back to article 1980s sci-fi movies: The thrill of being not quite terrified on mum's floral sofa

2017 saw two major cinematic milestones of different extremes. One was the mega release of Blade Runner 2049, the originally unplanned sequel to, yes, Blade Runner. The other was the more overlooked anniversary of the vastly smaller Tron. Blade Runner 2049 review: Scott's vision versus Villeneuve's skill READ MORE They were a …

  1. Walter Bishop Silver badge

    Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

    Lucas was notorious for going back and tweaking the originals. Jabba was missing in the original cut but reinserted as CGI in the 1997 version. The space battles in 'Star Wars the original (1977)' were achieved using motion controlled camera matte effects and models as the CGI technology wasn't available at the time.

    1. Vulch

      Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

      No, Jabba was always in RotJ along with slave bikini Leia. He was pasted into an extra scene in the original Star Wars though.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

        Jabba was actually in the original script/story of Star Wars (A New Hope for you youngsters). Yes, he was pasted in but over the original Jabba. Ford actually did act out that part with the original, who was just a large bloke.

        BTW - the retweaked ending of RotJ REALLY upset me. They should have just left it.

        1. Naselus

          Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

          "Jabba was actually in the original script/story of Star Wars (A New Hope for you youngsters). Yes, he was pasted in but over the original Jabba. "

          Also, the cantina bounty hunter Greedo was NOT in the original script, and the whole scene with Han shooting first was only incorporated in order to get the plot information from the discarded Jabba the Hutt scene into the movie. The fact that Han then murdered him in the middle of a bar added to the Han Solo character in a way that the Jabba scene did not.

          So re-inserting it was completely pointless, and results in Han having basically identical conversations within ten minutes of each other.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

        Jabba was present in the originals, but had extra scenes in the Special Editions. These extra scenes were achieved by pasting CGI Jabba on top of scenes filmed with Harrison Ford talking to a human who looks like a wealthy 17th century Dutch merchant - presumably a contender for Jabba's form before the filmmakers settled on his fat slug appearance.

        1. m0rt Silver badge

          Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

          And here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw1gkNd6Z_8

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

            Until Disney makes a killing putting out unscrewed-up versions on Bluray, there's always the Despecialized Editions of the original trilogy.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

              Can't upvote enough: "Despecialized" is the way to go. And yes, were they to sell the original _on DVD_ I would buy it in a heartbeat (sorry, I don't "do" Bluray).

              1. Mongrel

                Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                It's pricey but look for the "Star Wars Trilogy 6 discs Limited Edition Tin Box Set [DVD]" on Amazon, it has the fiddled with version AND the original cinematic release.

                1. Gene Cash Silver badge

                  Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                  > We found 0 results for "Star Wars Trilogy 6 discs Limited Edition Tin Box Set"

                  > Use fewer keywords or try these instead

                  Got a better title or a link? I'm really interested...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Star wars tin DVD

                    Look at the sticker in the picture of it in the top left corner!

                    "Includes both digitally remastered and Original Cinema Version of Each Film"

                    That's why it's 6 disks.

                    I have this, it is the original films, all of them. It's why I bought it. The description used is also why it's a bastard to find. It also in a metal tin in a card cover.

                    https://uk.webuy.com/product.php?sku=5039036039512

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Star wars tin DVD

                      Apparently there are two version both the same, mines just the limited edition.

                      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                        Re: Star wars tin DVD

                        Now that Disney has bought Fox (who had some home media distribution rights) the legal hurdles to a high-def release have been mitigated. It now comes down to motivation, digging out various prints and spending time and money on restoring them.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Star wars tin DVD

                          That's true, last jedi is apparently coming out on 4k so it's only logical they do the others as well. The cash cow shall be milked.

                    2. FIA

                      Re: Star wars tin DVD

                      [...]I have this, it is the original films, all of them. It's why I bought it. The description used is also why it's a bastard to find. It also in a metal tin in a card cover.

                      The problem is the source it's made from. Aparently it's derived from the work they did producing the widescreen VHSs in the 90s.

                      If you want the first 3 films in unaltered decent quality the despecialised editions are well worth finding. (The 1977 version of Star Wars makes you realise just how good ILM were...) Also, purely from the amount of work involved creating them too. Some people really do love these films. (You have frame by frame composition of 3 different sources for some scenes!)

                      There's a fairly comprehensive overview of things here.

                      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                        Re: Star wars tin DVD

                        If anyone's still reading and wants to know about the work that went into the Despecialized Edition, there's a video here.

                  2. Mongrel

                    Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                    Here you go

                    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Trilogy-discs-Limited/dp/B000K9KVYQ/ref=sr_1_11?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1515576351&sr=1-11&keywords=star+wars+trilogy+dvd

                2. DropBear Silver badge

                  Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                  @Mongrel: from one of the reviews: "These are advertised as being the original versions plus the remastered versions......that is not the case! They are only the remastered ones :-(" so I guess that's a "no" then. Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I'll be sure to keep looking.

                  PS - the whole point of having to painstakingly MAKE the Despecialized Editions is the completely original, absolutely untouched, as-seen-when-you-were-a-kid version not being available anywhere in any form. Otherwise we'd just be talking about a bootleg of that instead...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                @DropBear

                The original theatrical versions were released on DVD in a special edition tin as I have it.

                It's available for the princely sum of £12.

                https://uk.webuy.com/product.php?sku=5039036039512

                I hate the alternative ending to rotj.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                  >The original theatrical versions were released on DVD in a special edition tin as I have it.

                  >It's available for the princely sum of £12.

                  >https://uk.webuy.com/product.php?sku=5039036039512

                  From the description:

                  The first three Star Wars films reworked as creator George Lucas had intended.

                  _reworked_. IOW not the original theatrical versions.

                  Just sayin'

              3. xeroks

                Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

                What's the problem with Bluray? It has far better quality than DVD and streaming. and you usually get the same extras as DVD.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

          > Jabba was present in the originals, but had extra scenes in the Special Editions.

          Jabba does _not_ appear _at all_ in the original 1977 Star Wars (later renamed Episode IV: A New Hope).

          Not as a slug. Not as a rotund "dutch merchant". May I direct your attention to Team Negative1's beautiful restoration of an original, "found" 35mm theater release print. I'm sure you can find a copy to download in all the usual places. Nor is he in the first VHS edition. (Probably not in the Laserdisc edition either, but I don't own that and can't check.)

          Jabba the slug's first appearance in Episode IV is in the Special Edition VHS, and, IIRC, you would have seen the "dutch merchant" in the extra features DVD of the trilogy set. (I didn't check my copy to confirm.)

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Not just technology...

