The NY Times blog today wonders aloud about the rash of current films whose focal point involves the utter destruction of New York. They talk of “edifice envy”, of the possible insensitivity of Cloverfield beheading the Statue of Liberty in a post 9/11 America, and the haunting war-embattled emptiness of New York streets in I Am Legend. Judge for yourself at Fancast’s trailers for I Am Legend and Cloverfield.
In an insightful 2005 op-ed essay in The Boston Globe, the architectural historian Max Page argued that fantasies of New York’s destruction are actually vital to the city’s success.
"The best thing for New York might be the sight of King Kong tramping through the streets of Manhattan on his way to a fateful appointment at the top of the Empire State Building," Mr. Page wrote. "For if there is one thing that symbolizes New York's pre-eminence, it is that so many still want to imagine the city's end."
Indeed, the ads for "Cloverfield" are competing for our attention span with the marketing campaign for "I Am Legend," the current box office hit starring Will Smith, shows one of the two towers of the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, the deck - and most of the span - having collapsed. The city is mostly intact, but depopulated and crumbling, an epidemic having wiped out seemingly all of humanity about three years before the film's action.
According to Wikipedia, downtown LA has been destroyed several times:
* In the film Collateral downtown is the main setting for the film with a climactic car crash that happens on Figueroa street.
* In the film The Day After Tomorrow downtown was destroyed by an F7 tornado while other tornadoes destroyed the rest of the city. Also one of Downtown’s buildings, the 611 Place, was seen in the New York Skyline later in the movie.
* In the film Independence Day the US Bank tower was destroyed, along with the rest of downtown Los Angeles by an Alien invasion.
* In Power Rangers: Wild Force, Animarium is setting by downtown Los Angeles.
* In the film Transformers a climactic battle wages between the Autobots and the Decepticons under cover of the high-rising downtown skyline.
* In the film Dragon Wars, Dragons destroy downtown Los Angeles, and one dragon hangs onto U.S. Bank Tower.
While I'm all for the fictional destruction of a city that talks so much smack about LA (I keed, I keed), how about the streets of Hollywood get a little love too? When are we gonna see giant turtles eating the buildings on Sunset and Vine? or three-fingered aliens wiping out the Hollywood and Highland center (which, I am sure, would be met with only applause from local Hollywood residents).