Hollywood is Finally Doing Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films Right

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by Vortigern99, Jun 28, 2008.

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  1. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

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    Whether you grew up in the 70s, 80s or 90s, you know that for years we SF/F fans have received very little in the way of good, solid sci-fi and fantasy pictures. Historically, since the dawn of cinema, most SFF pictures have been low-budget, low-concept failures. Apart from a brief flash of genre goodness in the early 80s, for decades we've seen only sporadic quality (and quantity) of genre movies at best. Until now.

    Now, with the advent of CGI and the trial-and-error period of the late 90s/early 2000s, most SFF movies are successful, both artistically and commercially. Just look at this year's fine offering of genre fare so far:

    Cloverfield * 10,000 BC * Spiderwick * Iron Man * The Incredible Hulk * Forbidden Kingdom * Jumper * Prince Caspian * Indiana Jones

    Even if you dislike some or all of these, the sheer quantity is staggering compared to the number of big-budget SFF movies released in, say, 1993 (Demolition Man, Robocop 3) -- or even 1983, a peak year for genre. But further, if you compare apples to apples -- solid, convincing, entertaining SFF scenes, concepts, characters and films -- even the least successful of the above list, Jumper, is technically and artistically superior to 95% of the SF/action movies released in previous decades. Sure, we had a few rare gems even back then -- Blade Runner, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, etc. -- but by and large genre movies, in a word, sucked. We had to take what we could get.

    These days it seems as though studios are producing new classics and masterpieces with astonishing regularity. Consider the list of upcoming SFF movies, each of which contains the potential to become another enduring genre classic or even a masterpiece:

    Hancock * Dark Knight * Hellboy II * Harry Potter 6 * Star Wars: Clone Wars * City of Ember * Quantum of Solace * Punisher 2 * Twilight * The Spirit

    Good heavens! Even if two of those are anywhere near greatness, added to the 2008 tally so far, this year will have yielded more and better SFF films than 1986, 1987 and 1988 combined. This is why I can get excited about recently announced projects like Rodriguez' Red Sonja, or the Conan re-boot, or GI Joe: Hollywood is finally doing SFF/F films right.

    This is a thread to discuss upcoming SFF/F projects, and to extoll the virtues of recent (2000-up) sci-fi and fantasy films.
  2. RX_Sith C&G Game Host,

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    Well they may be starting to do them right, but still it is a niche type of film. Besides the Star Wars films, none of the others including Star Trek, have really pulled in your "everyday" kind of audience.

    Perhaps, it is because most people are still having problems with accepting it as a "real" movie. There is almost too much CGI featured in some movies making them seem very unbelievable. Each time it seems, the movie or show is trying almost too hard to up the ante of monsters or villians that the good person(s) have to defeat.

    I would even throw in the glut of superhero themed movies in with SF/F since this is the primary type of SF movie being made right now. It seems that SF has a better chance as a TV series than as a movie (maybe Lucas' thoughts as to now doing his TV shows rather than more movies).

    The Stargate, BSG, Heroes TV shows are probably the top tier SF related ones on TV at the moment. But, they are never top 10 even in the ratings. SF has its own particular audience and until someone comes out with one that reaches the mainstream audience then each show or movie will just have its' own fantasy groups.

    I wouldn't call any of the movies you posted as successful. Each garnered its' particular audience. None of them were really that awe-inspiring. Yes, sequels will still be made, but almost none will do better than the original.

    But, still tons of them are going to be made and each will garner its' share of the box office. But only for a few weeks. Nothing is going to keep making money for months on end these days. To me, Hollywood is a copycat organization, throwing one hero movie after another at us with hardly any real substance.

    I still enjoy most of these movies, but can hardly re-watch most of them more than once. That is the difference. Until something comes along that grabs like Star Wars did each movie will just get more and more common.
  3. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I haven't seen any of those movies (please don't take away my nerd membership) but I don't think that nothing but Star Wars has drawn in crowds. I think Narnia did (at least the first one) because most people, fantasy fans or not, read the books as kids; my sister even had to read LWW in school. Lord of the Rings did as well; tons of people went to see them.

    I agree that it does seem like too much, and that many will only attract SFF fans, but I also think (sometimes based only off adds) that they're really, really well produced.

