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We have some more images of Star Wars: The Force Awakens now. We have some antagonists, protagonists, and a picture below everything of the fancy new aliens awaiting us which thankfully are mostly practical costumes from the looks of things. 

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Aside from the fact there doesn't appear to be a single person over thirty (with the obvious exception of creaky Grandpa Han Solo. Even Chewie looks to be bright eyed and bushy tailed despite his age.) there's another thing that occurred to me in passing that maybe everyone else ignored or has no interest in or simply didn't notice.
You'd think a fine display of creative alien species would inspire confidence in a production for me, especially since according to everyone I know I am irrationally predisposed to practical over computer generated effects work in films.

Here's the thing though...

The aliens do look...fine. They're all very creative and nicely designed and clearly tons of money and time went into making them.

Here's the Cantina creates from the original Star Wars:

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See the difference?

The major dissimilarity at least I see in each of these instances is the absence or presence of cohesion: namely REPEATS.

In the original Cantina scene of Star Wars the most arresting idea in the production wasn't just the sheer variety of aliens (at least for me) it was the unheard of suggestion that there were alien SPECIES involved. All of the aliens playing the music are the same species. We see 'regular' humans in the crowd as well such as a guy in an X-Wing flight suit asking the bartender for a drink. The juxtaposition of the strange and the mundane to me always makes the situation seem more grounded and by association, perhaps ironically, allows me to project myself into the plot more readily. If I can picture not just a random jumble of weirdness but a universe with it's own rules, it's own history, it's own parameters even just by suggestion that story becomes much more interesting to me.
 
Imagine if all the aliens were different and the only human around was Han Solo. It might still work well enough as a scene but I think the impression would be that there was no real thought put into this storyline beyond generalized oddity for the sake of visual interest. You see a lot in lazy or cheap productions an emphasis on strangeness, but it can quickly come off as generic. 
Unless there's some kind of grounding principal.

Here's some aliens hanging out at the pod races in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

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Despite some one-off aliens in the pod race scene subconsciously I can identify at least some of the species from previous Star Wars films (especially the three-eye-stalk guy, the red alien with the twin-head-tails, and the guy who looks like a squid). We can identify to a certain degree some of the relationships between characters as well based on past experience. The twin-head-tail aliens (Twi'leks) are usually portrayed as slaves for powerful people so the tall guy although we've never seen his species before is clearly a power broker of some kind because of his holding the leash of the grinning Twi'lek lass in the revealing metal slave costume (well established by Star Wars The Return of the Jedi when Leia is forced to wear a similar one). George or his production designer have sewn into the unfamiliar the familiar. The scene doesn't look random just because of the inclusion of a few new races. It brings about diversity by hooking the unknown into the known at a glance.

But then there's the J.J alien line up. Do ANY of these species look familiar? There's something that looks a little like C-3Po and some old creepy humans in weird costumes, but the other aliens don't look at all even remotely familiar to the previous series or anything remotely understandable. In the Cantina scene as well as the pod race crowd we can work out what might be happening because of the similarity events in that science fiction scenario has to real world events. The Cantina has aliens in it, but they're listening to live music and enjoying drinks at a bar. The pod race is a weird future sport played and watched by aliens, but what they're doing still boils down to witnessing a live event, receiving concessions, and cheering for their favorite (or bet upon) competitors.

I realize the J.J scene is out of context, but what possible context could any of these guys be in that would make the least amount of sense? 

They're all dissimilar; even the humans are deliberately made up to look completely different from each other like the creepy old guy, the girl with the silly hat, the fat guy with a ponytail, the crouching guys who look vaguely like bounty hunters or...something. It looks visually dynamic and interesting, but at what cost?

It reminds me of this tavern scene from the movie Dungeons and Dragons:

www.yourprops.com/movieprops/o…

Again, looks fine and it's very diverse, but the issue still remains: is this a snapshot of a living world we're seeing, or just a bunch of non-speaking concept art pieces wandering around?

Nobody refers to Dungeons and Dragons the movie as feeling the least bit interesting as a world. Despite everything people say about the Star Wars prequels however people still championed the Star Wars brand as enduring because of the rich and interesting context an underwhelming story and largely uninteresting characters were part of. 

In the D&D film the idea seems pretty simple: make everything seem all fantasy-ish. We'll add in guys with wizard robes and other guys in monster masks to make it seem like there's other races and professions to this film even if all we get is a glimpse of them.
But again, this doesn't have to be the case and the original Star Wars proved that!

After an encounter with wild Jawa aliens by our heroes you might be forgiven for supposing that the Jawas are just one shot monsters that are there to bother the characters and transport R2-D2 and C3-PO around. 
But when Obi Wan, Luke, and the rest get to the infamous Mos Eisley space sport...

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Look in the corner: JAWAS!
Marathon that, they're Jawas that are just sitting down. They aren't selling robots or doing anything we've seen Jawas do up till now. What are they doing? Maybe they're beggars of resting or waiting...who knows?
The point is (and this blew my mind as a kid honestly) that the creatures we had seen in one part of the fantasy universe existed in other parts
OF THAT SAME UNIVERSE.
Having seen a lot of animated fantasy/sci-fi shows I was used to crowd scenes being packed with weird, vague designs to indicate without a lot of effort that 'This is an alien/fantasy world', like this crowd scene from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

www.he-manreviewed.com/wp-cont…

All of these aliens are unique, but they look a little slapped together. If you asked the animator to tell you what they were called or how they lived he'd probably shrug. They're aliens...or something. They all look creative, but the truth is that for all that creativity they're just filler. You won't see any of these aliens again after a scene like this because they don't LIVE anywhere. The two-headed guy is just there to look weird in this scene. The guy with three eyes or the giant with new pupils or the sunglasses wearing guy in the back with the tall hat? They don't exist except as people to be in this scene.

But when you have repeats, when you have indications that the species is a species and not just a bizarre set decoration then you are crafting world, not just filling up space. 

This is a scene from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

www.geeksofdoom.com/GoD/img/20…

This big guy is called Morn. He was often shown in the background of scenes set in the bar called Quark's (owned by Quark) and was mostly there to be a scenery setting extra, but later on in the series he had quite a few things to do in episodes. For example he began the series with hair but later on was bald. The reason? Apparently he tried to smuggle some irradiated in his second stomach! He had a time, a plot arc where he faked his own death. For a normally background weird alien character he had so much going on in his life behind the scenes it would often bleed into the show proper.

Then there's Star Trek 11's bar scene with this guy...

