Space Is the Place

Saturday night. Decided to pig out. Watched three sci-fi movies streamed from Netflix — two Stargates and then Serenity for dessert.

I’m using the pejorative term “sci-fi” advisedly. I’m not sure any of this qualifies as actual science fiction. Okay, I’ll admit Stargate: Continuum had a time travel element that wasn’t handled too badly. But mostly it was just silly stuff. The good guys getting beaten to a pulp by the bad guys, but somehow coming out on top in the end. The far-flung interstellar societies in these movies make not a lick of sense, the armaments and combat are preposterous, and you could drive trucks through the holes in the logic of the plots.

But that doesn’t matter. Film has the power to make us believe it’s all true. We can see it, hear it, practically taste it.

In Serenity, no explanation is ever offered for River’s ability to defeat dozens of well-armed bloodthirsty maniacs, all by herself, in hand-to-hand combat. (River is a slim 17-year-old girl.) The main reason that sequence was in the movie was because Joss Whedon needed an excuse for Buffy-style kung fu combat scenes.

As we near the climax of Stargate: Ark of Truth, all seems lost. Earth is surrounded by hostile spaceships, and we lack the armament to defend ourselves. So the good guys open a sort of stone sepulchre, which they’ve been at some pains to recover, having been spurred on by … well, by a vision of Merlin, actually. A beam of intense white light emerges from the sepulchre, and suddenly the enemy ships lose all interest in attacking Earth.

I could go on, but why bother? You can see what I mean. It’s complete, utter nonsense, most of it — and the typical viewer (a category in which I would cheerfully include myself) doesn’t care. If they release another Stargate movie or another Firefly movie, I’ll watch them.

Film has power.

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