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Fear & Loathing in Modern Sci-Fi Movies
June 12, 2012
8:28 am
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cyber west hollyweird
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Fear & Loathing in Modern Sci-Fi Movies
 
  This really comes from HuffPost's Gregory Weinkauf's article about the Feature Film Prometheus http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....ifications
 
   I started writing this as a "comment" for Gregory's article and quickly found I was 188 words over the 250 word limit, and so had to gut it.
   But I've been trying for awhile to put into words exactly how horrible I thought Cowboys & Aliens was and some of that then spilled out here where I have the room because it is like no one is even trying to make a decent feature film about the ET/UFO Conundrum.  It is all just cookie cutter "Industry Product."  And then sequels of that.
   Quickly then, Cowboys & Aliens was disappointing to me that the "Western" genre part of the movie seemed like a cliche-riddled quick-turn-over down-and-dirty shoot-'em-up Movie-Ranch B-Western 1940's Serial.  That the Alien Abduction part was hokey becomes a "beside the point" with alien/monsters practically lifted from District 9.  It bothers me when a production has the talent of a Harrison Ford and a budget to die for and then squanders it.
   Keep in mind, I'm not writing this as a "Movie Critic."  I hope you enjoy these movies for entertainment's sake because that's what they are meant to be.  But I am writing about how realistic they seem compared to what I know about real ET/UFO experiences. 
   Once you've had actual ET/UFO Close Encounters "Science Fiction" is never going to be the same for you ever again.  For you the Universe has become a much busier place than other people can even pretend to intellectually imagine and you know that no matter the plot of the Hollywood movie, there is NO FUTURE EVER OF ANYTHING ANYMORE of going into space or to the Moon or Mars or even doing whatever it is the Politicians are getting us mixed up into down here on Planet Earth that We are not going to have some sort of involvement with the Extraterrestrial Visitors who are already here "Ready or Not."
   So there is no way to escape that realization above when watching some comic-book make-believe bullshit up on the Silver Screen.
   But the fact that I've also been in one movie, been around production sets and many takes, cuts, filming angles and shots, and been involved in the screenwriting, administrative, and logistical production of another project means I have a somewhat Jaundiced Eye towards what I think are good movie making techniques and what would appear to the audience as authentic (you know, with the suspension of disbelief), and what would look like a college sophomore had been handed the nepotismal reigns and allowed to direct.  And obviously having a Big Budget is no insurance against making a bomb.
   The fact that everything I've heard about Prometheus is bad doesn't mean when I get around to watching it I won't give it a fair shake.  The only Star Trek movie I liked as genuine Science-Fiction was the first film Star Trek: The Motion Picture with the idea of an alien evolved silicon-based Machine Intelligence following our space probe Voyager 6 back to its "Creator" whom sent it out from the Earth "Source" and computing that our machines (spaceships) are infested with bipedal hominid "buggs" which need to be exterminated.   This was heady stuff, and almost every Trekkie I knew hated it.  I remember they bitched about the shape of the engines on the refurbished USS Enterprise.  The SHAPE of the engines!
   When the next Trekkie Movie remake from the TV version of Wrath of Khan came out they jumped with glee because we were back to the swashbuckling Buck Rogers & Flash Gordon genre with none of that cerebral science-fiction thinking nonsense.  In other words, the Good Guys verses the Villain/Monster Movie with Outer Space Props. 
   In case you haven't noticed: Trekkies, Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings/Dungeons & Dragons fan-atics are not about the imagery of futurism or the allegory and parables of myth but are about being the biggest "coolest" smarty-pants on the block about Trivial Pursuit and collecting marketed synergy products.  It's like listening to 10 year-olds quote Baseball statistics.  And that crap about Star Wars being based on Joseph Campbell's 1949 seminal book of comparative mythology on the archetype The Hero With A Thousand Faces, there is no real distinction there, every story ever told where only "One Man" can save the village/society/the nation/the world from the evil whatever is why the hero has a thousand faces (one face being Jesus/Joshua another James Bond).  Dune Messiah 'ey "Maud'Dib?"
   And if that isn't bad enough the Hollywood hacks have created the Vampire, Werewolf and Zombie Harlequin Romance and Goth movies for the Trekkies' girlfriends.
   It's not Science-Fiction, it is the "Space & Sorcery" genre.  It is '50s B-Movies and Serials/Sequels come back to haunt us with CGI in 3D.
   I think it would help understanding the difference by picking up some copies of the various, selected by the Science Fiction Writers of America, "The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame" books:
Volume I: 1929 - 1964 Short Stories
 ie=UTF8&qid=1339460816&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Science+Fiction+Hall+Of+Fame
Volume II A: Novellas
Volume II B: Novellas
  These books can give you a good idea that there is a difference in the "Art" of projecting futurism into an author's/screenplay-writer's fiction about mankind's possibilities and probabilities; and the "Craft" of just writing a hack Monster story with Space Props.
   You might recognize Volume II A's first 1938 novella by Joseph Campbell Who Goes There? by it's Hollywood movie versions' titles The Thing. Or see in the second 1957 novella by Poul Anderson Call Me Joe the idea of sending down a remote-controlled biological life-form into another planet's atmosphere as an Avatar.
