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  • #52437
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    There’s clearly a fair deal of sci-fi fans here on TWW, so let’s discuss upcoming sci-fi cinema. Some of these movies have been on my mind today (for no particular reason) and here are some thoughts that have coalesced:

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. This movie is still more than half a year away but there’s a trailer already. It’s intriguing that they’re finally making a Valerian & Laureline movie (considering what a huge influence the comics were to Star Wars, though George Lucas doesn’t seem to want you to know that) but the trailer leaves me a bit cold. Too much unintelligible CGI and action, I suppose. No idea why they left Laureline out of the title, either. I may have to re-watch The Fifth Element to remind myself what Luc Besson is like as a space opera filmmaker.

    Alien: Covenant. Also more than half a year from premiering, and there’s no trailer for this one yet. Most people seem to be disappointed with Prometheus but I wasn’t, so I’m quite looking forward to this one. I usually dislike bleak, horror-filled sci-fi but Prometheus did it right (as did the first three Alien movies, although I’m actually of the minority opinion that Aliens was the worst of the three). The ending of Prometheus left me hungry for more, I felt a combined sense of dread and awe at Shaw and David’s coming odyssey ever farther from an already-distant humanity, and like Shaw I want to know more about the Engineers. I find the Engineers even more interesting than the xenomorphs – it’s why I like the Isorians from Beyond the Gates of Antares so much.

    Ghost in the Shell (the live-action remake). I don’t have terribly high expectations of this one. THIS article sums up most of my misgivings. I feel like I want to shout at Scarlett Johansson to take her grubby paws off Ghost in the Shell. Watching the trailer, I’m annoyed that they’ve copied scenes straight from the 1995 anime movie, and then I’m further annoyed that they’ve also changed these scenes to add more Matrix-style action (which isn’t all that interesting to watch, really). On the other hand, there does seem to be some interesting world-building in this movie that expands upon the ideas of the background setting in the anime and manga. The views of a future Tokyo made outlandish by giant holograms are pretty cool, and kind of unnerving. They do seem to get the cyberpunky “old Japan meets new Japan” vibe quite right. But overall I don’t think this title will stand up very well to the anime movies, the anime TV series or the original manga – it gets much of the premise wrong from the start, as explained by the article I linked to earlier. Having East Asian actors play East Asian protagonists (cyborgs or no) was a bare minimum requirement of decency they failed to meet. And the deeply intellectual sense of wonder from the end of the 1995 anime seems to have been replaced with the more docile conventions of Hollywood action-movie script-writing.

    Rogue One. We can’t not talk about the new Star Wars movie that premieres in one month, can we? I’m still really looking forward to this one, even if it does turn out that everyone dies in the end. I only hope they haven’t overloaded the story with “gimmick characters”, there do seem to be a fair deal of characters jostling for space in the trailers – but I’m not overly worried.

    Any other movies worth talking about, or any thoughts on the four that I just listed?

    #52451
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Not only am I happy not to talk about new Star Wars stuff, I am happy not to talk about new Alien stuff. Neither franchise impresses me greatly (said he, having checked the seals on his nomex exosuit).

    I had forgotten Luc Besson was making a Valerian & Laureline film — that’s really one to look forward to, although I have fairly severe doubts about Cara Delevigne as an ideal Laureline. While I agree that a film shouldn’t stand or fall on its CGI, I do hope the film’s CGIers do justice to the magnificently imaginative visuals of the original BD (of which I own the whole set of albums). I think I would have preferred the fiilm to be shot in French, too, but I suppose everything must be sacrificed to the needs of a big monoglot market.

    Not being a fan of Japanese SF, I have not seen the original Ghost in the Shell, so my main interest in the film would be Scarlett Johansson. She made a wonderful Black Widow in the Avengers, I liked her in Lucy, and I think she would probably have made a splendid Laureline.

    As I started reading SF in about 1968, it’s a bit of a mystery to me why so many SF films and, especially, wargames, leave me cold. It might be Sturgeon’s Law, but I think it is because SF (good SF, not space opera) is a literature of ideas, an ideas are quite hard to show in (Hollywood) films and wargames.

    All the best,

    John.

    #52452
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

    Only became aware of it yesterday, looks good, no clue about any of it other than what I saw in the trailer, smells very much of Luc Besson, which for me is no bad thing.

    Alien: Covenant.

    Not heard of it, will go and look up at some point, though did not like Prometheus so will not go out of my way to look into it.

    Ghost in the Shell (the live-action remake).

    Very much looking forward to this.
    I have the anime on DVD and like it, don’t love it, but do like it.

