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The Last Good Sci-fi Film Ever Made

  1. Jul 18, 2009 #1


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    I just saw the trailer for 2012. I was astonished to find myself almost looking forward to it.

    I think I know why - I think I finally realized that a tiny little piece of me - the piece that hoped for years beyond hope that there will ever be a well-done actual science fiction movie released ever again - died. It is a great weight lifted off me. I feel a sense of closure.

    Perhaps I can fianlly enjoy really awful stuff like Meteor and The Core.

    While watchnig the trailer, I caught myself actually thinking those dreaded words: ooh nice visuals, great SFX.
    Hm. Perhaps it's not a great weight lifted. Perhaps I've just finally gotten lobotomized by the younger-gen mass media hysteria.

    So what, in your opinion, was the last good science-fiction movie that was made? The last one you came out of not feeling the need to shower while repeating Newtons Laws of Motion as a mantra to reassure yourself you're still sane? Has it been two years? Five years? Ten years?
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  3. Jul 18, 2009 #2


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    I was a fan of the Predator movies (great undercurrent themes), and although the freaking Alien movies mostly scared me, I liked the creativity of the two creature/races coming together, and the interactions/roles of the humans in the whole fight. What did you think of AVP Dave?
  4. Jul 18, 2009 #3
    The only one I can think of at the moment is Gattaca.

    I thought AvP was kinda neat. I did not think it was very well done though. From what I read they were unable to get the rights to the original story from the comics and had to make an alternative story for the script. So perhaps it suffered from attempting to recreate a good story with out actually using that story.
  5. Jul 18, 2009 #4
    I've heard Moon is incredible (), but I haven't seen it yet (further, I know the insane ending, so the surprise is gone).

    I liked Abram's reboot of Star Trek, Children of Men was probably one of the prettiest move I've ever seen, and, thanks to Ivan Seeking, The Man from Earth is now on my top ten.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  6. Jul 18, 2009 #5


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    I ... have not seen it. It did not trigger my "good sci-fi" radar.

    Ooh. But that's a good place to start. Alien was a well-done, accurate sci-fi film, not some fantasy--techno-adventure wearing a cloak of sci-fi. Anything after that?

    Hm. I'm struggling to define my term here. That's the first place to start.

    Alien, Outland: clearly serious sci-fi
    The Core, Independence Day: almost-tongue-in-cheek flouting of believability

    What am I trying to define here?
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  7. Jul 18, 2009 #6
    Moon looks awesome. I love movies like that.
    I hate it when I mention believability in regards to a movie and someone comments "It's a movie". As if it's not supposed to be realistic.
    That makes me so furious. There is supposed to be realism to movies, regardless of how farfetched the idea is. The realism is to make the farfetched idea seem possible. If it doesn't seem possible, then you don't get drawn into the movie. Unless of course it's a comedy and it's not supposed to be realistic.
    So they're trying to tell me no realism is needed in a movie? So I can watch a serious science fiction movie and the main character can go bouncing down the road on his head saying "woo hoo woo hoo woo hoo" like Daffy Duck when he kisses Elmer Fudd, and that's ok because it's a movie and it's not supposed to be realistic?
    Sorry for the rant, but that's just one of my pet peeves.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  8. Jul 18, 2009 #7
    Here is the 2012 trailer:

    So how many of these threads will be created?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  9. Jul 18, 2009 #8
    You do realise what science fiction is don't you?

    "A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background."

    The key is, it is fiction, not real, not supposed to be real. I like movies which are believable and those which are not (the core for example). What happens in them may not be even remotely realistic but I find it is a nice idea and find the films enjoyable.

    How believable was alien? Not at all in terms of current science, it happens in spaceship with aliens.

    I agree, I do like a degree of realism, but I don't think it is fair to say all sci-fi movies should be scientifically accurate. Do you consider star trek factual? stargate? independence day?

    If you want reality, watch a documentary. Given the scientific understanding of most people in the world, the things shown in movies do seem believable. I can't count how many posts I have seen here with people asking if warp drives and other FTL type drives are real/plausible. To the layman, it is entirely possible.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  10. Jul 18, 2009 #9
    I'd argue that, like any good storytelling and fiction, the parts that are real have to be verifiable and accurate in order to allow the audience to suspend their disbelief and go along with the made-up/speculative parts. You have to get your audience to buy into your concept and feel comfortable with the plausibility of the non-real situation you want to present. And to do that well, you have to make sure that everything surrounding it holds up.

    If your audience is busy rolling their eyes because real parts aren't even accurate, then they aren't going to go along for the ride with you on the parts you want to play with.
  11. Jul 18, 2009 #10


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    I think it depends on what you mean by "realistic", I agree with leroyjenkens to the extent that I think sci-fi movies and books (not counting comedies) should be realistic in the sense that they at least follow the "laws" of their OWN reality. A good example of would be Star Trek, most of the technology is of course not realistic in the sense that it could actually be built; but there are reasonably strict "rules" when it comes to what IS possible in the Star Trek "reality". Or in other words: A good sci-fi story should to be consistent.

