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What are you watching? 2018 edition


#2599

I suppose the thing for me is that the plan to help humanity now so they could help back millenia later is something you can plan for from the current point in time; you don’t need specific information from the future to make the plan work. In fact, they clearly aren’t using any communication tools they probably have in the future to communicate with the present humans. Whereas the General knows to tell her the number because she called him, and she calls him because she remembers him telling her the number in the future. And even worse, in the future she has somehow forgotten calling him until he does tell her, which follows no logic at all.

Really? The big reveal hit me like an emotional sledgehammer. I almost started crying right then and there.


#2600

Yeah, I think the time stuff is absolutely essential to the story and how the emotional aspect of it functions. Once you realise what’s going on it’s completely overwhelming.

I agree though that the point of detail with the General is a bit distracting, at best, and probably didn’t really need to be included.


#2601

The time stuff is the story they were telling, but they hid the ball for most of the movie. So it’s a gotcha, it flips how you understand what’s gone before.

That doesn’t mean it works. At least for me.

I think the actual mechanism, using an understanding of the alien language to change perception, is just silly, but I also think the whole thing starts to drift (deliberately so) once cause and effect are disconnected from the linear timeline.

As is often the case with these things; we all understand it, we all followed what was happening but some of us connected with it more than others.

I avoid most tear jerking stories because I do get emotionally involved in fiction and I will be moved to tears but they way ‘Arrival’ set out to do that, despite me being a lifelong scifi geek, just failed, for me.

All of Villeneuve’s films fall at the final hurdle for me, some more than others, but he’s a great storyteller for two thirds of the journeys, but he can’t quite land the plane.


#2602

agreed… it was just a bad paradox that didn’t need to be included… kinda weird they’d even include that considering how tight the rest of the script it.


#2603

I can see why it might not work for some people. And how, if that part doesn’t work, the rest of what the film is doing falls away too. (And I agree, that’s definitely not to say that people who didn’t like it didn’t understand it or get what it was trying to do.)

It’s one of those stories where I think personal reaction to one or two key elements makes a big difference, and at that point the film either takes you with it or it doesn’t.


#2604

I don’t think it does fall away, the plot line of her struggle to understand the aliens and to navigate the politics is still strong. What does suffer, after the twist, is the personal aspect of her developing relationship issues and her parental issues, which worked perfectly fine before the twist too.

I just think the twist is badly done. The idea may work better in the short story.

People mess with time in stories a lot, but it’s tricky to get it right.


#2605

It is fascinating to watch producer Gerry Anderson’s progression from Supermarionation to live-action: his classic THUNDERBIRDS, then CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERIONS, then UFO (which is still my personal favorite), and finally SPACE: 1999. I know he was involved with other stuff, but these were the series that were widely available to us in the United States via syndication.


#2606

Two other things that stand out for me:

  • The technology level for the Alphans is not at Star Trek levels. Comparatively speaking, it’s a bit on the primitive side. It’s advanced but not at “miracle” levels. I think it helped the stories.

  • Moonbase Alpha was not a military organization. They were scientists and explorers. I think that gave the show a different perspective.


#2607

Finally caught The Ritual, which i’d read a bit of buzz about.

I saw the trailer a year or 2 ago and didn’t fancy it. Then I found out it was written by Adam Neville, whose Apartment 16 I read in June and enjoyed most of.

I think Robert commented positively on it recently, so it has been on my mind to watch for a while.

It was a lot better than I had expected.
It’s a good story, in terms of it being a tight horror - well acted and it’s presented & edited well. Good, natural dialogue as well. The cast spoke in the way id expect them to if the cameras were off them, embracing regional accents rather than struggling to get their tongue round phrasing that wouldn’t be used by young English guys in their early 40s.

The cinematography is great, really captures the environment well. The lighting also looked noticeably great in 1080; no murky nonsense despite how much of it is set in the dark, the lighting was crisp and clear where it needed to be.

Rather than being scared, I felt edgy and tense throughout. I felt there with them. The effects and the design were good.

This was above standard fare and kept me guessing until the end.


#2608

I thought it was an improvement on the book as well. Particularly once they got to the worshippers. I thought Neville’s choice for who/what the worshippers were was a bit silly and not that interesting so the back half of the film work far better for me.


#2609

The short story is very different form the movie, there’s very little tension and it’s all about the narrator’s decision to have a child even though she knows that she’ll die young because of her newfound perception of time.


#2610

I don’t think it is, really. Could’ve been explained better in the movie, but at least they do mention the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that first postulated just how much of our perception is actually decided by our laguage. The idea used in Arrival is a logical enough consequence of linguistic relativity, and I thought it was an utterly fascinating idea. [See the excerpt below for a little more on this.]

