“Dune” (1984 film)

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I admit I’m not a fan David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune. I have many problems with the film, but the biggest is that it completely misses the point of the novel. Dune is not a hero’s journey. It’s not simply a grimdark Star Wars. Rather, it’s a story about the dangers of charismatic leadership and the interplay between political and religious power. In the movie, we don’t get to her Paul’s internal struggle, much less any hint that his jihad might have negative repercussions for the future. Indeed, in the final scene from the film, rain pours down as if to bless Paul’s victory.    Continue reading ““Dune” (1984 film)”

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“The Last Starfighter”

the-last-starfighter-posterI’d heard about The Last Starfighter for years, but always from people who claimed it merely copied Star Wars. During the 1980s, many studios tried to imitate the Star Wars phenomenon. Paramount pulled Star Trek out of mothballs so it could have its own sci-fi franchise. Universal’s Battlestar Galactica was embroiled in lawsuits with 20th Century Fox over copyright infringement (not surprising given that Universal hired key members of the Star Wars production team). Dozens of other copycat space adventure films from that era have faded into obscurity. Continue reading ““The Last Starfighter””

“Enemy Mine”

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Enemy Mine had the potential to be a science fiction classic, but gets bogged down by Hollywood clichés. The script is based on a short story of the same name by Barry B. Longyear. Indeed, the first two-thirds of the film feel like classic science fiction. The last third doesn’t.

The concept is quite simple. In the future, humans are at war with an alien race called the Drac. A human pilot, Willis E. Davidge (Dennis Quaid), crashes on a planet with a Drac pilot, Jeriba Shigan (Louis Gossett, Jr.). The two have to learn to overcome their differences for the sake of survival in a hostile environment.

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“Robocop” (1987)

robocop__1987_movie_poster_by_lelmer77-d5cdbn2I finally saw the RoboCop reboot a few months ago, so I decided to rematch the original 1987 RoboCop by director Paul Verhoeven and writer Edward Neumeier.

Much has been made of Verhoeven’s social commentary in the film. As is typical of 1980s sci-fi films, the villain is a cabal of corporate executives and gangsters obsessed with profit. Through its use of fake TV infomercials, RoboCop pokes fun at excessive capitalism and its intrusion into everyday life. In the film, capitalism dehumanizes people, both figuratively, by treating them as mere consumers, and literally, when Omni Consumer Products takes police officer Murphy’s body and places it in a mechanical suit. Continue reading ““Robocop” (1987)”