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Will Smith must be stopped

He has a new movie coming out this summer, After Earth. It looks awful, but then, that’s what I’ve come to expect from Will Smith’s Sci-Fi outings.

Jebus. Anyone remember that abomination, I, Robot? How about I Am Legend? I steer clear of these movies with a high concept and a big name star, because usually what you find is that the story is a concoction by committee with an agenda solely to recoup the costs and make lots of money…so we get buzzwords and nods to high-minded causes and the usual action-adventure pap. Just looking at the trailer, I’m getting pissed off: it’s supposed to be a pro-environmentalism movie, and what’s it about? A guy running around in the wilderness fighting off the hostile wildlife.

Anyway, I got one of those generic invitations to help reassure the world that it’s a good science movie. Here’s part of what I was sent:

On May 31st, Columbia Pictures is releasing what is perhaps the biggest movie of the summer, After Earth, starring Will Smith, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

No. Just no. Shyamalan is a hack. Why do people keep handing him big money and big projects?

There are a lot of science parallels to this film, and I write to see if you or a colleague might be interested in interviewing one of After Earth’s top filmmakers and or a scientist associated herein.

Famous futurist Ray Kurzweil

Jesus fuck. Kurzweil is a consultant? Pill-popping techno-geek with an immortality fetish and no understanding of biology at all is the consultant on a movie with a supposed environmental message? WHY?

explored with Will, his son Jaden Smith, and Elon Musk, how science fact meets science fiction in After Earth, and tghis can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RocpHuJWolc. As well, XPRIZE has teamed up with Sony to launch an unprecedented robotics challenge (information attached). What’s more, NASA plans to disseminate a lesson plan to teachers based on the scientific implications of After Earth, as seen here http://www.lifeafterearthscience.com/.

OK, I checked out the lesson plan. It’s not bad, but it has nothing to do with the movie — it’s all about biodiversity and cycles and climate change and that sort of thing, by a respectable author of biology textbooks. It’s a merkin to cover the toxic crap that will be in the movie.

In After Earth, earth has devolved, in a sense, to a more primordial state, forcing mankind to leave. One thousand years after this exodus, the planet has built up defense mechanisms so as to prevent the return of its previous human inhabitants. It might be said that nature reacted this way because it perceived humans as a threat to its survival.

“Devolved”? “Primordial state”? Look at the trailer. It’s a lush planet thick with plant and animal life, nothing to force people out. Except, of course, the bizarre hint that there are rapid — really rapid — weather changes (I won’t call it “climate”), in which you can be running through a temperate forest and suddenly a tree will freeze. Yeah, right. As for the teleological rationale, just gag it, goofballs.

Given the backing behind it, the extravagantly expensive Will Smith, the fact that he’s using it as a vehicle to give his son star billing, the horrible director, and the hints of bad science in the trailer, I’m going to call this one right now: it’s going to suck. It will be shiny and glossy and have lots of CGI, but it will suck hard.

I saw Iron Man 3 last night, and let me just say…I am so tired of SF movies that resolve all of their conflicts with a big battle with the baddies, preferably featuring huge explosions and impossible physics. This one is going to up the ante with idiot biology added to the profit-making mix.

They asked if I wanted to interview any of the scientists or writers involved. I don’t think so.

Although a conversation with Ray Kurzweil could be…fun.

Comments

  1. says

    Will Smith is one of my least favorite actors, even moreso after the travesty that had nothing to do with Asimov despite sharing a title with his collection of positronic short stories. What happened to thoughtful and realistic SF like 2001?

  2. horrabin says

    When they had the promo that talked about all these fantasy critters evolving in a thousand years specifically to hunt and kill humans (that weren’t even there for those thousand years) you knew there was going to be some good sciencey stuff in this one. Of course this is from the guy who had people outrunning killer wind so….

  3. Ulysses says

    M. Night Shyamalan

    I have to wonder about what causes someone to give themself the name “Night”.

  4. unbound says

    From my perspective, it is less about Will Smith (while I, Robot and I Am Legend, I wouldn’t describe them as abominations…there are far, far worse SF movies out there), and more about Shyamalan (I agree with PZ completely…I have no idea how this guy is still working) as well as the writers.

