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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old April 28 2010, 09:51 PM   #1
RobertScorpio
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Anymore ideas?

My friend contends that the last scifi movie that actually was 'new', in terms of its ideas, was 2001. Meaning, that anything after that point had already been done, to some degree, in past scifi movies or tv. What do you think? What do you think was scif's last inovation in terms of story, not effects?

Rob
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Old April 28 2010, 10:31 PM   #2
Gaith
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Re: Anymore ideas?

I'm not aware of any precedents for Back to the Future II's doubling of characters, especially not in classic sf/f literature, though I'm sure some forgotten paperback probably used it at some point.
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Old April 29 2010, 12:10 AM   #3
Silvercrest
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Re: Anymore ideas?

How about "By His Bootstraps" and '"--All You Zombies--"'?
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Old April 29 2010, 12:20 AM   #4
xortex
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Re: Anymore ideas?

The Matrix was an interesting can of worms.
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Old April 29 2010, 12:49 AM   #5
ebusinesstutor
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Re: Anymore ideas?

The Matrix was fairly unusual.

Wall-E I thought was unique.

How about Idiocracy? Dumbing down of society to the point where water is just something in a toilet, not something people drink and they can't figure out why plants are flourishing on the future "gatorade" type drink.

And the Incredibles. Super heros forced to retire because of insurance liability concerns.
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Old April 29 2010, 01:01 AM   #6
Joel_Kirk
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Re: Anymore ideas?

Looking at Star Wars 'now' we can say Lucas took from early sci-fi (and even some current sci-fi), but back in 77, it was something new....especially to this poster.
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Old April 29 2010, 01:18 AM   #7
RobertScorpio
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Re: Anymore ideas?

ebusinesstutor wrote: View Post
The Matrix was fairly unusual.

Wall-E I thought was unique.

How about Idiocracy? Dumbing down of society to the point where water is just something in a toilet, not something people drink and they can't figure out why plants are flourishing on the future "gatorade" type drink.

And the Incredibles. Super heros forced to retire because of insurance liability concerns.
I thought Dark City was pretty interesting too...and had never been done (came out before matrix)

Rob
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Old April 29 2010, 02:13 AM   #8
Rii
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Re: Anymore ideas?

Films are unlikely to break new conceptual ground on account of the fact that literature is cheaper to produce and not run by committee.
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Old April 29 2010, 02:39 AM   #9
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Anymore ideas?

ebusinesstutor wrote: View Post
The Matrix was fairly unusual.

The Matrix
was a compendium of cliches. It's the last movie I would point to as original. Its most unique quality was the volume of cliches they managed to cram into two hours.

Wall-E I thought was unique.
A love story + environmental message? Hardly unique.
Looking at Star Wars 'now' we can say Lucas took from early sci-fi (and even some current sci-fi), but back in 77, it was something new....especially to this poster.
Even Lucas wouldn't claim that Star Wars is unique. Like The Matrix, it succeeds because of the number of popular tropes it draws upon: Star Trek, Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers, WWII films, Westerns, 50s-60s California car culture, Arthurian legend, Lord of the Rings. I'm sure leaving something out, but my fingers are tired. Oh yeah, that's right: Marvel comics. Darth Vader is an obvious steal from Doctor Doom which was a steal from The Man in the Iron Mask. Vader also had a family structure suspiciously similar to Magneto...

This debate all depends on how you define a movie. If you want to get detailed and claim that The Incredibles was about insurance instead of, say, "troubled family bonds under adversity," then everything is unique. Movies rarely copy other stories down to the fine details - even remakes don't do that.
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Old April 29 2010, 03:00 AM   #10
caisson2delta
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Re: Anymore ideas?

This is a difficult question to answer. Has there truly been anything unique since the very first scifi story was put down on paper? I would say that the vast majority of material, since that time, has drawn inspiration from each other at some point. If I had to pick though, I would probably opt for the movie Contact. It was definitely something unique when it came out.
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Old April 29 2010, 05:11 AM   #11
sojourner
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Re: Anymore ideas?

Close Encounters and Terminator I think are both fairly unique for their time. Every movie/story has influences from prior works to some degree though.
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Old April 29 2010, 05:27 AM   #12
StarshipDefiant
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Re: Anymore ideas?