    There has also, I've noticed, been a trend in producing SFF movies based off of books. Harry Potter, LOTR, His Dark Materials, Spiderwick Chronicles, Narnia, etc.
  4. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

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    So what you seem to be saying, Vortigern, is that quantity trumps quality, and that technical excellence (i.e., special effects and production values) trumps intelligence and heart. You say that by and large genre films of old sucked, but your list of "this year's fine offering" by and large sucks, too -- the exceptions being not original films but those based on children's novels and comic books. You say that "studios are producing new classics and masterpieces with astonishing regularity," whereas it seems to me that Hollywood is defecating weekly on good taste and high standards. You look forward to two of the forthcoming spate of blockbusters being "near greatness," whereas I haven't seen any signs of greatness in SF cinema yet this year at all -- the closest we've come, sadly, is Iron Man. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and the year will offer one great genre film, one Children of Men, one sf film I can watch without switching the brain to "off" (I've actually got high hopes for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) (don't get me wrong -- I do enjoy a good brainless spectacular -- but most recent spectaculars have been so awful that even looking at them as just a brainless action flick there's nothing there to enjoy). I'd even settle for something ambitious yet very flawed (i.e., Southland Tales), rather than more of the same.

    I will readily admit that we have finally gotten to a point where SFF spectacle actually looks almost convincing on the big screen. But aside from the special effects, these films are increasingly insulting to the viewer's intelligence. Bigger budgets and bigger explosions do not make these any better than the bad sf films that have come before. Hell, for all its hundreds of millions of dollars, the settings, characters and creature effects in 10,000 BC were less convincing to me than the rubber worms from Tremors. Perhaps the year's highest-concept sf thriller, Babylon A.D., seems to stand a large chance of having been reinvented as an idiotized Vin Diesel actioner. The sf film that seems to stand the best chance of being remembered as great is another children's film, this time without even any dialogue: WALL·E, although, as I mentioned I'm optimistic about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

    What does it say about the adult moviegoing population that, while sf movies aimed at children seem more often than not at least to have some substance, and those adapted from all-ages material offer at least some relatively inoffensive spectacle, most original sf movies geared toward adults or adapted from more adult subject matter are idiotic beyond belief?

    Maybe there's just a disconnect in expectations here. Looking over your list of the year's sf, and more importantly what's left off it, it seems that what you're looking for in a good sff film is not high concepts, or substance, or wonder, but, for the most part, spectacular adolescent power fantasies -- superheroes, superspies, Jedi Knights.

    There is a very high ratio of sffinal films coming out. Most of them are just as awful as any of the awful sf from previous decades. The only difference is that now they've got better special effects and have made the mainstream, so can afford, more often than not, name stars. But putting A-list production values on a lousy movie doesn't make it any less lousy, and coating a lack of thoughtfulness or substance with fine special effects and a manipulative score doesn't make a movie better sf.

    On one level I'm glad you get so much enjoyment out of what's coming out of Hollywood these days. On another, I really, really wish you didn't, because maybe if the hundreds of millions of moviegoers in the world would stop spending the GDP of small countries in ticket sales for crapfests, Hollywood would make less idiot spectacle and perhaps a few more decent movies.
  5. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    I think they are moving beyond being niche market films, though. Lord of the Rings was the first fantasy film since Star Wars to recieve serious Oscar recognition and 30 Oscar nominations and 17 wins is pretty serious Academy attention.The buzz surrounding The Dark Knight says that not only is it great comic book movie, but a brilliant crime drama. Heath Ledger's Joker has recieved nothing but the most glowing praise and there has been some suggestion that he may be a strong contender for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
  6. RX_Sith C&G Game Host,

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    Well, to me the main problem with these movies is the over-marketing of them. It's all about getting the most merchandise that you possibly can market. And this market is mainly to kids. I'm not saying that a bad thing; it's a brilliant thing for them to get as much money from there particular film or show as they can.

    Walk into your local Wal Mart or Toys 'R' Us and you'll see what I am talking about. There are dedicated rows to these films. Batman, Indy, Narnia, Star Wars, etc. Then when the next big movie comes out, more toys are brought out now even with something that is shown for a brief moment in the movie or show.

    Figures upon figures from the prominent hero to the insignificant villain are displayed for kids to ooze over. It's amazing the amount of stuff that is out nowadays. If you are a collector to it, expect to pay a significant amount of money if you want to own every single thing from a particular movie or show.

