Please allow me to present Part Deux of Anneka's October Sky review. Fantasique!
..........................................Jake is sneaking around in someone’s back yard at night. Please be mine, please be mine, please be mine. No, it’s someone who knows how to weld. Not that dancing chick from Flashdance, a European guy. Euro-Welding Guy says NPC wouldn’t be happy. Jake, his hands twisting on the shaft of his rocket, says he’ll pay him. Ah, the rocket imagery has taken a new and mildly disturbing tone. Jake spins some romance about the universal nature of Sputnik. Euro-Welding Guy is unimpressed, saying there are worse places than Coalwood. Uh, no there aren’t, except maybe Blaenau Ffestiniog. Jake says that working on the rocket made him feel like Jean Claude Van Damme. So presumably he wants in on a film where time-travelling and kick-boxing are brought together in some way. It is this that melts Euro-Welding Guy’s heart and he has a look at Jake’s rocket. It’s a mighty fine rocket, and he agrees to help.
In the canteen, our Rocketeers are examining Jake’s fine, long rocket and are again impressed. I’m going to have to stop this soon, aren’t I? The Headmaster comes over and confiscates Jake’s rocket. He asks if it’s a weapon of some kind. Oh it is. And you don’t want to make it angry. Mrs Sam Neill swoops in like a blonde Pterodactyl and saves the day by saying she asked Jake to bring it to school. She also mentions entering it in a science fair. And we all know Jake’s perfectly-formed rocket would win any competition hands down. Okay, I’ll stop. For a while. Row-Lee says science fairs are for geeks. No they’re not - I entered a science fair, went to Chemistry Camp and joined a model UN debate, and I’m not a geek. Mrs Sam Neill mentions scholarships and you can see Jake’s brain sitting up. She says Jake’s maths might let him down and Jake gives a really funny smile, like “Oh Mrs Sam Neill, you know me so well!”. I don’t like this jokey-ness between them, it does not bode well for my own relationship with Jake.
Cut to Jake’s rocket, titled AUK1. Row-Lee asks what an Auk is. Non-Descript Friend says “Fool, it’s one of those ugly things outta Lord of The Rings”. As they prepare to light it, NPC is having a meeting about layoffs at the mine. Apparently coal is on its way out. The Rocketeers dive for cover to watch, counting down from ten, only their hands and eyes visible. Up, up and away the rocket flies. Instead of being pleased, Row-Lee shouts “Holy Shit, it’s headed fur the myne!” and legs it. The rocket nearly kills several miners. While the others head for the hills, Jake comes down to see what damage he’s done. NPC is steely faced. Don’t worry Jake, he had a bad meeting, I’m sure he’s not mad at you. “So this is what you’ve been up to in the basement?” NPC asks. In fairness, I can think of worse things he could have been up to in the basement. Drink, drugs, sex with barnyard animals. NPC says Jake is a menace, Euro-Welding Guy is a thief and Jake is not to be caught with rockets on company property again. Ah ha, I see a loop-hole to be exploited there.
Jake goes home and cries to New Movie Mom that NPC yelled at him in front of everyone. Suck it up Jake, worse things happen at sea. New Movie Mom, who is painting a mural on the kitchen wall - ? – says NPC loves him. Jake says “He loves the mine.” But the mine don’t keep him warm at night. Not that I’m suggesting Jake does. Seems the mine has given NPC a black spot on his lungs. Oh dear. Don’t take a crystal ball to see what’s coming round that bend. NPC overhears, not about his impending doom, but Jake bitching about the mine and says Jake’s just a boy. Jake counters this comment by drinking his glass of milk. The argument finishes when Jake says he’ll never go down the mine, then goes down to the basement. Methinks Jake should have taken more debate classes. Jake is shocked to find he’s been burgled and all his rocket making junk is heading its way south of the border to be stripped down and resold. No it’s all right, they’ve not been stolen, your loving father NPC has just thrown them out into the pouring rain. Like that puppy you had that Christmas. Jake goes to retrieve rocket junk – it was too late to save the puppy – but the cardboard box breaks and all his stuff is in the mud.
Down at the river, Row-Lee is making good use of his time by shooting at a stationary car, which may well be his. Jake tells him that they should be trying to get in the science fair instead of sitting around like hillbillies. Row-Lee makes the best observation of the film so far – “We are a bunch of hillbillies.” Jake has good news and bad news. The good news is the loop-hole – they’re just not allowed to set off rockets on company property. The bad news is that company property goes on for eight miles. And Row-Lee’s car is shot to shit, literally. Jake wants to walk, no-one else is interested. Row-Lee says he knows he is destined to be miner so what’s the point. There’s a can-do attitude. Jake points out that being a miner has made Row-Lee’s step-daddy the biggest drunk in West Virginia. I imagine that’s probably a hard one to win. Jake then tells a horror story of how Odell’s Dad died – decapitation by a piece of slate. I don’t understand why Non-Descript Friend leaps on Jake – other than the obvious, he wants him - until Row-Lee shouts “Odell, get off him!” and everything falls into place.
While our favourite hillbillies are scrapping in the mud, a sexy red car pulls up looking for directions. Jake helps them on their way. He doesn’t shoot them, he gives them directions. I think this is a sign of how their lives could be, they too could be driving red cars and looking for directions. Jake points this out and then starts walking. The other three catch him up down the road. Odell, Promoted From Non-Descript Friend asks what their chances are of winning. Jake says one in a million which seems to be what Odell wants to hear as the Rocketeers are back on.
They reach a spot which Jake deems suitable – Cape Coalwood - and starts planning where he’s gonna build his bunker. The Shermanator grins, slightly demonically. Jake is once again writing to Jean Claude Van Damme. He says their site is nearing completion while we watch the wall of their bunker fall down. He says local businesses have been generous while we see them nicking wood from the timber yard. The Shermanator proves he was put on this earth to terminate people, not to use a hammer. Jake says people have kindly donated them things while we see some poor guy missing a window, who will later die during the winter. Jake says everyone is behind them, even his Dad, while we see NPC not letting him have any cement.
NPC finds out that Jake’s been walking eight miles to play with his rockets. Most people use the bathroom. NPC thinks rocket making is a stunt and when the novelty wears off, Doctor Van Damme will be out of a job and will have to mine coal. I think Jean-Claude Van Damme would be good at mining coal. NPC says coal makes steel and without steel America would wither and die. Jake goes to stomp off but NPC gives in and lets him have some cement.
Science class. Jake and The Shermanator are giggling like girls over some rocket fuel they’ve been making. As the teacher approaches, they pour it down the sink. Some girl lights a match and throws it into another sink. All the sinks in the classroom spurt fire. I bet this kind of thing happens at Hogwarts all the time.
Jake sneaks into the mining workshop to visit Euro-Welding Guy but finds out that NPC sent him down the mine. Well, at least he didn’t leave him out in the rain like the rocket stuff. Jake meets Euro-Mining Guy (Previously Euro-Welding Guy) after work. Euro-Mining Guy says NPC is a fair man. Has he met NPC? Besides, Euro-Mining Guy can make more money down the mine. Especially if he finds a noodle seam, isn’t it. Euro-Mining Guy makes a big deal of kissing his id token 723 so I’m sure this will become the only way of recognising him when he gets buried in a mine collapse.