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How do you see the state of SF on TV and in Movies?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by BobO'Link, Jan 27, 2020.

  1. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    I couldn't find a forum that really seemed to fit this as it covers movies and TV series so it's here.

    The discussions in the "For Those Who Still Think Physical Media Has No Place in the 21st century..." thread turned to SF and the quality, or lack of, in the past 20 or so years.

    I *love* SF and always have. It's my 100% favorite genre. I have a huge list of SF books I've read and love but when it comes to SF in the movies and on TV that list of what I "love" is rather short. I've seen hundreds of SF movies and TV series but very few have "passed muster" for that second, or more, viewing. When the 70s hit I found fewer and fewer "good" SF products - to the point that I all but stopped bothering to even sample TV series relying solely on promos to tell me if it was worth my time or not - and few were. Even the ones I bothered to sample came up lacking.

    I'd rather watch the worst 50s "B" SF movie than many of the movies in the last ~50 years. At least most of those don't pretend to be something they're not.

    These posts are what prompted me to start this thread:

    I, too, have *very* high standards for SF movies and TV shows and, like you, find few that have any replay value. I got a free copy of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I honestly don't know if I've seen it or not. I looked up some photos and nothing looks familiar - but that would be my reaction if I didn't much care for the movie.

    My classics also include Terminator 1 (but not 2), the original Total Recall, Blade Runner, Alien, and a very small handful of others in the past 50 years.
    Minority Report is the *only* SF movie from Steven Spielberg I'll watch again and it's been years since I last saw it. I have a BR copy I've not yet made time for in spite of recalling it being fairly well done. I've not bothered with A.I. simply because he directed it and was involved in the screenplay (and in spite of it being based on a story by Brian Aldiss, an author I like).
    I read a lot of SF/Fantasy (it's about all I read for fun) but find the state of SF on TV and in the movies to be less than stellar. While there appears to be something of a renaissance in the past 20 or so years I find the product to still be rather lacking with CGI driving most of the stories. Basically CGI/Action movies with SF type trappings.
    Like jr says - SF on TV has been much better than SF in the movies, although each has more than their fair share of stinkers.
     
  2. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    One recent scifi show which I really liked was Dark Matter. It had three very good seasons, for which I was very tempted to buy the bluray season sets.

    Unfortunately what flushed everything down the toilet for Dark Matter, was that season 3 ended on a cliffhanger and the show was cancelled and not renewed for a season 4. So now I have no desire anymore to buy any of the bluray season sets.
     
  3. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    Also from the "...Physical media..." thread:

    I'm pretty much the same these days. I have a huge SF collection containing a copy of just about all the SF movies released in the years 1930-1970 (if it's had a DVD/BR release I own a copy). I'd rather rewatch even the worst of those than many of the movies that've come out in the past 40-50 years.
    I've also seen many of those on that list and found most to be rather "meh" affairs.

    First - I've never heard of these. I'll be looking them up just because:
    Under the Skin
    Her

    Chronicle
    Snowpiercer
    Coherence
    Attack the Block

    Holy Motors
    Timecrimes

    Upstream Color

    This one I've heard of but haven't yet seen it:
    Arrival - IMHO, most of these type movies have rather poor endings so I'd go into it not expecting much.

    These I've seen:

    Blade Runner 2049 - Not bad and one of the better sequel movies but somewhat overrated. I'd rather watch Blade Runner.
    Arrival - Haven't seen it yet. Most of these type movies have rather poor endings so I'd go into it not expecting much.
    District 9 - Saw it on DVD and liked it. Recently rewatched it when I purchased a Blomkamp BR collection. It wasn't as good the 2nd time. Won't likely watch it again anytime soon.
    The Martian - I enjoyed this one. One of the better SF movies in recent times. BUT I've also not rewatched it so...
    Gravity - Technically well done. Otherwise I didn't like it at all. Not a SF movie in spite of how it's billed.
    Moon - I really enjoyed this one. One of the better "hard" SF movies in a long time.
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - I own a copy but can't bring myself to watch it due to Jim Carrey.
    Ex Machina - Started rather slow but built to an interesting end. I need to rewatch it to see if it holds up.
    Edge of Tomorrow - I first thought it was going to be a lame Groundhog Day rehash. It kind of is and not. I'd rewatch it.
    Mad Max Fury Road - Sigh... should have been so much more. I'd rather watch Beyond Thunderdrome than this one again.
    Looper - Interesting. I need to watch it again, in spite of a feeling of having seen it all before...
    Minority Report - The *only* SF movie directed by Spielberg I'll bother rewatching. A fair representation of the novel.
    Children of Men - Own a copy but haven't yet watched it.
    Cloverfield - Yet another overblown "found footage" movie. Shaky/jerky cam all over the place with little to recommend it.
    Wall-E - Not bad, but not that great. I'll watch it if one of the kids asks but usually tune it out after a few minutes.
    Inception - I own a copy and have watched it but don't really remember it. That means I was distracted or it didn't get my attention.
    Primer - Own a copy but haven't yet watched it. I hope to rectify that soon as it sounds interesting.