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This alien is seated between Kirk and Uhura and is annoyed by the two of them flirting with each other. He never says a word, but as Morn proved you don't need to say much to be established as a character. So who is this guy? What backstory did the creators dream up so he would be more than just a prop that occasionally moved?
His name is...Long Faced Alien.
Apparently the production company used to call him 'Brian ' but that was just to distinguish him from the other aliens. He is so generic that the creators of the movie had to give him a stand in name so they could remember who he was. He has no story. At all. Memory Alpha is a website devoted to die-hard Star Trek fans and collects all known information on even the most ancillary characters in every show and film.
Morn has a page devoted to him.
Long Faced 'Brian' has less than three sentences. 
And how about the other people in the crowd? Well clearly the writers/production designers cared about the world they were building when we have dynamic characters like
*Barflies
*Burly Cadets
*Cadet with Blue Drink
*Blond Cadet
and lets not forget the most memorable of all
*Short cadet

Now lets compare, shall we, to the COMPLETE cast roster of every single alien that not only was in the original Star Wars Cantina scene but also in the Star Wars Christmas special cantina scene!

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Yes you might argue none of these people matter, but...just look! All of these people have their own alien races. Some of them have more than one name. Characters like Momaw Nadon (the guy who looks like a big snail) has shown up in comics and video games. There's ACTION FIGURES for half of these guys and backstories for much of the rest.

But J.J's approach seems to be using the 'fill' tool on the background. Maybe in time honored traditional some of these aliens here will be named and given backstories, but at the moment and given the track record of the previous Star Trek films, it seems more likely they'll just look weird and that's all they're meant to do.  
When the most dedicated fans get hold of it or the extra-cannon materials pour in maybe some of these guys will see better exposure, but it just seems to me it will be an uphill battle. 
There's a certain amount of suspension of disbelief in any form of fiction (especially Star Wars which pays homage to fast-and-loose sci-fi serials which had no aspirations generally of making cohesive universes) but it seems to me that George Lucas and others have in the past stepped up the game instead of letting it slide into pointlessness. 

The bounty hunters that Darth Vader hires? All named and all have shown up constantly throughout the lore, the most successful of the bunch being Boba Fett who managed to become integral to the entire plot of the series and a fan-favorite despite being introduced without a single line of dialogue.

There's also the mysterious mastermind in the X-Files series: The Cigarette Smoking Man.

theredlist.com/media/database/…

This 'character' wasn't intended to be a character at all! The actor who plays him was simply an extra on set who decided to smoke a little during a scene. The action, the sort of menacing glare he gives to the actors was all improvised...and later on adapted into a character nearly as iconic as the two lead heroes.  
The actor and eventually the director and writer took what was essentially a background character and injected them with life that overflowed into a fully fledged person. People asked on forums the moment he showed up 'Who is that guy?' The fact that he didn't speak became a mystery. The world of the story seemed so alive that even someone as innocuous as a guy leaning against a cabinet smoking seemed to harbor secrets. 

So you see why I'm a little upset if the most we get nowadays is a bunch of throwaway weirdos. Yes this trend inhabits even productions I like such as The Lord of the Rings and the later Star Wars films a little too often indulged in weird designs for the sake of oddity or selling toys, but there have been great success stories of building upon ideas instead of just splattering them everywhere and hoping they stick.

I need to be convinced that the writer/director/producer cares. Throwing money at a screen doesn't do that for me.
It might seem odd but I like my fantasy/sci-fi to have some kind of consistency. It's all very nifty to dream big and have something new show up every second, but the problem is that can come across as someone who has no ties to reality or a more like an adult talking down to a child.

Here's an actual street crowd on an actual street in actual reality.

caracteres-caracteresmx.netdna…

You see different people, different walks of life, different costumes, different races and identities and heights and widths and any of the rest of it, sure, but you also see correlations. There's people of similar skin colors, ages, costumes. We don't see the crowd made up of people who all look entirely dissimilar even though there's a representation of many different races and lifestyles here. It's not an equal split of diversity: it's a sampling that feels organic because of repeats, because of correlations.

Ah, but is this alien world supposed to represent perhaps some kind of mysterious Eastern country? Maybe the intention was to suppose a strange place to Western eyes where the people dress differently and their ways of curious. A little condescending to other nations perhaps, but that entrancement with the exotic has been with us since the beginning.
Fine and dandy. Lets take a look at an exotic street market from the exotic mysterious middle east.

jesusrosas.com/revista/wp-cont…

Huh...
We have diversity again, but interesting there's actually LESS of it than the previous crowd in the First World country. Here the populace is almost uniformly middle eastern. They mostly dress similarly. There's an age range but not much of one. For all the surroundings being different we're still presented with a perhaps distressing lack of the odd. They dress differently but that's about the major distinction, that and the racial unanimity.

Tatooine is supposed to be a space port: a nexus of trade.
So lets look at an actual airport crowd.

www.scmp.com/sites/default/fil…

Huh again...
At a distance especially everyone looks pretty much the same. They're engaged in similar activities despite the difference in nationality represented. There seems a near similar range of races/ages/genders here too. This is the nexus of cultural exchange on display, thousands of people from all over the world, and yet we don't see that much of a difference.
We don't see too many 'weird' things. We don't see guys from Spain dressed 'Spanish' or Mexicans dressed 'Mexican'. We don't see Asians wearing wide brimmed straw hats or Americans wearing shirts with the American flag all over it. This may all sound very racist, but it's exactly the way that people seem to think aliens are in their productions as well. Every alien dressed and behaves and acts the same way. They don't have personalities or histories they're just weird things that look weird. 
But consider the crowd below. Each of these people you could be forgiven for saying look interchangeable, but down in that crowd is a million stories.
The differentiating factor in each person isn't how they look but who they are. They come from different places, have experienced different things, are going to do different things. They don't have to look that interesting to BE interesting.

I GET IT.
The supposed purpose of a weird alien world is to be weird and alien. We supposed to see stuff we haven't before. We're supposed to think 'ooh, that's odd!' and marvel at the creativity on display.
But if that's all it is we aren't looking at a world any more: we're looking at a concept artist's portfolio. 
How is a more expensive diorama of empty alien subtypes that have no existence outside of glorified scenery any better than an animated kid's show that has a wall of shadowy aliens sketched in to fill up space? 

Yes it's 'practical' but that doesn't mean it's good.
CGI, Practical, animated, live action...I DON'T ACTUALLY CARE THAT MUCH.
What I do care about is something that tells a story, characters who live. 

Star Wars became famous for it's 'used future' feel. Space ships weren't shiny, peerless devices, they were practically treated like used cars. Blasters were oily and dented. Alien planets were dingy and lived in. Clothing and hair was mussed.

Now it looks so clean, so planned, so very...stagey.

If this crowd is any indication that's the feel of this production: expensive and tailored to the last detail without any room for imagination. 

But a crowd scene CAN give us that: a window on the world we may never get to see but in that one panning show got a little taste of. 

People, not just props.
A request by :iconsonicrocks57:
Thanks for sharing the memories and providing the inspiration :D

Da...da...daaaaaa....daaa...daaa...daa...daaaaaaaa...

:iconstargateplz:

STARGATE!

