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The last good SF film I saw was:

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In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 8:45:36 PM PDT
I was pretty mixed on Inception, with my overall impression that I didn't care for it too much. It may just have been my mood that night, but also I don't think I wanted to concentrate on the movie as much as I did or had to. It's cerebral, which I enjoy at times, moreso than just mindless action. The effects were good. But overall, it somehow left me wanting more or something else. Odd.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 8:48:53 PM PDT
Love Bladerunner, Farenheit is a good movie, though I heard Bradbury wasn't happy with the results. I particularly like the ending where everyone remember a certain book to keep it alive. Alphaville again wasn't at all what I was expecting--I probably should give it another chance. Maybe it will come on TCM.

Posted on May 1, 2012 8:49:57 PM PDT
I wondered if anyone has seen the Orwell movie 1984 with John Hurt, and whether you thought it was worth tracking down?

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 11:47:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 2, 2012 12:40:01 PM PDT
D. J. Bowler says:
@ Threedollarbill: It could be classified as an 'alternate-history' sci-fi flick [WW2 era]. It is also a love-story wrapped around a mystic parable.

Mr. Coppola turned a Mircea Eliade novella story into something as visually appealing as it is intriguing. I strongly respect someone who - when they get the financial latitude to do so - *actually* returns to making movies they _want_ to make, and who continues to explore their creative potential, as opposed to many [ahem, 'George?', ahem ;] others...

Of course, there are those who did not nor will not get it. That almost goes without saying. For you though, I recommend. . .

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 8:35:59 AM PDT
I'll add it to my NF queue, though I'll admit, the love story angle doesn't rate high on my SF list when looking for SF fare--I say that as a caveat as I think most fans of the genre have certain favorite themes and tropes that they seem to glom onto. That said, however, I like to stretch and broaden my scope beyond the norm as well, as I have from time to time within the medium. I can enjoy Gattaca, Pi, The Handmaid's Tale, Punishment Park, Slaughterhouse Five, and others that push the envelope a bit. So thanks for the suggestion, sometimes these lessor known movies can be the biggest surprises!

That said, I watched two sequels last night: Species II, and Species III. I'd seen the original some time back. I think Species II was done pretty well and kept the spirit of the original and even brought back actress Natasha Henstridge. I enjoyed the modeling sequences of space and Mars in the opening act of the film, and the action, sex gore of the remaining acts. H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist, who designed the monster in Alien and the bio-mechanical look of that film, developed the creature in Species as well. Species III wasn't quite as exciting, as sequels tend to be. However, since I had not seen it, was in the mood, so just went with it. :)

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 1:39:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2012 1:59:38 PM PDT
Donna says:
The best visual media scifi film ever is for me Battlestar Galactica, a 5 year long TV series that was extraordinary and I can't believe I just found it last year on N#tflix streaming. I have watched the whole thing three times and it has everything, very in depth character development, betrayal, ambition, war, myth, sprituality, love, death and the Cylons which are not aliens exactly but are man made creatures who evolve into human form. I can't think of a movie that equals it.
I did love Inception. It leaves you thinking and I saw it again and bought the DVD.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 1:58:58 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 3, 2012 1:59:45 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 1:35:47 AM PDT
D. J. Bowler says:
I saw my first episode coming back to Afghanistan from leave. It was playing in the NCO's hut in when I walked in and I asked what it was - then expressed some misgivings.

One of the older guys - whose judgement I'd never witnessed be less than utterly sound - suggested I give a try for fifteen minutes before forming an opinion. That seemed reasonable, so I duly sat down and watched.

After fifteen minutes of watching the interaction betwen Baltar and No. 6 I was hooked [1], and I stayed that way for two more seasons... There was something about that particular scene that seemed so incredibly right. I was inspired.

[1] season1ep3 i think.

Posted on May 4, 2012 8:35:03 AM PDT
Donna & D. J.--I've tried watching the re-imagined Battlestar, and they changed up so much of the series & characters, I was turned off by it. I'm a fan of the older series. I also didn't care for the constant moving, panning of the camera--I do not care for that stylized technique. It's not as bad as say The Blair Witch Project (although I somewhat enjoyed that movie), but still it annoys me. The old series was something more action oriented, and I enjoyed the fantasy aspects of the Cylons being robotic. If you haven't ever seen the original series you need to check that out too.

