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Are meta, self-referential or recursive science-fiction films doomed?

Pint

Re: Dune

"We have just folded space from Ix."

"Oh?"

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Re: Dune

Many machines on Ix.

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Re: Dune

I'm surprised that there's even one person who likes that movie!

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Thumb Up

Re: Dune

No Roj. Me and 7 others (to date). Dune just needed to be WAY longer or a Trilogy. PP

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Headmaster

Director / Executive Producer

Spielberg was executive producer on Back to the Future but it was Robert Zemeckis "at the helm".

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"written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

Funny thing to say about an anarchist, not that being an anarchist makes a lot of sense.

But, of course, I know that among political fans the most common definition of fascist is:

fascist: adj. someone who dares to disagree with me.

And it certainly takes a huge political fan to pretend to like such a boring movie.

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Re: "written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

But it's got Denise Richards. And Doogie Howser.

And Michael Ironside.

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Re: "written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

I was going to write a long rant about this... but it turned out long and ranty.

Suffice to say that Heinlein wasn't a front line war veteran; he was a naval officer between 1929 and 1934 on ships which look to have mostly performed exercises and maneuvers. And at the time he wrote Starship Troopers, the USSR had just annexed Hungary (and in the process killing 30,000 civilians and carrying out executions after secret trials) and made the first of several attempts to oust the Allies from Berlin.

As for Heinlein being a fascist: he described himself as a libertarian, and it's certainly something that comes through in his later books - Stranger in a Strange Land in particular. Though it's worth noting that he did become increasingly right-wing (and generally wierder) as he got older [*].

Still, you'd have to do at least 5 minutes research on Wikipedia to find out the above - and you might even have to read some of his books!

[*] A quick dig turned up this article, which revealed some details not mentioned in most of Heinlein's biographies - he was blacklisted by the navy in WW2 for being too left-wing(!), he was in several poly relationships (including with L Ron Hubbard!), and while he was actively anti-racist, he does seem to have become obsessed with overpopulation in Asia... https://newrepublic.com/article/118048/william-pattersons-robert-heinlein-biography-hagiography

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

"[...] he described himself as a libertarian, [...]"

It always surprised me that some people in the 1980/90s seemed to regard him as misogynist. Several of his novels had strong women characters - notably "The Glory Road".

IIRC "Stranger in a Strange Land" was a reworking of the story of Jesus Christ. Its main character's liberal attitudes to sex*** were guaranteed to upset the US religious right.

***I would have to reread it to be sure that women's equality and eco-friendly attitudes were definitely espoused too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

"[...] while he was actively anti-racist [...]"

Very clearly in Farnham's Freehold (1964).

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Re: "written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

No kidding. "a fetish for fascism"? Seriously? Lucy Orr, you are embarrassingly ignorant. Read an author before blurting such asinine comments, please.

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Re: "written at the height of the Cold War by a veteran with a fascism fetish."

I am not surprised about the "too left wing" part. Heinlein's very first book was "For us, the living", a hymn to a glorious collectivist future mixed with that free love, "share your girlfriend" doctrine that Huxley was warning us against in his dystopia "Brave new world".

Heinlein remained pro-Marxist until he made a trip to Russia and came back livid, profoundly disturbed by what he saw.

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" A perfect example being Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers. It's near the top of my personal and somewhat controversial cult sci-fi hit list. Critics slammed it on release, but this film is now considered, in retrospect, a satirical and comedic sci-fi masterpiece."

Dear Lord if you don't recognise that as a steaming pile of dingoes kidneys and a huge wasted opportunity, then there's pretty much no hope for you...

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Based on Robert Heinlein's Hugo-winning 1959 novel,

And by "based on", we mean "having the same title as"...

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Anonymous Coward

Annihiliation?

'Annihilation' is something I have been carefully avoiding as something that should not be encouraged, and which will cost me hours I will never get to enjoy.

Quite a few reviewers have said that it shares the qualities of films like Arrival, Interstellar, and 2001- meant in a positive way.

