Author Topic: A rant on SF films...  (Read 8116 times)

Offline Tony Williams

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A rant on SF films...
« on: September 06, 2008, 12:05:40 pm »
If I'm less patient than I used to be where books are concerned, I've become even less tolerant of movies. In part that's because I have more sympathy for authors, who generally slave away by themselves in their spare time. In contrast, Hollywood employs vast numbers of people (many extremely well paid) to produce each film at phenomenal cost, yet as often as not the result isn't worth watching. Even when an author provides them with an excellent story, they still manage to mess it up with depressing frequency. So I finish only about half of the films I sit down to watch. Recently I've seen three SF films: 'District 13', 'Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith', and 'War of the Worlds', with contrasting results.

'District 13' is a French film set in a near-future Paris barrio which has been blocked off from the rest of the city by a high wall in order to contain the lawlessness within. A nuclear weapon has been stolen and smuggled into the barrio, and an undercover policeman teams up with a barrio resident to try to avert disaster. OK, the dialogue is corny and the acting barely adequate, but the film has huge energy with wonderfully gymnastic combat and "free-running" chases around the city (I love watching parkour ? far more exciting than any of the traditional sports). I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I really liked the original 'Star Wars' film and thought I would catch up with 'Revenge of the Sith'. Oh dear ? how the mighty have fallen. There was (only just) enough interest in the depiction of the turning of Anakin to the Dark Side (you don't usually see a hero turning into a baddie in this kind of film) plus the CGI (I'm a sucker for alien landscapes, cityscapes and machinery) to keep me watching to the end, but it was a close-run thing. Where have the humour and joie de vivre gone? When the only engaging character in the film is the speechless robot R2D2 you know there are problems?

'War of the Worlds' is a classic novel but this 2005 film version is one I didn't sit through. Since when was the story primarily about dysfunctional family relationships, with the alien invasion shoved into the background? This seems a common thread in Hollywood films these days: everything has to have its stock characters always in conflict with each other, with broken marriages, difficult father-son relationships, and a cute moppet who can be relied upon to scream at frequent intervals. Tedious, tedious, tedious ? why can't they just tell the story?

(an extract from my SFF blog)
Anthony G Williams homepage and SFF blog

Offline Paul Campbell

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2008, 05:11:07 pm »
Despite my love of reading the genres of horror and SF it's almost never genre movies that 'blow my hair back' so to speak.

Movies like Amadeus, Chasing Amy, Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Juno, There Will Be Blood - these are the ones that get me stoked and make we want to shout "Yes, baby, YES!"

Genre films though -

- I've got low expectations: my wife Audrey and I love going to the cinema in the summer to watch an 'event' movie, such as the superhero ones. I've thoroughly enjoyed most of them, but at the same time don't ever expect anything deep to linger over later.

Sure, I have all the Star Wars DVDs (special features alone are worth it!  ;)) purely for their science fantasy popcorn element. I've also got the 5 disc Blade Runner and the 3 disc Brazil, both of which I revisit, naturally enough, for entirely different reasons.

Horror movies, on the other hand, are just utter crud. Torture-porn. Body-horror. Horrific for all the wrong reasons. Surprising, perhaps, given my love of reading horror. But, then, my interest in written horror has come (like most people of my generation) from Stephen King's Danse Macabre. And even here my taste runs to the middlelist authors like Ligotti, Campbell, Grant, Etchison and so on. (Nope, no Hutson, Masterton, N. Smith or Saul on my shelves - all as derivative as the movies they imitate.)

A quick scan of my DVD case turns up no horror movies.

And before anyone runs over and shouts, "Hey, read Mark Morris's Cinema Macabre!" Yep, seen it, yawned, tossed it.

Now, Wall?E on the other hand...  ;D

Offline Pigasus

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2008, 11:39:53 pm »
'District 13' ... I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Me, too...
As a variation of Escape From New York, it's one of the better Euro sci-fi actioners of late.
http://www.zone-sf.com/screenscene/district13.html

If you like anime, and/or don't mind SF with a mishmash of influences (Aliens, Mad Max, Terminator, Matrix, etc), look out for Vexille on DVD.
Despite some dodgy science, it's certainly one of the best and most intriguing Japanese animated features I've seen in quite a while.