For me, neo-BG also was trying to do something more along the line of Babylon 5, a series I was pretty devoted to following: creating a storyline full of history, politics, customs, culture, something that ran akin to a SF novel. And they pretty much pulled it off--though many fans think the first season was a bit of a slow season to get thru (I didn't fell that way).

I can understand why BG garnered so many fans, and I may give the newer series a try sometime in the future. I did watch a BG special made on the SyFy channel, which got newer viewers up to speed on previous seasons, I think it was on the first three season? so that they could get into the new season if so inclined, and I did enjoy that. D.J.--thanks for serving!

Last night I watched the season finale of Ashes to Ashes. I've really enjoyed that BBC series. I happened upon by chance as I do like British television. What started out seemingly as a cop show, slowly had this backdrop of SF, which was about one of the lady cops who had these odd flashbacks of a previous life. We slowly find out she previously was in some trauma, in a hospital bed, and somehow gets transported back in time to the timeframe of 1973. I thought the cast of the show gelled really well, and what also hooked me, being a music fan, was the 80's music they use during the show. All in all it was a fun, unique series to watch, a lot of intrigue. I later looked up a bit about the program and found that it was a sequel series to the former series called Life On Mars, which I haven't seen albeit with a different set of actors. (There's also an Americanized version.) I might have to give that series a try as time allows.

Posted on May 4, 2012 8:44:24 AM PDT
I know you asked for 'the best', but I watched "Melancholia" last night with high hopes. UGH! It was horrible. Way too slow and even though I like bizarre, it was too far out there even for me.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 9:18:22 AM PDT
CivWars--win some, lose some, eh? Well, I was initially posting for best of, but I don't mind a discussion of, good or bad either. For one thing, good or bad is subjective, in the mind of the beholder. So what's good to someone might not be someone else's cup of tea and vice versa. I didn't know Melancholia was a SF oriented film. I'll have to look that one up.

Posted on May 4, 2012 9:24:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 4, 2012 9:27:56 AM PDT
Jeff Walther says:
I did not like the new BSG at all and I thought it was a steaming pile of tripe after the first season. I do not say this to argue with the people who did like it. I bring it up only so that anyone reading this thread will not get the idea that the new BSG was universally liked.

A full description of the things I disliked would run on way too long (edit: and now that I've posted, I see I ran on way too long anyway) , so I'll just describe a couple off the top of my head.

First, the show used a technique I call "story-telling credit". In this technique the story tellers don't necessarily entertain you *now*. Instead, they imply some great mystery or mysteries which will (presumably) be revealed eventually, in order to keep you watching (reading, listening to) the story.

Story-telling credit can be a great technique which builds suspense and interest and gets the audience thinking. However, there's an implied promise that the story-teller will eventually pay up. And to use it well, the story teller needs to tell you an interesting story at the same time that he's making the promise. When your story is interesting for no reason except the promise of a future payoff, it's not an interesting story, it's just an advertisement for a future episode -- a promissory note.

The new BSG didn't just imply that there were mysteries, they said so right in the intro to every single episode: "And they have a plan."

In my opinion, many (most) of the episodes after season 1 were uninteresting in their own right, and simply relied on story-telling credit. They borrowed and borrowed from the audience. And then, they never paid off. There was even a two-hour special, called "The Plan" in which we learned that there never was any plan. Just a spoiled child throwing a tantrum.

"Kill all the humans" isn't a plan. It's a mission statement.

The writers never knew where the story was going. They did not work it all out ahead of time. And they had nothing with which to pay off their debt to the audience.

The finale amounted to, it's all okay, because God did it. Never mind the tens of billions of sapient beings killed. That's okay. It was all God's plan. Oh, by the way, you guys go commit suicide by wandering into the wilderness.

"God did it" is the story telling equivalent of, "Then the boy fell out of bed and woke up. The end."

"Babylon 5" did story-telling credit right. There was (almost) always an interesting story in the episodes which promised future story telling payoffs. The mysteries always, eventually paid off.

"The X-files" did story-telling credit half-right. There was usually an interesting story in the episodes which promised future payoffs, but, in the end, Chris Carter didn't have any idea how to pay off his story telling debt. He stole from the audience -- but not as heinously as the new BSG people did.

