Kevin Costner has been in a decent number of movies, at
last count forty, give or take, although roles like "Man in Alley"
in Frances or "Frat Boy #1" in Night Shift
aren't exactly cornerstones of a career. But Costner is best known for
big, bloated epics, which is somewhat odd, since he's only responsible
for a handful of them. But in typical G/B/U style, this isn't a column
about Kevin Costner. It's about the villains. Because what's a big, bloated
epic without a larger-than-life bad guy?
Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham: I have to feel
bad for Alan Rickman. He's a classically trained stage actor, a good one.
But what does most everyone think of when they see him? The over-the-top
Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Of
course, that's only because he was entirely too good of a villain. Look
at how it stacks up. He's ambitious. He fights dirty. He's a megalomaniac.
He kills his cousin for messing up once to often. He has no problem with
killing little kids. He worships dark powers. He even keeps a witch on
retainer. In short, this isn't someone you want to mess with. He only
loses in the end because he gets stabbed with his own painfully ironic
dagger. This is a villain. In short, very Good.
Dennis Hopper's Deacon: Confession time. I liked Waterworld.
Not like I like The Killer or The Princess Bride,
but I enjoyed it. It's no where near as bad as people say it is. Not that
it should have made the AFI's 100 list, mind you. I do have some issues
with the writers, however, or more specifically who ever came up with
the names of the characters. Or to be accurate, didn't. Kevin Costner
is the Mariner. A hero called the Mariner. Sad. But not so sad as a villain
stuck with the moniker Deacon. I understand the whole neo-religious-while-still-having-a-simple-name
thing, but deacon just doesn't cut it. So I suppose it's fitting that
Dennis Hopper plays a villain as sad as his name. He's got a Napoleon
complex going on, he has loads of loyal followers, but he says stuff like
"He's like a turd that won't flush!" (in reference to Kevin
Costner's Mariner, this quote does work on an unintentional level). How
inspiring. And let's not forget about the nastiest prosthetic eyeball
you'll ever see. No offense to Dennis Hopper, but the Deacon is Ugly.
Will Patton's General Bethlehem: "You're no general.
You're not even a good painter." This pretty much sums up Will Patton's
general Bethlehem. How did he get to be in charge of a rampaging militia
army, especially one where leadership can be challenged for at any time?
Now, I've never met Will Patton. Maybe he's a whole lot more intimidating
in real life. But I'm fairly sure that given three weeks at my local neighbourhood
fight club to toughen up, I could wipe the floor with him. Why doesn't
he have people lined up around the block challenging him for leadership?
This is an army he's running, not a boy scout troop, you would think at
least some of the members would be in decent shape and have enough combat
training to have a go at the general. He doesn't project anywhere near
the force he needs for the job. Put maybe Rutger Hauer, or Christopher
Walken or John Malkovich in this role, and then I'll believe that he's
keeping his job because no one can/will fight him.
And that's not Bethlehem's only problem. He thinks he's enlightened, he's
thinks he's brilliant. He leaves Kevin Costner alive in a fashion that
would make a 007 type criminal mastermind proud. And let's not forget
his name is Bethlehem. Bad.