    Of course, you want to get your kids these toys, because when you where younger, you either wished you could have them or you actually did have some and now want to relive your youth through your kids.

    Moviemakers only make movies these days to sell their unlimited amounts of toys and clothes to your kids. They also have some that you can purchase as well. How convenient. It's all about how much money they can make. It if becomes a hit, then that's even more money they can use to make even more toys and stuff.

    Plus, then they can make numerous sequels that have even more toys and stuff for you to buy. It's an endless cycle. Some toys will sit on the shelves for months. Then once the Christmas season is over, you see the next batch come out.

    This is today's Hollywood. Marketing rules. Plain and simple.
  7. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    I think social interest in the genre is another factor. In the late 70's/early 80's, sci-fi/fantasy had a more wider appeal, it was more in-style. That sort of faded away in recent decades (likely due to wider variety of content and media outlets people can get entertainment from).
  8. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    If anything, I think interest in sciece fiction, fantasy and comic books has gone up. Star Wars was shopped around to all the studios several times before it was picked up by Fox, and that's in addition the fact that Star Wars and Close Encounters were only high profile science fiction films to be released in 1977. Today is the polar opposite. A look at the summer film schedule reveals a summer of nothing BUT sci-fi and comic book movies.
  9. -polymath- SFF:F/TV Trivia Host

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    I also think that the credit for this shift in quality of sci/fi films should be given to three people: Bryan Singer, Peter Jackson, and John Knoll (of ILM fame). Those three men all took the genre out of where it had been for so long as campy, shlocky, and obtuse with both story and special effects.
  10. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I wasn't alive back when SW was first released, but there are a bunch of old sf-y movies. Then being an SFF fan became uncool (or maybe just more uncool). LOTR changed that, at least for movies. Pirates did as well - POTC is fantasy, even though I think many don't see it that way.
  11. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    SW definitely was the start of a turning point in the social perceptions of sci-fi. Following SW's mass cross-appeal, you had things like the original BSG which was one of (if not the) most expensive pilot/miniseries in Tv to that point, and it did huge numbers.

    In the decade following, things like TNG could be seen as psuedo-mainstream entertainment on TV that you simply don't get these days with the genre. It had a brief resurgence in the late 90's I think, following ID4 and flowing through with the SE's and First contact and up to the Matrix and prequels, but I think the prequel backlash (as well as the subsequent collapse of the Trek franchise with Insurrection) negatively affected the whole genre in public perception- afterall, if SW couldn't be cool, what sci-fi/fantasy could be?

    However, it's a genre, with the newer FX tools available, that managed to re-enforce the niche audience and exploit the market successively, with occasional titles that had a broader appeal- LOTR tapping historical epics, Spider-Man tapping into a need for heroes during a darker social era, etc. They basically re-exploit the same base for all these summer movies you're speaking of- they rarely expand beyond into a mainstream appeal or acceptance, though. the last few years we're starting to see that happen as a greater degree of realism is injected and the crossover to typical movie production values and approaches grabs wider recognition, acclaim, and social standing (and, in most cases recently), success.
  12. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
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    The perception that SFF movies are "niche" films which do not connect with mass audiences is entirey undone by the enormous ticket sales of Cloverfield, Iron Man and Indiana Jones, just to name three staggeringly successful SFF movies from this year so far. In recent years, the LOTR films, the POTC series, the Spider-Man movies, and the SW prequels show beyond a shadow of a doubt that movie-goers from all walks of life -- and not just comic-book reading, message-board posting sci-fi nerds -- adore genre films, and will gladly deposit hundreds of millions of dollars into the bank accounts of studios and filmmakers willing and able to produce quality SFF entertainment.


    Good heavens, I'm not saying that at all. Both the quantity AND quality of genre films has increased exponentially since the 90s, 80s, 70s and prior. Movies such as Iron Man, Casino Royale and Spider-Man 2 are a thousand times more intelligent, more heartfelt and better crafted than such tripe as Superman III (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), or the execrable Captain America (1989). Prince Caspian is a masterpiece of cinematography, pacing, characterization and performance compared to the fun-yet-flawed likes of Krull (1983) or the forgettablly awful Conan the Destroyer (1984).