My second complaint about the new BSG is that the characters were almost universally hateful. A few of the minor characters were likable or at least honorable, like Dualla and Cally, but ultimately the people we spent time with watching the show were people I'd move to another state to get away from. Having *all* hateful characters does not make the show "dark and edgy". It makes it unwatchable -- a lesson that the makers of Stargate: Universe did not learn soon enough to save their show.

Having a few hateful characters makes a show dark and edgy. There needs to be someone on the cast for the audience to feel good about identifying with, or ultimately, the audience will be extremely limited.

Related to everyone being hateful was Adama Jr.'s character which kept mutating. The writers had no idea who that guy was. Or rather, he was whoever the writers needed for the story of the week. He didn't have a character.

I could go on about trite, cliched characters, etc. but I'll stop there. Some folks liked the show. I did not like it because I perceived it as described above.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 10:26:52 AM PDT
Ada Davis says:
I'm a great fan of Babylon 5, and I agree about BSG "playing it by ear" for plot that never paid off with answers, almost everything you say about BSG also applies to LOST.

A lot of the unevenness of B5 was due to things beyond the control of the writers, like having to wrap up the story line in season 4 that should have been season 5, selling off the sets, actors getting new jobs, THEN being told "Oh, wait! You are being renewed for season 5!" Aside from the writer's strike during the filming of LOST - which merely extended the plot to an extra season - there's no such excuse for BSG or LOST. The producers kept saying: "We have the whole plot mapped out. We have a Plan!" Unless their plan included leaving a lot of questions hanging and a rather idiotic ending, they didn't have a plan.

Posted on May 4, 2012 10:30:26 AM PDT
D. J. Bowler says:
Hi! These are some interesting responses:

"I do not care for that stylized technique. It's not as bad as say The Blair Witch Project. . ." [Threedollarbil] is a chuckle-generator.

If you like the old (circa 70's-early 80's series?) you're probably not going to develop a yen for BSG 2.0... Matters of taste, etc.

""Kill all the humans" isn't a plan. It's a mission statement."

"The writers never knew where the story was going. They did not work it all out ahead of time. And they had nothing with which to pay off their debt to the audience.

The finale amounted to, it's all okay, because God did it. Never mind the tens of billions of sapient beings killed. That's okay. It was all God's plan. Oh, by the way, you guys go commit suicide by wandering into the wilderness.

"God did it" is the story telling equivalent of, "Then the boy fell out of bed and woke up. The end."" - J. Walther

All very true. As I mentioned, I was on board for the first 3 seasons - Amazon delivers, even to afghanistan [1] - and also because I enjoy viewing with analaytical eye. Much of the content in any one of these shows reflects the interests and views of the creators. And what are we to make of the show creators? What do they think is relevant and topical? And what is it about the show that so many Americans were eating up? I was interested in that ;] Of course, there is a limit.

That being said, I am very much a fan of long-story-arc projects. I suspect that in BSG's case the limiting factor on fore-planning was _budget_.

[1] Packages get to Bagram in 8 days, then it takes 2 months of collecting in a shipping container before it gets shipped. Anyway, it wasn't Amazon's fault... ;]

Posted on May 4, 2012 11:30:16 AM PDT
Jeff Walther says:
Oh, back on the subject of stuff I liked...

I liked "The Fountain". The Fountain (Widescreen Edition) There is much that one could dislike about this film, but I find that if I'm in a kind of surreal mood with a touch of romance, this is a great film. It's certainly not the film to watch when you're in the mood to see things blow up, or indeed, clear, advancing plot.

But there are times, at least for me, when "The Fountain" is a great film.

And I'm usually fairly critical of things I consider flaky, feather-headed thinking.

For me it gives a bit of the feel I get from reading Sheffield's "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Bantam Spectra Book)

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 11:53:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 4, 2012 11:57:17 AM PDT
me FPA says:
Ditto from me--not a fan of the new BSG series, for a number of reasons, some of which you've cited. I love the old series though, and, actually, the new BSG initial long MOVIE--I think that's excellent.

I really like The X-Files, but I agree about the creator boxing himself in regarding the overall series arc. I stick to liking individual episodes rather than thinking of the whole; I enjoy that fictional universe more that way. Actually, I've been rewatching the episodes this past week. Last night I reached one of my favorites: Gender Bender.

I thought of adding the first X-Files theater movie to my first post here, but that seemed older than what the thread was intended for. But that movie's among my favorites and among the best sci-fi, in my opinion at least.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:02:44 PM PDT
Donna says:
Ada, I could not even get through the first episode of B5 because of the very fakey alien creatures. I tried...twice.
There is no comparison to the great BSG. I did not like the ending of BSG either, but only that Kara disappears. The rest I could find answers to in the shows and/or figure out.
To the guy in Afghanistan, BSG 79's, 80's version was created by Glen Larson (who was a Mormon by the way). That show has little resemblance to the 2004-9 BSG which was created by Ron Moore and David Eich(sp). Ron Moore had done a lot of scifi before and wanted to make this one more about humanity and it was. BSG WAS cancelled after 4 seasons and they were expecting 5 seasons. So that is why it had to be wrapped up the way it was, with people dispersing across Earth 2 to populate different areas. I hated that Admiral Adama did not go back to be near his son, that Kara did not end up with Lee when they had the major love thread throughout, that Kara disappeared (supposedly an Angel?? NOT).

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:33:16 PM PDT
Donna says:
I could not disagree with you more about the character development. For me it was some of the best I have ever seen and it was BECAUSE they were not perfect heroes, they were real flawed human beings. Lee Adama was always true to himself, feeling angry at his father because of his brother's death and his father's career, rebelling to take the side of the president of the Colonies partially as a rebellion against his father and partly because he believed in justice and democracy. His love was Kara Thrace and that never changed even though he married Dualla.
Kara, Admiral Adama and Colonel Tigh were all alcoholics for different reasons and yet lovable for different reasons too. They showed their flawed humanity as did everyone, trying to deal with constant unrelenting pressure to escape complete anhialation(sp) by the Cylons.
You are not a fan. Fine. But your reasoning in my opinion is rather faulty. Your expectations are a hero that is unassailable. Maybe Superman or Batman would suit your taste.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:36:22 PM PDT
Donna says:
RE Melancholia: I was so excited to see this movie when it showed up on NFlix I watched it right away. I was so disappointed. The show was split in two right in the middle. I had no idea what I was to surmise from this or why there was no continuity from one to the other. I was not even sure if the wedding had happened yet or not when part two began: my only clue was Kirsten Dunst's hair was shorter so it must have already happened. It was visually beautiful and the acting superb. Other than that it was a mess to me.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:39:27 PM PDT
D. J. Bowler says:
From the "guy in Afghanistan" to Donna: Yes, I remember the Olde [intentional 'e'] BSG, I was around back then. Yes, there's no real comparison... thus the 'matters of taste' comment :)

Kara disappeared? Well, that seems fitting. I liked that character. She needed to be in the place where she could do the most good.

For a character-focused sci-fi series and movie, my vote goes to: FIREFLY... This is BrownJacket Territory here.


In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:41:12 PM PDT
Donna says:
3: I did watch the first BSG in the 80's or whenever and have forgotten it completely. My grown son reminded me we had watched it. The new BSG cannot be forgotten. It is not forgettable, if you truly watch it. If you aren't into real flawed human characters trying to survive in an impossible situation don't watch it. There is plenty of action and the CGI is very good with the space battles.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:49:06 PM PDT
Donna says:
If you get a chance, watch from the beginning, DJ.
There are two episodes of the pilot, called BSG The Miniseries. Season 1 ep3 is the first episode in the series after the two episode miniseries pilot. They are downloadable from Amazon or Ntflix.

Posted on May 4, 2012 12:55:03 PM PDT
D. J. Bowler says:
@ Donna: I bought and watched the series it from the beginning through season 3... Then i pulled the plug. Higher priorities, you see :) Cheers!

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 12:59:59 PM PDT
Donna says:
Watch the last season when you get a chance. In fact watch it all again sometimes, you get so much more meaning from it when you know how it turns out. You know to really listen and watch because pretty much everything has a larger meaning.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 1:08:11 PM PDT
Gary Henson says:
The latest Star Trek was 'it' for me, though I loved them all, each for it's own reason. The last one captured my imagination instantly and was just a fun movie to watch.

District Nine blew me away with it's realism and plot. More of that, please!

I watched the original and remake of BSG and though I'm fond of the original, the remake was much more 'real' and gritty. I only characterization I didn't like was Baltar. I would have appreciated more action and less soap opera but all in all an excellent series.

Gary Henson (author of Genome the novel)
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  52
Total posts:  530
Initial post:  Apr 25, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 4, 2012

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