This little sci-fi gem seemed to jump out of the ether fully formed. Ideas like Stargate only come along once in a lifetime: a complete storyline centered around an idea as old as time (a portal to another world) but tweaked so that it could become it's own unique creation. The movie is still a science fiction/action classic I love to resist. The pacing is so refreshingly deliberate making even the most outlandish ideas seem nearly plausible, the characters are compelling, and there are a variety of twists and turns involved in the plot which draws on pop-culture notions like the mysteries of the pyramids and ancient aliens but tries to make them all cohesive. 
The overall word I'd use for the film is down to earth: ironic for a movie all about leaving Earth behind. The characters can't understand the natives of another planet instantaneously, the magic of villains is more like incomprehensible technology, the heroes are present where they are as explorers not mystically chosen saviors and despite there being space ships and laser blasters eventually there's also a fair smattering of modern military hardware like machine guns which sometimes prove remarkably effective even against alien enemies. 

Then came the show, and this was one of those rare instances where the magic was NOT lost in transition! It was initially difficult for me to imagine how a Stargate show would work, but like all great ideas in retrospective is almost seemed made to order.

The movie I'd argue is far more gritty and naturalist than the series was, but that was mostly due to the large budget involved. The series had a charmingly budget look at times (a LOT of planets were basically big forests) but made up for it by doing what all sci-fi productions by rights should do anyway...let the IDEAS set the story and let the CHARACTERS keep us engaged. Stargate SG1, the original series, was an odd but ultimately successful and enduring blend of Star Trek, X-Files, and to a certain extent space operas with massive arcing storylines like Farscape or Babylon Five. Our main team of scientists and military once again travel forth to explore, but this time they're also looking for allies against the insidious Goa'uld alien parasites. Like the original film there's a (I'd argue even know) nearly counter-cultural approach to the idea of the United States military at work. Not only are most soldiers portrayed as relatively ordinary people, they often raise to the occasion heroically and unlike certain other sci-fi portrayals (Avatar...cough cough) the science team and military are not usually at odds. Sometimes military and science personnel are one and the same, with Samantha Carter being a good example of a person both knowledgeable and capable of defending herself in a pinch as well. 
The humor was spot on and never too grating. Jack O'Neil was the major source of numerous dry statements but it fit his character as a person who handled strange situations by breaking them down to something he could more easily understand, often with amusing results. Daniel Jackson was so perfectly cast compared to his movie role I didn't realize for years the actors were different people (James Spader in the movie, Michael Shanks in the show)! the late great Don Davis was the genial commander of the outfit Major George Hammond who was the heart of the team in many ways despite normally being the one back at base. Then there was my favorite character to round things off: Teal'c played by Christopher Judge!

Grimskull form Skeleton Warriors, Dark Wolf from Fire and Ice, Alexander Anderson from Hellsing...most of my favorite characters tend to be the troubled warrior half between the darkness and the light O_o

Teal'c has the unique advantage in a show to date as having been one of the bad guys. When he's first discovered he's practically indistinguishable for a regular Goa'uld foot soldier, face-concealing mask and all, because that's exactly what he is: honor bound and also somewhat brainwashed by being bred for the purpose of carrying a young Goa'uld 'god' inside him. When he is freed he eventually joins the team but it takes some time to ease back into a society where fighting is not a daily occurrence, nor does one have to live in constant fear of their leaders. I like Teal'c because he's a bit like Warf from Deep Space Nine: an honorable warrior learning to live in a society different than his own, but likewise showing that society the benefits of his own code of living. What Teal'c had that Warf did not was intriguing incite into the major enemy of the series. The Klingons were only an occasional threat, but the Goa'uld were a constant danger, and Teal'c knew all too well what they were capable of, harboring both hatred and a begrudging respect for his adversaries at times.
After all, he'd once worshipped them!

I remember vividly in college looking forward to SG1 more than anything on television. Each episode would have something new going on but still have enough of an ongoing story continuity that things occurring seemed to have some kind of meaning. Throughout the initial seasons there was always the growing threat of the Goa'uld discovering Earth...and then in later episodes THEY DO! SG1 is one of those productions that consistently would give me exactly what I wanted to see. If you wanted to see characters 'shipped' it would likely happen at least once (even if only in a dream sequence). Want to see a hero go one on one with a villain who had been responsible for so much of their pain? It would happen! 
Between episodes you could see the team meeting new and different tribes, solving alien riddles, having running gun battles with space ships and armies of goons, just hanging out at the bunker, and more than once engaged in massive starship battles. 
Every episode would have something new to see, the same great cast that slowly grew and changed, and along the way there would always be a surprising sense of hope and even optimism no matter how dark things became. The overriding theme was that freedom was worth fighting for, even if in doing so you might die.
The Goa'uld represented the opposite of that freedom: an oppressive council of masterminds who took over people's minds and stylized themselves as gods to enslave entire populations. This pantheon made the Goa'uld an interesting enemy as in addition to their history as alien warlords they had their histories as gods throughout human history, carrying names like Thoth and Aries and Sobek.
But thankfully, and fascinatingly, there were aliens on the side of humans as well! It might have been all too easy to have man with his back against the wall and on his own, but there were the Asgard aliens who supported humankind including the reoccurring benevolent Thor.
It's remarkably rare to find a series, especially nowadays, where one of the characters especially is an intentionally decent person, even if he does look like a gangly grey ET.

These was the glory days of Sci-Fi before they spelled their name dumb and almost entirely relied upon awful genre movies made in Romania. SG1 didn't just end, it played out for season after season until ending when it wanted to and in a manner that wrapped up all loose ends...AND THEN Sci-fi moved on to Stargate Atlantis which was not nearly as polished but almost as fun. I don't remember much about the much larger cast of that show and didn't watch it nearly as much, but it had the same sentiments as Stargate SG1 in that every episode had something wacky going on to hold your interest. There was always some kind of interesting alien, some kind of new gadget, some kind of weird location and of course the whole show took place in a giant flying city! 

This is why the later show SGU or Stargate Universe really disappointed me. We went from a rag-tag but pleasant team of professionals to a bunch of bickering people with no discernible skills or interest in the greater good. We went from episodes devoted to action packed battles and mysteries and strange new worlds to dreary episodes about failing power and petty betrayals and planets that weren't that interesting. People blame series fatigue for the eventually flop of SGU, but I blame Sci-Fi trying to turn a spiritual successor of Star Trek into the monotone, angsty remake of Battlestar Galactica. Sure the CGI effects were better but that didn't matter if they never used them and most of the show was spent moping in the dark.

There WAS rumors of a Stargate Online but by the time it had been announced I suppose the show had lost it's peak popularity. It's a shame too: I would have really enjoyed getting to play as a character wearing one of those nifty Anubis armor suits that assembled itself on command, welding a blaster staff!

Stargate I think succeed for the same reasons the later Star Trek: Enterprise failed.

Stargate had a diverse and interesting cast, each with something to DO. Jack O'Neil was mostly the military arm of the operation but he found his own things to care about and fight for, Samantha became a liaison to the Asgard, Daniel had a wife who was taken by the Goa'uld, and Teal'c had a son and people to defend.
Enterprise had a bunch of people who were ethnically and personably diverse, but who had NOTHING to do. They were all exploring the universe on board a space ship but for no real reason other than it was there, which meant that when they were by themselves they had no goals to reach and mostly spent the time complaining.

