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Simon
2001-Nov-08, 07:31 AM
This was posted on another board I visit, and thought it would be a good question to ask here as well.
"This is a question that has been bugging me for some time. It seems like every year, a bunch of good-looking science fiction movies come out. Every year, I wait for them to hit the theaters, and every year, most of them stink.
Does anybody have any insight into this annoying question?"

Matherly
2001-Nov-08, 01:35 PM
(Note: I am going to use the terms we disscussed on the old board to describe the sub-genere's of Sci-Fi: Space Opera, Speculative Fiction, and Hard Sci-Fi. If a new disscussion is warented, we can always open up a new thread)

Now then, personally I don't think we've every really seen an abundance of Hard Sci-Fi in movies and in television. Truly hard and crunchy stories designed to explore how people interact with technology/physics that are portrayed as accuratly as possible has never been popular with the mainstream movie goers. While I am sure I will be corrected, I'd say that 2001 is one of the few exceptions.

Speculative Fiction seems to be doing acceptably well, with a few very nice movies in the recent past. Personally, I thought A.I. and the film version of Bicentennial Man did a good ob at looking at the issue involving the integration of sentient/pseudo-sentient robots into human society.

Space Opera is alvie and well thanks to George Lucas. Dispire the amount of aggrivation I feel when ever a certain character is on screen (the name starts with Jar-Jar and ends with Binks), SW:tPM was a great Space Opera. Additionaly, this years Disney movie Atlantis: the Lost Empire was a great "steam-punk" style adventure.

So, to wrap it up... I think Sci-Fi has always been a niche market, but the niche is being fill with some petty decent offerings.

ToSeek
2001-Nov-08, 02:14 PM
On 2001-11-08 02:31, Simon wrote:
This was posted on another board I visit, and thought it would be a good question to ask here as well.
"This is a question that has been bugging me for some time. It seems like every year, a bunch of good-looking science fiction movies come out. Every year, I wait for them to hit the theaters, and every year, most of them stink.
Does anybody have any insight into this annoying question?"


I think science fiction in the movies is used as an excuse to create really fancy special effects - if it's sci-fi, you're not expecting character development or any of that boring stuff. Starship Troopers is an excellent example.

Matherly
2001-Nov-08, 03:13 PM
Arrrggggg. I spit on that foul unholy corruption of Heinlein's work. We hates it forever.

David Simmons
2001-Nov-08, 04:12 PM
On 2001-11-08 02:31, Simon wrote:
This was posted on another board I visit, and thought it would be a good question to ask here as well.
"This is a question that has been bugging me for some time. It seems like every year, a bunch of good-looking science fiction movies come out. Every year, I wait for them to hit the theaters, and every year, most of them stink.
Does anybody have any insight into this annoying question?"


(warning) POP PSHYCHOLOGY FOLLOWING (/warning)

I started reading Astounding Science Fiction pre-WW II and was brought up reading material that had been passed by editors such as John W. Campbell.

It seems to me that published SF and fantasy was written for a rather small audience of the technically/scientifically inclined.

That audience isn't big enough to support the production costs of movies and most of the SF movies I have seen were just rocket powered cowboy stories.

That's why I now ignore them.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Simmons on 2001-11-08 11:13 ]</font>

Valiant Dancer
2001-Nov-08, 05:21 PM
On 2001-11-08 10:13, Matherly wrote:
Arrrggggg. I spit on that foul unholy corruption of Heinlein's work. We hates it forever.



I'll help. Landing craft indeed. Hrumph!

Wiley
2001-Nov-08, 05:31 PM
On 2001-11-08 12:21, Valiant Dancer wrote:


On 2001-11-08 10:13, Matherly wrote:
Arrrggggg. I spit on that foul unholy corruption of Heinlein's work. We hates it forever.



I'll help. Landing craft indeed. Hrumph!



I always thought that Aliens was a better adaptation of Heinlein's Starship Troopers than the eponymous movie.

But that's just me.

ToSeek
2001-Nov-08, 06:06 PM
On 2001-11-08 10:13, Matherly wrote:
Arrrggggg. I spit on that foul unholy corruption of Heinlein's work. We hates it forever.



Don't hold back, Matherly. Tell us what you really think. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Kaptain K
2001-Nov-08, 06:25 PM
It seems to me that published SF and fantasy was written for a rather small audience of the technically/scientifically inclined.
That audience isn't big enough to support the production costs of movies and most of the SF movies I have seen were just rocket powered cowboy stories.