    We can’t have thoughtful SF anymore because it has become too popular, so it has to be dumb-downed for the masses in order to make mega-profits. Same thing occurred in the gaming world…entire genres of games have gone away in favor of first person shooters and MMOs.

  5. says

    I saw Iron Man 3 last night, and let me just say…I am so tired of SF movies that resolve all of their conflicts with a big battle with the baddies, preferably featuring huge explosions and impossible physics. This one is going to up the ante with idiot biology added to the profit-making mix.

    They asked if I wanted to interview any of the scientists or writers involved. I don’t think so.

    Although a conversation with Ray Kurzweil could be…fun.

    You’re hilarious PZ xD

    <3

    Seeing you bust Ray Kurzweil would be a real pleasure. It's sad because people like me don't know what's possible for transhumanism because of people like him =/

  6. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    It might be said that nature reacted this way because it perceived humans as a threat to its survival.

    I get it.
    It’s homeopathy.
    Human kind left was diluted so much, only memories of it were left on Earth, which made for a strong dose of humanity that forced Nature (not to be mistaken for nature) to build its immune system to defend itself.

  7. Becca Stareyes says

    At this point, I wonder, why not make it an openly supernatural movie? I seem to recall that ‘Magic returns, things go poorly for human civilization’ is a sub-genre of fantasy, and you can have all the cool supernatural critters and bizarre weather that you like, as well as a ‘Nature’ that is actively trying to kill humans rather than just a collection of animals, plants, fungi and microbes, some of which see us as a delicious snack.

    And it probably won’t undermine the basic idea of having things chasing the protagonists and other things exploding.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    I guess I’ll see this at Xmas.
    on DVD
    purchased by someone else

  9. stanton says

    They asked if I wanted to interview any of the scientists or writers involved. I don’t think so.

    Although a conversation with Ray Kurzweil could be…fun.

    Such a situation would be tantamount to playing in a bounce-house+colonoscopy bag.

  10. Larry says

    preferably featuring huge explosions

    Without explosions, you’ve eliminated pretty much every action movie and most sci-fi movies leaving you with only Jennifer Aniston movies for your date nights.

    Unfortunately, this explosion trend has metastasized its way onto the TV screen as well. Formerly good shows like Myth Busters have gone the all explosions-all the time path causing it to jump the (exploding) shark.

  11. Pierre Stromberg says

    Short shameful confession: I loved I Am Legend! But the rest of Smith’s work? Feh.

  12. says

    Unfortunately, the most cinematic Asimov stories are those not written by Asimov. I love his ideas — just been re-reading dozens of his robot shorts — but the man was very fond of having his characters stand around and bicker with each other, delivering loads and loads of exposition, while not a whole hell of a lot else is happening.

    That said, I could see The Caves of Steel as a movie, but I think Caliban and its sequels would translate better.

  13. stevem says

    My only take on this upcoming film is the trailer that shows Smith saying to his son, “Everything there has evolved to KILL us!” I took as just bad dialog, that, really, everything has evolved to be a super-effective predator, so everything will attempt to eat you. Kinda like the Yankovick characterization of Australia that everything there will KILL you. But that’s just me, being too generous, I just expect every speech to be sloppy and poorly worded (especially my own). But not having actually seen the film, I expect it to be much worse than my generous gifting. Shamalayan is famous for “twist” endings (of movies he wrote, but he didn’t write this one) A lot of speculation is that the movie actually takes place in the distant past to produce the legend of Adam and Eve, or somesuch. I.E. “After Earth” is really “After; Earth”, (Earth as we know it occurs after the moviestory ends). Prolly worth seeing anyway.

  14. Rabid says

    Will Smith is one of my least favorite actors, even moreso after the travesty that had nothing to do with Asimov despite sharing a title with his collection of positronic short stories. What happened to thoughtful and realistic SF like 2001?

    I, Robot and I Am Legend are not terrible movies in an of themselves, they’re just terrible adaptations. On their own merits they’re not bad. And there’s nothing wrong with Will Smith as an actor or a person last time I checked. He’s a pretty good in both capacities as far as I can tell. Can we not just criticise the movie instead of throwing the actors to the wolves like they’re evil masterminds behind the degradation of cinema or something? Popcorn movies are popcorn movies.

