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John Scalzi – We’re Atwitter About Science-Fiction Films!


I often answer reader questions here in this column, but this week I’m doing it with a twist: I called for science-fiction- and fantasy-film-related questions on Twitter and promised to answer them at Twitter length (i.e., in 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation). How did it work out? You’ll see below.

Teresajusino: Would you let your 12-year-old daughter see Sucker Punch?
A: Heck, I’ve let her see Starship Troopers. (She wasn’t impressed, by the way.) She should handle Sucker Punch just fine.

Maantren: Why was it Star Wars and not Logan’s Run that changed everything?
A: Logan’s Run was just more of the early-seventies dystopic-film thing that was winding down; Star Wars was a whole new ball of fun.

ThatNeilGuy: Is there any possibility that the recently announced Blade Runner sequel will not suck?
A: Possibly, but you should probably steel yourself for Blade Runner 2: The Quickening.

Tanglebonitis: Do you think that a gritty urban
fantasy like China Miéville’s Bas-Lag cycle has a chance of being made
into a movie anytime soon?
A: I think it would be better suited for an HBO mini-series, don’t you? And, yes, I would totally watch that.

Christurkel: Cage match: Lucas vs. J.J. Abrams.
A: Draw, with both collapsing from exhaustion after 90 seconds. They’re nerds, man. Cage matches are not what they’re about.

1in9: What, in your opinion, is the movie that’s handled time travel the best, strictly from a science perspective?
A: None, because, unless you’re a tachyon, science generally looks askance at time travel any direction but forward.

KBTibbs: Why do the future and/or other planets look so much like the seventies?
A: Because no one believes that anyone in the future will wear acid-washed jeans, the primary sartorial gift of the eighties.

Glenn_scc: Do you go with the director version or theatrical version?
A: Seeing it for the first time? Theatrical. And nine out of ten times, it’s better than the director’s cut anyway.

DocNielsen: Were you sad when Data died in Star Trek: Nemesis?
A: No, and that was the problem with the film: it was so bland that even killing Data didn’t get a rise.

Deejayeetee: Who would win in the fight Gandalf vs. Magneto? (Other than EVERYONE.)
A: The split-screen special-effects artists who will get paid overtime! Also Ian McKellen because, I suspect, that fight would amuse him.

JHGHendriks: Should there be a sequel to The Dark Crystal?
A: I’m not waiting up nights for it — no. But the chances I’ll be asked by the potential filmmakers? Near zero.

Junglemonkey: Why can Jedis use the Force to stop things from falling on them but not to stop themselves from falling?
A: Because then they would be able to fly and would have to admit they are all secretly from Krypton.

SheckyX: To what do you attribute the extraordinary success of SF/F films in the past quarter-century or so?
A: Awesome special effects and the OCD of nerds that makes them go see their favorite movies six times in the theaters and buy all the merch.

RonHogan: How come Spider-Man and Batman and Superman all get reboots, and we still haven’t gotten our FIRST Dan Dare movie?
A: The failure of Judge Dredd scared Hollywood away from British comic-book heroes (except Dredd, who is now being remade: RUN AND HIDE).

FunkyScarecrow: Are SF&F-film fans who intentionally watch bad films to mock them wrong to do so? Does it just encourage bad filmmakers?
A: Bad filmmakers will make films regardless. And there are always more bad filmmakers ready to take their places.

Leeflower: Steampunk/fantasy in the upcoming Three Musketeers movie: awesome, stupid, or awesomely stupid?
A: It’s a Paul W.S. Anderson film, and if you know my opinion about his
films in general you know my answer here. Hint: “awesome” is not it.

Witnessaria: Do you think depictions of high fantasy in TV and movies have improved in the last ten years? What filmmaking strategies have worked?
A: Screenwriters who can write their way out of a paper bag. That was the real triumph of The Lord of the Rings films.

Blukami: Will sci-fi ever be considered cerebral and not fanboy junk?
A: Did you miss Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

Surlyadopter: Up-converted 3-D SF (and I suppose non-SFF action) movies. More to come or no more blood from that stone?
A: All the Star Wars films are scheduled to be up-converted, so, yes, you’ll have that for a while. Gird yourself!

BPonto: Why is advanced AI always seen to develop humanlike emotions, such as the desire for subjugation or affection and love?
A: Because (a) it makes for interesting films and (b) we can’t imagine computers wouldn’t want to be us. I suspect we’re wrong.

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