    80s films used real sets, from the concrete South American shopping mall in Total Recall, to the disused power station in Aliens, the decommissioned aircraft carrier in Trumbull's Silent Runnings to of course the Detroit rust belt in Verhoeven's RoboCop. Er, okay, I know Total Recall was 90s and Runnings was 70s, but I think my point stands!

    The 80s films also had aesthetics drawn from popular culture - bright colours of hip hop, the grunge of punk, the angular product design of GRiD, Lamborghini et al. Societal concerns gave us vistas of urban degeneration, linking seamlessly into post-apocolyptic landscapes of Mad Max, itself inspired by environmental concerns.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Not just technology...

      Just to clarify, in the above read '80s films' as '80s Sci-Fi films'.

      And by the way, for anyone wondering what the man who gave us the stylistic trilogy of RoboCop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers has been up to, Paul Verhoeven returned to his homeland. However, his excellent French-language film Elle (2017) is currently on Netflix. Whilst not a sci-fi film, it is partly set in a video games studio. Not for the feint-hearted, it defies easy description. Highly recommended.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Not just technology...

        Whilst PV has made some excellent films, it is still hard to forget some of the lemons he has put out. Like Showgirls.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Not just technology...

          I did enjoy the original book though. But then it was a good short novel, not the bloated groanfest of the film

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Not just technology...

        +1 for Elle - a really amazing film.

      3. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Not just technology...

        I think Verhoeven had to leave when Hollywood bosses realised that his entire output for American studios had been basically taking the piss out of Americans. Either that or it was Showgirls. Actually, it was definitely Showgirls...

        Robocop is a nasty vision of the future not for the visceral gore of its special effects, but for the nastiness of the world it portrays through the TV commercial blips, the incidental dialogue and all the small details that build up to a picture of a world gone to hell. The gore is the least disturbing part of Verhoeven's future Detroit...

        I'm also in the small faction that likes Starship Troopers - and that's because of its particular take on "alien monster" movies. I can't say anything else as I don't want to spoil it for people who haven't seen it, but it is very much not what it seems. A faithful reproduction of Heinlein's book would have been indistinguishable from any of the slew of generic "space-marine" movies that came in the wake of "Aliens".

        Actually, what I think was a major factor in the Sci-fi boom of the 1980s was home video itself: Not to watch the "hits", but to discover movies that didn't make it big on release.. For studios it meant that if a movie tanked at the theatres, it still had a chance of making its money back on VHS sales, and that allowed projects to be approved that otherwise wouldn't have been. Especially as Sci-fi is a niche interest, with fans who are loyal and will buy on recommendation.

        This second chance allowed some damp-squip cinema releases to turn into major successes later. As it happens, Blade Runner was one such film - its global box-office receipts of $33 million in 1982 were a very poor return for a movie with a $28 million production budget, but over the 1980s and 1990s it more than doubled that income again in home sales.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The sci-fi films timeline stretches back almost continuously to the earliest days of "Metropolis" (1927). The first of many versions of "The Invisible Man" was 1933.

    Some notable post-war examples: Forbidden Planet (1956); The Fly (1958); 2001 (1968).

    Home video was motivated by TV timeslip - and pr0n before classifications caught up with the rental shops.

    "Flesh Gordon" (1974) managed to capture the fizzing effects of the original film series. It also articulated storyline undercurrents that went over the heads of Saturday morning cinema club audiences. "Barbarella" (1968) had been an attempt to bring that flavour into mainstream cinema.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Barbarella makes more sense viewed in the context of Italian horror movies. Think colourful lighting and buxom women in sheer clothing.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Barbarella makes more sense viewed in the context of Italian horror movies. Think colourful lighting and buxom women in sheer clothing."

        Is there any other way to think?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Think colourful lighting and buxom women in sheer clothing.

        Tbh, I think of little else

    2. Anonymous Blowhard
      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Are you sure you mean "Flesh Gordon" (1974) and not "Flash Gordon" (1980)?"

        Yes. Soft pr0n very faithful to the original plots, costuming, and firework SFX. As a kid at Saturday morning cinema the original 1930s undertones of Ming's daughter were never noticed. "Flesh Gordon" built new scenes based on those undertones.

        The mainstream film remake of "Flash Gordon" that unforgettably featured Brian Blessed was not a bad attempt.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CGI is killing sci-fi

    Too much of it, and stupid plots and storylines.

    While reboots, remakes, and sequels are an appalling display of lack of ideas.

    When special effects were difficult and expensive, directors had to fill the time between them with a story...

    PS: sci-fi and horror are orthogonal, they can intersect, but a sci-fi movie has not to be an horror movie. And too much sci-fi of late it's just at that intersection point, and it's boring.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      And yet we've had some excellent concept Sci-Fi film of late, such as Moon. The lowered cost of filming, editing and SFX also means that there is a wealth of interesting independent sci-fi films that may have flown below your radar. Just don't expect them from Disney on a huge multiplex in Summer.

      Regards.

      (Before digital filming, just a movie's worth of black and white filmstock might cost around $10,000, a high bar for a self-teaching director)

      1. jackandhishat

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        Moon is a cracking film. Can't wait for Mute to be released. ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1464763/ )

    2. 0laf Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      CGI isn't killing films it's weak directors with big egos using it to fill in the gaps they've created.

      I've been thinking about this recently having watched quite a few films I found very disappointing but were highly rated by professional reviewers (Last Jedi, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent).

      I think the studios are pandering to directors and letting director take over story writing. I (IMHO) think we need a resurgence of screenwriters who can sort out the bloody story before letting director loose with the CGI whizzbangs.

      A film with poor effects but a good story is still be a good film.

      A film with great effects but a poor story is more likely to be crap

      1. FIA

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        I've been thinking about this recently having watched quite a few films I found very disappointing but were highly rated by professional reviewers (Last Jedi, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent).

        Isn't this an extension of what you see in the video game/hardware review world too? I can imagine, especially with big budget stuff like Star Wars, the fear of not being given review access to the next big thing is enough to ensure most reviews will be at least favourable.

        I recently went to see 'The Last Jedi' and whilst waiting for my friends outside the screen everyone who left seemed to echo some variation of 'well. That was shit'.

        I then went and read some of the reviews, it was like they'd seen a different film from me.

        TBH, the days where I'd look at a review as a guide to weather I should watch something have long passed (especially big budget stuff), these days I just read them to find out what I'm supposed to think about it, after the fact. ;)

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

          Yes probably, but there would be no need for it if the studios would sort out the stories first.

          I'm not looking for soul wrenching depth in every film I watch. I mean I really enjoyed GOTG a lot and it's nonsense but it worked.

          Whereas the slow motion chase in Last Jedi should have had the Benny Hill tune playing over it, a petulant child somehow head of a galactically successful empire and many other farcical things. It nuked the fridge for me.

