by Rick Mazumdar
Well, we as a generation are quite familiar with the genre of film. It is a potential box office money maker. Every year a new Science Fiction/Space film comes out and "blows everyone's minds".
But what is this genre that appeals to so many of us?
Is it one about exploration?
Is it about discovering new worlds?
Is it about finding a world where humans can find a new home ?
Or is it about blowing some muthafuckin' alien brains out?
From an early age I was always intrigued about space, about space travel and one day conquering the vast unknown (yes, big dreams).
But what is it about space that manages to intrigue us and how do big production houses capitalize upon this need?
In this article we will talk about a select few films and try to establish what I'm what I'm trying to say. Let's just go into a little detail.
Science fiction films appeared very early in the silent film era. The initial attempts were short films of typically one to two minutes in duration, shot in black and white, but sometimes with colour tinting. These usually had a technological theme, and were often intended to be humorous. "Le Voyage dans la Lune", created by Georges Méliès in 1902 is often considered to be the first science fiction film. It drew upon Jules Verne and H. G. Wells in its depiction of a spacecraft being launched to the moon in a large cannon. Its ground-breaking special effects pioneered the way for future science-fiction films, and it became largely popular after its release.
Le Voyage dans La Lune, " A trip to the Moon" , George Millies
Arguably one of the first space/science fiction films that dealt with exploration and discovering vast new worlds in the cosmos, this film showed a great amount of creativity in terms of filming. Due to the absence of present day special effects and advanced technology, Méliès had to use a lot of his ingenuity in trying to build a set and trying to create effects that would capture the imagination of people.
This one film was the birth of the space film age, and created an industry for itself, inspiring many others to follow suit.
Most of the films of this age were based on novellas by H.G Wells and Jules Verne who wrote wonderful pieces that questioned man's reason for existence in this vast universe. It challenged the imagination of mankind to go much farther than he had ever imagined.
The late '30's and '40's saw the coming of many a television show like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon which furthered the interest of man to travel the vast expanses of space. These shows were very light and meant primarily for children but what it did was it created an interest about space travel.
It was at this time that production houses saw a keen interest in this genre of film and started to invest in films of this nature, thereby fostering the interest of people. Another factor to consider here was that just a few decades later, the space age would start creating a boom in the interests of space travel.
The Cold War would initiate the Russian and American programs to hasten the speed of missions and their respective governments would compete to be the first to send people into the cosmos, and a lot of propaganda films would be made to create support for these missions.
The films of this age were mostly about Alien Life from foreign planets visiting the Earth and trying to capture it. These films were low budget and were very good at bringing in crowds by the scores.
But soon people started making more serious and intellectually appealing space films like "The Forbidden Planet" and "2001: A Space Odyssey".
Surely this film needs no introduction, a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick.
The screenplay, written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, was partially inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel". Clarke concurrently wrote the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, published soon after the film was released. The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution.
So we've seen how films were made in order to create the desired effect of wonderment and awe upon viewing the cosmos. Which is probably the key selling point about these films. Feeding the audience with the hope that some of them might travel into space or fun films that you can take your kids to watch, with aliens and the beauty of space.
I will now talk about how the present scenario of space films is, taking into consideration 3 films:
1. Gravity (2012)
2. Interstellar (2014)
3. The Martian (2015)
Well, we're very familiar with all these three films since they're really popular and they've been released not too long ago, and they've received a lot of acclaim.
Well, I prefer my space to be more the travel, the uniqueness and to be fun, and although I appreciate serious films of this genre like that of Space Odyssey or Solaris, I would much prefer my space films to be more positive about space travel, to inspire people and not create a deep seated fear or hatred for Space Travel. I will use the above mentioned films to try and explain my opinion.
I was extremely excited when this film came out, I remember booking in advance for this film and being let down. In my opinion they should have renamed this film "All the things that can go wrong in space and why you should never go there: starring Sandra Bullock and the guy from the Bat Nips movie."
Don't get me wrong, it's very well directed and the script is pretty tight and Sandra Bullock is pretty good in it, but it sort of feels like Final Destination in space, featuring that guy from the bat nips movie. Once Sandra Bullock gets into the Soyuz, one thing leads to another and things start to go horribly wrong. Though Sandra Bullock manages to reach Earth safely and lands in the water, it sort of feels like she's going to drown or her parachute is going to wrap around her neck and choke the life out of her. A very positive movie (I feel my sarcasm is well directed, I think).
But what it managed to do was show the exquisiteness of space and then not go into too much jargon while still engaging the audience to a large extent. In popular opinion, this is a film about survival in difficult circumstances, but for me it sends the wrong message about space travel, notwithstanding the fact that Space Travel is in fact an extremely ambitious endeavor, but it still sends the wrong message.
Interstellar: Or the most wannabe space film that I've had the displeasure of viewing.
Interstellar was built up like the greatest science fiction film of all time, "The Space Odyssey of 2014" some said. For me it was a steaming pile of flatulence that came out of the anus of a horse suffering from diarrhoea.
Never have I seen such mediocrity. The entire film passed by me and created no effect that either moved me or caused me to wait a second longer in the theater. And to think I paid for Gold Class for this film. If the entire point of the film was to blow the audience away with jargon then Chris Nolan could ask his brother John to give video lectures on Coursera.
For me there was simply too much useless information that the audience had to suffer through needlessly, they should rename this film "Space 101, with that guy who stopped making good films after the 2nd Batman movie" . The melodramatic scenes were too much to handle for me, the bull crap that passed for dialogue, and needless venturing into worlds with the speed of bullet without even taking a second to show the planet in all its glory. Scratch that, it didn't even take a second to show the beauty of the universe.
The script wasn't even original in my opinion, if any of you have read the Space Odyssey series you would pick up on this. In the film we see Cooper going into Gargantua and the singularity and coming out alive, 150 years old on the planet Saturn. This is roughly from the 3rd Odyssey book, and Cooper's character is a direct ripoff of Frank Poole.
I mean you get your original parts completely from a book, then you can't think of an ending, so all you do is change the name of all the elements taken from the book and make it slightly different so the audience can't tell the difference? How stupid do you think we are?
The soundtrack was good though.
Don't worry, I actually liked this film a lot.
The Martian released this year, it surprised me, I thought it was going to be another sappy tale of a hero, sad and alone stuck on a foreign world.
What The Martian did correct was that it was a lot more positive in its outlook, this in my opinion showed the true spirit of a hero in a difficult and unbearable situation, if you were to make a survivors tale make this movie.
The Science used in this film was very well explained, credits to NASA.
The information at no point seemed like useless jargon, the dialogue was true and had a very lasting effect, though comical at times it was also quite believable, and the humour was well placed.
The soundtrack in my opinion was the best part about 70's Rock and Roll and Disco music. If you're a fan of David Bowie you're going to love the soundtrack of this film.
This film is sort of the formula for Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy mashed up.
It also managed to explain the science in a way everyone could understand, (My Man Donald Glover did a good job, All hail Troy!)
And boy did it show the vast terrain of Mars, the rock formations and also managed to show enough of Space to make me go GAGA.
So you might be thinking now that "This guy started explaining the genre of Space films then went on to thrash our favorite films, why the fuck did he do that?"
Well I did it so that you could actually point to the difference in how space films were made back in the day, and how it's so much different now with advanced technology, better CGI and all those new fangled things, but is that all that makes up a good Space film?
A film needs to have heart and a lot of effort needs to got to into it to make it beautiful.
Science fiction is the Genre in my opinion and the Space Films are the absolute so I take to heart if a Space film is not made well.
I do like the Space Ships in these current movies though.