Friday, May 31, 2013

Paleo-Myth Number 4: By Sheer Force of Will

I am not gonna lie, today the scathing reviews of After Earth coming out really made my day. I have been drumming up hostility for this movie for a while now. First of all, Jaden Smith is annoying-  its not usually seen as cool to hate on kids but this brat really annoys me. I don't feel too bad about my anti-Jade Smith sentiment because I am not alone. I mean just look at
this young douche-bag in the making. Let's hope this kid spirals into hardcore drug abuse when he realizes he has no talent and only got movie roles by the Will-power of his father.

But we can't rest all of the blame on Jaden's narrow shoulders. Will Smith is continuing to lose touch with reality. Will does have talent- Parents Just Don't Understand was the first cassette tape I owned and still is a great song and he does a good job at acting when he highlights his strengths- his humanity, natural warmth and charm. But none of these attributes are put on display in his decidedly wooden performance as Cipher. And he conceived and bank-rolled the film so he gets the lion's share of the blame. Unfortunately this film will probably only put a dent in the Smith franchise and him and his family will continue to spread their tentacles of mediocrity onto film goers for many years into the future.

But the person who will be hit hardest by this dreck of a film will probably be M. Night Shyamalan. A man who in the past revitalized suspense films and was poised to be the next Hitchcock but who has of late been floundering. Let's hope After Earth is not his death knell.

But the real victim in this film is the subject of "future evolution". In the film, set to take place 1000 years into the future on planet earth- a biota has emerged hostile to human life. Apparently in sort of a homicidal GAIA like scenario the life forms on earth react to humans in sort of a collective inflammatory response. Oh yeah atmospheric conditions are too low in oxygen for humans to breath (despite the redwood forests everywhere) and I guess the whole world experiences a deep freeze nightly. Both of which are never explained. I guess if you read to and subscribe to wack-ass sci-fi stories as a religion you might start to write wack-ass sci-fi stories too.

But back to evolution and the popular misconceptions about evolution this film embellishes- the actual subject of this post.

Future evolution is a topic of much interest to me and hopefully many of the readers of this blog. It has been written about by many, most notably Scottish geologist, illustrator and author Dougal Dixon. In his speculative ventures into the zoology of the future Dixon uses sound evolutionary concepts and also draws upon patterns in the fossil record. To borrow from scripture one of the repeated patterns he invokes is that " the meek shall inherit the earth"and that the insignificant creatures of today can become the dominant creatures of tomorrow. Some of his coolest critters therefore are wolf/deer like derived rats and nightmarish terrestrial bats.
 I really doubt the fresh prince has read much or any of Dixon (although he probably reads a lot weirder stuff). No doubt the script/movie could have benefited much by the creative input of a man like Dixon or some other evolutionary biologist. Sheesh they probably could have had any number of paleontologists add input for, say the price of a days catering on a big budget film or maybe even for free. Face palm.

But instead you have troops of predatory baboons, giant birds of prey, and somehow a giant scimitar cat re-evolved. All of which happened in 1000 years!!! Evolution does not happen that fast!!! 

Secondly, all these critters and the biota as a whole it seems, are 'evolved' to kill humans.  Sounds like Lamarckian evolution to me!!! Evolution is not directed it is blind and groping. Double face palm.

This is all really unfortunate because this movie will put a smudge on any attempt at "future evolution" pictures of the future. Will Smith should have put down Dianetics, hired some real paleontologists/evolutionary biologists, gave the critters the necessary time to evolve into cool stuff, and dropped the annoying non-accent he uses. And also kept his damn son out of the movie- and all future movies. Go read this blog post by Brian Switek about other repeated evolutionary mistakes in film.

With After Earth we now complete the trifecta of Scientology backed films that tanked. First was Travolta's Battlefield Earth- often referred to as one of the worst movies ever- which had some definite scientology leanings. Second was Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages- horrible, horrible, horrible- no real scientology subscript but Cruise is like some kind of demigod in that religion so whenever he fails it is good for humanity. And finally rounding out the trifecta of crap is After Earth- with its "Danger is real, Fear is a choice" tagline- a definite subscript of scientology.

I now imagine some poor scientologist who got audited by the ORG and falls short of expectations. Then he/she gets sent to the dungeon (this actually exists!). Playing on loop will be Battlefield Earth, Rock of Ages, and After Earth. The horror, the horror.


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