Christian Bale, I liked Taye Diggs, and I friggin' loved [SPOILER]




that he finally broke with his society to protect a puppy.



[/SPOILER]
posted by Mooski at 12:12 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


We can count it, but I have no idea where it fits.\

But spinners, and ENHANCE! *click* *click *click*
posted by FJT at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


ENHANCE ! *click* *click *click*

So Blade Runner is the progenitor of CSI?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


TheWhiteSkull, I remember Brazil's dystopia as a cruddy, overdesigned place with too many pipes, vents, and wires. I guess the torture chambers were shiny, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:32 PM on December 4, 2012


That death reel is now my favorite thing. Also love Equilibrium and just about everything I've ever seen that poor dying guy in.
posted by jquinby at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reason that Sean Bean has to die in every American film he makes is that he spent years playing Sharpe who is constantly being wounded (in pre-penicillan times) but somehow always survives - including at least one duel that he wins by shoving his shoulder on the other man's sword (and thus trapping it). Sharpe is so immortal, he should star in Highlander.

Bean's post-Sharpe screen deaths still haven't caught up.
posted by jb at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can we talk for a second about how it would be impossible to hide a Beretta 92 up your sleeve without someone noticing yet 90% of the action in Equilibrium commences with Christian Bale surprising everyone with Guns Akimbo popping out of nowhere?
posted by nathancaswell at 1:03 PM on December 4, 2012


Sure, that sounds like a perfect place to start with all the stuff that is ridiculous in Equilibrium.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:12 PM on December 4, 2012


Ok good cause I think it is very unlikely that people wouldn't notice those guns all the time.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:24 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, a lot of you people are easily entertained. I trusted all the buzz about Equilibrium and sat down to watch it a few years back. A mishmash of the Matrix meets Fahrenheit 451 with a lot of John Woo-type, "cool" cinematography. Sorry, it's not a good film. Not even a guilty pleasure. I don't remember the point I turned it off, but it was well before the first hour was up; maybe it got better after that, to be fair.
posted by zardoz at 1:35 PM on December 4, 2012


Ad hominem: "I'm not entirely sure I consider Blade Runner a dystopia. I think all PKD stuff is sort of "just like it is now but with robots". They have shit like time machines and memory implants but everyone has a random menial office job and nagging kids."

I guess it's a dystopia for the replicants.
posted by brundlefly at 1:43 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well yeah but the government isn't particularly what makes that dystopia hellish, is my point.

Yes it is, read the book. The whole original point of the story is the government taking away the choice to be good or evil via their experimental Ludovico Technique, rendering people no more than "like a clockwork orange". Kubrick focused more on the ultraviolence aspects of the story, which is why Anthony Burgess hated the movie (also because Kubrick completely cut the original ending where Alex gets new droogs and meets a reformed Pete, and realizes the whole droog thing is kind of childish and stupid).
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:55 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Horrible film and one of the many reasons I don't trust Christian Bale's film choices. Almost everything I've ever seen him in has been horrible (though he's a perfectly capable actor) and Equilibrium is at the top of that list of horrible.
posted by dobbs at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2012


I don't think anyone's claiming it was the Casablanca of 2002, or even the Goldeneye of 2002. But "guilty pleasure" is by definition subjective. I thought it was a rather pedestrian sci-fi retread saved by a great cast who took the film seriously and an ambitious if limited director.

Maybe I've been watching too much Obscurus Lupa Presents - my standards for a "horrible film" are pretty high. If it has a plot that basically holds together, no visible boom mikes, and technically competent foley artists, I'll bump it to 'watchable.'
posted by muddgirl at 2:09 PM on December 4, 2012


Yes it is, read the book.

I did, and the last chapter deserves to be excised.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:17 PM on December 4, 2012


If it has a plot that basically holds together

In that case Equilibrium barely manages to scrape by. Otherwise, everything else about it is fairly solid.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:26 PM on December 4, 2012


I'm going to go ahead and third Daybreakers. None of the reviews I've seen of it highlight what I think is an utterly enjoyable mix of flashiness & somewhat didactic pseudophilosophical proselytizing that I look for in my popcorn flicks. Haven't seen Equilibrium yet, but it's in my Netflix instant queue. Right next to Daybreakers. ps: See Daybrakers.
posted by Perko at 2:32 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


To elaborate: Yes, there is a government in the world of A Clockwork Orange, and yes, some of its machinations are a large part of the business of the plot, but to my understanding a dystopia is a society that is in some way awful and terrifying to contemplate or live in. There are plenty of arguments to be made about the aspect of coercion in the story, but Alex volunteers for the Ludovico treatment-- it isn't forced upon him by an uncaring or totalitarian government. Fear of the government or large structures is not really an aspect of the story. If there's anything awful and terrifying in the world of the story, it's youths.

