Why SF movies make me insane
My latest Locus column is “Why Science Fiction Movies Drive Me Nuts,” in which I propose that the reason the science in sf movies is so awful is that they’re essentially operas about technology.
The reason that SF movies command such a titanic amount of attention and money from audiences is because they are brilliantly wrought spectacles. What they lack in depth and introspection, they make up for in polish and craftsmanship. Every costume is perfect. Not one polygon is out of place. An army of musicians, the greatest in the land, have picked up horns and stringed instruments by the orchestra-load and played precisely the right music to set the blood singing, written by genius composers and edited into the soundtrack by golden-eared engineers from the top of their trade. The product is perfectly turned out, and this perfection attracts the eye and captures the mind.
But although these spectacles look like movies, what they really are is opera – stylized, larger-than-life, highly symbolic work that is not meant to be understood literally. And it makes me nuts.
How else to explain the glaring inconsistencies that sit in the center of these movies, like turds floating in the precise center of a crystal punchbowl carved out of the largest, most perfect diamond in the whole world? I mean, look at Spider-Man again, and think for a moment about the absurdity of its set-pieces.