Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fantastic Without Action?

A lot of science-fiction and fantasy films, television shows and other creative mediums are hinged heavily upon action, a lot of these are very good but a lot are very bad. The above picture is obviously from the classic kick ass science fiction action movie Predator, which can easily fall into the category of a simple action flick. However, I've always thought the movie had some deeper themes, it's a film with fatalistic themes and calls into questions mans place not only in his own world, but existence in general.

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have science fiction and fantasy works (mostly sci-fi from my experience) that effectively tell there story with a minimal amount of action, works like 2001 and Solaris.

To what degree can stories in fantastic settings be effective with a minimal amount of action, or none at all? What is the perfect balance? These are questions I've asked myself when considering my own work. My work would fall into the sci-fi/fantasy category though I try not to limit myself, I just throw in whatever I think works. My work needs to have action, but I hate writing it...not because I find it outright boring but because I find it difficult to do without being cliche or utterly ridiculous. I suppose I want the action in my work to be meaningful, so I try to use it sparingly. Though to be honest I've found myself at times throwing in unnecessary action...mostly because I'm thinking about how to satisfy readers as opposed to myself. So, I suppose, what I'm trying to say is that I need to write for myself first and foremost...hopefully things will fall into place after that!


  1. I had a huge problem with Alien Vs Predator, the humans were such pansies, so terrified and yet they won over the dominant and super awesome Predator???!!!

    My thoughts were, couldn't it have been Alien Vs Predator Vs The Rock? Hmmm?

    And I hear you on the gratuitous action front. I think a 'balls to the wall' story is a hard thing to accomplish with honesty, but not impossible. We want to have our audience in a constant state of arousal, without ever thinking to themselves 'Gee that's a bit over the top'.

    But I have faith in you!

  2. The problem with the original Aliens VS Predator movie was they went all Hollywood on it. The original comic series was awesome and I wish they used that story which was more in depth and there was more interactions with the humans and they also played a key role.

    The problem with action movies today is that people's attention span can not hold up and people want things now and start thinking about the next big thing. This is the too fast too furious syndrome as I will call it.

    I love classic movies where you actually feel for the character and the story, today its all about special effects and how much stuff we can blow up in a 2 hour time frame.

  3. I like Predator 1 & 2...not so much the others. However, I'm looking forward to the new "Predators" movie.

  4. Predator is good on a deeper, non-action level, but it requires some reading between the lines and some imagination on the part of the viewer. I think movies like it are good because they may expose some action-fans to sci-fi... plus sci-fi and fantasy settings allow for some awesomely epic combat - versus aliens, monsters, dragons, demons, robots, gods, etc.

    I don't think you should add action just to appease readers. It should only be used realistically when tensions are too high. Or - if you want to be like Lost - whenever you need to knock someone out so they're gone from a scene or don't remember something.