Sunday, March 26, 2006

The 10 Best SF Films That Never Existed

Damn, so I didn't imagine that Aliens 3 teaser all those decades ago, the one that implies Giger's babies come to Earth. And I'm not the only one who wondered what happened to that film and others like it.

Ah, well, that's the state of SF film these days. The money, for a little while longer, will be in kiddie fantasy (Harry Potter And The Next Obligatory Sequel and any other literary classics Disney can exploit), but the sort of SF movies that got me excited in my long ago adolescence just don't seem to get made anymore.

There was a time when I would sit through the credit sequence of every SF flick and the names would mean something, a time when the FX creators were bigger drawcards than the actors because they were the guys who made dreams (and nightmares) come alive. Sure, stop-motion and latex models look cheesy these days, but they had a tangible quality onscreen that the glossiest CGI spaceship just doesn't: ET was really there holding that pot of geraniums; Chewbacca, the Predator, the Alien, (and even the bloody Ewoks) were real actors in costumes; the Terminator was once a real stop-motion model with real scratches and dents and scorch marks...

You might not have noticed it, but it registed in your subconscious that the alien/spaceship/artefact was real - it was really there onscreen, and it had weight and texture and presence and the actors more often than not were actually reacting to it.

They made the illusion seem real. Or real enough, anyway.

And part of the joy of watching films from that era was akin to the joy of watching a good stage magician at work: you wonder how they did that? How did that baboon play chess? How did Jason fight those skeletons? How did they make those clouds boil out of an empty sky in Close Encounters just before the Mothership appears?

Mm. Chalk this moment of nostalgia down to another episode of "Something Else Bub Will Never Experience", along with black-and-white TV, the Cold War, and life without mobile phones, the internet, and MMORPGs. I feel old.

1 comment:

azza-bazoo said...

I reckon bub will still get to experience awesome sci-fi in his time. For the moment, lots of SF filmmakers seem obsessed with the idea of filling the frame with CGI (big boy George, the Wachowskis ...) rather than actually using it to tell a story.

As things mature and audiences get sick of every pixel being fake, I reckon the bar will be raised to a point that you actually have to produce a good film, and then the effects might (again) actually mean something. Then it becomes more like watching ballet or a fire-eater: how they did it isn't a mystery, but it's still amazing that they did.