    I think that a remake in slicker, fancier, more boundry pushing format is good.
    When I saw it back in the day I was blown away by the visuals, I no longer am as it is quite dated, so a remake will tickle my fancy.
    As will SJ.

    Rogue One

    Cautious, but hopeful.
    Went right off the franchise when meeeesa likesss yousaaaa appeared.
    Not seen any since that, this however looks a bit grubbier and the CGI seems to look less CGI and more real, which appeals.

    #52456
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I think I would have preferred the film to be shot in French, too

    Agreed.

     

    As I started reading SF in about 1968, it’s a bit of a mystery to me why so many SF films and, especially, wargames, leave me cold. It might be Sturgeon’s Law, but I think it is because SF (good SF, not space opera) is a literature of ideas, an ideas are quite hard to show in (Hollywood) films and wargames. All the best, John.

    I think there are several levels on which one can enjoy sci-fi. I expect the live action Ghost in the Shell remake to basically be a cyberpunk romp, and that’s certainly one way to enjoy a sci-fi story, as a “romp” (which is also the way to enjoy sci-fi gaming). The 1995 anime was more than that, it was very much an exploration of ideas (albeit with a side order of action), and obviously that’s the other way to enjoy sci-fi.

    I could still be wrong about the depth or shallowness of the Ghost in the Shell remake, of course. And Scarlett Johansson is a good actress. She just doesn’t look like a “Major Motoko Kusanagi of Public Security Section 9 of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission”, is all. She should stick to being Black Widow.

    #52457
    DM
    Participant

    “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”

    Saw the trailer, thought it was one of the most beautifully put together pieces since the Mad Max trailers from a few years ago. I have high hopes for this one 🙂

    #52483
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Rhodderic wrote:

    I think there are several levels on which one can enjoy sci-fi. I expect the live action Ghost in the Shell remake to basically be a cyberpunk romp, and that’s certainly one way to enjoy a sci-fi story, as a “romp” (which is also the way to enjoy sci-fi gaming). The 1995 anime was more than that, it was very much an exploration of ideas (albeit with a side order of action), and obviously that’s the other way to enjoy sci-fi.

    Of course that is a large part of the traditional distinction between SF and sci-fi, but kids these days do not seem to respect the categories established by John W Campbell.

    This makes me wonder if anyone has seen “Arrival” (no longer a forthcoming film, it has forthcome), which sounds promising to me, and I like Amy Adams.

    It also makes me wonder if there are any SF wargames, or if Cold War gaming should be incuded in the category.

    All the best,

    John.

    #52484
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Of course that is a large part of the traditional distinction between SF and sci-fi, but kids these days do not seem to respect the categories established by John W Campbell.

    I may respect them if I were aware of them, do tell.

    🙂

    #52492
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I was going to mention Arrival. I’ve heard very good things about it. Must see.

    Of course that is a large part of the traditional distinction between SF and sci-fi, but kids these days do not seem to respect the categories established by John W Campbell.

    Heh. My (now dead) SF literature aficionado of a father said pretty much exactly that same thing to me once. My love of science fiction is in large part a direct inheritance from him, but I’ve bastardised it terribly. Ah well, I’m just a man of my generation, I suppose. I’m still grateful to him.

    #52506
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Mike wrote:

    I may respect them if I were aware of them, do tell.

    I refer my honourable friend to the answer given by the late, great Gharlane of Eddore on rec.arts.sf.tv in December 1995:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!search/Gharlane$20Eddore$20Campbell$20science$20fiction$20degree/rec.arts.sf.tv/NfTE5z29XIs/hfrAexN-LcgJ

    Of course, the world has moved on since then. The internet has become brighter, more colourful, and filled with an awful lot of people who have never read Emily Postnews.

    All the best,

    John.

    #52509
    Thuseld
    Participant

    I had not heard of most of the films in the original post.

    Rogue One: I love Star Wars, the trailers have me very excited, as do the podcasts I listen to. They are almost convincing me to turn my semi-hard Sci Fi world into a Sci-Fantasy space opera. We will see what happens with that. The film looks like it will be a romp.

    Valerion: Hadn’t heard of it. Trailer looks interesting. It looks like they are trying to set up a franchise. Not going to lie, I hated Fifth Element, but might give it another chance at some point.

    Ghost in a Shell: Not hugely into Japanese sci fi, but might throw this a watch when it is out on DVD. Didn’t look super inspiring.

    Alien: Covenant: I am excited about any new Alien film, even if it turns out to be crap. There has been so much drama about which film comes next, is it a reboot, is it a fourth sequel, is it part of the Prometheus arc? I just hope for some sci-fi horror.

