The 10 Best Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed
February 13, 2006 10:40 PM   Subscribe

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed
posted by Tlogmer (157 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sorry, but where was Neuromancer in that list? Did I miss it? Why make a top ten list if half of them are talking about the same series of films?
posted by durin at 10:58 PM on February 13, 2006


A distinct lack of the horrible PDK films in that list... There could have been so many great movies.

The present trend in Hollywood leads me to believe we'll probably get an adaptation of something like Rocket Robin Hood. I joked about this when I was a kid, however as Morrisey would say, "That joke isn't funny any more..."

Perhaps they can take the next Spiderman film and shoot the Rocket Robin Hood version of it at the same time.
posted by juiceCake at 11:00 PM on February 13, 2006


I like the Something Awful-style righteous geek indignation prose.
posted by ori at 11:04 PM on February 13, 2006


"Weird, Aunt May took one bite of that turkey leg, threw it over her shoulder, did the same thing with an apple, and now she's eating that turkey leg again! Shouldn't there be a pile of wasted food behind her? And why does Spider-Man have an Electro-Quarterstaff?"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:08 PM on February 13, 2006


I read the list, which was mildly entertaining, but it didn't mention the 12 part HBO Watchmen mini-series that exists only on the DVD library in Morpheus' imaginary castle from Gaiman's the Sandman series. Oooh, how you like me now, ladies? That's right, I just mix-metaphor cross-referenced imaginary Alan Moore film projects with enhanced Neil Gaiman plot elements. Sexy, eh?
posted by jonson at 11:11 PM on February 13, 2006


I liked it; I never knew about the original Aliens 3 trailer. But I liked the Gamer's Manifesto better:

Where's the game where we're a castaway on a deserted island and the object of the game is to find food and clean water and build a shelter, a game where we can play for one month or six months, because whether or not we get rescued is randomized? Where every time we restart we get a different island with different wildlife and vegetation and water sources?

Where's the game where we play a salty Southern lawyer who has to piece together evidence to exonerate a black man falsely accused of murder, breaking down witnesses and spotting inconsistencies in testimony?...Where's the game where we're a pre-op transsexual where the object of the game is to gather enough money to complete the operation?

...Considering how broad the gaming market is now, there is a remarkably narrow range of games out there. Could this be what the news wires were talking about last year when they spoke of a "crisis of creativity" in gaming?


Amen. The sameness of gaming is really odd.
posted by mediareport at 11:14 PM on February 13, 2006


anyone read the Gibson screenplay for Aliens 3?

Someone has cut down the Matrix sequels into one movie. It still sucks.
posted by hototogisu at 11:22 PM on February 13, 2006


I am totally and completely done with slamming the Garth Jennins Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Maybe I'm the odd Adams-fanatic out, but I was overwhelmed with how well Jennings et al. adapted the material, and I hope they give him a crack at Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
posted by ford and the prefects at 11:27 PM on February 13, 2006


ford, you're just so into the story that you've tricked yourself into liking the movie, since it's the only big budget (semi-big budget) take on the book to make it past development hell.
posted by jonson at 11:29 PM on February 13, 2006


No mention of Jodorowsky's "Dune"? Come on.
posted by bobo123 at 11:40 PM on February 13, 2006


I only read this to see where they ranked "Buckaroo Banzai vs. the World Crime League".

They didn't, as it turns out...which definitely throws the entire list into question. Ah well.
posted by First Post at 11:45 PM on February 13, 2006


i watched HHGTTG whilst slightly drunk. It was good! Maybe there's a whole raft of so-so "meh" kind of films that are best enjoyed inebriated?
posted by slater at 11:46 PM on February 13, 2006


I pray everynight for a decent version of neuromancer. fahrenheit 451 was a bizarre disappointment too. I also wish rollerball, planet of the apes & around the world in 80 days we're never redone. I didnt ask for these remakes, doesnt hollywood listen?
no

do a yahoo search of "horrible movie remakes", there's a ton of regirgitated slop coming our way.

great article, thanks for posting it.
posted by lsd4all at 11:47 PM on February 13, 2006


ford, you're just so into the story that you've tricked yourself into liking the movie, since it's the only big budget (semi-big budget) take on the book to make it past development hell.

Not exactly, jonson. I liked Jennings's work precisely because it wasn't a slave to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed Martin Freeman's performance, Mos Def to me was the ideal Ford Prefect, and Sam Rockwell...well, I don't want to gush, but I just lurv him.

I understand the problems with the Jennings version, and I agree with many of them. Yes, the love story was pitifully executed and utterly unnecessary; yes, things like the opening "wrecking crew" sequence were needlessly shorn. And that's a shame.

But at the end of the film, I felt like what I got was a well-directed, brilliantly acted version of a story that I like. I do love the material, jonson, but not to the point that I can overlook crap if it's got the HHG2G stamp on it. I really and genuinely dug the Spike Jonze-Michel Gondry-ness of the picture.

Quick correlative: I adore Satyricon, the book, but find Fellini's Satyricon film nearly unwatchable. And Fellini is my favorite director -- hell, I even enjoyed Intervista and il Bidone. Dig me?

OK, geek hat is off. Sorry.
posted by ford and the prefects at 11:48 PM on February 13, 2006


I also quite liked the Hitchhiker's Guide movie. Not because I'm so into the story I'll eat up anything, but the opposite: the book, while fun, is really not that untouchably amazing, just kind of a high-spirited romp – and so's the movie.

The Matrix really didn't need any sequels. Once upon a time it was this perfectly crystallized thing. It kind of still is, for me, since I haven't seen anything that came afterwards.

The linked site. Kind of disappointing. They led with their best scoop. I hadn't heard of that Aliens 3 trailer either. The rest was just a buncha what-ifs.
posted by furiousthought at 11:52 PM on February 13, 2006


I disagree. The Hitchhiker's guide movie was funny when possible. It wasn't perfect, but where it wasn't funny NO ADAPTATION OF THE BOOKS HAS EVER BEEN FUNNY.

the bbc tv show was godawful except where narrated, same here. The difference is that there were also funny bits when Ford, Arther and Zaphod land on the administrative planet and get hit by a creature every time they have a thought. Not in any adaptation that I'm aware of (was it in the books? it's been a while and I forget.) I laughed hard. Marvin was also FINALLY portrayed humorously, thanks to the genius of Alan Rickman.

Oh, and when Slartibartfast takes Arthur through the Universe 2.0 I was floored. Yes, it's flashy fx, but I was filled with awe at the sight of it, so nyah.

So maybe it wasn't the best thing ever, but I'm convinced nothing will be. The books were genius, and the difficulty in adapting them is precisely where mr. wong put it: the funny is in the narration. So I don't think it's possible, but this movie came fairly close.
posted by shmegegge at 11:53 PM on February 13, 2006


I was... disagreeing with Jonson. way to preview, me.
posted by shmegegge at 11:55 PM on February 13, 2006


I read the Gibson screenplay for Alien 3 many years ago. It's an interesting read.

As much as I would love to see a Neuromancer film... it would never be as brilliant as it needs to be. Hollywood would screw it up with to much "pretty" CGI.

It looks and sounds and smells much better in my minds eye.

Besides... with each passing day Gibson's imagined world is twisting into our collective human reality.

Good times.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:03 AM on February 14, 2006


But why canonize the books so? The books themselves were adaptations, the first two at least. Really, the Hitchhiker's Guide canon is kind of this amorphous thing. You'd have to throw in the radio plays, the books, and the game, I think. It's this nebulous world that Adams riffed on until he got sick of the whole thing and sunk it all with Mostly Harmless, which in my opinion is more of a groin-kick to the series than anything else including the TV show.

Actually a big part of my enjoyment of the bureaucracy-planet scene was delight that it was so much better and in the Hitchhiker's spirit than how it looked in the *shudder* trailer.
posted by furiousthought at 12:05 AM on February 14, 2006


But why canonize the books so?

GREAT point! It's a fluid legacy, a constantly changing storyline. I'd liken it, with literary pretense hat firmly on, to the Dutch Cockaigne legends or Arthurian myth. We're dealt this handful of characters, scenarios, and bits of biography, and allowed to alter them in any way we see fit. It's part of the genius of consummate iconoclast Douglas Adams that he was even willing to overthrow his own works for the sake of improvement/revision.

I wrote an essay on this very subject back in my NYU days, and it turned my love of Douglas Adams from a childish nostalgic fixation to a genuine respect for a massively talented writer of the 20th century.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:20 AM on February 14, 2006


You know, I think it would be great if they made a movie about snakes. On a plane.

*ducks and runs*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:31 AM on February 14, 2006


No mention of Jodorowsky's "Dune"? Come on.

Oh yeah! I forgot about that. That movie would've been something.
posted by ori at 12:43 AM on February 14, 2006


Yes, I enjoyed the hitchhikers movie more when I was drunk.

There were some very good bits, like the part in the airlock when Arthur and Ford fall down out of the airlock instead of out the side as every other sci-fi airlock always has.

Also, getting whacked for thinking, Ford trying to shake hands with an oncoming car...

The movie needed more of that, Douglas Adams style humor but expressed visually.

What really annoyed me was the sound track. Any comedy that relies on that much...I don't even know what it is called...just the standard whacky comedy music in the background when they are talking. It makes it feel like a kiddy movie and gets on my nerves.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:44 AM on February 14, 2006


Aliens 3? Yeah, because who the hell is William Gibson. Jesus. Goofs in suits or what? Neuromancer would probably be a better as a movie by now.
Still I’d rather see something like Burning Chrome on film. Better suited.

Doom - Verhoven, yeah. But what it really needs is Bruce Campbell.
-
Yes, yes, Gaiman, yes, Moore, yes Fellini.
But lemme just up the geek ante here...

