Movie Review: Arrival (2016)

by Brad Nelson3/11/17
Let me first off say that this movie passes the Tarzwell Rule which is “Good enough to sit down and watch for light entertainment and a bowl of popcorn.” Pat, we’re indebted to you for this insight. But does this cosmic-surfboard-comes-to-earth movie stand up to its high reputation?

Only if monkeys come flying out of my…Betamax. This review will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned. But can a rotten egg really be spoiled by setting it on the sidewalk for all to see?

Twelve alien ships (that look like elongated eggs from the first view you get of them) come to earth and hover just above the ground across the globe, seemingly in random locations. There’s one is America. One in China. A couple in Africa. You get the picture. The setup to the movie is okay. In fact, although this could be called the first major estrogen-laced sci-fi movie of any note (it’s more about “feelings” than fighting), the slow buildup up to, and just past, the point that you actually see the aliens makes for a good movie.

And then it all becomes implausible and the plot falls back upon horrid cliches. And the time-travel gimmick at the end is bolted on, but it at least keeps estrogen levels high. There’s lots of “feeling” and “relationshipping” in this movie. And, to be fair (as our Timothy would say), I’ve had it up to  here with many testosterone-laced sci-fi flicks that are full of mindless shooting.

Arrival errs on the side of estrogen. There’s hugging and girlish flashbacks and soft-focus memories and regret and about 1000 cc’s of estrogen altogether. Okay, I’ll admit aspects of this are refreshing compared to so many of the mindless male-dominated shoot-em-ups that pass for entertainment. I don’t mind different.

And this might have held together as a movie if it had delved more into the translation of the alien language, and the investigation of their intent. The movie certainly gives all indication that you will get, well, if not a Sherlock Holmesian (perhaps Nancy Drewian is more apt) extrication and elaboration of the mystery, at least a fairly detailed and sensible one.

But the first half of the movie all goes away as then bits and pieces of numerous previous sci-fi flicks and cliches are thrown in as patchwork. A shame. Given the general dumbing-down of our culture and its tastes, you could consider Arrival as a decent enough movie, graded on the idiot curve. And it certainly had potential. And if you like soaking in estrogen instead of lead, it may be your kind of movie.

But it’s another failed attempt at telling what could have been an interesting story. What indeed if aliens came to earth, and not to blast us but to give us something useful? And what if we first had to learn to communicate with them? Well, what we got was stupid aliens who made no attempt whatsoever to prepare for smoothing over this interaction. They just stand behind glass and blow weird-looking smoke rings.

This is the kind of movie that will kill you if you think about it and expect it to make even a vague bit of sense. But because more and more people can’t tell sense from nonsense . . . well, no wonder the generally high ratings for this movie. But by all means, if you are a sci-fi fan as I am, watch it once. And then erase it from your memory.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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51 Responses to Movie Review: Arrival (2016)

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The basic idea was certainly reasonable, and hardly new. (For a reasonably masculine of a friendly first contact with aliens, the classic example if Murray Leinster’s “First Contact”.)

    Not surprisingly, I never read any Nancy Drew (though Elizabeth did). I did read some Hardy Boys books that my late cousin Bradley owned. (I usually roomed with him on our trips to the family complex in Sweeden, Kentucky.) I also saw the two they did on The Mickey Mouse Club, one of which I had a nice theme song I wish I could remember more of. (“A chest of gold and pieces of eight, handed down to Applegate.”)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Hard as it may be for some to believe, I do not think movies are reality nor need to stick completely to reality. But bits of stupid where stupid need not be will mar any film.

      The first sign that this movie was not going to be a classic was when Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) comes calling on Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to enlist her aid in learning to communicate with the aliens. He plays her a short recording of some alien sounds. Banks still has top-secret clearance from earlier work she had done for the military and is considered the top cunning linguist in the land.

      So, here you have a situation not unlike when the Vatican in Angels & Demons called upon the world expert, Tom Hanks, to solve one of their problems. Banks listens to the recording and then tells Colonel Weber that she’d have to work directly with the aliens in order to have any chance at learning their language.

