Watch Patton Oswalt Critiques Sci-Fi Films (Top 5 & Bottom 5) | Fine Points

[soft upbeat music]

Hi, Gentlemen’s Quarterly,

or as I like to call you GQ.

I’m Patton Oswald.

I’m a comedian, I’m an actor, I’m a writer,

and today, I’m gonna break down my top five

and bottom five science fiction films.

So here we go.

Look, before we go do the bottom five,

I don’t enjoy trashing movies anymore,

only because I’ve made enough movies to know

that even the worst movie on the planet,

someone broke their back trying to make it.

Someone loved it.

Someone wanted it to be good,

and sometimes they don’t come out good.

So A for effort, but you thing sucks.

Let’s trash ’em. Here we go.

[upbeat hip hop music]

[static hisses]

We will not go quietly into the night.

We will not vanish without a fight.

[rousing instrumental music]

We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive.

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

[static hisses]

Okay, look.

Independence Day, on the one level,

is so frigging entertaining.

It is a really big fun. I saw it opening day.

People were losing their minds.

I was cheering along with it.

It’s just an example of a movie

that they ask so many buys of you.

Like I understand that the aliens seem to be there

to just destroy this planet and take the resources,

although after you destroy the planet,

how do you get the resources?

I don’t really understand that part,

but the fact that the big, crucial third act scene

where they send a computer virus to the aliens’ computer,

which, again, this is way beyond any technology we have.

That’d be like hacking a smartphone

with a manual typewriter.

I found out later there’s a scene

that they cut outta the movie,

which I don’t know why they cut this out,

and it’s a really quick scene where one

of the scientists says, Actually,

we captured some of their spacecraft back

in the 50s and 60s, and we’ve used their technology

to build cell phones, computers,

so our technology is like.

Just have that one line in there so that,

Oh, that’s why they’re loading the virus up.

I get it. That makes sense.

So they were so excited to have like three more seconds

of explosions that they took out this one element.

The filmmakers so didn’t trust that we

could deal with five seconds of dialogue

that would explain something.

They were so worried about not shaking keys in front

of our face for five seconds that they left that out,

and that’s always like left a bad taste in my mouth.

[upbeat hip hop music]

[static hisses]

Log Mr. Spock’s Star Fleet commission reactivated.

List him as science officer, both effective immediately.

[static hisses]

Star Trek the motion picture is so,

it’s oatmeal-colored uniforms on a gun metal colored ship.

Everyone’s in a bad mood. Nothing really happens.

They get to this thing at the end

where it’s a Voyager spacecraft but it thinks it’s God,

and you’re like, I’ve seen this plot a million times.

In fact, I think that was a plot of the Star Trek show.

I’m glad that Star Trek the motion picture exists, though,

because it is such an absolute failure

in adapting the source material

that it made them go make Wrath of Khan.

The Wrath of Khan should basically called,

Sorry about that first one. Here’s the second one.

We’ll make it really good.

I don’t think you have to have expertise

in the source material, but you have to have a sense

of fun and a sense of joy, know what at least what the core

of the that makes tick is and know how to use that.

That you need.

It’s beige people on a gray background

and a bad mood for two and a half hours.

That’s what they should call Star Trek the motion picture,

Beige Trek.

[upbeat hip hop music]

[static hisses] [whimsical instrumental music]

Oh God! Oh God!

Oh man! Is somebody trying to tell me something?

[static hisses]

Phenomenon is so annoying because they deal

with some genuinely intriguing concepts,

which is what would superpower,

super intelligence look like

in someone who did not have them before?

It’s this weird Flowers for Algernon

but without the medical treatment that makes him smarter,

but then it feels like the movie gives up

in the third act and says,

Oh, all the powers that he has, it was a brain tumor.

Don’t worry about it, and then we’ll cut it out,

and he’ll be normally again.

Like we took him on this really intriguing journey. Okay.

And we asked really cool question. Oh, nice.

Well, this will be, ah, don’t worry about that.

Wait, what? No I wanted.

No, it’s just a tumor. We’re done.

Great science fiction doesn’t ask amazing questions

to then go, Now, come to think of it, don’t worry about it.

Eh, that’s it.

[upbeat music]

[static hisses] [muffled chatter]

You did it.

[terrifying music]

[flesh squelches] [man screams]

Deep Blue Sea.

[upbeat hip hop music]

I don’t totally hate Deep Blue Sea

because it has a moment that I still won’t spoil

if you haven’t seen Deep Blue Sea that, when I saw it,

the packed theater gave the scene a standing ovation.

