The Problem with Aliens
Posted on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 05:51:17 Eastern
(As a warning, this whole thing is spoilerific and rantastic, so look away if you’re not cool enough to read it.)
It was new, it was refreshing, it was amazing, it was mind blowing to people, and it was arguably the very first real blockbuster of a movie that created the concept for many others to follow. It was Close Encounters of the Third Kind and it was a movie about people and a desire for things outside of this simple planet, so it was also about aliens. (Hence that long, semi-awkward title.) This movie, an expressive culmination of years of science fiction and star gazing hopes that influenced a young Steven Spielberg.
It was really the first time that this kind of extra-terrestrial had been shown to millions of people at once, it was exciting to have that reveal where they come out of the ground, it was like the first time you understand what all the fuss with nudity is. And just like naked bodies, once a concept, even so interesting as Spielberg’s brand of aliens, begins to age, and age horribly, the wrinkles and sags begin to make the viewing public horrified and frankly, a little ill.
Now, I just want to get it out of the way that I respect the filmmaker and his many movies that entertained and wowed over the years, but there’s a point where you have to look at your hero and ask what they’re still doing swinging around like we’ve seen so many times, but in new and horrifying ways, or making something old seem new, but in a way that we will someday tell our kids that it never really happened and that they should go back to bed.
The first point where I thought about the possibility that he, Spielberg, was simply going mad with green man envy was at the end of the otherwise interesting A.I. in which all of sudden, what becomes a plot point? Nothing else but f***ing aliens. The movie up to that point had been a future of drudge and grime mixed with boredom and fantasy, but not fantasy in the same way as requiring a quick happy-in-the-end, out of (and in) the blue, contrivance.
It almost wholly ruined what was otherwise entirely a quality movie with fresh ideas and moments. It was bigger than what the aliens made it, those creatures were just a source of magic to make the little robot boy happy, while pissing off anyone watching, robot or human.
The existence of beings outside of humanity is surely possible with the practically innumerable numbers of planets and moons and everything that are in the expanses of space. Possibility isn’t the fault that’s brought up, it’s another issue that continues to prevail. Such straggly sentient sources of science fiction hocus pocus have become a fall back of a seemingly lazy director that is otherwise brilliant. It’s called magic-ing away the problem, but in doing so in that increasingly short shortcut, you create the oversaturation of one man's infatuation.
So with new furor I stumble upon another example of Spielbergian self-stealing or referencing, and what happened at the end of another movie that had no room for aliens? The aliens burst their way into the movie and bust open the boundaries of possible love for the new adventure of an aging Indiana Jones. The franchise was bigger than the aliens, but the director found a way to make up some semblance of reason for them to be there despite not fitting in with the magic of the other movies. (There were other issues, but I have no need to discuss them, you know it all.)
To those that complain to those that complain that the other three movies had equally ridiculous sources of power that thrilled minds a light, I say that you entirely miss the point. Those things were all, even the Sankara Stones in Temple of Doom or the Ark of the Covenant and the means in which it literally and metaphorically blew people away, all showed that you could create anything to have old and yet new and wondrous power in the movie and over minds in the cinema.
Aliens no longer have that power, they’re a regurgitated piece of movie history from the same guy that made them, particularly this brand of them, popular years ago and won’t let them, his brand of alien or older ones such as in War of the Worlds, die without even a further whisper of them or, like E.T. go the f*** home.
It begins to feel as if the man had a reason to place aliens in Schindler’s List, he would have, maybe ending it with Oskar Schindler pulling off his man suit and flying away with his resilient humans from a horrible tragedy to show off forever the people he should have abducted more of.
That whole sentence feels like an affront to the truth of the horrible situation, but I have to say that honestly to this viewer and fan, these aliens, or inter-dimensional beings, or whatever else he can describe them as in a single sentence to try and diverge themselves from his previous efforts, are an affront to all kinds of imaginary situations that could have been so much more.
I understand that he loves aliens and they’re a part of him, but it’s like the saying, “It’s good to have a hobby, but when you start riding your train set to work your boss is probably going to call you an insane f***-tard and fire you.” (To explain if it’s not obvious and clear, Spielberg’s the one with the hobby, aliens are his train, and his boss are the audience members who no longer can take those aliens popping up. And yes, that saying is entirely made up.)