  Volume II A's third 1942 novella by Lester del Ray Nerves was almost word for word like reading about a future prediction of the 1986 Soviet Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and the workers who had to deal with it.  Clearly just science-fiction because nothing could go wrong with our Nuclear Age regulated Power Industry that just couldn't possibly have a nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania just 12 days after the 1979 release of the feature film The China Syndrome
  And that's just the first three novellas in the Science Fiction Hall Of Fame.  Please write that down on your cheat-sheets young Hollywood screenwriters and aspiring producers. 
  Let me begin here by stating I thought the original Alien movie was pretty good 1979 Science-Fiction.  There was fiction wrapped around futuristic science of life aboard a Cargo Spaceship which was itself more a Character of the film than a prop.  Then the developed idea that the crew's corporate sponsor wanted to bring back these creatures as potential biological weapons for the Military-Industrial-Complex with an android to fly the ship home if the human crew all got accidentally eaten.  How many of us can't identify with the allegory of being an expendable beast of burden for some corporate entity?
  The rest of the Alien franchise series of movies just seemed to be Monster Movies with Space Props, and not really fiction with the science of "Futurism" being demonstrated to the audience from out of the mind of the writer/director/art-director/cinematographer and editor.  Feature Films are collaborative pieces.
  And so I've heard a lot of "I truly wanted to like this movie, but it sucked" on Twitter about this prequel Prometheus.  And I'll wait and see.  A lot of people didn't like Apollo 18, but I did and thought it an extremely well made film for a next-to-nothing budget which handled the (let's call it a Moon sea monster) alien presence well without going over the top.
  But then the audience today seems fickle about not caring about the "science" of Sci-Fi, they've seen all the futurism props before and would just as soon get right to the Action-Adventure.  I've tried to get young people to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey (the seminal Outer Space and Navigational Technology Special Effects movie tackling the Big question of how the Government would deal with/cover-up finding Indisputable Proof of Extraterrestrial Visitation) and it bores them, "Okay, we got through all that monkey crap in the beginning and finally got into outer space, so when is something going to happen?"  And, at the end, "Did that astronaut take LSD before he fell into that Worm Hole of the Tibetan Book Of The Dead?"
  Most of the film audience of today do not realize in 1968 when "2001" came out the idea that I could electromagnetically cut & paste this article into an "e" mail and send it via a wireless satellite feed to my Step-Son, who is an airline pilot in India, and do this from a "used" computer I picked up from a Salvation Army Thrift Store was not even probable in 1968 Science-Fiction paperbacks or movies for until like the year 2082CE.  We lost 7 decades somewhere that technology just miniaturized and zoomed ahead of us with telephone size cam television studios at our kids fingertips, even if we don't have flying cars and permanent bases on the moon yet.  To these young people today this stuff is as taken for granted as a 140 character Twitter movie review about Prometheus If Patton Oswalt Tweets any movie sucks that's good enough for us and then we don't need a New York Times "cyber-newspaper-of-record" movie review do we.  Get used to it!
  The Studios are kind of batting around ideas now of how to market the Big slick Video-Game-Synergy/Monster/Space Prop movie to this generation of theatre-going demographics.  The Studios are in the business of selling First Run theater tickets on a commercial tax depreciable film asset that is supposed to be replaced in just 4 weeks by their next Big Released Feature Film; and they are not in the business of making lasting motion picture Humanities pieces for College Film Appreciation 101 classes, that's just coincidental.  $how bu$ine$$ or don't work again with our backing in Hollywood.  Lots of CGI Monsters & Explosions and some Aliens that only a MacGyver can defeat with some bubble-gum, shoe laces, a coat hanger, a can of Fix-a-flat, and a chrome-plated strap-on Steely Dan. 
  Which has led me to wonder about most Movie & TV Aliens, why are "They" always pretentious cretins with humanesque fallibilities but still manage to design and operate such Advanced Technology?  And I offer a typical synopsis treatment of the Monster/Space Prop genre here: /forum/?page_id=4/movie-tv-aliens/the-aliens-are-out-to-steal-our-beer-supertruck/ .
  I'm betting on Studio Produced/Distributed/Industry Product Outer-space Romance Vampires being a hot ticket seller.  All we need is the right "Box-office" ca$t and this blood-sucker will write itself.
June 13, 2012
3:20 am
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I watched 'Prometheus' today and I thought it was good. I'm not one to listen to what others have to say about a movie since I don't want their opinions to affect my enjoyment of the movie, so, I have no idea what has been said about the movie. I'd imagine that most of the people that would say negative things about the movie are fanboys of the "xenomorph", featured in 'Alien' and its sequels, that were disappointed that this prequel didn't even have an appearance of that alien. 'Prometheus' is considered a prequel to 'Alien' because it centers around the race of the "space jockey" alien seen briefly in 'Alien', and, rumors prior to the movie's release indicated that Ridley Scott intended the events in 'Prometheus' occurred before those in 'Alien'.

 

Incidentally I enjoyed Apollo 18, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, District 9, and Cowboys & Aliens; but I didn't like 2001. I also can't consider myself a Ridley Scott fan since out of the few movies I've seen of his, I like less than half of that number (I didn't like 'Blade Runner').

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