Actually, except for 2001, it hasn't really been tried. It is just assumed by Hollywood that "hard science fiction" with real science and actual plots won't fly. "The Puppet Masters" followed the book fairly closely and seems to have done fairly well although most people and critics, not being aware of the origin of the story, think that a movie based on a 1950 book is a rip-off of a 1954 movie (sheesh).
Gene Roddenberry fought the "its science fiction" attitude of directors throughout the original Star Trek series.

Donnie B.
2001-Nov-08, 07:45 PM
IMHO....

In any given genre (not just S/F), quality of films and TV material follows a broad bell curve. Some of it is terrible. A few gems are outstanding. The vast majority is somewhere in the middle.

Now, that said, some might argue that what I term "so-so" S/F is pretty bad, contains a lot of Bad Astronomy and Bad Physics, is poorly written, and so on. My response to that is, look at other genres with the same critical eye, and you see the same thing.

Or, in other words, so much S/F seems crappy to us because our standards are so much higher than those of the great unwashed masses that buy all the movie tickets.

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-08, 08:53 PM
..."The Puppet Masters" followed the book fairly closely and seems to have done fairly well although most people and critics, not being aware of the origin of the story, think that a movie based on a 1950 book is a rip-off of a 1954 movie (sheesh).


Well, it would have been a lot better film if the country had gone to total-nudity to prove who was and wasn't wearing a Master, as in the book. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Actually, my take is that bad sci-fi movies are not a recent phenomenon; I'm still waiting on a really creditable job on Campbell's Who Goes There?, aka The Thing in numerous more-or-less crappy film versions. I swear, I've gotten to the point of actually liking James Arness as The Carrot From Outer Space, just because that version is so campy it's funny.

I can enjoy Space Opera (SW and its ilk) movies better than "real" sci-fi, and I think Hollywood does a much better job of those. Now, if they'd only try doing some of The King of Space Opera, Edmund Hamilton's stories! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif Or Skylark of Space.

The (is there a Doc Smith in the house?) Curtmudgeon

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-08, 08:58 PM
On 2001-11-08 14:45, Donnie B. wrote:
...Now, that said, some might argue that what I term "so-so" S/F is pretty bad, contains a lot of Bad Astronomy and Bad Physics, is poorly written, and so on. My response to that is, look at other genres with the same critical eye, and you see the same thing.


Like all those Western B-movies where the angle of the sun changes three different times during the shoot-out on Main Street! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

The (you got me, Marshall! no, wait, I'm over here) Curtmudgeon

Geoff394
2001-Nov-08, 10:05 PM
Hollywood does not see Science Fiction as a genre but a location. Just about any sci-fi ..oh...er... Science Fiction! (sorry Mr. Ellison) film that has come out in the last twenty years could be rewritten to take place anywhere on earth with little or no plot changes whatsoever. "Star Wars" is an obvious choice and of course "Red Planet" or "Mission to Mars" could be "Antartica: The movie"

SF in literature is about ideas and SF in movies and TV is about imagery - the viceral. The publishing industry is "execution" oriented and Hollywood is "concept" oriented. And of course with so much at stake in Hollywood these days, it's the opening weekends that make or break a film. Basically they're making good excuses for a marketing campaign.

Sometimes a smart producer gets ahold of a smart script and won't dumn a movie down or cow toe to the 14-18 year old market and produce a GATTACA or soemthing.

Kaptain K
2001-Nov-08, 10:09 PM
Or Skylark of Space.
Hollywood tried "The Lensman" series. Bungled the first one so bad, they never got to do a sequel. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cry.gif

David Simmons
2001-Nov-08, 10:24 PM
On 2001-11-08 14:45, Donnie B. wrote:
IMHO....

In any given genre (not just S/F), quality of films and TV material follows a broad bell curve. Some of it is terrible. A few gems are outstanding. The vast majority is somewhere in the middle.



I suspect this is true of any art. Probably, since the invention of printing from moveable type, most everything that is written is junk. But time has a filtering effect and the junk gradually disappears from the output of the past and only the good is left.

This gives us a distorted image of how bad things are now as compared to how wonderful they were in "the good old days."

