In Space No One Can Hear the Music Die
The always uneven John Carpenter offered up a heaping helping of schlock sci-fi madness in 2001's Ghosts of Mars. West Coast rap icon Ice Cube stars as Desolation Williams, a criminal awaiting extradition from Mars by the chick from Species and her team of crack easily-killed space cops. Things don't go as planned when miners uncover an ancient evil capable of turning humans into rage-filled monsters.
Leading the evil people is Marilyn Manson crossed with a barbarian. Wielding everything from nukes to chrome-plated machine guns, Ice Cube blasts his way through the evil horde. Set pieces include dusty Martian mining towns, dusty Martian prison trains, and dusty Martian cities. Ice Cube scowls perpetually and hits things.
The most embarrassing aspect of the movie is that everyone involved has done so much better. Carpenter directed The Thing, for Christ's sake, and Ice Cube was one of the leads in Three Kings. Before I let this one go, I offer a quick retrospective on Ice Cube's career pre- and post-Ghosts of Mars.
Ice Cube raps the following lyrics on his 1993 album Predator:
Now wet motherfuckers are bloody,
Cos a bullet'll mould your ass like silly putty.
White in the shape,
A hollow point'll run up in ya like ya got weight.
Comin out'cha back, Mr Mack.
Now they got yo' guts in a sack.
The following exchange of dialogue occurs in his 2005 movie Are We There Yet?
Nick Persons (Ice Cube): [on a horse next to a moving train] I'm gonna have to hop on!
Kevin Kingston: I don't think that's a good idea!
Nick Persons: Says who?
Kevin Kingston: Says the guy who put all that junk on the road!
Nick Persons: Oh snap!
Rant and rave about cop killing all you want; after looking back at the last ten years of Ice Cube's career, I think there is something to be said in favor of cop killing .
You can be the judge of whether or not Ghosts of Mars is responsible for XXX: State of the Union.
A lithe, be-diapered, and perpetually greasy Sting manages to make David Lynch's 1984 adaptation of Dune more bizarre than anyone thought possible. He barely has any lines and looks like he's about to be rolled around in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried. He is always grinning, even when his immensely fat uncle pulls out heart plugs or makes creepy sexual advances.
When he finally does get some lines, it's in the middle of a knife fight in the last three minutes of the movie. He shouts them at Kyle MacLachlan and wrestles around wearing a costume that looks like it should be used to connect two drainage ditches separated by a driveway.
Keep in mind, I actually really like the 1984 version of Dune and I am still giving this the number two spot. It's insane casting. Almost unbelievably, Sting would go on to star in many movies.
The year is 2002 and Rollerball is playing at a theatre near you. LL Cool J stars as a member of a futuristic roller derby team. I don't think there is anything else I really need to write about this one that can't be extrapolated from the premise.
Just remember: it's actually worse than you can imagine.
Oh, you thought that was all!? Welcome to earf!
Will Smith, the white man's favorite black man, wins the award for ultimate science fiction infiltration. Not only will he star in the movie, but he will probably release an upbeat and family-friendly rap song for the soundtrack. Parents just do understand, Mr. Smith. Men in Black, Independence Day, I, Robot; if there's a PG-13 science fiction movie coming out in the summer then the odds are pretty good that Will Smith is going to be playing the lead and at least one of his spawn is going to be nearby.
Even when he's in a western it somehow ends up being a science fiction movie. I know all anybody remembers about Wild, Wild, West is how good Salma Hayek looked in a corset, but there was a giant mechanical spider in that movie.
Will Smith's videos still get airplay on Nickelodeon, but he's no longer 15, so rapping about messy bedrooms just isn't going to sell records. When he's not focusing on his acting or writing a song somehow related to his acting, he's releasing catchy and meaningless and totally innocuous "party" rap music.
Will Smith has ushered in a new era of polite rap music and PG-13 sci-fi blockbusters. This is his Willenium, we're just living in it.