It's much more an interrogation of the notion that evil is a consequence of free will, as I read it, than it is an interrogation of the rights of a people under a government of any sort. Which is why I think the 21st chapter is a cop-out-- the book challenges the reader to accept that we much tolerate evil in order to have free will by presenting the worst specimen of humanity imaginable as its charming narrator, posits that his regaining of free will (and consequent capacity for evil) is a happy ending, and then says 'Oh but don't worry because he grew up and learned to be good after all,' which undercuts the whole thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:33 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the 21st chapter was, "Oh but don't worry, we'll all grow up and start thinking with our reproductive organs." Not that Alex ever became good, just that what drove him changed - my high school lit teacher said, "From Clockwork Orange to Clockwork Green."
posted by muddgirl at 2:37 PM on December 4, 2012


(But of course reasonable people can differ, and I didn't much like my high school lit. teacher.)
posted by muddgirl at 2:40 PM on December 4, 2012


we'll all grow up and start thinking with our reproductive organs

Could you elaborate? A prominent plot point of the book involves the main character only thinking with his reproductive organs.

Also, Daybreakers is what is the spiritual successor of the yet to be actually filmed I Am Legend looks like.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:42 PM on December 4, 2012


Also my understanding is that Burgess didn't like the film for the same reason he regrets the book (and that Kubrick recalled the film in the UK)-- he thinks it's too easy to interpret it as glorifying violence.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:43 PM on December 4, 2012


Could you elaborate? A prominent plot point of the book involves the main character only thinking with his reproductive organs.

His drive to actually procreate - to make offspring. Not his drive to fuck.
posted by muddgirl at 2:46 PM on December 4, 2012


I thought the 21st chapter was, "Oh but don't worry, we'll all grow up and start thinking with our reproductive organs." Not that Alex ever became good, just that what drove him changed - my high school lit teacher said, "From Clockwork Orange to Clockwork Green."

Yeah, I'll agree that the movie ending was better, but the book did have kind of a neat numerical thing going where each 7 chapters are a complete cycle where the main character changes at the end. I kind of like the book ending, though, after all that Alex just kind of outgrows ultraviolence on his own.

Could you elaborate? A prominent plot point of the book involves the main character only thinking with his reproductive organs.

Alex meets Pete and his girlfriend who are now just normal folks, and Pete's girlfriend makes fun of Alex and asks Pete "did you used to use all that stupid slang too?". Alex realizes, more or less, that he should drop the whole droog act if he ever wants to get laid some way other than raping people, more or less.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:58 PM on December 4, 2012


Yeah, I've read the book, but I have never ever heard anyone describe wanting to have a kid as "thinking with his reproductive organs". Which has historically been used as a derogatory put down meaning a lack of thinking rather than enlightened. I'm sure I wasn't the only one here a little baffled at muddgirl's description of the ending thusly.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:07 PM on December 4, 2012


Yeah, my apologies for any confusion. If I'm still not being clear, when I said "driven by his reproductive organ" I didn't mean that as a euphemism for the phrase "thinking with his dick." I literally mean driven by his organic drive to reproduce, which is of course related to his penis as the organ of reproduction.

And repeating myself even further this is just one interpretation and I understand alternate ones which view that scene as something more optimistic.
posted by muddgirl at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2012


What always befuddled me about Equilibrium, despite the otherwise gloriously pretentious stupidity of the flick (and the joy of imagining the director jumping around in his backyard with Nerf guns while his kids facepalm in embarrassment), is the bizarrely complex pharmacology of the magic emotion suppressing drug:

- IV only?
- Half life so short that missing one day's dose causes the effect to wear off?
- Not addictive/without horrible withdrawal so that you feel sorry missing a dose anyway?
- And you have to go to a special office to get extra doses?

That said, missing a dose does cause Christian Bale to murder like a dozen men to protect a puppy, so there's that.
posted by demons in the base at 3:28 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not as much of a spread as Boondock Saints which I loved
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:40 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, on the list of biggest disparity I queried earlier, Boondock Saints comes in third, after Only the Strong and Modigliani.