Stargate had the potential to show anything. Much like Dr. Who, The Stargate could take you potentially anywhere. Want the characters to meet Vikings? No problem! The Goa'uld captured humans in almost every stage of our development and left them on different planets so the team can meet Vikings without a hitch in the plot. The SG1 team is a combination scientific AND military operation so as much as they are gathering samples and investigating alien constructs they are also planning strikes against Goa'uld bases and liberating villages from their brainwashed servants. They were heroic explorers!
Enterprise had the potential, but it never used it. Since 'realism' was the purported goal planets and aliens weren't that interesting and when they got lazy and started breaking out the aliens they STILL weren't that interesting because the team on Enterprise were all scientists who couldn't fight to literally save their lives and would deliberately stay out of potentially dangerous situations even if it meant other people would die. We got the pleasure and privilege to see these boring people basically play observer to the rest of the universe unless they were personally inconvenienced by it.

To take it on it's own merits, Stargate is well paced, EXTREMELY well scored (that theme is just wonderfully stirring), well acted, well written and for all it's limited resources it made the most of them.

Do I think there should be another Stargate show or film? No. The original film holds up fine so a reboot would be redundant (although they will almost certainly make one anyway nowadays) and if SGU is any indication, Sci-Fi...sorry...SY-FY is simply not interested in recapturing the swashbuckling fun of the previous two series. Not everything needs to be bolt-metal grey and populated by morally-ambiguous jerks. You can have exciting stories and actually HAVE action periodically. You can have heroes and have them make difficult choices. You can have a genre show and treat the genre with respect. You can have a show about the military and not make them bloodthirsty, greed, evil people. 
Lets face it, who would you rather have if you were being menaced by a vicious alien monster: an altruistic scientist...or a pragmatic soldier armed with a gun?

I DO want to see more sci-fi shows. Dr. Who is well and fine, but I've never quite been able to take it that seriously as sci-fi as opposed to fantasy. There's science fiction elements but for the most part it's just general wackiness (Santa shows up...and he's actually Santa) and, unfortunately, a great deal of angsty melodrama. There WAS dramatics in SG1 but it tended to be interpersonal (people unhappy about team or family members being hurt) or even impersonal (Teal'c worried about his family) rather than people constantly whining about themselves. Interestingly when characters DID complain about themselves it tended to be treated as comedy because complaining about not getting your way is largely a childish thing to do.

So I would love again to see a show with a transport to other worlds, a brave crew of explorers, some kind of encroaching villain to thwart, new things to see and do.
I'm afraid we're mired right now in a bit of a rut with most shows focused on making the fantastic mundane instead of the mundane fantastic, but that's exactly what Stargate did...make something as seemingly devoid of excitement like a military bunker the kickoff point for endless adventure.

Stargate was a moment loaded with memories and has held up well I believe across the board (with the possible exception of SGU). It's one of those shows I'll always recall as the light in my darkest hours in college and something so pure and nostalgic the opening strains of the SG1 theme especially sets fire to my imagination. You can just picture spacecraft gliding through the void, false alien gods scheming in their golden palaces, ray blasts scorching the ground, the winding corridors of forgotten tombs scrawled with runes, iconic heroes and villains, and of course the towering gate, revolving chevrons, and the lightly equipped but determined team preparing to push their way through the rippling curtain to worlds unknown.   

If you've been through the vortex and want to relive the experience or you've never been and want to see why I'm so fond of living in a world where Stargate was a thing, here's the theme is all it's brassy, classic, timeless glory :)

A more fitting send off to my retrospective I can't think of.
 

SPOILERS

The above is latin for 'From The Machine' the title of a critically acclaimed movie.
The latin next to it is my review in one sentence 'Boring and empty'.

Yup I didn't like a movie everyone on Earth seemed to. Big shocker there, but this time it wasn't because I felt insulted or angered by a poor message or the content was too disturbing to enjoy or it was distasteful or even that it was unpleasant. 
It was just REALLY REALLY boring.

Let me get the good stuff out of the way because, like so much in this movie, it doesn't ultimately matter. The acting is decent. The cinematography is absolutely stunning. 
Norway looks nice.

Yup. That's it. Everything else sucked on ice.

How do you make a story about the line between machine and man set in a pretty nifty looking house in the gorgeous wilderness with an on going mystery about the power plays between a mad genius, a troubled everyman and a robot who may or may not be manipulating everything?

Apparently all you really need to do is never...end...a...single...shot...of...the...movie...until...all...meaning...is...lost...in...the...tedium.
Every...single...bloody scene of the movie is stretched to the snapping point for no real reason. You cannot create tension if the audience is not engaged by what's going on (and in short order I wasn't) if you telegraph EVERY SINGLE 'twist' in your plot with a road flare to the point that characters will literally sit down to discuss why the twist happened, how it happened, and why it was such a clever twist to begin with, provided of course the audience hadn't fallen asleep and thus not seen through the thin veneer of intellectual fog to the heart of the matter.

Like the above sentence the answer is simple, just cloaked in big words and lots and lots of space. This movie isn't about anything. It is the very definition of the word 'pretentious', which is to say it pretends to have depth when there is none to be had. 

Your brain might think you'll getting some major wisdom laid on you for all the characters blab on and on about feelings and thoughts and emotions. But if you're like me you will be constantly saying in your mind 'This is all very interesting...but can we get the point?'
When I discovered none after hours and hours of hollow pseudo-psycho fluff I cashed in my interest and tried to sleep, keeping one eye open in case anything happened.
Nothing ever did. 

Is this movie about a science fiction scenario in which a possible situation of artificial intelligence is depicted realistically? No because the design of the A.I robot Ava is so cartoonish it's laughable. She has little lights in her chest which serve...what purpose? She has little diodes in her neck that move when she isn't changing expression. Is that supposed to indicate subtle face changes or something? Or, more likely unfortunately, it's the bare minimum of thought put into technology to make it look 'cool'. Why does the door take flash photographs of people and print them onto ID cards? Because it looks cool. It doesn't make any sense, but who cares? Why does the skin Ava eventually puts on magically heal itself around her metal form? Because it looks cool. 
The ultimate moment where this movie stopped being sci-fi and dipped into farce was the declaration of mankind's most powerful invention; the final stepping stone for consciousness in artificial form. The great invention that made the drunk hipster guy with the stupid beard a bajillionaire. Not robots. Not magically healing skin. Not a flash photography door scanner.

A SEARCH ENGINE.

That's right people, the great contribution of the millennial and the peak of human ingenuity in the twenty first century is...drum roll please...GOOGLE.
Sorry 'Blue Book' which is like Google except it's magic. 
I could not hold back desperate laughter at the revelation delivered completely stone faced. It made it worse when the hipster guy claimed to have cracked A.I by 'taking charge of everyone's cellphones'.
USING GOOGLE?
I think the hipster guy invented Skynet, and according to the rest of the sitting session (I hesitate to truly call it a film) that might be quite literal.