    As to what happened to the “thoughtful Sci-Fi”… it’s still out there, you just have to look for it, just like you always did. It’s not like 2001 was a typical Sci-Fi movie/show of yesteryear that goes more to the Flash Gordons and Star Wars of the world. Nothing has really changed, you’re just looking through those rose-tinted goggles again.

  15. anteprepro says

    So, let me get this straight. This is the Ray Kurzweil, the one who believes that we are going to reach technological godhood and ability to transcend the human form in the next decade or two. And he is helping with a movie where all life on Earth 1000 years from now has super-evolved to hurt humans. As in, non-immortal, non-electronic, non-cybernetic, regular ol’ squishy humans whose sole accomplishment seems to be spaceships ( that can’t handle asteroids ) and populating a different planet. I mean, a 1000 years from now, at least a half-dozen “Any Minute Now” singularities into the future, and they are prominently displaying such mind-blowing technologies as Flying Squirrel suits, Extendable Spears, and a Magical Healing Device. Really, the only thing consistent here between the movie’s mythology and Kurzweil’s “no, it’s totally gonna happen guyz” mythology is the utter lack of scientific plausibility. The fictions aren’t very consistent with one another. Futurism must be an easy gig.

  16. misanthroptimist says

    I wonder if it’ll exceed the latest Tom Cruise Scientology sci-fi crap fest “Oblivion”. Jesus Hubbard Christ that was a stupid movie!

  17. says

    Well, as long as there’s a dogpile, let me add my bit of pique.

    I am sick sick sick sick sick sick sick of movies that have sequences where there is a HUGE FUCKING FIREBALL coming at someone, and they’re somehow able to react quickly enough to jump out of the way of a HUGE FUCKING FIREBALL.

    I will not watch films that have trailers that include scenes of people jumping out of the way of HUGE FUCKING FIREBALLS without so much as singeing their eyebrows.

  18. left0ver1under says

    The last good movie Smith appeared in was “Six Degrees Of Separation”.

    It’s been all downhill since.

  19. anteprepro says

    I am sick sick sick sick sick sick sick of movies that have sequences where there is a HUGE FUCKING FIREBALL coming at someone, and they’re somehow able to react quickly enough to jump out of the way of a HUGE FUCKING FIREBALL.

    Improved evasion for everybody!

  20. says

    Frankly, it’s the M. Night part of this equation that make me want to take an industrial magnet to every digital master of this crap before it shows in any theater. The union of inflated pseudo-intellect (on the part of Shyamalan) and inflated pseudo-philosophy (Smith) will create the perfect storm of evil cinematic elements coming together in a gruesome vehicle that will truly lay to rest any doubts that mainstream Hollywood’s movie-making machine has all the wonder of a line that manufactures Big Gulp cups.

  21. says

    Unfortunately, the most cinematic Asimov stories are those not written by Asimov. I love his ideas — just been re-reading dozens of his robot shorts — but the man was very fond of having his characters stand around and bicker with each other, delivering loads and loads of exposition, while not a whole hell of a lot else is happening.

    So Peter Jackson directs, is what you’re saying.

  22. MonkeyDeathcar says

    I can’t believe Rotten Tomatoes rated “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs” higher than “Unbreakable.” “Unbreakable” was the only movie of that guy’s that I liked even a little bit.

  23. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    *gahk*

    [Parents's, my precious! I have been bent over these exams for far too long. I'm becoming a wraith.]

  24. Chie Satonaka says

    I’m still laughing at all the shit that went down in “The Happening.”

  25. says

    Chances are they asked Kurzweil a bunch of questions, then promptly ignored his ideas because they didn’t fit the script. But by associating his name with the film they’ll get a certain segment of his fanbase to watch the film, and Kurzweil gets to cash a nice cheque even if they didn’t listen to him.

  26. freemage says

    Shyamalan is, of course, a one-trick pony and mediocre director. That said, he usually manages to at least get out of the way of a good actor.

    Will Smith is a good actor with a horrible track record when it comes to picking scripts, especially those based on an existing sci-fi IP.