    So... I'll look up those I've not heard of and will rewatch a few of the others.

    There's nothing on that list I'd put in the same category as my all-time favorites/classics. When it comes right down to it I'd rather watch The Cyclops (1957) again than any of those listed.
     
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  4. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    That one thing, a promising SF series cancelled on a cliffhanger, annoys me more than just about anything else. It's stopped me from purchasing several series. I have enough of those and really don't want more.
     
  5. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    Even more annoying are mid-series "reboots" which are done really sloppy, such as via time/dimension travel.

    This is what happened with Continuum, where there was a parallel dimension jump at the beginning of season 3. The show was never the same after that, and largely turned to shit.

    A time/dimension jump trope that was done better and became an actual integral part of the ongoing storyline, was what happened with Fringe.
     
  6. Blu Eye

    Blu Eye Stunt Coordinator

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    I am surprised you have not seen A.I. being very much fascinated by Sci-Fi. Although I have not seen it myself I do think this might be up there as one of the best in this century so far especially considering Stanley Kubrick devoted a lot of his time to develop it with the intention of directing it himself. Would have been very interesting to see what he would have done with it if he did not pass it on to mr Spielberg.

    However, we would probably not have Eyes Wide Shut which would be a a shame as I personally think that was one of the best films from the 1990s.

    I plan on watching A.I. by the end of the year.

    Personally, I would put Robocop up there as one of the best Sci-Fi films ever made. In my opinion, a film that becomes/is part of pop culture and yet still remains very interesting and original along with being very entertaining as well is vey difficult to achieve.
    I have not seen this film for a while but am looking forward to re-watching it again.
     
  7. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Cinematographer

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    AI is one of my favourite movies.
     
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  8. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    It's SF and from Spielberg. That's all it takes for me to write it off completely.

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Pure Hokum. Half baked "resolution" with more implausibilities than I can mention. Started off OK but gradually went off the tracks. I only own a copy because it was part of a prize package.

    E.T. The Extra-terrestrial: Pure kiddie SF. My kids don't like it. My grandkids don't like it. I've never liked it. I've never been so tired of an ad campaign in my life (pushing Reese's Pieces - a candy that's also not that good so maybe it's fitting).

    Twilight Zone: The Movie segment "Kick the Can.": A story from the original series that's just not that good retold rather boringly. Not that the movie itself is all that great with a single segment that's memorable ("Nightmare at 20,000 Feet") and the "wrapper" segments.

    Jurassic Park: OK... but just OK. Based on a book by an author I consider to be one of the worst out there - who essentially writes the same story over and over and over. Predictable plot and lots of "jump scare" type things going on. Just an update of the equally bad Westworld. I took my then 13yo son to see it in the theater and had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing at what was on the screen.

    The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Worse than the first one with an even more predictable and laughable plot.

    Minority Report: Not that bad - pretty good, actually. I've seen it 3 or 4 times and have enjoyed it each time. I was quite surprised to enjoy this one. I still have a BR copy to watch at some point.

    War of the Worlds: A loud crapfest of running and yelling. It practically plays like a "found footage" movie (and there are only 1 or 2 of those I'll ever watch again as I find them uniformly bad). It should have been set during the time of the original novel and not updated. The only good thing was the "Martian" ship design. Skip this - watch the George Pal movie instead. It's much better.


    So, A.I. notwithstanding, there's 1 SF movie out of 7 he's done that I've seen that I'll willingly watch. That pretty much means I just won't bother any more. Granted, he only wrote Close Encounters... and the direction's usually good but without a good story to go with it I'm out.

    Even though he's done other movies I consider some of the best of their genre he's rather hit or miss with me with SF being a miss.
     
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  9. Jeffrey D

    Jeffrey D Screenwriter

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    At the risk of getting hammered, I’ll go even further with E.T.- in my opinion, it’s the most overrated film I’ve ever seen. I saw it twice- when it was still new in the theaters (I was 19 at the time, and uneducated in film)- I didn’t like it. I gave it another chance about 10 years ago, being a more educated film fan with a wider
    scope of tastes, and my opinion changed not
    in the slightest.
     
