Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Makes a Hero?

“I only mention it because sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right 
in there.”

10 most heroic moments from movies

“No use, Joker! I knew you'd employ your sneezing powder, so I took an Anti-Allergy Pill! Instead of a sneeze, I've caught you cold!” - Adam West as the campy 60’s Batman. 

Movies are where heroes live and here are some of their most heroic deeds. This is by no means a definitive list, it’s buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest. You may find your favourite heroic event missing and for that we’re sorry. Then again some of these you will most definitely disagree with and that’s fine but we do hope they make you think because if we’ve learnt anything from the movies it’s that you don’t have to wear a cape to be a hero. Being a hero doesn’t mean leaping from an exploding building while holding a beautiful woman in your arms. Sometimes saving the day can be as easy as stepping up on stage in front of a crowded room or a stopping a mummy from sucking your best friend’s soul out through his arse. So open your mind and enjoy some pure, heroic moments.

Raiders of the Lost Ark 

There are so many heroic moments in this movie it’s almost impossible to pick just one. Andy running from the giant boulder at the beginning is pure ironic movie heroism. Climbing under the nazi truck? The swim to the submarine? This is not an easy choice but there is one moment in this film where we all found ourselves jumping from our seats to cheer on Indiana Jones. The bit where instead of fighting the giant swordsman Indy simply pulls his gun and shoots him.
Legend goes that during filming Harrison Ford had been suffering from dysentery and exhaustion due to the extreme heat of Tunisia during filming. As originally planned, a scene was elaborately choreographed, with Jones facing the expert swordsman and trying to defeat him with just his whip. Some footage of the planned fight was shot (and was seen in at least one of the movie's trailers) but the filming was proving to be very tedious, both for Ford and the crew, and at some point the star had had enough. It has been widely reported that he said something to Spielberg along the lines of, "I have a gun why don't I just shoot the son of a bitch?" Spielberg liked the idea, scrapped the rest of the fight scene, and filmed the brief sequence that appears in the movie. It sums up Indy’s character perfectly - he’s a hero who doesn’t play by the rules. 

When We Were Kings

"I dun sumthin’ special for this fight! I dun wraselled an alligator. I hospitalised a brick! I’m so bad I make medicine sick!" 
Regular readers will know this is one of our favorite movies and with good reason. It’s the story of Muhammad Ali going to Zaire to square off against George Forman in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle.” The moment of pure heroism in this movie is summed up by a still shot. A photograph that features Norman Mailer and George Plimpton - respected writers in Zaire to cover the fight. Both men didn’t believe Ali could beat the monster that was George Foreman. The photo was taken at the exact moment Ali did just that. Floored Foreman. Both Mailer and Plimpton are rising from their seats with expressions of disbelief and excitement dancing on their faces. It doesn’t come better than that and heroes don’t come bigger than Muhammad Ali. 

Shaun of the Dead

“Take car. Go to mum's. Kill Phil - "Sorry." - grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?”

Sometimes heroes rise from the most unlikely of places. In the case of this movie Shaun - a hopeless drone in electronic retail shop - gets his call to greatness when Zombies start taking over the world. It’s the classic story boy meets girl, girl becomes disillusioned with boy, girl leaves boy, the dead rise and start eating the living. It’s a Zom-Rom-Com. Shaun’s heroic fate is one I think all of us can identify with, while everyone else is running scared he assembles his friends and leads them to the safest place he knows - the pub. You can’t really get more heroic than that. After all, if the end of the world is happening what better place to wait it out than your local boozer?  

The Last Boy Scout

In the early 90's, there was a definite, consistent presence in action movies: slow motion cinematography, wild gun-play, and funny one-liners. Granted, there are still some of those today, but it just wasn't the same as was back in the heady days of expolison-filled flicks like The Last Boy Scout. Now there are so many special effects in the current action films that it drowns out what used to be the true heart of the "popcorn flick". Bruce Willis character Joe - a jaded, deadbeat P.I. - saves the life of the man who ruined his career, and avenges the death of the guy that fucked his wife. But his true moment of heroic glory comes when he casually tells a villain that if he touches him again he’ll kill him. Needless to say the guy touches him again and Joe does kill him - just a casually as he issued the threat. Classic. The jig at the end after he offs the bad guy into the blades of a passing helicopter is pretty sweet too.

Sin City

Delivered in a blistering ballet of bullets and blood, dames and danger at every turn.  Sin City is a pitch-perfect adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels based in the fictional town of Basin City. A kinetic masterpiece of pop culture. Chief amongst the town's residents is Marv, who trawls the darkest areas of the city looking for the person who killed his one true love, Goldie. Marv - as played by Mikey Rourke - is a monstrous unstoppable man mountain who bats cops and crooks aside as if they were flies. Marv is covered in scars, mentally unhinged, violent and never far from a drink... or trouble. Hardly what you might call hero material. But when he faces off against the silent, smiling psychopath Kevin then I defy anyone not to feel like cheering. Even when Marv feeds Kevin to his own dog - while he’s still alive - you can help but feel your heart lift almost as much as your stomach churns. The big man himself sums it all up when he says - “I've been framed for murder and the cops are in on it. But the real enemy, the son of a bitch who killed the angel lying next to me, he's out there somewhere, out of sight, the big missing piece that'll give me how and the why and a face and a name and a soul to send screaming into hell.” You can’t spell anti-hero without “hero” I say.   