*hoists pants, set to ‘flood’*

I keep thinking it’d be nice to see a film based on Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone series, but it’s not going to happen. And almost certainly not in a good way.
I mean how do you really show pure evil and decadance and cruelty without an NC-17 rating.
If it were true to the novels, it’d get an X.

That and Ranxerox.
/dig it ladies - full on nihilistic sword & sorcery & sci fi violent fantasy alls I need is a combover and some anime.
*goes off to play MOO2 b/c MOO3 sux*
*watches HHG2TG t.v. series on - VCR!*
I couldn’t geek out more without movin’ back in with mom.


Great post
posted by Smedleyman at 12:45 AM on February 14, 2006


Well, if we've upped the ante to Moorcock, someone had better insert Fritz Leiber into this discussion...
posted by hototogisu at 12:53 AM on February 14, 2006


I, Robot — the illustrated screenplay by Harlan Ellison, art by Mark Zug, is still waiting in the wings.

What 2004 version?
posted by cenoxo at 12:55 AM on February 14, 2006


Snow Crash absolutely needs to be filmed, if only for the pizza delivery sequence at the beginning. And to see Neal Stephenson do a press junket.
posted by gsteff at 1:04 AM on February 14, 2006


The Neuromancer movie had something like five different scripts. The last time I bothered to look Chris Cunningham was working on it, but I'll be perfectly truthful here: I hope it's never made into a movie, because it's too perfect a book. Mona Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome and Count Zero would all make perfectly good movies -- Count Zero especially, aren't there two battles going on at the end? Just leave Neuromancer in the perfect form it's in. You can't do better.

Also, the whole thing about the Alien aliens coming to Earth: they saved it for the book(s). I remember reading them (at 12 or whatever) and thinking, what an awesome movie this would be!
posted by raaka at 1:25 AM on February 14, 2006


Interesting list - a lot of the stuff he's saying is really obvious (the Star Wars prequels were a bad idea, you say?), but he makes some good points, too. I'm in the 'really disappointed' camp when it came to the Hitchhiker's movie - it wasn't the Americanisation so much as the fact they seemed to have stripped out as many Adams lines as possible and replaced them with functionally identical ones that weren't funny, or that tried to be funny in a sort of raucous, shrill, shouting-as-comedy way. I'm not sure the Shaun/Spaced team could've done better, though - it seems like the list guy's just picked the funniest British film he saw last year and assumed, since both things are British, that they'd work perfectly.

Oh yeah, mediareport, the quote from that guy's 'gamer's manifesto' reminded me - two of the games he proposes already exist (and arguably, playing as Birdo in Mario Tennis emulates the third), and did when he wrote it. They're just of Japanese origin, and the whole list's incredibly Americocentric. And one of them isn't very good.
posted by terpsichoria at 1:27 AM on February 14, 2006


...Where's the game where we play a salty Southern lawyer who has to piece together evidence to exonerate a black man falsely accused of murder, breaking down witnesses and spotting inconsistencies in testimony?"

It's here - Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney - pretty much.

And it's groin-grabbingly good, to boot.
posted by Obscure Injoke at 1:28 AM on February 14, 2006


I always thought anime would provide the Snow Crash movie for us. So far though, nothing... :(
posted by adamt at 1:38 AM on February 14, 2006


I started reading the article, but the writer doesn't have a fucking clue as to what he's talking about.

The William Gibson script for Alien3 (bear in mind that Gibson is literally my favorite author) is terible. It mutates the aliens into an infectious virus of sorts. And Hicks is the main character with Newt playing a small role at the beginning. Ripley is simply shot back into space in a cryochamber.

The reason Alien 3 is as bad as it is, is because of Fox and the control they exerted on Fincher. And that's all. If you watch the 30 minute longer version (in the Alien Quadrilogy boxset) you can begin to see what the film had the _potential_ to be. The studio was constantly harassing Fincher to do more of what they wanted (more weapons, less plot/character, more action, more of the alien) and Fincher had to fight for every decision made. The same thing happened with Scott and Cameron, but they were able to push their own ideas through, Fincher was kept on a tighter leash.
For intance, Fincher had intended on reshoots to fully create his own vision, but the studio tore down the sets to insure that he could not shoot any more footage. He had to cut together the film from what they had. That version was then re-cut and the running time was 30 minutes less and more "actiony". The studio basically wanted Aliens part II, with action, while Fincher wanted to go back to the first film.

You'll also notice how the longer version is not called the "director's cut" because Fincher has distanced himself from the project and vowed never to work with Fox again. He's also completely missing from the behind-the-scenes stuff (a late minute edit of the extras before the discs went to print).

Alien Resurrection is another story. The studio wanted a certain type of film so they hired Jeunet, who, by his own admission, didn't care about the franchise and only did what he was told. Just look at the result. Fucking dreadful. It's so obviously a film made by a committee. Some great moments slapped together with no cohesive storyline or character arc.

To say that the problem with Alien 3 was "Budget, mostly" is just lazy research and no knowlegde of the realities of the production.

Not sure I can be bothered to read the rest.

And yeah, where's Neuromancer?
I'm also glad that The Fountain is actually being made...
posted by slimepuppy at 1:47 AM on February 14, 2006


Another vote for Snow Crash here. But I don't think they could do it justice without Terry Gilliam (or maybe Quentin Tarantino) directing, a screenplay written by Neal Stephenson himself, and a $900m budget.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 2:05 AM on February 14, 2006


For god's sake please don't encourage Hollywood to try and condense Snow Crash into 116 minutes. Okay - here's my version in the form of Haiku

************** HAIKU FORMAT SPOILER WARNING**************

Lights flash! black lozenge,
Pizza late! Skater rescues,
Hiro runs with sword.

Da5id reads a scroll,
Raven is a nasty man,
Juanita tells us.

Lots of language stuff,
Hey look now it's Google Earth,
Raven kills some guys.

Hiro buys a bike,
And then it's just a chase scene,
But where is Y.T?

On the Enterprise,
Rife plans world domination,
By hacking hackers.

Hiro and Fisheye,
Trade poontang for a motor,
Listen to "Reason".

Y.T. and Raven,
Getting jiggy in a crate,
Oh no! Dentata!

Y.T. escapes crate,
Hiro rescues the girl, then,
Another chase scene.

Hackers are now safe,
Uncle Enzo likes real steel,
Rat thing fucks up Rife.

************** HAIKU FORMAT SPOILER WARNING**************

Please don't let it happen. I beg you.
posted by longbaugh at 2:33 AM on February 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


FOOTFALL (Larry Niven) from the point of view of the invading aliens, done as FULL METAL JACKET/APOCALYPSE NOW. Follows one of the elephant-shaped aliens through boot camp through to deployment in Namibia against human insurgents in an unwinnable war that is destroying alien society. Ends with the alien meeting the infamous mad alien "Colonel Kurtz", who has gone to ground in the ruins of human Ondangwa and believes the only way to win the war is to act like a human, killing prisoners and exterminating their young.

Fans would love it. Oh yes.
posted by alasdair at 3:09 AM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Don't panic everyone. At some point they'll realise they can make a Culture franchise.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:22 AM on February 14, 2006


The Mote in God's Eye, too
posted by pax digita at 3:22 AM on February 14, 2006


(and arguably, playing as Birdo in Mario Tennis emulates the third)

lol
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:24 AM on February 14, 2006


2010? ... 2060? ... 3001? ... daisy?...
posted by hal9k at 3:24 AM on February 14, 2006


They made 2010.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:25 AM on February 14, 2006


I swear that I saw a copy of Neuromancer in the book store years ago (maybe late eighties?) that had on the cover something like, "Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Costa-Gavras." Did anyone else see that or am I so old and dottering that I'm miss-remembering? Every movie from Lawnmower Man to the Matrix has stolen so much from Neuromancer by now that it would be hard to make and still seem original.
posted by octothorpe at 4:00 AM on February 14, 2006


This link has made me quite livid about the lack of intelligent scifi films in recent years. I want a new 2001. Remaking Solaris does not cut it.

Since they included (a lot of) films that were actually made, maybe I should add a few films that should've been done better.

1. A.I. - Spielberg rapes Kubrick's still warm body. Sugary excess causes an outbreak of diabetes.

2. I, Robot - Proyas teams up with Will Smith et al to urinate on Asimov's grave. Somewhat misses the point of the original story.

I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting about.

Generally any adaptation of Philip K. Dick's stories. Curious to see if Linklater gets it right in A Scanner Darkly.

Doom also missed the point by not having the armies of hell but instead genetically mutated humans. (Science/too much knowledge is evil, kids!) Also, as one plot point they map the last part of the human genome... Which we kinda already did in 2000.

/aggro
posted by slimepuppy at 4:04 AM on February 14, 2006


No mention of Jodorowsky's "Dune"? Come on.

I agree. Though this is about feature films, Dune (and the other books) would make a great TV miniseries. I would suggest the next attempt be done by someone who understands the story.
posted by effwerd at 4:14 AM on February 14, 2006


Um effwerd, Dune miniseries.
posted by octothorpe at 4:20 AM on February 14, 2006


'Hitchhiker' was dreadful. It could have been good if they'd let any of the Farscape people worked on it - Executive Producer David Kemper, Richard Manning, any of the dozens of directors who worked on the show during its 4 year-run. That show was as much an homage to Hitchhiker as anything else – I think there was probably an Arthur Dent reference in every episode during the show's first 2 seasons.

And that whole Dune thing – my god!

Jodorowsky would have eaten a generation's worth of filmmaker's lunch if hhe'd been able to put that one together... a Pink Floyd score? Damn...
posted by vhsiv at 4:26 AM on February 14, 2006


The author is so close to the ultimate sci-fi realization: stop watching sci-fi movies. First, they're difficult to get right. Secondly, the self-censorship, economic concerns, and general crapiness of Hollywood almost guarantees a lousy product. Lastly, you can't automagically turn a book into a movie or just play 'movie fantasy league' and pretend you're smarter than everyone.