          Those other films I mentioned were confusing and boring or just plain boring.

          they all smacked of a director that couldn't see the wood for the trees or more specifically a screen writer with talent to say "that doesn't work, try this".

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

            There are certainly faults in Disney's 3 Star Wars movies, but I'd say they've all been worth the money to go and see. Unlike the awful prequels.

            I haven't seen the three other series, or read the books they're based on - so can't comment.

            I don't think there's any era of film making (or any kind of popular culture) where there wouldn't be a cash-in on the success of Harry Potter and Twilight. So they were bound to go to the YA section in the book shop and see what they could get - though I've heard generally good things about the Hunger Games films.

            I'm not saying everthing's great. Just that there wasn't a golden age. There were loads of shit films, and awful sequels in the 80s too.

            I've seen some really enjoyable films recently. And found a film reviewer who's opinions I mostly trust (Mark Kermode) - so I've dodged a lot of the crap stuff.

            Even in something as proscriptive and committee run as the Marvel studio they've allowed room for individual taltent, such that there are differences in tone in their films. So Thor 3 was very good (though maybe undercut its own drama by being too funny). Guardians of the Galaxy was so much more fun than I expected, when I got dragged to see it.

            Nolan did great things with Batman.

            But on the downside we also have Pirates of the Caribbean and all the Transformers films.

        2. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

          I am just old enough so that I can remember my Dad taking me to the first Star Wars all those years ago. What I see comparing those distant memories to today is this; Once kids went with their parents to see a film that was made for both and now it's kids taking their parents to see a film made for kids. The Last Jedi and the Force Awakens have only had good reviews from people I know who took their kids and their kids loved them.

          1. 0laf Silver badge

            Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

            I dunno, I can enjoy a film that's just for kids if it's done well. I really enjoy the Despicable Me films. I seem to be in a minority that really liked the 3rd one but maybe I'm just the right age to get all the 80s references right down to the wallpaper.

            But I also enjoyed the Cars and Planes films. Those were made for 6yr old boys with no concession to adults (except Cars 2 it sucked).

            My son was bored at Last Jedi. I liked the last two Disney SW films. The Force Awakens was just a homage for Ep4 but that was ok because it was done pretty well. Rogue One I really enjoyed, I think it's one of the better SW films ever made, up there with Empire. Last Jedi was just disappointing, it was a beautiful film with a terrible story.

            1. FIA

              Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

              I dunno, I can enjoy a film that's just for kids if it's done well.[...]

              Me too.

              I remember as a kid reading Roald Dahl autobiography and he made the point that he used to just write for kids like they were adults with less experience. All the best 'kids' stuff is written in this way IMHO.

              My son was bored at Last Jedi.

              For me, this is where they went wrong with The Last Jedi, as far as I'm concerned Star Wars films are for kids, and they should be. Any film in the main 'canon' should first and foremost be a film for kids. I don't mean it shouldn't be enjoyable by adults, but that the underlying thrust of the film should be a fight between good and evil.

              Use the supporting films to tell the more adult side of the story, or to explore the moral grey areas that occur. Rogue One isn't a kids film, yet as a kid who grew up with Star Wars it's probably the best SW film since Empire. (And I say that who doesn't blanket hate the first 3).

              The latest SW flick felt like it was trying to explore the shades of grey aspect whilst still maintaining the good/evil thing too; which for me didn't work. You had a random bad guy who just seemed to exist to be killed by the angst ridden new bad guy. (I mean seriously... if the galaxy didn't learn from the Emperor and let wassisface rise to power, maybe it doesn't deserve to be 'saved'*; but then that would imply he had a tangable back story).

              This is why the force awakens made me feel a bit sorry for Lucas too, he may have ham fistedly tried to tell his origin story, but at least he told a story. After Ep VII I left the cinema thinking 'Wow, that was great' but by the time I'd got to the car and thought about it a bit more, realised I'd been conned with some shiny rose tinted FX and a 'feeling'.

              * I mean seriously, I get building a big space laser because it got blown up... but to do it 3 times.... Fool me once... and all that....

      2. LDS Silver badge

        " it's weak directors with big egos using it to fill in the gaps they've created"

        And script writers who believe to be better than the original authors, while they are often really very poor at writing (not only in sci-fi).

        But both can get away with it because CGI fills the gaps, and studios have still something to sell, and some of the public don't ask anything more - but we've seen many big fiascos, yet Hollywood executives don't care, in one way or the other - worldwide distribution, TV rights, DVD/streaming - they get most of the money back.

        Reviewer in the press will be very careful before tearing apart a big studio release - more even now that they need more ads revenues than ever.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        "I think the studios are pandering to directors and letting director take over story writing. I (IMHO) think we need a resurgence of screenwriters who can sort out the bloody story before letting director loose with the CGI whizzbangs."

        Yes, a good [screen]writer is a good [screen]writer and a good director is a good director. It's rare for somone to be good at both. The directors job is to interpret and visualise the script/story, not to change it or define it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        CGI isn't killing films it's weak directors with big egos using it to fill in the gaps they've created.

        Or in the case of Michael Bay, it's all he's got going for him.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      Too much of it, and stupid plots and storylines.

      While reboots, remakes, and sequels are an appalling display of lack of ideas.

      This is too easy an accusation to make. Because we forget all the shit that was made back in the day - and only remember the good stuff. But compare those few treasures with all the current output. And the 70s and 80s were as full of remakes and sequels as film is today.

      Then people would make films using cheap effects out of laziness, when more imagination would have allowed them to do better with the same resources. Because there were as many hack directors and writers around then as there are now.

      There's also a taste thing. I happen to like a bunch of the stuff that Marvel have been putting out. By no means all - but quite a lot of it. And I like a good popcorn movie. Artistic talent can be displayed by making say Solaris, but there are times when I just want a beer, some crisps and Arnie over-acting brilliantly in Total Recall. Which is a wonderful film (even if it is incredibly stupid).

      As for sequels and remakes, that's nothing new either. The remake of Mad Max was great fun. Total Recall not so much.

      Heresy I know, but I think last year's Blade Runner sequel might be better than the original. Partly because I'm not sure which version of the original is the best anyway - but also because the original is lauded because of its amazing vision and design. But the fact they had to paste the narrator back in (and subsequently remove him again in the director's cuts) rather suggests that they hadn't got the script right in the first place.

      I really liked the sequel. I think it did some interesting and intelligent things - and updated the look and design as well, while still recognising the the source.

      Every era has its good and bad.

      Oh and I want a remake of Starship Troopers. Now that the technology is available to film the book. Mobile Infantry in their powered armour.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        Because we forget all the shit that was made back in the day - and only remember the good stuff.

        Oh, I don't know. I still remember Lifeforce and Patrick Stewart channelling his inner female alien vampire. The 1980s equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space in my opinion.