      Whitaker balks and makes some lame-ass excuse about not every PhD can crowd round the cordoned off security area to view the aliens. He says you either agree to my terms or I walk. Banks, quite logically, sticks to her guns and insists that the can’t possible do the job via second-hand tape recordings.

      Enter stupid into this movie and it’s peppered throughout. But the point where the movie soured and changed gears from engaging mystery to run-of-the-mill sci-fi cliche was when they totally abandoned the process of trying to figure out their language. It was intriguing for a while when Banks finally thought of trying to show English words to the aliens instead of speaking or signing. The aliens responded to one of the words written on her chock-board by blowing a black smoke ring (of sorts) that coalesced onto the glass and formed a rough, ink-blot-like circular symbol. It’s rather nifty how the aliens did this.

      Instead of pursuing this bit by bit (think “Alien Mine”) whereby the two races slowly reach an understanding, you are fast-forwarded with back-fill dialogue announcing that it was discovered (how?) that the alien spoken language was in no way consistent with their written language. (How this could be known without first knowing a great deal about each is never resolved.) Another fast-forward is committed whereby dozens, if not hundreds, of symbols are somehow translated into English words. Again, how this is done is only superficially dealt with. The entire first premise of the movie is thus washed away, to quickly be replaced by tired cliches of the Chinese rattling sabers, a contingent of the American military (somehow…again) planting a bomb inside the alien spaceship, and other blasé cliches — all with the gag-worth backdrop of “can’t we just all get along” as the solution to the problem. (Again, didn’t the aliens foresee a problem in mysteriously showing up on Earth’s doorstep…12 different doorsteps in all…without even the barest intimation of intent?)

      And, frankly, by the time the purpose of the aliens is known, I have to admit, I really didn’t get it at first and still don’t. But the aliens (whose language allows them to somehow see into the future…merely the use of the language allows this…dumb premise, I know) say they will need our help in 3000 years. And maybe I just dozed off. But I don’t know what their “gift” was other than allowing Banks to see into the future.

      See once and forget. This is that kind of movie. But what saddens me is that just the barest effort at an attention to detail could have turned a cliche into a classic. But you have to figure there are a lot of movie executives and writers who go by the adage, “Never overestimate the intelligence of the public.”

      Also, all of the actors in this were bland, if at least serviceable. But I’ll at least give them credit for not being walking cliches themselves although most of the plot was. I suppose when all is said and done, even bland is preferable to stupid.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        An excellent look at the difficulties of translating an alien language can be found in the H. Beam Piper classic “Omnilingual”. Another interesting look at the subject can be found in Randall Garrett’s “The Best Policy”, about an interrogation by aliens.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I downloaded the Kindle sample of Omnilingual.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I read “Omnilingual” last night. It can be found here.

          It’s an interesting short story. The gratuitous squabbling over getting academic credit by one of the characters takes time away from the more interesting aspects. The overall point of the story is: How can you ever translate a language if you have no Rosetta Stone to compare it to? Even with the Rosetta Stone, it took quite some time to translate Egyptian hieroglyphics.

          This story answers that on the last page by noting that it will be easier to deduce the meaning of a completely foreign language if the culture is a highly scientific one. The ultimate moment of this story comes when they open a 50,000 year old derelict building that they determine was some kind of college or school. In what looks to be a science classroom because of the art on the walls, they find (on one of the walls) what appears to be a periodic table of the elements and thus deduce the Martian words for the numbers and probably even the word for “year.”

          The story needlessly gets sidetracked on noting the lifeforms still living there now, particular at lower altitudes. A better story would have flowed by focusing on the dead aliens and their dust-covered civilization and letting the planet remain ghostly lonely, barren, and quite dead. But then you realize how very difficult it is to write a short story or novella such as this. The amount of knowledge and research you need to do it right is enormous. Some of the best parts are when there is an academic discussion about how some of the “lost” languages of Earth were translated via various means (sometimes having nothing but the word “king” known beforehand).