    #52511
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Valerion: Hadn’t heard of it. Trailer looks interesting. It looks like they are trying to set up a franchise.

    I certainly wouldn’t mind a whole slew of Valerian & Laureline movies, if the first one turns out alright.

    Alien: Covenant: I am excited about any new Alien film, even if it turns out to be crap. There has been so much drama about which film comes next, is it a reboot, is it a fourth sequel, is it part of the Prometheus arc? I just hope for some sci-fi horror.

    This will be the Prometheus sequel – apparently it’s about a new crew of human explorers who encounter David (and Shaw?) on another planet some time after the events of Prometheus. I expect to be seeing more Engineers, they’re who really interest me in the Prometheus cycle. With their combination of culture/aesthetic and background story, they strike me as a relatively new, unique concept that hasn’t yet been the victim of numerous reiterations, rip-offs and spoofs in the field of sci-fi (Antares Isorians notwithstanding).

    The other coming Alien movie, the one directed by Neill Blomkamp, is apparently still a long way off. It’s to be a direct sequel to Aliens and will set up a new canon continuity that consigns Alien 3 (and Alien Resurrection, if anyone’s counting that piece of garbage) to non-canon status. I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, Blomkamp is a fun director, he makes enjoyable movies. On the other hand, the description “direct sequel to Aliens” makes me slightly concerned it’s going to be another slugfest full of stereotypical soldier-types and hordes of bugs, which is what I didn’t like about Aliens. The xenomorphs have always been more scary and more interesting when they’re haunting our minds like solitary ghosts or like some extraterrestrial Dracula, as opposed to swarming the screen in numbers like ersatz Starship Troopers Bugs. I honestly liked Alien 3, I admire its uncompromising astringency and the way it pulled the Alien franchise back from the brink of action-oriented excess. That said I have no quarrel with the notion of new films set in an alternative continuity – if a setting is interesting enough, I’ll gladly explore numerous different continuities in it.

    #52794
    Noel
    Participant

    I feel like the Alien “trilogy” was a great three-part story.  Anything after that has been incredibly disappointing.

    People confuse the Alien movies, think that the Aliens are the feature, when it is really Ripley.  Each movie has Ripley develop as a character and this is her story.

    #52800
    irishserb
    Participant

     

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  Man, I can’t wait for this.  I really like Besson. I really like that he is making this.  I’m setting myself up for such a letdown. I can’t help myself.

    Alien: Covenant.  I once described Prometheus as being a great movie, except for the parts where the actors speak (or something along these lines).  To me, the characters were mostly horrible.  Not completely, but mostly, unforgivably, MTV reality show stooges.  The funny thing is that despite this, I really like Prometheus (see, there are two of us).  I loved the soundtrack, and visually, I find it intoxicating.  The way I know that I liked a movie (particularly science fiction), is that for days afterward, I will find myself exploring ideas, tangents of my own imagination, about and inspired by what I saw.  Prometheus was one of those movies.  I am positively intrigued by the engineers.

    Ghost in the Shell (the live-action remake).   I’ve never seen any of this, so have no expectations.  I’ll probably watch this one, and then go back and chase down the earlier work to put it in context.

    Rogue One.  I have no fire for this.  I got so tired of the last one being shoved down my throat, seemingly  every day for a year, that I ended up not seeing it.  I think Star Wars is dead to me.

    Arrival.  Haven’t seen it yet, but love the cast, and am very much looking forward to it.

    A few others:

    Evolution.  I thought that this had been released previously, maybe overseas?  It is French, isn’t it? If so, is it worth watching?  A dead body in the water, starfish, and all of the towns kids have to go to the hospital for treatment.  I’m curious.

    Life:  I was kind of excited, and then I saw the trailer.  Yick. Looks like another second rate horror flick.

    Blade runner 2049.  Anybody know anything about it yet?  My expectations are off the scale.

    #52802
    Mike Headden
    Participant

    Saw Arrival on Sunday afternoon. Well worth a watch and very timely in view of world events I’d say.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #52817
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    People confuse the Alien movies, think that the Aliens are the feature, when it is really Ripley. Each movie has Ripley develop as a character and this is her story.

    While Ripley’s character development is certainly a dominant feature in regard to the appeal of the films, I’d still say it’s in tied first place with the terrifying magnetism of the aliens. There is some concept art from the pre-production of the first film of what the alien was going to look like before they brought Giger in – basically some sort of crab-reptile that looks to me like something out of a b-movie, more caricaturish than the Giger designs and not nearly as sublime. I doubt Ripley would have attained her present status in the cinephile and sci-fi fandom communities if they had paired her with that alternative design of alien instead.

