The number one thing that bugs me about most sci-fi and fantasy is that they pick the most awkward moments to abandon versimilitude. You know, Superman is standing there and the bad guy is shooting at him until he runs out of bullets, click click, he throws the gun and Superman dodges. You lean back and say “wait, what?” and it’s too late… you’ve been yanked out of the show.
Worse than that, it happens so often that I start waiting for it to happen and predicting how they’ll do it. “There will be a GUI on the computer even though they said it was Unix.” This has gotten so bad that when stuff happens, like in the most recent Tron movie, that the guy sits down at the computer and types something like “uname -a” then I sit up and when he types “history” to figure out what the previous commands were, I positively swoon and am more than willing to forgive the next 90 minutes or so. (The argument between Flynn and Clu at the end was worth the price of admission for me (no religion). I can totally understand how others would think that the movie was awful, however.)
One movie that kept having me guess when and how it was going to drop versimilitude (and kept surprising me by how it kept getting *BETTER* was Children of Men. I’m not going to give *too* many spoilers because I want you to see it but I’ll tell you this much: there is a fertility crisis on the planet and people have stopped having babies entirely. It has been more than a decade and almost two since a baby has been born.
London is one of the last stable cities on the planet and there are posters explaining how fertility testing is mandatory. Like, everywhere. Billboards. Different wording in different places but the same message is pasted up all over everywhere. The versimilitude I kept expecting to break would be to have two characters walking down the street, stop in front of one of these signs, then have one sweep his arm and say “like these billboards here!” or something like that.
*THIS NEVER HAPPENED*
They walk around, sure, but they ignore the billboards the same way that normal people ignore billboards, every day. The billboards may as well be invisible to the characters.
Now, there’s a lot of things that *DO* happen in the film (a car chase scene and a foot chase scene that are single shots and minutes long… normally I don’t care about such things being filmed in a single shot but these two are done PERFECTLY) and it’s one hell of a wild ride. You’ll find yourself holding your breath in, oh, 2 other scenes that I can think of off of the top of my head.
This isn’t a movie that holds your hand. It rewards you for paying attention and leaves you exhausted and spent at the end. One of the best movies I’ve seen in the last 10 years.
So that’s my recommendation for you this week.