Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Sci-Fi Silliness

I avoid science fiction movies, but I’ve come to believe that actors in science fiction movies must be really good. They somehow manage to keep a straight face when enduring improbable plots, enormous bugs and some of the most stupid scripts even written.

real-godzilla-0514-deEven though I’m not the intended demographic, I see lots of trailers for sci-fi thrillers, such as the one now playing for “Jupiter Ascending.” This not-yet-released epic, according to one preview, involves “a young destitute human woman in the future who gets targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe and begins her destiny to finish the Queen’s reign.”

This premise is so far-fetched that I wouldn’t suggest it as a backyard play plot for my grandchildren who love imaginary games. Yet the actors, who include Golden Globe winner Eddie Redmayne, somehow manage to power through without laughing out loud. That takes a lot of talent.

It’s incredible to me that people pay money to see stuff like this. But 2014 appeared to be a box office bonanza for out-of-this-world, off-the-wall features such as “Divergent,” “Predestination” and “Maze Runner.”

Like a night out in Vegas, even actors with the reputation of Meryl Streep appear in sci-fi movies, as she did last year in “Given,” the story of a boy who lives in a near-perfect community without war or suffering, but is chosen to learn from an elderly man about pain and reality. Ooooh, I bet there is some deep meaning in this footage.

Then there is “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” a sort of prequel to the earlier movie starring Charlton Heston that tells how a pandemic has wiped out most of humanity and left the apes in charge. Apparently including in charge of the film studios.

TRANSCENDENCEJohnny Depp took his turn in the sci-fi barrel with “Transcendence,” which centers on a scientist who uploads his consciousness to a computer. Whatever happens to him served this twit right.

Another throwback thriller was last year’s remake of “Godzilla.” Somehow Bryan Cranston stumbled into this movie lot as the world’s most famous lizard does battle with a menagerie of bad-ass creatures and arrogant humans. Surely, the next iteration of Godzilla will be a Broadway musical.

Antonio Banderas, apparently banned by the Actors Guild from making more Zorro flicks, showed up in “Automata,” which involves an insurance investigator getting more than he bargains for from a bunch of renegade robots. Naturally, the future of the human race is at stake.

Before his career-reviving role in “Birdman,” Michael Keaton was in a redo of “RoboCop” that features a money-hungry conglomerate – aptly named OmniCorp – that spots a likely suspect to become part-man, part-robot on the beat in 2028 Detroit. I’ve been to Detroit and this is a place that could use a cop like this now.

The lone movie in this genre that I watched is “Mr Peabody & Sherman.” First off, why is this movie in this category? It is a cartoon and meant to be silly, with voice talents like comedians Stephen Colbert and Ty Burrell. It is scary that people think this is science fiction.

neutrinos_have_mutated_purp_tshirt-p235029659577373954tdh0_325If all sci-fi movies tried to be funny, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Instead, most of them try to be serious with increasingly outrageous premises. Like “Extraterrestrial,” where a group of friends on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods is terrorized by intergalactic aliens.

They travel light years in space and terrorize a cabin in the woods? Give me a break. If they travelled that far, the aliens should at least terrorize Toys ‘R Us so they have something to take back home for the kids.

I am amazed at how many pay money to watch movies like this. I’m even more amazed that people get paid to dream up this stuff.

I would pay money to see outtakes from sci-fi movies. It would be great to see the actors burst out laughing after uttering lines like, “The neutrinos are mutating.”



2 comments on “Sci-Fi Silliness

  1. Sophia
    January 21, 2015

    Interesting opinion, and while I do think sci-fi scripts are often silly and far-fetched, sci fi movies are the only ones that hold these traits. Many mainstream movies (comedies, romances, thrillers) hold incredibly far-fetched plots. These movies would not continue to be made if they weren’t successful. The bottom line is, a lot of people like silly and far-fetched plots. As a PR professional, one should ask themselves what it is about these movies that makes them appealing? People enjoy being pulled away from reality, and secluded in a world that is unimaginable. It is meant for pure entertainment, and for entertainment purposes, often believable and practical story lines are pushed aside. Sci-fi movies are not meant to be taken seriously or realistically analyzed, but meant to be two hours of enjoyment while being immersed in a different world.

    • Gary Conkling
      January 21, 2015

      Glad you agree with my premise that sic-fi scripts “are often silly and far-fetched.” Yes, other movies, especially comedies and documentaries about the GOP, can also have plots, scripts and verbatim that seem outrageous, over the top and unbelievable. But most comedies and GOP documentaries don’t feature giant lizards, creepy bugs and people in spandex pretending to be aliens. I don’t judge people for paying money to see sci-fi flicks. It is money better spent than buying soda – the movie is a stupid distraction for a couple of hours; the soda is a stomach-turning, life-numbing, heaath-threatening experience. You are wise not to take sci-fi movies seriously and enjoy them, as best you can, for a short time. As you mature, you will discover real life is much weirder. When you leave the theater, you have the sinking feeling that the same disaster could afflict you – without effecting uploading your consciousness to a computer or living multiple lives on Instagram.

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