        1. 0laf Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

          I remember Mathilda May in that rather than Patrick Stewart

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "Total recall"... and Philip K. Dick, again

        "Total recall" is based on one of Dick's short stories - just like "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report" - so it's based on something from one of the best sci-fi authors. IMHO the original plot is far more interesting, but the first one was at least visible.

      3. Naselus

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        "Because we forget all the shit that was made back in the day - and only remember the good stuff. "

        Completely this.

        Prior to about 1975, the highest-grossing film every year was a Western. Usually, the top 5 highest-grossing films of each year were. It was never even close; Westerns completely dominated cinema for about fifty years.

        Near enough all of those highest-grossing Westerns have been completely forgotten. A few decent ones are remembered, but a genre of cinema which often out-produced all other genres put together has been basically reduced to half a dozen 'classic' movies and a huge amount of forgotten dross.

        The current age of sci fi is much the same; there was a lot of shite sci fi in the 1980s which has been quietly forgotten (Howard the Duck, anyone?) and there's a lot of shite sci fi currently which will also be forgotten.

        Looking back at history, if you get two genuinely good movies in a year, then that's actually pretty exceptional.

        1. Grant Fromage

          Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

          @ Naselus:

          "Looking back at history, if you get two genuinely good movies in a year, then that's actually pretty exceptional."

          That is Sturgeon`s principle: "90% of everything is crud". He meant it regarding submissions as an editor who started in the "golden years" of scifi, but it applies to almost everything in media IMHO..

          One of the problems with book sources for inspiration is another old maxim " a thing has within it, that which the viewer brings means of seeing". Imagination is needed to flesh out the missing bits.

    4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      nobody said it better...

      While reboots, remakes, and sequels are an appalling display of lack of ideas.

      Hollywood is all about franchises. Marvel and the rest

      The 'superhero' bubble must burst sooner or later. AFAIK, the more recent ones have really lacked originality.

      How many 'fast and furious' or 'speed' movies do we need eh?

      How long before Disney make another 'Harry Potter' film with the script written by a team of 50 twenty something writers from LA?

      Bah Humbug to the lot of them.

    5. NXM

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      But where do you put Eraserhead?

      It isn't scifi, or drama, or even 'classic' horror. But imho its one of the very few horror films ever made. And Under The Skin.

    6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      Too much of it, and stupid plots and storylines.

      What stupid plots?

      There are no plots - just copying a couple of lines from a 2nd rate comic. If that fails, multiple 2nd rate comics until Abominations Assemble.

      80-es was the golden decade of SciFi because the directors used story-lines from real books, not plot ideas borrowed from pulp print material geared to cater for the people with "unfinished childhood" syndrome.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

        80-es was the golden decade of SciFi because the directors used story-lines from real books, not plot ideas borrowed from pulp print material geared to cater for the people with "unfinished childhood" syndrome.

        That exactly describes some of Philip K Dick's writing. He wrote some of his books in two or three weeks, in order to pay the bills. I'm a fan, but his work is incredibly uneven. We Can Remember it for You Wholesale (Total Recall) is a short story with one clever idea - that became a much better film than the source material. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Bladerunner) is a fun book, but it's not great literature. It gave the idea for a great, but flawed film. But the greatness of Bladerunner was its design, that's what influenced so much of future cinema. This is a film that they had to slap an emergency narrator onto in post-production, because people couldn't understand it...

        In my opinion Dick's best book is A Scanner Darkly - which is magnificently paranoid and twisted. Also an excellent film.

        Alien wasn't based on a book - it was designed as horror / sci-fi / slasher flick from the start, and the novel came later. It's a brilliant film - and again one of the main elements of its brilliance is the art and design.

        I don't like comics. But the Nolan Batman trilogy is based on comics - and inspired by one graphic novel in particular. Which is critically rather well rated, as I understand it. And they're an extremely good set of films.

        Guardians of the Galaxy was a wonderful funny film. I've heard great things about Wonder Woman.

        Good books don't always make good films. Look at the mess that Lynch made of Dune, or the travesty that was Ender's Game. Good ideas make good films, and they can come from many sources.

        Question: Was Ender's Game essentially unfilmable? Or did they just screw it up? I loved that book, must re-read it and see if it's still as good. Too much happens in his head, I suspect. Oh, and starting the film with one 7 year old (the hero) killing another, well that's not exactly easy to get away with on screen. I suspect the only way to get away with that on film would be to do it in flashback or something?

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

          Question: Was Ender's Game essentially unfilmable? Or did they just screw it up? I loved that book, must re-read it and see if it's still as good.

          Just finished reading the Ender books for about the seventh time. They improve on every reading. If you haven't read 'Speaker of the Dead', 'Xenocide' or 'Children of the Mind' then I would recommend you do. These books are actually better than Ender's Game.

          As for your question - yes I think Ender;s Game was unfilmable. So much of the story is based on what is going on in Ender's mind, his motivation and feelings. These didn't come over in the film and I don't know how you would successfully translate this to film. Watching the film is like peering through a dirty window. You see some of what is going on but miss the true clarity.

          1. tekHedd

            Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

            "Watching the film is like peering through a dirty window. You see some of what is going on but miss the true clarity."

            And even the book is like an unnecessary extended cut of the truly amazing short story. He only wrote the book so he could write sequels. And we'll never know whether the true motivation behind *that* is whether he "wanted to write sequels" or "wanted to pay his electric bill". It's a short, intense, psychological horror story with some great action scenes that are also largely great because they are psychological and strategic. As spectacle it fails.

            1. Not also known as SC

              Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

              @tekHedd

              If I understand correctly "Speaker for the Dead" (first book of the Speaker Trilogy) was the first book planned but Card wanted to pad out Ender's character first - hence "Ender's Game" so while you're right, he only wrote the book so he could write sequels, I don't think it was done as cynically as some authors.

        2. fajensen Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

          In my opinion Dick's best book is A Scanner Darkly - which is magnificently paranoid and twisted. Also an excellent film.

          Philip K. Dick did epic amounts of LSD and other psychotropic chemicals - as did many of the creative people of his generation (Maybe there should be a logartimic "Shulgin scale" to quantify what "a lot" is).

          I think being smashed out of ones head during working hours, inspired quite a few of the more visually stunning / intriguing stories and for Philip K. Dick drugs definitely created many of those story lines exploring common difficulties in figuring out what objective reality is and who it applies to, and of course the general paranoia.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      but a sci-fi movie has not to be an horror movie.

      Still parsing that sentence.

      BTW, why does everyone think Alien was sci-fi, not horror?

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Mushroom

        "BTW, why does everyone think Alien was sci-fi, not horror?"

        Alien was a horror movie.

        Aliens an action movie,

        The less said about Alien 3 the better.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: "BTW, why does everyone think Alien was sci-fi, not horror?"

