Rick Blaine, Forrest Gump, Travis Bickle, and of course R.J. "Hurrican" Spencer will forever hold a place in our hearts. One could hardly argue the notion that even the best character would be found wanting the hands o f an inept actor. Hower, the world was blessed when one of the finest thespians in modern history brought to life this memorable performance that we all fell in love with. Terry Gene Bollea, or Terry Hulk Hogan to our less cultured readers, was responsible for allowing us to see the subtle beauty of Hurrican Spencer in Douglas Schwartz's Thunder in Paradise. Never for a moment are we unable to feel an emotional connection with Spencer as he stumbles his way through life. Have we not all felt as though we were falling without a strong shoulder to support us in our time of need? Hogan's subtle acting nature provides us with the tools needed to look deep inside ourselves, and to evaluate what we see without bias. From the moment we see Spencer, baring his eyepatch that no doubt represents the mask he uses to cover his conflicted soul, all of his internal conflicts are apparent to us. Who is this man? He is strong in the physical sense, but can he overcome his inner demons? These are the questions that must be asked, and ultimately answered by the viewer.Few characters in cinematic history have been able to capture the public's imagine on a subconscious level that we are all able to identify with. With only the slightest mention we can all conjure memories of these characters that have touched us so deeply. Characters such as
Thunder In Paradise is Hogan's vehicle to provide a timeless performance, but one can never deny the environment that Douglas Schwartz had provided him to achieve his Oscar worthy example of what is possible in film. From the opening credits with women performing various actions, such as lying on a boat or running down a beach in slow motion, we question how we would act in this environment. The tiltle implies that we are in paradise, but what actually constitutes paradise? Could thunder actually be the crash of reality as we discover that "paradise" is not what we expected? The intention of Schwartz as he presents the lack of validity in reality is ever apparent, and never without doubt. He presents to us an alternative to what we believe is reality...an alternative that can be all but debated.
Never one to shy away from controversial topics, Hogan accepts the roll of a man that must decide between continuing his profession as a mercenary, or accepting a less attractive, though more secure, position in order to raise his motherless daughter. Dare I say, this is a similar decision that most of us face on a daily basis. We crindge at Spencer's decision to enter a loveless marriage, not to provide his daughter with a much needed mother, but rather to gain money to save his boat. This may seem heartless, but once we understand that Thunder is actually a representation of the family structure that he desires, we can fully comprenhend his seemingly selfish choice. His desires may seem misplaced, but he is obviously blind to this reality, a flaw that we must accept in our hero. Schwartz is forcing the audience to challenge their conventional notions of what is ethical and moral. Signs of a true auteur have never been more present.
Spencer's desire to maintian seperate lives is tested when his daughter's necklace, which he retrieved from a sharks stomach, is stolen by the villain in the movie. Could the shark's gutting be a representation of Spencers inability to maintain that which he thought was his? Unable to protect his daughter from being robbed of her necklace, Spencer is torn in the realization that he proves inadequate at protecting her from losing that which she cares about most. In essence he is powerless at preventing the wolf from attacking little red riding hood.
At last Spencer is able to retrive his treasure, but is trapped in a hole in the process. The hole is his pit of despair. We can see his world growing dark as he desperately creates ideas to escape, and save himself and his friends. We can feel the weight of the world weigh on his shoulders as all look to him for deliverance. Never fear, salvation shall come, and our messianic figure shall provide it.
If you have not seen this treasure of cinema, do so immediately. Rent or buy, and be prepared to see Hogan do what he does best. As a viewer you will enter an imperfect example of the human species, and finish the film with an enhanced understanding of both yourself, and the world around you.
Here's a link to purchase Thunder In Paradise 1-3. Never has a deal of this magnatude been presented willingly. Watch, Enjoy, Learn.
Thunder in Paradise Collection
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