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2008, 08:48:54 pm »
If you like anime, and/or don't mind SF with a mishmash of influences (Aliens, Mad Max, Terminator, Matrix, etc), look out for Vexille on DVD.
Despite some dodgy science, it's certainly one of the best and most intriguing Japanese animated features I've seen in quite a while.

I love the trailer... not had a chance to watch the film yet; the animation and design are just sublime.

Offline mightyjoeyoung

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2011, 02:34:01 pm »
Quote
'District 13' is a French film set in a near-future Paris barrio which has been blocked off from the rest of the city by a high wall in order to contain the lawlessness within. A nuclear weapon has been stolen and smuggled into the barrio, and an undercover policeman teams up with a barrio resident to try to avert disaster. OK, the dialogue is corny and the acting barely adequate, but the film has huge energy with wonderfully gymnastic combat and "free-running" chases around the city (I love watching parkour ? far more exciting than any of the traditional sports). I thoroughly enjoyed it.


'District 13' was about as much fun as you can have with your trousers on.

There's now a sequel 'D13-U' (District 13 Ultimatum), which has the same main stars, loads of acrobatics for Parkour fans, a fun plot and is just massively entertaining. Rented, watched, went out and bought the box-set with both films in it.

Highly recommended.


Offline Craig Herbertson

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 09:50:54 am »
My disappointment with SF films knows no bounds.

The first Star wars was really monstrous at the time. I recall that excitment leaving the cinema; the knowledge that finally someone had really given us an SF fairy tale which realised all those inner needs.  I took my son to watch the first and told him that this would be the best film he had ever seen as a kid. It's the only film he ever sat through without saying a word - well, twice he said 'this is amazing.'

The follow ups were rough diamonds but still brilliant and kept the dream going. I eagerly awaited the fourth.

Never in my film-going life have I plummeted to such disappointment. The fourth is simply an insult and the fifth I would equate to an insult and then a beating. I have no idea what happened after that because a man can only take so much punishment.

It was inconceivable to me that such a  good director missed out on the possibility of older space ships, quasi templar knights, barren deserts, fortified sf castles, crisp but lean dialogue, mythic grandeur.

I'm still heart sick about it all.


Offline David A. Riley

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 11:39:44 am »
An obsession with CGI and toys did a lot to ruin the newer Star Wars films. Plus crass storylines and some amazingly poor acting.

My big disappointment is not having a copy of the original Blade Runner, one of my all time favourite SF movies , ruined by the Director's Cut - which is the only copy I have.  :(

Offline Paul Campbell

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 05:19:22 pm »
My big disappointment is not having a copy of the original Blade Runner, one of my all time favourite SF movies , ruined by the Director's Cut - which is the only copy I have.  :(

Pick up the 2007 5-disc set; it has all FIVE versions of the movie! You can keep up this boxset secondhand real cheap these days.

Offline Craig Herbertson

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 10:31:53 am »
I think you're right David. Very few directors make films shorter on the cut. On the Vault I think Picnic at hanging ridge was mentioned.

Bladerunner was flawed masterpiece for me - due to missing Dick's central point - despite this misinterpretation it was still one of the great SF films.

Offline mightyjoeyoung

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2011, 11:23:51 am »
Quote
Pick up the 2007 5-disc set; it has all FIVE versions of the movie! You can keep up this boxset secondhand real cheap these days.

I did exactly that last year... It's a tin with a booklet, a film still and all of the films and documentaries in it. It was the astonishing price of 6 in a sale at HMV. It pays to check them out from time to time.

Offline Stephen Palmer

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2011, 01:39:23 pm »
I preferred the DC of Bladerunner...

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Re: A rant on SF films...
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2012, 04:27:59 pm »
I do love the Star Wars films, but I wish the new ones had been cast differently and had one or two rewrites before being filmed. Still, I got to see new Star Wars films on the big screen (and a 3D one earlier this year - the CGI Yoda made it a far better film. I HATED that awful puppet they used in TPM).