I’ve been in a science fiction mood lately. It started when I rented Sunshine from the library. The movie worked for me on a lot of levels; it was dark and (as Kendra likes to say) depressingly uplifting. It was well acted, the science was a little rubbery but done well, and it had a beautiful soundtrack (which is used in the X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer, so whenever the tune stated up in the movie, I kept hearing Xavier ask, “what’s the last thing you remember?”).
In a lot of ways, Sunshine reminded me of The Grey, in both at what it did and how it made me feel afterwards. But the difference is I wouldn’t want to fight wolves but I still think I would risk a trip to the sun.
Sunshine also reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, because both movies show how lonely space is and how dangerous it can be. Honestly, Sunshine actually curbed some of my ethusiasm for space travel because it really is a dark, dangerous place that’s hostile to life and is, for the most part, depressingly empty.
Combine that with the fact that I watched The Planets and How the Universe Works on Netflix, and my scifi itch continues to be scratched (and grows, because it’s probably a scifi rash that I shouldn’t mess with). I think space actually does depress me on some levels because during one episode of HTUW, they were talking about how, someday, the universe will run out of hydrogen and the stars will slowly die out. They were talking about it, the music was swelling and sad and they showed images of the stars dimming and fading, and I swear I almost cried. I never thought I would care so much about the fate of stars.
Luckily, I was reading David Brin’s Startide Rising, which is filled with space travel and aliens and talking dolphins and all kinds of scifi goodness, so space started feeling fun and filled with adventure again. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to fly ships into the void with dolphins and chimps, but I would like to and Brin gives me hope of seeing those dreams fulfilled.
Having done all that, I began to realize that I’m not as well versed in the scifi universe as I would like to be (a realization I see everytime I look at how many Hugo winners I haven’t read). So, I decided to find some movies in the genre and finally watch them instead of talking about wanting to watch them.
Including Netflix and the library, I grabbed Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Blob, Silent Running, and the original Solaris. So now it’s time for some capsule reviews/thoughts about all of them!
Silent Running was the first movie we watched and I liked it. It has that’s 60s vibe to it, with the ‘save the planet’ messege, even if the only way we can save the planet is to send it into space. I liked Bruce Dern in it and it was funny that we watched it Saturday night and then the Oscars the next day, onyl to find Dern up for best actor for Nebreska. I guess everyone but Kendra and I knew who the guy was! On a side note, I’ve had that hippie song from the movie stuck in my head for weeks now.
Soylent Green was next. Since the ending is well known, the movie had to stand up on it’s own and not how surprising the twist was. Charlton Heston was good (as he normally is), as was everyone else in the movie. The world was interesting but the movie was slow, even compared to older films. I guess I’d say the movie was simply alright. It doesn’t really add anything to the world outside of the “Soylent Green is people” line.
Next, we watched Logan’s Run. This movie started off really well and had that cool, 70s scifi feel to it with its beeping soundtrack and Michael York-like class to acting. It had me for most of the movie, but then that weird robot shows up and freezes people. And then a weird old guy goes on about cat names. And the movie stops for about twenty minutes. The end is decent but the movie never regains the fun of earlier.
The Blob was super dissapointing. When I was a kid in fifth grade, my school’s library had a book series on movie monsters that I absolutley devoured. The one book on the Blob was one of my favorites and I always wanted to see how cool the movie was for myself. Twenty-five years later, I see the truth and I’m worse for it. The movie is boring, especially considering it’s a 50s monster movie. I don’t know how they failed with this. Whereas Invasion of the Body Snatchers is still grade A monster movie making. It’s still creepy, still well acted and I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The Cold War analogy is a little strong for my taste, but it works in context with the film.
I ended with Solaris, which is ironic because it’s the one I wanted to watch most after Sunshine. It’s another movie that reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a slow movie and one that challanged my patience but it had enough charisma to keep my watching. It’s more about human relationships than space and that’s okay. The film has some incredible shots and cinematography, especially the weightlessness scene, and the constant white light from the planet outside is almost maddening. Looking back, I wonder how many Russian films I’ve seen because I can’t remember many besides this one now. Interestingly, though maybe only to me, is that somehow I did the math wrong in my head between when I started this movie and when it would end. When it was over, it was twenty minutes later than I had figured. With the films strange style and my poor math skills, I felt like this movie achieved its goal of messing with space and time.
Last night, since I was still coming down off this science fiction high, I decided to watch Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on demand. I was pretty dissapointed with it. It may be because it was the first episode and the show is building up to the good stuff, but in the first hour I didn’t learn a thing. The Cosmic Calander was cool, considering humans have only been around for the last hour of the universe, but that was the only big piece of interest. To be fair, I might be asking a lot since I’ve been reading and watching a bunch of stuff about the universe, but I don’t understand how you can’t say anything worth knowing in a whole hour. I almost feel like the show is for the dumb people of the world.
That may sound harsh, but I’m sticking by it. If you, as a human being, don’t already know the order of the planets, than you are dumb. If you don’t know there’s an astroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, you are dumb. These are simple facts about the solar system you are in. This should be common knowledge. It would be like not knowing the names of the continents or not knowing the surrounding towns of your home. You don’t know the first thing Google shows when you type in ‘planets’. But maybe there are people who don’t know these simple facts. Maybe Cosmos will help them. But that makes me sad.
There also seems to be a lot of beating up on the Church. These things bother me because I’m a Christian and I love learning about science and the universe. It’s strange how the more we learn, the more I see God, while others see less.
But, to get back to my main point, I’m in a big science fiction mood and I don’t know how to get out of it…
Meh, it will work itself out. It’s not like I’m planning to watch The Omega Man or The Day the Earth Stood Still this weekend…Oh shoot.