Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Attention! Bad Science Fiction Movie Approaches! Morbius, Beware!

I am 12:40 seconds into Prometheus (2012).

I like to give these timeless epic movies a few years to age before I see them.  Usually I wait a decade at least, but in this case I am making an exception and seeing it when it is a mere two or three years old, positively still green and hanging on the tree by my standards.

On a ship deep in space we have a very odd person, who seems to have a broom handle stuck up his ass, exercising with a basketball, while on a bicycle, who then studies Indo-European linguistics and makes reference to Schleicher's Fable (see note below), watches Lawrence of Arabia and tries to imitate Peter O Toole.

Check out the attempt to imitate Peter O'Toole's haircut... here ... 

But then.

Oh !

Destination Threshold !

Red Blinking Lights !

... and here.

Oh my Gosh! Open the windshields, I mean the blast shields, we have arrived! Golly! What a surprise!

What total bullshit. 

You see, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we are on a spaceship. As we have previously spent minutes of expensive screen time demonstrating, interstellar travel is very boring. You put the biped mammals on ice, you leave the robots around to keep the ship tidy and watch movies wishing they could have kinky man-android sex with Peter O'Toole, and being bored out of their android mind. You know very well when you are going to arrive because you have been watching a clock counting down digitally for years if not decades waiting for this moment. In fact, not only are you not surprised by this, you are probably on the observation deck as the planet creeps ever so slowly into view.

Indo-European historical linguistics aside, this is not a good sign.

But seriously, what this little moment implies is that at a deep and fundamental level the filmmakers are not making a science fiction movie for adults.  Obviously they are just blinking the red lights in order to create tension, which is fine, but there are plenty of ways of doing so without being stupid.  It means that the filmmakers either do not know any better or, more likely, that they do not care.  It could also mean that the story is for children, but I think we can presume in this case that the film is for the above-13 set.

An example of a science fiction movie that does not immediately throw reality out the window was Alien (1979) also directed by Ridley Scott.   This movie also played loose and fast with the technology of androids and also had some stupid plot moments, such as the usual corrupt corporation theme, but I do not recall that it immediately insulted our intelligence as this one does.

What other triumphs of stupid science fiction screen writing await us?



Schleicher's Fable is an attempt by historical linguist August Schleicher to write a short story in Proto Indo European, an early reconstruction of a language common to many languages in the west, including Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, German, English and so forth. It is an entertaining whimsy of early Indo European language studies and no one in their right mind would memorize it unless they had a lot of time on their hand, which our android probably does.

Schleicher's Fable on Wikipedia:

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