Saying this director or that script would have saved a movie shows quite a bit of ignorance of the filmmaking process. I'm sure if Lucas didn't do the prequels, fans would have screamed that if he did they would have been awesome.

Spend your 9 bucks on a sci-fi paperback and a mocha and stop complaining on the web about what could have been. For every nine dollars geeks pay hollywood for video game movies and other dreck the more dreck it creates. Just stop. Stop going to these movies and stop fooling yourself. Or as William Shatner famously said, "Get a life."

Also, am I the only person bothered by the idea that art doesn't matter unless someone turns it into a movie. That everything is below filmmaking? Its like a cult. "Turn this into a movie. Put in my favorite stars. *drool*"
posted by skallas at 4:28 AM on February 14, 2006


Links on Jodoowsky's history with 'Dune':
http://www.hotweird.com/jodorowsky/disinfo.html
http://www.hotweird.com/jodorowsky/dunestory.html
posted by vhsiv at 4:30 AM on February 14, 2006


Skallas, wow.
That's... really stupid.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:43 AM on February 14, 2006


In the alternate timeline which my brain sometimes visits, the big-budget Hitchhiker's movie was released in 2000, opening at a gala premiere in London. After the screening, creator and screenwriter Douglas Adams took a bow alongside director and effects designer Jim Henson. The two received a standing ovation which lasted nearly ten minutes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:08 AM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


FoB, I want to visit this alternate reality.
posted by bouncebounce at 5:29 AM on February 14, 2006


Where's the Beef: Quantifying the Missing Elements from Gollum's Loincloth. Vincent Friel, Loincloth Today. May 13, 2000. pp. 5-27.

Heh, heh...great link, interesting discussion.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:36 AM on February 14, 2006


I agree that the Hitchhiker's movie sucked- mostly for the same reasons as the guy who wrote this list. It just wasn't funny! Was it well done, other then that? Maybe. Doesn't matter. It still wasn't funny. I tried watching it twice, and fell asleep both times. This. Shouldnt. Be. Possible. The Hitchhiker's series taught a bitter, angst-filled, adolescent Afroblanco how to laugh. This movie was a soul-crushing disappointment.

I also agree that there needs to be more PKD in this list. There's gold in them thar books! Where's Ubik? Where's Flow My Tears? Where's Palmer Eldritch? So much potential. Lets just hope that if they ever do make movies out of these, they'll actually try to reproduce PKD's vision, and not just steal the "atmosphere" and use it to create yet another generic action thriller. (crossing my fingers for Scanner Darkly)

Also, where's Vonnegut in this list? Or have we decided that his books are simply unfilmable?
posted by Afroblanco at 5:38 AM on February 14, 2006


Ah, hellfire - I read this last night, before this post was made, by pure accident; I was transferring my bookmarks into delicious, and found one to pwot which I don't remember ever seeing before. Coulda had me a decent fpp :-(

Anyway, interesting list - and the link to Gibson's Alien 3 script was pretty cool...
posted by Chunder at 5:38 AM on February 14, 2006


Coupla things:

I actually enjoyed the HHGTTG movie for what it was. It was uneven, but there were pieces where I thought they got the tone just right. Still hoping for a Restaurant movie.

Hugely disappointed by the I, ROBOT movie -- I've always thought the Robot novels would make great movies, and then they Will Smithed it to death. And how about a Foundation movie?

I'd fucking LOVE a movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas. Or, at least, the android interview section.

And I can't help but wonder what a good movie adaptation of Wolfe's "Long Sun" books would be like. Probably impossible to make.
posted by papercake at 5:43 AM on February 14, 2006


I never hated Alien 3. But now that I know what it could have been, I kind of do now.
posted by a47danger at 5:44 AM on February 14, 2006


slimepuppy: Alien Resurrection ... Fucking dreadful.

You know, I completely agree with you. Completely. But I have to say, AR was one of the funniest movies I saw that whole year. Hi-freaking-larious. And you have to know that Sigourney Weaver and Michael Wincott and (most of) the other actors knew they were riding a turkey.

I put it up there with "Dude, Where's My Car?" and "Point Break" on my list of movies that are so spectacularly dumb, stupid, idiotic, that you can't help but laugh at them. I mean, when they got to the part where they have to swim through the flooded galley, and I suddenly realized I was watching a ripoff of The Poseidon Adventure? I like to bust a gut.

Of course, nobody else in the theatre got the joke....
posted by lodurr at 5:49 AM on February 14, 2006


Instead of I, Robot, a better Will Smith vehicle would've been Asimov's Caves of Steel. You've got murder, Blade Runner esque futuristic cities, robots, and the possibility of a cool fight scene on the slidewalks. It would've been good, and they wouldn't have had to change everything like they did for I, Robot.
posted by unreason at 5:54 AM on February 14, 2006


Aargh, no time to put together a top ten of my own. Here's a few ideas...

Adaptation of "The Legion of Time" by Jack Williamson
Can't believe this rip-roaring classic has never been filmed: motley crew of time travellers are picked up by a Time Ship, and have to fight their way through time to prevent a terrible future. Fast-paced, action packed, could be brilliant.

Director's Cut of Dune by David Lynch
Not usually a big fan of director's cuts, but David Lynch's movie was unquestionably cut to ribbons: some characters barely exist. A director's cut would have been something to see.

Adaptation of Time out of Joint by Philip K. Dick
Always seemed to me the most filmable of his novels. Has a good one-man-to-save-the-world gimmick, and good opportunities for chase scenes after 1950s reality dissolves into an apocalyptic present.

Adaptation of "Mort" by Terry Pratchett
His books have been in development hell for decades. This book's neatly standalone, has a great climax, and his usual great dialogue. Tim Burton would be great to direct.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:54 AM on February 14, 2006


Um effwerd, Dune miniseries.

Yeah, I know about that, octothorpe. See: I would suggest the next attempt be done by someone who understands the story.

And, omg, from that second vhsiv link:

I didn't want to respect the novel, I wanted to recreate it. For me, Dune didn't belong to Herbert just as Don Quixote didn't belong to Cervantes.

That's what I thought. What a dick. "[Herbert] hampered me..." He implies that Herbert was given Dune, rather than actually having worked on it, worked out the backstory, exacted the brilliant dialog, et cetera. And thus, it doesn't actually belong to Herbert. If anyone ever sees this motherfucker, please kick him in the balls for me.
posted by effwerd at 6:11 AM on February 14, 2006


Just remembered the best sci-fi TV series that never was:
Global Frequency by Warren Ellis.
(The bootleg of the pilot episode exists and it will be mine...)
posted by slimepuppy at 6:23 AM on February 14, 2006


FoB, I want to visit this alternate reality.

Interestingly enough, it's the same reality in which the Titanic never sank, and James Cameron directed the three-hour romantic epic Lusitania. It came out in 1986 and starred River Phoenix and Molly Ringwald.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:23 AM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


See the movie "Primer."

Not a great sci-fi movie, doesn't entirely make sense (which is probably the point), but pretty amazing for something made for like 10 grand. And it's outside the studio system that's victimized all the other movies.
posted by fungible at 6:28 AM on February 14, 2006


Boy, I'm glad that Jodorowsky version of Dune never got made, it sounds terrible. Here's part of his vision, "In my version of Dune, the Emperor of the Galaxy is mad. He lives on an artificial planet of gold, in a palace of gold constructed according to the non-laws of anti-logic. He lives in symbiosis with a robot identical to him." I had some issues with both version of Dune but this sounds like it would have been stageringly bad.
posted by octothorpe at 6:29 AM on February 14, 2006


slimepuppy, I've got to admit to really, really not liking the Global Frequency pilot. The dialogue didn't feel very Ellis at all, and too many things were sort of 'normalised' to be acceptable to a TV audience. Miranda came across as smug rather than expedient, I think Aleph had been killed and replaced by an MTV host, and I had a sneaking suspicion that every week's plot was going to be about terrists or accidents rather than killer cyborgs and memetic virii. The medium of TV was sapping all the excitement, character and fun out of it, and I'm glad it died when it did.

Regarding Dune, I've learned to count my blessings. The movie/TV adaptations might run the gamut from appalling to bearable, but at least nobody's tried to film the godawful prequels by his talent-deprived son. The Butlerian Jihad really a heroic war against an evil computer named Omnius? Robot sandworms? No thanks, Brian.

I sort of agree with Skallas, in the end. Dreaming about a Player of Games, Pollen or Shriek movie is fun, but the reality would likely be hideous. Although speaking of videogame adaptation films, there's a ray of light on the way in the form of Silent Hill, which is adapted from the game series with quite simply the best storyline I've ever encountered, and looks faithful, accessible and damn creepy.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:42 AM on February 14, 2006


I only read this to see where they ranked "Buckaroo Banzai vs. the World Crime League".
They didn't, as it turns out...which definitely throws the entire list into question. Ah well.


Absolutely.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on February 14, 2006


Anything by Harlan Ellison, done right.
posted by iamck at 6:46 AM on February 14, 2006


You know, in many ways I have to agree with skallas here. 95% of what comes out of Hollywood is so distorted and estranged from the source material that it inevitably ends up disappointing me. They can make good sci fi movies, but most sci fi novels aren't adapted well, or directed well - due to lack of budget, poor writing (generally due to attempts to "dumb it down" for the mindless fools they think we all are), conflicts between directors and studios, time constraints, and PR/marketing.