          So I’m not damning with faint praise. But I realized in reading this just how much knowledge and research it takes to make a story such as this interesting. Had this been expanded into a full novel, it would have been a wonderful way to school us in archeology and in the ins-and-outs of language in an interesting and entertaining way. As it was, it was just a way to whet your appetite for such a full-length novel.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          FYI, I found Randall Garrett’s “The Best Policy” in an online pdf here.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Although most of these stories are in the public domain (you can find them here), I decided for the sake of convenience to purchase this The Randall Garret Megapack which includes 25 short stories.

          Garrett, from the three short stories I’ve read so far, has a snarky style. I generally like that if done well. None of the stories that I’ve read so far are in any way memorable — Belly Laugh, Heist Job on Thizar, and The Man Who Hated Mars — but they are brisk reads with a bit of sardonic fun to them.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    I made the mistake of seeing this when it came out. It is disappointing SF and even more disappointing as a movie. The characters are stock, with no interesting motivations that make the viewer interested in how they fare. Frankly, the aliens have more class. However, that aside the big turn off for me was the undercurrent of one worldness and political correctness that runs through the entire movie. I guess the special effects were ok, but after two hours of PC I was wishing for the aliens to nuke the entire planet for having no intelligent life.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The characters are stock, with no interesting motivations that make the viewer interested in how they fare.

      Steve, that jibes with my assessment of the bland characters…whose only plus is that they weren’t roaring cliches.

      However, that aside the big turn off for me was the undercurrent of one worldness and political correctness that runs through the entire movie.

      Yes. The point of the movie (not played out in any satisfactory or significant way in the actual plot) was that if we all just kicked our heals together and wished for one-world government, all would be well.

      This could have been a sci-fi thriller with balls. What if the mystery had remained more of a mystery? What if we were shown other teams around the globe who were, in the Hindu or Buddhist analogy, the various blind men all touching parts of an elephant and describing an entirely different beast?

      This happens only in third-party mode where instead of acting it out (supposedly what movies are for) we get dialogue that tells us that such-and-such team in China has found this out and another team has found something else. But no details and certainly the movie introduces no other characters that we care about.

      But what if we followed one team (or several) whose suspicions were (from their point of view) ratified that the purpose of the aliens was to set us one against another until the strongest would become the world leader…to whom the aliens would then initiate contact? Again, the purpose of a movie is to act out or flesh out these scenarios, not just tell of them in passing by third-party dialogue as so often happened in this one. The most interesting aspects of the aliens were telegraphed in this way as bland asides while the movie spent much of its time in idiotic “tender” flashbacks (flash-forwards, as we later learn).

      And the aliens’ technology, which could hover Trump-tower sized things off the ground without emitting any kind of electronic signature, was highly selective. Even we have bomb-sniffing devices and x-ray machines. But the rogue American soldiers (and, again, this happens as more of a third-party, off-camera affair instead of delving into their worries and motivations) are able to plant a bomb on the alien spaceship which then apparently kills either Abbot or Costello. I forget which, and no one really cares unless you cried when the tree fell in “Avatar.”

      But like I said, understood as an exercise in estrogen wherein “feelings” and “fuzzy fond memories” and “relationships” are paramount, the movie works. But as sci-fi, it is another sign of our artless, vapid, stupid culture.

      One humorous thing (at least to me, in the odd way this culture is barren and bizarre) I note from reading the reviews at IMDB is that people were highly offended that the main estrogen enhancer (Louise Banks) would still wish to have her daughter even though she knows she will die fairly early in life from an illness. To me, as far as estrogen goes, this was where this “looking ahead” motif actually had a point. She was devastated (in what we learn later are flash-forward memories not flash-back memories) by her daughter’s death. But she was still willing to have that child in order to have the main good aspects of that life. Noxious, materialist, no doubt atheistic-Marxist-infected reviewers at IMDB (and I ran across this opinion at least three times) thought it outright monstrous that she would bring a life into this world that would then be snuffed out at (I’m guessing from what I remember) at the age of 20 or so.

