The James Clayton Column: Ralph Fiennes vs. the Large Hadron Collider

After watching him in Clash Of The Titans and Cemetery Junction, James has a few things to say about Mr Ralph Fiennes...

Some people reckon that the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is going to suck all life from the face of planet Earth. These people are wrong. All life is going to be sucked from the face of the Earth by Ralph Fiennes.

Switzerland is completely safe and you can trust the scientists to carry on the particle collisions without fear of everything collapsing into a black hole. The cinema, on the other hand, may actually be a portal to utter oblivion. Look into Fiennes’ grey eyes and quiver, for behind them dwells the secret source of universal antimatter.

Consider the evidence (though tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists itching for an apocalypse never cared much for evidence): you put Fiennes in a film and he sucks all life out of the surroundings faster than you can say “Avada kedavra! Sweet dreams Harry Potter!”

He keeps on appearing, draining all vitality from events around him in every movie I see at the cinema (crackpot tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists like over-generalising). The End is nigh and it isn’t scientists in Geneva that are going to set it in motion, but rather casting agents in Hollywood. Sometime soon, Fiennes will take his final role as an archetypal villain and with great relish will climax his career by destroying the Universe.

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Whereas veteran thesps like Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley chew the scenery in blockbuster flicks as ‘kingly authority figure’ and ‘mad-eyed eccentric’, respectively, Fiennes appears to have found his niche as ‘ghastly, sneering scenery-sucker’. Everything was so wizard and cheery in the Harry Potter movies until he showed up as the nostril-less face of evil incarnate and manifested himself as Lord Voldemort.

Likewise, Clash Of The Titans is all vibrant, colourful action, except for when Fiennes’ Hades flies in on black wings of death and pollutes proceedings with his morbid presence. He’s probably a lovely man in real life whose arrival in the neighbourhood cheers everyone up and spreads good vibrations all around. On screen, however, he’s like a malignant cancer, which is probably an indication that he’s an excellent character actor.

Having seen him in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s recently-released Cemetery Junction, I feel vindicated in my suspicions that Fiennes is actually the Angel of Doom. Once again, a movie soaked in sunny nostalgia, backed with a glam rock soundtrack and suited in seventies fashion finds all its life bled out whenever Fiennes pops up.

His character, Mr. Kendrick, is a cold-hearted company man through and through. He sold his soul, sold life insurance to old ladies and proclaimed himself as a big shot because he left Reading and bought a Rolls Royce. He’s an emotionless creep who never thanks his wife for bringing him a cup of tea.

I’m hoping that the DVD of Cemetery Junction features a deleted scene where Mrs. Kendrick laces his dinner with Rohypnol and castrates him with a potato peeler. Yes, he’s that vile. Mashed, boiled or roasted, he’s a cynical misanthrope who deserves to suffer.

He belongs in the museum basement with the other dinosaurs and root vegetable sculptures, but instead he’s out polluting the spirit of the seventies and oppressing his wife and daughter into loveless lives of domesticity. What’s more, his company’s annual ‘Winners’ Ball’ looks like the worst party ever. When a fat guy singing Cum On Feel the Noize is the highlight of the evening, you know things are bad.

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Chances are that the stench of old age and dullness generated by Kendrick and his soulless guests are enough to suffocate the entire UK. That’s right, it’s not ash from an Icelandic volcano that’s clouding over Europe and keeping planes from flying. It’s a stagnant miasma rising from the most depressing party in cinema since the end of Rosemary’s Baby (“What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!”).

At least if Fiennes finishes everything off it’ll all be over quicker than any scenario so far brought to screen by Roland Emmerich and won’t require a massive CGI budget. All you need is Lord Ralph the Really Ominous standing in a graveyard. He then breathes out and everything vanishes beneath a dark cloud of entropy, there’s a sound of a vacuum sucking and then… void.

That’s what really happens at the end of the last Harry Potter film. Voldemort sighs and the void swallows everything before Harry graduates from Hogwarts. No amount of Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons could stop this grim fate from unfolding.

All we can do is hope that Indiana Jones – or Shia LeBeouf as Henry Smith Jr. II (Indy Jr. Jr?) – somehow manages to scupper the scheduled end of existence. I’ve seen inside the imaginations of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and can tell you that Indy V is all about the ‘the antimatter element’ hidden in Ralph Fiennes’ pituitary gland (crackpot tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists like pretending they can read the minds of movie moguls).

The enigma lurking within that skull is more dangerous than the Ark of the Lost Covenant, the Sankara Stones and the fake Holy Grail chalice combined and, consequently, the Nazis, the Soviets and Sean Connery are all in a race against time to capture it and hold the cosmos to ransom.

If everyone’s favourite adventuring archaeologist (or his Shia-shaped protégé) can’t capture Fiennes and control the trigger to complete devastation and death in entropy, it’s back to Brian Cox and his colleagues at CERN.

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You really want to know how the whole Harry Potter saga really, really ends? The world’s greatest scientists freeze Ralph Fiennes and bury him under the Alps then bombard him with positively-charged particles until all the force of negativity accumulated from years of playing sinister characters is neutralised.

At that moment, the ash disappears from the sky and planes start to fly again. Harry Potter’s scar stops hurting and he gets over his parents’ death. A bored housewife in Reading hears the words “thank you” for the first time since 1964 and the whole world is awash with positive vibes. Ralph Fiennes’ next role is one where he doesn’t have to suck joy out of everything around him and the conspiracy theorists have to find something else other than the Large Hadron Collider to take paranoid potshots at (tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists never stay silent for long).

James’ previous column can be found here.