So if it's too dumb to be a science fiction movie, is it instead a cat and mouse mystery story between desperate men using the metaphor of robotics to represent...something?
Therein lies the issue. The movie is too incompetent to correctly depict anything like a believable future scenario, but the 'action' occurring on screen is so disjointed, so drawn out and dull, so completely random that it never feels like a plot is going on at all. In the end we figure out everybody was playing everybody else. The only twist would be if nobody was playing anybody in a movie like this so I guessed everyone would be a louse from the word go. 

It is remarkably difficult to make me care about a movie entirely populated by jerks. The kid is a navel-gazing, passive-agressive, self obsessed and insecure jerk. The robots are vain ultimately murderous jerks. The hipster guy is a drunk and a jerk who does bad things because of reasons known only to himself. If I can't care I just don't. It saves brain fatigue. 

Is it some kind of feminist track about how men use and abuse women and we should all cheer as the strong independent female escapes her captors?
Um...that one has really bad implications seeing as our strong female character is actually a conniving, vain, heartless, murdering monster when all is said and done, and so is every other female character in the movie depicted as malfunctioning machines used for little more than sexual pleasure and when they do any thinking they kill people and look at themselves in the mirrors a lot.

Girl power...?

So here the movie literally locked me in for hours in a house that rapidly became uninteresting after I figured out it was basically composed on one set despite the look of it outside, the same repeating shots of BEAUTIFUL Norway which served zero purpose except maybe some kind of vague metaphorical point or something, jerks undercutting each other when they weren't looking bored and a premise that changed from being potentially interesting to as enthralling as a police line up.

All they do is talk, and not about anything interesting.

The guy who directed this is highly accredited for writing before this, and to be honest I never liked his previous works either (28 Days Later and Sunshine...dullsville with zombies and dullsville in space) but this is some of the worst writing I've had the misfortune to hear in a good long while. I can appreciate a deft turn of phrase or realistic reticence. In The Amazing Spiderman movies I thought Andrew Garfield's awkwardness and blathering made him pretty endearing as a realistic young man. 

But here NO ONE seems realistic. Maybe the point was to make the robots seem more human or some such, but what happened is that it seemed like all the dialogue had been translated out of a foreign language.

Caleb: (Quoting J. Robert Oppenheimer) "I am become death, destroyer of Worlds." 
Nathan: There you go again, Mr. Quotable.
Caleb: There you go again.
Nathan: Huh?
Caleb: I didn't make up that quote. It was J. Oppenheimer on...
Nathan: The atomic bomb, I know.
Caleb: Then why'd you say it. Again?
Nathan: The atomic bomb...

Here's another gem.

Nathan: The phone won't accept your key card. Who you gonna call?
(Long Pause)
Nathan: Ghostbusters?
Caleb: Huh?
Nathan: Ghostbusters.
(Caleb gives Nathan a blank look.)
Nathan: VHS. From the 80s. Dan Ackroyd has sex with a ghost.
Caleb: I know.

The dialogue is so stilted and meaningless and flat that I thought the twist would be one or both or maybe all of the characters were robots. 
There's times when characters outright admit they know something RIGHT BEFORE going into extensive detail about it for the benefit of no one but people in the audience who apparently must be braindead coelacanths for all this movie believes they can understand things.
You can do a drinking game on the amount of times camera shots return to the same things again and again.
Hipster dude gets stabbed in the end. 
A few scenes pass.
There he is again. 
A few scenes pass.
Yup still dead.

There is never one instant where this movie doesn't hold your hand. You might wonder about the purpose of a hallway of masks...well actually you don't because the metaphor is so obvious what with Ava's face being a 'mask' (CLEVER!) that you'd have to be blind to let it go by.
But fear not! The movie kindly has an extensive well night interminable scene devoted to Ava touching the mask...then we see her face reflected in the glass behind the mask...then we see her putting her face right over the mask IN CASE WE DIDN'T GET IT.
MASK? JUST LIKE HER FACE? SEE? SEE?

This is like Alfred Hitchcock directing the famous death scene in Psycho so that the women is stabbed in the shower not five times but fifty times, once in slow motion for good measure, and then we see a dying flower to indicate she's dead. Then we see her lying dead in the bathtub for twenty minutes in a still shot. Then we S-L-O-W-L-Y zoom in on her eye where we can see a tiny cartoon skull reflected just so there's no ambiguity. 
Then a sign pop up that says 'She was stabbed to death' for all the children still wondering when the women who fell over is going to get back up.

The music is the same meandering piano music you'd hear in any arty movie with long shots, lens flare, and people looking blankly at things. When it's not a flavorless drone it's EAR BLEEDINGLY LOUD during moments of tension, just so we realize something tense is going on. 

This movie sucked, but it was so boring the rest of it's awfulness only occurred to me later. In the middle of it it was like watching an endlessly repeating loop of the worlds most uneventful student film whose decent special effects (except for really janky effects shot of a robot face which looks sub-playstation honestly) and pretty landscapes only made it clear that some beret wearing cannabis aficionado out of art school had not made it with a group of friends over the weekend to show at the local film festival. 

This is one of those rare films where the fact that it's boring works in it's favor because I barely have the energy to remember how stupid it was, the numerous plot holes, the rancid dialogue, the outdated and downright incorrect attempts to sound smart by misquoting famous people and using buzzwords the kids will love (our hero likes Depeche Mode...really?).
None of that matters because it nearly put me to sleep and I never intend to waste my time sitting through such a waste of celluloid again, not even to see the pretty landscapes.

Unless you need an expensive alternative to an insomnia cure which comes with an almost feature-length amount of trailers for disappointing looking remakes, reboots, and straight up cash ins I do not recommend you watch Ex Machina. A hundred critics can apparently be wrong, or would be wrong if they could get beyond how nice this movie looks to how utterly hollow it is. 

At the end of the performance (which must have had a solid twelve audience members eventually) some guy in the back tried to clap but gave up quickly when no one followed suit.

That summed this up nicely: a movie you feel obligated to like for all the things it isn't: cerebral, original, interesting, entertaining, or enlightening.

The character Caleb says 'What a trip!' towards the end of the movie. 
It was a trip: a bad one that you wake up from and when you try to describe it you discover that what you thought was deep and powerful at the time is actually just random images that only made sense while you were high. 
That's actually probably the only way this would be enjoyable: with a bunch of other tipsy hipsters musing about the universe between awful drinks.

AVOID AVA.

So you feel like you'd like to write something but the ideas just aren't manifesting outside of the swirling thoughts in your noggin. You feel like if you could just get started you might just keep going writing-wise, but again and again writer's block sands between you and smooth imagination session. 

What to do?

Well there's any number of things you can do including listening to music, taking long walks to quiet your brain so only a few thoughts float to the top, or you can just write like a madman until something emerges.

But what I like to do when I'm feeling the pinch is a little exercise I call Character Scramble.