    Well, obviously there's a degree of subjective aesthetic response involved here. One man's trash is another man's treasure, after all. Personally I think Cloverfield, IM, IJ, Hulk and Prince Caspian are all brilliant, topnotch films -- true and enduring classics -- while Spiderwick and Jumper are extremely well-made films, but perhaps slightly shy of classic status. 10,000 BC and Forbidden Kingdom are the only real stinkers so far. Compare that list to any year prior to 1999, and you realize we've got a bonanza of awesome SFF films to choose from.

    I think your standards might be impossibly high, Mastadge, and that you're comparing every new SFF film against some 5-star ideal represented by, say, the original Star Wars or maybe FOTR. Whatever your icon of cinematic SF excellence, I would ask you to consider that not every movie can achieve the heights of those rare, flawless gems of yesteryear. We might say that the new Incredible Hulk is not as good as, for example, the original Superman (1978) -- but when we consider that every other superhero movie ever made until Spider-Man was an almost complete waste of celluloid, it becomes clear that maybe Hulk ain't so bad after all. It's certainly better than all the Burton/Schumacher Batman movies put together, better than the dumb Hulk CBS-TV series, better than Superman III & IV, better even than the recent Fantastic Four movies. I'm talking about a matter of degrees here. Today's SFF films are better made, with closer attention to characterization and dramatic power, and certainly superior filmmaking techniques, to 95% of what came before.

    Me too! The full trailer blew me away, intrigued the beejeezus out of me, made me a fan of the film well before its release. I hope my high expectations are borne out.

  13. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

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    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    Me three. I saw the trailer for that when I went to see Indy. That movie looks quite intriguing. [face_thinking]
  14. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

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    Yet you persist in comparing only new good movies with old poor ones. Casino Royale is certainly far better than any other recent Bond, but it's not particularly better than the Bond of the 60s -- From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, etc. (And when did the spy thriller come to be considered sff anyway? Why is that movie even in this discussion?) Sure, Iron Man and Spider-Man 2 were solid pieces of entertainment, but then, so were Superman (70s) and Batman (80s), and your bad comics movie examples are no worse than those being made today, i.e. the awful Ghost Rider, Elektra, Rise of the Silver Surfer, X-Men: The Last Stand, all of which fit into the "execrable" category -- or even Spider-Man III, which, while not bleeding-eyeball bad, was far from good. Sure, Krull was flawed, and the Fleischer fantasies were terrible. But the Milius Conan was wonderful. And while we're going back to the 70s and 80s, the Star Wars films from then were far better than those made more recently. You're being incredibly selective in looking both forward and back. I'm not saying the past didn't have crap. I'm saying that the crap now is at least as bad as the old crap, and the shiny new goodness isn't, mostly, particularly better than the old goodness, except in the technical departments (and not always even then -- the creature effects in some of those 80s movies are more convincing then most of today's CGI work. Sure, there was plenty of crap in the 70s and 80s, but when's the last time you saw a personal sci-fi thriller as good as, say, The Terminator? A sci-fi shoot-em-up actioner as much fun as RoboCop? Are recent space operas any better than Star Trek II? Need I mention Aliens? Predator? Going back to the 60s, just to name the most popular examples, we have 2001 and Planet of the Apes.

    I don't have some single-movie bar that I expect every other movie to reach. I love movies, and I have certain standards, and certainly they are not impossibly high seeing as they are sometimes met. There's no shortage of movies I very much enjoy, even within the genre. I don't think there are many if any "flawless gems of yesteryear," but I also don't think that being better than godawful crap necessarily qualifies something as great. Just because something is less bad than something that came before doesn't mean it's being done right. I've already in other threads and possibl
  15. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

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    Mastadge, again it just comes down to subjective aesthetic tastes. It appears I'm more easily impressed than you are, or more forgiving, or more open to being moved and finding value in small moments of characterization, drama or verissimilitude amidst the special-effect-y spectacle. Certainly there have been stinkers in recent years -- 10,000 BC, Van Helsing, League of Extradordinary Gentlemen, Elektra, Ghost Rider, the AVP movies, Eragon. The difference is that in the old days (70s - 90s), 95% of the genre movies were as awful as those! Now the bad movies IMO are the exception to the rule. Superman is a damn fine film, but it was a single oasis amidst a barren desert, whose charm, power and level of craftsmanship would not be matched until Spider-Man 2. Batman (1989) and its sequel (1992) are decent films, but again they're points of brightness on a dark, dark horizon. It's easy to look back from this point and pick out the gems, but what you seem to be missing is that the good genre films only came along once every few years, rather than (IMO) several per year as we're now getting. 1981 and 1982 were banner years for fantasy (Conan the B, Clash of the Titans, Dragonslayer, etc.), but apart from those two years, historically fantasy films have tanked both commercially and artistically. Now, every Potter film that comes out is a brilliant tour-de-force (again IMO), and we've got Spiderwick which is also excellent, and Caspian which is a masterpiece. Dismiss them as you like, but apples to apples -- that is, comparing the new batch of SFF movies side-by-side, sub-genre to sub-genre -- today's movies are at least as good as the classics of old, and there are lots more of them.

