Thursday, June 10, 2010

Take Me To Your Theater

When it rains, it pours here at Blogometrics. That means another dose of "Smack Talk" with our old friend Smack.

This time we try to hash out a movie idea that will use the theme of world domination, in the hopes that it gets us on our way to just that.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: I have a movie idea.

Smack: Ok. Shoot.

B: it's called The Liberators, or something to that effect.In essence, it's a sci-fi movie about aliens coming to Earth. However, instead of clouding the premise of their arrival with "are they here to conquer? to explore? for peace, war, resources, etc?" it's made clear right away, via a message sent ahead of their arrival, that they're here to liberate us. Liberate us from the unnatural state of slavery that we live in. The aliens point out that our society's flaws are the flaws that truly cause the Earth's problem. They point to the fact that we live our lives to work for some one else - long story short, they use the cliches that 1) you spend more time with your co-workers than you do with your family, 2) most of us carry out this work for a cause or purpose that we do not enjoy, fully understand, and work towards a cause which has supposed benefits to our society that we cannot understand, 3) our children are herded to schools to spend more time with teachers and classmates than with their families to learn the skills required to take an a job as described again, 4) no other living creature acts this way.

Earthlings are obviously skeptical, as the exact nature of the liberation plan is not fully disclosed. Our political and military leaders are more than skeptical, they begin to pursue a strategy of conflict.

Now, where do you think it should go from there, and how could this film best hold the themes that A) we live, essentially, meaningless lives in a world we do not relate to within a universe we do not comprehend, B) there is no right and wrong, only your point of view, and C) keep the obvious 'America invading Iraq to liberate people who could vaguely understand the idea that things weren't great there, but maybe just help us fix it instead of destroying everything we know as a civilization' themed reference (like every movie has nowadays)?

I'm thinking it should end in conflict, develop a storyline around a cautiously optimistic A) reporter, B) scientist or C) politician who wants to believe the aliens, sees the inevitable conflict coming, survives the global war of near annihilation, and begins to rebuild his life.


S: I feel like it’s too thinly veiled and the whole political allegory thing is overdone. I would like more information about this liberation plan, regardless of whether it matters in the movie.

B: Two thoughts on your first point:

1) Do you have a suggestion on how to better "mask" the allegory?

2) I was kind of tending towards leaning towards it being thinly veiled - almost satirical of Avatar, District 9 - and even other non-sci-fi movies that use these kind of themes. Do you think that I could even crank that to 11 and make it better as satire? Does it work as satire where it is now?

On your second point:

1) Sticking with the whole satire/allegory theme above, what if the liberation plan was the gift of freedom from A) possessions, B) money, C) access to an untapped wealth of resources elsewhere in the solar system/galaxy/universe (and a means to procure it)?

Now, sticking especially with the third theme, could we go even further into the satire/allegory and have it turn out that the aliens, in fact, would benefit from our mining the resources of another world - and it turns out to be our reporter/scientist/politician "hero" that discovers this scheme, alerts our military leaders and sets off the war of the worlds scenario?

Actually, that could be it. The aliens come to liberate us by providing us with a Utopian level supply of every resource we could ever devise, or need, including, say, the ability to create and manipulate matter. This would not only remove any sort of power advantage one person could have over another, but would also make any person as powerful as they wished to be (somehow our world would need to rid itself of its violent tendencies, but let's not get bogged down with the existential stuff when we've only got 2 hours to work with). The aliens point us in a direction of a Utopian, benevolent lifestyle...but it turns out that we are serving their interests by starving another world of it's resources and crippling the enemies of our "liberators." When this is discovered by the main character, he informs his former adversaries - the typical Hollywood generals, politicians etc who were all war from the word go, and after ultimately convincing Earth's leaders of the threat, all out war occurs.

How do I wrap this up?

And how do I not make this too much of an Avatar (which I have not seen) knock-off?

S: What if you develop a character in one of the aliens? Kind of personify the alien and maybe the head aliens are convincing their species that what they’re doing is for the greater good, but then this one alien discovers that there’s actually a hidden agenda and revolts and joins forces with the humans and helps them combat the aliens and truly liberate the earth.