Stories begin with characters to tell them, yes? You might feel like all the great characters are taken or that you'd love to write about a character someone else owns but you're afraid it would be considered theft.

Lets consider some characters you might like, specifically a collection of characters you enjoy to think about and write about, but you've grown tired of fan-fiction antics. You want to dream up something new.

Tried and true lets go with Star Wars.

To begin your own character scramble first consider a collection of characters from all spectrums of good, evil, and in between. Write down next their names a few things about them that made them memorable to you as well, trying to break them down to their most basic elements.
It helps to have an even number. We'll call this Character Scramble Step 1.

---

STAR WARS CHARACTER SCRAMBLE STEP 1

Luke Skywalker: Naive young lad whose father was a powerful warrior.
Han Solo: Scruffy roguish outlaw torn between self preservation and principals. 
C-3P0: Effeminate, timid translator and diplomat.  
Darth Vader: Half-machine tragic warrior. 
Obi Wan: Old, mystical warrior.
Princess Leia: Tenacious, sarcastic, proper.

---

Now we go to Step 2. Write what function each of these characters plays in the course of the story more or less. 

--

STAR WARS CHARACTER SCRAMBLE STEP 2

Luke Skywalker: Male protagonist.
Han Solo: Secondary support character.
C-3P0: Comic relief. 
Darth Vader: Main villain. 
Obi War: Mentor 
Princess Leia: Female protagonist. 

---

Step 3 you can probably guess. If you can forget the names for now. Take the role and the traits you wrote down and scramble them up! Keep switching them around under either every character has something different than what they began with or you come up with an unexpected combination that intrigues you.
It helps to mentally mix things up (and it's no end of fun) if you deliberately exchange roles from where they were originally (like heroes to villains). 

---

STAR WARS CHARACTER SCRAMBLE STEP 3

Male protagonist: Tenacious, sarcastic, proper.
Secondary Support Character: Effeminate, timid translator and diplomat. 
Comic Relief: Old, mystical warrior.
Main Villain: Naive young lad whose father was a powerful warrior.
Mentor: Scruffy roguish outlaw torn between self preservation and principals.
Female Protagonist: Half-machine tragic warrior. 

---

For the purposes of initial writing and to create visual images in your head you can keep the original names of the characters, or you can make up new names. But what you have before you now is completely new characters despite just making a few adjustments to existing ones!

Let me show you what I mean when we move on to Step 4.

In this step try and parse out what the story, or indeed A story, would be like with these new people running around.

--

STAR WARS CHARACTER SCRAMBLE STEP 3

The Galaxy is under the tyrannous command of spoiled young prince (Luke Skywalker) who desperately wants to live up to his father's legacy, but he resents being born under the thumb of the Jedi Order as a child so he's declared them enemies of the state. A plucky young noble (Prince(cess) Leia) has decided to begin fighting back against the corrupt new order and he is joined by a female cyborg warrior (Darth Vader) with a dark past as Luke's personal assassin. They are joined in their quest by grouchy old drunk philosopher (Obi Wan), the noble's assistant and guardian (C-3P0) and all of them are guided by the old Jedi warrior turned embittered outlaw (Han Solo) who provides much needed clearheaded advice in the dark days to come.

---

And you don't have to stop there!
Lets make the Jedi a holy order who wear distinctive white armor, and the villainous Stormtroopers be powerful channelers dressed in brown robes. Lets say that The Blaster is one of the ancient weapons from the Old Republic, but everyone uses the cruder and less effective Light Saber. Lets say Wookies are a race of gigantic creatures with slimy red skin and tiny eyes, and the Rancors are furry monsters with their own code of honor kept in the pit of Jabba the Hut...who incidentally is a smooth talking ex-pirate, while the leader of Cloud City Lando is a much respected and admired slug-like alien.  

If a story is getting wan, jumble the cards.
Tired of the protagonist always being the young, plucky lad with a past? Make him be the comic relief tagging along with a lone bad-ass. The cute little creature who serves no purpose of the story might make a surprisingly effective villain and the tried and tired big fat guy bumbling around as comic relief?
What happens when he's the love interest and his cumbersome exterior belies a heart of gold?

Yes you'll hit cliches, but the purpose of this exercise is just to mingle things up a touch in the brain and get it thinking again outside the box and more importantly outside the writer's block.

I'd love to hear what you guys come up with if this exercise interests you!
Re-Imagining: Darkstalkers by jarredspekter
Re-Imagining: Darkstalkers
Based on the fighting game by Capcom, specifically the first one called The Night Warriors.
This is a LONG time request but there's a lot of lore for this series I had to look through. I kept to the original roster at least initially to keep the character profiles detailed. I obviously changed some backstories, but I tried to keep faithful to the original concept of the war for the Demon World and I included references to the manga, the anime, the games and one little wink to the American animated adaptation ;)
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We have some more images of Star Wars: The Force Awakens now. We have some antagonists, protagonists, and a picture below everything of the fancy new aliens awaiting us which thankfully are mostly practical costumes from the looks of things. 

jtacmuseblog.tumblr.com/post/1…

Aside from the fact there doesn't appear to be a single person over thirty (with the obvious exception of creaky Grandpa Han Solo. Even Chewie looks to be bright eyed and bushy tailed despite his age.) there's another thing that occurred to me in passing that maybe everyone else ignored or has no interest in or simply didn't notice.
You'd think a fine display of creative alien species would inspire confidence in a production for me, especially since according to everyone I know I am irrationally predisposed to practical over computer generated effects work in films.

Here's the thing though...

The aliens do look...fine. They're all very creative and nicely designed and clearly tons of money and time went into making them.

Here's the Cantina creates from the original Star Wars:

img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20…

See the difference?

The major dissimilarity at least I see in each of these instances is the absence or presence of cohesion: namely REPEATS.

In the original Cantina scene of Star Wars the most arresting idea in the production wasn't just the sheer variety of aliens (at least for me) it was the unheard of suggestion that there were alien SPECIES involved. All of the aliens playing the music are the same species. We see 'regular' humans in the crowd as well such as a guy in an X-Wing flight suit asking the bartender for a drink. The juxtaposition of the strange and the mundane to me always makes the situation seem more grounded and by association, perhaps ironically, allows me to project myself into the plot more readily. If I can picture not just a random jumble of weirdness but a universe with it's own rules, it's own history, it's own parameters even just by suggestion that story becomes much more interesting to me.
 
Imagine if all the aliens were different and the only human around was Han Solo. It might still work well enough as a scene but I think the impression would be that there was no real thought put into this storyline beyond generalized oddity for the sake of visual interest. You see a lot in lazy or cheap productions an emphasis on strangeness, but it can quickly come off as generic. 
Unless there's some kind of grounding principal.

