So one of the movies I watched today for the time-travel book was 2035 FORBIDDEN DIMENSIONS (2014) in which a time-traveling twentysomething from 1998 finds himself hurled into the dystopian future of 2035, when an evil scientist’s xenobiological anti-aging serum has led to such horrible mutations civilization has collapsed. Can the protagonist figure out how to save the day and avert the timeline?
The movie was not good. All the actors, for instance, seem to be below the level of my high-school theater class, and some of the special effects are laughable (the mutant faces, in fairness, are quite mutated). The ending makes no sense—apparently auteur Chris J. Miller is planning on a trilogy, but it didn’t work as a cliffhanger. But what really struck me were the visuals.
Miller is clearly big on the look of the film. There are several minutes mid-film which do nothing but show off what passes for civilization in the post-collapse wastelands. There are also heavy psychedelics in some of the time-travel bits, though not as over the top as Hyperfutura. So I’m presuming Miller’s hoping to impress us with his visual style … but he doesn’t have much. The future wasteland is just watered down Mad Max and the acid-trip aspects were done better in the 1970s (I’ve seen several). So I’m unimpressed.
As a general rule, if we want to impress our audience (readers, listeners, viewers) we have to be impressive (I know, that sounds like a tautology). If we want to wow readers with literary style or beautiful word pictures, they have to be stylish or beautiful. If we want to offer a grippingly real portrait of the World of Today, we have to be able to describe the world vividly. If we’re going to offer “a moving exploration of love” (I see that and similar sentiments on book jackets a lot), we’d better have something good to say on the subject.
I’m a firm believer in stretching ourselves, pushing our limits, swinging for the bleachers, etc. At the same time, trying to do something we’re simply not good at or trying to cover up our faults with razzle-dazzle doesn’t go anywhere good (BabaYagas, for instance, had absolutely nothing interesting to say about love, despite the book jacket). Which is not to say Miller was trying to do that — he may feel the rest of the film is great and the visuals are just icing on the cake.
I must confess that I disagree.