    You ask: "When's the last time you saw a personal sci-fi thriller as good as, say, The Terminator?" and I answer "Batman Begins"; you ask: "A sci-fi shoot-em-up actioner as much fun as RoboCop?" and I answer "Iron Man" (RoboCop is the superior film, but IM is pretty damn good and an instant classic). You mention Trek II, Aliens, and Predator, but those three films span a five-year period from 1982 - 1987, and just in the last three we've had Serenity (a brilliant film that did poorly at the B.O.), Cloverfield (which I know you hate, but many people love it and it did huge business), and King Kong (which is overlong and you probably hate it, too, but it's still a damn fine monster movie with a rare emotional power).

    Well, Kirby has been dead for several years, and his estate has reaped no benefit from the phenomenal success of the movies based on his creations. Stan Lee has appropriated all credit for creating Spidey, Hulk, Iron Man, etc. -- but that is another topic. So, no, it made no financial sense for Kirby to claim that comics = mythology. It was merely his very heartfelt and legitimate opinion. As to Lucas, that he may have a financial stake in claiming SW to be modern mythology (and I disagree that he does) would not render invalid the assertion itself. The statement is either true or it isn't, and in my perception it certainly is. Having studied Joe Campbell and world mythology for the last 10 years, I can say without a shadow of doubt that SW conforms to the archetypes and broad strokes of world myth, and that it deals symbolically with the energies at conflict in our day-to-day lives. That's all I was trying to convey.

    I too am a comics reader and have been for 30+ years. There is plenty of crap out there, but also alot of good. I certainly do not blindly embrace a work as excellent -- be it film, book or comic -- simply because of its genre. That has not been my assertion here.

    Yes, there are good and bad SFF films these days, just as there have always been since the dawn of the form, but IMO both their quantity and quality has increased in recent years. I underst
  16. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    I agree that in recent years we've seen a broader appeal to the genre. Though, just because people plunked down money for something, doesn't necessarily mean they respect it's genre or even the particular movie.
  17. rumsmuggler Chosen One

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    Aug 31, 2000
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    Prince Caspian is a masterpiece of cinematography, pacing, characterization and performance compared to the fun-yet-flawed likes of Krull (1983)

    That may be the case, but I always like Krull more than Prince Caspian(I haven't read the Narnia stories, but I have seen the film.) 80's special effects are awesome in small doses.
  18. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    I would say Hollywood is doing Sci-Fi/Fantasy in volume, rather than "right".
    And mostly, they're doing comic books.

    Sadly, comic book trivia has become a mark of education. Knowing the origin of Spider-man or that Super-Man's real name is Kal-el is deemed more important than, say, knowing the number of congressional districts in your state, having a good Shakespeare quote, or actually living up to the code and principles of the religion so many espouse.
    Now it's more important to know the names and powers of the X-Men and Pokemon.

    And the only reason Hollywood is churning out all these sci-fi & comic book movies is because the FX houses are there and it's becoming cheaper and cheaper to use FX for flash and spectacle rather than pay writers for substance.

    And the majority of the Sci-fi/fantasy movies suck, about the same persentage as other movies sucking. That's the sound of the chrome coming away from your trailer hitch. Hollywood has serviced you. Pay up.
  19. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

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    We'll just have to disagree on this point. Caspian, Batman Begins, Iron Man, Serenity, Spider-Man 2, LOTR, Harry Potter: these are engaging new classics that could never have been made in the 70s or 80s, partly because the necessary technology was not there, partly because the studios did not have faith in the audience, and partly because the trial-and-error process of discovering what works and what does not has been a slow and gradual journey of discovery. Not every SFF that comes out these days is a brilliant tour-de-force, naturally, but just compare the new Hulk movie to the ridiculous TV show of the late 70s (which I adored and watched religiously at the time, BTW), and you'll see what I'm getting at. Apples to apples, genre films are superior these days to MOST of what was available back in the day.