Using the completely unscientific criteria of "Movies I had heard of before" the first four are:
Boondock Saints
Step Up
Drop Dead Fred
Atlas Shrugged Part I

Do with that what you will.
posted by RobotHero at 4:19 PM on December 4, 2012


Boondock Saints

*gagging sounds*
posted by shakespeherian at 4:22 PM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I notice that in speaking of types of dystopia, no one mentioned Brazil, which is dystopia by ridiculous bureaucracy. Wouldn't say that it's gritty or shiny--just mind-numbingly banal.
posted by TypographicalError at 4:48 PM on December 4, 2012


Oooh, the shiniest of shiny dystopias: Demolition Man.

Fellow greetings!
posted by brundlefly at 4:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I unabashedly love Equilibrium, but I tell everyone I show it to -- you have to approach it like a fairy tale. If you approach it as a movie that's making a serious statement about something that could really-for-real happen someday, it's going to fail. But I don't think the movie's trying to do that at all. It sets up some pretty ridiculous premises, not to make a logical point, but to make emotional ones, and once you buy into it -- if you can buy into it -- I think it's a pretty solid little movie.
posted by webmutant at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love this movie (and Ultraviolet, for that matter). They are sort of terrible, and Equilibrium in particular is just so horribly earnest, but they're both guilty pleasures for me. Nice to look at, awesome cast in both, someone gave a shit about them, and they're entertaining. Fun, and good crap.

(and I love Drive Angry too, I love b-movie Nic Cage and I will watch the Fichtner in anything, especially when he's being that twitchy mean guy (the snark during "the hemi or the four-forty?").
posted by biscotti at 5:03 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


anyone else think that the Clerics from this movie influenced The Operative in Serenity?

Prozium is Pax.

John Preston's little freakout at the sunrise is an early symptom of becoming a Reaver.
posted by stebulus at 5:48 PM on December 4, 2012


Don't forget the remix of Bale's rant on the set of Terminator 4, not to mention these amazing parodies of Bale (perfect impression) and Morgan Freeman (not so perfect) on the set of Dark Knight 3.
posted by Evilspork at 6:08 PM on December 4, 2012


Equilibrium (nonsensical Japanese title:Nemisis) started showing up on the basic cable movie channels here a couple of years ago. There are two channels, and as soon as one had finished its months long showings of the film, the other one would start up with it. It was just always there. I wondered, because I'd never heard of it before, if it was some sort of straight-to-video-because-everyone-sobered-up-and-said-my-god-what-have-we-done films that never gets released stateside, but gets first run treatment here.

It's awful, yet I can't turn it off. I'm a sucker for cool action sequences, but the story is like bad fiction from the overly earnest guy in the creative writing class, the one who asks you if you caught all the symbolism, then proceeds to explain it to you, just to make sure you see how cool it is.

But the action!

Still, let's say we've created the advanced art of Gun-fu, and those who've mastered the art are unstoppable killing machines. Where are the fail safes? If you've created the art of 'being where the bullets aren't,' couldn't you apply the same formula to create an anti-Gun fu style of aiming? "Oh shit, squad, another Cleric has lost it. Remember your Aim-katas, and we'll be home for tea."

Or, shit, shotguns? Claymore mines lining the approach to the dear leaders office? It doesn't matter how you contort your body when someone shoots you with a blunderbuss.

Still, there's got to be a whole warehouse of amazing ideas wasted on sub-par movies. Say, the scene at the end of Pulse (what, I can't have guilty pleasures?) where they drive through a random spot with good reception, and their phones are still on? Absolutely amazing scene, horrible film. The gun katas deserved better.

On the other hand, if it pops up while I'm switching channels, I'll still watch it to the end, so that's something.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:55 AM on December 5, 2012


Boondock Saints

*gagging sounds*


Someone once lent me a copy of Overnight--while I was watching it I assumed it was just a tremendously entertaining Spinal Tap style mockumentary about a first-time director with a hideously inflated sense of his own talent who attempts to make a movie and ends up pissing off everyone around him.

Afterwards, I discovered that I had in fact been watching an actual documentary featuring a real person, Troy Duffy. Truly, I was stunned.

If you haven't seen Overnight, I recommend it. It's a riveting trainwreck. Just make sure you have a shame pillow.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:58 AM on December 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Which way does the disparity go? Because Drop Dead Fred is a charming film that never seemed to get popular - did the critics like or not?
posted by jb at 5:10 AM on December 5, 2012


Oooh, the shiniest of shiny dystopias: Demolition Man.

Well, it wasn't shiny for Dennis Leary and the other folks cooking the rat meat.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:29 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah: It doesn't matter how you contort your body when someone shoots you with a blunderbuss.

Oh yeah well, you just wait til we get that inevitable crop of Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock inspired Matrix-y, sci-fi movies.

