The entire idea surrounding cyrogenics has been around for a really long time, and its a popular one with science fiction, no doubt – but more along the lines of space sci-fi…not earth sci-fi, which is what Forever Young is partially…but not by much. I remember seeing this movie years and years ago, and came across it by mistake last night. I decided to give it another go to see if it still held up from my memory…it does and it doesn’t. Let’s get into it.
Mel Gibson stars as Captain Daniel McCormick, a test pilot in 1939. He seems to have his life cut out for him. He has a dream job, a dream girlfriend, and an overall dream life. When his girlfriend is struck by a car, she is sent into a coma for months. Not wanting to stick around and witness her death, Daniel decides to “sleep through it”. His best friend and collegue, Harry, singlehandedly created a cyrogenic chamber that actually works – so the intention was to sleep for a year – but something goes screwy and Daniel wakes up 50 years later…in 1992.
This is a very interesting movie. I say interesting, because it doesn’t follow suit with anything you’d expect from a movie like this. Without a doubt, this is a fish out of water story, there’s no going around that – but it’s not treated like one. 50 years later, the very first thing he does is use a 1992 payphone. I’m not going to ask how he got it to work while being naked. I’m going to ask how he even knew it was a phone to begin with – the phones in his day did not look like that. However, he treated it as if he was unchanged by it, by the cars driving around him, by the modern-day clear television, by the clothes people wear, by ANYTHING. Nothing phased him at all, and I think that was a clear mistake and oversight by the director.
But I think I get it. This is a romantic drama and the lengths a man would go and the things he would do when his emotional life is in turmoil. That part does indeed make sense, but I believe it would have had a little more back bone if they payed more attention to the fish out of water elements. At the very least, they could have explained the entire cyrogenics aspect more, because they didn’t even care to tell you how it works other than…you freeze people. Do you know why we can’t freeze people today? It’s because freezing people crystalizes their insides – which kills them. You can do the same thing to fish and bring them back, because they have something in their system that blocks the crystalization process. Today, they freeze dead bodies on the hope that sometime in the future, they’ll not only figure out how to de-crystalize them safely, but also bring them back to life with science. Ladies and gents, in Forever Young, Harry created a chamber entirely by himself, with no team, and claims it seems to work, just with a couple kinks. What? I’m sorry, if you saw “the chamber”, you would have known it wasn’t put together by George Wendt. I digress.
I simply believe this story had missing elements and altogether potential that is unfortunately never met. We didn’t get any backstory to why Harry is making a freezing chamber. Instead, it’s a random plot device to further the story. We didn’t get amazing possibilities for a fish out of water tale, instead we got a romantic drama. I believe whole-heartedly this could have been absolutely astonishing, but it missed out on key elements. Even when it came to quality, the lightness of it mixed with the editing and acting felt excruciatingly close to a TV movie…so where did it go right?
First of all, they went right with the concept. We don’t see too many cyrogenic stories taking place on earth. That part in and of itself was great, as was the fact that it took place on military ground. It also does a pretty wonderful job at exploring character depth once he gets to 1992. Elijah Wood plays a young boy that without the film needing to tell you anything – clearly needs a father figure in his life. Single mother, Jamie Lee Curtis, also plays a pretty important role in the movie.
It has its strengths as well as weaknesses. Obviously it pulls most of its positive attributes from character depth and emotion, maybe a little bit from romance, and leaves the rest to the imagination. I personally remember this being a perfect film for fish out of water – it just doesn’t actually seem like that when watching – if you’re paying attention, that is. It’s decent enough to warrant a watch, and memorable enough in the direction it decides to go towards the end. So if you have the time, give this a try!