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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
274

The State of Science Fiction Films
Topic by: Cinenaut
Posted: September 15, 2004 - 9:36 AM PDT
Last Reply: October 18, 2004 - 6:06 AM PDT

page  1  2      prev | next
author topic: The State of Science Fiction Films
Cinenaut
post #1  on September 15, 2004 - 9:36 AM PDT  
Continuing the discussion from the Kubrick thread.

hamano, no I haven't read The Sparrow. Is it good?

I heard at one point somebody was going to make a movie out of one of my favorite Heinlein juveniles Have Spacesuit Will Travel, but it's not in IMDB yet.
hamano
post #2  on September 15, 2004 - 10:02 AM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 9:36 AM PDT Cinenaut wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> hamano, no I haven't read The Sparrow. Is it good?
> ---------------------------------

I liked it a lot, but it's not a hard-sci-fi book by any means. It's got some theology (the expedition and first alien contact is sponsored by the Catholic Church, and the chief linguist is a Jesuit) and anthropology/linguistics themes (Did he just say, "serve man"?) and it's very imaginative.

I've got very eclectic tastes in SF, and I saw echoes of everything from the Pern Dragonrider books to the Man-Kzin War books... It's like a really really really good Star Trek episode stretched to epic length and rewritten for adults, maybe.
Cinenaut
post #3  on September 15, 2004 - 10:18 AM PDT  
When Star Wars came out, I thought wookies were Kzin rip-offs.

The other famous Jesuit science fiction novel is A Case of Conscience by James Blish.
hamano
post #4  on September 15, 2004 - 10:22 AM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 10:18 AM PDT Cinenaut wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> When Star Wars came out, I thought wookies were Kzin rip-offs.
> ---------------------------------

That's funny because I never thought of wookies as being particularly feline... more like a big hairy dog crossed with a sasquatch.
Cinenaut
post #5  on September 15, 2004 - 10:26 AM PDT  
Not feline -- but a big, fierce, furry and fanged alien race.
hamano
post #6  on September 15, 2004 - 11:28 AM PDT  
As I recall, the Kzin were distinctly feline in appearance and behavior... Oh, weren't female Kzin kept in harems?
woozy
post #7  on September 15, 2004 - 11:29 AM PDT  
I like the mature themes of Sci-fi, such as issues of what make us human (which is why I like Octavia Butler) etc., and I'd like these covered in sci-fi films more. Brin's Uplift series would be fun but I'd like it to be more than a simple shoot 'em up in space which I fear a typical Hollywood treatment would make it. A series that'd be a lot of fun is Rebeccah Ore's Becoming Alien/Being Alien/Human to Human series. I love the Gwyngs and their group comfort mentality. Her other book, Gaeia's Toys would make a good, albeit heavy-handed movie. Have either of you read these?

Actually, I'd like a good first contact movie with interesting and alien aliens with culture and behavior based on an alien biology. I can't think of any very good aliens in movies of the top of my head, can you. Can you?
woozy
post #8  on September 15, 2004 - 11:36 AM PDT  
Okay, Enemy mine was okay but a bit simplistic. The Aliens from Alien are terrific aliens but the treatment of them as horrible monsters is limiting. (They make good monsters but a movie with aliens as complex but not a horror but a contact or interaction movie would be great.)

C.J. Cherryh's Cuckoo's Egg would make a good movie and it's not so complex that it need a simplified movie treatment.
hamano
post #9  on September 15, 2004 - 11:37 AM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 11:29 AM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I like the mature themes of Sci-fi, such as issues of what make us human

Oh, yeah, you'd like The Sparrow, too!

> Actually, I'd like a good first contact movie with interesting and alien aliens with culture and behavior based on an alien biology.

The Sparrow, The Sparrow! I wonder if anyone's bought the movie rights...

> I can't think of any very good aliens in movies of the top of my head, can you. Can you?

