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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top 8 Most Ridiculous Moments in Science Fiction and Fantasy Film in the 21st Century

Science fiction and fantasy have had a great first decade in the 21st century. Some of the best films and television shows in the history of the genre have appeared during this time, making sure that fans can fondly remember this decade as one of the best.

But the 21st century has also brought us some downright awful stuff. From The Matrix Reloaded to the Star Wars prequels, the 21st century is responsible for some of the worst SF/F moments ever. Here are eight of the most ridiculous of those moments (after the fold):

8. Durza's Gurgling Spell Yell -- Eragon
Think back to when you saw this movie. Remember the scene where Durza (Robert Carlyle) gurgles a long string of ridiculous words? These words: Anori Draumr abr Sundablaka it ator Virliger. Possibly the worst part of that entire movie, and that's saying a lot, because Eragon is terrible. Carlyle tries so hard to make it work, but you can see that at some point he gave up trying to take the movie seriously and immediately went for camp.

7. In the Name of the King -- In the Name of the King
Yes, I mean the entire movie. Why? Flying ninja sword lunges. Burt Reynolds as King. Matthew Lillard doing a really horrible British accent. The main character's name is Farmer, who...farms. Most importantly, however, this film single-handedly destroyed any respect I had for John Rhys Davies and every other serious actor in the cast. I'd love the movie more if the cast were made of pathetic has-beens from the 80s, all desperate to re-ignite their old careers, but In the Name of the King pretty much works in the opposite direction. This movie isn't even bad to the point of being funny. It's just bad. Vulcan bad. (I'd love to show you all a video of just how bad this movie is, but unfortunately all I could find were the trailers, which hardly demonstrate how ridiculous In the Name of the King is.)

6. Underground Nude Acid Rave -- The Matrix Reloaded
I'm not the only one to take issue with this scene from The Matrix Reloaded (I can't embed the video, unfortunately). That said, I have an entirely different take on why this scene is absolutely absurd. If humanity has been living underground in an attempt to hide from the machines, then wouldn't it make sense to make as little noise as possible so as not to be found? Why are any of the characters shocked that the machines found out where they live? You're running around banging huge drums and dancing around in a giant cavern. Sound resonates, and you'd have to assume the machines are smart enough to listen to vibrations in the ground. Maybe there's a reason why we ended up being enslaved by the machines: we're stupid as hell.

(Note: A number of people have questioned this one, and so I want to answer to it. While this particular scene is explained in the movie as an attempt to show that they're not afraid, one has to assume that they've always had those drums, because they don't explain where they came from. If you take that assumption to heart, then it's only logical that they use the drums, otherwise there's no reason to make them. So, the moment might be explained, but not the apparatus itself.)

5. Hayden Christensen in Any SF/F Production -- Star Wars, Jumper, etc.
Watch Attack of the Clones again. Now watch Jumper. See the same problems? So do I. Either someone in the editing room phoned it in, or somebody let Christensen have a seizure on camera for kicks. Any time this guy has shown up in an SF/F film, it's been an acting disaster. The thing is, all of these films have moments where you can see his actual ability shining through, but such moments are quickly glossed over by Haydenseizures.

4. Creepy Romance (and basically everything else in The Attack of the Clones except the end with the lightsabers and Yoda) -- Star Wars, Episode Two: The Attack of the Clones
I don't need to explain. These videos can do that for me.

3. Starbuck is an Angel -- Battlestar Galactica (New)
I didn't hate the finale as much as everyone else, but the one thing I didn't like was the mysterious disappearance of Starbuck. So much of what made Starbuck appealing as a character was lost in that moment. Starbuck is an angel sent to the colonies to destroy most of mankind (edit: not directly, as in the Cylons, but indirectly through the divine necessity of her entire purpose for existing) and then lead them to Earth, where she'll go "poof" and leave Apollo wondering what the hell happened? The audience saw that and started screaming "wtf." Too many questions unanswered, and a whole lot of questions reduced to weird religious mumbo jumbo that makes about as much sense as the Midichlorians in Star Wars. Maybe they'll get it right when they pull out that ridiculous movie reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

2. Future Spock -- J. J. Abrams' Star Trek
I don't even need to say anything. You just need to read this, this, and this.

1. The Name Change (like a sex change, but less acceptable) -- SyFy
Let's be frank: SyFy hasn't exactly been the bastion of science fiction television in the last ten years. They've consistently cut the science fiction out of their programming in exchange for crappy reality shows about BS...I mean ghosts, and they've produced more crappy TV movies than any other network in existence, without being smart enough to just stick Bruce Campbell in them all to save face. To give you an idea of how the programming has changed, I filched this comparison from Something Awful:
SciFi Channel Sunday schedule circa 1998
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Dark Shadows - Count Darcy cries about a dead pigeon.
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM The Incredible Hulk - Bruce Banner fights a racist sheriff.
11:00 AM - NOON Automan - Automan goes on a date with an air hockey table.
NOON - 1:00 PM Earth 2 - The survivors find a pickle in the desert, but it's evil.
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Star Trek The Motion Picture - Kirk and Spock fight the Voyager probe.
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Forever Knight - A vampire pharaoh pleads not guilty to racketeering.
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Sightings - An excitable white guy sees a UFO shaped like a helicopter.
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Mystery Science Theater 3000 - The gang watches Planet of the Hate Hutch. 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Highlander - A greasy Frenchman may be more than he seems.
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM The Prisoner - Number Six thinks he escaped, but it's part of a charity pageant for an ailing evil balloon.