    You know what would be better? If Smith had directed this. I know it was horribly misnamed, but his Karate Kid remake was possibly one of the best remakes I’ve ever seen–and by any measure, beat the original hands-down. And Jaden Smith put in a good enough showing that I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in the future.

    But yeah, this is probably going to hurt my brain on many levels. I’m going to have to deliberately shut down certain thought processes in order to get the good bits out.

  27. Moggie says

    Chris Clarke:

    Also, I totally want robot shorts.

    Only if they obey the three laws of robotic shorts.

  28. consciousness razor says

    No. Just no. Shyamalan is a hack. Why do people keep handing him big money and big projects?

    You must be kidding. I’m sure you know by now that people like crap made by total hacks and will pay lots for it.

    Pill-popping techno-geek with an immortality fetish and no understanding of biology at all is the consultant on a movie with a supposed environmental message? WHY?

    He’s a futurist, and it’s set in the future. Those two words are near each other in the dictionary. Thus: expert. Plus, it’s a fictional future, one which isn’t even close to what could possibly happen, so that’s gotta make him an expert-squared at least.

  29. consciousness razor says

    What was that Keanu Reeves movie where he got on a motorcycle and outraced a nuclear explosion?

    Wasn’t that Chain Reaction, about cold fusion or something?

  30. says

    Rabid:
    Different strokes, I guess.
    Will Smith displays such a narrow range of believable emotions in all his movies; so much so that his characters sound a lot alike. Added to this is his Fresh Prince persona-the cocky, arrogant, yet caring swagger-comes out all too often. It’s as if he never left Bel-Air.

    ****
    MonkeyDeathCar:
    Huge superhero geek that I am–
    I wanted to enjoy Unbreakable, and did…until the end. Mr Glass’ diabolical plan was to go around causing lots of disasters in the hope his arch nemesis would arise is silly enough, but to then find him AND. DO. NOTHING?
    Damn letdown.

  31. thebookofdave says

    explored with Will, his son Jaden Smith, and Elon Musk, how science fact meets science fiction in After Earth…

    It works in reverse. Fact doesn’t meet fiction halfway, by a longshot. If you merely suspend disbelief, you’ll wind up with head-shaped dents in your desk. To view Will Smith in a sci-fi movie, disbelief must first be boosted into a 120-minute suborbital path on a giant physics defying launch vehicle.

  32. notsont says

    All I have to add to this is “The happening”. I can not even watch a Mark Wahlberg movie without that stupid movie making my head hurt.

  33. Michael says

    I can’t say the trailer makes me think that it will be one of the big movies of the summer. Certainly doesn’t make my list of must sees.

    Spoiler Alert: I was very disappointed with Iron Man 3. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about some of the recent reboots (Batman, Spiderman, and even Iron Man) is that they have been grounded in plausibility, so relatively little suspension of disbelief is required. Batman’s batcave and equipment suddenly made sense, and Iron Man’s suit is just advanced technology created by someone with the intellect and resources. However Iron Man 3 let me down on numerous fronts. First the Mandarin, what a bait & switch. Unless they are setting him up for a sequel where he acquires his rings, that was a major letdown. Secondly the villain(s) are somehow able to produce heat capable of melting Iron Man’s bullet-proof alloys in microseconds, breathe fire, and heal from amputations. That’s better than the liquid metal terminator from T2. How is any of that remotely possible? The lesson they never seem to learn is more budget for plot, less needed for special effects.

  34. says

    I’m looking forward to Elysium. It’s got Jodie Foster and Matt Damon. It’s directed by Niell Blomkamp, who also directed District 9, which I hear is not perfect, but is a damn sight better than anything Shyamalan has done since his first film.

  35. MarcusC says

    I feel you kind of have to look past the dumb crap in any movie with the word fiction in the genre. Yeah, the ‘animals spent 1000 years evolving to kill humans’ stuck out so bad it even got my 12 year old kid complaining. Thing is, if I can enjoy a movie with a Norse god, a guy with a generator in his chest to power his flying armor, and a guy who gets strong and indestructible when he is grumpy (among others), I can’t really pick on this movie just because that isn’t how evolution works.

    If it is plain dumb though, that is a different issue.

