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Quackcast 161 - Let's talk Science Fiction!
ozoneocean at 7:58AM, April 3, 2014
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This new film “Lucy” is a very good example of terrible SciFi with C level writing and yet A level production, efects etc:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVt32qoyhi0
 
The premise is “we only use 10% of our brains” which a very stupid old long debunked myth, akin to basing your premise on the other outdtated myths like white people being smarter and cleverer than other types of people, or women being less mentally capable than men etc: a nonsense notion that makes the rest of your story weak because your story foundation is crap.
 
A BAD explanation and premise like this works to destroy suspension of disbeleif, not build it.
 
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-Not to mention it's set in 2069 and yet all tech and clothing, interior design, architecture, tatoo styles, hairstyles and everything else is all based on today, no effort at all has been made by the production designers. It's like SciFi made in the 1950s, but at least they were very good “big idea” writers back then even if they messed up the asthetic or got technology wrong. Rarely would they make a mistake as basic and utterly embarrasing as the one in this film though.
 
bravo1102 at 11:06AM, April 3, 2014
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Gotta dumb down the idea so it's easily digestible in a movie.  Yeah just like that drug she's carrying.  What drug that someone could mule would do that if released?  It's blue that must be the answer to everything!  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l04dn8Msm-Y

Looks like one of those frozen gel packs you use to soothe aching muscles.  But it's Scarlett Johansson so that makes up for a lot of things.  And why the costume desinger put her into a bra a size too small whenever she's wearing a t-shirt?  
El Cid at 1:03PM, April 3, 2014
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With something like ‘Lucy,’ the sci-fi element looks like just a thin excuse for over-the-top special FX madness, so it's forgiveable I guess. It's no dumber than the radioactive spider that gives Peter Parker his superpowers, or the gamma rays that turn Bruce Banner into The Incredible Hulk (as opposed to a tumor-riddled pile of goo).
 
That's one of the big risks with high concept sci-fi though (which ‘Lucy’ is definitely not); if it's more about a Big Idea than it is about the characters or other literary type stuff, there's always a risk that your Big Idea turns out to be not quite as clever as you thought it was, and then your audience isn't left with much else to hold onto. Like that ‘Mission to Mars’ movie, where Gary Sinise and his intrepid astronaut buddies go to Mars, and Tim Robbins dies horribly in a space disaster… and in the end, the big payoff is they discover Mars seeded the Earth with life. Was that really worth it? I mean, it wasn't even an original idea!
 
Of course, there's a whole school of thought that runs the exact opposite direction, that only High Concept sci-fi is truly sci-fi: “If you can remove the sci-fi element and the story still works without it, then it's not a good sci-fi story.” I can see where that comes from, but personally I don't worry too much about how my stories will ultimately be categorized and just focus on putting out quality stuff. Is it much consolation if I put out a dry, lifeless story that nobody enjoys reading but it has neat ideas in it? I'd rather put out something fun that people want to read, where the concepts don't necessary blow you away with their ingenious-itude (soooo not a word!)
Gunwallace at 4:00PM, April 3, 2014
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It's interesing that when asked about SF I have a complete blind spot for TV and movies.  I just assume people mean the written word, because SF in those mediums has been so bloody terrible for the most part.  
Yet, I admit, I watch them.  The Treks, the Wars, B5 (you sunk my battle ship!), Firefly, Lexx, Farscape, etc … All standard TV drama/adventure transplanted into space.  Firefly could have been a cowboy show, but at least Joss Whedon knew that and had fun with it. Star Trek was so much a western in space it had western actors (DeForrest Kelly) and western writers (D.C. Fontana).  Star Wars is just a mess of infleunces, but few of them SF. Lucas's THX-1138 is good tho'.
But, there are some SF movies out there I treasure …
Them! (A b/w film about the perils of atom energy (it creates giant ants!) that was radical for it's time, and has a forumla so beloved in comedy take-offs of SF.)
Dr Strangelove. You could argue this isn't strickly SF, but it's my list so shut up. Peter Sellers rules!
Dark Star. An early John Carpenter movie with some low-budget SFX, some of which are innovative (like the hyperdrive jump stars rushing past everyone copied) and some of which are terrible (an alien that is a bouncy ball with bits glued to it). It has a sentient bomb that just steals the show.
2001 : Most people watching it now say it's boring, but that's why I love it. Slowly spinning spaceships. Long extended scenes of nothing much happening. That's how I imaging space.
Blade Runner, which may not be as cool as the stry, but really has it's moments, and portrays an atmosphere of the future that has often been copied.
The Day the Earth Stood Still : The original, not the remake.  Humans are stupid.
Brazil : a dystopian future which seems to be closer and closer each passing day.
And I haven't seen it yet, but I hear Moon is really good.
David ‘Gunwallace’ Tulloch, www.virtuallycomics.com
last edited on April 3, 2014 4:02PM

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