    There are unfortunately too many examples of sci-fi movies and books where the plot simply does not work because they rely too much on "deus ex machina" mechanisms in the story; e.g. by introducing supernatural elements etc.
  12. Jul 18, 2009 #11
    It's fiction. Whether anyone likes it or not, it isn't meant to be real. Harry Potter is fiction (not sci-fi before anyone points it out), nobody complains about things there 'not being realistic'. When I watch something sci-fi I expect nothing more plausible than a HP film. If some parts are realistic then great, but it doesn't detract from the film if it isn't as far as I'm concerned. As an engineer (as with most people here) I do like to see realism in films, where they follow the laws of physics and offer plausible explanations for things, but I don't see why people can't just let go and just enjoy the film.

    I would have to say I agree with the whole "introduction of supernatural elements" bit, but I'm not sure how far. Heck I enjoyed Star Wars and they have 'the force'.
  13. Jul 18, 2009 #12
    Would you want to see a space movie where they can walk around outside the spaceship without a suit on? Of course not, that doesn't make sense. That's the kind of realism I'm talking about.
    I don't want to see reality when I'm watching fiction. That doesn't make sense either. But I want to see fiction portrayed as if it is reality. Make it believable. How can I get drawn into a movie, as if it's really happening, when there's no realism? Again, I don't want to see a guy walking around in space without a suit on.
    I never said I wanted to see nothing but documentaries.

    And it's not even limited to science fiction. I was making fun of Charlies Angels because it was so unrealistic and I got that same "it's a movie" response. Well no kidding, it's a movie? I thought I was looking through a window into real life.
    Of course it's a movie, but I want realism. And yes I know that movie was mostly a comedy, but their movements are supposed to look realistic and they didn't. When they're jumping around and their movements look completely unnatural, I'm going to make fun of it because it's unrealistic. Once again, why not just have them bouncing on their heads like Daffy Duck? Oh, but it's a movie; it's fiction, so they can bounce around on their heads like Daffy Duck after he kisses Elmer Fudd. Why not? It's fiction. No need for any realism.
    By definition fiction isn't supposed to be real. That part is obvious. What I'm arguing is what is REALISTIC about the fiction.
    Harry Potter is different. They use magic. And I assume when making HP, they make the magic aspect of the film how they think magic would work if it WERE real. Their fireballs look real. Why bother spending millions on CGI to make things look real if it's not supposed to look real? Why not just get someone to draw fire with some colored pencils?
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  14. Jul 18, 2009 #13
    Say's it all really. I can't argue with a person who makes statements like that.

    So you know it isn't supposed to be real (fiction, regardless of type, is all made up with, by definition, no requirement on having any basis in reality being the key here), but then complain when it is unrealistic? Would you prefer it if they had a team of physicists on stand by to check every little detail?

    And by the way, the quality of the cgi has nothing to do with the quality of the story. Harry Potter films make big money and can afford to spend those sums on it, they also want to make big money off each successive film so the quality of it has to remain. I have seen a few low budget movies with p***-poor cgi that have had a good story and I still enjoy them all the same. Do you honestly believe they would spend millions on cgi if they could get away with using 'coloured pencils'? Of course they wouldn't. The more they make the better. If they don't put the effort in they make less money.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  15. Jul 18, 2009 #14
    I understand your sorrows. I love well made sci-films too.

    Ultimately, it's the director that decides on how well made a film is made. This is what I've learned from the liberal artsy friends.

    Case in point, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I was disgusted by the Batman franchise and when I heard that it was be resurectted I was dumbfounded by the stupidty of Hollywood. I kept asking myself the question on why?

    Then I discovered that Chistopher Nolan was the new director of the series. Up until this point, I never took super hero movies seriously (except for Superman 1 & 2), and I even thought to myself even Mr. Nolan wasn't capable of accomplishing the incredible feat of producing a serious Batman movie. Glad I was dead wrong. In the end, he created two very credible movies because of the following:

    1.) He went directly to the sources of the materials. Not the big budget writers but the original comic book artist and writers. In he's interviews he specifically comments that the sources of movie materials have to come from the original creators regardless of what the source.
    2.) It had to have a good story. The story is everything, and can make up for cheap and cheesey special effects.
    3.) Not conforming to what is mainstream but relying on charecter development, sub plots...

    Thus, the next great sci fi movie is going to come from one of a great directors or visionary directors like Christopher Nolan, as opposed to someone like Micheal Bay who makes mindless junk movies for audiences that are appeased by thoughtless eyecandy with guide lines that have no thought.

