Sunday, January 07, 2007


Via SFSignal: Mike Resnick has a post about why it's no fun seeing sci-fi movies with him. Basically, he rants about a whole bunch of SF movies he didn't care for, singling out various plot points. I haven't seen a number of the movies he critiques, but he does take after Star Wars and ET, so I should respond to those.

:: Resnick on Star Wars:

First, has no one except me noticed that it's not pro-democracy but pro-royalty? I mean, all this fighting to depose the Emperor isn't done to give the man on the street (or the planet) a vote; it's to put Princess Leia on the throne and let her rule the galaxy instead of him, which is an improvement only in matter of degree.

You know, it's hard to take rants seriously when they start out like this. Where in any of Star Wars -- heck, not just the first movie, but anywhere in Episodes IV, V and VI -- is it implied that Princess Leia is going to rule the Galaxy once the Emperor is deposed? It seems to me that Resnick heard the word "Princess" and lept right to that conclusion. If he can't pay attention to this tiny degree, why should anything else he says be taken seriously?

Doesn't it bother anyone else that Adolf Hitler -- excuse me; Darth Vader -- the slaughterer of a couple of hundred million innocent men and women, becomes a Good Guy solely because he's Luke's father?

Well, no, he becomes a "Good Guy" because he does the right thing at the very end and kills the Emperor, not "solely because he's Luke's father". Vader commits an act of redemption and turns away from the Dark Side of the Force.

Now, had he not died, you can probably bet the fledgling New Republic probably would have tried him and executed him, but that's not the point. As far as The Force is concerned, Anakin/Vader does what's right in the end. (There's probably some kind of parallel that could be made to Christianity here, but I'll leave that for another time.)

:: On ET:

If E.T. can fly/teleport, why doesn't he do so at the beginning of the film, when he's about to be left behind?

Well, let's look at ET's power of flight. It's more of a telekenesis, obviously; he levitates other objects, so during the two "flying bicycle" sequences, it's pretty clear that ET's not flying in the Superman sense of the idea, but rather that he's levitating the bikes. And note that he doesn't exactly move them all that quickly, either; those bikes aren't exactly moving at a good clip. So could ET have "flown" to catch up to a spaceship that was quickly achieving escape velocity from the Earth? Doesn't seem so to me.

(And, again, where is it implied that ET can "teleport"? What is Resnick talking about here? Hell, one of the movie's funnier exchanges turns on this point, when one of the guys on bikes at the end of the movie asks why ET can't just "beam up" to his ship, and Elliot says, "This is reality, Greg.")

What mother of teenaged children walks through a kitchen littered with empty beer cans and doesn't notice them?

OK, I haven't seen the movie in a long time, but my memory is that the floor isn't littered with empty beer cans. In other words, ET didn't down a case of beer. He had three, maybe four, if memory serves. Of course, that was enough to get him good and hammered, since he's a lightweight and all, and anyway by this point he's already kicked them into the corners of the kitchen. Couple that with the fact that the mother enters the house with her arms full of the dry-cleaning she's just picked up, and there's no problem here.

While we're on the subject of the mother and the kitchen, what is a woman with an unexceptional day job doing living in an $900,000 house in one of the posher parts of the Los Angeles area?

I guess Resnick slept through the dialogue bits when it's clearly established that this family is undergoing a divorce, and that the father has gone off to Mexico with a mistress? Clearly they have, until very recently, been a two-income family (and maybe still are; the script thankfully doesn't go into the whole alimony/child support/who-gets-the-house-in-the-settlement thing), so it's equally clear that the mother isn't paying for that nice house on a single income. (Not that we're ever told what, exactly, her job is -- and how much would that house have been, anyway, back in 1981 when the movie was made?)

Why does E.T. die? (Answer: so he can come back to life.)

Why does E.T. un-die? (Still awaiting an answer, even a silly one, for this.)

OK, these go pretty much unanswered. But he's an alien being on a planet that probably has all manner of pathogens unknown to him, he's under a bit of stress, and his diet whilst roaming this planet consists of cola, beer, and Reese's pieces.

Come to think of it, I'm now wondering why ET didn't die sooner.

As for un-dying, well, the movie doesn't address this much at all, but consider that ET himself can will a dying geranium back to life. So I'd surmise that his people are coming back to get him, and thus use whatever power they have to resuscitate him. Or something like that.

6. When E.T. finally calls home, the lights in the room don't even flicker. I'm no scientist, but I'd have figured the power required would have shorted out the whole city.

He doesn't "phone home" from inside. They go way out in the woods to do it, where they power the apparatus with a big flashlight battery. Who knows? And really, who cares?

I didn't see a lot of the other movies Resnick rips on, so I can't comment on those. Armageddon certainly does suck, I'll give him that one, at least.


Rob said...

He slags Alien and Blade Runner, two of the best sci-fi films ever made.

And he's obviously never read LOTR (my hatred for the films is besdie the point here).

Strike 3.

Roger Owen Green said...

My only point - and it's been years since I've seen E.T. - is that the monm was pretty harried, so I think it's quite possible to miss 3 or 4 cans of beer in her busy-ness.

Call me Paul said...

I don't follow a lot of links, but I had to go read that article. All I can say is, uh, Mike, your wife doesn't want to sit with you at movies're a dick! They're frickin' movies, OK? If you can't sit back an enjoy them, stop going. Damn it, just wait for them to come out on video so you can sit in the basement in your underwear and flick spittle at the screen in private while your wife goes about her business in real life (beacuse she has one).