SciFi Channel Sunday schedule circa 2006
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Ghost Hunters - The team drops a camera when they hear a sound.
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Ghost Hunters - Kip's Infrared finds a cold spot on a wall.
11:00 AM - NOON Scare Tactics - Paid actors react to a man with a chainsaw at a restaurant.
NOON - 1:00 PM Extreme Championship Wrestling - Guys hugging on the floor.
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Rage of the Python - A giant python escapes in a Manhattan high rise.
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Dragon Blast - Survivors of a dragon apocalypse struggle to retake earth..
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Python Fighter - Dean Cain must battle in the post python-apocalypse.
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Terror Turtle - Scientists mate a turtle with a dragon and release a trained giant python to hunt it down. Bruce Boxleitner must stop them both.
But to add insult to injury, the station changed its name from SciFi to SyFy. You all know this and you all probably hated it as much as every legitimate science fiction fan should. We don't hate the name simply because we want a station for science fiction. We hate the name because SyFy is like some sort of dyslexic nonsense you'd expect from a three-year-old or a mentally handicapped baboon, not from the only network for science fiction film. The sad thing is that our bitching and whining amounted to almost nothing. SyFy hasn't listened to the fans in years and they're not going to start now.

And that's it. So, what do you think are some of the most ridiculous moments in science fiction and fantasy film? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. You must have a lot of time on your hands...
    Being able to pick out just one ridiculous piece from Eragon...

    Also, my biggest problem with In the Name of the King? Uwe Boll ruining another good video game franchise by making a shit movie "about" it.

  2. Uwe Boll would be an all-time most ridiculous moment for SF/F. He is worse than Hayden Christensen :P.

    And, yeah, I had a lot of time on my hands for the Eragon thing.

  3. Yeah, Starbuck wasn't sent to destroy the colonies. She was alive during that time period, and only died a few months before they found Earth. It was then that she became an 'angel'.

    I'd suggest you re-watch and get your facts straight.

  4. crazyvictoria: The facts are straight. While she didn't directly destroy the colonies, her presence and her storyline essentially necessitates the destruction of the colonies. Otherwise she's like everyone else. If anything, I should have made that more clear: indirect vs. direct. Cylons were the direct vehicle, and Starbuck's angel narrative is the indirect vehicle, since she is, essentially, a divine instrument.

    I'll make the correction to be more clear, though. For the record, I've seen the series six times in a row.

  5. Anonymous6:28 PM

    You are so incredibly off the mark on BSG.

    The interplay of religion and the events of the show had been present since the miniseries. The original BSG was created to provide a re-telling of the book of Mormon. The re-imagination was written in such a way to challenge the (mostly Western, Abrahamic) viewer's pre-conceptions regarding religion, although that was not the primary objective of the show.

    Turning Starbuck into an angel wasn't a last minute cop-out. It was perfectly consistent with all four seasons and the miniseries. To ignore the religious themes of the series is just plain ignorant.

  6. Anonymous: I wasn't ignoring the religious element at all. The lack of answers is what I take issue with. So many of the other characters, many of which were deeply rooted into the religious mythology of BSG, received much better endings and closure than Starbuck.

    I am curious why you say it's a re-telling of the book of Mormon. Is that something you picked up on on your own, or something the creatures said? Seriously, very curious idea to me.

  7. Rabiesbunny7:41 PM

    Wow, sir, I agree without you on almost's scary. Have I started blogging and didn't realize it..?!

    :) I agree with you on everything but Hayden, I really liked him as Anakin. He was awkward in his speech, and I felt that really worked for someone who was inherently conflicted inwardly.

    I'm so watching your blog from now on. Too bad the abysmal Transformers movies couldn't find a way. They kind of fit under Spock's entry though.

  8. Congrats on the fark link! And interesting list. Maybe I'll do mine now.

    And yes, BSG has clear elements of mormonism with the tribes and the lost tribe. Interesting to look into. Personally I was very unhappy to see the religion element become the dominant idea of the series. I always thought that the nature of machines as life, and the relationships between the creators and the created was much more original than supernatural nonsense.

  9. Rabiesbunny: I actually didn't mind Jumper. I thought a lot of it was uneven, and I do think Hayden can act, but he's the kind of actor that needs clear direction or something. He was good in About a House.

    I thought of putting Transformers 2 on here, but I couldn't figure out what one thing was ridiculous about that movie, and since I already had one full film on the list, and one almost-full, I didn't want to shove that one there. Trust me, if I do a second list, Transformers 2 is on it.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, and feel free to chill out and comment at will :).

    Mike: What specifically are the elements of Mormonism? I didn't catch them and I'm very curious now.

  10. Syfy Channel gets called "syphilis channel" in this house.

  11. WN: Ha! I like that. It's a really stupid name change...

    And for those who apparently think it is a copyright issue: actually, they changed the name for a rebranding effort so they could own a name, because you can't own "scifi." They didn't have to change the name because of copyright. They chose to change it.

  12. Check out this link, for instance. I don't think it's a direct retelling, but there are definitely elements that seem to be in common.

  13. Thanks for the link. I'll check it out when I have a big more time. Appreciate it :)

  14. I once poked a lion in the eye as an attempt to show that I was not afraid.



  15. Well, I'm sure that turned out very well for you, since you're able to tell your story here.