  36. Gregory Greenwood says

    While I agree that the movie really isn’t a patch on the original Asimov stories that it bears scant resemblance to, I also find it funny that the bits of I Robot I liked – the speech by the Dr. Alfred Lanning character (played by James Cromwell) about the emergence of personality and life from artificial intelligence, and the entire arc of development of the Sonny character – all share the same vital characteristic; they are only tangentially linked back to Smith’s Detective Spooner character, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the intensely annoying Farber character played by a young Shia LaBeouf (who I will never forgive for contributing to the ruination of the Indiana Jones franchise, and for his involvement in those abominable crimes against cinema directed by Michael Bay).

    I have nothing against Will Smith as a person, but I just don’t seem to enjoy most of his movies. I simply couldn’t manage to derive any enjoyment at all from sitting through I am Legend, and Wild, Wild West is a movie that it actually physically pains me to remember.

  37. Brandon says

    Dang, the levels of Hate Anything Popular are rising well above normal hipster levels and into dangerous territory here.

    Sure, Will Smith’s not doing much in the fine art department, but the idea that he’s an abomination upon the silver screen is pretty silly.

  38. says

    Brandon, in my case, I actually like Will Smith. I don’t dislike the guy at all and I enjoyed Fresh Prince a lot. I can lighten the mood when I need and I realize most of Hollywood’s product can never be Herman Melville or Franz Kafka (2 of my favorite authors) however, M. Night’s stuff is like tendrils of crap that slither their way into my brain. When I’m spending upwards of $10 to see a movie, I realize there is an implicit risk/gamble on my part, however in seeking to minimize the chances I will dislike the movie, I discount Will Smith, Sandra Bullock, M. Night, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Those people are all on my “do not fly to the theater” list.

  39. Gregory Greenwood says

    Brandon @ 45;

    Dang, the levels of Hate Anything Popular are rising well above normal hipster levels and into dangerous territory here.

    I don’t think this is a case of ‘hating anything popular’ so much as people expressing wry amusement at the tendency of Holywood blockbusters to not make even a lick of sense half the time, and not just with regard to the much mocked ‘Hollywood physics’, but also in areas of internal logical inconsistencies and glaring plot holes.

    Then again, there is also the legitmate issue of personal taste – most people love 2001, and while I enjoyed the story arc about H.A.L., the trippy ‘star child’ stuff at the end left me completely cold. Does that mean that the movie is overrated or is ‘bad’? No, it simply means that I, as an individual, do not find it as enjoyable as many other people do.

    Sure, Will Smith’s not doing much in the fine art department, but the idea that he’s an abomination upon the silver screen is pretty silly.

    Would you mind pointing out where anyone said that Smith was ‘an abomination upon the silver screen’? So far as I can see, most people who have criticised Smith on this thread really haven’t done anything more than state a personal dislike for his treatment of certain characters, opine that some of his choices with regard to roles were poor, or critique what they see as Smith’s narrow range as an actor – it is hardly the same as declaring him the cinematic antichrist…

  40. laurentweppe says

    I object:

    I am legend did not suck because of Will Smith: I am legend sucked becuse the studio was too spineless to keep the intended ending: put the intended ending, and it’s a great movie.

  41. scourge99 says

    I’m not familiar with the movie industry but isn’t it profits that drive the industry (as in most (all?) businesses) and not critical acclaim?

  42. says

    I liked I Am Legend; I found it thrilling and scary and all that good stuff one looks for in a proper Hollywood sci-fi horror flick. But then, I am not familiar with the original story so perhaps I ought to read that.

  43. Moggie says

    SallyStrange:

    But then, I am not familiar with the original story so perhaps I ought to read that.

    Well…
    It’s an important and influential novel.
    It has dated.
    It’s wonderfully bleak.
    Richard Matheson couldn’t write characters for shit.
    The central character is unlikeable, which may have been a brave choice, or not (see above).
    The ending redeems it.

    I’d recommend it, but many readers will find it a disappointment.

  44. gillt says

    Why do people keep handing him big money and big projects

    I often wonder the same thing about certain PI’s. It’s like a few CNS papers and the logic goes that this one person must have millions and millions of dollars worth of novel ideas, when instead that person is throwing money at the same few ideas.

  45. benco says

    Will Smith as Will Smith in “The Movie With Will Smith In It”
    I’ll admit, even after being re-released a dozen times, I still enjoy that movie.

