Over/Under-rated movies: the redux

A friend recommended A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Alas we watched it. Worst movie I’ve seen in a long time. Actually we only watched part of it (ok, most of it); but it got late and we decided to finish it the next day. But we bagged it because we just didn’t care.

That’s the third Spielberg “Sci-Fi” movie I’ve disliked to one or extent or another. “Close Encounters” was OK. There was a definite sense of wonder at the beginning when Richard Dreyfuss was in the truck and lights pulled up behind him, and then went up. But I really don’t really remember what happened next, except for what I disliked – Dreyfuss making the tower out of mashed potatoes, the flying saucer with all the energy-wasting lights, the synthesizer business, the clichéd aliens, etc. And so much of the dialog had no point.

E.T. was a fun kid’s movie, I suppose, but again the dialog seemed pointless, as did the father buttering the bread then rolling an ear of corn in it. How did that advance the plot? What pissed me off the most was the way the movie made scientists look so evil and alien. Sigh.

A.I. was the worst though. Being sf readers, perhaps we expected too much. It just didn’t have any new ideas, except perhaps for ways of leaving plot holes. I did like some of the scenery, but the rest of the movie just didn’t hold together. Near the end, a reference to the “space-time continuum” being responsible for reuniting two characters for only a limited time was just pulled out of the ether–Balonium of the highest atomic weight.

Oh well.


Beautiful turn of phrase!


In my opinion, Spielberg has only ever made one good movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark. And I haven’t seem that since I was 10. He has a unique gift of creating characters I instantly hate.

And that’s the end of my rant.

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You ever see his work on “Night Gallery” and the TV movie, “Duel”?

And he directed “Jaws”, as well.

I’m not crazy about some of his stuff myself, but I recognize when someone’s good or at least pretty decent. I liked the characters in “Jaws” even if I didn’t like the movie itself; it’s the only film with Richard Dreyfuss in which I like his character.


I agree that was a good one. So different from anything else at the time (as was true for the first Star Wars film).

BTW, a friend who has a FB account sent this around today:


I agree Duel was pretty good.

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Dennis Weaver should get some of the credit for it being good, too.

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Yup. I want to slap everyone in that movie other than the shark.


Aw, come on - I liked Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw!

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Oh, yeah. He was great in the movie.

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An early role for Daniel Stern!

And I forgot about Warren Oates - another one of my faves! But he’s in…a suit and tie?

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Spielberg has had 45 years to win me over. It’s not happening.

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Hollywood ‘sci-fi’ is a completely different genre than written sci-fi.

Ok, go ahead and have your spacecraft make whooshing noises through the soundless space, and have knights with fancy swords fight wizards with magic spells to rescue the princess. Hollywood still doesn’t even know what sci-fi is.

But you can’t teach them, so may as well just let them pretend. For real sci-fi, you pretty much have to go to indie films.


what the

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It’s really frustrating. Sometimes they can manage–Gattaca and Arrival come to mind–but for the most part, Hollywood doesn’t get it.

:laughing: I overstated the case. Perhaps “didn’t make me throw up?”

Here’s an interesting link (that didn’t box for some reason): https://movieweb.com/sci-fi-movies-scientifically-accurate


Interesting. I really enjoyed that one, though probably more for the eye candy and visual effects than the actual story. And I know it’s popular to hate on Spielberg, but I really don’t. He makes movies that sell big, and he’s very good at that. I would have changed the ending, but oh well, I am not a billionaire filmmaker.

Scifi books are a completely different thing than scifi movies, and I’m okay with that. In a way, I’m glad that none of Clarke’s Rama books have been tried as movies; I doubt that the complex issues he always presented would translate well to the big screen. Especially given the quality of screenwriting that modern movies demand, where everything has to be a “blockbuster” in order to be successful. Certainly that’s true of the 2xxx group-- all the sequels were incredibly bad. Similarly, I want to see the Avatar sequel(s) too, but on the other hand, I’m kind of dreading where they’ll go.

One thing that I felt that AI did well was point out the dichotomy between corporate science and how people will feel about the product. Corporate AI is an evil thing, and will be designed to manipulate our emotions to get us to use and spend money on it. In my career, I’ve known far too many corporate scientists, and if there’s a group that exemplifies Ian Malcolm’s maxim of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” it’s corporate scientists.


It is possible to make a good scifi movie, though, whether based on a novel or not. I suppose converting any novel to a movie has a problem of length, which is where I think a mini-series might be one answer.

I’ve often thought the Vorkosigan saga by Bujold would make an excellent set of miniseries if the characters, background, and plots were followed faithfully, i.e. one mini-series per novel, say.

Interesting. I guess I’ve been fortunate to mostly deal with corporate scientists and engineers from the medical device industry. Most of those I met were genuinely interested in helping patients, as far as I could tell. One big exception was the physician who owned Shelhigh Implantables.

I think I’m getting off the subject of this thread!

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Schindler’s List