7/13/2009

Oh Mr Jones, Not You Too

I'd been looking forward to seeing Duncan Jones' sf movie Moon after the bubblegum horror of Star Trek (and one of these days I'm going to write a post about why you should watch a British TV movie called Strike! from the mid-Eighties immediately after watching the ST reboot), given it was being sold as a distinctly more intellectually weighty slice of science fiction, but after reading this post by Nancy Kress, I'm once again disheartened by what does sound like rather an idiot plot. It should be noted that her review is really very spoilerific, but I've decided (as Nancy herself states in her post) that there's just no point in seeing movies with scripts that sound like they were written by idiots (even though the reality is frequently that a good script has been mauled by a succession of uninformed opinions).

I'd always rather hoped that the increasing democratisation of movie-making and sfx technology would lead to a renaissance of bright and sparkling home-made cinema entirely bypassing Hollywood, and, indeed, there have been a few gems. But otherwise? A million and one Star Trek/Babylon 5 fan-film crossovers. In Norwegian. I'll pass.

4 comments:

Gavin said...

Having not watched Moon (yet) I cannot pass comment on it nor can I read the review you link to!

I do have high hopes for Moon. The concept, production timeline and budget strike me as something quite curious. I hear it's akin to Silent Running.

However one of the points you make is the increasing democritisation of the movie industry. It's an interesting point but one which does not really seem to cater for the reality of the Industry. I just don't think that the movie industry is all that democratic anyway.

Hollywood is inherently conservative. There are a number of reasons for this but the obvious one is the result of the blockbuster. We all think that movie houses rake in a ton of cash all the time but frequently this is not the case. A lot of the large houses are dependent on 1 or 2 huge hits a year just to keep things ticking over. Niche projects will likely be sent to some small subsidiary (don't forget we are talking about media conglomerates). And those subsidiaries are also often balanced precariously.

So what am I am saying? Making a large budget movie that's smart is a risk because the houses need to know that they will get a return on their investment. Cinema history is littered with big ideas that people just don't get and the houses lose big. For ever Star Wars there will be a Blade Runner...

It should be of no surprise that Hollywood sees big ideas as an anathema. They are perceived to be too risky. SF is also perceived to be the purview of the Blockbuster and here - it seems - the target market do not like smart.

Sometimes I think that SF fans expect too much from their filmmakers.

Having said all of that good movies do get made - just not very often. Have you seen Code 47?

Or check out this link:

http://www.dailymotion.com/playlist/xto18_SFLTV_48hc-2008-top-ten/video/x83fmm_factory-farmed_shortfilms

gary gibson said...

Code 47: I've heard of that, and think I was interested in seeing it. Thanks for reminding me. I'll check out that link too.

I think you're right that where big money is concerned, the studios don't really have any choice but to play it safe and dumb things down. I'm just a bit sad that when so many resources are available in the new century, that so much energy instead goes into making fan episodes of half-century old TV shows when the same effort could go into making something original. They're out there - Call of Cthulhu springs to mind.

If you haven't seen it, I recommend the animated short film of Charlie Stross's story Rogue Farm. It's very good.

Gavin said...

Yes, I have seen Rogue Farm.



It was part of a strand of cutting edge SF on Scottish Telly. I remember another one (though I can't remember the name of it) about a game show where people could win a trip to "heaven" - a big orbiting satellite where their conciousness was stored. That was also excellent.
I'd hoped that this was going to be the start of some really good cult TV. Alas I was wrong.

And it's not just SF that's in trouble. How many stories are there out there that are excellent? And yet every year the same period dramas get made; new cop shows which are rehashes of the old or very cynically sterile talent shows. It annoys me.

I don't have a telly any more.

Gavin said...

It's just occurred to me that If you like the link to the short I posted then you should also check out some of the other 48hr challenge films. There's a good one about a physicist whose friend disappeared sometime in the past...