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The Grey

January 31, 2012

I don’t know why I bother with Hollywood.  I love movies but the frustration is going to give me a stroke someday.  If the unremitting leftwing propaganda isn’t bad enough, the adamant stupidity of the writers pounds the cork into the bottle. isn’t normally a place for reviewing movies but sometimes Hollywood makes a film so stupid, so blatantly ignorant, and so devoid of common sense that the only cure for the insult to my sensibilities is an expression of my loathing.  Like I did last February about The Eagle.

This time it’s The Grey, starring Liam Neeson, the guy who just last week announced that he was considering converting to Islam because the prayer calls in Turkey were so beautiful.  Clearly, anybody shallow enough to make decisions about his immortal soul based on how pretty the noontime chant sounds while he’s eating lunch is no kind of mental giant, but people learn to ignore the inanities of movie actors’ real lives and accept the role they’re playing... especially people who are conservatives, since most of Hollywood is populated with preachy, ignorant, annoying liberals.

But it’s awfully difficult to believe in the role when the actor is given a script as phenomenally stupid as The Grey.  If you don’t want the plot spoiled for you, read no further, but trust me: you don’t want to waste money on this movie.

The stupidity starts before you get to the theatre because “The Grey” refers to a breed of wolf but that breed is actually called the gray wolf, timber wolf, Arctic wolf, Mexican wolf, and a few other names, but never “grey” wolf.  In the English language, “gray” and “grey” are interchangeable when referring to colors, with the Brits preferring “grey” and Americans preferring “gray” and nobody seriously quibbling about it.  Both spellings are correct.  But when it comes to the name of the species Canis lupus, well, gee willickers, that’s a name and suddenly spelling matters.

So they are gray wolves, not grey wolves, and the title is your first clue that this thing was written by idiots—people who can’t even Google.

The action starts when a planeload of oil field workers crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, leaving eight survivors.  It’s clear they are nowhere near civilization and it becomes obvious very quickly that there is a pack of wolves who object to their presence.  In typical Hollywood, politically-correct, environmental-whacko, man-is-always-bad-and-nature-is-always-good fashion, this is explained by Neeson’s character not as wild animals wanting something to eat, but rather as the wolves “sensing that we don’t belong here and trying to correct the situation.”

Right.  Because wolves have all this spare time during the winter for “correcting situations.”

That’s merely the first of many moments that make you wish for a barf bag from the crashed plane.

The wolves immediately start picking off the men one by one, mostly because they seem to be a group of individuals with sub-80 IQs hampered by brain damage from alcohol abuse.  (They raid the serving tray from the plane and spend the first night passed out drunk.)  Neeson’s character takes charge because he’s a professional hunter and makes them take turns on guard duty after the wolves bag their first victim shortly before the sun sets...

...which, Hollywood must not be aware, doesn’t actually happen in northern Alaska in the winter.  It’s pretty much night all the time.  Oh well, back to the story...

Instead of building an igloo, which almost every kid north of the Mason Dixon Line has done at some point in his childhood and takes all of about fifteen minutes if you work at it, and would have kept them warm and snug as bugs in a rug as well as perfectly safe from the doggone wolves, they build a fire and fall asleep atop the snow in various spots inside and outside the pieces of fuselage from the plane.  In sub-zero temperatures.

If there was any common sense involved, that would have been the end of the movie right there because they would have frozen to death.  Each and every one of them.  I wish that’s what happened but unfortunately the movie continued.

For some inexplicable reason, the final guard on duty, in spite of the giant wolves, decides to walk away from the fire and his sleeping buddies in the middle of the night to take a leak.  It’s not simply that this is typical dumbass horror film fare, one person walking away from the safety of the crowd.  It’s not just that.  It’s the fact that the temperature is below zero and when it gets that cold men pee into the fire.  Trust me on this.  Ask any man you know.  When it’s really cold—frostbite cold—men have a primal fear of exposing their members.  We’re afraid it will freeze solid and break off like an icicle, or get frostbitten and require amputation, or something else nightmarish.  So we pee at the fire, where our favorite body part can stay nice and warm, and we can check it out in good light (we have to check them out periodically), and maybe even write our names in the ashes.

Maybe the script for The Grey was written by women.

Anyway, after that moron is killed, Liam decides they should run for their lives.  Never mind that a timber wolf can run thirty five miles-per-hour—three times faster than a man—and makes its living chasing critters like elk, deer, and moose.  Never mind that.  Liam insists they need to “make for the tree line” because... well, I don't know.  Maybe he thinks timber wolves got their name by refusing to go into the timber?

At this point, does it surprise you that nobody survives this thing?

They continue getting slaughtered by the wolves one after another as the wolves take advantage of the idiotic moves they make... also, coincidentally, one after another.  Running for the tree line actually turns into a slow plod because of the snow and one guy falls considerably behind the others, who apparently don’t give a hoot so the wolves pick him off.  Five men still alive.

There is a black man still alive and of course Hollywood never lets the black man last long so he falls asleep and dies from altitude sickness even though they do not appear to be on a mountain of any sort.  A quick Google search would have informed the Hollywood writers that altitude sickness is something that happens above 8,000 feet and the tree line ends at about 3,000 feet in Alaska, and since the five men were sitting in the timber at this point, well, gee whiz, the black man could not have died of altitude sickness.  In my theater seat, I am literally groaning in pain from the assault on my brain cells at this point.  Four men still alive.