And I think you know the scene I’m talking about.

However, it’s another one of those things

with Independence Day where they’re asking you for a buy

that is so ridiculous if you think

about it for more than a second,

which is Saffron Burrow’s character wants

to cure Alzheimer’s.

Good. Noble effort.

So she has found a technique.

It doesn’t cure Alzheimer’s. It slows Alzheimer’s.

The side effect is in order to get this slowing treatment,

sharks become super intelligent.

So to stop Grandma babbling about people

that aren’t there anymore, our oceans are filled

with genius-level killing machines.

That does not seem like a good trade off.

And no one in the movie is like, Wait, no, you can’t.

Yes, obviously we wanna cure Alzheimer’s, but that’s insane.

What are you doing?

That’d be like going,

I have invented a scratch-free linoleum,

and in the process of doing so,

cancer is now airborne and contagious,

but the linoleum will never scratch.

It’s worth the trade offs.

Like No, it’s not worth the trade off!

It’s just the weirdest thing to have in the middle

of a movie with some really lame special effects,

some truly great surprising scenes,

and a great last line of dialogue from LL Cool J.

So I’m very, very torn by it.

[upbeat music]

[static hisses] [tense eerie music]

On the Beach.

Look, I know it’s Stanley Kramer

adapting a Neville Shute novel,

ad I know it’s very important,

but it’s one of those movies that, unfortunately,

there’s nothing worse in a movie

where it knows how important it is,

so the whole underlying attitude is, You’re welcome.

The characters are all basically,

they know that they’re doomed.

They know they’re gonna die, and I don’t wanna sound mean,

but some of their last dreams they want are dumb.

Like Fred Astaire wants to win a motor race? Who cares.

And look, there have been plenty

of bummer post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows,

Threads, Testament, The Road.

But at least in those movies,

people were struggling to do something.

Everyone in this movie is like, Just get it over with,

and then you as a viewer are like, Yeah, get it over with.

Why am I sitting here?

You don’t even look like you want to be in this movie.

Have a couple of foolish characters in the movie

at least that are like, Oh no, I know I’m gonna die.

I’m gonna still try to live.

Even though I know I’m gonna end up puking my spine up

and losing all my hair, I’m gonna at least try.

I’m gonna try to do something here.

Everyone in this movie is like,

I’ll just have one last auto race,

and then we’ll all have poison, and then we’ll be done.

I’m like, Then why did I have to watch this top five?

Top 5.

[upbeat music] [static hisses]

Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us,

Revenge which is a dish that is best served cold?

[tense dramatic music]

It is very cold in space.

[static hisses]

The reason I picked Wrath of Khan

is because it was such a corrective

for a bad science fiction film,

not just a bad science fiction film

but a bad way to adapt material

of someone not paying attention

to what made the original material great.

And then part two was like, No,

this is why ‘Star Trek’ is fun and awesome and lasts,

and we’re gonna lean into this aspect of it.

And it’s just a great reminder

that you can massively screw up and then correct it.

Even if you’ve never seen the show

or don’t know any of its mythology,

it is such a lean, basically revenge thriller,

and in the middle of it,

they somehow have a pretty solid argument

about not only do we not have the right to take life.

Do we have the right to create it on a planet-wide scale?

But again, that’s all in the background.

What’s on the top is two insanely hammy performances

by Ricardo Montalban and William Shatner,

basically trying to out top each other.

A great way to have an argument about man’s rights

to creator or destroy

is to have two scenery-chewing actors make a buffet of it.

[cool swanky music] [static hisses]

[slow dramatic music] [flames roar]

Hasta la vista, baby.

[gunshot blasts] [body shatters]

Not a necessarily original idea.

It was borrowed heavily from two episodes

of The Outer Limits that Harlan Ellison wrote,

Soldier and Demon with a Glass Hand,

but basically, it’s a really deep meditation,

not just on fate and can you affect your fate,

is your fate predestined, but also,

if you know what’s coming in the future

and you know that the future is doomed,

it would drive you insane.

How far are you willing to play along with acting sane

so that you can then function in the real world

and maybe try to stop the future?

But everything I just said pales in comparison

to these genuinely amazing special effects that,

by today’s standards, the amount of care and craftsmanship.

What was so brilliant about Terminator II

is Terminator was a huge hit

in which it’s an unkillable robot who was here

to kill someone and switch the future.

So they subvert their own genre that they created

in which now the Terminator that we’re used to

has been sent back and is unable to kill.