Lisa
2001-Nov-09, 06:30 AM
"Event Horizen" was a movie I think that could only be set in space. But it was so dang weird and creepy I couldn't tell good astronomy from bad. One has to remove one's hands from one's eyes to properly view any movie.
Lisa

Ducost
2001-Nov-09, 08:06 AM
On 2001-11-08 17:05, Geoff394 wrote:
Hollywood does not see Science Fiction as a genre but a location. Just about any sci-fi ..oh...er... Science Fiction! (sorry Mr. Ellison) film that has come out in the last twenty years could be rewritten to take place anywhere on earth with little or no plot changes whatsoever. "Star Wars" is an obvious choice and of course "Red Planet" or "Mission to Mars" could be "Antartica: The movie"



Speaking as a "writer" and somewhat inclined to defend my craft, changing the setting of the story and not changing the plot still changes the story. For example, "The Lion King" is simply a rewrite of "Hamlet" The primary change was the setting. "O' Brother were art thou" was a re-work of "The Odyssy"

When I write a story that takes place in space, it is not because I want it to be dubbed Science Fiction, but more to that fact that is where they occur. Bad Astronomy creeps in because I get in a flow and to research my words would break the flow. Later re-writes could fix some of the problems, but by that time, some of it is so embedded into the story line, that it cannot be surgecally removed without killing the story.
I'm sure this is a different experience for the big time script-writers in Hollywood than a wanabee in colledge, but the reasons for BA are probably simular.

And so what if you placed "Mission to Mars" in Antartica, don't you think it would just get torn down by people who are really into artic exploration. It would still be considered Science Fiction.

Lisa
2001-Nov-09, 08:33 AM
Ducost, I don't think the complaints are about poetic license or a little cheat with a plot device. Too often it seems big bucks are spent for major stars, lotsa $$ spent to get the book/video game concept, and $12.95 for the script. Anything that was correct down to the smallest technical detail would be called a "documentary". I'm not that picky. I'll settle for "coherent".
Lisa

Ducost
2001-Nov-09, 09:14 AM
On 2001-11-09 03:33, Lisa wrote:
Ducost, I don't think the complaints are about poetic license or a little cheat with a plot device. Too often it seems big bucks are spent for major stars, lotsa $$ spent to get the book/video game concept, and $12.95 for the script.

You forgot to mention special effects.

That is true for some movies where there is already existing fan base ("Tomb Raider") where the script seems to be the last priority. These movies seem to take a lot longer to get made, however, because they are looking for a "good" script.




Anything that was correct down to the smallest technical detail would be called a "documentary". I'm not that picky. I'll settle for "coherent".
Lisa

Most sci-fi movies are coherent, if you can stomach to watch them. I was trying to address how a change in setting (Mars to Earth) would change the story. Somewhere in the middle of that, I went on a rant about my personel origins of BA.


Start new rant
Since what makes a good movie is decieded by the audience that watches it, and every audience likes things different. Then no movie can be made to suit every audience. Since no movie was made with any specific person in mind (other than the people invovled in the project) then it is quite possible for many movies to fall short of peoples expectations. Therefor, if you find a lot of science fiction films not to your pleasure, then accept the fact that many films aren't made for you and move on. If you find no science fiction films are enjoyable, then maybe you should just catch a good drama.

Lisa
2001-Nov-09, 09:55 AM
Yeah, how could I forget the special effects? Holy cow! That's what makes sci-fi, right? And it also cost big bucks.
And you're right about "Tomb Raider". They could have called it "Laura Croft Sits and Reads the Telephone Book", and the built in fan-base would still go.
I'd like to see some truly thought provoking, "what if" type movies in regard to the sci-fi genre.
Lisa

Donnie B.
2001-Nov-09, 12:37 PM
Donnie's Theory:

Truly innovative and thought-provoking ideas are risky. A lot of people don't like to have their assumptions challenged.

Hollywood studios don't like to undertake risky projects. They figure their pinheaded audiences will stay away in droves, so they'll lose money and cost executives their jobs.

While some genres can be made by independent producers on a shoestring, that's more difficult with S/F, which often requires expensive sets, costumes, and special effects. Whole new worlds may need to be created, or scenes in space. So, S/F tends to be produced only by big studios.

Therefore: challenging, thought-provoking films are rarely attempted in the S/F genre.

Two counterexamples: "2001" (made primarily on Kubrick's reputation) and "The Lathe of Heaven" (produced on a shoestring for public television). The latter is an example of how truly outstanding S/F can be made on a budget. But it didn't make money (not in a big way), so it's not really a valid example to use in a pitch meeting at Warner Brothers.