When they get to a cliff, instead of finding a way down that wolves might find uncomfortable (wolves not being known for their climbing abilities and rappelling equipment), they send one man diving off the cliff like a flightless dodo bird into the tops of some pine trees so he can affix a rope made out of clothing for the rest of them to climb down.  Apparently the illogic of this escaped the man doing the diving.  If I were he, I would have said as calmly as the situation warranted, “Hey, if one man can dive into the pine tree tops and survive well enough to tie a line for everybody else, why don’t we all dive into the pine tree tops?”  The pine trees end up killing two of them, one because the rope made out of clothing parts (oops, somebody tied a granny knot instead of a square knot?) and the other because he tries to climb down to the dead guy too fast and breaks his ankle.  Broken ankles being a handicap when you are running from a pack of wolves, that’s the end of him.  Against all odds, the diving dodo bird guy is one of the two men still alive.

This is when Mr. Dodo stops in his tracks and asks Mr. Neeson if he is suicidal.  Not that I blame him for asking such a question after the series of idiotic decisions by Neeson which have whittled the eight survivors down to two, but the middle of a wolf chase seems like a strange time to stop and probe somebody’s psychological outlook on life.  Maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, sure as shootin’, the delay allows the wolves to catch up and attack, sending the two men tumbling into an icy river where Mr. Dodo catches his foot in an underwater crevice and drowns.  He keeps yelling at Neeson (from underwater, so he’s really gurgling at Neeson) trying to tell him his foot his stuck and Neeson keeps yelling back at him, “Save your air!”  Sheesh.  By this time I was very sympathetic to the wolves’ point of view.  One man left alive.

I’m not sure how flowing open water in the middle of winter in northern Alaska even happens (the river should have been frozen solid), but since the Hollywood writers put it there and had Neeson swimming around in it, his next move should have been to climb out of the river—on the opposite bank from the wolves, right?—and build a fire to dry himself before he died of hypothermia.  Even with the best outdoor skills, it would have been nip and tuck.  Wet clothes, sub-zero temperatures, creeping lassitude, numb fingers, trying to get the fire started before it’s too late... aw, never mind.  None of that happens.  He climbs out on the same side of the river as the wolves and simply starts walking again.  Eventually he stops, kneels, and builds a pile of wallets from all the guys who died (most of whom are dead because of his stupidity but who’s pointing fingers?), apparently looking for some sort of epiphany that will end the movie because even he wants it to end.

That’s when he realizes he has come to a stop in the middle of the wolves’ den.  Yep.  He knows this because there is a big circle surrounded by snarling wolves and the circle is full of giant skeletons left by the messy wolves who apparently have wolf shopping carts they use to transport the elk, moose, and buffalo they kill back to their den instead of eating them where they killed them like all the other wolves in the world.  Or maybe there is some kind of wolf takeout service up there in Alaska and the wolves order dead moose anytime they want on their wolf cellphones and if it doesn’t get delivered in thirty minutes it’s free.  I don’t know.  Ask Hollywood.

And the lazy mutts don’t even clean up after themselves.  They just leave the bones in the den.  That annoyed me, too.  Slobs.

I won’t burden you with the ending.  There is only one thing that matters: by the time you get to that point, the horror of what happens to these eight men will be long gone, replaced by the far greater horror of how truly awful this movie is, and you will be rooting with great enthusiasm for the wolves.

From Reno, Nevada, USA       

February 23, 2012 - Although I haven't watched the movie, I've seen the trailers and noted how idiotic was the premise. Most writers know absolutely nothing about the real outdoors as their only venture into "the wild" is to take a stroll on a dirt trail in Griffith Park, in the middle of Los Angeles. I live in Idaho where we are over run with transplanted Canadian Gray wolves which have hammered the elk and deer herds, and killed many cattle, sheep, and peoples' dogs. No one I know goes out into "wolf country" -- and that's almost anywhere in Idaho --- without firearms. Same for people I know who live in Alaska. Makes one wonder why the "professional hunter" didn't have any firearms with him, doesn't it? Oh I forgot: the writers needed to have them unarmed for the flick to work. Hmmm. Guess I will stay at home, save my money for something worthwhile, and look to my survival kit for when I go up into the vast mountains of Idaho. - Charles, Idaho
J.P. replies: Much as it pains me to defend this movie even a tiny bit, after I spent ten minutes mumbling, "Where's your gun, asshole?  You boarded the plan with a gun, remember?" he finally ran across his gun and it was broken.  So the writers did deal with that particular issue, although you and I know the notion of a planeload of Alaskans having only one guy with a gun is fairly ridiculous.  Thing is, they had a whole plane to scavenge, so why in the world didn't they find SOMETHING to use as a weapon?  If I left that plane to start walking (which I probably wouldn't) I would have been semi-armor plated, especially where wolves like to attack, and I would have been bristling with an array of sharp objects.

February 7, 2012 - This made me laugh! Partly because I can just picture you in the theatre with your big bucket of popcorn and milk duds, mad as heck at hollywood. - Samwise, Michigan

February 5, 2012 - Poor Liam, he lost his beautiful wife and now he has gone off his rocker. I will not waste any money or time on his movie. Searched yesterday for a movie to go to, and so I was desperate and picked a silly Stephanie Plum. Even though you don't hear from me [often], I value your writings. Love you, - Lea, Illinois
J.P. replies: "Poor Liam, he lost his beautiful wife and now he has gone off his rocker."  That’s a great line, Lea.  I wish I’d written it.

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