The biggest problem I see now is that studios are afraid to take a chance on a new idea. They'd rather pull a remake of an old film, using your favorite new actors. You'll show up because you either liked the original or like the actors. The other trend is to just do endless unnecessary sequels, because you already know the characters - again, the studios aren't risking anything there. It will generally be half-baked pap, but that half-baked pap will make money.

If Hollywood must do remakes, they really ought to be taking movies that weren't originally done well (due to the above problems and technical constraints of the times) and fix what was broken. It is entirely possible to take a good movie and update it without pissing on the original (King Kong, for example) but all too often we get a good movie reworked into shit. The efforts should really be put into taking unwatchable crap based on a good idea gone wrong and resurrecting it.

For once I'd like to see a big-budget film actually keep the tone of the original story. I Robot was nothing but I Candy with robots. They shouldn't be allowed to associate it with Asimov in any way, it's an insult to the original story. Starship Troopers? Oh, god. It was Space Army 90210. The only thing from Heinlein's book that made it into the movie was the alien bugs. They didn't even throw in the mech suits, and how the hell could that have gone wrong? Given the generation raised on Gundam and the like, the mech suits would have been huge. Can't understand why they decided to pass on that, even from a merchandising standpoint.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:46 AM on February 14, 2006


Director's Cut of Dune by David Lynch

Didn't that just recently come out on DVD? Yep, it did. That's 190 minutes of delicious Maud'Dib runtime.

Personally, I'd like to see a movie version of John Steakley's Armor.

Hey, Smedleyman: *goes off to play MOO2 b/c MOO3 sux*

GalCiv 2 > GalCiv > MOO2. GalCiv2 comes out in ONE WEEK.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:51 AM on February 14, 2006


Wow, this discussion is much better than the linked article, kudos all around.

But I am still not clear--what did happen to Star Wars 7, 8, and 9? When did Lucas cancel plans for the last three, and why?
posted by LarryC at 6:54 AM on February 14, 2006


Re. Startship Troopers: Am I the only one who feels like the Verhoeven flick was basically a reworking of that surprisingly effective Chris Carter series, Space: Above and Beyond?

(Which, yes, I know, was itself a rework of Heinlein's ST, but ...)
posted by lodurr at 6:56 AM on February 14, 2006


I don't think Doom should have made the list. Not because it wasn't bad, but its badness stemmed from a fundamental law of physics: No game can be made into a good movie. Street Fighter, Mario Bros, Tomb Raider, Wing Commander, Dungeons and Dragons, Clue...
posted by justkevin at 6:57 AM on February 14, 2006


LarryC: I can't be sure, but my guess would be that he cancelled them when he realized he had no freaking clue about what to do with them. Now, if only he'd had that kind of intellectual courage w.r.t. episodes 1-3....
posted by lodurr at 6:58 AM on February 14, 2006


C'mon, justkevin. Clue is a cult classic. And as for video game movies, Mortal Kombat turned out to be a pretty decent martial arts fantasy flick.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:05 AM on February 14, 2006


Lucas is a money-driven businessman, forget about story, plot or anything other than selling toys.

What I always wonder about is why there has never been a major motion picture version of "A Wrinkle in Time", by Madeleine L'Engle - it has all the elements needed for a blockbuster, including coherent sequels. Disney did a direct to video version which is horrific, and I understand a screenplay has been floating around for years with no real forward motion. I'm shocked that Spielberg hasn't jumped on it.

I worked at ILM in 1991, and at the time, John Knoll was doing some prelim fx tests for a Neuromancer film, which obviously never came to fruition. Seems the time would be right, with the current state of digital effects. Here's another book ripe for a movie treatment: Ringworld.

As to the mention of Henson, I recently heard that there's an update to "The Dark Crystal" in the works. I loved that movie, perhaps they'll do something good again.
posted by dbiedny at 7:08 AM on February 14, 2006


I've had a Hammer's Slammers movie kicking around in my head for ages. It sucks, but at least somebody's working on one.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:09 AM on February 14, 2006


But I am still not clear--what did happen to Star Wars 7, 8, and 9? When did Lucas cancel plans for the last three, and why?
posted by LarryC at 9:54 AM EST on February 14 [!]


I think I saw an interview with Lucas once where he said that the plans for 7,8, and 9 were misunderstood. He said that he'd always intended that the story would end with the events at the end of Return of the Jedi, but he'd originally planned for the story to take 6 movies instead of 3. When he crammed the story into 3 movies, he didn't need to do 7-9 anymore. So, there was never any real plan for a movie that had a story set after the defeat of the Empire.
posted by unreason at 7:12 AM on February 14, 2006


The HGTG movie was the biggest waste of potential ever.

iamck: Anything by Harlan Ellison, done right.

I can't really think of many Ellison stories that could be translated well.
posted by Target Practice at 7:15 AM on February 14, 2006


justkevin, I wouldn't like to think that your theory is accurate. I actually enjoyed Clue.

But having seen "D&D" and being so...very... disappointed...maybe you're on to something, there.
posted by darkstar at 7:20 AM on February 14, 2006


terpsichoria, damn, that's disappointing to hear.
Will still have to check it out.

I've only seen still images, and that gave me hope because I could tell that they got the look for Miranda Zero right. I did kinda have a sneaking suspicion that they'd fuck up the Aleph character... Damn it!

I just want to see an episode with two extreme biofeedback junkies beat the everloving crap out of each other.
"Lionel Wellfare kind of personally offends the Frenchman..."

Also, they have yet to make a good version of Masamune Shirow's Appleseed series.

To make long story short (too late?) I shall not stand for any dissing of Clue.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:25 AM on February 14, 2006


As long as we're playing fantasy sports league with movies how about:

A) Stephen R. Donaldson's "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever". Yeah baby, let's see Hollywood do a Tolkienesque film with a morose leper as the Hero(?) and not ruin the story. Amazing if done right but I don't think any combo of studio/director/producer in the current climate in Hollwood would touch this with a ten foot pikestaff.

B) Nora Roberts'(as J.D. Robb) futuristic cop/mystery/softcore porn series "In Death". Damn there are like 25 of these novels, the woman is a freakin machine. Let Fincher or Verhoven at this and it would certainly elevate the material and or get a hot star like Naomi Watts or Charlize Theron for the lead and take it to the bank. I woudn't be surprised if this is already in the works.

Thanks Longbaugh for the Haiku Snowcrash, that made my day.
posted by hotmud at 7:30 AM on February 14, 2006


I've got to admit to really, really not liking the Global Frequency pilot. The dialogue didn't feel very Ellis at all, ... Miranda came across as smug rather than expedient
terpsichoria -- actually, my problem with the pilot was that it was too close to Ellis' style. The predilection in comics for grand statements and pithy one-liners doesn't quite work for TV. Pacing is different and more time needs to be filled.

Also, repeating the phrase "Hello, Mr. X you're on the Global Frequency." and having to explain what the Frequency is week after week to ensure that new viewers aren't lost would've been torture for regular viewers; whereas years of reading about Wolverine's adamantine skeleton have inured comcs readers to such repetitive cliches.
posted by bl1nk at 7:32 AM on February 14, 2006


Totally agree that Jodorowsky's Dune should be on the list.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:35 AM on February 14, 2006


Enjoyed it.

Pointless Waste of Time is to Something Awful what National Lampoon was to Mad.
posted by sourwookie at 7:37 AM on February 14, 2006


The best we can hope for is that HBO and Sci-Fi take some of the longer books and make them into series. Imagine a HBO series of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Or Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Or on Sci-Fi a series on Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry saga.

And hope that New Line secures the rights to The Hobbit before Sir Ian gets too old to reprise Gandalf. Just imagine what Peter Jackson could do with Smaug or the Battle of the Five Armies. Schwing!
posted by Ber at 7:39 AM on February 14, 2006


Incidentally, I just bought the "new" extended DVD of Dune...it's officially the first bona fide Alan Smithee movie I've owned. The bad news is that the extended scifi channel version is awful--astounding touches like a voice-over not by Princess Irulan but by...er...someone else, that features artist renderings that look a great deal like the storyboard. Wait! They are the storyboard. It's fairly obvious when a pastel drawing of a Harvester has the word "Harvester" written above it. Also, lots of the original film is cut, rendering it almost totally incomprehensible.

The good news is that the set features the original cinema release as well.

My advice is rent the extended version if you must, but unless you're on lots of Melange, it's going to suck.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:41 AM on February 14, 2006


Actually, I rather enjoyed Doom. To be sure, it's crap. But the people going into it knew that they were making a crap bug-hunt movie, and set about doing it well.

And some of this dude's other ideas... Snow Crash directed by Gilliam? My nearly universal reaction to Gilliam movies is that it's really great that he took all them hallucinogens, but I don't see why I ought to be interested in his trips.

I Robot was nothing but I Candy with robots. They shouldn't be allowed to associate it with Asimov in any way, it's an insult to the original story

I don't get this. It was a clear and obvious mashup of "I Robot," "Evitable Conflict," and the robots/machines from the Caves of Steel books. All the ideas, including a zeroth law that can lead to individual humans being harmed, are right there in Asimov's work.

Stuff I'd like to see even a bad version or Sci-Fi Channel miniseries version of:

Banks' Consider Phlebas or The Player of Games.

Clarke's Earthlight.

Simmons' Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion.

Morgan's Altered Carbon.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:44 AM on February 14, 2006


Re "Dune", just to keep it clear, the new "Extended Edition" isn't really a lost original, it's just a padded-out version. More info at Wikipedia.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:00 AM on February 14, 2006


Just imagine what Peter Jackson could do with Smaug or the Battle of the Five Armies.

