The Last Sci-Fi Blog: The Most Ripped-Off Genre Film of All Time, Plus Your Latest Sci-Fi Movie News and 'Mass Effect 3'

The Last Sci-Fi Blog: The Most Ripped-Off Genre Film of All Time, Plus Your Latest Sci-Fi Movie News and 'Mass Effect 3'

Feb 16, 2012

News: Oblivion Gets a Lannister, Altered Carbon Gets Adapted and The Europa Report Gets Viral

I'm excited to report that this edition of the Last Sci-Fi Blog News Section will not feature any news on sequels, remakes or reboots. I'm also proud to announce that it will not feature the titles Star Trek or Akira. This is a special and rare day, my friends. Let's enjoy it.

First up, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has joined the soon-to-shoot Oblivion, where he'll star alongside folks with names like Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. Most people will recognize Coster-Waldau as Jaimie Lannister in HBO's exceptional Game of Thrones, but fans of international cinema may recall his memorable turn in the Norwegian thriller, Headhunters. Anyway, we don't know too much about his role in Oblivion, but he'll be playing a "battle-hardened, physically imposing, intelligent and extremely athletic military technology and weapons expert." The film, about the humans struggling to survive on an irradiated Earth populated by vicious aliens and such, sounds promising. Hopefully, director Joseph Kosinksi can make us forget that he made that Tron Legacy snoozefest.

Elsewhere on the internets, Mythology Entertainment has acquired the rights to author Richard Morgan's science fiction novel Altered Carbon. I haven't read the book and am entirely incapable of passing any kind of judgment, so I'm just going to copy and paste the basic plot synopsis because it sounds awesome:

"Altered Carbon is set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored in cortical stacks implanted in the spine, allowing humans to survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness "re-sleeved" into new bodies. The story follows specially trained soldier Takeshi Kovacs, who's downloaded from an off-world prison and into the body of a disgraced cop at the behest of a highly influential aristocrat who's convinced he was murdered and wants Kovacs to find out the truth."

As is the custom for genre films these days, the upcoming The Europa Report has started the process of selling itself to an unsuspecting public with a viral campaign. The fake website is for Europa Ventures, "the word's leader is aerospace and exploration." We don't know too much about this one yet (it's main draw is that it stars District 9's Sharlto Copley), but this site definitely gives us some color: life may exist on one of Jupiter's moons and Europa Ventures is proud to be sending a team of astronauts to investigate. I bet you $10 that they get more than they bargained for when they arrive. Anyone want to take me up on that one? Anyone?

Discussion: Stealing What Works in Genre Cinema

I was recently able to see George Miller's post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Road Warrior on the big screen for the first time. While I spent most of the running time being reminded of what a seriously great piece of filmmaking it is, I caught myself trying to keep track of just how much this film has influenced a very specific subgenre: the post-apocalyptic thriller.

Of course, in this case, pondering its influence really translates to "how many movies have ripped off every single aspect of this entire project?"

You can't even begin to count. The sheer number of deliberate, painful and shoddily made Road Warrior rip-offs boggle the mind. Many of them are Italian. I highly recommend Warriors of the Wasteland if you want a good chuckle or two.

However, there are the quality projects that have openly stolen the look and atmosphere that George Miller built here. The video game Fallout 3 immediately comes to mind. Taking place in the sprawling ruins of Washington DC a century after Nuclear War obliterated civilization, the player finds himself scavenging for food, supplies and clothing while battling leather clad bandits and raiders with barely functional weapons. Even though Fallout 3 is missing one of the key components of The Road Warrior -- automobiles of any kind! -- the influence is obvious.

The concept of a post-apocalyptic world existed prior to Miller's tale of a lone driver battling for fuel through the nuclear Outback, but never quite like this. The Omega Man features a lone human battling against an army of mutants in a deserted Los Angeles, but the city itself feels clean and intact, like every person up and vanished one day, leaving the streets empty. Then there's Planet of the Apes, which takes place in a future so distant that all but a few symbols of the pre-cataclysmic world exist (see: the Statue of Liberty). The world of The Road Warrior is recognizably our own. Enough of our former infrastructure exists that we can tell this. People still drive cars. They eat canned food. They dress in clothing that resembles our own in form and functionality. But those cars are cobbled together from spare parts and people fight to the death for precious gasoline. That canned food is collected in burnt-out houses, the label long gone, the contents probably a decade expired. Those clothes have obviously been taken off a nearby corpse.

This is our world, far enough removed to be a dangerous wasteland, but close enough that we can still see what it once was. It's at once terrifying and exciting -- there's something undeniably romantic about surviving in a world where society has dissolved, transforming all of our lingering buildings and technology in a massive sandbox where only the strongest survive.

Of course this has become the common face of the post-apocalypse.

Anyway, I'd argue that The Road Warrior is probably the most ripped-off genre film of all time, closely followed by Blade Runner and, the first, Alien. Yes, I fully expect you to chime in below.

Horizon: A New Mass Effect 3 Trailer

There's a demo for Mass Effect 3 out there for download at this very moment, but I'm not going anywhere near it. The game is out in a few weeks now (March 6th!) and what's the point in spoiling anything at all for myself? I know the name of this site is, not, but there are few science-fiction films in recent memory that can compete with the scope and imagination of the Mass Effect series. Not since the original Star Wars or Star Trek has a sci-fi universe been this compelling and if this is our final journey with Commander Shepherd and his crew of badasses, then I'm ready to accept that mission. When it comes to 2012 science fiction releases of any kind, it'll be hard to top my anticipation for this game.

Below is the "teaser for the final trailer" that will debut with the next episode of The Walking Dead this Sunday. It's light on action and gameplay (i.e., it features none), but heavy on menacing atmosphere. Let's face it, though…if this game means anything to you, the trailer could be two minutes of a monkey scratching its butt and you'd be excited.

Categories: Features, Geek, Sci-Fi
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