      Anyway, this was a case where the estrogen worked in spite of itself. And the testosterone of the Chinese and the rogue American soldiers was just stupid. Oh…it might have worked if we had met these characters and they weren’t just products of third-party dialogue. But then that would have taken away from the time spent wallowing in fast-forward estrogenic soft-focus memories.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        If you want a spectacular example of a well-done politically correct movie, try Starman sometime. (They made a TV series out of it, and I have no idea if this also applies there.) It’s well done and has many good points (the aliens observations about driving are most amusing). But every character, major or minor, comes off exactly as you would expect from somebody who sees everyone in politically correct terms. It might as well be “Four legs good, two legs bad”, except that the rules are more complex.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I tried watching “Starman” several years ago when it came up on free TV. I just couldn’t take the portrayal by Jeff Bridges. It was too smarmy. Maybe I should have stuck with it. Perhaps it was because of this element, as described by a reviewer:

          I have go tired of the film world’s cliché of (1) -having lovable aliens (2) – that are always light years ahead of us earthlings in knowledge and (3) we want to destroy them. Gosh, we are such bad people! No wonder Hollywood and other filmmakers around the world have such a hard time coming up with original material. This sort of sci-fi nonsense was (and still is) beaten to death by everyone from Steven Spielberg to John Carpenter (with this film) to Joe Dokes making his home video down the street.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          LOL. This wasn’t in the realm of “so bad it’s good,” although there was a little of that. But the problem was that the movie bailed on its central aspect…the methods and intrigue in regards to understanding an alien culture whose intent is unknown. These squid-like creatures remain blandly unknown while we’re fed the stupid premise that the peculiarities of a language would allow one to see the future.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The one and only substantive aspect of this movie — and it’s barely a footnote at the end — is: Would you live your life over again the same way if you knew the painful aspects to come?

    Obviously, and sadly, this is answered in the negative every day. According to WHO data from 2012, there are 1.5 suicides every minute, on average, in the world at large. Many do not think that their present life is worth living.

    In the case of estrogen-laced Louise Banks — who loses a daughter at an early age as well as having a marriage go bad — the answer is in the affirmative. And I’m not going to suggest that there is a right answer to this question. Life isn’t offered to anyone on these terms, although surely many parents have lost a first child (perhaps in childbirth or in the very first years) and still decided to risk having another.

    We humans, of course, would always like to tinker with choices. But what if it was all or nothing? Would you have married that person taking in the balance of the good and the bad? Would you have had that child? Would you have taken that job? Would you have watched that mediocre sci-fi film? (Yes, in my case.)

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s easy to imagine people for whom life is increasingly a burden. I feel that way myself sometimes, and I know it could be worse. Elizabeth has occasionally hoped not to wake up in the morning herself. At present, her main reason for living may be me, just as my main reason for living is her. But for a while it looked like that wouldn’t be the case. Of course, another difficulty with committing suicide is that the decision is so irrevocable. If it turns out to be a bad decision, it’s too late to do anything about it.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        It’s easy to imagine people for whom life is increasingly a burden. I feel that way myself sometimes, and I know it could be worse. Elizabeth has occasionally hoped not to wake up in the morning herself.

        I sympathize and I realize that such thoughts are not at all uncommon. I have my moments where the idea of just passing off into peaceful sleep and leaving the world’s troubles behind is a welcome thought.

        This is by no means an anti-suicide rant. I’m sure there are plenty of cases where it makes sense. But by and large, our duty is to live another day, find some roses to stop and smell, deal with the crud, and find a reason to thank the Creator for whatever time we have, no matter how painful that time often is.

        Again, my heart goes out to people who are faced with serious pain and illness for whom suicide is not just a theoretical idea but a practical one. But we should probably reserve some scorn for those who take “the easy way out” . . . for instance, if they’ve just lost a fortune on Wall Street.

        I’m sure plenty of theists have killed themselves over the years, but it’s of course obvious that if your creed is materialism (broken up into its constituent parts of fame, financial success, power, sexual conquest, esteem…aka 24/7 happiness, control, etc.) what is there but to off yourself if you have no hope of fulfilling those desires or, once fulfilled, you apparently lose them irrevocably?

      • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

        I can relate. Although I am usually hoping to wake up and find this was just a dream.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Would you live your life over again the same way if you knew the painful aspects to come?

      Such musings are only useful if they lead to some self-knowledge. As I have written, they don’t always result in this.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Self-knowledge is probably a good thing. And the bounds of real life consist of tighter constraints than sci-fi movies. But if faced with a binary decision, would we choose what we have already lived?

        I certainly think the “no regrets” idea has become such a cliche. People commonly do plenty of destructive and stupid things. But when Oprah asks them, “Do you have any regrets?” They say, “None.”

        This is, of course, a social device. Do not admit weakness or mistakes in public. And the public is potentially an enemy if your currency is fame.

        But who doesn’t have regrets? Who wouldn’t change a few things if they could?

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          But if faced with a binary decision, would we choose what we have already lived?

          When such thoughts cross one’s mind, I would simply point out one of Kung Fu Zu’s philosophical tenets, to wit:

          “No matter how bad things are, they could always be a damn sight worse.”

          The wisdom to be taken from this thought is, “be happy, or at least content.” Also, be careful what you wish for.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I don’t know. Seems kind of odd. If things aren’t going better for you, shouldn’t you be blaming white, male, heterosexual Christians? Get with the Zeitgeist, Mr. Kung.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I know I am somewhat archaic.

              Be that as it may, let me, foolishly, expand on my thoughts.

              The above tenet only applies in the sense that one cannot change one’s situation for the better, in the sense of: (here it comes another Kung tenet)

              “If you don’t like who you are, change. If you can’t change, learn to live with yourself.”

              Of course one could substitute “who you are” with “your present situation.”

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                It’s funny because a lot of overwrought, impressionable, pansified people have done just that . . . in this case by changing their “gender.”

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                in this case by changing their “gender.”

                I thought of this as I wrote my bit. I also thought about the suicide rate of “trans-sexuals” i.e. people who have had a sex-change operation. I blv I heard somewhere that the suicide rate of such people is about 40%. If this is so, many have clearly not learned to live with themselves.

                As to those who are now claiming to be “trans-gender”, I think most are simply trying to spread their unhappiness to the rest of society.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            One advantage of knowing the people we do is that, most of the time, these include people who are worse off. My sister may be healthier in many ways, but she also has the family curse (deterioration of the cerebellum); a friend is missing much of his right leg (and the front part of his left foot) due to diabetic neuropathy resulting in undetected sores; and most of our friends are diabetic to some degree. Who’s worse off and who’s better off?

  4. Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

    Does it get any better than Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think Close Encounters works as a movie. The plot of it makes much more sense. We can imagine that aliens would be so foreign to us that the only way to make contact would be through extraordinary means.

      And you’ve got characters/actors such a Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr. Arrival has zero personality or charisma.

      The reason I watched Arrival is because I ran across a short positive mention of it an article about something else. The author thought expressed in Arrival is a loneliness by mankind (and presumably movie watchers as well).

      Perhaps. But for me you don’t have to look that far for an explanation. Aliens are this secular-atheistic culture’s form of God. Now, it’s quite true that they can often be wrathful gods, perhaps even paying us back for our environmental destruction or other social sins.

      And even if they’re not trying to kill us or conquer us, the aliens are always highly advanced in the way that means most to moderns — that is, technologically advanced (and high technology is supposed to inevitably lead us to a higher morality as well…onward and upward, things always progressing for the better).

      Aliens in movies expresses this materialist culture’s yearning for God. These aliens can fix everything. Or, as in Close Encounters, they will take us to utopian realms above.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It has been noted that a primitive culture in contact with a more advanced one will eventually collapse for one reason or another. We see this to a great extent with the American Indians.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m sure that’s happened often. And yet it’s true that a primitive culture can “collapse” with little or no ill effect…if they can adapt to the new one. As modern Westerns, we sort of live in a culture of change, the old culture being replaced by the new one, sometimes quite rapidly but usually gradually. Change is the norm. There are constants, yes, but if real estate suddenly opened up on the moon, or in Earth orbit, at a reasonable price, this culture would have little or no trouble adapting to that.