  46. says

    SallyStrange:
    I second the recommendation to read Mathesons novel. As Moggie put it, theres a wonderful bleakness to it. I find that refreshing. When I first learned the movie was coming out, I read the book.
    Boy was the movie a letdown. Unlike others, I think it was more than the ending that made it unenjoyable for me.

  47. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    If no ones mentioned it yet. rumor is I Robot was a retrofit of a script titled Hardwired. someone noted a comparison to I Robot which had been in development hell, slapped the new title on and added some homages

  48. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    The movie ‘I Robot’ also seemed to borrow a lot from Jack Williamson’s ‘With Folded Hands’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/With_Folded_Hands

    As for ‘I Am Legend’; I watched it first on DVD with the original ending – not the version that made it to the cinemas. Find that one to watch if you can – much closer to the original premise.

    I don’t expect actual science from super hero-films, but we have a new baseline in our house for science-fiction films: Was it as bad as Prometheus?

  49. pacal says

    Will Smith’s I Robot did indeed suck major. The cleverness and wit of Asimov’s robot stories and novels weren’t there instead we get a standard ho-hum robots about to take over hokum. It was simply stupid high concept crap.

    As for I am Legend. Yep having the sucky, oh so typical Hollywood ending did indeed change the movie to crap. The Original movie ending was vastly more creative and clever and faithful to the book.

  50. chigau (違う) says

    Brandon #45

    Dang, the levels of Hate Anything Popular are rising well above normal hipster levels and into dangerous territory here.

    ???
    Which thread are you reading?

  51. jen says

    I agree that After Earth is going to suck hard, but I can’t agree with your assessment of Iron Man 3. That’s a superhero movie, and there HAS to be a final battle with the baddies, complete with explosions and everything else. That’s how superhero stories work, because that’s how comic books have been written since the beginning.

  52. DLC says

    from what I can recall, most of Will Smith’s recent films have been “Will Smith vs the Monsters” in one form or another. The monsters varied — vampires, robots, aliens — that all had to die in huge and glorious explosions. Sorry to say, but the only resemblance Asimov’s work had to I, Robot was the name of the film and some of the character names. Aside from that, it was a complete rewrite. Asimov’s robots were entirely unable to kill, even when it seemed they did. Everything I have seen with Shaymalan’s name on it has been a waste of time.
    Moggie @51 : I’ve read I am legend and have seen the 60s movie version with Vincent Price.
    While the story is not Wuthering Heights or anything, it is a decent enough story with the ending the story needed to have.

  53. says

    In one of his movies “based on a true story,” Will Smith played one of my high-school classmates.

    So for that reason I have no choice but to regard Will Smith as a guy who is in movies.

  54. says

    hated 2001; bits of it made for interesting story, but the rest felt like modern art rather than a movie.

    I prefer clever sci-fi like District 9.

  55. Rip Steakface says

    I’m in complete agreement with jen @60. Iron Man 3 is a fun, popcorn comic book film. Not every comic book film can be The Dark Knight (where, in addition to the hero and villain engaging in a final battle, the villain’s beliefs are proven wrong by everyone who isn’t the villain), and not every sci fi can be 2001 or District 9 (I prefer the latter). However, After Earth (which was a preview when I saw IM3, incidentally) looks pretty terrible. And the fact they’re giving it an environmental message that’s completely… fucking stupid is, well, fucking stupid.

    I hope Disney gets Star Wars right in a couple years. Obviously it’s not sci-fi (it’s fantasy with lasers and spaceships), but if it’s done right that will be very nice. Hard sci-fi is hard to do, especially with modern marketing. I will not say that modern audiences are worse (i.e., less tasteful, “dumber”) than the audiences of 45 years ago when 2001 came out (they’re probably about the same), but I will say that modern marketing and corporate culture prevents smart, thoughtful films from being produced because of the emphasis on profitsssssssssss. You don’t find auteurs with the time, interest, budget and mass appeal to do hard sci fi.