Field of Dreams

Sometimes heroes do crazy things. That’s what makes them heroes. Come on, no sane person would run into a burning building to save a child would they? Logic often doesn’t play a part in heroic acts. There’s no place for it to be honest. Heroes defy logic and sanity. Never has that been more obvious than in the heroic act that Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costtner in his best role ever) undertakes in Field of Dreams. 
He ploughs under his cornfield to build a baseball diamond - putting his farm, his family and his sanity at risk. Why? Because a voice tells him too. This starts him on a journey that ends with not a dry eye in the house. But this isn’t just a heroic moment because of it’s sheer insanity it’s also heroic because Ray listens to the voice in his head and acts on it. So often we ignore the voice inside us because - frankly - its suggestions are pretty crazy but I think if more of us acted on our inner voices we’d live in a more interesting world. Expect if your voice is telling to buy a semi-automatic weapon and pick off people like ants from a high tower. Don’t listen to that voice. That’s a bad voice. 

Team America: World Police

There is a moment in Team America that rivals some of the greatest most heroic moments in any movie with, or without, puppets. Broadway star and World Police officer Gary Johnston must face Alec Baldwin president of the Film Actors Guild in an “act off” in front of the assembled leaders of the free world. The speech unites everyone, saves the world and defeats the bad guy. Here printed, in it’s entirety, is that speech.  
We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!” 

Bubba Ho-tep

Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by cult author Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-tep tells the "true" story of what really did become of Elvis Presley. We find Elvis (Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his "death", then missed his chance to switch back. Elvis teams up with Jack (Ossie Davis), a fellow nursing home resident who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, and the two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as a place to feed his hunger by sucking the residents souls out through their arses. 
I’m not pointing to any one heroic moment in this film the movie in itself is pretty damn heroic. An aging Elvis fighting a mummy in a retirement home? It’s astounding that anyone actually gave them money to make this crazy piece of film-making in the first place. But they did and it’s a mad little gem of a movie. The heroic element in this movie is actually one of the most heroic things I can think of - enduring friendship. Elvis and JFK face old age and a soul-sucking demon together. I can only hope that later in life my friends and I can share that kind of friendship. Minus the mummy of course.  

Napoleon Dynamite

The misleading tagline for this film reads - “He’s out to prove he’s got nothing to prove.” Fricking idiots. The marketing boffins that came up with that garbage should be tied to a piece of nylon and dragged behind a school bus. 
Preston, Idaho's most curious resident, Napoleon Dynamite, lives with his grandma and his 32-year-old brother (who cruises chat rooms for ladies) and works to help his best friend, Pedro, snatch the Student Body President title from mean teen Summer. 
Like Bubba Ho-tep this is another movie about friendship amongst many other things, including - but not limited to - cage fighting, ligers, time machines, tater tots, lazy lamas and becoming president. It’s this last thing that brings us to our heroic moment and it’s a doozy - which is why I’ve saved it for last. 
With everything hanging in the balance, Pedro mounts the stage and delivers his student body presidential candidate speech. It doesn’t exactly set the world on fire so ubernerd Napoleon Dynamite leaps onto stage and rocks out to the phat beats of Jamiroquai. He puts everything on the line for his friend - well he risks making even more of a frickin’ idiot of himself. But that heroic act of friendship is something wonderful to behold. Something Awesome. 


Two men in search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves. Hardly a movie you expect to find a hero. After all, can you really only enjoy films where the characters are people you'd happily have over to your home for dinner? Well the two guys in this film would make your skin crawl if they sat down next to you. 
Feature Films are not popularity contests. And sometimes heroes can be people we don’t actually like very much. When the character of Miles (Played brilliantly by tubby every-man Paul Giamatti) steals cash from his mother's bedroom dresser near the beginning of the film do we find him morally reprehensible? Absolutely. But your heart breaks for him when he does it. You can see how much he hates himself. 
 Thankfully Miles redeems himself at the end when he climbs the steps to Maya’s door and knocks on it. This is a moment of heroism equal to every hostage ever rescued by Arnie, ever. For anyone that’s ever been there, those steps are like Everest. The simple act of raising your arm to knock on that door is like lifting an elephant. How does Maya react when she answers his knock? We’ll never know and we don’t need to because the real moment of power, moment of glory lies in Miles plucking up the courage to rap his knuckles on the door of the woman who just might be the love of his life.