The Grey VS The Edge

The Edge

There are obvious similarities between these two movies: both set in Alaska, both with men cut off from the outside world by a plane crash, and both groups being stalked by wild animals.  In The Grey wolves pick them off, one by one.  In The Edge a bear tracks them.  Which is the better movie?  That too is obvious.  The Edge has the edge.  Why?  It’s not due to the acting, which is excellent in both.  Liam Neeson is always believable, as is Anthony Hopkins.  The directing too is admirable, although the wolves are not always as present or real as that hellishly convincing bear with murder in its eyes.  It is the story that separates these movies.  Based on a hard-to-find short story by Ian Jeffers titled “Ghost Walker,” The Grey has in its premise the territorial nature of wolves, who will hunt anyone near their den, so when a group of oil field roughnecks crash land off the radar, their respective animosities are placed into perspective in order to survive.  Neeson’s character experiences flashbacks in which he remembers his wife, urging him not to be afraid.  While this one-trick pony is very effective, with a link to the poem recited, it also limits character depth, while at the same time making it clear that The Edge had an influence on this movie.  Unfortunately, instead of being written by a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright as was The Edge, the movie was written by its director, which is an unfortunate Hollywood trend (especially for we writers who’d like a shot at this.)  Can you be a great director and writer?  Maybe, but it is unlikely.  In this case, it is also obviously not true.  One should stick with what they do best, and leave what they don’t do best for professionals who do it better.  Accordingly, the dialogue is inferior to The Edge.  There is less scope to it, and the characters suffer because we are not shown who they really are, underneath.  By contrast, David Mamet was holding back in his movie.  For a full view of his powers, watch the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, which is based on Mamet’s incredible stage play.  (Try writing that, Joe.)  We are put into the character’s heads in The Edge.  And at the end, when the cynical billionaire played by Hopkins, (and whose wife has conspired with Alec Baldwin against him to get his money), arrives back at camp as the sole survivor, what does he say?  Not what you would expect from a typical Hollywood script.  Because, you see, the experience has changed everyone in the film, him included.  (Baldwin tried to kill him, but he forgave him for that, and indeed tried to save his life.)  So they ask him what happened to the others and he looks past them all, including his wife, and says, “they died. . .saving my life.”

Scarlett Johansson

UNDER THE SKIN beats LUCY hands down, but only if you hear the book first.

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