Without Jeff Goldblum, Fending Off Aliens And Dinosaurs Would Be So Darned Difficult…
“You’ll have to get used to Dr. Malcolm…” – John Hammond.
Possibly the most intriguing news about next year’s Thor: Ragnarok is that En Dwi Gast (the Grandmaster) will be played by Jeff Goldblum. While that actor/movie icon reprises his role in of David Levinson in Independence Day: Resurgence currently showing in cinemas (goodness knows why), we gotta do a Post on this guy, considering the colossal contribution he has made to SF cinema.
Watch any of his quirky characters – usually “either an intellectual of some sort or an eccentric or both” – and it’s easy to see why he holds a reserved place in the Bradscribe Hall of Fame.
There is something about Jeff and aliens: he assisted top surgeon/rock star/sci-fi hero Buckaroo Banzai in thwarting an alien invasion; he fought a “more substantial” alien invasion with a computer virus in the original Independence Day; has utilised alien technology to bolster Earth’s defences when the aliens return in Independence Day: Resurgence; became a victim of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers; and actually played one in Earth Girls Are Easy, cavorting around in blue-skinned body-paint long before Avatar came along.
He is a fave in this sector of tke blogosphere primarily for injecting his oddball personality into would-be-banal characters. Apart from quite an impressive list of movies, he is a swell pianist, and can wriggle his ears ONE AT A TIME.
“The rest of the world is trying to change people to fit the world. I’m trying to change the world to fit people” – Jack Bellicec.
Jeff Goldblum’s first immersion into the realm of science fiction was in the 1978 remake of that paranoid infiltration chiller: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Jack Bellicec and Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) make the shocking discovery that spaceborne pods are linked to the startling emergence of emotionless sots roaming around town.
He was ideal to appear in the oddball cult classic: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai In The Eighth Dimension (1984) in which he spent the entire running time in cowboy clobber (don’t ask). Along with his ever-reliable band of hombres: the Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo Banzai gets caught up in the galactic altercation between the malevolent red aliens and good black aliens from Planet 10.
Once this endearing slice of schlock and awe comes to an unwanted end, so the greatest end titles sequence in movie history unfolds. The best bit is captured in this gif (below), but you can catch the whole scene right here:
“I’ve come here to say one magic word to you: cheeseburger!” – Seth Brundle.
Like many fans, my first encounter with the legend that is Jeff Goldblum came in The Fly (1986). Probably the second-greatest remake ever made, it charts the regression of crazy-eyed scientist Seth Brundle as he gradually – and gruesomely – transforms into the half-man-half-insect abomination of Brundlefly.
He did not wriggle his ears, but one of them did fall off during his regeneration.
In the almost-forgotten Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) his co-star from The Fly: Geena Davis appeared with him again, as a California gal who discovers three furry aliens in her swimming pool.
“Yeah, but, John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists” – Dr. Malcolm.
Now we come to perhaps Goldblum’s most iconic role: the all-black-clad expert on chaos: Dr. Ian Malcolm from the gargantuan blockbuster that was Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993). Here, the actor consolidated his reputation for playing eccentric intellectuals. Also, he is one of the very few movie stars to have been chased by a T Rex. (Does he have that on his CV?!)
One of the most thrilling scenes is when the tour jeep is pursued by the rampaging carnivore. Dr. Malcolm amusingly yells: “Must Go Faster, Must Go Faster!”
He went on to be the central lead in the somewhat inferior sequel: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), but it is the ’93 movie for which he will be most fondly associated. Arguably, Malcolm had all the best lines and this scene especially is one of the classic moments in SF cinema, and just had to be included here:
“Hey, take a look at the Earthlings. Goodbye!” – David Levinson.
Watching Independence Day back in 1996 was an infuriating experience. In the mood for a big alien invasion flick, this seemed to be the one to catch. The trailer looked really good, but the whole movie itself turned out to be SO DUMB, it’s almost an insult to the whole genre.
Anyway, Goldblum’s input was enough to prevent me from storming out of the auditorium. The climactic escape from the alien mothership was interesting though; one of the most enduring stories in Hollywood is that Spielberg himself was reportedly mightily dischuffed when Goldblum repeated that exact same exclamation: “Must Go Faster, Must Go Faster!”
One distinction of Goldblum’s characters is how SICK they are, not so much awesome – yes, they are that – but they are all prone to illness: in The Right Stuff (1984) he played a quirky NASA boffin who suffers from seasickness; in The Fly (1986) he played a quirky scientist who suffers from motion sickness (hence the invention of the teleporter); and in Independence Day he played a quirky, eco-sensitive maths genius who suffers from airsickness.
In Jurassic Park, his quirky chaos theorist gets his leg broken, but is probably sick of that wretched T Rex chasing him…
“They made soup out of my research turtles…” – Alistair Hennessey.
Lately, on a non-SF level, his contribution to the Wes Anderson filmography is particularly commendable, appearing in the nautically funny Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) as gay oceanographer Alistair Hennessey.
As homage to Buckaroo Banzai’s end credits, Anderson recreated the sequence at the end of Life Aquatic; as Goldblum starred in the movie, so he got to be part of it – amazingly, he was involved in BOTH!
In 2014’s (Eastern) Europeanly funny Grand Budapest Hotel, he appeared as the almost-unrecognisable-but-familiar-sounding Deputy Kovacs (raising extra mirth by doing nothing to hide his American accent for a decidedly non-American role).
Whatever eccentric performance he delivers, we simply can’t get enough of Jeff – he’s ‘blumin’ marvellous.
And there was no way we were going to let THIS Golden Goldblum Moment slip by:
“I’ve been lucky. And thank goodness the [sci-fi films] I’ve done have been good movies. I feel like some kind of lucky star has, for now, shone on me” – Jeff Goldblum.
Now that we’ve made it to the end of this Post, what better way to sign off than with a message from Dr Malcolm himself:
“That is one big pile of shit…” – Dr. Malcolm.