    I think that you guys, who complain that almost everything that comes out these days "sucks the chrome off a fender", are only looking back at the sporadic classics from yesteryear, and taking those handful of films as a high water-mark, without acknowledging that those movies were very few and very far between, as opposed to the extremely high number of brilliant genre films that have come out just since the turn of the millennium. Even the second-tier SFF movies these days -- Stardust, Jumper, Cloverfield, I am Legend -- are awesome compared to the same kinds of "okay but not great" movies of the 70s and 80s, such as, oh, Last Starfighter, Krull, or Godzilla 1985. I get the sense that maybe you guys weren't around back then, and that's fine, but my point is that perhaps you simply aren't aware that nearly every genre movie that came out back then was a wretched piece of dreck. The bright spots -- Conan the B, Blade Runner, Aliens, the original Superman -- were individual oases in a vast desert of crud. Now, it seems to me, there are many more oases in that desert, and most of them bear fruit.
  20. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    Correction: Last Starfighter was great. Nowhere near Krull or G85.


    Outside of films, comics (and, to a lesser extent, video games) are the medium of modern mythology. Knowing the story of Spider-Man or Batman is no different than knowing of the Trojan Horse, the Odyssey, Hercules, Icarus, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet or other myth and fiction.

    I also don't see how you can equate political stats like congressional districts with any form of fiction, even Shakespeare. One is knowing operational facts of a body of government, the other is is knowing the stories and concepts of a culture and society. One is the shoes we walk in, the other is a reflection of who we are, our collective soul even.
  21. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

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    ^ ^ ^ Word to all of that, especially: Knowing the story of Spider-Man or Batman is no different than knowing of the Trojan Horse, the Odyssey, Hercules, Icarus, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet or other myth and fiction, which idea has been much on my mind of late. Since ancient times and through the early 20th century, it was considered a mark of the finest classical education to be able to quote from and converse about mythological works and epic poems. The "halcyon days of yesteryear" mindset evidently extends from the 1970s and 80s all the way back to the 4th millenium BCE. Now that modern mythology, in the form of fantasy and sci-fi movies, books and comics, have eclipsed those older stories, it's time we recognized that our myths are just as valid and legitimate as those of the ancients.
  22. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
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    I was told about a cute new reality/game show where models are asked trivia questions like "who was the first man to walk on the moon" and if they get it wrong they have to eat the 1000 calorie piece of chocolate cake instead of the carrots&celery snack. Naturally, they come up with Lance Armstrong instead of Neil Armstrong.
    That someone can be so mind-numbingly ignorant in this culture of such major events in RECENT history disgusts and disturbs me. To be honest, I was surprized that the model even got "Armstrong" right.

    This is what I mean when comparing knowledge of government as more important than knowledge of comic books. Sure, I expect comic icons to be recognized as part of pop culture the same way Hamlet was (not like Shakespeare made up the story from scratch--he just put an original spin on it with poetic speaches and meter).

    As for "back in the day", well, yes, some movies are better. Some completely, some only technically. But again, this is largely a function of volume. A shotgun fired into a croud is going to hit more people than a single bullet. How many superhero movies were made in this decade vs the 80s? 10 times as many? 30 times as many? And the current wave of writers and directors are more familiar with the material--most of them were brought up on it. Furthermore, the movie industry caters to the 15-35yo market as the largest source of disposable income. What is a primary entertainment of that market? Still comic books.
    In the 90s, one of the biggest sources of comic-book movies was a cheap studion called "Full Moon." Probablly their most successful venture was the Trancers series, their best was undoubtedly "Dragon World", but they also had "Doll-Man" and "Puppet Master" and other one-offs that were very cheezy, somewhere between superhero and horror.
    And mainstream tollerance of comic heros was very different. "Doctor Strange" from the 70s had a major backlash from the religious mid-west for being devil-worshipping and anti-christian. Now, most of that intollerance has faded.
  23. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

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    By all means, let's explore the reasons why we have an abundance of excellent genre films in the last 7 or 8 years. Some of your points, above, Koohii, are very on-target. But at the end of the day, the point remains that awesome SFF movies are there, they are cool and I am extremely happy that they're finally being done right!
  24. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

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    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Well, we have a thread for 80s fantasy, how about a list of comicbook movies?