David Hall
2001-Nov-09, 01:02 PM
For those interested I just started a thread dedicated to Heinlein. Matherly, why don't you come on over and vent all your vitriol at Verhoeven there? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Matherly
2001-Nov-09, 02:06 PM
On 2001-11-09 08:02, David Hall wrote:
For those interested I just started a thread dedicated to Heinlein. Matherly, why don't you come on over and vent all your vitriol at Verhoeven there? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif


Already been done /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cool.gif

Wally
2001-Nov-09, 03:42 PM
How can y'all sit here and complaint about the lack of good sci-fi fliks??? Haven't any of you ever seen the ultra-classic, super space opera/thriller "Space Trucker"???

I mean common! Dennis Hopper and a good lookin' gal wearing nothin' but underwear throughout most of the film. What more can you ask for???

(tried to find a smiley face for sarcasm. . . couln't find one!) /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

DJ
2001-Nov-09, 04:23 PM
On 2001-11-09 01:30, Lisa wrote:
"Event Horizen" was a movie I think that could only be set in space. But it was so dang weird and creepy I couldn't tell good astronomy from bad. One has to remove one's hands from one's eyes to properly view any movie.
Lisa


<insert creepy voice> "Where we're going, you won't need eyes!"

C'mon, folks, that's almost a frequently quoted line. They even did followup commercials with Sam Neill and I think Sprint or Qwest or one of those telecom companies using the eyeball theme (he looked into something weird).

But the problem we suffer with sci-fi today is the lack of realism. Though we can easily be transported (pun intended) in our hearts to that special space-time location of our crew, often the way problems are handled become a matter of filming convenience as opposed to something our brains logically latch on to. All too often, the Universal Translator is on the fritz, the Transporter has gravimetric interference, and the Computer is fighting Nimda so can't respond right now.

When these scientific non-sequitors occur, our brains shut down, and our hearts are no longer into it. (There wasn't enough character development anyway -- these are scientists, so we usually suspect they have rather... shall we say bland existences except for the science they study.) So if the people aren't why we're watching, it's about the technology. And quite honestly, whether real or not, that technology fails us all too frequently.

DJ

Matherly
2001-Nov-09, 04:55 PM
On 2001-11-09 11:23, DJ wrote:
So if the people aren't why we're watching, it's about the technology.

And that is at the crux of the problem.

Why is a scientist an uninterestng character? I mean, in real life there are plenty of intresting scientists (example: Raise your hand if you think Phil is interesting {Carl watches as a sea of raised hands springs up around him}). So why can't a scientist be an intresting character? Because of setrotypes. Because the factors that make the scientist "unique" (and I use the term losely) is almost always the same thing... excellent book learning, but an inability to relate to people. And thus the "scientist" character is forever stuck as the dues ex machina plot device.

Now, some have done the 'scientist' character well. Though it is certainly not Hard Sci-Fi, Babylon 5's Dr. Stephan Franklin character was well developed and well recieved. That is because even though the character was full emersed in science (and was considered a bit of a geek by the other characters "Everything with him is either Biology or Mathamatics" (from memory- please don't flame:))), the character also had "normal" strengths and flaws (like his substance abuse problem). In other words, the character felt like he could have been a real person.

Science Fiction has to be about the characters as much as the science. If its nothing but the science, then its documentary. The characters (and how the characters deal with the myrad of diffrences between their situation and ours) has to be the focus, or it just doesn't work.

Geoff394
2001-Nov-09, 05:16 PM
And so what if you placed "Mission to Mars" in Antartica, don't you think it would just get torn down by people who are really into artic exploration. It would still be considered Science Fiction.


If you placed "Mission to Mars" in Antartica it would 99 times out of 100 get changed to Outer Space because some Hollywood Production exective or agent is wondering how they're going to get a star to work in cold conditions.

Poetic License has nothing to do with Hollywood. And nobody cares about writers in Hollywood anyway.

Geoff
(also a "writer")

ToSeek
2001-Nov-09, 06:56 PM
On 2001-11-09 11:55, Matherly wrote:

Science Fiction has to be about the characters as much as the science. If its nothing but the science, then its documentary. The characters (and how the characters deal with the myrad of diffrences between their situation and ours) has to be the focus, or it just doesn't work.


Much as I enjoy science fiction simply for the "sense of wonder," I think the key to successful science fiction is that it allows writers to put people into situations that no other form of literature would allow and see how they react. Nothing else has that scope, though it's taken advantage of too rarely.

