The Exit Interview


Well, folks, this is a Very Special Column, and to make that point, I am going to interview myself about it. So, everyone, meet Interviewer Me!

Hello, everyone.
Let’s get started, shall we?

Right then. To cut right to the chase: Rumor has it this is your last science fiction film column for Filmcritic.com. Is this true?
Indeed it is. I started this column on May 8, 2008, and am stopping today, May 9, 2012. That’s as close to symmetry as you get in this business.

Why are you stopping?
Because, as I understand it, things
here are going in a different direction, which I’m sure will be a fine
direction, just one that doesn’t have me in it.

How are you
handling it? Are you angry? Outraged? Will you be on the street with a
cardboard sign that says, “Will Snark About George Lucas for Food”?

It’s
always politic to say that one is fine about these sorts of things, but
in this case, it’s actually the truth. The AMC and Filmcritic.com folks
have always been spectacularly supportive of what I write here and of me
in general, and I’ve had the good fortune of working with a number of
very fine editors. And of course the readers have been great, too. It’s
been a heck of a lot of fun, and while I’m sad to see it come to an end,
well, you know, everything ends. The ride itself was a blast.

And as for me, well, look: I have a new novel coming out in just about a month (called Redshirts)
that’s getting fantastic reviews; I’m working on a video game; this
year I’m nominated for a Hugo, one of the biggest awards in science
fiction; and Paramount Pictures is developing one of my books for a
film. You know what? I’m just fine, thanks.

I‘m relieved to hear you say that.
Of course you are, you’re me.

So,
what’s your take on science fiction
film
over the last four years? Does it represent a particular era? Has it been a good time for
science fiction film? A bad one? Where do we go from here?

Well,
it’s definitely an interesting time. Science fiction has always been a
film genre about visual spectacle, and these last four years are no exception. We’ve seen the rise in 3D, cemented by the
enormous success of Avatar, and we’ve seen the comic book film –
which often code-shares with science fiction — develop into a
finely tuned formatted science (well, when Marvel characters are
involved, anyway; movies with DC characters still have a few bugs in the
pipeline). The increasing importance of the international market has
also had an influence on the science fiction films being made — I would
argue in fact that it’s the genre where the “global blockbuster” is at
its peak form, for better or worse.

There’s a lot of argument for worse — see Transformers
for this — but it’s also important to note that there have been
science fiction films in the last four years that will go down as
canonical films in the genre.

For example?
The previously mentioned Avatar,
which in terms of film production and effects processing may
eventually be the most influential science fiction film since Star Wars.
WALL-E, one of the best science fiction films of all time. Inception,
which, had someone like Godard made it 45 years ago, and a lot less
expensively, and starring Eddie Constantine, would be a classic of the
French New Wave. District 9, which came out of nowhere (well, South Africa by way of New Zealand).

It’s worth noting that Avatar, Inception, and District 9
were all nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards — not always an
indicator of immortal quality, to be sure, but in this case at least
some validation of work done right (WALL-E took home the Best Animated Feature, to boot). I also have a spot in my heart for Duncan Jones’ Moon, which I think will be one of those films whose stature grows as time goes on.

And yes: tons of crap, too. But there’s always
tons of crap all the time. The good stuff gets remembered. The films
I’ve noted are the ones I suspect will still be watched 20 or 30
years from now.

Anything you wish film studios would do differently, regarding science fiction films?
Just
the things I wish they’d do in general, for all films: One, spend more
time on scripts so those of us who do like good stories have a better
chance of getting one. Two, try to slide in a few more modestly budgeted
films, because not everything has to be a home run — if you’re
smart, you can still make money just getting on base. Three: Did I
mention scripts?

Any last thoughts?
Oh, you know.
Just thanks: Thanks to AMC and Filmcritic.com for having me, and thanks
to everyone who read, enjoyed, and commented on these columns for the
last four years. I had a great time, the whole time.

Excellent. Now let’s go have a donut.
Agreed.

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