          Alien 3 walked all over the ending of Aliens so I can understand the hate it gets, but taken on its own terms it's pretty good.

    8. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: CGI is killing sci-fi

      "When special effects were difficult and expensive, directors had to fill the time between them with a story..."

      I find the same with today's video games- flashy sounds and graphics, and boring, basic gameplay. Back when sounds and graphics were primitive, the developers had to put the effort into the gameplay.

  5. Tony Paulazzo

    While modern CGI can be entirely convincing

    Like Princess Leia in Rogue1? The autopsy scene in Carpenters The Thing was stomach churning, gross and awesome, the CGI in The Thing '11 was laughable. Apart from CGI spaceships (which always look amazeballs) and the CGI bugs in 97s Starship Troopers it mostly takes me out of the movie.

    The recent Apes movies were excellent, the CGI was almost perfect, but it's the almost that takes me out of the story and leaves me marvelling at the FX.

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      almost

      the CGI was almost perfect, but it's the almost that takes me out of the story

      Me too. I find the visual artefacts of modern CGI just as distracting as puppet strings and latex animatronics. If the plot or characters are strong enough to motivate me to suspend disbelief then the FX quality isn't that important. Good FX won't rescue a bad film but a good film can carry weak FX.

      I can;t think of a film carried mostly or wholly by cinematography that wasn't live action or visually stylised enough not to be trying to create a live action simulacrum

      1. Chz

        Re: almost

        "If the plot or characters are strong enough to motivate me to suspend disbelief then the FX quality isn't that important."

        See also: Farscape. Though I kinda like the muppets, the effects in Farscape are really only a step up from "laughable". And yet it works.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: almost

          Farscape = upvote

          Excellent series

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: almost

            Farscape = upvote Excellent series

            Good, but its no Firefly

            Firefly is best sci fi series ever , hands down . IMHO of course . Me and the other cult members.

            Firefly also sums up the above discussion on FX - so much actual character development and storylines that the fx are secondary , not and adequately not distracting.

            1. James Hughes 1

              Re: almost

              So, you favourite SciFi series in Firefly, and yet your name is from H2G2.

              Hmmm. Irony.

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: almost

        > I can;t think of a film carried mostly or wholly by cinematography that wasn't live action or visually stylised enough not to be trying to create a live action simulacrum

        So you're asking us to name a film that was:

        a) filmed, and not a cartoon (the cinematography bit)

        b) not live action

        c) not re-creating live action?

        That boils down to a pretty short list of films, the most famous of which is probably Koyaanisqatsi. Is that what you meant?

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: almost

          The other one I had in mind, after not spending very long thinking about it, was Le Quattro Volte. I was also interested to hear of anyone else's examples or counter-examples

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      monkey business

      The recent Apes movies were excellent, the CGI was almost perfect, but it's the almost that takes me out of the story and leaves me marvelling at the FX

      I think quite a bit of the CGI for the Apes movies is based on live action motion capture, so likely to be more convincing than some other CGI which is, let's face it, like watching a cartoon

      1. DJSpuddyLizard

        Re: monkey business

        I think quite a bit of the CGI for the Apes movies is based on live action motion capture, so likely to be more convincing than some other CGI which is, let's face it, like watching a cartoon

        Well, Andy Serkis is a convincing actor.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: monkey business

        I think quite a bit of the CGI for the Apes movies is based on live action motion capture, so likely to be more convincing than some other CGI which is, let's face it, like watching a cartoon.

        Most CGI characters are created using motion capture. If it looks like a cartoon it's probably just Keanu Reeves wearing the reflective dots. (Andy Serkis can't be everywhere at once.)

    3. tekHedd

      The uncanny valley is strong. It's like adjusting the resonance of a filter--the closer you get, the deeper and more horrifying that chasm becomes. You just have to meet some real people who are totaly lying losers inside to they point they have abandoned their humanity, to see that even casting a real human body in the role does not eliminate the horror. If you slip up on even one tiny element of the humanity, it becomes a monster.

      Oh god Rogue One. I know a guy who keeps describing it as a "good movie." Like, in those terms. Really.

  6. Milton Silver badge

    Resolution, resolution, resolution

    Resolution, resolution, resolution—the mantra of screen real estate. The article is interesting for its nod to the influence of video, but misses a significant point: how have the increasing, and arguably unforgiving advances in screen resolution affected the required standards of SFX?

    Sure, cinema had always offered vastly better resolution than your TV screen, but it was, as the article, said, a transient experience. You got to see the Thing morph into a disembodied organ, or Jeff Goldblum curiously rip off bits of his body, only *once*, then and there, and you couldn't ask the projectionist to rewind the reel for loving frame-by-frame inspection. The pace of the story, clever cutting and camera angles, even the composer's score to distract you—it all helped the SFX to bite you on the emotional arse and then move on, quickly, before you could raise critical faculties to make judgements on shiny latex, unconvincing red jelly, or jerky stop-motion robometalskelebots.

    VHS was low resolution, and arguably was kinder than cinema to the SFX: the "problem" of high resolution really kicked in with Blu-Ray and HD broadcasting. It wasn't just that actors and presenters began to worry even more about their makeup, concerned that—oh, horror!—pores were now visible: it was the SFX guys too, realising that they had fewer and yet fewer places to hide.

    If personal (i.e. outside the cinema) screen resolution had remained low, I wonder: would CGI and SFX technology have developed with the urgency and pace that it has? Answers in a freeze-frame please ...

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Resolution, resolution, resolution

      Yes. I think the effect resolution had on the speed of CGI development was by and large zero, much as the number of people who study any movie frame-by-frame - while yes they do exist, they are not even a blip on Hollywood's radar of concerns.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Resolution, resolution, resolution

        Resolution is bullshit snake oil.

        You dont need a 4k tv. You sure as hell dont need a 1080p smartphone.

        How can "HD" be the standard for both a 50" TV and a 3" smartphone?

        The only resolution you need to worry about is what your eyes can detect, and at what distance.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: Resolution, resolution, resolution

          I once went to a talk by Doug Trumbull (yes, the one mentioned in the article - Siggraph 94 IIRC), and he was asking for 16kx16k resolution for IMax (specifically, the Back to the Future ride at Universal, again IIRC). So resolution is important, it just needs to be applied in the right place.

          1080p is not necessary on a smartphone.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

    I've always loved Sci-Fi. As someone who was born (just) before the first satellite was launched, I spent the late 60s and 70s hooked on SF - mainly the space-opera type - Asimov, Larry Niven etc.

