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 Post subject: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:20 pm 
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This is to branch off the other discussion of special effects. I've always been more of a horror guy than a sci-fi guy, but I do like smart science fiction. I just don't go out of my way to see it unless people I trust are recommending it.

Favorites of mine include:

Arrival
Contact
Dark City
Naked Lunch (doesn't really qualify but I don't know what other genre to put it in)

I know a number of you are big fans of the genre. What else should I be looking into?

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:39 pm 
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Minority Report.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:52 pm 
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hmmm, just quickly scanning my Plex library...

Alphaville (1965) - the default go-to "smart" scifi movie. It's good.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - okay, so if you read the book, you will hate this. If you have the hots for Julie Christie, it's great.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) - love this movie

The Andromeda Strain (1971) - as I'm looking at this list, I'm realizing I'm biased toward 70s Dystopian scifi films

Soylent Green (1973) - such as this one

Rollerball (1975) - and this one

Repo Man (1984) - I refuse to believe you haven't seen this.

Starman (1984) - John Carpenter's least known film perhaps?

Brazil (1985) - I don't know, pretty smart I guess

The Quiet Earth (1985) - man, I really do like dystopian films

Twelve Monkeys (1995) - I don't remember any monkeys in this film.

Gattaca (1997) - c'mon, you must have seen this one.

Cube (1997) - Skip the sequels, but this one is good.

Equilibrium
(2002) - more action-ey than smart, but still a good time.

Children of Men
(2006) - okay, the ending is a bit in-your-face, but I like it.

A Scanner Darkly (2006) - one of the few Philip K. Dick novels that got a decent movie

Sunshine (2007) - oh man, I don't know...it wants to be smart, but just misses the mark a bit. Could have been a classic. Still, this one grew on me the more times I watched it.

Can't think of anything in the last decade that qualifies as "smart"...maybe ex-machina and annihilation...

If you're into animation, there's a bunch of movies that fit this category. Let me know, and I'll add them.

Also, if you can't find any of these, just shoot me a PM, and I'll send you an invite to my Plex library (this requires you have a chromecast or mobile device with the Plex app).

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:45 pm 
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I've seen most of those actually though many were via Netflix and not in the theater.

I've seen:

Fahrenheit 451 - one of my favorite books. The movie was good also.
The Andromeda Strain - one of my mother's favorite books. I liked the novel better.
Soylent Green - who hasn't seen this?
Rollerball - I saw it years ago but should watch it again.
Repo Man - Hell yes, I've seen this.
Starman - Saw it in theaters but haven't seen it since.
Brazil - a favorite that I should have listed in the first post but am at work and was distracted
12 Monkeys - ditto Brazil
Cube - ditto 12 Monkeys
Children of Men - good flick

I did miss Gattaca but that's because some asshole spoiled the whole movie for me so I didn't feel the need to see it. I've had A Scanner Darkly on my list to watch for literally years but still haven't gotten around to it.

And yes, I've seen Minority Report in the theater. Haven't seen it since. I liked the source material better.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:46 pm 
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When I think of this category, some of the ones that immediately spring to mind are:

Gattaca - A modern classic destined to only become more and more topical as time goes on, visually lovely, well acted, smart ideas, and overall one of my favorites. This is the first one I think of what I think of "smart sci-fi."

Children of Men - People fawn all over the two long takes in the movie for good reason - they're fucking amazing - but the movie is equally awesome for its writing and themes. The hook is pure sci-fi (humans can't have kids anymore), but what the movie is REALLY about is immigration, xenophobia, and what happens when a society teetering on the edge of collapse is asked to have empathy for others.

2001: A Space Odyssey - I mean, duh.

2010: The Year We Make Contact - Yeah, it's got "1980s" written all over it, and it suffers in esteem due to being set alongside 2001, but this is a great movie all the same, and by god do those special effects hold up.

Arrival - A recent one, this movie initially appears to be about first contact, then appears to be about communication and language, but in truth it's about the choices we make and the extent to which suffering is a desirable part of the human condition. This film made me cry. It's a terrific film that I highly, highly recommend (just be sure to go into it blind).