    I remember when Gattaca and The Fifth Element came out in theaters. I was only a teenager. I got more thrills from The Firth Element, and didn't think Gattaca was very spectacular. My maturity in films has of course developed considerable. A decade latter, I own Gattaca and always look forward to watching this masterpiece. The Fifth Element I may have watched maybe once or twice more but could care less.
  16. Jul 18, 2009 #15
    Never jip The Fifth Element!!! Awesome film!!!
  17. Jul 18, 2009 #16
    Why is it no one has mentioned The Matrix Trilogy yet? When I think classic sci-fi, I think these movies. The 5th Element was good, no where near what the Matrix movies are.
  18. Jul 18, 2009 #17


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    One of the best, most accurate, SF movies which no one seems to have mentioned, was 'Marooned'. That movie prompted the Soviets to cooperate in the Apollo-Soyuz docking mission.
  19. Jul 18, 2009 #18
    A work of fiction is when the story is not entirely accurate as per historical events.

    A work of fantasy is when the story does not comply with known physics.

    A work of science fiction is a work of fiction which might plausibly comply with the laws of physics. Sometimes there are small tangents into fantasy-land under the classification of science fiction, and this annoy a lot of people -- such as leroy, myself, and millions of others.

    In general, the only things which should be made up are those that somehow contribute to the plot line. Otherwise, they appear to the viewers as idiotic accidents on the part of the screenplay writer / directory.

    For example, if you were watching a science fiction movie in which some of the characters decide to go sailing on the ocean in a boat...and they run out of fuel, so they all pee in the gas tank and use this as fuel, most people would think this is completely stupid and unrealistic even though the movie has been classified as science fiction due to other reasons.
  20. Jul 18, 2009 #19
    I suggest you look at the definition of fiction:

    Key words; imagined, invented and feigning.

    All definitions of sci-fi I have seen involve the word fantasy.
  21. Jul 18, 2009 #20
    Yes, and being imagined or invented are subsets of the larger category of things that are not accurate as per historical events...so it fits my definition.
  22. Jul 18, 2009 #21
    I was referring to the piece:
    "A work of science fiction is a work of fiction which might plausibly comply with the laws of physics. Sometimes there are small tangents into fantasy-land under the classification of science fiction, and this annoy a lot of people -- such as leroy, myself, and millions of others."

    Your 'might' shows it doesn't have to and therefore you should not be annoyed when it doesn't. Everything in science fiction is technically fantasy as virtually all of it could never happen (oh yeah the core was realistic), regardless of any scientific accuracies.
  23. Jul 18, 2009 #22
    And you're making this judgement on the loose definition of the word "real"?

    You can't argue with a person when you don't respond to what they're saying.
    Again, you're taking the vague word "real", applying your own definition and then acting like everyone else is supposed to comply with it.

    I know a fiction isn't supposed to be real, as in NOT a documentary, which is something you suggested I look at. But it's supposed to have realism. If it's not, then why would they put an effort towards it? Why abide by ANY physical laws if fiction, by it's very nature, isn't supposed to? Don't you agree it's better that way?
    That's all very true, which is why realism is important. Why make a fireball realistic if it doesn't matter if a fiction story has realism?
  24. Jul 18, 2009 #23
    What loose definition of real?

    The definition is here:

    That is what I refer to when I say real. Nothing loose there. Read through them, a couple of key ones:
    "not imaginary"
    "existing or occuring as fact"

    As I have said before, I agree some points must be adhered to (space suits etc). But I cannot understand why people get annoyed when things aren't quite right/drift off the laws of physics. It is fiction, by definition it is far fetched. Just enjoy the films. If you want realism, go for something based in fact.
  25. Jul 18, 2009 #24
    But what is it in reference to? The story? The CGI? If the story isn't real, then it's a fiction. If the CGI doesn't look real, then they did a bad job with the CGI. Unless they want you to look at their million dollar CGI and immediately know it's done by computers because it doesn't look real. So in that sense, you want some realism, right? Or are you not supposed to expect realism in any facet of a movie?
    I know what you're saying and I'm not arguing about the tiny details. I'm not really arguing about the big details. I liked The Core. It was entertaining. The problem I have is when people give me that response: "It's a movie" as if there's not supposed to be realism at all in it. Like when I was making fun of the movie Wanted and saying that something was totally unrealistic, I got this exclamatory "IT'S A MOVIE" response, like I'm an idiot who doesn't realize movies are supposed to have Daffy Duck bouncing around on his head, since no realism is to be expected.
  26. Jul 18, 2009 #25
    Alright, I'll go with that, I agree, there certainly are some films which are utter BS (wanted), but at the same time I do think, "this is just a movie, there to entertain". If it wasn't for all the really stupid stuff sometimes, films would be utter sh*te. Matrix, is an awesome set of films (nothing there based in reality). Wanted, utter crap even with the 'fantastic' cgi/stunts.

    The reference was to the story.

    Yes, CGI should be as realistic as possible, but to me it isn't the deciding factor in a film.
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