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Thursday, 26 December 2013

When heroes are not that good at what they do......

I was watching The Big Bang Theory just the other night when a comment was made by one of the characters in the programme that Indiana Jones often messed up more than he actually got right. In fact they made the point that if he had of done absolutely nothing in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the result at the end would have been pretty much the same regardless - the Ark of the Covenant would have been found by the Nazis, taken to the Island and then they would have all been subsequently killed by its power when opened. 

This made me think a little (don't mock, I do occasionally think) and by the end of the 30 minute episode the thought had developed into something of a major ear worm. I simply could not let the thought go after I had initially asked myself - Just how many other do-gooding good guys (or gals) are actually rather pants at being the hero? Some may come close to winning, some just blindly maraud through the bad guys causing untold chaos - only achieving their original aim by blind good luck or with the help of an unlikely ally. So, where are these champion chumps ?

As it happens, it seems that there are a few and they are everywhere. So as a bit of light-hearted Christmas and end of year nonsense, here is a brief list of horrendous heroes. Any offence to heroes (super or not) living or dead is entirely deliberate :-).

Luke Skywalker

Yes well all right, I know that he destroyed the Death star in episode 4 - but that was only the result of some last minute help from good buddy Han Solo and a whisper of advice from the ghostly voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi. However think about it - if he hadn't of let the bloody busy-body R2D2 out of his sight and gone chasing after him around Tatooine, thereby finding old Ben skulking away in the mountains (and almost getting himself killed in the process) then Mr Kenobi would have lived his days out quite happily - instead he was given a bit of a kicking by Luke's dad on the Death Star. 

It didn't get much better in the next instalment when young Skywalker decides to go all 1960's Hippy to try and 'find himself' in order to be a proper grown up type Jedi. However it turns out that he isn't actually that good as we witness old Yoda continually rolling his eyes at Luke's simply laughable attempts at doing rather simple Jedi stuff. Not only that, but when the time comes for him to play the hero and rescue Han Solo and his other friends, we'll he can't even manage to pull that off. Poor old Han gets all solidified & Luke goes and misplaces his hand after a bit after a bit of a bust up with his dad.

When Luke does finally rescue Han, he only manages that after being caught by Jabba The Hut.

If all that wasn't enough, when the chosen one finally had the opportunity to bring peace to the Galaxy etc etc he couldn't manage to kill the Emperor. Instead his dad has to help him out and get rid of the ex- Mr Palpatine. This time it's the turn of his dad to pop his clogs after helping out Luke. To add insult to injury, his old man then has to deal with a personality change when he dies, changing from a nice looking grandad guy to a ghastly ghostly Hayden Christensen for the rest of eternity when George Lucas starts his annual messing around with the movies shenanigans.

And we won't even go anywhere near the little issue of Luke not realising that the woman he fancies and snogs is actually his sister ...........

Quint and Hooper (Jaws) 

The so-called shark expert fighting off
 the so-called shark...
Excellent - in this movie we get two hapless heroes for the price of one. 

A big bad great White Shark is terrorising a small holiday island. It's eating lots of people, which is a bad thing and so the Chief of Police (Brody) is worried. He runs around the Island trying to persuade people not to swim in the sea - nobody believes him. Even when when Brody manages to bring in Hooper, an expert on Sharks who has a nice shiny boat and lots of gizmo's to provide some credence to his claims, still no-one listens.

This is mainly because the town Mayor couldn't give a toss about the loss of life as long as the tourist money keeps coming in. Cue the continuing body count rise until finally Brody finally persuades the Mayor to fund the services of local expert Shark hunter (Quint) - who must be good at what he does because he has hundreds of carcasses of Sharkes that have previously crossed his path. So away the two experts trip off in Quints boat & with them, the chief- who has a morbid fear water and everything that lives in it, especially Sharks.
"Trust me, I'm wearing glasses and I have a big stick full of poison"
So this should be a walk in the park then? A world renowned sharks expert and a famous Shark killer.....what could possibly go wrong?

We'll actually everything. It doesn't help that Shark killer hero Quint completely underestimates their prey and that so-called shark expert hero Hooper completely blows his chance to kill the beast with his fancy cage and poison. Hooper's cage gets well and truly mangled, he screams like a girl as the shark tries to have him for supper and then legs it away to hide at the bottom of the sea and essentially leaves his pals to it. Thanks a bunch college boy.

Quint fares even worse - after shooting dozens of barrels and sing a few sea shanties he becomes the main meal of the day for the Great White beastie. It's left to the sea-hating, Shark non-expert to actually save the day.

The Colonial Marines (Aliens)

"Leave this to me, boys and girls"...
It could be argued that never in the history of rescues have the rescuers, who should know what they're doing, been so hapless and hopeless.

