The Lord Cage’s Prayer:
Our Father, which art in Snake Eyes,
Nicolas be thy name;
thy Face/Off come;
thy Con-Air be done,
on earth as it is in Deadfall.
Give us this day our daily Ghost Rider.
And forgive him for Trespass,
as we forgave him for Windtalkers.
And lead us not into Adaptation;
but deliver us from The Rock.
For thine is the Wicker Man,
the National Treasure,
for ever and ever.
Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz!
I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Sean Connery” with a minor in “Smellin’ What the Rock is Cookin!”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
We start off the semester with a very literal Michael Bay fueled BANG! Saint Nicholas stars in The Rock!
Francis Hummel, an insane Marine Corps general, has taken 81 tourists hostage on the abandoned island prison of Alcatraz. He and his men are threatening to bomb San Francisco with a nerve deadly gas unless war reparations are paid to the families of servicemen killed in covert operations. Thus Stanley Goodspeed, an FBI chemical weapons expert, has been handed a unique assignment: to team up with former British spy John Patrick Mason, the only man to ever escape Alcatraz, and stop Hummel. Can this desk jockey and this 30-year retiree infiltrate the rock and stop General Hummel? And is Hummel really as crazy as his superiors make him out to be? Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, and Ed Harris star in The Rock!
Released in 1996 alongside other action thrillers such as Independence Day and the first Mission Impossible film, The Rock holds the honor of being the 2nd film directed by Michael Bay after his 1995 directorial debut with Bad Boys. Fast-paced, awash with rapid-fire editing, and sporting a cutting-edge rock soundtrack, The Rock did absolutely nothing to reassure producers and audiences alike that Michael Bay was anything more than a 30-something music video and commercial director with a little too much money and pyrotechnics at his disposal.
Say what you want about modern Michael Bay, but 1996 Michael Bay certainly knew how to work with actors. It was Nicolas Cage’s idea that his character would not swear, instead using goofy euphemisms such as “gee whiz” and “a-hole”. Bay even worked closely with Ed Harris to develop his character as concretely as possible, later adding a sympathetic edge to Hummel.
Connery insisted that the producers build a cabin for him on Alcatraz as he didn’t want to travel from the mainland to the island every day, and got what he asked for. Also at Connery’s request an L.A. based British screenwriting team were brought in to rewrite Connery’s lines, but ended up altering much of the film’s dialogue.
There were tensions during shooting between director Michael Bay and Walt Disney Studios executives who were supervising the production. On the commentary track for the DVD, Bay recalls a time when he was preparing to leave the set for a meeting with the executives when Sean Connery approached him in golfing attire. Connery, who also produced the film, asked Bay where he was going, and when Bay explained he had a meeting with the executives, Connery asked if he could accompany him. Bay complied and when he arrived in the conference room, the executives’ jaws dropped when they saw Connery appear behind him. According to Bay, Connery then stood up for Bay and insisted that he was doing a good job and should be left alone.
Not bad considering that Sean Connery would later retire from acting entirely after a bad experience with director Stephen Norrington on the set of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The Rock also has the distinction of being the last film produced by the Dynamic Duo of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, as Simpson died of a massive drug overdose involving cocaine and 21 different prescription drugs during filming. Simpson was largely responsible for creating the General Hummel character. Simpson watched a 60 minutes segment about the U.S. government’s refusal to acknowledge soldiers who had died during covert overseas missions and combined it with the memoirs of Col. David H. Hackworth which harshly criticized U.S. planning during the Vietnam war to create “ a really compelling villain: a soldier with a noble end, but, unfortunately, psychotic means.” The film is dedicated in his memory and retains the burnished hues that are a trademark of Simpson and Bruckheimer films.
Due to Writers Guild of America rules many of the collaborators who worked on the script for the Rock went unaccredited. Though Michael Bay wrote a scathing letter of protest in which he criticized the arbitration procedure as a “sham” and a “travesty” Aaron Sorkin, writer of A Few Good Men, who would go on to create the TV show the West Wing and write the screenplays for Charlie Wilson’s War and The Social Network, Jonathan Hensleigh, who had worked on Jumanji and Die Hard 3 and would later work on Supercult Classics like Armageddon and Con Air, and even Quintin Tarantino were denied writing credit for the film.
With an estimated budget of $70 million and a worldwide box office gross of over $335 million, The Rock was the seventh highest grossing film within the U.S. and the fourth highest grossing U.S. film worldwide, for 1996. The Rock won ‘Best On-Screen Duo’ at the MTV Movie Awards and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Mixing. Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, “The yarn has its share of gaping holes and jaw-dropping improbabilities, but director Michael Bay sweeps them all aside with his never-take-a-breath pacing.” And Richard Coliss of Time Magazine wrote, “Slick, brutal and almost human, this is the team-spirit action movie Mission: Impossible should have been.” The Rock is reportedly Michael Bay’s favorite film of his own and is such a classic at this point that it even has a 2003 Bollywood remake called Qayamat: City Under Threat, complete with unreasonably beautiful actors and a full roster of pop songs and dance numbers!
The Rock has a total body count of 25, an average shot length of 2.6 seconds, a 7.4 on IMDB, and a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the only Michael Bay film to have a ‘Fresh’ Rotten Tomatoes score, but the real kicker is that The Rock is the first Supercult Criterion film this semester! The Criterion Collection distributes primarily arthouse films that it categorizes as “important classic and contemporary films” and “cinema at its finest”. In an essay supporting the selection of The Rock, Roger Ebert, who was strongly critical of most of Bay’s later films, gave the film a 3 ½ out of four stars, calling it “an action picture that rises to the top of the genre because of a literate, witty screenplay and skilled craftsmanship in the direction and special effects.”
So, to summarize, the Rock is an award winning, record-breaking, Criterion Collection Blockbuster, produced by cokeheads, backed by Sean Connery and Roger Ebert, directed by Michael Bay before he sold out to Hasbro, and starring Our Lord And Savior, the Patron Saint of Supercult, Nicholas Cage!
Basically what we’re trying to say is that…this movie rocks.
The Supercult show presents THE ROCK!