Here's some aliens hanging out at the pod races in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20…

Despite some one-off aliens in the pod race scene subconsciously I can identify at least some of the species from previous Star Wars films (especially the three-eye-stalk guy, the red alien with the twin-head-tails, and the guy who looks like a squid). We can identify to a certain degree some of the relationships between characters as well based on past experience. The twin-head-tail aliens (Twi'leks) are usually portrayed as slaves for powerful people so the tall guy although we've never seen his species before is clearly a power broker of some kind because of his holding the leash of the grinning Twi'lek lass in the revealing metal slave costume (well established by Star Wars The Return of the Jedi when Leia is forced to wear a similar one). George or his production designer have sewn into the unfamiliar the familiar. The scene doesn't look random just because of the inclusion of a few new races. It brings about diversity by hooking the unknown into the known at a glance.

But then there's the J.J alien line up. Do ANY of these species look familiar? There's something that looks a little like C-3Po and some old creepy humans in weird costumes, but the other aliens don't look at all even remotely familiar to the previous series or anything remotely understandable. In the Cantina scene as well as the pod race crowd we can work out what might be happening because of the similarity events in that science fiction scenario has to real world events. The Cantina has aliens in it, but they're listening to live music and enjoying drinks at a bar. The pod race is a weird future sport played and watched by aliens, but what they're doing still boils down to witnessing a live event, receiving concessions, and cheering for their favorite (or bet upon) competitors.

I realize the J.J scene is out of context, but what possible context could any of these guys be in that would make the least amount of sense? 

They're all dissimilar; even the humans are deliberately made up to look completely different from each other like the creepy old guy, the girl with the silly hat, the fat guy with a ponytail, the crouching guys who look vaguely like bounty hunters or...something. It looks visually dynamic and interesting, but at what cost?

It reminds me of this tavern scene from the movie Dungeons and Dragons:

www.yourprops.com/movieprops/o…

Again, looks fine and it's very diverse, but the issue still remains: is this a snapshot of a living world we're seeing, or just a bunch of non-speaking concept art pieces wandering around?

Nobody refers to Dungeons and Dragons the movie as feeling the least bit interesting as a world. Despite everything people say about the Star Wars prequels however people still championed the Star Wars brand as enduring because of the rich and interesting context an underwhelming story and largely uninteresting characters were part of. 

In the D&D film the idea seems pretty simple: make everything seem all fantasy-ish. We'll add in guys with wizard robes and other guys in monster masks to make it seem like there's other races and professions to this film even if all we get is a glimpse of them.
But again, this doesn't have to be the case and the original Star Wars proved that!

After an encounter with wild Jawa aliens by our heroes you might be forgiven for supposing that the Jawas are just one shot monsters that are there to bother the characters and transport R2-D2 and C3-PO around. 
But when Obi Wan, Luke, and the rest get to the infamous Mos Eisley space sport...

www.starwarz.com/tbone/wp-cont…

Look in the corner: JAWAS!
Marathon that, they're Jawas that are just sitting down. They aren't selling robots or doing anything we've seen Jawas do up till now. What are they doing? Maybe they're beggars of resting or waiting...who knows?
The point is (and this blew my mind as a kid honestly) that the creatures we had seen in one part of the fantasy universe existed in other parts
OF THAT SAME UNIVERSE.
Having seen a lot of animated fantasy/sci-fi shows I was used to crowd scenes being packed with weird, vague designs to indicate without a lot of effort that 'This is an alien/fantasy world', like this crowd scene from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

www.he-manreviewed.com/wp-cont…

All of these aliens are unique, but they look a little slapped together. If you asked the animator to tell you what they were called or how they lived he'd probably shrug. They're aliens...or something. They all look creative, but the truth is that for all that creativity they're just filler. You won't see any of these aliens again after a scene like this because they don't LIVE anywhere. The two-headed guy is just there to look weird in this scene. The guy with three eyes or the giant with new pupils or the sunglasses wearing guy in the back with the tall hat? They don't exist except as people to be in this scene.

But when you have repeats, when you have indications that the species is a species and not just a bizarre set decoration then you are crafting world, not just filling up space. 

This is a scene from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

www.geeksofdoom.com/GoD/img/20…

This big guy is called Morn. He was often shown in the background of scenes set in the bar called Quark's (owned by Quark) and was mostly there to be a scenery setting extra, but later on in the series he had quite a few things to do in episodes. For example he began the series with hair but later on was bald. The reason? Apparently he tried to smuggle some irradiated in his second stomach! He had a time, a plot arc where he faked his own death. For a normally background weird alien character he had so much going on in his life behind the scenes it would often bleed into the show proper.

Then there's Star Trek 11's bar scene with this guy...

40.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kwr…

This alien is seated between Kirk and Uhura and is annoyed by the two of them flirting with each other. He never says a word, but as Morn proved you don't need to say much to be established as a character. So who is this guy? What backstory did the creators dream up so he would be more than just a prop that occasionally moved?
His name is...Long Faced Alien.
Apparently the production company used to call him 'Brian ' but that was just to distinguish him from the other aliens. He is so generic that the creators of the movie had to give him a stand in name so they could remember who he was. He has no story. At all. Memory Alpha is a website devoted to die-hard Star Trek fans and collects all known information on even the most ancillary characters in every show and film.
Morn has a page devoted to him.
Long Faced 'Brian' has less than three sentences. 
And how about the other people in the crowd? Well clearly the writers/production designers cared about the world they were building when we have dynamic characters like
*Barflies
*Burly Cadets
*Cadet with Blue Drink
*Blond Cadet
and lets not forget the most memorable of all
*Short cadet

Now lets compare, shall we, to the COMPLETE cast roster of every single alien that not only was in the original Star Wars Cantina scene but also in the Star Wars Christmas special cantina scene!

images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__c…

Yes you might argue none of these people matter, but...just look! All of these people have their own alien races. Some of them have more than one name. Characters like Momaw Nadon (the guy who looks like a big snail) has shown up in comics and video games. There's ACTION FIGURES for half of these guys and backstories for much of the rest.

But J.J's approach seems to be using the 'fill' tool on the background. Maybe in time honored traditional some of these aliens here will be named and given backstories, but at the moment and given the track record of the previous Star Trek films, it seems more likely they'll just look weird and that's all they're meant to do.  
When the most dedicated fans get hold of it or the extra-cannon materials pour in maybe some of these guys will see better exposure, but it just seems to me it will be an uphill battle. 
There's a certain amount of suspension of disbelief in any form of fiction (especially Star Wars which pays homage to fast-and-loose sci-fi serials which had no aspirations generally of making cohesive universes) but it seems to me that George Lucas and others have in the past stepped up the game instead of letting it slide into pointlessness. 

The bounty hunters that Darth Vader hires? All named and all have shown up constantly throughout the lore, the most successful of the bunch being Boba Fett who managed to become integral to the entire plot of the series and a fan-favorite despite being introduced without a single line of dialogue.