    But now it's fast becoming fact. My PC (hah - Personal computer - who'd uv ever imagined those?) now displays a photograph of Pluto, taken from not-very-far-away. Another lappie has a photo of sunrise over an alien landscape - Mars. Rich Americans are building and launching their own massive rockets. Space probes from Earth have left the Solar System. There have been humans living off the planet, pretty well continuously, for 30+ years.

    What's the next exciting step?

    1. Ben1892

      Re: Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

      And these have only been first steps, when SpaceX Falcon Heavy gets going we'll have an electric car in orbit around Mars for starters, but actual space exploration isn't going to be that far behind - just think what could be found on the Red Planet; A giant ice thawing machine left by ancients?, a cluster of pod-like eggs that open up?, Matt Damon?

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

      > What's the next exciting step?

      Flying cars, of course. :-)

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

      "What's the next exciting step?"

      No idea, but while I absolutely admire all those things you mention, I reserve getting excited to when we have humans going again farther that one earth diameter in any direction. Which is another way of saying "not expected to happen in my lifetime"* **.

      * Please consider that starry-eyed (but conspicuously non-committal) plans for space-this-and-that in "10 to 15 years" are just a polite way of saying "fuggedaboutit any time soon, and certainly nowhere near in the mentioned timeframe".

      ** The Chinese might just prove me wrong yet. Or not. The others - nope: no financial incentive.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

        What's the next exciting step?

        Collapse of society. Resource war. famine. Water shortages. Bandits. zero fuel. no food. Throwing your principals and morality out of the window or be killed.

        possibly with nuclear fallout thrown in for extra lulz.

        Sorry , thats way I see it . We've gone as far as we're gonna go.

        I really hope I'm wrong and its flying cars and robot butlers though.

        1. Alumoi

          Re: Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

          Collapse of society. Resource war. famine. Water shortages. Bandits. zero fuel. no food. Throwing your principals and morality out of the window or be killed.

          So you're a Mad Max fan, huh?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sci-Fi is now Sci-reality

      What's the next exciting step?

      Autonomous Kill-Bots roaming the land looking for "terrorists" - the definition of which is quite dependent on who commissioned them and send them off to roam the land?

  8. Blacklight
    Happy

    Lovely lovely Sci-Fi.

    Tripods, Chocky, Children of the Dog Star, "Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince", The Tomorrow People, all squarely aimed at kids, and in some cases quite dark (Chocky, I'm looking at you...). Knights of God was my first proper Dystopia, and the bastards never released it officially....

    But then we got some proper trippy stuff. Manimal. Automan (not at *all* trying to be Tron). And the action sets (Airwolf, Knight Rider, Street Hawk). And big budget sci-fi, like "V", in all its latex goodness. It even had Freddy Kruger hiding in it.

    What I want to see (properly restored) is "The Highwayman". That was proper, classic, dystopian cheese (with added Jane Badler, of V fame)....

    1. GregC

      You are one of the very few people I've come across either online or IRL that remembers Manimal and Automan (which actually I always thought of as "reverse-Tron").

      Have a pint on me :)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The first rule of Manimal and Automan is you don't talk about Manimal and Automan.

        Also you don't talk about Series 4 of Airwolf.

        1. GregC

          The first rule of Manimal and Automan is you don't talk about Manimal and Automan.

          Also you don't talk about Series 4 of Airwolf.

          There wasn't a Series 4 of Airwolf. No! There wasn't! LaLaLaLaLa I can't hear you.....

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
            Flame

            Also you don't talk about Series 4 of Airwolf.

            Blue Thunder was better than Airwolf (any series) anyway.

            A young Dana Carvey as JAFO as I remember.

            (Icon for the incoming flames from Airwolf fans)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Also you don't talk about Series 4 of Airwolf.

          Jan-Michael Vincent must have been a reasonable actor - after all, he appeared to be mainly NOT drunk in the show.

      2. Blacklight

        I think the pic used in the article is actually Automan, not Tron :)

        1. Alister Silver badge

          I think the pic used in the article is actually Automan, not Tron :)

          I think the pic is from The Lawnmower Man, isn't it?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You are one of the very few people I've come across either online or IRL that remembers Manimal

        That's because we've spent the intervening time trying to forget.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Hmm, I've always thought of Tomorrow People as trippy with mushroom influence, while Manimal & Automan were clearly done under the influence of white powder....

      Northstar freaked me right out though, argghhh his pulsating brain is going to blow....

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Tripods, Chocky, Children of the Dog Star, "Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince", The Tomorrow People, all squarely aimed at kids, "

      Was there much decent kids SF TV in the US at that time or was it all aimed at older ones and the kids stuff was call a bit camp and comefyish? That's my impression if the US imports I saw at the time.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Okay, I'm not entirely sure about this - will admitting that I remember reading Street Hawk get me or cost my nerd card..?

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Highway Man

      I remember that, one of the first series I watched in stereo (NICAM).

      There is no way that a Helicopter Lorry cross is not cool.

    5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      re Lovely lovely Sci-Fi.

      https://metv.com/lists/15-forgotten-science-fiction-tv-shows-of-the-1980s

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These spectacular movies became ours to keep

    er... no, not legally "ours". See the licensing terms! :D

  10. ForthIsNotDead

    The Thing...

    We watched 1982's The Thing just the other night on telly and it STILL creeped me and 'er indoors out.

    Incredible.

    The other thing (ha!) that impressed me was the quality of the film, considering when it was filmed. The picture quality was excellent. I'm guessing it has been up-scaled and re-mastered?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: The Thing...

      If the original is good, high quality copies are possible.

      There are good transfers of 1960s stuff.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Thing...

      I'm guessing it has been up-scaled

      If the original was real 35mm film there's no need to upscale, it's already UHD quality, or possibly better depending on the film/lens.

      1. Babblefish

        Re: The Thing...

        'If the original was real 35mm film'

        I saw a projection of a 70mm print a few years ago, so I would assume it was originally filmed in 70mm and it is not much of a surprise that a good quality source would be available to be digitised.

        1. Duffy Moon

          Re: The Thing...

          I don't think it was shot in 70mm or 65mm, as it's expensive and the cameras are bulky. Effects shots of the day were sometimes shot in large format, as the extra resolution was more forgiving of the multiple exposures.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Thing...

      "We watched 1982's The Thing just the other night on telly and it STILL creeped me and 'er indoors out."

      The "Quatermass and the Pit" original BBC TV serial (1958) was really scary in black&white on a very small screen. In later years they revealed how they did the special effects in real time by quite simple means. Not sure if the programmes would have been filmed completely first - or just some scenes were inserted into the usual live drama broadcast.

      The BBC TV 1954 serial of Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" had some terrifying moments too - with minimal props.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: The Thing...

        The BBC TV 1954 serial of Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" had some terrifying moments too - with minimal props.