He’s there to protect. We don’t know that.

That always drove me crazy.

When they cut the trailers together, they made it very clear

that Arnold’s there to protect the kid,

but if you watch the movie,

it’s structured that you don’t know who the good

or bad guy is until the last second

when they’re in that hallway and Arnold protects the kid.

Get down.

[John whimpers] [gunshot blasts]

And Schwarzenegger’s character

is this what could be worse than a human being

that’s a Sherman tank that just can’t be stopped?

I know what’s worse.

A human robot that’s a Porsche, basically,

that’s sleek and fast that can outrun the tank.

So there’s a whole other level of terror to this.

[cool rhythmic music]

[static hisses] [terrifying music]

[woman whimpers] [lock clatters]

Oh my God.

[static hisses]

Close Encounters, I re-watched it last year.

That movie has aged so well.

There’s a huge unspoken revelation coming

that no one can really put their finger on.

These aliens are trying to make contact with Earth,

and the government is trying

to suppress this information and keep it away

from the normal people that have been contacted, basically.

The Richard Dreyfus character

who his performance is incredible,

he basically becomes a true believer,

but it shows you the cost of believing in

and knowing for a fact that something way bigger

than our current reality exists.

It makes it really hard for him.

He’s a family man. He loves his wife.

He loves his kids,

but it’s hard to take your kids little league game seriously

when there are massive forces that you know exist

that are trying to contact you.

You see him withdraw from the world

because of what he now knows,

and it’s so weird how that seems to be happening

in both evil and good ways to a lot

of people we’re living with now.

Close Encounters

is about the disintegration of a family.

Despite all of the big special effects

and the wonderful chandelier spaceship

and all the lights and all the sounds,

there’s a tragedy at the center of it.

A family is destroyed, and the father leaves the planet.

It’s really difficult as a dad watching that movie now,

but seeing how brilliantly it’s done,

how brilliantly they nail it.

The special effects and something like Close Encounters,

I think, are more effective now

because they have a more genuine sense of wonder

because it’s not just a shoulder shrug and,

Oh, they did it on a computer.

They had to figure out how to build these models

and integrate them with the film you’re watching

and make it seem like that’s happening.

Your sense of wonder matches the character’s sense

of wonder when they see these things.

It truly is something miraculous

that they managed to pull off.

[upbeat hip hop music]

[static hisses]

[dramatic music] [brush rustles]

Good day.

It ain’t human, Frank.

What I love about Fire in the Sky is it

in itself is not a great science fiction film overall,

but it has a sequence that is so good and so frightening,

and it’s the closest I’ve ever seen on film

to what it would be like to encounter an alien culture,

an alien technology where, I would guess to a Neanderthal,

a cigarette lighter or a typewriter would be terrifying.

Like to to just look at those things moving,

it’s so beyond what your brain knows.

So there’s a scene where a character

is taken aboard an alien spacecraft,

and they do experiments on him.

What is so eerie is how unhurried the aliens are

when they’re doing what they’re doing to the character,

and they’re also clearly following a set procedure.

They’re not torturing him.

They would do experiments like you would tag a bear

in the woods, but a bear getting hit with a dart

and having a tag would be terrifying.

And so it’s the, Human,

you are now a bear in the woods being tagged,

and it shows you what that would feel like.

But what makes it so brilliant

is he only remembers this tiny sliver of the experience,

and he can’t quite put it together,

and we can’t put it together.

So it’s one of the best depictions I’ve ever seen

of what it must feel like to encounter

not just an alien culture

but an advanced technological culture.

[upbeat hip hop music]

[static hisses]

We have two notes, one that was written here

and one that was left on the door.

If you didn’t and if the other Hugh didn’t,

then who has been leaving the notes?

[static hisses]

Coherence

is a little micro-budgeted science fiction film

that was shot in five days, basically, in one location.

A very tense, taut science fiction thriller

that is done with basically no special effects,

no fast cutting,

but you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time,

watching a very simple thing happen science fictionally

in which reality fractures.

There are now different versions of yourself

and different versions of overall reality out there

that you can just go walk into if you want.

What do you do with that knowledge?

What is the danger of that?

It’s a lot like another film called Primer

where it’s more about the idea

and how it affects human beings rather

than the special effects and the whole visual of it.

It’s amazing.

GQ, thank you for letting me go through my top five,

my bottom five science fiction films.

And if you watched all of this,

thanks for hanging out with me.

I know I got annoying there in the middle,

but I do appreciate it.