    Here's my quick IMDB list. I know it is incomplete. I'm trying to restrict it to theatrical releases (and those deemed too horrible to be released to theaters--like 1994's Fantastic Four)

    1940-1969
    The Green Hornet (1940)
    Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941), The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (1941)
    The Bulleteers (1942)
    Batman (1943)
    Captain America (1944)
    Batman and Robin (1949)
    Superman and the Mole-Men (1951)
    The Green Hornet (1966)

    1970-1979
    The Green Hornet (1974)
    Superman (1978)

    1980-1989
    Superman II (1980)
    Superman III (1983)
    Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
    1990-1999
    Captain America (1990)
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), The Rocketeer (1991)
    Batman Returns (1992), Punisher (1992)
    The Mask (1994), The Shadow (1994), Fantastic Four (1994), The Crow (1994)
    Batman Forever (1995)
    The Phantom (1996)
    Batman & Robin (1997), Spawn (1997)
    Blade (1998)
    Avengers (1999), Mystery Men (1999)
    2000-now:
    X-Men (2000)
    Blade II (2002), Spider-Man (2002)
    Daredevil (2003), X2 (2003)
    Catwoman (2004), Blade: Trinity (2004), Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    Elektra (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), Batman Begins (2005)
    Superman Returns (2006), Fantastic Four (2006), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006),
    Ghost Rider (2007), Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), Spider-Man 3 (2007)
    The Dark Knight (2008), Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008)
    Not out yet:
    Iron Fist (2008), Punisher: War Zone (2008), Deathlok (2008)
    Teen Titans (2009), Luke Cage (2009), Silver Surfer (2009), Watchmen (2009), Superman: Man of Steel (2009), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Wonder Woman (2009), The Ghost Who Walks (2009),
    Green Lantern (2010), Sub-Mariner (2010), Harbinger (2010), The Flash (2010), The Green Hornet (2010), Ant-Man (2010)
    The First Avenger: Captain America (2011), Spider-Man 4 (2011)

    Pre 1970, 9 movies. the 70s, 2 movies. The 80s, 4 movies. The 90s, 16 movies. The 00's, 37 that we know of. the 10's, 2 that we know of so far. When you add in all the tv shows, direct to video releases, and anything else that somehow didn't make it on this list (feel free to expand by the way), the numbers get huge. Still, the reason there are more successful movies, I think, still has more to do with volume.
  25. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Wow! What a list! It looks pretty comprehensive to my eye; although there are a few movies missing here and there. There was a Superman serial in the 40s starring Kirk Alyn, which were collected into a feature-length film the way the 40s Batman serials were. There was also the Batman movie in 1967, based on the highly successful live-action TV show. And speaking of TV shows, I would tend to include those for the sake of completeness, considering how influential they were and the fact that in the 70s, instead of superhero movies, we had superhero TV shows! So:

    Superman (TV) (1954-1958)
    Batman (TV) (1966-1968)
    Wonder Woman (TV) (1976-1979)
    The Incredible Hulk (TV) (1977-1980)
    Spider-Man (TV) (1978)

    The dates are approximate, and of course this list represents only live-action stuff. There were countless animated superhero shows in the 70s and 80s, including Superfriends, several Spidey and Hulk shows, and going back a decade, the Mighty Marvel shorts of the 60s, the Bakshi Spider-Man, etc.

    From the latter-day list, you also seem to have left out Supergirl (1985), Burton's Batman (1989), and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999). I would remove the Avengers (1999) because it's based on the 60s spy show, not the superhero comic book.

    Still, to your assertion "the reason there are more successful movies... still has more to do with volume" I would add that the volume we have is the result of the factors I listed in the opening post: better special effects technologies, a trial-and-error process that has yielded understanding of what works and what doesn't, and mass audience appeal (measured in enormous box office receipts). Now that the studios have those tools at their disposal, they're able to:

    * get fantastic feats on film in a more convincing way than ever before

    * design superhero movies that are dramtically satisfying in addition to being amazing spectacles

    * and invest huge amounts of money into such projects, because they're almost guaranteed to turn a profit.

    The quantity has been overwhelming precisely because the first few contemporary forays into the medium -- Spider-Man, X-Men and to a certain extent Blade -- yielded such positive results. If those films had tanked, we would not be seeing such a flood of superhero films today, 8-10 years down the line.


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