Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Filmic Measures-Where's the Airship Movies

Back in January, before many people were reading this site, I did a post in preparation of seeing Leap Year about what I deemed Chocolate Bar Movies. I think all critics do this to some extent: make up definitions of critical measures in which to judge movies of a certain genre. Gene Siskel used to fondly quote Howard Hawkes who, when asked what a good movie was, replied "Three great scenes and no bad ones." These little tidbits always come out when thinking about certain films of certain genres and are generally quite helpful in both defining and gauging the success of like-films. Needless to say, from the couple of people who read the Chocolate Bar Movie post, they seemed to like it, so not only am I going to do it again, but I've even given it a name so that it can be like a new series around here, although, as regular readers know, my series' happen, not so much on a regular basis as whenever I feel like I have something to add to them. No matter, let's get to it.

The logic behind Where's The Airship Movies comes from The Incredible Hulk. Let me pull a quote from me original review

Around the midway point of the Incredible Hulk, the not-quite sequel to and not-quite remake of the 2003 Ang Lee Hulk film, General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) looks off into the sky after watching the Hulk take out a barrage of foot soldiers, hummers and two high powered cannons, and in close-up asks, “Where’s that airship?” That’s basically the question at the heart of the entire new Hulk adventure: when the soldiers don’t stop him, and the hummers don’t stop him, and the tanks don’t stop him, well, where’s that airship?

And so the term was born. Where's the Airship Movies describe a not new trend in recent action films in which the focus is on throwing as much fire power on the screen as possible to basically no avail. It describes the useless endeavours of the human characters in the Transformers movies, who throw everything they have at the big robots without ever leaving so much as a dent. It refers to metal crashing against metal; rock against rock; bullet against wall; and so on. If the handgun doesn't work let's get out the shotgun, the machine gun, the bazooka, the cannon and so on. It talks about films in which the bad guys throw millions of rounds of ammunition the hero's way and never so much as even come close to hitting him. In all simplicity, it describes films that have no more in mind than blowing up as much real estate as possible. There's nothing to care about in these films in terms of character or story because, their narrative ark always comes down to the same thing in the end: just where the hell is that airship already?


  1. Psst...there's another Toronto Movie Blogger get-together happening soon.


  2. Great post. Not sure I can watch another action film without think about the "Airship" term.

    I hope you do not mind but your article inspired me to write about my own filmic measure of sorts.

  3. For some reason this makes me think of the scene in Superman II when the three badasses from Krypton are smashing their way through the offices of The Daily Planet, and people are doing things like pushing file cabinets at them. Um, yes, that's their kryptonite -- they are impervious to bullets, but a well-placed file cabinet will kill them instantly.

  4. That's a good one but one of the best such scenes in in Collateral Damage where Arnold takes a baseball bat to an office and starts smashing everything saying "Here's your F***ing collateral damage." Of course His flicks always seem to rise above this Where's the Airship tag, which really only applies to bad action movies.