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  10. Blu Eye

    Blu Eye Stunt Coordinator

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    I would agree with your comments on WOTW, Jurassic Park 1&2 & The Twilight Zone. I do not rate any of them.

    However, I do think CEOTK & E.T are good works although I have not watched either of them for well over 10 years now so perhaps my view will change upon watching them again.

    Spielberg seems to be a Love him or hate him with his works in general. I'm not a big fan of Jaws but I do appreciate how that film was a milestone in terms of box office success and its concept. I think what comes across most in Spielberg's works his that you can see he loves movies. I don't know if that is his weakness or strength.
     
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  11. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    Out of curiosity I went to Wikipedia and their listing of Science Fiction movies across the decades. Here's my list of SF movies from 1970 to 2020 that I somewhat regularly rewatch (at least once every 1-2 years). There are many others I enjoyed and rewatch on occasion (every 3-4 years). In spite of scanning those lists I'm sure I've missed a few. I've not included any of the Star Trek movies (those get regular viewings) or any comic book movies (a few get regular viewings) as those are almost their own genres - at least sub-genres.

    Are all of these "classics?" No, not really but these get *regular* viewings:

    A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    Eolomea (1972)
    Silent Running (1972)
    Solaris (1972)
    A Boy and His Dog (1975)
    Star Wars (1977)
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
    Alien (1979)
    Mad Max (1979)
    Escape from New York (1981)
    Mad Max 2 (1981)
    Time Bandits (1981)
    Blade Runner (1982)
    The Thing (1982)
    The Brother from Another Planet (1984)
    Ghostbusters (1984)
    The Terminator (1984)
    Back to the Future (1985)
    Brazil (1985)
    Re-Animator (1985)
    The Fly (1986)
    Predator (1987)
    RoboCop (1987)
    The Running Man (1987)
    Total Recall (1990)
    The Puppet Masters (1994)
    12 Monkeys (1995)
    Waterworld (1995)
    The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
    Gattaca (1997)
    Men in Black (1997)
    Galaxy Quest (1999)
    Pitch Black (2000)
    Minority Report (2002)
    The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
    Enthiran (2010)
     
  12. Blu Eye

    Blu Eye Stunt Coordinator

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    I am glad you like Dr. Moreau. That got ridiculed by critics and obviously there was a lot of problems with a change in directors during filming and other issues.

    Although I have not seen it for a long time I loved it when I saw it. I also think the crazy Brando performance helps the film and not ruins it as many critics have commented on. I have got to watch that film again.

    I have heard of every film on that list (But not seen them all) apart from Eolomea and Enthiran. I will look them both up.

    I have been wanting to watch Silent Running for a while but still have not got the chance. I plan on getting the Blu Ray.

    I also want to get the Star Trek Movies on Blu Ray but from the reviews the transfers are not great. I have only seen Wrath Of Kahn but would like to see The Original Movie.

    I really rate Mad Max 1 & 2 and Gilliam's 12 Monkeys and Brazil. Surprised 2001 is not on that list. That is one of only maybe 10 movies or less that have had a profound impact on me upon watching it. I was dazed and confused and completely mesmorized after watching that.

    I think Alien is great too and I have wanted to watch Brother From Another Planet for a while now so must get around to watching that at some point.
     
  13. Jeffrey D

    Jeffrey D Screenwriter

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    From this list of films, there are several that I would rate as classics, noteworthy, groundbreaking or whatever adjective for
    important cinema you like-
    A Clockwork Orange
    Star Wars: A New Hope
    Alien
    Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)
    The Thing
    The Terminator
    The Fly
    12 Monkeys
    Men In Black
     
  14. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    This is a very good point.

    If you take away all the scifi/horror/fantasy/etc ... genre window dressing from such movies, what you have left is a rather generic action movie without all the f-bombs.
     
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  15. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    I absolutely do not like Jaws. It's just not my kind of movie. I've heard it called a "horror" movie. Not in my book. Yes, it changed the way movies are marketed and displayed. I never understood its appeal when it was released - still don't. But I've never quite followed what's "popular" when it comes to movies.

    Most of Spielberg's movies have a sense of joy and wonder. Most of the time I just happen to not care for his choice of stories to tell or the way they're told. I'm a huge fan of all the Indiana Jones movies, Schindler's List, Amistad, Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, and Lincoln. There are a few others he's done I've not yet seen but would like to see - mostly historical based movies, the ones I feel are his forte.
     
