Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Black Hole

Black Hole is the first movie that lets the blog live up to its name. It stars Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson as two scientists racing against time to stop both a black hole and an energy monster from devouring St. Louis.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: “Yes, but does Judd Nelson do the fist thing at the end?” No, unfortunately, he does not. I understand if you don’t want to keep reading, but I suggest you continue, as this movie isn’t so different from The Breakfast Club.

The movie starts with the following information: “In 1999, a panel of nuclear physicists discussed the possibility that a heavy ion collider experiment could result in the formation of a black hole. After an extended debate, the panel decided that such a scenario was not just highly unlikely, but impossible.”

“Well,” you think, having read all that. “That was a surprisingly anticlimactic movie.”

But then! –

They were wrong.

And with those three words, you know that this movie is no joke. It’s rare that a movie flat-out warns you that nuclear physicists were wrong. But this movie goes there, and you have to respect them for that.

Buffy is running a routine nuclear collider thingy when something goes awry, and a small black hole forms in the collider. Two scientists go down to investigate and are attacked by an electricity monster named Shockey. He’s not given an official name in the movie, but “electricity consuming entity” is really wordy.

The Navy is called in – I don’t know why, but one of the gruff guys wearing all black says he’s Navy, so I’m going with it. The Navy drags Judd Nelson out of his house and to the ion collider facilities, because that’s where he worked before he became a drunk and his wife took their daughter and left. Or he became a drunk after that happened, and she left because he had a relationship with Buffy.

Sorry, I’m a little vague on the details. All you need to know is, he’s a drunk, and also, he looks like a mix between College Ted and Ted With A Goatee from How I Met Your Mother. No, really, check it out:

Sorry Judd's a little fuzzy, had to use YouTube to get a picture. If you don't see it, just trust me here.

Anyway. Ted Nelson and Buffy try to figure out what’s happening. They’re warned by the Navy guy that the President has authorized the use of nuclear weapons. They’re not actually sure what the problem is, but the President is totally ready to drop a nuke, if need be. And that’s what makes America great.

Shockey attacks, taking down several Navy guys in the process. He shoots tentacles of electricity out, but unfortunately, he doesn’t talk, so he can’t have a cool catchphrase like, “You’ve been Shockified!” The movie’s much better if you imagine he’s saying that whenever he electrocutes someone.

Shockey escapes from the facility, and the black hole keeps getting bigger. Ted Nelson realizes that there’s a correlation between the two, so he and Buffy decide to follow Shockey as he runs along electricity wires through the city. Shockey motors over to the electricity plant and starts feeding. You’d think they would have shut down the power plant by now, but apparently the government thinks stopping an energy monster is less important than people still being able to nuke their Hot Pockets.

Of course, if they had just shut off all the power, we wouldn’t have gotten to see the black hole devour half of St. Louis, as it proceeds to do. But, unlike most black holes, this one moves like a hurricane, leaving a path of destruction behind it rather than acting as a growing abyss, as one might expect. In fact, a news helicopter tracks it through much of the movie, hovering just overhead – it seems that black holes only suck laterally.

What I’m most impressed by is that the helicopter reporter correctly identifies the black hole, saying that, if he didn’t know better, he’d say he’s looking at a black hole. Remember this for when I finally post about Volcano: in St. Louis, a news reporter can identify a black hole as it plows through half of the city. In Los Angeles, reporters are mystified by lava.

In another unlikely turn of events, despite a black hole ravaging the city, everyone is shockingly calm. In fact, the only person who really seems to grasp the gravity of the situation is one Navy scientist guy who, upon seeing Shockey for the first time, randomly and hilariously vomits.

Upchuck has the worst luck of any character I’ve ever seen in a movie. Like I said, he randomly vomits in front of his coworkers at the sight of an electricity monster. Then, he sneaks off to the bathroom to regain his composure, only to be hit in the head with a falling metal grate. And finally, as he’s fleeing the facility because the black hole is growing, he’s sucked into it. No joke, in the span of maybe an hour and a half, the guy vomits, is knocked unconscious, and is then devoured by a black hole. Upchuck had a bad, bad day.

Ted Nelson devises a brilliant plan to lure Shockey into a storage container. Finally, he suggests they shut down the power plant. He figures that, if the black hole grows every time Shockey feeds, the only way to stop the black hole is to put Shockey back into it. He doesn’t explain his reasoning, but really, I don’t think we need to know it. I just trust that Ted Nelson knows what he’s doing.

Their first attempt to lure Shockey into the black hole involves trapping him in a storage container rigged up with electricity. Yes, his plan is to put a carrot in a box. But Shockey’s way too smart for that. He throws the storage container at the commandos, because that’s just how Shockey rolls.

The President has been itching to nuke the black hole since the earthquakes started (oh yeah, it caused like, eleven quakes in one day, but no one thought to leave the city until the mandatory evacuation order; although, if there are eleven quakes in one day, you should probably leave). So, the President wants to nuke St. Louis so bad that you have to wonder just what the city did to him.

But Ted Nelson, ever the buzzkill, thinks it’s a bad idea to drop a nuke into a black hole without knowing what will happen. Instead, he decides to rig up a generator truck and drive it into the black hole, with Shockey on board. Shockey takes the bait, and Ted Nelson cruises up to the event horizon of the black hole, then jumps out of the truck and holds onto the pavement due to his Spider-man-esque ability to cling to flat surfaces. The truck (and Shockey) go careening into the black hole, there’s a bright flash of light, and then the black hole is gone – as is Shockey.

St. Louis survives, minus one tacky “gateway arch.” Ted Nelson and Buffy get together. Everyone lives happily ever after, except for Shockey, who’s been banished to the outer reaches of the universe or something. There go my dreams of a sitcom about Buffy, Ted Nelson, and the wacky electricity monster that lives in their guest house.


If there’s a problem, we can nuke it: +35
Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson?: +14
No one said, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.” -6
Not destroying Chicago: -40
Shockey is awesome: +7
Shockey doesn’t get a catchphrase: -2
Shockey would rock a catchphrase if he had one: +4
Blatantly disregarding nuclear physicists: +12
The black hole moves like a hurricane: +3
The reporter actually knows what a black hole is: +2
The reporter’s helicopter isn’t sucked into the black hole: -11
No dramatic montages: -4
It really felt like it needed a dramatic montage: -5
Buffy doesn’t really do much: -1
She didn’t really need to, Ted Nelson was enough: +5
No precocious children: +10
No negligent parenting: +12
No negligent parenting: -11
Upchuck’s inexplicable vomiting: +17
Poor Upchuck: -3
More movies need terror-vomiting: +5
No “It’s Shockey!” sitcom: -14
It lives on in my mind: +28

Total: 57 out of 100

“I bet, when you woke up this morning, you didn’t think you’d be driving a truck into a black hole, especially not with me.” – Buffy

“I feel like I’m in a stupid video game.” – Soldier as he’s lying in wait for Shockey

“This sounds awfully convenient to me.” – Navy Guy, about the theory that dropping Shockey into the black hole will get rid of both.

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