Friday, February 3, 2012

The Grey

Last weekend I saw the new movie The Grey. From the preview it looks like it is supposed to be the most intense movie ever. Liam Neeson fighting wolves? Yes please. Check out the trailer below...

After watching the film I can say this...the trailer is a bit misleading. Yes, the film is super intense at parts but there are also long scenes of character development that I appreciate but after a point it just becomes dragging.

Don't read this if you don't want spoilers. Sorry.

A brief summary: A group of men flying home from working at an oil plant crash in the wilderness of Alaska. The few survivors quickly realize they are within the territory of a clan of wolves who consider them a threat and will attack them at any chance. As they try to flee the wolves they realize that survival becomes less and less of a possibility...

There are two ways to look at this movie. One, this is just a survival movie of men against the elements and wolves (think an episode of Bear Grylls). Two, this movie isn't so much about men literally surviving as it is a metaphor of their pasts catching up to them and trying to outrun them.

Viewpoint one: There are some serious flaws in this film. A group of men in the wilderness of Alaska trying to stay alive while wearing jeans and wool gloves? C'mon. Yes, they take what they can from the plane wreckage, but all they end up with is layers of sweaters and a few pairs of gloves? There is no way they could survive. To try and escape the wolves the remaining men make a rope out of shirts to cross a ravine. Three (THREE!) men make it across before the rope bridge collapses with one man hanging for dear life. When he falls to the ground on the other side there are wolves waiting to eat him. What? Ignore the fact that there is no way that three men could cross a ravine with a shirt rope but wasn't the point the point of crossing the ravine to get away from the wolves? How the hell are they then waiting on the other side? I am no wolf expert but I also find much of the behavior portrayed by the wolves as ridiculous.  The omega wolf (scroll down to the section of Social Structure) from the pack attacking the one guy who doesn't like the group mentality? Yeah, I am sure wolves pick that out.  I could go into some other problems but I think I have made my case clear enough.

Viewpoint two: This is the way that I prefer to look at the movie.  Halfway through it made me think about the book The Life of Pi. Each character (the men, wolves, even the wind and snow) were more than what you saw on the surface.  By focusing on the slow parts instead of the intense parts I got a different perspective on the film.  One man was trying to survive to get back to his two girls, one man wanted to see his sister again, another just didn't want this swan song to be him having sex with a 250 pound prostitute.  I won't give away Neeson's past (this isn't one big spoiler!) but each main character had a specific history that drew you in and made you understand why they wanted to survive so badly.  When looking at the film from this angle you realize that the details of survival don't matter so much, this film is about how no matter what we do our past haunts us and we have to live with it.  The mistakes (wolves) we have made will catch up with us.  Each one of these men wanted to get home to try and make a better life, to turn the corner and live the life they were supposed to.  Yeah, this is a downer film.

I'll be honest, I don't need to see this film again.  It was ok but depressing and again, the slow parts were sloooooow. I give it a B-.  


Sarah Johnston said...

I *just* walked in the door from having seen this. I quite liked it. I was equally perturbed that the wolves were waiting on the OTHER SIDE of the giant cavernous river, and the fact that Neeson didn't immediately freeze after getting out of the icy creek and keeping his wet clothes on infuriated me, but so it goes. He made up for it with the mini bottle wolverine glove.

Stefan said...

Yeah, there were some pretty obvious plot holes... That is why I prefer to look at the movie on a "deeper" level.