It should all have been so straightforward. The only survivor (Ripley) fresh from a rather nasty encounter with an Alien with some rather extreme salivatory condition (not forgetting its habit of popping out of people's stomachs) has been rescued from deep space.  However the rather ungrateful company that that she works for isn't too happy about the trillions of dollars of spacecraft that she destroyed in the process of whipping the Aliens arse. That is, until they go and lose contact with terraforming colonists on the planet where the Alien first did its face-hugging thing. Cue Ripley being asked nicely to back to the planet as a 'consultant'- she doesn't want to go, but it's all OK as she's going to be accompanied by the "biggest group of bad asses this side of the galaxy", the colonial Marines. No problem there then.

We'll once again, there is actually one big problem with this group of military bodyguard heroes' - at best they are a pretty clueless bunch of big gun-toting individuals, at worst they are the epitome of arrogant shoot first with their big guns and ask questions later. Half of them are big mouthed testosterone fueled individuals, the other half seem to spend most of the movie complaining that "We're all going to die'!!!!! It also doesn't help much that they are led by an officer who is as clueless as he is wet behind the ears.

So instead of actually listening to the one individual who's been there and done it, they instead go in all guns blazing, completely underestimated their adversary and proceed to be picked off en-mass. Once again it's left up to Ripley to save the day.

Samuel Loomis (Halloween)

"This time I'm gonna get you, dammit!.......Oh, bugger!"
Poor old Dr. Loomis, he tried his best but he just wasn't very good. For 15 years he had the mad as a box of Frogs, Michael Myers, under his care in a secure mental institution after the little basket-case had butchered his older sister when he was six years old. Unfortunately, in all this time none of Loomis' special treatments had had any effect.

So when Michael reaches 21 (and still barking mad) he is set to be transferred back to his home town for the murder trial. Loomis has the responsibility for transferring Michael but whoops - Michael only goes and escapes doesn't he? Bugger.

In an effort to make amends for this little bit of a cock-up, Loomis tracks Michael back to his home town where the grown up psycho has designs on a little killing spree - cue lots of running round with the good doctor trying his best to persuade the locals that there is a small matter of a deranged killer on the loose - of course, throughout the proceedings Loomis is constantly one step behind the masked maniac. That is unit the finally when the doc gets the chance to put six (yes that's right, SIX) bullets in the knife wielding nut-job..........only for the killer to get away......again.

Again, it gets worse for our latest hapless hero, for Loomis races to the girl's aid and once again shoots Michael numerous times and yet again, this does not stop him. Loomis eventually corners Michael in a room and blows it up......hopefully this time he has finally got his man?

Nope, that still didn't work as Halloween 4 sees Loomis unsuccessfully attempting to alert the police that Michael is now free - again. And once again Mr Myers goes on another doozy of a killing spree until the good doctor collapses to the floor, a gibbering sobbing wreck as he seems to be torn apart by the thought that the evil that filled Michael has now transferred itself to his niece. If only just one of those dozens of bullets that he had fired at moody Michael had hit the spot, eh?

Nope, we're not finished yet - or rather our useless hero hasn't finished being useless as he's still bumbling after his nemesis in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and also Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. Not only that, but the inadequacies of our hapless hero were once again revisited in the remakes of Halloween and Halloween II in 2007 & 2009 respectively.

He's still probably out there on Michael's trail still........

Indiana Jones (Raiders of the lost Ark)

Indie, about to cock-up for the first time of many.....
I'll finish this article on the unfortunate hero that set off the idea for this piece in the first place.

Until it was pointed out in the TV programme, It simply hadn't  occurred to me just how ineffective good ol' Indie actually could be. It was the character of Amy (Sheldon's girlfriend) who points out...............“Indiana Jones plays no role in the outcome of the story. If he weren’t in the film, it would turn out exactly the same… If he weren’t in the movie, the Nazis would still have found the Ark, taken it to the island, opened it up, and all died, just like they did.”

It could be true, I will leave it up to those far more inclined to argue seriously the accuracy of such a statement with a close analysis of the plot - however, even if that statement does have holes within its plausibility, the essence of it will still remain - A lot of the plot DOES happen regardless of his interference.

Not only that, when he does succeed in getting something right, for example the opening scenes when he finds the golden Idol, he successfully manages to avoid death from a plethora of cunning traps only to have the thing taken off him by his rival, Belloq. We also shouldn't forget that annoying little habit that Indie seems to have of letting his girlfriend be kidnapped by the bad guys - at least 4 times by my memory.

So it's clear that as a hero he has one or two faults, as an Archaeologist he doesn't fare much better. Because most of the artifacts that he does find turn out to be a little bit on the impractical side too. The aforementioned Ark doesn't make you invincible, it just liquefies all who open it. The crystal Skull (a present from those lovely Aliens) just sends all those that become obsessed with it as mad as a box of Frogs. The Holy Grail is pretty useless when it's removed from the cave.

All in all, none of the artefacts are worth a damn on an academic archaeological level - I mean, just who back the the university is going to believe a damn word of magical powers, biblical mayhem and alien intervention? To be honest I'm not sure how he still has a job in education considering just how little teaching that he actually does - doesn't anybody even check his clocking in ticket to see that in all that time he's taught about 4 classes?

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