I do agree with that to some extent, but I suspect it works better in the story because it doesn’t have to focus on the mechanism of the plot as much.

I didn’t think the twist was badly done, but everything that came after the twist was less strong than what came before.


Whorf’s conclusion was largely based upon a close examination and extensive study of the Hopi Indian language. During earlier years, Whorf published a number of essays in which he analyzed various linguistic aspects of Hopi. For example, a work called “An American Indian model of the universe” (1936) explores the implications of the Hopi verb system with regard to conception of space and time.

In the course of his research, Whorf noticed that Hopi and some other languages (Hebrew, Aztec and Maya) were built on a different plan from that of English and many other languages which he called SAE (Standard Average European) languages. He discovered a number of significant features differentiating Hopi from SAE languages that led him to the idea of linguistic determinism.

For example, Hopi is a ‘timeless’ language, whose verbal system lacks tenses. Its assessment of time is different from SAE linear temporal view of past, present and future and varies with each observer:

“The timeless Hopi verb does not distinguish between the present, past and future of the event itself but must always indicate what type of validity the speaker intends the statement to have.”[7]

Hopi time is non-dimensional and cannot be counted or measured in a way SAE languages measure it, i.e. the Hopi will not say “I stayed six days,” but “I left on the sixth day.” What is crucial in their perception of time is whether an event can be warranted to have occurred, or to be occurring, or to be expected to occur. Hopi grammatical categories signify view of the world as an ongoing process, where time is not divided into fixed segments so that certain things recur, e.g. minutes, evenings, or days. The linguistic structure of SAE languages, on the other hand, gives its speakers more fixed, objectified and measurable understanding of time and space, where they distinguish between countable and uncountable objects and view time as a linear sequence of past, present, and future.

Whorf argues that this and numerous other differences imply a different way of thinking. Since thought is expressed and transmitted through language, it follows that a differently structured language must shape thought along its lines, thus influencing perception. Consequently, a Hopi speaker who perceives the world through the medium of his language must see reality through the patterns laid down by its linguistic structure.

Other studies supporting the principle of linguistic determinism have shown that people find it easier to recognize and remember shades of colors for which they have a specific name.[8] For example, there are two words in Russian for different shades of blue, and Russian-speakers are faster at discriminating between the shades than are English-speakers.[9]


#2611

Did anyone here in the States watch the debut of MANIFEST on NBC television last night? I like the sound of the premise (a plane lands after being missing for 5-1/2 years, but the people on board have not aged a day and are not aware that any time has passed since their flight took off), but I’m not eager to follow anything on network TV these days.


#2612

From that Wikipedia link;

Though it played a considerable role historically, linguistic determinism is now discredited among mainstream linguists.

I find a lot of scifi fascinating (obviously), but some ideas are a step too far, this is one of them.

A hair well split; I’ll go with that.


#2613

I am also wary of getting lost in episodic television.


#2614

It’s the central idea of the story, and everything else revolves around it and grows out of it. If the idea doesn’t work for you, then the story probably isn’t going to either.

It wasn’t too far for me, though - I like the idea that language changes your way of thinking and can alter the way you view the world (even though I obviously don’t believe that it can change your perceptions to the extent shown in Arrival).


#2615

I’ve already addressed this;

I don’t think it does —, the plot line of her struggle to understand the aliens and to navigate the politics is still strong. What does suffer, after the twist, is the personal aspect of her developing relationship issues and her parental issues, which worked perfectly fine before the twist too.


#2616

Yes, but I’m not convinced.

The whole movie is constructed around that central idea, the viewer just doesn’t know it until the big reveal. It sounds like you wanted to carry on watching the movie you thought you were watching before the twist. :slight_smile:


#2617

I always find it a little weird that people seem more willing to pick apart an ambitious movie, and judge it poorly for perceived problems, than movies that are much more simple and have more glaring issues.

Perhaps related to this thought is that I just watched Black Panther for the first time. Honestly, I think the best thing it does has nothing to do with superheroes or the MCU at all, and that is to basically exist as a new kind of epic. Epics are a reliable, if sporadic, source of crowd-pleasing material. They’re as much spectacle as any blockbuster. What Black Panther is, first and foremost, is an African epic, and that’s never really been done before. A lot of the elements around that epic are clumsy, but I can appreciate it for what it essentially is.

Also, clearly Coogler and company had the Star Wars prequels on the brain, but you don’t have to hold that against them.

Caught Greatest Showman, too, and that was easier to appreciate. Big-hearted, well-staged songs.


#2618

They had well choreographed dance numbers, no doubt about that, but way too often the characters got lost in them and it became kinda hard to remember who/why was singing. It’s just one of the things that took me out of it, although I did enjoy, as you said, the big-hearted aspect.