The Day the Earth Stood Still... Klaatu was a good alien! He brought about world peace, and he didn't kill or hurt anyone. And he had a cool robot!
underdog
post #10  on September 15, 2004 - 11:46 AM PDT  
What do you guys think about the upcoming HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY movie? Of course, it's been talked about for years, long before Douglas Adams passed away, but now it really *is* happening. In fact, there's a HHGTTG production blog (still in the early stages, it appears).

The writer of Chicken Run co-wrote the new script (with Adams sharing credit, too, of course).

Apparently castmembers include Mos Def (!) as Ford Prefect(?!, wow casting outside the box) and Zooey Deschanel (swoon) as Trillian. The lead from The Office series, Martin Freeman, stars as Arthur Dent, and, whoa, I *love* this casting choice, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Presumably his two heads will look better than they did in the old BBC TV series...

I was doubtful but now I'm excited...
KPman1
post #11  on September 15, 2004 - 12:52 PM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 11:37 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
"I can't think of any very good aliens in movies of the top of my head, can you. Can you?"
>
> The Day the Earth Stood Still... Klaatu was a good alien! He brought about world peace, and he didn't kill or hurt anyone. And he had a cool robot!
> ---------------------------------

I think by good, Woozy meant a well developed and credible in terms of biology and culture and not good with respect to a sense of justice or personal demeanor. ET, and the aliens in Contact, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Starman had peaceful agendas but none were that well developed.

The most credible aliens I have seen have come from the Alien series which probably isn't saying much. I also like the Borg.
woozy
post #12  on September 15, 2004 - 1:16 PM PDT  
> I think by good, Woozy meant a well developed and credible in terms of biology and culture and not good with respect to a sense of justice or personal demeanor.

I think Hamano knew exactly what I meant and was teasing.

> ET,

ET was cute but we know nothing about his culture except that he is nice, we like him and he likes us. Has not very credible magic/technology/biology. It's implied his culture is peaceful and "organic" (in the NOT political sense of the word) and "nice, but it's not an alien movie as "Sparrow" (I assume, haven't read it) or the books I mentioned are in which coming face to face with an alien and its alien aspects is the point.

> and the aliens in Contact,

The aliens in contact were quasi-metaphysical. The movie was about people facing themselves. The aliens (which could have been manifest angels, advance time travelers, or any other so for as could be determined) weren't alien so much as advaced. I didn't like the movie and I didn't like the book and was embarrased by Carl Sagan for writing it.

> Close Encounters of the Third Kind

never seen. A vision of hope.

and Starman had peaceful agendas but none were that well developed.
>
A romance of an outsider but basically human with magic powers. Well, maybe I'm being unfair as I haven't seen it.

> The most credible aliens I have seen have come from the Alien series which probably isn't saying much.

Good Aliens. But as they are monsters and humans run from them, the movie isn't about confronting alienness. Not that they aren't good horror movies (they are! Are the first one was in my opinion) but they aren't about alienness.


> I also like the Borg.
> ---------------------------------

They're good. But surely there should be at least *one* movie with better aliens about alienness.

woozy
post #13  on September 15, 2004 - 1:20 PM PDT  
Oh, the brother from anothe planet is a cute funny movie. But definately not "hard" sci-fi.
KPman1
post #14  on September 15, 2004 - 1:27 PM PDT  
I hate Enemy Mine. All the oversentimental movie-of-the-week type themes it explored makes me physically sick. If I wanted to watch a movie about the trials of parenting and friendship, I would watch the Lifetime channel.

The Gods Themselves (Asimov) might make a mature and interesting movie, but I still prefer the more fun science fiction.

I like science fiction movies that focus on character (Vanilla Sky), plot (Minority Report) or action (Robocop) over movies that focus on science or that laboriously explore an idea that supposedly makes it "deep" (Come on, are movies like Logan's Run and Solvyent Green really deep?) There are always exceptions. Certain ideas such as existentialism and cultural diversity fascinate me to no end.