That’s basically Avatar.

What if you made this like a “Not Another Teen Movie” of political allegories? Except don’t make it slapstick.

B: Bingo.

We play it both ways. There's an alien sentinel sent ahead to scout us, or one of the visiting aliens develops a guilty conscience - either way, they're the ones who inform our reporter/scientist/liberal politician that he needs to put an end to this arrangement. The second scenario works better, because if all of the sudden "hey, I was a sentinel sent ahead of time and I've learned to love your people -that's TOO over the top in it's theft of literally every politically themed sci-fi movie ever. Or is that what we want?

Another tidbit I've thought of: The aliens claims to have no weapons, but when the conflict occurs, not only do they have traditional sci-fi movie lasers and typical blue energy bomb things - but they can also unleash the Earth's fury through earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc. This makes for a good excuse for some special effects wizardry, and also, if we are looking to incorporate as many sci-fi movies as we can (as our stated goal), you can add "2012" to the list.

Now we need to decide. Are we going to go the route of incorporating every sci-fi movie that draws on the current military/political hot topic of it's day (without going too overboard and, like you say, turn it into "Not Another Teen Movie"), or should we shy away from ideas that are already overtly taken?We also still need to wrap the film up. Our character finds himself in the post war/post every natural disaster ever world. Now...

- Is his alien informant there?

- What lesson does this movie want to ultimately teach?

- Does this movie even want to teach a lesson, or is this movie like Transformers (I dare you to find a lesson in those movies besides "be nice to your car, it may be an evil robot from space")?

- Do we borrow the lesson from another sci-fi movie?

Lastly, is there room for a love interest here? And don't even think of suggesting the informant and the reporter. Watching the attempted development of romantic chemistry between Mark Walberg as a human and Helena Bonham Carter as an "evolved" chimp in the latest remake of Planet of the Apes was one of the most singularly off-putting plot lines I have ever experienced.

S: An interspecies romance between the informant and the reporter would also be Avatar.

Add Independence Day to the list. I’m thinking we’ll need either Will Smith or Harrison Ford for this movie. Or both. I think the resolution would be this:With the help of the alien informant, Earth’s superpowers are able to temporarily put aside their differences and band together to fend off the aliens. The informant stays on Earth or is killed in battle. Maybe throw in a tear jerking scene where the alien slowly dies in the hands of the reporter. After all the natural disasters and war Earth enters a rebuilding phase. World leaders recognize that despite the alien’s ulterior motives, they were right about our self destructive way of life. The rebuilding and restructuring of Earth is undertaken with a new global philosophy which stresses autonomy, mastery and purpose in the workplace, while also valuing family and renewable resources. End with a potshot at Al Gore.

B: Hmm...

I think that crosses the line into "Not Another Sci Fi Movie" territory.

I think we could do it less tongue in cheek about the build up to war being a world wide united front all along, but as far as the rebuilding phase, I was thinking more wasteland-y than a scenario in which any world leaders - or much of a semblance of the world remains.

I'm thinking one of those simple lesson-teaching moments, like at the end of Planet of the Apes (gasp - it's Earth! - not sure the lesson there, but you follow me), here are a few examples (none of these should be used, most are for illustration AND humor):

- The lead character rises from the rubble, is the only human left for miles and miles of post-apocalyptic NYC, DC, Boston, Chicago, etc, takes out his wallet and burns his cash.

- It's years later. A small group of survivors, including the hero (in this case, played by Mark Walberg, who now has his silly Walberg beard to let viewers know "this is the wasteland, there are no razors!"), have banded together and are living a rural lifestyle in what appear to be the wooded mountains of the American West. As they sit around the fire one night, Marky Mark takes his trusty dog a few feet away from the circle, and into the woods. He bows down, looks him in the eye, pats him on the head, and lets him go.

- Jesus Christ shows up and takes the remaining humans with him to heaven.

Something like that. Simple, profound.


ed. note: Not surprisingly, Smack and I found it difficult to come up with an original ending to the most unoriginal sci-fi movie ever. So, if any readers have ideas, we're all ears.

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