So today, on January 27th, 2012, a new movie called "The Grey" was released in theaters. Chazz and I went to see it since we didn't have school. Now, I know I just released another review only about a day ago, but I figured I'd try something new when reviewing a game, movie, song, or whatever it is that I experience. I want to try to review the experience as close to seeing/hearing it as possible to capture the fresh emotions I was feeling. So today I'm going to talk about the film The Grey.
So I'll try to go through this review without extreme spoilers, since some might just be looking for what other people thought of the movie instead of actually trying to figure out the plot. Basically, its about a group of workers from some oil rig getting on a plane ( I don't know if they're heading from Russia and into the U.S. or from one part of Alaska into the main U.S. body). If you've seen any trailer about this movie you'd know the plane crashes, and the survivors of the crash are left in an Alaskan desert (you know, the snow kind of desert ... yes, they do exist). Liam Neeson, who subtly takes the leader role of this motley crew of survivors, starts rounding up supplies and initiating the basic survival steps when the group realizes there are wolves in the area.
So after deciding what course of action to take, the band of workers take to a forest located nearby in an attempt to not only find help but to move away from the wolves' territory. Keep in mind, this is a thriller movie, so there's going to be a lot of death, loud noises, and scenes that make you jump. If you don't like that sort of thing, this isn't for you. Also, if you don't like Liam Neeson, this movie obviously is not for you. If you are a radical about God or religion, this movie might also not be for you. Throughout the movie, the survivors talk about their views and beliefs on God. At one point, Liam Neeson actually curses out God, and drops a few "f bombs" in while he's demanding divine help. There's also just a lot of profanity in general.
Finally, before I actually talk on my feelings about the movie, I'd like to point out that I read a couple reviews on some other sites before I wrote this, just to see what other people thought. There are a TON of critics out there that completely bashed this movie. Many described it as "unreal" (in the bad way) and "boring". They also talked about how Carnahan, the director of the movie, must have had an extreme animosity toward wolves due to the "feral nature he gives to this elegant and majestic animal of nature". The only point I could find myself to agree with by other critics was on the graphics of the wolves; they weren't exactly great. There were quite a few times where I could tell it was a machine or an animation. I'm not asking them to kill/abuse real wolves (for as my friends will tell you, I'm an animal lover; particularly I love dogs), however with the technology available to us I feel they could have done a bit better.
Honestly, I really enjoyed it. However, in order to enjoy it, you have to keep in mind a few thoughts while watching it to truly enjoy the movie. The first is simple; of course it's unreal. It's a movie. The only movies that actually "try" to be realistic movies are those like Paranormal Activity or Apollo 18, and this was certainly not one of those. I mean, Neeson lands practically unharmed from the crash pretty much lounging in his seat for crying out loud. The movie isn't trying to be real, nor was it ever trying. If you wanna see real surviving, go watch Bear Grylls drink his own piss on Discovery. You must keep in mind how this movie was meant to be symbolic and not visually real, but I'll get to that later.
The next thing you have to keep in mind is the question: "Is a thriller movie for me?" How do you know if a thriller is your genre? You know it's not when you find them boring. Suspense not only requires time, but it needs to be set up accordingly to be at least decently executed. It doesn't just happen in the blink of an eye. You must also keep in mind that this is an action/horror thriller, which is not the same as a mystery thriller. I say horror simply because the same scenario; that is, surviving an air plane crash and facing the elements, could happen to anyone, and it already has. There's no grand scheme or huge riddle to be solved here. And honestly, even if you are a thriller lover, there are going to be some thrillers that you simply don't like; it could be the setting, the characters, the actors, the director, or you could simply just be displeased with the movie. There could be some other factor contributing to your dislike of the film rather than simply the genre.
Lastly, you must keep in mind the symbolic nature of this piece. Please, keep an open opinion while watching this piece. The ferocity of the wolves, the morally corrupt "friends", the barren landscape; it's all a metaphor. Now obviously everyone interprets metaphors differently, and I'll attempt to explain to you how I saw the movie. I saw the crash into the wasteland as a metaphor for the support one has in the current world of today. If something happens to you, no one's going to save you; you have to help yourself. I took the aggressive wolves to be the evil in the world, and how society will rip you up and spit you out if you don't try to make something of yourself. I saw the morally corrupt workers as the film saying that you can't trust your friends to protect you and help you all the time; there's going to be times where you need to support yourself.
It's strange, because I was just having a conversation with my mother the other day about God. My point was, when you experience a rough spot in your life and make it out alive, for lack of a better word, why thank God? And to a further extent, why pray? If I just sit in church all day and ask God to help me, will my problems be solved? Or should I thank and be proud of myself for surviving all this way to make it out of the trouble? My mom, obviously a more firm believer in God, held the opinion that God gives you the strength and the willpower to get through those dark times if you pray and ask for help; so, in other words, he'll help you mentally conquer your challenges.
Again, that's just my personal views, and these are not the views of anyone else that writes for Project: Better Dolphin. Please don't be offended if you disagree. This movie, however, discusses the same thing; it shows that you need to support yourself to get out of tough times and rough spots, simply because no one else is going to do that for you.
The only thing I really didn't like about the movie was the humans' brutality toward the wolves. I mean, sure, I can partially understand why they treat them with such disrespect; the wolves are hunting them down and "dehumanizing" them. I understand that it's the natural mindset of humans when something like that happens. However, like I said, I'm an animal lover, and half the time, I didn't know whether to feel bad for the wolves or the survivors. Obviously and inevitably, the gang cooks one of the wolves they kill to eat as food. However, they do a bunch of degrading actions to the body such as stabbing it almost a million times, decapitating it and throwing it "back to the pack", and also the simple derogatory language they use toward it. I was upset, but I honestly wasn't sure for who, and I think that conflicting feeling was meant to be experienced by the audience to not only show one's compassion for human suffering, but also the hate for human corruption.
All in all, I really enjoyed the movie. Regardless of what others say, it had a really deep and meaningful question about life, and the actors preformed phenomenally. While on the surface being a tad bit cliche with the whole, "Oh my god the plane crashed and now we're in the middle of nowhere," type plot, it reaches out to make itself unique by presenting a creative way of presenting the events and asking its audience a deep and moving question. As I said, the wolves could have been a bit better, but overall, it was spectacular.
Peter, The SteamWorks