Quantum Leap, maybe? Wherein the time traveler (for the most part) only seems to be able to travel within his own life time (although I think he went further back then that?) and not with his own body?
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Old April 29 2010, 06:32 AM   #13
Myasishchev
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Re: Anymore ideas?

ebusinesstutor wrote: View Post
The Matrix was fairly unusual.
Unusual, but I dunno about new. New to film, maybe, but virtual reality worlds is old as computers in science fiction.

Wall-E I thought was unique.
Unique in its celebration of authoritarian decision-making in a children's film, but built on what may be the oldest tropes in the book. The theme of a ruined Earth and a subsequent interstellar exodus has been explored in countless fictions, and I can trace the film's central notion, that the twin advances of technology and automation are a great moral danger to humanity, to at least as far back as The Machine Stops (1909). Indeed, even the visual aspect of the fat Americans of the future was excessively similar to "Blobs!", the Harvey Kurtzman/Wally Wood comic adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic.

It's a marginal opinion, but as far as I'm concerned Wall-E was a tremendously unoriginal film, with an extremely questionable and undemocratic bent to its moral.

How about Idiocracy? Dumbing down of society to the point where water is just something in a toilet, not something people drink and they can't figure out why plants are flourishing on the future "gatorade" type drink.
Sort of like Planet of the Apes, but I'll give it credit for being a very original take on the future (if obviously a crock, sociobiologically speaking) and a good, allegorical cautionary tale, as well as a great comedy.

And the Incredibles. Super heros forced to retire because of insurance liability concerns.
Very similar to the premise of Watchmen (forced to retire because of social backlash against vigilitanism), although I think it was probably new there.

As for 2001, it probably wasn't new (its techniques were new, to be sure!), but I suspect there had been stories of apotheosis-via-alien before, although I might be wrong.

And Dark City--I'm sure that Dark City wasn't the first time the "world" turned out to be an alien spaceship or some other camouflaged environment, for the benefit of human prisoners or zoo exhibits.

I can't think of any film sci-fi off the top of my head with any really new ideas.

Edit: Clearly, I wasn't thinking hard enough! The Truman Show, Gattaca, and Simone--Andrew Niccol's works, although suffering from a slight to severe disconnect from how the real world actually works (corporations adopting a child to basically raise him as a slave in Truman, pointless anti-qualified-normal bigotry in Gattaca, Frasier-esque comedy of errors in Simone) have usually been extremely original and thought-provoking, and reflective if not exhaustively descriptive of social trends. Dude's probably the smartest, best science fiction writer in film history. Okay, it's not an especially high bar...

I wonder if Vonnegut's Player Piano was the first work to anticipate the economic dislocations that would occur after complete automation in a capitalist society? Probably not, although it's the first example I can point to. Here's a contender, though--Stranger in a Strange Land might be the first work to have an alien messiah come down and tell us what we need is to fuck more often and more generally.

(Apropos of nothing, does that book have a completely worthless last fifty to a hundred pages or what? They have the feel of an inferior sequel instead of an integral part of the narrative. I understand I have the restored version, and I wonder where the original publishers' edit ended--there is a pitch-perfect note to end on well before the book actually terminates, where Michael discovers why we laugh. Everything past that is unnecessary, occupied primarily with the mundane, boring details of Michael building his religion. He's Space Jesus, I get it, Robert. Indeed, this has effects beyond the immediate book--the awkward, pointless last eighth of Stranger has kept me from continuing to read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress past the part where the Loonies actually win. I'm not sure I want to spend time with the mundane, boring details of building Space Libertarianism.)
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Old April 29 2010, 02:18 PM   #14
RobertScorpio
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Re: Anymore ideas?

sojourner wrote: View Post
Close Encounters and Terminator I think are both fairly unique for their time. Every movie/story has influences from prior works to some degree though.
I like the selection of Close Encounters...Terminator 1 I'm not so sure. I think I saw an older movie that was about something like that..cant remember...

I think Close Encounters really made that 'alien from space' genre very believeable.

Rob
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Old April 29 2010, 03:07 PM   #15
Asbo Zaprudder
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Re: Anymore ideas?

Slaughterhouse Five (1972)
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