I am annoyed with sci-fi film plots that border on the ludicrous; and there are several genres and sub-genres masquerading as each other. Science fiction utilizes science as it foundation, while bringing to life such possibilities (and realities) as robots (‘I, Robot’), genetic mutations (‘X-Men’ and ‘The Fly’), and re-animation (‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Jurassic Park’). Sure, it has been postulated by our most brilliant scientific minds in history that there is more than a remote chance (read: plausible) of extra-terrestrial life within our universe. When Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was launched, sending out a continuous blast of signals into the vastness of outer space, we may receive a message one day – eventually, or until funds get restored.
I liked the work of M. Night Shyamalan (of ‘Sixth Sense’ fame), until it deteriorated in plot into the alien genre. ‘Signs’ was a sign of a depleted story bank account. He could have stop at water-fairies, invincible humans and xenophobia, but no – he had to introduce aliens! Yet, this film was his career salve at $400 million in worldwide box-office receipts.
And he had to introduce aliens!
If a film revolved around aliens as the main character or theme, I would be fine with it. However, we know the producers, director and screenwriter are pushing it (and punishing us) when they have to introduce aliens into the story. So, most of us sci-fi heads welcomed films like ‘ET – The Extra-Terrestrial’, ‘Alien’, ‘Alien versus Predator’, ‘Super-8’, ‘Men In Black’, ‘The Andromeda Strain’, ‘Cocoon’, ‘Transformers’ and ‘War of The Worlds’. On television, we had ‘V’, ‘Falling Skies’ and ‘Alien Nation’.
In the recent blockbuster ‘Battleship’, we knew we had no fleeting chance of gunning the aliens down, because they had far more superior weaponry and protection systems. Yet, we prevailed as President Morgan Freeman announced. In ‘Battle: Los Angeles’, a small military unit surprises the aliens with its combat effectiveness; not after the ETs thrashed the City of Angels and did a massive population audit. Small but deadly is the name of the comeback kid. You need not operate in large numbers to kick butt with aliens.
In these films, the aliens wanted resources such as water (Battle: LA) or were killed by it (‘Signs’). These enemies were interested in pilfering and pillaging Earth, and eventually dominate it. In most of these films, humans triumphed not because we were smarter (although we’d like to think it) but because we sought salvation through earthly elements that annihilated these creatures, or bored them to death. In Signs, it was water that did ET in. In others, it could be the common cold virus. In ‘Independence Day’, we hacked them to death with a computer virus. Seriously! Since when did we write the black-hat code for ET’s mainframe computers?
You cannot beat aliens and ghosts (‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Ghost’ were very good films). What will they think of next? Ghostly aliens, or alien ghosts?
And they had to introduce aliens! Please give us back ‘ALF’, ‘Mork & Mindy’ and the ‘X-Files!’