There's also the mysterious mastermind in the X-Files series: The Cigarette Smoking Man.

theredlist.com/media/database/…

This 'character' wasn't intended to be a character at all! The actor who plays him was simply an extra on set who decided to smoke a little during a scene. The action, the sort of menacing glare he gives to the actors was all improvised...and later on adapted into a character nearly as iconic as the two lead heroes.  
The actor and eventually the director and writer took what was essentially a background character and injected them with life that overflowed into a fully fledged person. People asked on forums the moment he showed up 'Who is that guy?' The fact that he didn't speak became a mystery. The world of the story seemed so alive that even someone as innocuous as a guy leaning against a cabinet smoking seemed to harbor secrets. 

So you see why I'm a little upset if the most we get nowadays is a bunch of throwaway weirdos. Yes this trend inhabits even productions I like such as The Lord of the Rings and the later Star Wars films a little too often indulged in weird designs for the sake of oddity or selling toys, but there have been great success stories of building upon ideas instead of just splattering them everywhere and hoping they stick.

I need to be convinced that the writer/director/producer cares. Throwing money at a screen doesn't do that for me.
It might seem odd but I like my fantasy/sci-fi to have some kind of consistency. It's all very nifty to dream big and have something new show up every second, but the problem is that can come across as someone who has no ties to reality or a more like an adult talking down to a child.

Here's an actual street crowd on an actual street in actual reality.

caracteres-caracteresmx.netdna…

You see different people, different walks of life, different costumes, different races and identities and heights and widths and any of the rest of it, sure, but you also see correlations. There's people of similar skin colors, ages, costumes. We don't see the crowd made up of people who all look entirely dissimilar even though there's a representation of many different races and lifestyles here. It's not an equal split of diversity: it's a sampling that feels organic because of repeats, because of correlations.

Ah, but is this alien world supposed to represent perhaps some kind of mysterious Eastern country? Maybe the intention was to suppose a strange place to Western eyes where the people dress differently and their ways of curious. A little condescending to other nations perhaps, but that entrancement with the exotic has been with us since the beginning.
Fine and dandy. Lets take a look at an exotic street market from the exotic mysterious middle east.

jesusrosas.com/revista/wp-cont…

Huh...
We have diversity again, but interesting there's actually LESS of it than the previous crowd in the First World country. Here the populace is almost uniformly middle eastern. They mostly dress similarly. There's an age range but not much of one. For all the surroundings being different we're still presented with a perhaps distressing lack of the odd. They dress differently but that's about the major distinction, that and the racial unanimity.

Tatooine is supposed to be a space port: a nexus of trade.
So lets look at an actual airport crowd.

www.scmp.com/sites/default/fil…

Huh again...
At a distance especially everyone looks pretty much the same. They're engaged in similar activities despite the difference in nationality represented. There seems a near similar range of races/ages/genders here too. This is the nexus of cultural exchange on display, thousands of people from all over the world, and yet we don't see that much of a difference.
We don't see too many 'weird' things. We don't see guys from Spain dressed 'Spanish' or Mexicans dressed 'Mexican'. We don't see Asians wearing wide brimmed straw hats or Americans wearing shirts with the American flag all over it. This may all sound very racist, but it's exactly the way that people seem to think aliens are in their productions as well. Every alien dressed and behaves and acts the same way. They don't have personalities or histories they're just weird things that look weird. 
But consider the crowd below. Each of these people you could be forgiven for saying look interchangeable, but down in that crowd is a million stories.
The differentiating factor in each person isn't how they look but who they are. They come from different places, have experienced different things, are going to do different things. They don't have to look that interesting to BE interesting.

I GET IT.
The supposed purpose of a weird alien world is to be weird and alien. We supposed to see stuff we haven't before. We're supposed to think 'ooh, that's odd!' and marvel at the creativity on display.
But if that's all it is we aren't looking at a world any more: we're looking at a concept artist's portfolio. 
How is a more expensive diorama of empty alien subtypes that have no existence outside of glorified scenery any better than an animated kid's show that has a wall of shadowy aliens sketched in to fill up space? 

Yes it's 'practical' but that doesn't mean it's good.
CGI, Practical, animated, live action...I DON'T ACTUALLY CARE THAT MUCH.
What I do care about is something that tells a story, characters who live. 

Star Wars became famous for it's 'used future' feel. Space ships weren't shiny, peerless devices, they were practically treated like used cars. Blasters were oily and dented. Alien planets were dingy and lived in. Clothing and hair was mussed.

Now it looks so clean, so planned, so very...stagey.

If this crowd is any indication that's the feel of this production: expensive and tailored to the last detail without any room for imagination. 

But a crowd scene CAN give us that: a window on the world we may never get to see but in that one panning show got a little taste of. 

People, not just props.

deviantID

jarredspekter
Dan
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Seattle
Favourite genre of music: Techno, Rock, Industrial, Alternate
Favourite style of art: Bold pencil
Operating System: Macintosh
Shell of choice: Moonsnail
Wallpaper of choice: Something epic :D
Favourite cartoon character: Dib, Samurai Jack, Darkwolf
Personal Quote: The Joker can't win.
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:iconthatnerdwithglasses:
Thatnerdwithglasses Featured By Owner Edited 12 hours ago  Student
www.bbc.com/news/technology-32…

Joss whedon has shut down his own twitters
Even joss isn't safe from SJWs

youtu.be/EkoQIPSO4t8
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 12 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
jtacmuseblog.tumblr.com/post/1… I've seen some dumb sh%t on tumblr, but this takes the cake. What say you?
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 16 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
thoughts on Clive Barker's "Nightbreed"?
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 16 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
Have you seen it yet? I won't spoil it this time XD
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 16 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
nope, but I have seen moviebob talk about it on the big picture, so it's already been spoiled rotten, so no need to worry XD
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 15 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
I WANTED to like it then :lol:

The ultimate 'message' seemed simultaneously obvious and mishandled. Humans are scum.
They're scum because they kill things, so you should kill them.

It's basically Avatar with more interesting monsters XD
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(1 Reply)
:iconjpbijos:
jpbijos Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the watch and the fav!
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Writer
thoughts on "death to smoochy"?
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Writer
jtacmuseblog.tumblr.com/post/1… new photos from the set of star wars 7. How's it looking to you?
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Writer
They're joking right? O_o

The top image reminds me of this: www.quangly.com/wp-content/upl…

Apparently they also want to remind us of Natalie Portman in the best Star Wars movies ever (seriously, the actress looks just like her!): cdn2.business2community.com/wp…

One of the characters is so CGI they don't even apparently have a background or a costume. 

The guy on the X-Wing looks like he's posing for GQ: www.trueblood-online.com/wp-co…

And all the practical effect monsters are all very nice, but unlike the previous Star Wars do any of these guys have names? Species?
Or were they just dreamed up to be background filler to look weird? 
I KNOW the original Cantina scene was done similar, but at least eventually George Lucas and friends gave each character a name and a purpose.
Here it looks like this: www.yourprops.com/movieprops/o…


So yeah...this movie is starting to remind me of The Last Airbender, The Star Wars Prequels, and Dungeons and Dragons....

These are not good signs, but then again no matter what they do Disney and J.J are in for a windfall :lol:
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