Code 46 - An overlooked and underrated little gem that covers similar themes as Gattaca, it's a rare Tim Robbins movie I like, directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Blade Runner 2049 - Very recent, the fact that this was a box office failure pained me greatly, because this movie was fantastic. I loved it. In fact, I'll go ahead and say it: I liked it more than the first. There is a LOT to unpack here. This is one of those movies that leave you silent for an hour after seeing it, then you just want to unpeel it all with someone, which is exactly what smart sci-fi should do.

12 Monkeys - A twisted modern classic, this is actually my favorite Terry Gilliam flick. It's strange and bizarre and is as much fantasy as it is sci-fi, and I'm not sure it holds up thematically compared to others on this list, but I'll be damned if it isn't engrossing each and every time.

Contact - Already discussed elsewhere

Solaris - Either one, really. Both are heady and weird and force your brain into contortions.

Annihilation - From earlier in this year, this movie left me scarred, in a good way. It's a shame the marketing was so bad, because this was a fantastic piece of work with a chilling, nearly silent sequence near the end that left me lying awake all night.

Ex Machina - Fantastic, small, focused, contained SF film that deals with the usual questions about what makes us human, whether or not machines can be sentient and whether they should have rights, and so on. Basically, a guy has AI robot servants who appear human, and how he treats them becomes the crux of the story. Love love love this movie. Oh, and it's directed by the guy who did Annihilation. (He also wrote the screenplays for 28 Days Later and Sunshine.)



Some others:

Sunshine - I wanted to like this more than I did. The first 3/4 are a great character study with a shaky science hook, but the final act suffers from the same problem 28 Days Later did in that it feels like a totally different movie invaded this one. And yes, they are directed by the same guy.

Moon - basically, take the HAL 9000 segments of 2001 and make an entire movie out of them. Sam Rockwell is really good in this, and the turns it takes pose some really compelling questions about humanity, morality, free will, and so on.

The Abyss - James Cameron's best work

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Barely sci-fi, perhaps, but good stuff with two great performances.

Enemy Mine - I haven't seen this in years, so I don't know how it holds up, but I remember this being really thought-provoking. Basically, a SF treatise about race and bigotry disguised as an alien movie.

Looper - By Rian Johnson, the guy who made the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back. Time travel movies are hard to do well, but DAMN does he do it well here. Smart, stylish, gripping, I feel like this movie is really overlooked. It's destined to be a cult classic.

The Adjustment Bureau - Not great, but this is an overlooked Philip K Dick adaptation starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt that is a pretty enjoyable SF thriller with some decent themes. Not an all-time great, but worth watching and one a lot of people have skipped.

Forbidden Planet - An all-time classic! One of the greats of all time, anyone who likes classic SF who hasn't seen this MUST SEE IT NOW. It's the stuff of legend.

(The first 1/2 of) The Island - I swear to god, the first half of this Michael fucking Bay movie is pretty great and, yeah, it's smart SF ... that is, until it switches gears and turns into a Michael Bay movie. 100% worth watching, though.

Silent Running - It's tooootally '70s, and the cheese factor is a little high here and there, but overall it's a pretty smart flick about societal responsibility, conservation, and more. The robot effects are bad, but the other stuff is great, done by the guy who did the FX in 2001.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Yeah, seriously. Given any other name but "Star Trek" and people would praise this as a cerebral SF film, but since it's Star Trek it gets slammed as being a bore. I love it, though, and place it second only to Wrath of Khan (which is great, but not necessarily "smart.")

Europa Report - A small budget flick about a mission to Europa and what it means for humanity, this is an overlooked little gem that I highly recommend. Not an all-time great or anything, but if you're a SF fan it's well worth watching and one that will make you wonder why it never gets brought up.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:48 pm 
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I think I've seen more than I realized.

Aside from the ones above, I've also seen (from Shoe's list):

2001
2010
Blade Runner 2049 (and the original)
Moon
The Abyss
Eternal Sunshine
Forbidden Planet
Star Trek: TMP

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:51 pm 
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i swear shoe just plagiarizes my shit...