          Think about how radically the culture (particularly technologically) changed for our grandparents and great-grandparents. They went from the ancient horse-and-buggy to jetliners, computers, and atomic energy. Although arguably the social and political systems still more or less anchored people in the same culture, the change was still radical.

          There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to being a tribal people. One of the disadvantages may be the inability to rapidly adapt. And, of course, in many cases primitive cultures were not allowed to adapt. They were not wanted and shunted to the side, if not sometime eradicated.

          Many bad (never seen a good one with this theme) sci-fi movies are based on the premise of high (or at least powerful) alien cultures coming to earth in order to take advantage of its resources. The distance between the cultures is so great it’s analogous to rabbits objecting to humans planting new crops where their burrows used to be.

          One of the best aliens-come-to-earth films is the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” It’s somewhat primitive by today’s standards but also very thoughtful by today’s dumbed-down standards. It’s a very Star Trekian theme as well in regards to a higher order in the universe. The galaxy has become more or less civilized (perhaps totalitarian, but that’s a story not quite told) and Earthlings are being told to get with the plan or be exterminated. This is pretty much why you’d never want to give the U.N. too much power.

          And, of course, this movie either launched or was one of the best examples of the theme of “Dumb, violent, xenophobic humans.” Not that this element doesn’t exist in real life. But this theme marred “Arrival” because of the particularly gratuitous and stupid way it was thrown in (the soldiers smuggling a bomb onto the alien ship). (This theme was taken to masturbatory self-loathing heights in the movie, “Avatar.”) “In the case of “Earth Stood Still,” . . . well . . . the idiot Klaatu sort of had it coming. If you’re surrounded by a bunch of hair-trigger military guys, don’t reach quickly into your vest pocket.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            One of the best aliens-come-to-earth films is the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

            Probably, my favorite SciFi film. “Klaatu barada nikto.”

            The original Gort had it all over that Keanu Reeves copy.

            The galaxy has become more or less civilized (perhaps totalitarian, but that’s a story not quite told) and Earthlings are being told to get with the plan or be exterminated.

            Klaatu’s final message wasn’t too friendly. Typical tyrant-like behavior. Iron fist in velvet glove.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I don’t know that I saw the sequel. The fact is, I may have. But I have this rare ability to willfully erase schlock from my memory.

              Even though I enjoyed watching “Arrival” for what it was, it will soon fade from memory. And that’s always what I’m looking for, something iconic, special, artful, meaningful, or just plain well done about a movie. Although “Arrival” is by no means a bore, and I think most people will enjoy it for what it is, there is nothing particularly well done about it. This is not a movie I would ever watch again.

              Come to think of it, maybe the federation that Klaatu represented was some kind of evolved and slightly civilized remnant of The Borg collective.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            The Day the Earth Stood Still was based on the SF story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates. One important point at the end is that the actual master is Gort, not Klaatu.

            The National Enquirer once had some article about members of both houses of Congress that were actually aliens. The spokesman for Phil Gramm (one of those so accused), said the Senator’s only response was “Klaatu barada nicto.” I also recall that when the Coneheads played Scrabble once, one of the words they used was “Klatu”.

            The sort of interstellar dictatorship, enforced by machines (hopefully not Fred Saberhagen’s Berserkers) would naturally appeal to the leftist mind.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              A sobering thought that, on the galactic scale, we might be the Detroit of planets.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                If we let the UN run things we will be. Mr. Spock would probably find that highly illogical (though Leonard Nimoy might be another matter).

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                One of the interesting aspects of the Left is the notion of “diversity.” Contrary to the superficial prima facie meaning of “diversity,” their overall belief is that less diversity in government is a good thing. The monolithic state will somehow magically solve all our problems if only by the mystical presence of “unity.”