Ducost
2001-Nov-09, 10:14 PM
On 2001-11-09 12:16, Geoff394 wrote:

If you placed "Mission to Mars" in Antartica it would 99 times out of 100 get changed to Outer Space because some Hollywood Production exective or agent is wondering how they're going to get a star to work in cold conditions.

Poetic License has nothing to do with Hollywood. And nobody cares about writers in Hollywood anyway.

Geoff
(also a "writer")


It seems to me that someone wanted to express an idea that we might be descendents from Mars and that Mars was once a habitible planet. That couldn't be done in Antartica. Yes, it was probably the major focus of the writers to place the film on Mars, and the plot line was second. They didn't place it on Mars because they wanted it to be science fiction, but simply because thats where they wanted it to take place. (In all honesty, I do not know why I am defending this film)

Mr. X
2001-Nov-10, 02:06 PM
I think there was at least a little astronomy in Event Horizon, and I'm ready to make a small leap of faith for the fact you don't really need eyes in <font size=3 color=red>HELL</font>.

The story was seriously twisted, and I liked that a lot, I find it adds to alot to a movie when it plays like a nightmare. I mean <font size=3 color=red>HELL</font>! Who had guessed it?

They got me staying until the end in the theater, at least, even if a lot of the people looked really depressed and translucid by the end. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Ducost
2001-Nov-10, 09:48 PM
I have often felt that many movies are placed in the wrong genra. This feeling resurfaced because of a recent trip to a local video store. "Event Horizon" is a prime example of bad sectioning. Bacuse it is set in the future ad in space, it is labeled as science fiction, but "Event Horizon" is a horror, plain and simple. On another note, "The 13th Floor" was placed in the horror section wich might seem logical if this the labeler has only seen the previews and read the box, but if the film is viewed from beginning to end, then one would probably place it in the science fiction catagory.



_________________
Just another rant by Ducost

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ducost on 2001-11-11 03:11 ]</font>

Mr. X
2001-Nov-11, 02:39 AM
The 13th Floor probably belongs in action flicks anyway, methinks.

Event Horizon is very borderline, I feel.

Truth is it's very difficult to differentiate at certain points (no link with differentiation /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif ), and it certainly can't be done in a matter of seconds with a snap of fingers.

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-12, 10:31 PM
Not at all astro-related, but Ray Bradbury's classic story, A Sound of Thunder, which gave us the "butterfly" metaphor for chaos theory, is in the planning stages for filming.

http://www.corona.bc.ca/films/details/soundofthunder.html

I'm betting that Hollyweird will find a way to hash it up, but maybe since it's only a short story they'll figure out a way to film it without too many gratuitous changes.

Hmm, wonder if they'll use a computer program to generate the correct starfield appearance (assuming there's any night shots in the Cretaceous).

The (or just randomly throw dots of white paint around) Curtmudgeon

Ben Benoy
2001-Nov-12, 11:33 PM
Sorry Matherly, I've got to disagree with you on your uninteresting scientist idea. I think that the reason you don't normally get scientist heroes is that they just don't play well on screen. To use William Goldman's terminology, there are no heroes in movies. There are gods. People do things in movies taht are impossible in real life, and we just let it slide. (When was the last time somebody had to drive around looking for a parking place in Hollywood?)

I think the point is that you could have a scientist, but in order to make him work on the screen, you have to make him larger than life. And in the process of making him so big, you turn him into a characiture of a real scientist. Example, I saw Heist this weekend, and it was good. But none of those people exist in real life, because in turning them into movie characters, they were made way too clever to be real people. (But still appropriately dense for the plot, of course. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif )

Or maybe I'm just feeling pessimistic this afternoon. It's possible.

Ben Benoy

Mr. X
2001-Nov-13, 12:18 AM
On 2001-11-12 18:33, Ben Benoy wrote:
Or maybe I'm just feeling pessimistic this afternoon. It's possible.


You must be. Everything movie stars do is very possible. For example this morning while driving to work in my Ferrari with machine guns and rocket launchers to MI-6, i noticed a bank robbery was taking place. They were heavily armed 200+ robbers with automatic rifles and grenade launchers and kevlar vests, helmets, and boots. However I had my handy dandy 9mm Beretta and I managed to down about 50 of them just walking into the place and shooting at them without reloading one time. I then took cover but realised I had forgotten 2 mp5 submachineguns in my coat, and I managed to kill 150 more of them without reloading a single time. Did I mention that while shooting I was finding the laws of quantum gravity on my notebook, I managed to create a warp drive and make an anti-gravity device which is right here beside me now. During the shootout I made that, of course, I can do MUCH more in a full day. Claudia Schiffer happened to be standing around so I told her to meet me at home tonight and she said okay. I then went to work to collect my daily paycheck: 500,000$. I then found another beautiful woman and asked her to come sleep with me tomorrow night and she said she'd be delighted.