I've kinda had it up to here with CGI. Anyone (apart from the author of the FPP) else feel the same way? I remember when the first Jurassic Park came out, and critics were falling over themselves to laud the effects. Whoever was doing reviews for the Toronto Star back then gave it a reasonably good review, but warned that CGI would eventually be used as a crutch by lazy filmmakers and, like any technology, would become familiar and therefore boring. I'd say s/he nailed it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:18 AM on February 14, 2006


I have dreams about watching of Heinlein's juveniles. You could pick just about any of the juveniles, and today we could do 'em way better than Rocket Ship Galileo. I honestly think most of his juveniles have everything you need for a good SF movie. Okay, maybe not Podkayne, and I'm not even touching his later stuff, but you know you want to watch a big-budget Tunnel in the Sky, or Space Cadet, or The Star Beast, or Between Planets. Say, how about a revised version of The Rolling Stones with the Phelps twins as Castor and Pollux Stone? These are all standalones, but if the first succeeds, you have a ready-made market for the next five. I guess I have to hope Spielberg is reading MeFi.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:22 AM on February 14, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe: As to Snow Crash--depending on how Linklater does with Scanner Darkly, I could see Snow Crash working pretty well with the rotoscoping technique: Regular shots in the real world, animated shots of the metaverse. Bonus points if the metaverse looks, y'know, "anime-y".

And I'd love to see a version of Hyperion on the Sci-Fi channel, but certainly not as a two hour movie. I always imagined it as a director's anthology, with a different director (and maybe screenwriter) adapting each of the traveler's stories in an hour. And then maybe a four hour event that would take care of Fall of Hyperion.

And since we're all adding our wishlist movies, Vernor Vinge's "Fire Upon the Deep" would make a sweet movie too, if only because I storyboarded the space battle when I was bored at work and it looks frickin' awesome. In my head.
posted by thecaddy at 8:22 AM on February 14, 2006


Okay, time for my Fantasy League of SciFi Movies I'd Like to See (Done Well). In no real order, we have:

Bride of Birds by Barry Hughart
An animated film set in a China That Never Was directed by Hayao Miyazaki that follows the adventures of Master Li and Number Ten Ox as they try and find a cure for a sickness that is killing the children of Ox's village. Along the way they deal with corrupt bureaucrats, godlings, and undying evil.

Warhammer 40k
Directed by Verhoeven, this war story takes place in a grim far future. Paul Bettany stars as a young Imperial Guard lieutenant whose unit is decimated by a sudden raid by an ancient mechanical threat. Rescued by a unit of space marines, genetically altered super soldiers, Bettany learns that he has unwittingly become privvy to a secret that threatens the galaxy that must be reported to members of the Imperial Inquisition before the corruption laid down thousands of years ago at the core of the Imperium hatches and destroys mankind.

Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Jack is just your average guy. Well, your average guy who has 'dropped out' of society after the senseless death of his mother and now lives anonymously in New York City as a fix-it man resolving problems for people who the law cannot help. When he helps an old woman recover an ancient family heirloom, Jack stumbles onto a secret evil that threatens not only him, but the woman he loves.

Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove
White supremacists from the 21st century travel back in time to give the Confederate army automatic weapons. They hope this aid will allow the South to win the civil war. When the South is victorious, a new threat is faced as Lee is unwilling to bow to the time traveller's demands. An ensamble cast (James Cromwell as Lee, Gary Busey as Rhoodie) looks at the struggle from all sides. Spielberg directs.

Wild Cards
An alien virus is dropped over New York City causing those infected to die, mutate into strange beings, or even develop superhuman powers. The world slowly adjusts to the presence of superheros (Aces) and mutants (Jokers) walking about. Rumors of a secret "ace" among the delegates to the 1988 Democratic convention threaten to undermine the "jokers' rights" movement espoused by charismatic politician Gregg Hartmann. Raimi directs Malkovich (Croyd the Sleeper), Andy Richter (The Turtle), John Cusack (Poppin Jay), and Bruce Greenwood (Hartmann).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:26 AM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Card Cheat, I couldn't agree more.

CGI no longer wows audiences, no matter how hard Peter Jackson and George Lucas want it to. You need something more than that to impress audiences these days.

CGI to me, works best in films like The Bourne Identity and Ocean's Eleven where you don't know that what you're seeing isn't real. You can create shots that are not physically possible with cameras and make the audience believe it. Stylistically in-your-face CGI works when it's used in films like Fight Club (and, yes, the first Matrix film) where the effects create a specific feel for a scene.

If anything a small budget forces the film makers to be creative with the special effects and not to over do them.

I think the lack of physical effects is a real detriment to films these days. Can you imagine the first Alien film or Blade Runner with CG backgrounds? People are more film savvy as well, so the people actually "tricked" by CG are a few and far between...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:39 AM on February 14, 2006


"Alone in the Dark" could have been so much better if they had a competant director instead of Uwe Boll. I don't understand how he still has a job. All of the movies that he has directed so far have been such pieces of tripe that it's shocking that he still gets movies to direct.

I didn't see "Bloodrayne" but I have a pretty good idea that it will blow. Hell, he's even doing a "Dungeon Siege" movie, as well as a "Far Cry" and "Hunter: The Reckoning" movies.

It seems that Hollywood has taken the emotion out of Sci-Fi movies over the past 15 years. How many people worried over Han Solo being frozen carbonite? What about "The Last starfighter"? One of the first movies to be linked to a videogame. The effects were decent for their day, and the story had a touch of humanity to it. If they made it now, it would end up something like "Wing Commander".

/rant off
posted by Ignition at 9:12 AM on February 14, 2006


Face it, movies in the past 10 years have just sucked. Remember the early 80's when we had better sci-fi movies? There was also an entire genre dedicated to movies with gratuitous tits & ass. Haven't had a good T&A movie in years. :(
posted by drstein at 9:23 AM on February 14, 2006


*falls over dead at the faint praise*

I would agree with Xeny that Altered Carbon would make a great movie - it's just a hard-boiled detective novel with enough sex and violence to appeal to the lowest common denomenator along with enough science fiction goodness to make it stand out from the crowd.
posted by longbaugh at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2006


I have some fondness for the Alan Smithee Dune just because it is so fucking bizarre. Opening with 15 minutes of storyboard? Narration by some old guy who sounds like Wilford Brimley? What the hell?

Also on that site is a fairly funny article about Star Wars vs. Matrix vs. LOTR
It has some choice lines like:

In the new trilogy, Anakin Skywalker portrays a damning indictment of technology's modern dehumanization of mankind through Hayden Christensen's lifeless, almost inhuman performance. There is a river of tragedy in every robotic line he utters, a horrific monotonal indication of his cyborgal fate.

and

Neo is the main protagonist, the lowly code farmer who is destined to be his people's savior. Keanu Reeves' performance as this courageous mentally challenged man is an inspiration to P.C. gamers everywhere who have had their vocabularies destroyed by monitor radiation. His tragic bout of gamma-induced impotence in mid-intercourse during Reloaded, and the look of erectile frustration on his face, was heart-wrenching.
posted by papakwanz at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2006


I have dreams about watching of Heinlein's juveniles

Varley's Red Thunder might be a better bet. Same spirit, but already updated to current tech and social mores.

Bride of Birds by Barry Hughart

I think that Bride of Birds would have to be the porno version of a Hitchcock (heh heh... he said cock) classic. But if Miyazaki made Bridge of Birds wouldn't it be all overly cutesy with giant eyes? Ugh. Give it to the people who did Akira or GitS.

CGI no longer wows audiences, no matter how hard Peter Jackson and George Lucas want it to

That's part of what I really like about it! Take the big battle at the end of Return of the King. It wasn't HOLY SHIT A GIANT ELEPHANT LOOKIT THAT OMG OMG!, the way that it might have been with physical effects in 197x or 198x (think Dragonslayer). Instead, it was very matter-of-fact about it -- of course you've seen giant heffalumps and more before, so I'm going to just use the giant heffalumps as just a part of an action scene, and it will be the action and composition and such that excite, not the mere presence of a giant angry elephant.

Cheap-ish CGI helps shift from special effects for its own sake to special effects as just another element of storytelling. Which is good!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2006


I've kinda had it up to here with CGI. Anyone (apart from the author of the FPP) else feel the same way?

Agreed. Fuck CGI. I can't think of anything else in cinema today that makes things look less realistic. Not to mention that this shit looks hopelessly dated a week after it comes out. Imagine what it will look like years from now?

Models and "traditional" effects are the way to go. Why? Because they involve, like, physical objects and stuff.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:36 AM on February 14, 2006


So what *is* the deal with Hollywood completely ignoring Larry Niven's work? Lucifer's Hammer, Footfall, Mote, Ringworld, even Dreampark?

Good stuff there... I'd love to see the Fall of the Cities, or a Dysan sphere.
posted by deCadmus at 9:48 AM on February 14, 2006


A) Stephen R. Donaldson's "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever"

Oh hellfire, yes. All six books. Word for word, directed by Peter Jackson. Who to play Covenant, though? Needs to be someone gaunt, harrowed, who's willing to lose two fingers from his hand..

Casting of Lena, Elena, Atiaran, etc will be easy. But Mhoram is problematic. And the Giants would require a lot of CGI, not that they really appear mixed with humans in any great numbers until the second series of books (which I think, actually, would probably make better movies.) Linden Avery would be simple: Julianne Moore, no question. Jodie Foster could make a great Elena, depending. High Lord Prothall (from the first book) is Ian McKellen, absolutely. And I can't imagine anyone other than Christopher Lee as the voice of the Despiser.

But seriously, imagine some of the sequences... The giant panoramic view of New Zealand the Land from the top of Kevin's Watch when Covenant first arrives; the Lurker of the Sarangrave; the Fire Lions on Gravin Threndor; the final battle, when Mhoram unlocks the secret of the krill; Sandgorgons; Revelstone, for God's sake!

