When three writers get together, they inevitably have to make a trilogy. But when three movie critics get in a room, they start bitching about cliches. That in mind, we decided to give a shot at doing a trilogy of cliches movies should avoid, or else be worthy of our notice. That said, welcome to our heady introductory chapter, written by avowed Sci-Fi nerd, John Higgins.
Sci-Fi is an interesting Genre. When it's good, it can be entertaining and thought provoking. But when it fails, it will most likely be fall on the floor stupid. The danger stems from writers not avoiding several pitfalls that can drag your script down into our mocking hands. Since so much crap has been coming out lately, we felt that it would be best if we put together a helpful list for those screenwriters press-ganged into drafting the next summer's onslaught of blockbusters, which will surely be pretty, but like a bad date, pretty will only get you through the first hour.
1) The Puny Human Fallacy, or the PHF is a mistake races from the across the stars tend to make, especially when dealing with Americans. Usually, they'll land, tell the people of Earth that they are superior to us in every way and demand surrender or water or cheese or what ever they are lacking. Problem is, if they're a superior race, why don't they just obliterate us without asking? If they give up the element of surprise so they can lord their high and mightiness over us, we're only going to take the opportunity to defeat the aliens.
Usually with A Mac.
Worst Offender: Stargate - The emperor character, who surrounds himself with human-shield children at all times, is absolutely certain he can wipe out the human race even after he meets the consummate bad-ass that is Kurt Russel.
Speaking of defeating aliens with the monstrously mighty Macintosh, that leads us straight into:
2) The Disc Operating System of Humanity Paradox: No matter where an alien intelligence comes from, humans will inevitably crack their programming methods given how much time is dramatically appropriate. Usually, we start this in the 50's after swiping computers from a downed alien space craft, or in 20 minutes with the help of a savant who only drinks grape soda.
Worst Offender: Independence Day - Jeff Goldblum hax0rs the Alien's b0x0r with what appears to be an early generation Mac Book. It helps that he has Will Smith before Will Smith could act outside of "Daaaaayum," and "Ah heeelll nah."
3) The Time Traveler I Wouldn't Trust With a Toaster involves people with no concept of time travel being sent back in time. The character sent back in time either has no clue of how dangerous it is go back in time, and often time end up making things much worse, usually while trying to save a loved one.
4) The Greatest Scientific Discovery In History. This happens so much in sci-fi it's probably why people are afraid to get vaccinated against H1N1. Somebody finds something, a substance, a creature or something, and despite the clear danger presented, they have their eye on the Nobel Prize, or more cynically-dollar signs. Leading them to attempt to bring back a sample in some capacity, usually to the detriment of everyone else in the picture.
Worst Offender: Aliens . Paul Reiser sees the xenomorphs and thinks, "that's a hell of a weapon!" and tries to bring one back. This despite their kind having just wiped out an entire human colony. This, of course, is a running theme throughout the whole franchise, proving yet again that multi-national mega-corporations of the future obviously became that powerful by making the same mistake over and over until they stopped getting killed.
5) Our Weapons Are Useless Against Them is probably the most irritating out of all these, since it immediately opens the door for Deus Ex Machina. The invading hordes of Grey-skinned marauders melt the White House, the Eiffel tower and any other landmark you can think of, humanity is on the run, there is no hope! Then they get the sniffles and the movie ends.
Worst Offender: War of the Worlds - Okay, so this was the first movie to actually do this, and it was a fair twist. But now it's like everything in the entire movie between first ship touchdown to when the first Alien keels over from syphilis is filler.