Friday Favourites: feel good science fiction
By Hodderscape Team
Posted on August 14, 2015 in Books, Film, Friday Favourites with tags
Here are the science fictions books and films that put a big a smile on Team Hodderscape’s face.
I’ve written about Jupiter Ascending before and, following the AV Club’s devastating take-down of it (published yesterday and well worth a read, even though I fundamentally disagree with it) I feel compelled to write about Jupiter Ascending again.
Jupiter Ascending is a mess. It is a huge, colourful, explosion-heavy, exposition-heavy, overacted, overwritten, overproduced adrenaline-fueled nightmare of science fictional overwhelmingness. There are space princesses and genetically engineered animal/man hybrid soldiers and humongous costumes and crazed setpieces that bring nothing to mind so much as Peter Jackson’s famous art direction of Shelob in Return of the King: when asked whether the giant spider model was scary enough, he grabbed handfuls of clay and started lumping them onto the frame, and didn’t stop until Shelob was twice as big and tumorous and warty and horrible. The Wachowskis were clearly after the same effect with Jupiter Ascending; for every scene (I imagine), every costume, every moment of the entire film, they’d stomp in and start smacking handfuls of CG clay to it until whatever was going on was so overemphasized it went from ‘fine’ to ‘overdone’ to ‘burnt to a crisp’ to ‘good god, they actually did that on purpose!’ Jupiter Ascending is a joyously unselfconscious exercise in total self-indulgence.
So how is all this meant to be ‘feel-good science fiction’? Well, the good guys win (more or less), the status quo is restored (with one big exception), the girl gets the dog-man boy and skates off into the sunset, and I emerged from the cinema with a giant grin plastered all over my face. And I had the same grin on the second time I saw the film, at about 3 am on a trans-Atlantic flight. Jupiter Ascending is a mess, but it’s a happy-making mess.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I’ve mentioned this comic a tonne of times on here because I absolutely love it. The series’ diversity and humour really reminds me of The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, and, like Long Way, this space opera is packed full of unforgettable characters (and a few unforgettable sexy times). It’s all about little people up against big odds – always a recipe for feels – and facing them with humour and various levels of incompetence. Though an interplanetary war that has lasted for centuries may be their biggest obstacle, getting along with each other is also pretty tough.
Star Wars is the ultimate feel-good story: teenage boy plucked from obscurity and certain death by wise old man, told he is special and has magic powers, joins the fight against evil (and kicks ass), kisses his hot sister, saves the world. Okay, I’m over-simplifying it, but seriously, how can you not love these three perfect films**? Luke Skywalker goes from whiner to winner, Han Solo becomes a human being, rather than a reckless, smuggling idiot, and Leia thaws out and stops insulting people so much (Nerf Herder? *gasp*). The secondary cast are all brilliant and have so much personality – from Chewie to Yoda, Lando to Admiral Ackbar – and the films can cause you to burst into tears (Ewoks dying) or punch the air in triumph (the entire escape from Jabba’s Palace scene from Return of the Jedi). Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned lightsaber fight.
If you’re still not convinced, bopping along to the Cantina Band is a sure-fire way to increase endorphins.
**I’m choosing to forget that Episodes 1-3 were ever made.