Overall a pretty average day, and no movie stars ever do it. Did I mention I managed to slow down time and build a time machine with a garbage powered lawmower during the shootout? Oh well.

So you see? All that movie stuff is really average by most people's standards. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mr. X on 2001-11-12 19:19 ]</font>

Chip
2001-Nov-17, 05:01 PM
On 2001-11-10 09:06, Mr. X wrote:
I think there was at least a little astronomy in Event Horizon, and I'm ready to make a small leap of faith for the fact you don't really need eyes in <font size=3 color=red>HELL</font>.

The story was seriously twisted, and I liked that a lot, I find it adds to alot to a movie when it plays like a nightmare. I mean <font size=3 color=red>HELL</font>! Who had guessed it?


I did. About half way through the film. My reaction to it was a bit different. Mixing Sci-fi with Supernatural usually doesn't work. Sci-fi and Supernatural embarrass each other. I can think of only two films where it comes off OK. The Haunting the original black & white Robert Wise version, (the newer color remake stunk,) and Ghostbusters. Both films had scientific gadgets or methods employed to detect ghosts. Quirky and cool. Event Horizon just turned into haunted house schlock for me.

Event Horizon would have been a much more interesting movie if it was about contact with an alien race that was just so totally alien as to be morally evil by human standards. (Now that's twisted.) But just to go out in space to test warp drive and pull in the Devil - duh! Plot didn't go anywhere. Good sets waisted.

There was a scene where they were in low orbit around Neptune and could hear the thunder in the atmosphere. Bad Astronomy?

Matherly
2001-Nov-19, 02:00 AM
On 2001-11-12 18:33, Ben Benoy wrote:
I think that the reason you don't normally get scientist heroes is that they just don't play well on screen.

Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr.

A scientist that breaks from the science geek sterotype and creates a truly memorable character.

Commander (& later Captain) Spock

This time, the science geek setrotype is in full force, but the charater is given an extra dimension by his mixed race ancestry and his friendship to an outgoing commander and a fellow scientist who is more worried about the human condition that clinical data.

Ben Benoy
2001-Nov-19, 05:34 PM
On 2001-11-18 21:00, Matherly wrote:

Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr.

Commander (& later Captain) Spock



Snippy snippy...

I'll give you Spock, but Indiana Jones? He's not really a scientist, he's an action hero with a degree. It's like Henry Jones Sr. says in the Last Crusade, "You call this archeology?"

Ben Benoy

Mr. X
2001-Nov-19, 09:17 PM
He's not really a scientist, he's an action hero with a degree. It's like Henry Jones Sr. says in the Last Crusade, "You call this archeology?"

He does kill quite a lot of people for a scientist. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

And archeology is all about the thrill of kneeling in the sand, and using your little brush to clear the sand off of priceless fossils, having your heart thump like there's no tomorrow because you just found the last part of an unknown civilization... and then realising you just unearthed... cat poo. Still, cat poo from the mythical cat of Quetzelamanga? No... your cat. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

<font size=1>Fixed stupid quote thingy</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mr. X on 2001-11-19 16:20 ]</font>

Wiley
2001-Nov-19, 10:01 PM
On 2001-11-19 12:34, Ben Benoy wrote:
Snippy snippy...

I'll give you Spock, but Indiana Jones? He's not really a scientist, he's an action hero with a degree. It's like Henry Jones Sr. says in the Last Crusade, "You call this archeology?"

Ben Benoy


Hmmm ...

How about the heroes/scientists of Jurassic Park?

Or, Ellie Arroway (from Contact)?

Or, Mira Sorvino in Mimic? (I have a small crush on Mira Sorvino, so I must mention her.)

Or, the forensic scientist of CSI? Are we allowed to count silly TV shows?

I agree with you that scientist do not generally play well on screen. It's hard for the audience to get that instant gratification: it's not "the bad guy is dead and the world is saved"; it's more "good idea, next, we need five years of clinical trials."

Rob Scott
2001-Nov-20, 02:35 PM
On 2001-11-19 17:01, Wiley wrote:
How about the heroes/scientists of Jurassic Park?
How about the engineers in Apollo 13? It's not fiction, but it had all the elements of a good SF film.