Er, sorry. I'll hush now.


re: CGI

That's actually one of the reasons the LOTR movies looked as gorgeous as they did; PJ insisted, whenever it was even remotely feasible, on shooting actual film of actual physical objects. I found, but for a few jarring moments, the CGI to be seamless. It was used as a tool, not as an end of its own.

And for really great CGI, check out Chicago. Anyone who lives in Toronto will know what I mean.


on preview: OOOH. Ringworld. What a bloody awesome movie that could be.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:51 AM on February 14, 2006


booksandlibretti - Supposedly there's a "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" movie in the works, but aside from the link above it seems to be a non-starter. (Which is wierd, 'cause I think I saw a preview for it - unless it was for Zathura...) "Tunnel in the Sky" would hit the SF/Reality show audience - think "Survivorman" on other worlds.

IMHO the latest crop of movies (not just SF, but movies in general) suck big hairy rocks. Ignition, Slimepuppy and The Card Cheat have it right - they're subordinating the plot and acting to special effects trickery. (Zathura, an exception, needed both, and it pretty much delivered. Except at the box office...)

And the studios wonder why they're having a hard time filling the theaters.

On preview - ROU_xenophobe got it on CGI - if it FITS, then it's good. And Red Thunder would be a great fit, unless they screw it up. (Which I'd give an... um, 95% chance of happening?)
posted by JB71 at 9:58 AM on February 14, 2006


This is a pretty well thought out list, as always when you have to pare it down to just 10 you are choosing your ten and that may not line up with other people's top ten.

terpsichoria writes "a lot of the stuff he's saying is really obvious (the Star Wars prequels were a bad idea, you say?)"

I think the Starwars prequels could have been done well with a more restrained director. They are set a generation earlier than the originals and there were lots of strong characters to prop up the weak story. The major problem was Lucas went all "cool shiny object" and jacked up the available tech. Tech that was mysteriously missing from 4-6.

caution live frogs writes "They didn't even throw in the mech suits, and how the hell could that have gone wrong?"
Like I always say: Starship Troopers, the movie based on the cover art of the book. I too was appalled the power armour, the mech in mechanised infantry, was missing. I guess it was to get more screen time for the sweaty flesh.

The book series I'd like to see made into a movie is Frederik Pohl's Gateway/Heechee series. Better might be a mini series but there would have to be a lot of money to build sets.
posted by Mitheral at 9:58 AM on February 14, 2006


It was a miniseries, dbiedny. I just learned of its existence myself this past weekend. L'engle isn't fond of it either:
NEWSWEEK: So you’ve seen the movie?
Madeleine L’Engle: I’ve glimpsed it.

N: And did it meet expectations?
L: Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is.
A good movie version would be nice, but I don't feel particularly hopeful. At least I have my childhood memories of hearing it as a radio drama on WGBH's "The Spider's Web". Not to mention reading the book over and over.
posted by Songdog at 10:03 AM on February 14, 2006


Face it, movies in the past 10 years have just sucked. Remember the early 80's when we had better sci-fi movies? There was also an entire genre dedicated to movies with gratuitous tits & ass. Haven't had a good T&A movie in years. :(

drstein: The movies haven't gotten worse. You've just gotten older, is all. They were always, mostly, pretty bad. As far as T&A goes, check your local retalier under the section for Vivid Video, and I guarantee all the T&A you could want.

Far be it from me to intrude on the geekfest in here, but I wanted to thank longbaugh for the Snow Crash haikus: I'm just reading it again, for what must be the 5th or 6th time.

And this-- Y.T. and Raven,
Getting jiggy in a crate,
Oh no! Dentata!

Is so perfect it completely cracked me up.

I think Snow Crash would make an awful movie, for the self-evident reason mentioned earlier: not everything is improved by switching its medium. Evidence for this is all through this thread. Movies do some things very well, but they have their limitations. All that density and description and exposition that are necessary for good science-fiction are not going to translate well into film.

Also, before I run away, I friggin' loved Alien 3, and thought it the best of the series in some ways. I even liked Alien Resurrections, too, because it's all about motherhood. But don't get me started...
posted by jokeefe at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2006


Oh, one last thing: It's worthwhile to read Ursula Le Guin's take on the Earthsea mini-series:

I've tried very hard to keep from saying anything at all about this production, being well aware that movies must differ in many ways from the books they're based on, and feeling that I really had no business talking about it, since I was not included in planning it and was given no part in discussions or decisions. [...] When I tried to suggest the unwisdom of making radical changes to characters, events, and relationships which have been familiar to hundreds of thousands of readers all over the world for over thirty years, I was sent a copy of the script and informed that production was already under way.
posted by jokeefe at 10:16 AM on February 14, 2006


dbiedny writes "Here's another book ripe for a movie treatment: Ringworld."

Ringworld would be massacred in a movie/trilogy. Way too much for a single movie. And how do you break it up for a trilogy? It would make an good cable series though.

justkevin writes "its badness stemmed from a fundamental law of physics: No game can be made into a good movie. Street Fighter, Mario Bros, Tomb Raider, Wing Commander, Dungeons and Dragons,"

There are several good movies lurking in D&D/FRPGs. Any group of actual roleplayers who have played extensively has a vast collection of stories that start "Remember when ...". A year of research transcribing sessions of a few different campaigns and a decent writer who could fill out the dialog and you'd be golden. Doubt it'll ever happen as you'd have a hard time selling it to producers.

booksandlibretti writes "I have dreams about watching of Heinlein's juveniles"

Me too. "The Door into Summer" would make an awesome movie.
posted by Mitheral at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2006


You can't turn 800 pages into a two hour movie. If anyone here has read Peter F Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction for example - the first book alone would take a trilogy. There's just too many characters and too many events happening in different places. As wonderful as all these stories have been to read they simply will not work when written for a normal audience. For those who mentioned Cryptonomicon earlier in thread - it couldn't work as a stand alone movie ("oh look - it's just like that piece of shit - U571") or as a miniseries (because of the budget limitation). Culture novels? Wouldn't work. Try and portray the Culture in a positive light in this day and age? Fundamentalists would sooner support the Idirans than support the decadent commies who hide behind the Minds.

I'd rather Hollywood took a running jump and stopped fucking with my favourite books.
posted by longbaugh at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2006


My husband and I have dreamed for years about a movie made from the 4 books that comprise James Blish's Cities in Flight. One thing we agreed on was that Ed Asner would make a perfect Mayor Amalfi and I think we thought at the time that Bruce Dern would have been a good Gifford Bonner, but now we're leaning towards Gary Oldman. And the spindizzies! The Tin Cabbie! The anti-agathic treatments ("millions now living will never die..."). Maybe someone some day can do it justice.
posted by Lynsey at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2006


The Global Frequency Pilot wasn't very good because Global Frequency the comic isn't very good; twelve issues of what's basically storyboards for yet another crap syndication series, but with the added bonus of Ellis' raging Mary Sueitis.

With a few notable exceptions, Sci-Fi movies are crappy vehicles for adaptations. The constraint of time and the need to appeal to a wide audience means that the end result will usually be shallow spectacle. Television miniseries are the way to go; unfortunately, most Sci-Fi teevee is crap too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:58 AM on February 14, 2006


I found this article amusing and I agreed with a great deal of what was there. Unfortunately, not much -- not nearly enough -- was there.

The set of "Science Fiction Films We Wanted To See Made The Right Way" is unmanageably large -- on the order of n * i, where n is everyone who has ever read a decent SF story.

Rather, it's more reasonable (certainly less time-consuming) to examine Science Fiction Films that were made correctly the first time.

Anybody actually have a list of these?
posted by bshock at 11:02 AM on February 14, 2006


I'd like to see To Their Scattered Bodies Go made into a movie. Also, The Martian Chronicles given a real treatment. Or some of Wells' crazy-ass steampunk desert stuff. Or (again from Farmer) Dayworld.

(But I'm gonna be a heretic and say that the LOTR movies' greatest accomplishment was making shitty books into mediocre melodramas.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on February 14, 2006


The problem is that written science fiction and fantasy is intended for adults and kids who wish they were adults already, whereas Hollywood is fundamentally convinced that science fiction is for kids and adults who want to be entertained like they're still kids.

Behind every great science fiction or fantasy movie is a writer, director and producer who managed to trick the suits into believing that they were really, honestly and truly making a movie with no goal other than to thrill 15-year-old "C" students and their pick-up-truck driving big brothers...
posted by MattD at 11:09 AM on February 14, 2006


I third that "altered carbon" could be great. Not sure if the horror of the tortue sequence could be done very well without being cheesy, though. Plus the whole "different body, same person" thing would fuck up an actor-recognition obsessed industry.

And I can't think very much about Douglas Adams without being bitter that he died 3 days too early to be my commencement speaker. Goddammit. Yes, I am very selfish.
posted by flaterik at 11:32 AM on February 14, 2006


Ber: Exactly, exactly. PayTV networks -- and, to a degree, the basic-cable SciFi channel -- are the only real hope. While Skallas is pretty much right, there's still no art experience that compares to watching an awesome movie on a giant-ass screen, so it's natural for people to want to see their favorite books up there ..... even if they know in their hearts that it's gonna suck hard.

It took Deadwood to remind me that Hollywood is capable of making incredible westerns ... just not for the big screen. I never watched it, but people say Sex in the City was 10x better than all the "romantic comedy" movies released in 25 years.

