A new Movie Quibble series has begun. Another one? Another one! This one, Chalk It!, is all about rock climbing in films, because clambering on plastic walls is a new hobby of mine and it has suddenly become very amusing to see how the principles of climbing in real life are interpreted for action heroes in crazy action scenes in crazy action movies. And there is always one. At least. One Wilhelm scream, one death defying climb and/or fall on a rock face – those are official industry requirements, and you either meet them or piss off to make a film about Emotion.
Cliffhanger, the 1990’s Sylvester Stallone masterpiece (aka Die Hard On a Mountain) was the only one that got it right, primarily because Stallone did all his own stunts. Pretty hard to believe if you watch the film, but true. The man is a bona fide world class athlete, and he risked his life on multiple occasions to shoot a film that nobody went to see. Cliffhanger is the Holy Grail of ‘sending’ amongst a parade of jump-cut miracle climbs seen in the majority of today’s tough guy flicks. Buster Keaton would have them all lined up and shot.
Now, let’s view the inspiration for this blog post in super-modern hip-happening gif form, taken from the first trailer of Star Trek Beyond, which has attempted to fuse the high-octane grammar from the Fast and Furious films (director Justin Lin has made three) with the punk-rock charm of Guardians of the Galaxy, the result being a pile of shit sprinkled with ground amphetamine dust.
Crushed it! Simon Pegg’s Scotty, in one swift and perfectly timed manoeuvre, executes a downwards speeding pod-to-cliff double handed slab dyno sliding onto a life saving one handed lower ledge crimp. Straight from cryo-sleep too, which means that he went into the move cold, doing no warm up and no pre-climb sequence planning whatsoever. Maverick stuff. The landing itself is boggling to behold, because when the cliff edge is seen from the second angle it is difficult to understand how Scotty landed on the higher sloping face without shattering his pelvis on the jutting rock which served as the hold that saved his fall. Look at this, which I made for your ease in assessing the physics facts of the issue.
Secondly, our heroic space-engineer was clearly slipping off the cliff at good speed, and at that angle he’d almost certainly lose contact with the surface without being able to reach the crimp hold, given that his torso was fully hunched over as he came off the upper slab. He did not “slide onto it”, as some internet fanboys of Spaced are suggesting, because then the finished position would be a two handed matched closed crimp with the thumbs on top alongside the fingers. The only way he could have caught it ( and it is a shame that this footage was not captured to verify the theory) would have been to allow his entire body to come off the rock face and then swing a monster grab with his right arm during the deadpoint to stick the ledge from above and below (imagine catching a frisbee made of four-inch thick sandstone) and taking the force of the full weight of his plummeting body before the deadfall kicked in.
If this is what he did – and by the looks of things, it is – then Scotty is well within a shout of making the 2020 Scottish Men’s Indoor Sport Climbing Olympic Squad. At the very least, his ascen(d)sion into the Movie Quibble Wall of Fame is confirmed. He’s a USS-enterprising lad, that Scotty. His parents must be, eh, BEAMing, with pride.
Thanks for reading. Scroll on for a video.
Watching the Star Trek Beyond teaser in its unadulterated format is a disconcerting, and at times deeply troubling task to put oneself through, so there won’t be a link to that. Internet demi-gods Auralnauts have already put out a parody reaction video to this fast and furious affront to Trekkies everywhere, featuring the original television series cast, who Shatner all over it… Diluted with humour and some sublime editing, the Star Trek Beyond trailer is now fit for human observation.