  16. Message #16 of 180 Jan 27, 2020
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    BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    Brando is really good in this one. I also like the 1977 version with Burt Lancaster and Michael York but not nearly as much as the Brando. My all time favorite version of the story is still the pre-code Island of Lost Souls (1932) with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi.
    Eolomea is an East German film similar in tone to Solaris (1972). It's hard to come by at a reasonable cost these days. I have a copy of the DEFA Sci-Fi Collection with that title included.

    Enthiran is an Indian film. The title translates to "Robot." It's a "Bollywood" style film with lots of breaks for a song/dance routine (I don't particularly like those parts and usually skip them). It's rather outrageous with some truly off-the-wall visuals. Another hard to come by movie.
    While I enjoy the movie it's also somewhat of an acquired taste. Different.
    People complain... I think they're generally OK, certainly quite watchable. I have the UK box set of the BRs of all the movies - TOS and TNG - plus the newer single BR of the Director's Cut of Wrath of Khan. That box set is region free, going for ~$40 US shipped from Amazon UK and Amazon US (but w/tax added on the US site). All of the BR Trek series releases are region free and typically cost less from Amazon UK.
    That list is movies from 1970 on. 2001 is absolutely on my all-time favorites list, along with Planet of the Apes (1968) and many, many other true classics as well as many "B" movies from the 50s. I may post that list too - but it's significantly longer than then 1970+ list.

    Shortly after 2001 came out, Arthur C. Clark gave a lecture on science in science fiction at a local college. I was able to attend and got my copy of the novel signed by him. I was 13 at the time and found the lecture rather dull but getting the book signed was a thrill.
    If you go for Brother from Another Planet either rent it from Amazon or purchase *this* release. All others are pretty bad (I have a couple of copies on some of those Mill Creek SF compilations). That one from MGM is the best of the lot and quite watchable.

    I love Alien but was greatly disappointed in Aliens. In spite of thinking it sounded rather lame during its original theatrical run I avoided Alien in the theaters only seeing it when it came to HBO and even then only watched it just because it was on and I had nothing better to do. Surprise! I found it was an excellent movie. Not so Aliens. That one's just another action movie with SF trappings pasted on. It has little of the suspense and horror of Alien. In spite of that I own a copy of every movie in the franchise. I do like the prequel movies better than any of the sequels.
     
  17. Blu Eye

    Blu Eye Stunt Coordinator

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    That Brother From Another Planet DVD is £25 ($32) on Amazon UK.

    Interestingly, having just checked online that movie cannot be streamed or downloaded at the moment from what I can tell. Brings us nicely to the other thread doesn't it?

    So much for streaming. So the only way for me to watch this is to pay £25.

    I think I will carry on collecting.

    I don't think I have seen any 50s Sci-Fi films. They just look silly to me especially with the effects. Don't think I would be able to get past that which is why I have not bothered trying to watch any.

    I am aware how popular they are with film lovers though including many directors such as George Lucas, John Carpenter & Spielberg etc.

    I have mentioned it before in saying that I think this era of Sci-Fi films interests people generally who grew up in that era.
     
  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Fantastic, for TV at least.
     
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  19. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    We’ve gotten one high budget space travel themed movie in the fall for several years running now. A decade ago that would have seemed unimaginable to me.
     
  20. Message #20 of 180 Jan 27, 2020
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    BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    Amazon US has Brother from Another Planet available for streaming and/or digital purchase. I don't know if it's the MGM print or one of those PD things but for the price ($4/stream, $20/purchase) I'd hope it is.

    So... here's a short list of 50s SF movies that are absolutely worth your time:

    The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)*
    The Thing from Another World (1951)*
    When Worlds Collide (1951)
    The War of the Worlds (1953)
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
    Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
    Gojira (1954)
    Them! (1954)
    The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
    This Island Earth (1955)
    Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
    Forbidden Planet (1956)
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)*
    X the Unknown (1956)
    20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
    The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
    Quatermass 2 (1957)
    Attack of the Puppet People (1958)
    The Fly (1958)
    From the Earth to the Moon (1958)
    Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
    Return of the Fly (1959)

    A few may have effects that could be considered "cheesy" but were actually state-of-the-art when the movie was produced. The stories are good - and that's what truly counts. I think you'd be quite surprised at just how good some of these are. A few of them (marked with *) are from a group of movies I loaned a late 20ish coworker who used to avoid BW movies ("I don't like BW movies.") to convince her BW movies are good too. They changed her mind - completely.

    Gojira is my 16yo grandson's all-time favorite movie and has been since I first showed it to him ~4 years ago. Yes - the Japanese original with English subtitles. He'll watch it no other way.

    FWIW I grew up in the 60s and first saw many of those 50s movies on late night "horror host" programs.
     

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