Arrival was illogical unrealistic nonsense, stirred out of order.

Interstellar was inconsistent, illogical, and pretty much crap.

2001 started out well, but devolved into a muddle.

At this point I expect that Annihilation is pseudo-SF written for people who don't like or want real science fiction, but something less logical and more pretentious and 'arty', uncontaminated by that 'science-like' stuff.

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Re: Annihiliation?

I haven't seen the film but at least they can't ruin a good book, because it isn't.

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Anonymous Coward

Starship Troopers - in transition?

It is interesting that a lot of SF readers and critics considered Starship Troopers Heinlein's last great book, and others that it was his first great book.

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Re: Starship Troopers - in transition?

"It is interesting that a lot of SF readers and critics considered Starship Troopers Heinlein's last great book, and others that it was his first great book."

Cinematically it presented a number of fantastic opportunities, assault drops from orbit, marauder suits FFS... even Ed Wood Jr could have knocked this out of the park and made an *awesome* action film. Instead we got some tits, firearms worse than today's models and Dougie Howser in a Gestapo uniform.... I'm surprised the studio heads didn't have *WANKER* branded into the foreheads of all involved.

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Paris Hilton

I wonder how long

It will be before.... if ever we see an adaptation of Warren Ellis's 'Transmetroplitan'. A disturbingly believable work of fiction that like 1984 is becoming less and less a work of fiction every day.

On that note. Can reality become meta representations of sci-fi? Or just selffulfilling?

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Re: I wonder how long

Patrick Stewart has long expressed an interest in doing this but, so far, at least, Ellis has refused.

I'm sure Stewart's love for it would mean he would, by his own lights at least, do it justice in completely the opposite way to how Lori Petty did not do Tank Girl justice (i.e. just like bricks don't hang in the sky). But I have to say that I'm glad it hasn't come to fruition myself - I could be wrong and he could, like Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, completely blow my mind with surprise, but I just don't see his acting style as suiting the role of Jerusalem.

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Anonymous Coward

Cloud Atlas

This is very much a plot driven and misanthropic novel. The Wachowskis aren’t good with plot, and they haven’t reached the levels of grumpiness to make this film.

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Silver badge

An even better question

...what even qualifies as "science fiction" anymore? At least half of the movies the OP lists aren't, in my eyes, science fiction at all. But then, I don't think Star Wars is science fiction -- it's space fantasy.

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Re: An even better question

OF COURSE the original Star Wars was space fantasy, or as we used to say, Space Opera. Very carefully written too, with no cliche left unturned - everything from the lone space-travelling youth from a backwoods farm planet who makes good, through fights in a space bar while the band plays on, to spaceships that go WOOOSH past you in space (where nobody can hear you scream) and space fighters dogfighting like WW1 aces. You had to have read lots of pulp SF to fully appreciate the original film. It was a truly wonderful piss-take of the whole guns 'n BEMs 'n galactic empires 'n fearless spacemen genre. Unfortunately, the usual Hollywood drones got loose on the sequels and degraded them into the usual hohum product.

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Re: An even better question

Ah, "space opera" -- there's a term we should bring back!

I'm glad you referenced "Alien" -- that's one that I consider proper science fiction, bordering on "hard" SF.

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No Cliche left unturned

> Very carefully written too, with no cliche left unturned [...] a truly wonderful piss-take of the whole guns 'n BEMs 'n galactic empires 'n fearless spacemen genre.

Even if the game itself doesn't appeal, I think you might at least appreciate the concept of https://dinostorm.com/en - it doesn't get much cornier than that, does it? :-D

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Re: An even better question

> that's one that I consider proper science fiction

I can't get over how, to this day, when I see the crew interact with 'Mother', with all the flashing bulbs and green teletext, somehow I get more of an impression of it being a 'proper' or 'real', hi-tech 'supercomputer' than I do from any of the Star Trek or later style interfaces - it's weird.

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Re: An even better question

'...what even qualifies as "science fiction" anymore? '

Isn't "space fantasy" just a subset of "science fiction"? It's a pretty broad genre.

