Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One of My Pet Peeves in Science-Fiction

I was watching the movie After Earth the other night. It was released last year to a savaging by the critics, so I did not expect much. For those of you who missed it, After Earth is a Will Smith production vehicle for his son. It is set in the future where aliens have devastated Earth, and humanity has fled to the rest of the galaxy.

General Will Smith and his recruit son are on a ship that just happens to be carrying a captured alien. It could not possibly escape, could it? The alien is a large reptile like creature, that is blind and relies on its sense of smell to hunt its prey. It can smell and track the pheromones humans release when they are scared. Right there and then, I knew the whole plot of the movie was going to be about Will Smith Junior overcoming his fear so he could get close enough to kill the alien. Pretty lame. 

The ship is caught in a meteor storm. General Smith orders the ship to make a risky space jump and guess where they end up? Crash landing on Earth of course. An injured General Smith and his recruit son then have to survive the hostile planet and the alien.

But why did Will Smith Junior have to get close to the alien? Why didn’t he just do an Indiana Jones and keep his distance while shooting the alien with a blaster? Because the soldiers didn’t seem to have any blasters, all they had were collapsible staffs with blades on each end. So that was the best weapon humans with otherwise advanced technology could come up with? No wonder Earth was devastated: humans were bloody morons.

Couldn’t Junior just have lost his weapon in the crash?

So one my pet peeves in science-fiction involves advanced races using totally un-advanced weapons to fight with. I particularly loath the plethora of instantly dismissed or forgotten science-fiction were the only weapons are swords, and martial arts experts prevail. Swords and bows and arrows are okay in a post-apocalyptic world were all the technology has been destroyed, like the world in which the Revolution television series is set. Thankfully, there are no martial arts experts in that series, yet.

 And martial arts experts are okay in computer generated worlds, like in The Matrix, because that world, and therefore their martial arts abilities, were computer generated. Otherwise, no karate-chopping-sword-wielder would stand a chance against Firefly’s Jayne Cobb, let alone a Terminator.

So please, if you write science-fiction that has battles and fighting, have the weapons match the surrounding technology.

The really sad thing about After Earth was it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who made the Sixth Sense and the very good Signs. The Happening wasn’t bad either. Will Smith probably paid him a mountain of money to direct his son.      


Anthony J. Langford said...

Yes I've seen this movie and didn't hate it - these terrible reviewed films are often not that bad - I think rival companies pay people to create bad word of mouth - and no doubt certain reviewers.

However cant remember much about it, so in a short time, that's not good. Will smith is probably a despot by now. And M. Night, well, yes, he has made some good films but quite a few stinkers now.
As for Firefly, what a wasted opportunity. Hollywood - full of dumb asses.

Graham Clements said...

After Earth was not woeful, but it wasn't that good either.

Firefly is about to make a comeback. Netflix is going to make a new series of it.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Surely not the old crew?

Also heard rumours about a new Farscape series...

Graham Clements said...

Sorry, turns out it was an April fools joke, which I had not checked out properly. Usually do, before posting, but Murphy's Law says....