Saturday, May 28, 2011

SCI-FI Week!: Girls of the Fictitious Science - Part 2


Just like Return of the Jedi, we're back with the conclusion to Girls of the Fictitious Science. And don't worry...we won't throw unnecessary prequels at you later. Which kind of takes me to a little side note. Why in the hell would you do that?? Take something so beloved and hack the fuck out of it in the name of the almighty dollar?? I realize this argument never gets old...but, man....George Lucas really chaps my ass with crap like that. Science Fiction is there for eternity. I understand the yearning to go back for another whirl...but, atleast remember the passion and the soul that you put into the originals.

Fuck...now I'm all worked up. I'm sorry...let's just take a minute here...


Ok...I'm better now. For some weird reason Sara Jean Underwood dressed up as Padme washing an Acura always puts me in a better mood. Now...where were we...

So far we've taken a look at Sci-Fi from the earlier days all the way to the 90's. Today we'll explore how the genre is twisting and turning...morphing its way into a newer bolder tomorrow. Before we head into the double 0's...we have to deal with the turn of the century first...very Sci-Fi, if you ask me. And what better way than to start with a film that pretty much took the genre into a whole new place. Taking that love premise that I talked about earlier and spurting its Sci-Fi all over your face. A game-changer.


The Matrix took audiences on a ride they weren't prepared for. While it has several familiar elements within its premise...it introduces bold new ways to look at an old genre and drove Science Fiction face first into a fresh new dimension. Much like Leeloo from our last discussion, Neo is the "One" here. He's chosen to save ourselves from the world we think we know and introduce us to a world we could only dream of. Nothing was like The Matrix when it first came out. And though Trinity was the pivotal female character in the films, let us shift our full attention over to Persephone...or...shall we say...Monica Bellucci. She is the embodiment of Sci-Fi sexuality. Full beautiful curves and a sense of danger hiding around the next corner. You don't know if you should trust her or be scared of her. She is her own entity in the film...a sort of emotional vampire ready to suck you dry. Suck.....*sigh*. While The Matrix is that next level type of film....we sort of entered an era where nothing could top this film. It was kind of weird. We were treated to films that just rehashed all the old stuff just to turn a dollar and capitalize on the success of The Matrix. It was a strange time for Sci-Fi. The best example of this era was 2002's Equilibrium which starred the awesomely awesome Christian Bale. It is director Kurt Wimmer's best film on his resume to date. The film was kind of like The Matrix in style and form...but, it presented it's own premise and rules. Quite awesome. Perhaps I used the word "awesome" too many times?


The Island came out in 2005 and while I really appreciate its intentions...the film ultimately fell short of greatness. It is a fun little Sci-Fi flick, though. And...well...Scarlett Johansson. Directed by the blatantly awesome (here the word "awesome" isn't really used all that enthusiastically) Michael Bay, the film deals with a company that harvests artificial "humans" in which to replace their clients' ailing organs...should they require them. Meanwhile...the artificial donor "humans" are kept in an isolated environment...bred and raised as "perfect" individuals in order to keep the bodies in the best state possible. What they don't ever count on is that the artificial donor "humans" start to become independent thinkers and begin to question their environment...ultimately leading to a sort of almost powerful ending that incorporates all kinds of social issues. I say almost...because in the hands of a director more interested in telling a potent story rather than being more concerned with things that blow up...The Island would have been a great film. But...again....Scarlett Johansson. District 9 tackles alot of the same social commentaries...in terms of race isolation and what not. But, District 9 is a much better film. It actually incorporates the cool Sci-Fi elements with the social relevance and creates a really intriguing piece that goes beyond something that Michael Bay could ever hope to accomplish....but, then again...he only cares about blowing shit up.


Fast forward to today...and we have sub-par examples of what defines Science Fiction. Take the recent Tron: Legacy for example. While visually striking, it was stripped of the soul that made the first film such a fond memory. However, the first Tron wasn't all that great a film either. But, it took much of that early 80's tech culture and created something iconic. You can't really say that about the latest entry. I mean...sure, it has Olivia Wilde in it...and the father/son subplot is a perfect excuse to revisit the grid. But, ultimately...the commentary becomes secondary in order to make room for the cool 3D F/X that rules the entire film. Same thing with the recent Avatar. I've watched that film several times, hoping to find something that I ultimately connect with...but, instead I feel like I'm just watching shit that I've already seen before in better films. It's a shame, too...because James Cameron pretty much cemented his name in the genre early on with the Terminator films, which are some of the best films the genre has ever seen. And now he gives us something crappy like Avatar? It's the George Lucas thing all over again...and before I get all worked up once more let us think about this for a moment...


Science Fiction is all around us. There's a channel where you can watch stuff like the really well done Battlestar Gallactica with the scorching Tricia Helfer (above) in it as well as more cerebral stuff like Fringe which pretty much replaces the legendary X-Files. You'll also find shows like Firefly that pop up every once in a while. Even finer films like Splice, Battle: Los Angeles and Inception keep the genre moving along on a next-level type of scale which pushes the limits of imagination and rewards the audience with a deeper sense of entertainment. These game-changing films really show what Sci-Fi is capable of...both providing the viewer with a spectacle for the senses as well as substance which allows you to think. So...going back to the beginning....there is "A New Hope" out there. The genre is a vital piece of cinematic storytelling and, as you can now see, is a necessary part of all of our lives. Plus...the hot girls don't hurt, either.

Live long and prosper.


Thanks for reading,

bryan.

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