It appears to me it's the demarcation between Si-Fi and Fantasy that is pretty blurred. Julian May's phenomenal 'Saga of the Exiles' series used to sit in the Fantasy section as I recall yet it is Si-Fi to me. Patrick Tilley's "Amtrack Wars " series is Si-Fi but it has mystical fantasy elements and Sheri S Tepper's "The True Game" is Fantasy but is fundamentally based on the science of genetics.

And, if it wasn't likely they would end up ruined, all perfect candidates for a wider audience by film or TV series.

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Re: An even better question

"Unfortunately, the usual Hollywood drones got loose on the sequels and degraded them into the usual hohum product."

It's just that the usual Hollywood drones had the most influence on the first, 1977 movie. Over time and further movies, George Lucas steadily expanded his influence from 'being allowed to do it by the studio' to 'total control over the franchise'.

And we all know the results of this.

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Anonymous Coward

By far, the BEST sci-fi novels Ive ever read and wound definitely love to see them turned into movies, The Owner Saga

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The Owner trilogy was awesome.

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Silver badge

StarShip Troopers fascist loving ?

Over 52 meanings of word fascist are known, according to my trivia ready reference book. Using this term is imprecise. Normally I hear it used to mean a personal dislike of a concept or person. ie ad hominem attack. Perhaps Joe Haldemans Forever War may appeal as a new film source.

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Annihilation

I found it supremely dull. My overwhelming impression was that Alex Garland had become overexcited after seeing Stalker and Solaris for the first time.

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MJI
Silver badge

Well

I actually enjoyed Starship Troopers (Film).

First seems like a giant piss take, then you realise it is quite subversive.

As to Ready Player One. Book is quite good, I liked it, the the trailers to the film look nothing like I imagined from the book.

But then I am not a huge Spielberg fan, he can be good, but he can also get mawkish.

Best SciFi film I have seen in the last few years was The Martian. Just how much has it cost to rescue Matt Damon in all the films he has been rescued in?

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Pint

Re: The Martian..

MJI. I'd cite that as my favorite SF film of recent years. By chance I read the book about 1 year before the film. Book read > 10 times. Film watched 8-10 times. Have an upvote and one of these ('coz Friday). PP

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"Starship Troopers" (movie) was not based on "Starship Troopers" (novel). It started out as a completely independent project (before Verhoeven was hired as director), until someone pointed out the obvious similarities to the book. Only then did they acquire the rights, and named the movie after the novel, mostly to avoid plagiarism charges.

That said, I find the vehemence of fans of the book to slam the movie disturbing. The book is not very good. It IS boring, I don't think it works, I don't know what Heinlein's point of it was, and has (for a German like me) a creepy fascist undertone, which prevents me to recommend it as YA lit. It's no wonder that Verhoeven pushed the movie to be a satire. And it works.

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Boring?

The book opens with a set of soldiers in mecha suits being launched from a spaceship inside giant pods (which then shed layers of ablative metallic heat shields, partly to confuse ground-based radar), before then merrily leaping over buildings, lobbing mini-nukes and talking grenades at things and generally having a good time until the retrieval signal comes.

It's not the dullest introduction to a book I've ever read ;) As previously mentioned, Games Workshop thought that the concept was so good that they outright stole it for WH40K. Along with the Navigators from Dune and large chunks of Judge Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock from 2000AD, but I digress...

To be fair, I first read ST as a teenager in the late 80s, long before Japanese anime popularised the concept of robotic armour, and I was young enough for much of the political elements to zoom over my head. However, even as an embittered and jaundiced adult, and with a (hopefully) better understanding of politics, I still think it's a good book.

And as to why people like me slam the film? A film based on an unrelated script, filmed by a director who hadn't read the book and who was more interested in ramming home an anti-military message?

It's crude, clumsy and deliberately ignores most of the key elements of the book. I really can't see any good reasons to like it!

And that's despite the fact that I absolutely love Robocop ;)

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