I don't think science fiction movies are in that much trouble. The first Matrix movie is the best live action cyberpunk I have ever seen. Movies like Robocop and Totall Recall are over the top nonsense but are great action movies. Vanilla Sky, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the Truman Show, Dark City are interesting takes on PK Dick's ideas. I didn't like AI but it wasn't a shallow movie and opened up doors for deeper movies about robots. I'm probably in the minority but I liked Contact's treatment of Alien contact as a metaphor for personal understanding. Minority Report was a tightly plotted movie.

Movies like Alphaville, Solaris, and 2001 cater to a particular audience and regardless of whether Star Wars was made, they never would have became the norm. Star Wars didn't invent its audience as much as it catered to it.

Also consider that some of your guys expectations for science fiction movies probably exceeds what is reasonablly possible. Octavia Butler for example is considered a unique talent. Not only aren't there many or any movies like her work, there aren't a lot of books either.
KPman1
post #15  on September 15, 2004 - 1:28 PM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 1:16 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>
> I think Hamano knew exactly what I meant and was teasing.
> ---------------------------------

Doh, I should have realised that.
hamano
post #16  on September 15, 2004 - 1:41 PM PDT  
Oh he meant well-developed aliens?

How about:

Queen, Amazon Women on the Moon?
Sil, Species?
Oh, I especially liked Princess Aura, Flash Gordon (1980)... she was a cutie.
hamano
post #17  on September 15, 2004 - 1:54 PM PDT  
Seriously, The Predator was one of the few recent movie aliens for which there is quite a bit of conceptual back story, don't you think? Of course it's not very original (hunting species seek ultimate sapient prey to stalk for sport... one of the oldest tricks in the book) but I appreciated the effort put into the design.

The Egyptiany alien overlord from Stargate was pretty good design-wise. Of course his culture was waaay overdeveloped once SG-1 started on TV. But even if we pretended that only the film existed that was a well developed and well depicted culture.

The trippy hippie alien culture in Fantastic Planet was interesting. But now I'm dating myself.

I'm not counting aliens from TV shows or movies based on TV shows... those have had the luxury of being fully developed over multiple episodes and scripts...
woozy
post #18  on September 15, 2004 - 1:57 PM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 1:41 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Oh he meant well-developed aliens?
>
I don't even need to read the rest of the post to know whats coming next.

Here's a present for you, hamano.

KPman, "Deep" ideas don't have to be "meaningful" and "serious"ly presented. Although Rebeccah Ore is an unabashed liberal you might like her Being Alien series, as it is entirely about cultural differences. It's got oodles of very interesting aliens and racial conflicts that are (rationally) biologically based. I like the gwnygs which are bat-like paranoid short-lived social species who are mortally scared of bird-like creatures (evolutionary birds ate the proto bats so the seven foot birds create a primal panic and the fact that the birds are very long-lived there is resentment). The premise as an intergalactic committe of many many alien creatures well aware of biological xenophobia that races are classified by biology and so humans and other ape races are assumed to be more understanding of each other even though they are completely alien to each other, and everyone is confronted with the effects of biology on self every day. This is a "mature" idea but it doesn't have to be presented as "deep".
woozy
post #19  on September 15, 2004 - 2:01 PM PDT  
> The trippy hippie alien culture in Fantastic Planet was interesting.

Oh, yeah. They were cool.

> But now I'm dating myself.


Hey, you're married! I'm a bit self-involved too but it's only physical. Besides I'm single.
>
> I'm not counting aliens from TV shows or movies based on TV shows... those have had the luxury of being fully developed over multiple episodes and scripts...
> ---------------------------------

But even so, most tv aliens are pretty blah.

hamano
post #20  on September 15, 2004 - 2:09 PM PDT  
> On September 15, 2004 - 1:57 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Here's a present for you, hamano.

Been there, done that....

> It's got oodles of very interesting aliens and racial conflicts that are (rationally) biologically based.

Ooh, go out immediately and get a copy of The Sparrow, read it and tell me what you think!

Are the creatures from The Dark Crystal aliens? Or just Fantasy creatures?
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