I hate CGI cuz it looks like CGI, but when it gets more realistic then you could do a lot of this sci-fi stuff on HBO with good character actors (instead of prettyboy retards; another great lesson from Deadwood) and excellent writing / direction without spending a billion dollars. And nothing would need to be condensed -- let a book take a year or two if that's what it needs.
posted by kenlayne at 11:33 AM on February 14, 2006


Kenlayne -

I've been getting 'Stargate SG-1' and 'Stargate:Atlantis' DVDs from Netflix and watching those - and recently got a couple of DVDs of 'Enterprise'. Comparison? 'Enterprise' is pretty thin stuff compared to the Sci-Fi channel funded programs. And then there's 'FarScape' - aliens that actually ACTED alien, not just like regular folk in rubber suits! Doing SF right isn't impossible - but it seems the more suits you've got to please (and with any ST spinoff you've got a hell of a lot of suits to placate before anything even gets the green light, not to mention the fanboy base).

And please, can we be done with female aliens in spandex with water balloons on their chests? Or if they've got to have bigguns, make them VERTICAL instead of HORIZONTAL? THAT would be something different!

(Disclaimer: Went to see Aeon Flux - enjoyed it greatly - didn't find the spandex and tits distracting. But when you've got an erstwhile Vulcan in spandex with hypertrophied mammary glands, you ain't gonna be looking at her ears.)
posted by JB71 at 11:47 AM on February 14, 2006


Banks' Consider Phlebas or The Player of Games.

Consider Phlebas might work. The Player of Games would not, except in a cheesy look-how-lame-this-game-is kinda way. But Consider Phlebas would need a rather enormous budget to work. There are a lot of scifi-books that are more than intelligent enough for a movie and are written by authors with whose names sell more and it is these books that are turned into big-budget movies.

Did The Bourne Identity really have CGI? (Beyond the commonplace touch-up work)
posted by insomnus at 11:54 AM on February 14, 2006


Imagine a HBO series of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Or Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

I love it, but Cryptonomicon is completely unfilmable.
posted by gsteff at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2006


Thank GOD someone linked that original Alien 3 trailer. I remember seeing it in the theater, telling my friends that the Aliens were coming to earth, and being betrayed by the end product.

The books were decent.

I too, would love to see Cryptonomicon or Peter Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy (six books, actually) made into an eyeful, but I don't see how it could happen. Just too much going on.

And, like many of you, I pray for a Neuromancer penned by the man himself, or at the very least, getting his buddies Stephenson or Sterling to help with it.

And, I also add in a prayer that Sci-Fi channel will phone up Joss Whedon and order a few seasons of Firefly, to pick up where the movie left off.
posted by TeamBilly at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2006


Take both matrix sequels, and cut them into a single 100 minute film that is awesome? That sounds like a worthy challenge for a Phantom Editor!

Any takers?
posted by redbeard at 12:10 PM on February 14, 2006


The problem is that written science fiction and fantasy is intended for adults and kids who wish they were adults already, whereas Hollywood is fundamentally convinced that science fiction is for kids and adults who want to be entertained like they're still kids.
Behind every great science fiction or fantasy movie is a writer, director and producer who managed to trick the suits into believing that they were really, honestly and truly making a movie with no goal other than to thrill 15-year-old "C" students and their pick-up-truck driving big brothers...
posted by MattD at 11:09 AM PST on February 14 [!]


This is why I like metafilter. All y'all are much smarter than me.
MattD just fucking nailed it.
I'm so going to quote that in future conversations. Thanks.

Insomnus, you'd be amazed. The very first shot of the film looking up at Bourne's body floating in water? Completely CG. All done in a computer. The bit where Damon shoots Clive Owen? All the grass is digitally heightened to be taller than they are (was actually only up to their knees.) All the birds that suddenly fly up? Competely CG. Listen to the commentary, it's a good one and Liman is a good commentee (commentator? Ah hell, suck it dictionaries!).

Same thing with Ocean's Eleven. Amazing stuff that you wouldn't believe. Hell, the snow falling behind Clooney and Lopez in that scene in Out of Sight is all CG. And that was in 1998...
posted by slimepuppy at 12:10 PM on February 14, 2006


Peter F Hamilton's "Fallen Dragon" would make a decent mini-series as well.

What really gives me hope is what HBO, FX, and Sci-Fi have done with series television. Sopranos, Deadwood, Rescue Me, the Shield, Battlestar Galactica have pushed far beyond the limits of what the network tools think the American public would watch. Jeez, even the Stargates have better characterization than most network series. I'd rather watch Jack O'Neil and Daniel Jackson bicker in a SG1 episode I've seen a half dozen times before subjecting myself to another CSI ripoff.
posted by Ber at 12:42 PM on February 14, 2006


TeamBilly - six books in Americaland where the prospect of 1400 page books are anathema even to the edumacated.

Alright - fuck film - how about theatre? If they can make a musical from Roadhouse they can take the Culture to the hallowed halls of culture and make Iain M. Bank's "PLAYER OF GAMES : THE MUSICAL".

In fact, I'm going to start writing it tonight. It's going to rock - 'specially the bits with Za...

*swishing around the 3rd bay of the GOU Limiting Factor in his cloak*
Gurgeh - "Azad, Azad what a fantastic time I've had!"

*humming in an unhappy manner*
Mawhrin Skel - "Gurgeh, now you must listen to me - the Empire's a cat-as-trophe!"
posted by longbaugh at 12:48 PM on February 14, 2006


Am I the only person who still wishes that someone would make Stranger in a Strange Land? Can't think of an appropriate director, but still...
posted by TochterAusElysium at 12:52 PM on February 14, 2006


How about an inappropriate director, TochterAusElysium"

Stranger in a Strange Land - By John Carpenter.
posted by JB71 at 12:56 PM on February 14, 2006


Stephen R. Donaldson's "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever". Yeah baby, let's see Hollywood do a Tolkienesque film with a morose leper as the Hero(?) and not ruin the story.

I can only imagine the first studio "notes" on this.

"Is it really necessary for our hero to commit rape?"
posted by Bonzai at 1:04 PM on February 14, 2006


i'm going against the grain and saying that i actually liked I, Robot. Mainly because i truly expected it to suck and was surprised that they actually made a kinda fun movie. I will however agree with the above poster who said Caves of Steel would have been a better choice. It really would have, but i think with I, Robot what they really wanted was the name.

As to HHGTTG, again a movie i fully expected to hate, saved by the whale scene. i always believed that if the movie got made, that would be the first part of the book to get cut. Not only did it make the film, it was almost verbatim. That alone was enough for me to find it acceptable. Rickman's and Deff's performances were enough to make it actually good.

Snowcrash and Neuromancer. Please [deity] do not let these movies be made. The vast likelihood is that they would be butchered and soil the source material. If they are going to be made, let it be anime.

Aliens 3: hated it when i saw it for the first time. Came back years later and realized it's the best looking of all 4 movies. Always saddened by the infighting and bullshit that kept it from being really good.

Starship Troopers: would have loved for the movie to have, you know, power armor. Kinda the whole point of the book.

One series i would love someone to try to adapt would be Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series, or Death World. Death World would be So. Cool.

longbaugh is my new hero
posted by quin at 1:16 PM on February 14, 2006


galciv2 - woo hoo!

Slaughterhouse Five wasn’t a bad movie.

I’d love to see some grey mouser. It’d never work tho.

I’d like to see a movie based on Mike Baron’s Badger. Ain’t never gonna happen tho. They’d probably get Mel Gibson.

Or some Kung-Fu movies based on Jademan Comics.
Psheyeah. They barely delt with bullet time.

I heard there was a Debbie Does Dallas musical. I’d go see that.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2006


Starship Troopers was the most fun, to it's release, that I'd had in a theatre in a long time. And yeah, it should've had the power armor.

I do think that Gibson himself could pull off a good Neuromancer if he had creative control. And someone good to direct it. Hell, Gibson could direct it. Someone referenced 'Primer' earlier - Shane Carruth had never taken a film class - he audited a course for two weeks at SMU and just said hell with it, I'm making a movie.

And, no offense to Mr. Carruth (whom I attended high school with, by the way) but Gibson could raise a HELL of a lot of money to do it right on his name alone.
posted by TeamBilly at 1:51 PM on February 14, 2006


Tangent on MetaTalk.
posted by TeamBilly at 2:17 PM on February 14, 2006


For those of you disappointed in the first Earthsea movie, Studio Ghibli is making another version, to be released in Japan this summer. Nausicaa.net's English pages about it are a good place to start keeping track of the release.

I have to agree with the people who get nervous when their favorite works of sf are made into movies. David Weber's The Honor of the Queen has been optioned, and if it's ever made I have no doubt at all that the movie will miss the entire point of the book, in favor of another CGI explosion fest.

Related to that, I don't think Hammer's Slammers would be a good big-screen project. The book is a bunch of related short stories. It would be a TV series, if anything, and the point of the book, once again, isn't the military action, but the meaning behind what is there; and that doesn't get conveyed easily in most sf films.

As for Iain Banks movies: has anyone seen The Crow Road or Complicity? I wonder exactly how the last one was done, as it's not exactly the most straightforward narrative out there.

I had the misfortune of seeing the end of I Robot and it looked like a Bjork video with added shooting. I'll just watch my Bjork video DVDs instead.
posted by Electric Elf at 4:07 PM on February 14, 2006


I saw The Crow Road ages ago, before I read the book even. As I recall it, the structure was simplified a bit. The production was definitely solid BBC miniseries quality and Valerie Edmond had the sexiest scottish accent ever.
posted by insomnus at 4:36 PM on February 14, 2006


I'm a big Larry Niven fan, but I think Ringworld would be a bad choice. The whole Ringworld series references other Known Space stories so much that I think it would be difficult for people who didn't read the book. How about making the Gil Hamilton ARM stories into movies? They were good both as sci-fi films and as mysteries, and the Organleggers made for awesome villians.
posted by unreason at 4:48 PM on February 14, 2006


The Player of Games would not, except in a cheesy look-how-lame-this-game-is kinda way.

Why not? It's a fairly straightforward story without the ambiguities of Phlebas or Use of Weapons. The content of the games themselves isn't important and could be easily glossed over with a quick montage followed by Gurgeh's reaction to winning or losing.