                Running parallel with this is the secular/scientific/materialist (even transhumanist) notion that hi-tech (in particular, intelligent computers) will somehow magically solve our problems. Slow-witted reactionaries such as you and me are holding onto old dogmas and “divisive” morality which themselves are said to be responsible for our problems in the first place. Morality itself will somehow be transcended when we are governed by a super state of Super Progressives fueled by the “reason”-based enterprise of science as then articulated via more advanced AI computers. Mere political and scientific “enlightenment” will make all difficult moral questions completely solvable.

                Libertarianism has much in common with this creed. The idea is that anything that you or I call a need for making moral choices is written off as false choices or some wafer-thin catch-all slogan (non-coercion) is substituted.

                Me thinks that Nimoy is an idiot and Spock would have known better. There are Klingons out there.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Nimoy died a few years ago, so “was ” is now the right verb, not “is”

                One similarity between liberalism and libertarianism is that both are what I call absolute ideologies. They have no room for any degree of pragmatism (unlike conservatism).

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                One of the interesting aspects of the Left is the notion of “diversity.”

                This is, and always has been, a ruse. What the Left hopes to achieve by “diversity” is, in truth, fragmentation of a society and culture.

                The left in America first attacked WASPs, because the country was more or less founded by Anglo-Saxons who were mostly protestants. I believe W.E.B. Du Bois mentions the “cult of the Anglo-Saxon”, in less that glowing terms.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                One similarity between liberalism and libertarianism is that both are what I call absolute ideologies. They have no room for any degree of pragmatism (unlike conservatism).

                They do not admit that life is very complicated and requires some amount of in-depth judgement, now and again. Not just slogans.

      • David N. says:

        “Aliens are this secular-atheistic culture’s form of God.”

        The last three paragraphs you wrote about this idea are spot on Brad.

        Aliens created us, will save us, will enslave us, will gift us with the technology needed to make ourselves into gods. Our belief in God is superfluous, archaic, and superstitious. There is no ‘God’

        So then who created the aliens?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Note that Star Trek frequently dealt with aliens with god-like powers (at least compared to humanity) — e.g., “The Corbomite Maneuver”.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          David, I was just watching some Sunday morning Leftist propaganda (what they now call “children’s programming”) on an over-the-air station. Apparently secular loony-toon Stephen Hawking, along with a 100 million dollar contribution from some billionaire libtard, are expanding a SETI search for ET.

          I have no problem with the idea of this universe being chalk-full of life. And they may even find something. Who knows? But the basis of the search was the magic of the material. Expressed in the search was the idea that “all it takes is water” to form life. There is zero reason to believe this. Liquid water, as far as we know, is necessary but not sufficient for life.

          I have mixed feelings on such a search because I know the premises on which the search is based are faulty (that mere chance alone almost assures that life will be found because life itself is only a function of chance). But I also would not artificially restrict the process (likely a designer of some kind) to Earth alone.

          Materialism has become kind of a stupid and destructive religion. Religion, of course, can become destructive as well as we see in the death cult of Islam. What scientism (materialism, atheism, etc.) fails to acknowledge is that material itself remains utterly mysterious. David Klinghoffer has a short, but relevant, article on the subject.

          At the end of the day, atheists/materialists have basically turned matter into a magical property. It can do anything given enough time. One of the profound understandings brought by Judeo-Christianity is the difference between the design and the Designer. It is not in the least creepy, sacrilegious, or inappropriate to appreciate and revere nature, matter, the laws of physics, etc. They are wonders, mysterious and powerful. But to worship them as magical self-creating things shows that atheism isn’t the absence of God. It’s simply the diffusion of God’s powers into various secularized and sanitized (to the “scientific” mind) forms. That is, this is a bad philosophy propagated by people who need to lie to themselves and others.

          Indeed. So then who created the aliens?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Even liquid water may not be absolutely essential, though there will probably need to be something that has a very similar effect. The late Hal Clement (famous for his exotic, but well-researched, concepts of aliens) had a novel (Iceworld) that featured aliens from a planet far too hot for liquid water. (His most famous such novel is the superb SF mystery Needle).