  56. microraptor says

    Spoiler Alert: I was very disappointed with Iron Man 3. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about some of the recent reboots (Batman, Spiderman, and even Iron Man) is that they have been grounded in plausibility, so relatively little suspension of disbelief is required. Batman’s batcave and equipment suddenly made sense, and Iron Man’s suit is just advanced technology created by someone with the intellect and resources. However Iron Man 3 let me down on numerous fronts. First the Mandarin, what a bait & switch. Unless they are setting him up for a sequel where he acquires his rings, that was a major letdown. Secondly the villain(s) are somehow able to produce heat capable of melting Iron Man’s bullet-proof alloys in microseconds, breathe fire, and heal from amputations. That’s better than the liquid metal terminator from T2. How is any of that remotely possible? The lesson they never seem to learn is more budget for plot, less needed for special effects.

    There’s a couple of details about Iron Man 3 that you seem to have missed. Allow me to spell them out:

    Iron Man: Tony Stark is kidnapped by a terrorist organization called the Ten Rings that’s fighting the US military in Afghanistan. They want him to build his latest missile design for them, and they’re going to kill him as soon as he does. They’re in control of apparently a fairly large swath of territory in the Middle East and are busy slaughtering civilians.

    Iron Man 2: Ivan Vanko is given a passport and other documents by someone identified in the credits as “Ten Rings Agent” so that he can attempt to kill Tony Stark in Monaco.

    Iron Man 3: Someone calling himself “the Mandarin” makes videos threatening the US and military. However, notice something about the videos: the first is a lot grainier than the rest. Pay attention to the voice- it’s not the same. Then, look this- who claims to be in charge of the Ten Rings? What does he want? Do the actions of the Ten Rings in the previous two movies come close to jiving with what he wants? Does it seem that realistic that he could fabricate whole cloth a fake terrorist organization to such a degree that he was able to trick SHIELD into thinking it existed? Does it instead seem more likely that he instead chose a terrorist group that already existed to use as a cover for what he was doing? And used the name and likeness of that group’s leader?

  57. Amphiox says

    he should have gone and lived in a nice quiet village somewhere and never directed a movie again.

    Didn’t he already make a movie about something like that?

    (Which sucked?)

  58. sugarfrosted says

    I liked I Am Legend aside from the rewritten ending that ended up throwing away much of the built up symbolism because test audiences didn’t like the moral ambiguity. Well also the “cure for cancer causing zombies” thing was kind of bad as well, but eh. I still need to Vincent Price movie it was based on, though (<3 Vincent Price.)

  59. Benjamin Tillman says

    Really? You’re groaning because all these stories “resolve all of their conflicts with a big battle with the baddies” and that a science fiction story features impossible physics? How did Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings or even Contact sit with you?

    Morality tales, good will triumph over bad no matter the odds blah blah, and simple entertainment have been staples of story telling since pre-history.

    If documentaries are your thing, no worries, I’m all for it, but for many people fiction has its place too, so what gives? Why vent your spleen over someone making money out of it? Normally I get your thinking, but this … I just don’t get. Or was this just a vehicle to tote about your inclusion on a ‘generic invite’ list?

  60. John Morales says

    Benjamin Tillman:

    [1] If documentaries are your thing, no worries, I’m all for it, but for many people fiction has its place too, so what gives? [2] Why vent your spleen over someone making money out of it? [3] Normally I get your thinking, but this … I just don’t get. [4] Or was this just a vehicle to tote about your inclusion on a ‘generic invite’ list?

    So many questions so quickly!

    1. There’s good fiction and there’s the other kind.

    2. Why vent your spleen over someone mentioning their opinion on their blog… on their blog? ;)

    3. At least you confess to your failure.

    4. It was a blog post.

  61. says

    And for the ending, it will be revealed that…

    a group of humans were still on the earth the whole time and were engineering life to keep the bad humans off the planet!

    What a twist!

  62. drxym says

    I really wonder what is going on in the minds of studios which buy the rights to classic books like I, Robot or I Am Legend and then systematically set about fucking them up beyond all recognition. Why even bother? I’m sure they could make very small alterations and produce a knock off movie without offending anyone or needing the rights since the similarities would be so slight as to be lawsuit proof.

    Anyway Will Smith can act when he wants to. It’s too bad he really sucks at producing. After Earth looks like a cretinous nepotistic vanity project just from its synopsis (a 1000 years is nothing in evolutionary terms, cataclysm or not) and its’ potential isn’t helped by who is directing it – M. Night Shyamalan.