    Alien: Covenant. I once described Prometheus as being a great movie, except for the parts where the actors speak (or something along these lines). To me, the characters were mostly horrible. Not completely, but mostly, unforgivably, MTV reality show stooges. The funny thing is that despite this, I really like Prometheus (see, there are two of us). I loved the soundtrack, and visually, I find it intoxicating. The way I know that I liked a movie (particularly science fiction), is that for days afterward, I will find myself exploring ideas, tangents of my own imagination, about and inspired by what I saw. Prometheus was one of those movies. I am positively intrigued by the engineers.

    I agree that the sheer visual and aural atmosphere in Prometheus was the big draw, along with the basic concept of the Engineers. As for characters, I must admit to having a certain liking for Shaw and David. Through the first nine tenths of the film they didn’t interest me much – if anything I found them annoying, especially David with his ambivalent shenanigans (and Shaw’s illogical Scandi accent didn’t help – I generally like Noomi Rapace, and for full disclosure I speak English with the same accent myself, but in my case it makes sense whereas Shaw is supposed to be a Briton). But by the end, I thought there was something sense-of-wonder-inducing about their resolve to journey deeper into the unknown in demand of answers from an utterly terrifying “otherness”, rejecting their last tenuous lifeline to the solace of human civilisation as we know it.

    A few others:

    Evolution. I thought that this had been released previously, maybe overseas? It is French, isn’t it? If so, is it worth watching? A dead body in the water, starfish, and all of the towns kids have to go to the hospital for treatment. I’m curious.

    Life: I was kind of excited, and then I saw the trailer. Yick. Looks like another second rate horror flick.

    Blade runner 2049. Anybody know anything about it yet? My expectations are off the scale.

    First I’ve heard of Evolution. Looks like a good sci-fi mystery thriller, will add it to the must-see list. Life doesn’t register much on my radar, the trailer looks so-so. I forgot there’s a new Blade Runner film in the works. That’s something I’ll be really looking forward to for the remaining 10-11 months until the premiere.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Rhoderic.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Rhoderic.
    #52839
    Rules Junkie Jim
    Participant

    Really liked Arrival; I haven’t read any of Ted Chiang’s stuff, but I’m definitely going to check it out. While waiting to go in to see Arrival I glanced at the Rogue One poster and instantly got that thrill of seeing that Star-Wars-y font at the cinema… I’m well and truly conditioned! I think it’ll be good, though I wonder if SW might actually need the nuttiness of Lucas to be in any way memorable – I thought TFA was just desperate!

     I really like Prometheus (see, there are two of us).
    Make that three! Agreed, the characters are unnecessarily odious, but that ancient civilisation in space thing floats my boat.
    #52840
    Thuseld
    Participant

    Just for the record, I really enjoy Prometheus as well. It has its flaws, but I can watch and re-watch it.

    #52841
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Just for the record, I really enjoy Prometheus as well.

    With your avatar, I’d have been surprised if you didn’t 

    #52864
    Thuseld
    Participant

    With your avatar, I’d have been surprised if you didn’t

    Prometheus was the film that solidified Michael Fassbender as one of my favourite actors. X-Men First Class was where he really popped up on my radar.

    #53409
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Speaking of Fassbender, I suppose Assassin’s Creed might merit a mention as “50% a sci-fi film” (the other 50% being what I would define as fantasy in historical guise). Probably not destined to be one of Fassbender’s finer moments, but every big-name actor has a few movies like this to his or her name. The premise is such typical video game fare. Video game developers have a way of coming up with premises for storylines or settings that no film writer would come up with on their own – for better or worse. I always found the Assassin’s Creed premise particularly freakish even in that context, but I suppose there are plenty of hardcore video gamers who are perfectly accustomed to that sort of thing.

    Oh, and what about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? I went into the first film with fairly low expectations but found it really enjoyable as a pure space opera rogue-action-comedy romp. The whole Marvel superhero craze doesn’t really do anything for me, but with some of the Marvel movies I’m able to find aspects beyond the superheroes themselves to enjoy. I liked the first Captain America film for the Weird War framing, and in the Thor movies I’m able to enjoy the science fantasy depictions of Valhalla, Svartalfheim, etc. as wondrous alien societies/realms. GotG is “non-superhero” enough to be fun. The new trailer released today/yesterday is hilarious.

    BTW, it seems Alien: Covenant has been moved up to a May release, so it’s not that far off after all.

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