I mean, sure the crew were brave, but the real heroes -- the ones who saved the day -- were the engineers on the ground figuring out how to get the fuel, the air and the electricity to last long enough to get everyone home.

Great film, BTW.

Ben Benoy
2001-Nov-20, 03:11 PM
In re Apollo 13, I think that it's interesting to watch that movie and look at just who the heroes are. Granted, we all believe that the real heroes were the ground controllers (well, because they were. That's why!), but in the movie, they are portrayed as being support staff to the real men, the astronauts.

I think that Apollo 13, the movie, definately plays down the role of the ground control staff, but it's based on a book by Jim Lovell. So in the movie, Astronauts = good, smart, dashing fly boy wondermen, non-Astronauts not so much...

Ben Benoy

ToSeek
2001-Nov-20, 04:57 PM
On 2001-11-20 10:11, Ben Benoy wrote:
I think that Apollo 13, the movie, definitely plays down the role of the ground control staff, but it's based on a book by Jim Lovell. So in the movie, Astronauts = good, smart, dashing fly boy wondermen, non-Astronauts not so much...


I think the ground crew comes off pretty well, as with Kranz and Allen (the guy working the CM power issue with Mattingly), though at the same time I agree with you that the astronauts' roles are exaggerated. Mattingly wasn't as involved as they show he was, and it was the ground crew that came up with the idea to use the Earth to aim the course correction maneuver by, not Lovell.

They could have remedied this in the HBO/Tom Hanks From the Earth to the Moon series by focusing on the ground support team (and not just at Houston but at MIT and all the other places) rather than having that stupid and irrelevant old newscaster/young newscaster plot line.

Mr. X
2001-Nov-21, 04:59 PM
Well, I think there's a point we might be missing, it's that in a movie, ONE person must be glorified above all others. In Apollo 13, it was clearly Jim Lovell, and more than Jim Lovell, it was Tom Hanks.

I think it's because it's very difficult to glorify a scientist above all others. It's inaccurate and it's disrespectful. Since you must get to know each individual character in a movie, it's difficult to get acquainted with all those scientists. To put it this way, it is the same thing to elevate someone above the others or to lower all the other below him (at least physically it is! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif ).

To properly glorify some scientists, you have to isolate them, kinda like they did in RED PLANET, which is also my submission for scientist characters in a movie /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif

ToSeek
2001-Nov-21, 06:25 PM
On 2001-11-21 11:59, Mr. X wrote:
Well, I think there's a point we might be missing, it's that in a movie, ONE person must be glorified above all others. In Apollo 13, it was clearly Jim Lovell, and more than Jim Lovell, it was Tom Hanks.


Yeah, my wife in particular is really sick of all the "only one man could save the [fill in the blank]" storylines. Get real!

ToSeek
2001-Nov-21, 06:27 PM
On 2001-11-21 11:59, Mr. X wrote:
To put it this way, it is the same thing to elevate someone above the others or to lower all the other below him (at least physically it is! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif ).



Which explains why so many of the other captains and commodores in Star Trek come off looking like total idiots who shouldn't be trusted with a burned-out match, let alone a starship. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Mr. X
2001-Nov-21, 11:46 PM
Exactly!

There is one word that correctly describes all the non-stars in a movie, and excuse me for using it but here it is: RETARDS! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

And it goes for so many movies, from action to sci-fi! When was the last time you looked at a James Bond movie and didn't wonder WHAT ARE THOSE IDIOTS DOING WITH WEAPONS! (James Bond is actually an exception, it's one of those movies where nothing, NOTHING can absolutely ever go wrong for the hero while he's facing legions of dimwitted, ugly, underskilled, incompetent, intellectually challenged with slow reflexes enemies!)

Columbo is actually an exception the other way around, he is smart, but acts stupid, and is attacking someone that seems superior to him, but with everything he does he hops one step up, until you finally realize how more intelligent he is than someone who actually looked brilliant in the beginning. No weapons, no fighting, just words.

That's totally different than jam packing a starship full of idiots to show how much the captain is superior to a mob of imbeciles. I can recall (not exactly, but I recall having thought at the time) Riker at times saying something thoroughly stupid so that it contrasts with what Picard had to say.

The one I found the best was Star Trek II, because it actually seemed like intelligent vs. intelligent and it also seemed that the people aboard the Enterprise, weren't all that dimwitted.

Voyager I think is the worst offender. Chakotay behaves like a moron sometimes, and I think he comes off better that the rest of the crew, who look completely idiotic, their brain functions bordering on the realm of catatonic. That's awful, and it's just to show off Janeway.