        OK, so totally off-topic, but back in the 1980's a friend took me to see "The Woman in Black", in the Fortune Theatre in London soon after it opened (it's still running AFAIK, which says something). No fancy effects, just very clever stagecraft. I know that there were just two men on stage, with some odds and ends like a hamper & a hatstand, but I remember seeing the stagecoach crossing the moor to the old house. They built up the atmosphere so well than when the lights went up for the interval, suddenly revealing the ice-cream seller standing at the end of the row beside us, the girls in front of me practically fell out of their seats in fright.

        As for the subtle final twist, the realization that only sinks in as you're leaving, the hairs on the back of my neck were still standing on end as we got to the street.

        No need for effects bar some carefully chosen sounds, or visual tricks, just a plot & skilled actors.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Thing...

          "No need for effects bar some carefully chosen sounds, or visual tricks, just a plot & skilled actors."

          The original Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent had a stage that was surrounded on at least three sides by the audience - really close. They did a Hamlet - staged as a modern Police State. Minimal props - the grave digger scene was an interesting construct.

          For the ghost they played a thumping heart beat sound. You never knew down which radial aisle the extra-tall figure would appear from behind the audience. I swear they also turned the air conditioning to really cold - there were certainly goose bumps when you realised the figure was silently standing by your seat.

          When I do my Halloween tableau - I always start with the classic tropes as people approach the door: thunder & lightning; the opening chords of Toccata & Fugue; sound of a chainsaw - finally a steady loud heart beat.

          When the door opens to show a mannequin with a chainsaw there is often a real scream from teenage girls. Their doing that triggers the sound activated wriggling large spiders to drop from the ceiling over their heads - more screams.

          Young kids seem to take it in their stride - possibly it requires cultural learning.

          There is a video here. Exposure is a bit bright as couldn't get some of the detail otherwise - and the camera was not very good at auto-focus in that light. Next year the problem of the door not always opening automatically will have been fixed.

        2. ForthIsNotDead

          Re: The Thing...

          Well, *that's* got me intrigued. Maybe I'll take the misses for a weekend aht in the smoke...!

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The Thing...

        The "Quatermass and the Pit" original BBC TV serial (1958) was really scary in black&white on a very small screen. In later years they revealed how they did the special effects in real time by quite simple means.

        A lot of it was just the directing and acting, in my opinion. I haven't seen Quartermass and the Pit in decades, and I can still picture characters crouching in an alley as the wind blows rubbish about them. It's a cinematic cliche, but the scene in QatP is the one that sticks with me. It was done very effectively.

        The effects were nice, for the time, but they supported the actors rather than displacing them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Thing...

          "[...] but the scene in QatP is the one that sticks with me. It was done very effectively."

          In the original TV serial - the wildly wriggling "electrical cables" on the excavation site were done by compressed air escaping through many holes in hosepipes. The "pulses" in the gravel underneath the prostrate man's hands outside a vicarage were done with motorised caterpillar type tracks under the surface.

  11. MJI Silver badge
    Terminator

    80s Sci Fi

    Yes a high point, I rented a lot. Saw loads, even got a fully loaded VCR with HiFi sound (cost me £800 as well, from Sony, best 1/2" domestic VCR in UK).

    However I did rent them all in Beta, most transfers were pretty good as most were duplicated rather than printed.

    Remember takling a portable VCR and Robocop to a film night and making one lad sick as he was very squeamish.

    Yes some tapes were magnetically contact printed.

    The Icon, I prefer the first film, first saw rented at home.

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: 80s Sci Fi

      The rental tapes used much higher quality stock than consumer (confirmed by a friend who worked at 3M). I bought a few ex-rental tapes and they were usually better than freshly bought consumer prints.

      Phil.

      Another Sony VCR user - that thing could play video from a slice of toast. How the mighty have fallen!

  12. Lotaresco

    Say what?

    I can't believe no mention of 2001 or Alien.

    The reason that Star Wars worked was the expertise at Pinewood and there's a long legacy of talent there, from early modelling work on WWII movies, the Gerry Anderson puppet series then 2001 and Kubrick's obsessive nature pushing the production crew to make the scenes look believable. Anderson's UFO and Space 1999 kept model makers employed and available for Star Wars work between shoots. Alien because as important as Blade Runner is, it was Ridley Scott's experience of creating Alien that informed the "used" look of Blade Runner.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Say what?

      No mention of the stop-motion stuff produced by experts like Ray Harryhausen either. Perhaps more fantasy than SciFi, but still excellent 60s fare.

    2. mrbawsaq

      Re: Say what?

      "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" was filmed at Elstree Studios and Shepperton Studios, not Pinewood, both of which are just on the edges of London.

      In fact, all the other episodes were also filmed at Elstree among other London studies until "The Force Awakens" - the 1st Star Wars movie to be filmed at Pinewood.

      1. ButlerInstitute

        Re: Say what?

        "Elstree Studios and Shepperton Studios, not Pinewood, both of which are just on the edges of London."

        All three are on the edge of London. Elstree and Shepperton are inside the M25, Pinewood is just outside.

      2. Lotaresco

        Re: Say what?

        "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" was filmed at Elstree Studios and Shepperton Studios, not Pinewood"

        I didn't say that it was filmed at Pinewood. Pinewood was the studio responsible for Space 1999 and others. This link explains (some of) the relationship. People move between studios for this sort of work because it's specialised and intermittent.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Say what?

      I can't believe no mention of 2001 or Alien.

      Those films weren't from the 1980s

      2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968, and Alien in 1979.

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: Say what?

        "Those films weren't from the 1980s"

        So were the films mentioned: Trip to the Moon, Forbidden Planet, This Island Earth, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope from the 1980s?

        BTW, you missed the opportunity to snipe because I missed the fact that 2001 is mentioned, en passant.

  13. iron Silver badge

    holographic screens, talking computers and flying cars

    These things existed in sci-fi long before the 1980s. It is tempting to think that the decade you grew up in invented everything but the author should leave that to millennials and instead watch some of the many excellent sci-fi films made between 1920 and 1979.

  14. drewsup

    "from beyond"

    Or any other Jeffrey Coombs movie from that era, always a treat!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But all said and done,

    Blade Runner 2049 is still shit.

  16. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Anybody watched The Dark Crystal?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Crystal

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Sure. I'm still hoping for a Director's Cut that includes several more hours of the Mystics strolling along, with the occasional one bursting into flames.

  17. strum Silver badge

    ILM

    The great crime of ILM was to convince the audience that Special Effects (or 'SFX') was something to pay attention to.

    Before that, special effects were designed to persuade us (with our connivance) that the grey blob in the corner was a Zvarggg (because that's what the hero called it). We suspended our disbelief - because we were part of the story-telling process.

    But Star Wars and others showed these flashy inventions, and demanded that we notice them and gasp at how well they were done - often losing track of whatever story was going on, while we marveled at the latex.

