Most sci-fi out there sucks, regardless of the medium. The main characters have stupid names like “Dirk Steelhammer”, and the plots are either ruined because they require you to have read the “Quantum Mechanics of Star Trek” book the author ripped his science from, or because they’re painfully formulaic – usually involving stock characters like an emotionless, lone-ranger-type main character and a beautiful and scientifically-minded woman with a tough-as-nails exterior that hides her desire for love. This is why I don’t read much sci-fi or watch many sci-fi movies, even though sci-fi is probably my favorite genre.
But, this year my sci-fi intake is going to spike dramatically because there seems to be a rise in the number of talented story tellers who care about the human condition, and who are interested in making sci-fi movies that have not only brains to them, but hearts as well. Big, bleeding hearts.
So here are previews for two, really interesting-looking, soon-to-be-released “soft sci-fi” movies (that is, sci-fi movies that focus more on the ‘fi’ than the ‘sci’).
The first is from a guy who might be my new favorite director – Lars von Trier. He’s the guy responsible for Antichrist, which caused such a ruckus at Cannes last year. I thought that movie was really excellent (certainly one of the most affective movies I’ve seen). He also did Dancer in the Dark, which is a sledgehammer-to-the-chest of a film if there ever was one (it also won the Palm D’or, which is sort of the yearly “Best Movie In The World” award). In fact, he’s known for making movies that seem to aim (though not, I think, in a contrived way) at devastating the viewer. And, at the debut of the film below, he simply said that, from here out, his films would have “no more happy endings”.
This next film seems a bit more hopeful, though still heavy. I don’t know anything about the director or anyone else associated with the film.
The plot seems to depend on this idea popular among some cosmologists that, since the universe is infinitely large (which it actually isn’t), and contains an infinite amount of matter (which it actually doesn’t), every possible combination of matter will occur an infinite number of times. Thus, there are an infinite number of planets just like this one, with people on them with the same names and appearance, and who make the same choices, as this one – as well as an infinite number of planets exactly like this one with very minute to very large differences in the choices, names, looks, etc. of their inhabitants. I only say all that to give you some background on what looks like an important idea to the film. But the fact that that idea is just plain wrong (for reasons to do with the pure mathematics of the theory) shouldn’t affect our judgement of the film, I think, even though it’s sure to create some discussion on the science it relies on.
But I’ll shut up. Here’s Another Earth: