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What are some important/favorite sci-fi films from the last couple decades? I discuss this topic with Lev on our YT channel.

Our top picks that we discuss in depth are:

*The Matrix - It revolutionized the style of sci-fi films with its "bullet time" cinematography and serious tone. The degree of drama reached a philosophical level that concerned matters related more to mankind's relation to machines than to his nonexistent experience with deep space travel and aliens on other planets.

*Ex Machina - a superior character study of three individuals isolated in a testing facility. It considers the deep questions of consciousness and motivations and purpose, from both a human and an android perspective.

*Arrival - a movie about first contact with aliens who come to earth for an unknown purpose. It incorporates unusual notions of time and language, which are cleverly integrated into the plot and character development. The film relies on determinism to explain events, which I think is a negative, but I like its thought-provoking, introspective aesthetic and attempt to apply the scientific method to a close encounter of the third kind.

*Looper - normally I don't like time travel movies, but this one stood out for me due to its mind-blowing story structure and appeal to free will. The characters are not bound to a predetermined fate, and the plot doesn't get bogged down by trying to explain the science of time travel. There's a time machine, it works, move on! Indeed the film isn't really about time travel, it's about breaking free from bad choices and consequences and realizing what's right.

*Inception - a wild, psychological film about sharing dreams and trying to sort out fantasy from reality. This is a well-made film that explores the nature of concepts themselves, as the plot involves trying to implant an idea into someone's subconscious.

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I am not necessarily talking about quality, true science, or anything I want to argue about, but here are some Scifi movies that made me cringe, laugh, be astounded, but above all . . . I enjoyed them! Peter   

“Contact,” starring Jodie Foster. Some mysticism but very likeable. I may have watched this in the theatre and three or more times on TV.

“Jurassic Park.” “Most of the “Star Wars.” “Back to the Future.” “2001 A Space Odyssey.”  “Blade Runner.” “The Terminator.” “Alien” and “Aliens.” “Artificial Intelligence” with Haley Joel Osment directed by Stephen Spielberg.

Starship Troopers.” “The Fifth Element.” “Men in Black.” “Independence Day.” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” “Avatar.” “Predator.” “Planet of the Apes.” “Mad Max.” “The Martian.” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” “E.T.” “War of the Worlds,” starring Tom Cruise. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” with Michael Rennie.

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Peter,

I'm glad you posted in this thread. I meant to post a reply back in December when Mister Swig started it.

I think I've seen all of the films mentioned in this thread except Arrival and Looper.

So here is my contribution off the top of my head.

Screenwriting and production-wise, the first two Terminator movies were fantastic for me. Both were essentially an evil thing chasing an average person thriller where the average person discovers an inner heroism they didn't know they had. In the second one, I guess you could say the average robot, too. :) I like this kind of story. And with self-learning AI happening all around us now, throw in time travel and we might be headed that way.

Another Arnie sci-fi movie I liked a lot was Total Recall. In fact, many sci-fi movies made from Philip K. Dick stories have turned out to be blockbuster classics. Including Blade Runner. (Too bad Arnie became such a mewling political pussy in real life. It gives me a bad taste to think about this and kinda spoils his movies for me.)

There is form of sci-fi I am fond of: when mythical elements get mixed in. The first Star Wars TV series was that way. I don't know about the later incarnations of Star Wars because I was in Brazil when they happened and I didn't resonate with what I saw enough to seek it out. In this vein of mixing myth with sci-fi (and TV series), I really, really, really liked Lost. I went through the entire series with my family several years ago and we were hooked. I thought I was an instant JJ Abrams fan, but when I tried to get into Fringe, I just couldn't resonate with it.

There are the Marvel and DC Superhero movies. They can be considered sci-fi. But I lost interest in them. Sean (my stepson) lives and breathes them. But between the formula writing and, during the last few years, the grafting on of leftie SJW shit they pollute the scripts with, I just can't get into them. 

Here is a gem: the Homecoming series. I wrote about it before:

On 10/20/2020 at 5:09 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Actually, storytelling-wise, I saw Homecoming recently and it was one of the most interesting series I ever watched. (Only half-hour episodes, too.) Not the first season (with Julia Roberts), which was based on a narrative podcast and good, but the second. This second season was a palindrome with a most satisfying ending, but you have to see the first season for it to make proper sense. There was even a bit of SJW shit in it and I didn't mind since they did it right and showed it, but kept it out of the real story.

I am going to watch both seasons again. The writers of that series really know how to set up plot twists.

The only real complaint I have is they did some artsy-fartsy thing at the end of each episode and lingered on a background scene for several minutes where nothing happens. Like a road at night and a car sporadically passes by. Things like that. They really did that.

It's supposed to be profound, I guess, since amnesia is involved in the theme. But it came off to me as a bullshit way to tell the story. (In other words, it's great to use symbols, but don't make symbolism itself the story.) Happily, once that ending nothingburger starts, you can simple turn it off and go to the next episode. 

This can be considered sci-fi because of the fruit that causes selective amnesia. I nudged Kat into watching it and she enjoyed it a lot (it was my second time). Thank God they got rid of most of the lingering stuff at the end of each episode that I complained about.

After studying story in depth, I noticed that one of the things Rand didn't write about much in her descriptions and teaching of literature was the concept of comeuppance or poetic justice. Yet her own stories are full of this. I will have a lot to say about it when I finally get into story hacking for real. But for now, the end of the second season of Homecoming is one of the most satisfying endings comeuppance-wise I have seen to date.

Normally, a good comeuppance means the bad guy understands, right before he bites the big one, how impotent his evil is and how it will not protect him from his imminent doom. If we can see him panicking or groveling or begging, all the better. Just killing or otherwise destroying the bad guy is not good enough for a real satisfying audience experience. The bad guy has to be made aware of how worthless he is and how futile his choices have been. Then he gets it. Aaaahhh...

:) 

In Homecoming, that part only happened a little in the comeuppance, but the screenwriters still included some. I had the feeling this was added and not part of the initial conception since they fudged a bit to include it. But I'm glad they did. It paved the way for a real satisfying emotional experience. The concept behind the rest of the comeuppance was almost enough to give me that "Aaaahhh..." feeling by itself. With the awareness of one of the bad guys right before, it was so much better. I don't want to spoil this, but I can't resist saying that there is a parallel with what Rand did in AS.

I hope Mister Swig sees this some day. Late, but not forgotten...

:) 

Michael

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/29/2021 at 5:54 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

There are the Marvel and DC Superhero movies. They can be considered sci-fi. But I lost interest in them. Sean (my stepson) lives and breathes them. But between the formula writing and, during the last few years, the grafting on of leftie SJW shit they pollute the scripts with, I just can't get into them. 

If you haven't seen it, and would be willing to give a Marvel movie another shot, can I recommend 2014's CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER? It's a little outside the formula of the other movies (though still connected). It's more of an espionage/political thriller, and a little bit of a throwback to the 70's/80's movies like that (even has Robert Redford to add to the flavor). But even more than that, it's pretty relevant to the election/deep state swamp chaos we just saw with the courts, military, etc. (Spoiler alert: the climax was a wee-bit prophetic.) And oddly enough, despite Chris Evans being a rabid anti-Trumper, the deep state in this one is the enemy.

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