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Pandorum 
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Pandorum
I didn't feel like waiting around another hour and a half to see the next showing of 500 Days of Summer so saw Pandorum instead. Turns out it is a variation of "Universe," with a twist at the end I won't spoil.

On the level of stuff that is purely stfnal -- the ship, the technology, the workings out of the concepts -- it's middle of the road fine. There's nothing new here; you've seen all these effects before -- many times -- but they are reasonably well used.

On the level of storytelling, the story barely hangs together, and all the actual human relationships were, every one of them, incredibly stupid, to the point I was wondering why they bothered to take up screen time with Yet Another Ritual Fight with their equivalent of the Muties -- and the "ritual" is not said lightly. They had to get one of them into single combat, and in order to do it they had to do violence to their conception of the Muties. It is just inconceivable that one of them would toss a weapon to the human he's got cornered and isolated so they can have a single combat scene. Characters are tossed in for no apparent reason, and then abandoned, again for no apparent reason. Red herrings take up incredible amounts of screen time. If the story were trimmed to just what's actual story and the tapdancing and featherdusting and so forth left out, this would be maybe a 40 minute story.

On the level of filmmaking,there is something wrong with the director's eyes and ears; it's so dark, and some of the characters speak so softly, and there's so much scuttling around in the dark at high speed, that it is often difficult to tell what's supposed to be going on. This may be a German thing. I dunno.


Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:34 pm
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Post Re: Pandorum
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 28%. I hadn't seen anything that made me even want to put it on the rental list.

I heard lots of comparisons with Event Horizon, which was a great sf movie for forty minutes and then a stupid-rotten horror flick for another sixty.

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sat Oct 10, 2009 7:13 pm
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Pandorum
JamesGifford wrote:
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 28%. I hadn't seen anything that made me even want to put it on the rental list.

I heard lots of comparisons with Event Horizon, which was a great sf movie for forty minutes and then a stupid-rotten horror flick for another sixty.

If the human story- stories were't so gosh-darned stupid -- over and over -- the twist ending would be interesting.

I've seen storytelling collapse far too often in film in the last 10 years. What the heck is going on?


Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:03 am
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Post Re: Pandorum
BillPatterson wrote:
I've seen storytelling collapse far too often in film in the last 10 years. What the heck is going on?

Anti-Hermetic Deconstructionism.

Oh, and high fructose corn syrup.


Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:59 am
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Pandorum
JamesGifford wrote:
BillPatterson wrote:
I've seen storytelling collapse far too often in film in the last 10 years. What the heck is going on?

Anti-Hermetic Deconstructionism.

Oh, and high fructose corn syrup.

That must be it.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:43 am
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Post Re: Pandorum
HFCS is the cause of all decline in western civilization. I thought you knew that.

I do agree that story has taken a back seat to effects and "hitting the marketing buttons" in each movie genre. It's more important that a film appeal (according to marketing precepts) to as wide a demographic as possible than that it be internally consistent, intelligent, entertaining, etc.

I just read a review of some recent film I don't care about claiming it would have been better had it been 10 minutes shorter. If there's one sweeping problem with current film (of the last ten years or so), it's excessive length. I have seen few films that had no excess footage in them; at least one was double the length it should have been. Scenes run on, third acts drag forever as we get one more look at every character, fx-driven scenes go on forever to increase the "wow" factor... it's just awful. I think every film should be forced to cut 10% after the supposedly final, release-ready cut is delivered. Yes, cut the stupid subplot about the dog. Yes, trim down [insert Actress of Color's name here]'s giant emote scene - Halle Berry already got the Dorothy Dandridge award. Cut at least two of a running gag's instances. Most of all, make explosions, crashes and so forth about the actors and their responses, not loving, ten-minute displays of CGI fantastickness.

The films that make my jaw drop are expensive animated productions with muddy, dismal storylines. I mean, they have control over literally every pixel... what possible excuse is there for any flaw in the storyline and plot progression?

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
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Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:04 am
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Post Re: Pandorum
What is wrong with Hollywood is that the people who run it no longer care about story.

Say what you will about the studio system, it WAS run by people who loved good stories, and knew one when they saw one. Even the dreck of that period is watchable once, as TCM consistently proves.

They keep making movies today with not enough story (which is what has already been said. But there is a plot they are following, based on a book they've all been taught has the answer for a hit movie. The title escapes me for the moment, but it has become dogma in Hollywood that if they don't follow his ur-plot, they won't have a hit.

Stifles the imagination, but this is what happens when you let business majors run Hollywood....


Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:21 am
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Post Re: Pandorum
RobertJames wrote:
Stifles the imagination, but this is what happens when you let business majors run Hollywood....

Or anything. One of the most destructive factors in commercial art - and I use the term extremely broadly, meaning anything produced with flair and style - is the takeover of an essentially creative firm by those who know only business.

The classic example, or one anyway, is the takeover of Ford in the 1940s by Robert MacNamara and his narrow-shouldered, pointy-haided brood. Not a one of them knew anything about cars - some did not even drive. But boy oh boy did they know all the numbers Hahvahd had taught 'em.

GM's problems were more diffuse but once the last "car guy" left the top slot (Charlie Wilson, I think - around 1955) they slid into formless gray mush and remain there.

When you get to something that's all art and no hardware, like film... piffff.

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:48 am
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Pandorum
JamesGifford wrote:
HFCS is the cause of all decline in western civilization. I thought you knew that.

I do agree that story has taken a back seat to effects and "hitting the marketing buttons" in each movie genre. It's more important that a film appeal (according to marketing precepts) to as wide a demographic as possible than that it be internally consistent, intelligent, entertaining, etc.

I just read a review of some recent film I don't care about claiming it would have been better had it been 10 minutes shorter. If there's one sweeping problem with current film (of the last ten years or so), it's excessive length. I have seen few films that had no excess footage in them; at least one was double the length it should have been. Scenes run on, third acts drag forever as we get one more look at every character, fx-driven scenes go on forever to increase the "wow" factor... it's just awful. I think every film should be forced to cut 10% after the supposedly final, release-ready cut is delivered. Yes, cut the stupid subplot about the dog. Yes, trim down [insert Actress of Color's name here]'s giant emote scene - Halle Berry already got the Dorothy Dandridge award. Cut at least two of a running gag's instances. Most of all, make explosions, crashes and so forth about the actors and their responses, not loving, ten-minute displays of CGI fantastickness.

The films that make my jaw drop are expensive animated productions with muddy, dismal storylines. I mean, they have control over literally every pixel... what possible excuse is there for any flaw in the storyline and plot progression?

That last question I can answer, for it's simple: Hollywood is not about story; it never has been.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:24 pm
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Post Re: Pandorum
BillPatterson wrote:
Hollywood is not about story; it never has been.

Good thing Pixar isn't in Hollywood!

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Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:33 am
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