Sci-fi without the chases?

arts and entertainment

Okay, let me lose a bunch of my readers quickly and cleanly:

I thought The Matrix was a lousy movie. All flash and little substance, and the little substance present was indelibly marred by plot holes and inconsistencies larger than what you’d find a giant’s mound of swiss cheese.

What really bothered me, though, was the mix of (crappy) sci-fi + frenetic action. Channeling Reeses: “You put sci-fi in my action!” “You put action in my sci-fi!” Some would think it’s all good. Me, though… I find it wholly unsatisfying.

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Yesterday, I watched Minority Report. While considerably better than The Matrix, IMHO, it still was — in the end — at least a mildly frustrating experience for me. Why must sci-fi ALWAYS be combined with chases and guns and stopwatches such? Isn’t there even a fraction of the moviegoing public who will sit for two hours to watch a film that’s more thoughtful and challenging than explosive and urgent?

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I grew up reading almost every Asimov book and short story I could get my hands on. Arthur C. Clarke, too (and not just 2001). I savored the complex questions, scientific and ethical dilemmas raised, and now yearn for films that run towards these issues head-on instead of masking or avoiding them in long chase sequences.

As you can imagine, I’ve refused to see the insulting blasphemy that is I, Robot. Will Smith. Blech. Fine for Independence Day (because with that film, I went in for the action and came out entertained and happy), but for a film adapted from an Asimov book? Puleeaze.

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Anyone else agree with me? Know of any sci-fi films that I should definitely check out?

4 comments… add one
  • J. Jun 15, 2005

    How about Gattaca?

  • Adam Jun 15, 2005

    Hmm… Gattaca… it’s been a while.  I remember being intrigued by somewhat dissatisfied, again, due to the significant plot holes and oddities.

    For instance, why would someone off the guy in such a brutal, bloody way?  Why not something more subtle, befitting the more advanced society?

    And the film was so utterly joyless.  Okay, I guess I’m really picky.  Can’t there be a sci-fi film that’s thoughtful AND joyful?

  • Matt Hendrickson Jun 21, 2005

    How about “The Andromeda Strain?” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still?”

  • davis Jul 28, 2005

    hi, I just randomly found your blog.

    if you want a thoughtful sci-fi movie without chases, check out “Code 46”… came out a few years ago, stars Tim Robbins and Samathan Morton (who was one of the precogs, Agatha, from “Minority Report”).  Very interesting take on the future.

What do you think?