I forgot about Code 46, good call.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:59 pm 
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Chris removed the "Minority Report is awful" part.

I enjoyed MR, or at least the first 4/5 of it, but it ends up going on WAY too long.

Whether it fits in this category is debatable, though. It has some interesting themes, but Spielberg doesn't really explore them, he just uses them as a launching point for action sequences.

Also, Equilibrium fucking sucked. Goddamn I hated that shit.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:16 pm 
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I decided I won't go negative in this thread (or else I would rip certain mentioned films to shreds).

Equilibrium did not suck, you were probably just in a sucky mood when you watched it. It's basically 1984 with kung fu, and that's a fun combo.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:22 pm 
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Chris Knight wrote:
I decided I won't go negative in this thread (or else I would rip certain mentioned films to shreds).

Fair enough. I'll play by those rules.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:47 pm 
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Of all the films I've seen in this thread, I go "Hell yeah, loved that!" excepting Equilibrium. The unfortunate part is I don't see movies here that I haven't seen or have on my to watch list. And I don't know if I have anything to add.

AI maybe? That was more of a fairy tale , and I haven't seen that since I was in my teen years and have no idea if it holds up.


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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:03 pm 
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A.I. absolutely holds up, but I think you're right - like Close Encounters, it's a fairy tale. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Man, were you guys drunk when you watched Equilibrium?

:unsure:

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:09 pm 
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No, though I was at someone's house who used a DSP setting like "Concert Hall" on a receiver to add echoes to movies and it really annoyed me. I remember that more than anything in the film.


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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:12 pm 
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I was going to list Clone Encounters, as it's one of my favorite movies of all time, science fiction or otherwise, but I'm not sure it qualifies for the category. It's a wonderful movie about aliens, obsession, and the fracturing nuclear family, but I'm not sure it says anything or poses any big questions, and to me, a smart SF movie has to pose interesting questions.

A.I., on the other hand, deserves a mention. That not only holds up well, I think it's gotten better with time.

Hell, I've even warmed to the ending. I used to be among those who though it should have ended with him under water, but I don't think I think that way anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:02 pm 
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There are definitely some on here I'll be checking out. When I look at the full list of recommendations, I've probably seen 2/3rds of them but again, sci-fi has never been my go-to genre. The ones I've seen have been from recommendations or because they were "event" films. Close Encounters was one of those in a way. When it was in theaters, I was the perfect age for it and all my friends were going and raving about it. I liked it a lot even though the aliens didn't kill anyone.

Oops. Spoiler alert.

Sci-fi books, on the other hand, were something I did read pretty regularly for a while. Bradbury, Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Douglas Adams and Harlan Ellison are all favorites. I read 2001 and 2010 but didn't read anything else by Clarke. There were individual books from others that left good impressions but most of those I just remember the stories from and don't recall the authors.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:52 pm 
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caryc wrote:
even though the aliens didn't kill anyone.

You think the cops survived driving off the cliff while chasing the pretty lights? Those aliens didn't just kill people, they fucked up tons of people's lives, man. And after dumping all their kidnapping victims out on to the landing strip at the end, the movie ends with them taking a douchebag who would happily desert his family. Those aliens are like the stoners from the Angus McKie sequence in Heavy Metal. I bet the first thing Richard Dreyfuss did on that ship was snort a massive amount of plutonian nyborg.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:40 pm 
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Chris Knight wrote:
caryc wrote:
even though the aliens didn't kill anyone.

You think the cops survived driving off the cliff while chasing the pretty lights?


There's a deleted scene on the Blu that specifies the cops survived the crash.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:56 am 
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Monterey Jack wrote:
Chris Knight wrote:
caryc wrote:
even though the aliens didn't kill anyone.

You think the cops survived driving off the cliff while chasing the pretty lights?


There's a deleted scene on the Blu that specifies the cops survived the crash.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:02 am 
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No love for Logan's Run (1970) or THX-1138 (1971)?

Good mainstream stuff, I also loved Pi (1998)

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:26 am 
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Well, the part of The Island that Shoe said he liked is basically Logan's Run.