It's intriguing to see that other sci-fi actually does this, most notably Star Wars, where the Stormtroopers aren't stupid per se, but dangerously underskilled, unfit to use a potato gun. Actually, everyone in the Empire seems a little dumb (aside from the important characters), their pilots also leave A LOT to be desired. You can easily get why they lose when legions of their "finest troops" are killed on Endor's moon (NO NITPICKING! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif ) by EWOKS and a handful of rebels. Hor-ri-ble.

And don't get me started on all the rest of the movies we can find! They each deserve soe kind of annoying and irritating editorial like that! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Irishman
2001-Nov-28, 06:03 PM
I've had discussions and online posts regarding this topic before. There are several factors that contribute to poor sci fic in movies and TV.

One primary reason is that movie producers mostly don't understand what science fiction is, what it's about, or what the fans really like. They see it as flashy effects, not interesting and provacative stories. And usually they get directors who are more interested in their own ideas than the original story they're supposed to be following (i.e. the Verhoeven effect on Starship Troopers). Anyone who read that descriptive link in another thread about the making of Robert Heinlein's: The Puppet Masters as a movie will get a bit of insight into the "Hollywoodification" of science fiction. Forget what the original author wrote, we have to do movies this way because this is what sells. Strong female characters? Who wants that - they're just supposed to be the girlfriends.<sup>1</sup> Dialogue? Bah! We don't need no stinking dialogue, just a couple of big explosions, some morphing of a character's face, and maybe a snappy comeback from the hero. Science? No, just because it's called science fiction is no reason to actually reflect science. And of course there's the ever popular horror story masked as sci fi.

And it's not limited purely to sci fi. Fantasy movies get mutilated and abused, too. Just look at the ever popular and famous Dungeons and Dragons movie. There are elements that give it a D&D feel, but there are lots of points that don't do it justice, and the movie is just abyssmal in places. For instance, what's with the blue lipstick on the head henchman? He's a vicious killing machine soldier, and he prances around with pale blue lips. That's not intimidating, it's goofy. Then there are technical points like using the big purple floating ghoul (that I can't seem to recall the name of) as a guard-dog for the castle, when they're supposed to be super-intelligent and manipulate humans' minds.

Whereas if anyone wants to see a movie that is well done, check out the new Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone movie. It is very well done, has a good use of character and plot vs. just special effects. I haven't read the book yet, but I am told that it does a very good job of following the book - not only in events but also in feel and the look of the settings and such. While it is not 100% original as stories go, it was enjoyable, and they diffinitely didn't Hollywoodize one story element that would definitely have corrupted the tale. (Actually, they make good use of casting to remain true to the story and mislead the audience.) So how did this movie get pulled off so well? For starters, the author was highly involved in making the movie. I don't recall offhand who made the movie, but it's clear the producers let the story be told the way the author intended, not the way "these type movies are done".

So what would it take to make a really good science fiction movie (especially a hard sci fi movie)? Well, for starters it would take a producer coughing up the money who has some interest in seeing SF done right. Then it takes a director who wants to remain true to the source material. This is especially important, because movies really are a director's medium. Sure, you need good actors to make the roles work, and you need good technical crew (sets, costumes, effects, cinematography, etc) to make it work, but movie making is really about the director's vision. He's the one that gives direction on what the sets and costumes should be like, and that provides the flavor of the film. The director also has strong control over the script. In fact, they regularly have scripts rewritten to suit their taste. So even if the project was approved as a movie adaptation of, say, Starship Troopers, the script then gets revised to meet the director's views - and you get travesties like "Bug Wars!!" <sup>2</sup>

A buddy of mine had an idea that would be wonderful to see. There's a publisher - Baen Books - that does good science fiction. They're known for things like the Honor Harrington series (by David Webber). Baen is a smallish publishing house that concentrates on getting good authors. That's what we need in the movie world - a studio or producer that will get good directors that want to do the stories the way they're supposed to be, and then fund them. Like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks doing Apollo 13, but someone doing the same with SF.

Till then, you're going to get mish mash that mostly only approximates SF.

-----
<sup>1</sup> That was actually said by a movie producer to one of the guys writing the script for The Puppet Masters. Ironically, by a female movie executive.

<sup>2</sup> The movie would have been much better with that or a similar name, and no connection to Heinlein implied. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Irishman on 2001-11-28 13:05 ]</font>