    This summer also sees World War Z get bastardized. While it’s not a classic perhaps to the extent that the other books are, it shares many similarities in how its film adaptation has happened. About the only thing carried over to the movie is the basic premise and title. From that point on it becomes a vehicle for a movie star.

  63. says

    drxym:
    I wonder if there is a method of determining the acting abilities of movie stars. My belief that Will Smith plays the same character-one not too different from his Fresh Prince persona-and your belief that he is a good actor stand in contrast to one another. Will such things always be a matter of individual tastes, or is there a way to objectively judge Will Smith’s (or anyone else’s) acting chops?

  64. says

    I should clarify a bit more-my idea of a good actor is not someone who plays the same character from Independence Day to Men in Black to Wild Wild West. I’m looking for someine who can display a believable range of emotions as well as different personalities. Will Smith does not fit that role.

  65. drxym says

    @Tony! The Virtual Queer Shoop, Will Smith was good in Ali. He can act when he tries but there is no denying that most of the time he’s just mugging it up as Will Smith.

  66. says

    People tend to forget that for every 2001 there were 20 Barbarellas, Flash Gordons, and GOR movies.
    Anyway if “the Earth” really was capable of directing forces to destroying humanity it would look a lot more like The Andromeda Strain. Followed by huge explosions as infrastructure began to critically fail. Which would be awesome!
    …to infrastructure nerds.
    …Like me…
    …sigh…
    I’m so alone…

  67. Ze Madmax says

    Benjamin Tillman @ #70

    How did Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings or even Contact sit with you?

    One of these things is not like the others…

  68. says

    Really? You’re groaning because all these stories “resolve all of their conflicts with a big battle with the baddies” and that a science fiction story features impossible physics? How did Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings or even Contact sit with you?

    are you stupid or something?
    There’s a reason the genre is called science fiction, and not just fantasy (which Alice and LotR are).

  69. chigau (違う) says

    I think Saruman could count as an Engineer and Humpty Dumpty as a Linguist.
    kinda sciency

  70. David Marjanović says

    There are a lot of science parallels to this film

    …Parallels. That’s actually a good way to put it. :-þ Maybe.

    I have to wonder about what causes someone to give themself the name “Night”.

    Oh, so he did that, not his parents???

    that forced Nature (not to be mistaken for nature) to build its immune system to defend itself

    …and Nature Publishing Group inherited the Earth.

    Sorry, I had to do it.

    I.E. “After Earth” is really “After; Earth”

    ~:-| Do you mean “Afterwards: Earth”?

    One of the things I’ve enjoyed about some of the recent reboots (Batman, Spiderman, and even Iron Man) is that they have been grounded in plausibility, so relatively little suspension of disbelief is required.

    The Amazing Spider-Man does have a superpower; but the other two have no superpowers except money. Little suspension of disbelief indeed!

    Thing is, if I can enjoy a movie with a Norse god, a guy with a generator in his chest to power his flying armor, and a guy who gets strong and indestructible when he is grumpy (among others), I can’t really pick on this movie just because that isn’t how evolution works.

    What? Of course you can. The Avengers doesn’t claim that that’s how evolution works. The only nod to science it makes is some waffling about relativity in the intro (Einstein/Rosen bridge, LOL).

    Will Smith as Will Smith in “The Movie With Will Smith In It”

    :-D

    The Prince of Zamunda and the 3 MIB movies were good. :-) And he wasn’t among the weak points of Independence Day.

    People tend to forget that for every 2001 there were 20 Barbarellas, Flash Gordons, and GOR movies.

    What is GOR even?

    I think Saruman could count as an Engineer and Humpty Dumpty as a Linguist.
    kinda sciency

    Heh, yeah. Saruman could even count as a bioengineer! :-)

  71. shadow says

    The premise reminds me of the Deathworld series by Harry Harrison. In that case, it wasn’t Earth, but a different planet, Pyrrus, where there was psychic changes being created on the flora and fauna to kill all humans. That was why, if you left Pyrrus, you needed ‘reorientation’ when you returned — things had changed enough that you would die.