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Given some microbes that can live in boiling (or near-boiling) water, we should keep an open mind regarding the bare essentials for life. But merely having the right ingredients lying around is not sufficient to creating life any more than setting eggs, flour, salt, sugar, butter, and baking soda on the kitchen counter are to making a cake.

              But such a view is required of atheistic Darwinism. It is just assumed that the materials themselves are sufficient given enough time. Recent discoveries, particularly delving into the probabilities of complex random (and useful) proteins arising by chance alone, have made this view less substantive than a fairy tale. But it’s a fairy tale that materialist-atheistic thumb-suckers need to repeat to themselves often.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Incidentally, it seems that a group of people calling themselves scientists are going to be marching in the “March for Science”. and they’re unhappy that Bill Nye will be leading. Are they unhappy that Nye is less of a scientist than I am (he’s a an engineer, whereas my college degree is actually in Computer Science)? Of course not. Are they unhappy at his global warming cultism? Again, of course not.

                No, what they’re unhappy about is that he’s . . . an elderly white male. And that, these pretend scientists fear, feeds into a stereotype of scientists. Maybe they can try to reincarnate Marie Curie. That’s as scientific as most modern science — and she might even be able to teach them a little about actual science (if they’re able to learn, which I doubt).

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Everyone knows the law of pissing, right? (I’m not sure if it’s the same for women.) It was featured in “Dumb and Dumber” when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) pees into a beer bottle inside the car rather than stop (they’re in a hurry to get to Aspen). He fills one bottle and then asks Harry (Jeff Daniels) to give him another, and quick. Harry asks something like, “Can’t you just hold it a minute?” And Lloyd pronounces the first law of pissing: Once you start, you can’t stop.

                I wonder about this in terms of racism pointed at whites. It’s deemed noble, part of the whole “social justice” shtick. And white people (stupid white people) gladly anoint themselves with this piss-stream of white guilt (better called “racism against whites”) in order to redeem themselves from the sin of “white privilege” and other alleged crimes.

                But once the Left starts pissing this stuff, is there any turning it off? I don’t think there is. And I think we’re seeing the truth that even the Dumb-and-Dumber realized long ago.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            But the basis of the search was the magic of the material. Expressed in the search was the idea that “all it takes is water” to form life. There is zero reason to believe this. Liquid water, as far as we know, is necessary but not sufficient for life.

            I have always wondered at this claim, which is, to my mind, false. If those who make the claim would add four simple words it might be correct. Those words are “as we know it.”

            Of course, I am not a scientist, but given the wonders of the universe, who are we to say that life of some sort could not exist without water? Naturally, it would be completely different from what we understand as life, but who knows?

  5. pst4usa says:

    You’re welcome Brad. Thank God you guys have way too much time on your hands, I love, (on an all too infrequent basis), reading the musings and banter.

  6. David N. says:

    I tried to like this movie, but it seemed based on but a single note to me, and never captured my imagination. Although I like Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker as actors a great deal, all the characters in this film were one dimensional, and I was left feeling indifferent and disinterested about any of them by the end of the film.

    I still don’t understand why IMDB rated it as an 8.0. Was it because of a diverse cast? A female lead? A French Canadian director? I’m glad I rented it from the library instead of seeing it at theater expense.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      all the characters in this film were one dimensional

      I absolutely agree, David. The scary thing to consider is sort of an Obama-ish “This is what America looks like.” There are many Americans who probably positively saw themselves (or were otherwise entertained) by this assortment of plain vanilla characters (which is to take an unfair stab at vanilla because that is a truly wonderful flavor).

      IMDB ratings, of course, are a joke and have become an inverse rating of the lack of taste by modern movie-goers. Still, this was a movie that could have salvaged itself had it stayed on the theme of “the difficulty and wonder-of-discovery in trying to communicate with aliens.”

      You give evidence of a healthy mental and aesthetic makeup when you mention feeling “indifferent and disinterested.” There is something wrong with a man who is entertained by the bland and cliched.

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