Posts Tagged ‘Masters of the Universe’

Schwarzenegger. Stallone. Willis. Lungren. Staham. Jet Li.  These men are the paragons of Hollywood action films spanning the last thirty-plus years.  Terminator. Predator. The Rocky Saga. Die Hard movies. Demolition Man. Judge Dredd. The Fifith Element.  Punisher.  The One. Transporter. Crank. Death Race.  And yes, even Masters of the Universe.    These are the movies that made them stars and household names.  The idea of ever getting these names all together for a single film was about as crazy as Marvel Studio’s plan to build-up to and then execute a “team-up” film called The Avengers.   Crazy as it sounded it happened in 2010 when Lionsgate released The Expendables and it did surprisingly well, earning $274 million and some change.  Low on character development and complex plot, it was the ultimate throwback to the action movies that made these men who they are today…and it was a fun ride that showed there are men out there – though rough and tumble – willing to take on the evil and corruption that others will not.

What happens when there’s a sequel with the same cast – and more Arnold and Willis – but with the addition of names like Norris and Van Dame?  It’s a better movie.  Chuck Norris plays “Booker” a lone-wolf gun for hire that pops in and out of the movie and honestly has the best scene in the film involving one of the actual “Chuck Norris Jokes” and it fits perfectly.  And Van Dame?  He plays the villainous dude – who wants access to, literally, tons of previously mined and stored uranium for black market money – that Sly’s team has to take down.  Nevertheless, it’s not that simple: Van Dame murders one of Sly’s team members in front of all of them as only he can:  a Guile-kick strait out of Street Fighter or something from Bloodsport, involving a metal knife.  This murdered member wanted out of the business after this last job so he could take the money and start a new life with his girlfriend, a French combat nurse he met in Afghanistan.  From there the rest of the film involves tracking down Van Dame and defeating him while the various action stars play somewhat caricatures of themselves and make comical references to one-anothers’ previous movie roles.  It’s worth seeing once just for that.

The message though, comes at the cliff-side memorial amongst the team for their fallen member, when Sly asks the question: Why is it that the youngest of us, the one most eager to live, dies and the older ones, worthy of death keep on living; what’s the message in that?  It’s a powerful scene and a poignant question, one the movie seems to answer by taking down the bad guy and saving the world from an unknown threat.  In part, to honor their teammate and ensure his death was not in vain but also to reiterate that as long as evil lurks, there is need for those wiling to fight against the manifested selfish darkness of human nature – even those who themselves are scarred by it.

I actually got more than I bargained for with this movie and I was pleasantly surprised.  For those wanting to see it, keep your eyes peeled for a dual nod to  Star Wars and Rocky IV; it’s impressive.

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Among the many activities and incidents while in Michigan recently to see my brother get married, one found me at the doors of Annapolis Hospital in Wayne, Michigan.  Fortunately I wasn’t there because of some biological incident or medical malady, but rather to meet some wonderful people who work in a Family Medical Residency program housed within it’s walls.  Specifically, this program trains medical students to become general practitioners of medicine (aka Family Medicine) and those who graduate from this program generally go into undeserved areas of Michigan to provide much needed medical care.  So why might a lowly Capitol Hill staffer be addressing folks in such a program?  Because folks on both sides of the aisle in Congress worked together to preserve that program.  During the meeting, I talked with the faculty and students about how things had transpired and why it was so important to me to be involved in the effort given my own journey and that I was born in that hospital.  As I told them in the meeting:

“When many of you finish with your residency here, you will go out into under-served areas of Michigan and you’ll meet children just like I was, and their parents. Some will be scared, confused, feeling very alone and unable to cope. But they aren’t alone, they have you. In an age of medical science and genetic testing unheard of when I was born, you are there to guide them with your knowledge and expertise when the genetic test says their child will have a certain propensity for disability and the parents think they can’t; you have to fight for that precious life and reassure the parents they can. If you ever wondered “what are the problems, riddles and conundrums in the world that only I am meant to solve?” – you just got your answer, so know that when the training ends and you walk out these doors you have a purpose”

Upon the meeting’s conclusion, one of the faculty doctors asked me if  I wanted to see the room in which I was born – it happened to be right down the hallway, in an older wing of the hospital. With an small amount of well-hidden trepidation, I said yes – remembering from Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that few people get such an opportunity to engage their own story in this way.  As I stood before the double doors leading into the old wing, with only my exo-skeleton of a walker to shield me from whatever lay beyond, I heard the doctor say “normally we don’t allow this sort of thing because you have to be scrubbed to come back here”.   The doors opened, and I walked through the portal to a distant past; I imagined stepping through the Stargate and into the Dark Side cave on Dagobah in the same instant to a place all-together “other”.  The walls and paint were different, as this part of the hospital hadn’t been remodelled like the others.  To my left, the metal of the doctor’s scrubbing station.  To my right, two doors; the farther one in the corner, my destination.   I suddenly had a small inkling of the “unknown-ness” Luke Skywalker must have felt in that cave; the difference, I left my weapons behind.

I stopped at the door and turn away from it, looking towards the hallway perpendicular to my location; the photographer followed in behind us and had been snapping pictures of this journey.  He wanted a picture of me.  I turned back to the door as the doctor opened it, and I stepped just inside the doorway.  The photographer’s shutter was still snapping; at least I wasn’t facing him as I worked hard to control my emotions.  The doctor pipes in “the walls and tiles are the same as the day they brought your mother in, but the instruments are obviously new”; good to know.     Before me was the operating theatre and to my left, the special baby bed with the lamp wherein the baby goes after the C-section is performed; where I would have been placed for the doctors and nurses to furiously work on as mom lay on the table.   Everything started here; I was looking back in time at the genesis moment of my journey in space-time; thrust from the safety of the womb into the harsh reality of Terra.  All of the scars, all the uncertainty, all the difficulty, started in the space upon which I was gazing; had there been no one else in the hallway at that moment I might have lost control.  Part of me wanted to break, right then; Dad hadn’t even seen this room, only Mom and I were ever here.  The IV fluid issues that lead to my heart stopping and the subsequent brain bleeding causing the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, all the medical visits and surgeries, it all stated here; and 30 years later I had just walked out of a work-related meeting wherein I was the reason for attending – because The Plan started in that room too, the Destiny Clock started ticking.  It was almost too much to process.  I stood there in silence, gripping the red handlebars of my walker that has seen so much, as the truth of my existence washed over me, the truth of destiny, purpose, plan and the Master of the Universe from whence it all comes.  Slowly, I backed out of the doorway, turned around, and, one small step at a time, walked toward those double doors that would take me out of the past and back into the present, out of 1982 and back into 2012.  This Son of Welty did not meet the End of Line in that past or place, but what was just some small steps to and from some doors down a hallway was a giant leap in understanding that I am still ruminating on and will probably do so far a long time.

Wandering, but never all-together lost,

Aaron