I went to the movies this month. For most people that is no big deal, but I don't see that many movies.
I do see all the Ocean's movies, and so I had to catch the latest caper and I had to see it in the theater. So off we went, my husband and I. We were on vacation in Miami and there were thunderstorms in the afternoon forecast, a perfect time to see the one movie that we both had to see this summer.
We settled into the cool and quiet theater for the mid-day show. The coming attractions began and there were quite a few of them. There was the one for the new Pixar movie with the French rat -- it looked good and I would take the kids when we got back. There was one for the new Bourne movie -- another series that I love. There was one for some dumb romance movie -- which I never like. I am a spy movie junkie.
Then there was a teaser for the new Will Smith movie. He is shown putting his family on some kind of boat or plane to get them out of harm's way. He is shown as a tough-guy Marine or Special Ops Army guy. He is shown with his dog and his gun, ready to defend, to fight and to save us all.
Then they show the real action, in short bursts as these trailers often do. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge as a missile flies into it. The Brooklyn bridge and the Manhattan Bridge behind it both destroyed, twisted metal and damaged pylons. The spans are gone and the sky behind is smoldering. Cut to emptiness on the island of Manhattan. Crumbled buildings and streets with tumble weeds blowing down them. Will Smith is the last man, the only person on the island. New York has been deserted. The war has been lost. All that is left is utter desolation and abandoned silence.
I can't even tell you what the last scenes of this trailer were. Because I was in a complete panic. New York was twisted metal and piles of rubble, again. I had lived through the actual events of 9/11, I had been subjected to the trailers for Flight 93 and the World Trade Center Movie, as well as the Day After Tomorrow and countless other post-apocalyptic visions of the city I call home. All I could think of was, why us?
This was going to be a big movie, Will Smith is a big box office draw. They were going to show this trailer again and again, plus they would show it on TV. So my kids would see it. We would see it as we watch the fall baseball games or the new NBC line up. These horrible images -- so real and so close to me -- would be all over the airwaves, on posters in the subways, on billboards everywhere. And, I did notice through my heavy breathing and tight feeling of anxiety in my chest, it was scheduled to be released December 14th -- just in time for the holidays!
I realize that the movie is done. I know that they won't change it now and that the money has all ready been spent for the multi-million dollar advertising campaign. But I have a request for Hollywood: pick on some other city next time. New York doesn't need to be the city that gets destroyed again and again. And while you guys are at it, why don't you stop making these grim, post-Armageddon films. Why don't you focus on entertainment rather than fear-mongering? You guys must have some tie to the pharmaceutical companies as well, because after that trailer (nevermind, the whole movie) all I wanted was an anti-anxiety medication, maybe an Atavan or two.
My father says I am overreacting, and maybe I am. But I am sure of one thing: I don't need any help to imagine the end of the world as I know it. And instead of filling my head with computer-animated images of the final battle I will choose to go see one of those light romantic comedies. They may be stupid and lack the action of the sleek spy movies I generally favor, but at least I will be able to escape from the realities of the dangers of the world instead of having them shown to me in super slow-mo and close up.
All I can really hope for is that the movie, which is titled I Am Legend (but the poster seems to call it Last Man on Earth is Not Alone), will fail. Maybe people won't want to see this kind of movie in December, when we are all gathering and singing and wrapping gifts. Maybe this movie will be the Ishtar of '07. Maybe this will be the last of its kind, just like the title character.
Maybe next time I go to the movies I should get there late, after the coming attractions are over.