    This self-congratulatory attitude has persisted into the CGI era, where we're supposed to go 'wow' over a ground-breaking portrayal of shaken hair-styles.

    It is not an accident that this panegyric deals almost exclusively with effects - with hardly a mention of story.

    1. ButlerInstitute

      Re: ILM

      21st Century Doctor Who gets to use modern SFX, but doesn't have the budget to go overboard on it. Gives quite a good balance (IMHO) without giving the viewer time to dwell on them and spot the joins.

  18. earl grey Silver badge
    Alien

    Klaatu barada nikto

    I know what i like.

  19. tiggity Silver badge

    suspension of disbelief

    .. does the job with wonky SFX.

    CGI / motion capture stuff may give some phenomenal visuals but I can still really enjoy old SF stuff where SFX looks dismal by modern standards (e.g. 2001, Silent Running from late 60s and early 70s)

    So long as the storyline & characters engage you, shonky SFX are easily overlooked and you just go with the flow

  20. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    Hey, don't forget the three even-numbered Star Trek movies, which were also from the 80s

    While episodes 1 was from 1979, and III, and V never happened :)

  21. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Blockbuster,.....

    .... so I did a bit of googling,.... Blockbuster bought 'Ritz' who I do seem to remember being a member of at some point (around '89, when they were bought, I guess the rebranding didn't happen over night?), although I recall renting tapes from a variety of independent outfits for the most part, don't think I was a Blockbuster customer until '99.

    In the mid 80's I had a Saturday job at Woollies,.. was shocked at the prices when we started selling pre-recorded VHS movies,.... 'Jaws' for £30, which was a lot of money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blockbuster,.....

      " 'Jaws' for £30, which was a lot of money."

      The initial UK high street video rental shops seemed to be independent operators. Only bought one pre-recorded VHS tape in the early 1980s - the film "M*A*S*H" for GBP49.99. What's the equivalent now - GBP176? It still plays.

      The local TV repair shop invested heavily in the Philips Video 2000 system. Several years later they tried to play some of their archived tapes - and they all shed their oxide coating.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Blockbuster,.....

        Oooh, video 2000,..... the tape that played both sides! For whatever reason,... I recall my local flea pit video rental place almost adopting video 2000, it was about two shelves of one rack, not a great choice to be had. My friend and I scoured such places for sword 'n sorcery films, Conan, Beastmaster, Deathstalker, Ator the Mighty Eagle, Krull, Hawk the Slayer, The Sword and the Sorceror... and eventually scraped the bottle of the barrel when we rented two different films, made at the same location with the same props, one being 'The Warrior and the Sorceress', the other might have been 'Wizards of the Lost Kingdom' although I wouldn't stand by that,..... either way 'Bright' made recently by Netflix was a much better movie, and I didn't have to walk five miles to return that one after. Amazing how much people moan these days, when they have far more choice and far higher quality entertainment. Although the quest to find the tapes in the first place was perhaps part of the entertainment. : -)

        1. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: Blockbuster,.....

          ... we rented two different films, made at the same location with the same props, ...

          The Japanese pioneered that technique with the "Godzilla" movies - which are still more entertaining and a good deal less retarded than the US remake!

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Blockbuster,.....

        Recently recaptured some Beta tapes from the 1980s and 90s, they held up VERY well, some camera footage from mid 80s held up very well.

        The DVD below has 3 qualities of footage, some in Vhs and captured with wrong field order (very jittery), lots of decent SD footage (guessing DV or industrial kit), and some of my Beta stuff, carefully captured with correct field order. Played back on the VCR which recorded it.

        https://www.dukevideo.com/prdDEMDVD293/Preserved-Lines-Gloucester-and-Warwickshire-DVD

        I used good quality tapes (last few Sony Pro-X L500) in a F1 portable.

        Most of my camera footage is on my 1TB drive D now

  22. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Can't believe nobody's mentioned Star Trek II - IV (let's not talk about V). Also, the '80s undoubtedly had the best Transformers film.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ST V is a great film.

      Just, it touches religions and tells god is a fake, and a criminal also. No surprise in retrograde theocracies like US, and not only there, it was seen like an insult.

      I really like Kirk refusing to sell his brain like everybody else - even Spock!-, and avoiding the kind of mental drug the brother of Spock delivers.

      When he asks "why does God need a spaceship?" (I never seen it in English, hope it's alike what he said), it's priceless, it's the Men who thinks and refuses to believe blindly in whatever faith is used to deceive Him.

      That's great Sci-Fi - using a futuristic setting, still asking timeless questions about Mankind, and our real future.

  23. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    I know why the 1980's were the highpoint of Sci-Fi filming (and indeed films in total). Because it was prior to the great screenwriter massacre of 1991.

    You see in January of 1991 all the best screenwriters in Hollywood got on a bus to go down to Tijuana to watch the cockfighting and take their minds off Kuwait. Lots of tequilla shots (and Bolivian marching powder) were consumed along the way and someone had the bright idea of sharing with the bus driver. The resulting plunge over a cliff and firey bus explosion removed every ounce of writing talent in Hollywood and we've had to suffer from remakes and TV-show conversions ever since.

  24. DougS Silver badge

    "Noting awful tropes that they would take care to avoid"

    If they were actually doing that, every damn movie that has any sort of special effects wouldn't have that stupid scream in it.

  25. Skylark28

    Seriously, No-one has brought up Babylon 5? Bad CGI great storyline has this entire series disappeared from the collective ?

    1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

      Because it was the 1990's?

      And TV?

      And shyte CGI was the rule for 1990's Sci-Fi TV. Like SeaQuest. And Space: Above & Beyond

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Alien

        Upvote for referencing Space: Above & Beyond.

        Nuke the Chigs!

      2. drewsup

        Seaquest was nothing more than STNG underwater, I cringe whenever I witness an episode of NExt Gen, all politically correct and bad hair.

        Now Space Above and Beyond held so much promise, it was a proto BSG reboot, with gritty storylines, could have been a better story than that Hokey Star Trooper movie..

  26. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Thunderbirds?

  27. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    what a lot of clamour for one comments section! why dont we all pop over to

    https://moviechat.org/bd0000029/Science-Fiction

    where we can discuss all these ideas in proper separated out threaded pattern.

    Up with dystopian post apocalptic vision!

    Down with any superhero related bullshit!

  28. Oddbodd

    Falling for the pedant bait

    "Marty McFly and hoverboard in Back to the Future"

    Back to the Future II, I believe.

  29. rcp27

    Ready Player One

    How can this story make no mention of the impressively 80s-popculture-tastic novel, soon to be released as a film. I was treated to the trailer before watching the new Star Wars, and it was practically the best bit of that cinema trip

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