A Conversation for 24 Lies a Second

Death of Sci Fi

Post 1


I agree that since 2001 there has been a definite dumbing down of sci fi. This is probably because when sci fi geeks (like me) saw 2001 we went out and told all our non-geek friends (we do have them) "Wow, you've gotta see this movie!" and it was popular. (I didn't do this being as I was not born at the time, but you get the idea.)

Then movie studios started thinking

And so started dumbing them down in an attempt to get bums on seats, as the British say.

But there have been notable exceptions. The TV movie Aline Cargo was a brilliant piece of sci-fi. Firstly it uses the hugely unpopular "no light speed drive" set up, favoured by Arthur C. Clarke and others, then it creates a great story line about how someone sneezing in a space probe makes aliens think they are being attacked and they retaliate. But you never see the aliens themselves, only the probe they sent back.

There are other great modern sci fi films, like Blade Runner and yes damn it TRON! But I agree that the majority of sci fi films are terrible, case in point: Mission to Mars (urgh!), Red Planet (not quite as bad) and Independance Day (hurl city!)

Death of Sci Fi

Post 2


Hmmm. I wouldn't blame 2001 so much for the dumbing down of SF movies, after 2001 (1968, the key year in the history of SF cinema) a lot of thoughtful and often rather depressing SF movies came out, like Soylent Green, Clockwork Orange, some of the Planet of the Apes series - things didn't really dumb down until the mega-box office of Star Wars, which was dumb but cheerful SF (well, sort of).

2001 showed you could get good box office from SF.
Star Wars showed you could get phenomenal box office from non-intellectual SF (oxymoron alert).

At least things seem to have recovered a tiny bit recently...

Death of Sci Fi

Post 3


Yes, but everything is dumbing down, not just sci fi. Look at Freinds for example. I have a few on tape and the earlier series had much more sophisticad jokes. You can't say it's all because the writers have run out of ideas, they are definately dumbing down.

Clockwork Orange was sci fi?

Planet of the Apes series; yes, but I liked the overall story arc, ie it's a temporal paradox. If Charlton Heston had never gone to the future, then the apes could never have come back and thus their son could never have emerged as the leader of the apes, hence - no planet of the apes. Very clever (for the 1970s) I thought.

> Star Wars, which was dumb but cheerful SF (well, sort of).

One of the chapters in Leonard Nimoy's autobiography says why there was a series of Star Trek films. The chapter is called "Thank you George Lucas"

I'm not with all those people who say the new SW films are bad, although I think the names are wrong. The first three to be made were all Name of Film, followed by the subtitle, which was the episode number. The new films are the other way round, which I don't like, but I did enjoy them, seeing Couresant was great, although there is a certain "kitch" level to them, as they are concentrated on only three planets really, Courescant, Naboo and Tattooine. The SW universe is big enough that there are plenty of other planets to choose from and it would have been nice to see one of the Jedi temple planets that appear in the games.

> 2001 showed you could get good box office from SF.
> Star Wars showed you could get phenomenal box office from non-
> intellectual SF (oxymoron alert).

I think part of 2001's box office sucess was people saw it and thought it was a high budget film, excellent film but they didn't quite get it, so they went and saw it three or four times and then got it. That's how I remember it. In fact I remember the first showing on terrestrial TV back in the 1980s and before the film there was a THIRTY MINUTE explanation of the film so you would understand it. Really.

Things have recovered a bit recently, but there's still that edge of Holywood that is saying, let's make a really dumb film and make money on it.

There was something I was going to say about Star Trek films but I've forgotten.

Sorry for the long post.

Death of Sci Fi

Post 4


No problem! smiley - smiley

Heh, you should read the review of 2001 that somebody did as a guest item for the column - brief, pungent, and totally bemused. The film's kind of an interesting collision between Stanley Kubrick (whose instinct was to never explain a thing) and Arthur C Clarke (whose instinct was to explain *everything* in extraordinary detail). The book is pure Clarke - makes a lot more sense, but doesn't have the same magic.

Hmm, yeah, I'd call Clockwork Orange SF - it's not set in the 70s, and it has SF themes - behaviour modification through technology. Admittedly it's borderline, but firmly on the SF side of the border.

I do like Planet of the Apes (not the new one, reading my review of it now I'm surprised how kind I was about it) but I'm not entirely sure the time loop hangs together. The history Cornelius and Zira remember in film 3 doesn't match what happens as a result of their visit in films 4 and 5. But it's highly debatable either way. Certainly the later films were heavily rewritten and reedited to make them more cheerful and upbeat, and I'm sure Battle... is deliberately ambiguous about whether history has changed or not.

As far as the new Star Wars movies go... well, I'd've done it differently. In some ways I prefer Phantom to Clones - Clones has the whole Tatooine sequence which is only there to set up episodes 3 & 4, it doesn't connect to the clones/Dooku plot at all, and at least Phantom didn't suffer from anything like that. I don't know. The 70s-80s films were kind of limited in a way the new ones aren't, and the limitations kind of made Lucas work harder and make more interesting films. Plus they had Harrison Ford not-quite-taking-them-seriously, which was great fun.

I've written about nearly all these films in the column somewhere or other, and done a better job of it there... smiley - smiley

Death of Sci Fi

Post 5


Oh, I forgot to say - proper SF ain't quite dead after all, look at the biggest film of the summer. Reloaded is SF and in no way could one call it dumb. So fingers crossed it catches on...

Death of Sci Fi

Post 6


Yes, I've seen the Animatrix, it's great.

Death of Sci Fi

Post 7


I thought it was a tiny bit variable - though I haven't seen all of it. It turned up rather irregularly on late night TV over here, and not all of it got shown. I've seen Osiris (great animation, thin plot), Second Renaissance (too much plot, variable animation) and the Kid's Story (cute). They showed World Record too, but I missed that - it was on opposite West Wing on the other side...

Death of Sci Fi

Post 8


It's def worth seeing. Osiris is the start of "Enter the Matrix" which is the game/back plot to Matrix Reloaded. It's why Neo is fighting the machines in the film.

Some of them are a bit dull, but Detective Story is great! He's leaving the office in his raincoat and the cat throws his hat to him. Classic. smiley - smiley

Key: Complain about this post

More Conversations for 24 Lies a Second

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more