Master Neo Goodbody, thou mayest a-chooseth the ear of corn hued such as a sunset, or the ear of corn hued the shade of great bodies of ocean waters....
posted by Skygazer at 10:35 AM on December 5, 2012


Well, it wasn't shiny for Dennis Leary and the other folks cooking the rat meat.

You can't expect to eat at Taco Bell if you shun peace and joy-joy feelings.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:36 AM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ghidorah: If you've created the art of 'being where the bullets aren't,' couldn't you apply the same formula to create an anti-Gun fu style of aiming?

I guess we have to assume the Clerics are the first and so far only group to develop the training methods, or the analysis methods, that support their techniques. Give it a few thousand years and you'll have something more like Dune.
posted by stebulus at 12:08 PM on December 5, 2012


hurdy gurdy girl: "If you haven't seen Overnight, I recommend it. It's a riveting trainwreck. Just make sure you have a shame pillow."

I am happy that Boondock Saints exists, if only because Overnight couldn't without it. I am a big "shame pillow" user, but Duffy is such a horse's ass that I feel no empathetic embarrassment for him at all.
posted by brundlefly at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


stebulus, I can see that point of view. I'm just thinking, if you've got an entire dictatorship built upon controlling every aspect of the population, just maybe you're going to want to actually have controls in place. As mentioned earlier, the drug they use is horribly ineffective, so I guess what we have here is yet another absurdly fragile movie dictatorship. Let's just say, for a moment, that there was thought involved in creating that world, though. I can't see any totalitarian dictator creating an army of invincible badasses without some way of controlling them. It's essentially a 'before I kill you, Mr. Bond' scenario, where you lock Bond in the shark tank, but you ignore that the intake valve has bars wide enough for a person to saunter through.

When I invent a badass style of fighting that allows me to enforce my radical government based solely on the populace being willing to take an absurd drug every day, you can be damn sure I'll have secret methods in place to counter it more effective than guys standing stock still, firing where the guy used to be.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:14 PM on December 5, 2012


I can't see any totalitarian dictator creating an army of invincible badasses without some way of controlling them.

You're right, of course, but maybe we can kind of make it work. The dictator's got a pretty good ideological grip on the society as a whole, apparently, and I'd think the clerics are extra-brainwashed (or chosen in part for unusually firm devotion to the ideology). And maybe many of those who lose their faith might still prefer to ride the coattails of the dictator than risk a power struggle; the dictator might have co-opted several previous John Prestons. And, on a different line, maybe the dictator lives in a bubble that reinforces a delusion of invincibility. That does make him stupid, which is your point, I guess, but it's a believable kind of stupid, isn't it?

Also, aren't there examples in history of groups rising to temporary power on the strength of superior combat technique or technology? Egypt got conquered temporarily by those chariot guys, for example.
posted by stebulus at 1:35 PM on December 5, 2012


I wasn't quite clear in my first point: I meant that maybe the main control of the clerics is ideological control.
posted by stebulus at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2012


stebulus, ideological control might work, but then again, you're still dealing with a medical means of emotional suppression that lasts just a little bit longer than a sugar rush. If your super badass (so super bad ass that you're going to let him wear white instead of black, which I guess was supposed to be loaded with meaning) who is the exemplar of your convictions can crumble and fall because he missed a dose... Perhaps you're dictatoring wrong.

Besides, trying to rule over emotionless automatons, people forced to use pure logic, I'd imagine they'd be more difficult to control, always using logic to think about why their government is so bizarrely organized.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:39 PM on December 5, 2012


I stipulate that he's dictatoring wrong; I'm just hoping there's a way to make him, as I put it above, "a believable kind of stupid".

Yeah, the drug doesn't make much sense. Neither do its purported social effects. What we're told about the drug should perhaps be understood as a myth which is current in the society, not a truthful description of how the society functions. (Except insofar as the myth itself makes people behave as the myth says they are expected to behave.) A bit like Morpheus's battery nonsense.

But yeah, I'm reaching. And to really get into this, I'd have to watch the movie again, which is not a joyful prospect.
posted by stebulus at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which way does the disparity go? Because Drop Dead Fred is a charming film that never seemed to get popular - did the critics like or not?

I scraped Rotten Tomatoes but the originals are all still there.

Boondock Saints
Step Up
Drop Dead Fred
Atlas Shrugged Part I

And apparently the proof that my list is out-of-date is that Atlas Shrugged Part II wasn't on there.


I've only seen Boondock Saints and Step Up. Both are stupid but not boring.
posted by RobotHero at 10:25 AM on December 6, 2012


It is so cool to see this inconsequential post turn into such a neat discussion.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:42 AM on December 10, 2012


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