Continuing our look at Science Fiction in film through the ages, it doesn’t need to be repeated that science fiction went through its share of stinkers as well in the history of film. Some of the examples would be Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Spaced Invaders, Earth Girls are Easy, Mac and Me, Short Circuit 1 and 2. These are just a few that held science fiction back and some in the movie business looked down on these films as being a disgrace to the genre of science fiction. Don’t get me wrong they had their place and held some wholesome places in even my heart. A movie on our journey that doesn’t get enough love is Honey, I Shrunk The Kids! This film was produced by Disney and starred Rick Moranis in one of his last appearances in film for many years. This was very innovative as well. The role of computer graphics and large props in a film really showed the increase toward technology coming along quite nicely.
James Horner continued to increase his exposure to the world of fantasy, drama and science fiction. Now how is this film a science fiction? Hello! People getting shrunk to the size smaller than an average ant. Having giant scorpions chase you and having the danger of mower blades and almost getting eaten. Yes, this falls in the realm of science fiction and it proves the technology for films was ever getting better.
I have to stray for a few minutes. I’m only touching the surface on Science Fiction films. I’m not covering films like Batman, Captain America and others in this discussion. I won’t cover Super Hero films until later. Nor will I cover Fantasy films in this discussion. I just wanted you all to know that.
Moving on through the film history of science fiction, we come to our next forerunner of leaps forward. Now I could discuss Total Recall from 1989 and everyone would say, “Yeah, why don’t you?” Here is my answer. It didn’t take any leaps forward other than trying poorly to adapt Phillip K. Dick’s short story to film. Another film though that I will bring up is James Cameron’s sequel in 1991 of Terminator II Judgement Day. This film leaped foward once again, giving us a fully computer generated character that could shapeshift from liquid metal and form into a person or anyone. This blew people’s minds. James Cameron still is a leader in pushing the envelope for computer effects and making films ahead of their time.
So just examining many of these films shows us the technology gets better and better at bringing out our favorite science fiction films from the past and present.
Even though this next film doesn’t really push too many boundaries, I love it for the fact that it’s the same director from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (previously not mentioned but still essential to science fiction). Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was brilliant in discussing peace and being betrayed by the very people who wanted to be saved from their dying planet. There is adventure, betrayal, prison escapes, shape shifters and mind melds. Star Trek represents the best of what science fiction can be, even though the original crew had not been present through television screens, Star Trek: The Next Generation brought that love of amazing story telling and bringing new stories to our hearts and minds. Star Trek VI gives us so much heart and soul for the world of science fiction. I feel like it is essential for viewing.
The next film I want to discuss began as a novel, lone and no sequel. Written by Michael Crichton and the film was directed by Steven Speilberg. The film music was composed by John Williams. Have you guessed it? Yes, it is. Jurassic Park from 1993 was leaps and bounds ahead of many of the films that existed for that day. Not only was the technology there to make it seem like the dinosaurs were actually in that space, but it had several practical effects with animatronic dinosaurs that were highly sophisticated, enough to make it seem like the dinosaurs were real enough. This film, with it’s bold presentation showed science fiction that things could be very dark and still amazing and cool. The dabbling with genetics, frogs, and manipulation changed the face of the world with that one film. Speilberg probably didn’t realize that it would become a six movie franchise. Yes, I said six movies. There is still one more Jurassic World movie coming to us.
This taught us to fear dinosaurs as well as sneaky fat men who want to smuggle out dinosaurs in a shaving cream jar. So this movie is another essential for science fiction film viewing fans. YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! Alright, I’ve ranted enough about how good this film is and how amazing the effects are. Let’s move on.
The last film we will discuss on this part is another film that pushed some boundaries and opened up the world to more of it’s science fiction goodness. Stargate came out with James Spader and Kurt Russel. This film examined the ancient languages of Egypt and brought it across several million miles to a planet where certain aliens were worshipped as gods simply because they claimed to be. They harvested humans, they entrapped people into being slaves. This is your basic man verses supposed god story from some classic science fiction literature. This built upon the world to where there were three spin-off television series: Stargate SG-1; Stargate Atlantis; and Stargate Universe. Oh wait…There is more. Stargate Origins has begun its run on Amazon prime now. The movie pushed the limits of the time for spaceship travel, aliens, and giving us some exotic locations to bring this story to life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this examination today of more history into science fiction in film. Come back tomorrow when I bring you part VIII! Until then Happy Listening!