The Terminator

Where Are All the New Sci-Fi Movie Franchises?

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Well, there’s going to be a new Alien movie, and for some reason, this is good news. Word broke yesterday that Neill Blomkamp, writer/director of District 9 and the forthcoming Chappie, closed a deal with 20th Century Fox to helm a new film in the sci-fi/monster franchise, and everyone is very excited, somehow ignoring the fact that Ridley Scott’s 1979 original has yielded exactly one good sequel (James Cameron’s Aliens) and no fewer than five more that are varying degrees of terrible (Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Alien vs. Predator, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, and Scott’s own Prometheus). That’s a 16 percent sequel success rate, kids, so let’s maybe keep it in our pants for a minute — particularly as Variety is reporting that the Blomkamp Alien is “separate from Prometheus 2, which Fox is still making with Ridley Scott.” Oh, cool, so they’re making like a whole Alien Cinematic Universe, awesome idea, A-plus you guys. But here’s the more pressing issue: in this era of mega budgets and limitless effects possibilities, why has science fiction fallen so specifically prey to the endless sequel-remake-reboot machine? Where are the new sci-fi franchises?
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A Brief History of Hollywood Being Totally Terrified of Computers

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“Our world interconnected. Our systems interconnected. Our identities vulnerable.” So goes the on-screen tagline in the trailer for Michael Mann’s new cyber-thriller Blackhat, and as the word “identities” is replaced by “security,” “homes,” “secrets,” “money,” “privacy,” “safety,” and the like — along with a giant close-up of a cable plugging in — it’s easy to chuckle along with Hollywood doing one more fear-mongering thriller about hackers taking down sacred cows and exposing private information, as if such a thing were actually plausible. (Oh, wait.) Yes, the Sony hack suddenly made Blackhat’s potentially worrisome January release suddenly timely and relevant, but it’s part of a long tradition of films that looked at the capabilities of computers, artificial intelligence, and the Internet — and shit their collective pants over it.
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