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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:27 am 
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Metropolis - Definitely a thinker.

The Time Machine - 1960 version.

The Planet of the Apes - 1968 version.

The Day the Earth Stood Still - 50s version.

Moon - Totally enjoyed this.

They Live - A totally disguised thinker. Don't let the ridiculous "everything" fool you, this one has actual social commentary that has been pushed down by The Man ever since its release.

Just to add a few to the pile.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:58 am 
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Forgot about Moon, that was awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:14 pm 
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Logan's Run is a good call. Not sure why I forgot that one. It's a wee bit cheesy these days as far as presentation goes, but still quite good. And also, Jenny Agutter in that little outfit, oh mama!

I thought about listing THX-1138, but it would have been dishonest of me. I haven't seen it in 20 years. I remember being impressed by it, but have little recollection otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:43 pm 
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Shoe wrote:
I thought about listing THX-1138, but it would have been dishonest of me. I haven't seen it in 20 years. I remember being impressed by it, but have little recollection otherwise.

You should definitely check out the redux version. Unlike the SW special edition, I have never seen any criticism of all the added visual effects (which adds a LOT to the film).

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:54 pm 
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I need to see the redux, haven't grabbed it yet.

Just watched Anti Matter (2017), a psychological Sci-fi thriller, not bad, worth a watch with a very cool concept.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:09 pm 
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Anyone watch the low-budget time travel film, Primer?

You're not going to be won by exciting action or pretty visuals, but it's a good time travel flick.


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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:07 pm 
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Primer is good. Same director followed it up with semi-scifi-ish movie called Upstream Color. And then promptly vanished.

I just watched a Duncan Jones movie called Mute (it's a Netflix original). Definitely not "smart", but it's in the same general vicinity. Doesn't drag, despite the 2 hour running time. Not great, but not bad. SPOILER BELOW that will ruin your day if you haven't seen this...

Spoiler: show
If you remember how Moon ends, you really need to see this movie, and then not blink during one very specific scene.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:30 pm 
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Chris Knight wrote:
Primer is good. Same director followed it up with semi-scifi-ish movie called Upstream Color. And then promptly vanished.


To be fair, there's less time between now and Upstream Color than there was between Upstream Color and Primer.


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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:29 pm 
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Mute's been on my radar for more than a few weeks. Definitely going to check it out with that spoiler. Very nice.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:57 pm 
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I also enjoyed Mute, worth your time.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:28 pm 
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I didn't care for Mute at all. It wasn't a disaster like Duncan Jones' wretched Warcraft (a movie featuring the lovely Paula Patton decked out like a GAMORREAN GUARD), but it wasn't nearly as good as Moon or Source Code. No wonder it got dumped on Netflix.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:12 pm 
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You know Netflix is bigger than Disney, right? Nothing gets dumped there. Annihilation, for instance, is a Netflix film that only got a theatrical release in the US for union reasons (it premiered on Netflix everywhere else on the planet).

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:27 pm 
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I know that the whole way movies are distributed these days is totally different, and there are plenty of good/great Netflix movies that are every bit as "legit" as movies that get a 3,000-screen multiplex release, but I'm still mired in the mindset that, if it doesn't see the inside of a theater, there's something inherently "wrong" with a movie. It used to be the stamp of shame when a movie went straight-to-VHS, or a Redbox machine, and I still kind of feel that way. That's more on me than anything else, though.

Still, there have been a number of recent films that were intended for theaters, and ended up being bought out by Netflix instead, like The Cloverfield Paradox, or the upcoming Mowgli (which had a trailer promising "Coming to theaters this October" barely two weeks ago). You have to wonder if the studios just took the Netflix money because they were worried those films would have tanked had they been given a big theatrical push.

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:55 am 
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It's completely irrational , makings little sense, and has no bearing on the merits of a movie, but I harbor a little bit of that same bias, despite recognizing how stupid it is. (And it is.)

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 Post subject: Re: Smart Sci-Fi
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:09 am 
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I have no such bias. I guess I don't care.

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