The James Clayton Column: Sex And The City vs. the universe

With Sex And The City 2 currently top dog at the box office, James has the perfect antidote — send in The Matrix’s Agent Smith…

In the crack at the end of the Universe there’s a badly lit corner with a couple of steel deckchairs and an out-of-order coffee machine. Dwelling in this dim spot on the edge of existence is the only Agent Smith not to have been destroyed at the end of The Matrix Revolutions.

The scene where the last remaining replica Smith slipped away unnoticed while everyone got on down to the big party in Zion got cut from the final movie, but escape he did. Fleeing to the furthest conceivable reaches, the single Smith decided to spend the rest of eternity growling in indignation while observing everything from the best view possible.

With the Matrix dismantled and the humans overcoming machine rule, Agents became obsolete. Sad, lonely Smith thought that being an omniscient watcher with all-encompassing knowledge of the entire Universe’s past, present and future would be a half-decent consolation prize.

Seeing and knowing everything, the exiled Agent Smith will be able to answer any question that you put to him should you survive the journey across space, outer space, deep space and all the advertising space in between.

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Sadly, the man who managed to make it through the epic ordeal let us down. He was dehydrated and really disappointed when he discovered that he couldn’t even get a cup of vending machine coffee after all his arduous exertion. Dazed and distracted, he blew the opportunity to extract immense enlightening wisdom.

“The coffee machine is broken,” intoned Agent Smith, relishing the sight of a human being in agony.

“Oh!” cried the traveller (for the traveller was played by Vincent Price at his most melodramatic and thespy), “The Universe ends in a dark, drab crack when I expected scenery out of Avatar! I thought I’d be greeted by God, Patrick Swayze and Yoda but instead I find an earpiece-wearing suited misanthrope! I was sure I’d be able to drink deep and relieve my thirst with beverages refreshing beyond imagination, but I find a busted coffee dispenser! Oh woe! I was certain it would be marvellous! Alas! What is certain in life?”

Prompted by the question, the Smith replied. “Three things are certain in life. Death, taxes and Sex And The City 2 becoming the most successful film of 2010… It is inevitable.”

Astral voyager Vincent didn’t get round to asking any other questions because a feeling of unbearable horror then stabbed at his cranium and compelled him to grab a steel deckchair, fold it around his neck and decapitate himself in utter despair. Presented with the terrible truth of Sex And The City 2‘s triumph after such a harsh trek, suicide seemed painless.

And I don’t blame him, because Sex And The City 2 does not deserve to be top Chihuahua in the movie world. I don’t want to set myself up as a film snob and dismiss a movie without seeing it, but every time I see a poster of Sarah Jessica Parker catwalking through the desert I can’t help but think: “Seriously, really?”

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If Sex And The City 2 is a sublime work of depth, feeling, narrative and mise-en-scène that stirs the souls of audiences and outclasses every other flick in theatres this year, then I completely take back my sceptical judgement.

I’ve got the feeling, though, that the movie is a crass, calculated sequel designed solely to rake in cash, celebrate consumer culture, perpetuate Middle Eastern stereotypes and push regressive ideas of what it is to be a woman. And don’t give me “You’re a man, you just don’t get it.” I’d pick Dirty Dancing over Chuck Norris in The Delta Force every time.

What I’d like is all the other movies on the scene to get angry. It’s a travesty that a feature length fashion show is the biggest hit at the box office and the cinematic success story of our times. The overlooked other flicks with lower revenues and less audience adoration should be indignant and affronted.

I demand bitter vengeance trips, blood oaths and movie characters getting into bright yellow biker suits hellbent on taking Hanzo swords to manicured flesh. What I want is Abu Dhabi to host ‘Hollywood Battle Royale 2010′ where contending blockbusters get to challenge Carrie Bradshaw’s supremacy.

Even the most by-the-numbers blockbusters have a case against Sex And The City 2 and I reckon it’d be sweet to see an amassed army of disparate film figures all cranked up and eager to inflict their wrath on the superficial girl gang who’ve gone to the Middle East for a shallow sequel.

Bring it on. Imagine Whiplash, Black Widow, War Machine and Metal Tony from Iron Man 2 all suited up and seething with fury. Robin Hood, the Prince of Persia and Scott Pilgrim will all raise arms and combine against the common adversary. Predators prepare to conduct extraterrestrial atrocity as the Wolf Man howls and Hit-Girl and the Kick-Ass crew go about, erm, kicking ass.

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Every monster from Clash Of The Titans, every irate plaything from Toy Story 3 and every swerveball turn of Inception will combine to completely knock Sex And The City 2 out.

The blasting action big guns of The Expendables, The Losers and The A-Team would all be on board, of course, to provide additional pyrotechnics. I pity the fool who thought that four It Girls had any chance against the cumulative might of every mainstream Hollywood blockbuster beamed onto screens this year.

Otherwise, we could allow the Hurl Scouts of Whip It to wrestle Carrie and friends on to the roller derby track and give them a pounding and a lesson in true empowered modern feminism. The alternative is to just bow down to Sex And The City‘s victory and wait for a third movie with greater aspirations and sceptical viewers in mind.

For instance, if they adopted Frank Miller aesthetics and sent the divas to a noir nightmare city of vice, corruption and violence for Sex And Sin City, then the whole thing would have more artistic credibility and crossover appeal beyond a chick flick demographic.

Another option would be sending the foursome even further afield for the threequel, despatching them to the crack at the end of the Universe where they can ask Agent Smith about next season’s fashions and maybe broaden their horizons a little.

The coffee machine doesn’t do skinny lattes or decaf and Mr. Smith doesn’t want to talk about high heels, but never mind. At least out there they’re safe from raging retribution delivered by a Hit-Girl/Black Widow tag team.

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James’ previous column can be found here.