As for Iain Banks movies: has anyone seen The Crow Road or Complicity? I wonder exactly how the last one was done, as it's not exactly the most straightforward narrative out there.


Seen both. In the US, Complicity is retitled Retribution for no obvious reason. C is okay but not great. JL Miller is fine, and it has Valerie Edmond, but it didn't really capture me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:45 PM on February 14, 2006


Why not? It's a fairly straightforward story without the ambiguities of Phlebas or Use of Weapons. The content of the games themselves isn't important and could be easily glossed over with a quick montage followed by Gurgeh's reaction to winning or losing.

The game is an essential part of the story. Sure, you could still create a pretty good movie from what is left after you remove the game but what would be the point? And now that you remind me, I think Use of Weapons would be the best of the culture novels for an adaptation into a movie, including less insular (at least superficially) main characters than in both Player and Phlebas. Also, humor, action and lots of crucial scenes filmable in modern earth locations.
posted by insomnus at 6:31 PM on February 14, 2006


I don't think the content of the games are important at all. It's not a story about games, it's a story about a man who stops alienating himself from the good people and good things that surround him.

The only game that matters for the plot, as far as the content of the game goes, is that final game where the game is a metaphor for a Culture-Azad war and all participants know it. That's easily dealt with by having them play a simple and direct war-game instead of a metaphorical one. The content of the rest of the games just doesn't matter, only that Gurgeh is advancing through them. Yes, he has to be seen winning the games and moving on, but you don't need to see him playing long games or have long descriptions of weird rules or anything like that.

I'd see any of them made into movies. CP has always been the most obvious, because it's big and actioney and they blow up an orbital, though if I were making it I'd replace Balveda with Sma just so you could re-use the character if you even made UoW.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:42 PM on February 14, 2006


Oh, gosh, I want to see all these imaginary fils, but mostly I'm still holding out for a version of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep with actual, you know, sheep in it.
posted by Tomatillo at 7:42 PM on February 14, 2006


I heard there was a Debbie Does Dallas musical. I’d go see that.

IMO the best Sci-Fi movie never made would be Debbie Does Daleks.
posted by jonson at 8:02 PM on February 14, 2006


All I want is my Fucking 4 Hour Director's cut of Until the End of the World. In English and available in the US. Is that so much to ask?
posted by Chrischris at 8:08 PM on February 14, 2006


The Mote in God's Eye would make a terrific movie, pax digita & deCadmus. Or rather, something like the SciFi production of Children of Dune (SciFi's Dune was... flawed, to say the least - they got it a little btter in Children). The book's a little long. Would need to have a puppet/suit for the Moties instead of CGI, though (at least for the closeup Hero shots). Bruce Campbell as Kevin Renner. Reprise the role in The Gripping Hand.

.. and Robocop is Bleeding - I totally agree re: Guns of the South; you even got two of the actors that I would have casted.

I'm not sure about Neuromancer or Snowcrash as a feature length movie. There's too much going on to make it fit in ~120 minutes. Neuromancer might be able to squeak by. A clone of Gary Busey with better posture/taller would make a good Armitage, but I'm at wits end for a good Case. Dina Meyers already did a version of a younger Molly/Sally (passable, barely) - if it was going to be made in the near future, Keira Knightly would probably score the role but I think that'd be a mistake (too young/waif-ey).

I actually quite enjoyed New Rose Hotel starring Walken, Dafoe, and Argento. Low budget, but not bad at all.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:26 PM on February 14, 2006


PurplePorpoise: good call on Keira Knightly, i just saw her in Domino and thought she did a good job, but i would go with someone a bit tougher looking. Jessica Biel seems to be interested in taking action-y roles lately.

Problem is, i always pictured Molly with short black hair. (is that how she is described, i honestly don't remember).

Either way, i would hate to see the badness that would result from them trying to take either Neuromancer or Snow Crash and make it a 120 minute flick.

[For the record, that hasn't stopped me from trying, over the years, to find the perfect casting choices for Hiro, YT and Case]
posted by quin at 9:10 PM on February 14, 2006


FWIW, there is an Elric film in development heck.
posted by mwhybark at 9:45 PM on February 14, 2006


ooogh. I can't even imagine trying to cast Arioch.
posted by furiousthought at 11:07 PM on February 14, 2006


Hold on, where is The Stars My Destination in here?

I have that fully casted, by the way. Except Bruce Willis is getting too old.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:41 AM on February 15, 2006


"I can't even imagine trying to cast Arioch."

Christopher Lee. He got Moorcock to promise that bit of casting should a movie get made decades ago.

Late to the party, but my favourite sf movie that never got made was the original David Cronenberg version of Total Recall - it got to within days of starting shooting.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 1:54 AM on February 15, 2006


Oh, and Look to Windward would be a nice Culture book to do.

CJ Cherryh has a shitload of very good stuff in the Merchanter series to film. Downbelow Station is the obvious example, and there's a tense and tightly written minor novel Merchanter's Luck that would work too.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:03 AM on February 15, 2006


If you want to film a Culture book, film The State of the Art. There'd be hardly any flashy special effects; you could shoot most of it on the streets of New York, Paris, and Berlin, and the rest on some cheap sets. You could probably do it on the budget for a couple of episodes of Doctor Who.

Further, you can introduce the Culture to a TV/film audience unfamiliar to it by way of Sma's reactions to a culture everyone understands. The Arb vocalises almost all of its communication, so you don't have to do silly echoey "telepath" voice-overs; there are no expensive monster costumes to make except perhaps for a bit of hair and a hump for whatsisface; and it's dead short, so the plot wouldn't have to be butchered to fit in a 120-minute slot.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:55 AM on February 15, 2006


Gun of the South seems to have the same basic premise as Harry Harrison's Rebel in Time.
They made 'Make Room! Make Room!' into a film didn't they.

West of Eden or Night of Light by Farmer. In fact, Night of Light would have made a great Tale of the Unexpected somehow, in my alternate reality.

Anyway, how about film makers being encouraged to make (sci-fi) films that are not 'based on' something else. Like, films as a separate artform. As discussed, good adaptations are few and far between. Alternatively we can bow to the wisdom of Alan Partridge: 'Another way of looking at it is people like them, let's make more of them'.
posted by asok at 5:06 AM on February 15, 2006


re Gibson Alien3 script; Maybe Gibson thought that Weaver might not be in the film? He might have known of the problems they were having with her. Anyway, I liked his script, it wasn't the best thing they could have done with the franchise, but it sucked not as much as the strange film they ended up with.
posted by asok at 5:15 AM on February 15, 2006


....i always pictured Molly with short black hair.

Yes, that's how she's described -- something about it being short and unevenly cut. (As though she'd done it with her razors, I realize just now.)

Like a lot of people, I find myself imagining actors or other people in the roles as I read. Armitage, I imagined being played by this actor I've seen in a lot of supporting roles, playing yuppies or tycoons, but can't remember any film roles for so can't look up. Case I always visually mapped to Gibson himself (always had a notion that he was a bit of a Mary Sue for Wm. G.). And Molly, I initially envisioned (and for a long time) as Ani DiFranco. That changed when I encuntered Sally Shears in Mona Lisa Overdrive - somehow, Ani didn't seem ot work anymore for that. "Sally" was more like Sharon Stone (a la Sphere) in my head, no matter how hard I tried to resolve her with "Molly".

As for an actualy actress, I can't imagine a studio not thinking of Angelina Jolie -- though I think she'd be horrible for it, in a way. Trying to think like a Suit, Kate Beckinsdale is a really, really obvious choice, and could carry it off alright. But I think it should be somebody on the small side. I always envisioned her as being kind of short -- small, scrappy, and very dangerous. But I don't think that's in the text.

Hmm -- how about Sandra Oh? Still too tall (for my vision), but she could carry the attitude witout breaking sweat.
posted by lodurr at 5:36 AM on February 15, 2006


You're right lodurr - Molly is supposed to be small and lithe with a dancer's body. It doesn't matter who they got though - those mirrored eye lenses are going to look frankly ridiculous.
posted by longbaugh at 6:06 AM on February 15, 2006


Oooh, another. Not sci-fi, but Guy Gavriel Kay's The Sarantine Mosaic would make a brilliant pair of movies, or a nice long miniseries. The Lions of al-Rassan is being made. I'm scared, though; it's far, far too detailed and complex for even a PJ-length film.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:47 AM on February 15, 2006


Hmm, I always envisioned Molly as tall and hard, with an angular face - yet lithe and coordinated but a little "worn in." Sharon Stone would fit the bill, but she's getting on in years (but then so is Molly/Sally in MLO).

Re: Case ~ Gibson. Yeah. Definitely.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:35 AM on February 15, 2006


The Stainless Steel Rat books would be a good movie.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:44 AM on February 15, 2006


George's next sci-fi idea: a free higher education system.
posted by homunculus at 10:37 AM on February 15, 2006


Christopher Lee. He got Moorcock to promise that bit of casting should a movie get made decades ago.

Yer kidding. That "decades ago" bit, kind of a problem as Arioch's supposed to be all inhumanly young and beautiful and whatever. Ah, screw it.
posted by furiousthought at 10:57 AM on February 15, 2006


I always thought the place so start with Neil Stevenson would be "Zodiac" simple message, lots of action, interesting characters.

But mostly I don't want any of my favorites on the big screen. I liked HGTTU the radio show and the movie was amusing to me. But then I thought the books were "fun".
posted by pointilist at 12:34 PM on February 15, 2006


Wow. I haven't posted here for ages.
Anyway, why is there not a movie of Hardwired by WJW? That would actually be a much better film than it is a novel.
posted by davidgentle at 6:30 PM on February 15, 2006


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