That’s right, you’ll get 3 science fiction movie reviews on this post! You’ll get something old, something new, something young, and something to do. These are movies that have been recently been on my mind, or on my screen, and I think they all deserve some commentary.
1. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
I watched this on TV a few weeks ago, and I was thinking about the actual plausibility of shrink technology. In the film, shrinking is marketed for storage and trucking purposes. The principle of the machine works on the fact that atoms are mostly composed of empty space, so the shrinking proportionally reduces the size of all the atoms and molecules.
The first problem with this is that shrunk objects have the same mass, and should weigh the same. It would cost just as much in gasoline moving furniture for a moving company for example, they would just have more space. But also, the children would probably not even be able to stand, or walk, or else they would have super strength (lets go with that).
The second problem is that I don’t think an organism which shrinks by this process could breathe. The metabolism of oxygen, as with all metabolic and proteomic understanding, are heavily dependent on shape. They are special lock-and-key structures, custom tailored for certain activity. By reducing the size of the children’s bodies, their proteins would no longer function (breathing would become like trying to put shoes in a matchbox).
The third problem is how would such proportional shrinkage be technically possible. We don’t fully understand the particles and energies which compose atoms, so any attempt to modify their physical state would probably involve a severe alteration of physical laws, not to mention reality shattering amounts of energy.
The movie itself was a smash hit when it came out, with an amazing set and special effects. It also had an engaging, family friendly plot. The epic scale and incredible suspension of belief have immortalized this film among the great scifi.
2. Equilibrium (2002)
This movie is considered by many to be essentially a matrix-ified version of The Giver. Particularly considering the protagonist is played by Keanu Reeves. It follows the same plot premise as The Giver: a global communist society whose citizens are deprived of all emotion. While this movie certainly had a more thriller/action/scifi emphasis than The Giver, it really isn’t a bad movie. I would actually dare to say it is a great movie.
The clerics, as they’re called, posses amazing gunfighting skills, which they have perfected as a geometric science and combined with martial arts (sounds cheesy, but looks amazing). It’s the cleric’s job to kill anyone who ceases their dose of emotion inhibiting serum.
The movie is emotionally charged, which is why I think it rises to a level of art. It viscerally presents beauty and horror, comparatively. This suggests we are only ethical if we have the emotional ability to react to unethical behavior. I am forced to ask whether this is true.
The society contained within itself operates perfectly, everyone unanimously submits to authority, and sees no problem with the world they live in. It is only the audience and the underground rebels which have a problem with society. The society argues that emotion itself is the source of hate, war, and evil; while those who can feel see the government as evil. Perhaps this merely becomes a clash of cultural relativism.
But in the movie the people do not always appear to be completely emotionless. They exhibit real anger, frustration, love, and shame. The only difference is that they can’t understand it or put it into words. If they were truly emotionless, the characters would have taken on a bland quality of indifference (better grasped in the Giver, but a little less gripping). The ability of emotion is loaded with the seeds of both suffering and joy, and the people who discover it gladly lay down their lives for art, and music, and poetry. Emotion is a reference point of subjectivity that makes life worth living.
3. Prometheus (2012)
I took a chance on a day off, desperate to find some mode of relaxation where my brain could turn off. I decided to go see the movie Prometheus in theaters. I am torn apart, because there were so many things it got right, and I still feel there was something wrong.
Form and art in the movie were exceptional, hailing back to the original Alien, and it’s artistic inspiration, HR Giger. The idea of biological technology resurfaces in a beautiful fashion, with stunning imagination. The film reattatches to the horror genre, and the serious tone of the original movie.
The allusion to Prometheus is still unclear to me. Prometheus was a Greek god who stole fire and gave it to humans, which purportedly developed into all of our technology. But Prometheus was punished by having his guts fed to a vulture and grow back continuously. This collides with Panspermia theory, that life on earth was created by extraterrestrial intelligence.
The protagonist, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, believes that finding these Creators or Engineers will provide answers to who the Supreme Creator is. But the team eventually discovers that the Engineers are not hospitable. They have designed this planet for producing biological warfare. And from here Shaw feels that she deserves to know why they want to destroy the humanity they created (which will not be answered until the sequel to this prequel).
I would say the film has a blatant taste of theological absurdity (a heavy atheist slant), though other people adamantly disagree with me. I feel it ended empty of character, plot, or purpose. Contrariwise, I admire it for its ability to invoke discussion, and its boldness in paving new ground for film to discuss these kinds of questions.
Honorable mentions should be given to the design team and the actors, who did phenomenal work. I could talk a lot more about this movie, but I’ll look to see if I get any comments for this post.
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