Although many Toronto residents have probably had a similar idea from time to time, there's something disconcerting about an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster where Toronto City Hall gets blown to bits.
Yes, Nathan Phillips Square gets the full treatment - helicopter gunship attack, floor-by-floor glass-blasting detonation and finally the full-on, super-combusting cataclysm.
In the flick Resident Evil: Apocalypse, opening September 10, the Queen Street towers serve both as high-tech corporate headquarters of an inept biotech org and future breeding ground of an army of murderous zombies.
In what I've gathered of the plot from the trailer (which may contain all you need to know), after becoming home to a zombie infestation, our municipal edifice is exploded in floor-by-floor slow-motion, concluding in an inferno. Then everyone feels better. Roll credits.
In fact, you don't even have to see the movie to get the picture. You can see the shots on the Web trailer. Watching the images as a local, you might be struck by some strange resonances. At one point, a plague hits the city and a section of the population is quarantined. At another, citizens become automatons hell-bent on material consumption. Sound familiar?
It gets worse. The movie metropolis is named Raccoon City. My god! They know about our raccoons!
But using our plague as entertainment isn't the most disturbing thing. Worse is the wholesale borrowing of many of T.O.'s most obvious features as settings for the apocalypse. The CNE makes a perfect futuristic scientific plaza where a society on the edge of Armageddon concocts its insane plans. The Bloor Street Viaduct's a wonderful set for a cortège of foreboding limousines, and later a giant holding pen for plague victims.
Imagine a conversation between the municipal office that handles film shoots in Toronto and the blockbuster producer.
Toronto film administrator: And what buildings would you like to blow up in Toronto?
Blockbuster producer: This one.
Now, many would quickly point out that this is a rare honour for a Canadian city. Some might say we should be thanking Hollywood. There was much hoopla when Montreal was allowed to be Montreal in the hotly anticipated but quickly disappeared The Score. But in that one, Montreal was the classy backdrop for a jazzy heist movie. They didn't smash the Olympic Stadium or even the old Forum to smitherines.
A friend recently came across a shoot in Hamilton that required a war scene in Baghdad. Hamilton? Baghdad? No problem.
Apparently, the filmmakers simply draped a few Iraqi flags over some Hamilton lampposts and began shooting. Suddenly, they had a dead ringer for the most devastated metropolis of recent times. Hey, another thing we can brag about!
Some of the bad reviews of the first Resident Evil are incredibly inspired. "It's been 13 months and 295 preview screenings since I last walked out on a movie, but Resident Evil really earned my indignant, pre-emptive departure," says Rob Blackwelder (Splicedwire).
"About as bad a film as you're likely to see all year," says Erik Childress (eFilmCritic.com).
To be fair, some people liked it, and there is a market for these video games converted into films. You'll certainly find me in the front row when this baby comes out.
Look on the bright side. They're probably blowing up our municipal seat because it's cool and futuristic. It's a compliment.
Finally, a name for Toronto's unique architectural contribution, "explosive biotech." In fact, a popular marijuana magazine recently ran a piece extolling the virtues of smoking pot in Toronto featuring a photograph of City Hall. The cutline suggests that stoned Trekkies come from all over to gaze at it in fascination. It's the big picture that counts.
Albert Nerenberg is a documentary filmmaker and the founder of Trailervision.