Gen Z stars react to classic ’80s sci-fi movies

Gen Z stars react to classic ’80s sci-fi movies

If you were a moviegoer in the 1980s, you were constantly presented with imaginative questions that seemed cosmic and existential. Would humanity ever resolve its differences here on earth and learn to travel the stars as a unified species? Or were we destined for a dystopian future with only gloomy skies and giant billboards to look forward to? Has our advancing technology been able to literally absorb us or completely replace us? Could we ever encounter alien life that was intelligent and benevolent? The distant year 2000 will certainly answer some of these questions.

Blade Runner, ET the Extra-Terrestrial, Tron and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, all released 40 years ago in the summer of ’82, became seminal works that shaped several others. decades of fantasy franchises. What if it wasn’t the sci-fi movie you grew up with? What if you lived to a later generation and knew these films only as celebrated, albeit somewhat distant ones? Would they still look interesting, innovative and thought-provoking? Or, to face another terrifyingly speculative scenario, would they just seem unrealistic?

To find out for ourselves, we enlisted four of today’s stars — all born in the 21st century — and asked them each to watch one of those seminal sci-fi movies. They shared their reactions and reflections, didn’t judge the special effects too harshly, and still shed tears when they thought ET had died. These are edited excerpts from those conversations.

I knew Chan was Captain Kirk’s most famous rival and found both of their performances [William Shatner as Kirk and Ricardo Montalbán as Khan] really engaging. Khan is very dictatorial to his crew, and Kirk is – I use that word very carefully – a diplomat who continues to consider his crew. Their back and forth and their banter is very old. These are two confident men who are just trying to stab each other, and Kirk knows how to empathize with Khan, like when he says, “I’m laughing at a higher intelligence.” It’s a really great reflection of how well they know each other and how deeply they hate each other. The fact that the machoism of leading men has not changed in the future, I wouldn’t say it’s funny, but I find it very interesting. Yep, it’s still two guys trying to figure out whose ship is bigger.

I don’t know how I got this far without knowing that Spock dies at the end. I feel like a terrible franchise member. Even when I saw the title [of “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”]there was no world in my head where Spock died [in “The Wrath of Khan”]. I thought he was lost in some cosmic grocery store. At first I thought they would figure out how to save him. And then cut to: Kirk gives a eulogy and Scotty plays the bagpipes and I cry. When people think of the best sci-fi brothers, they think of Kirk and Spock, and it’s heartbreaking to see how that love somehow ended. It was heartbreaking but beautiful and I hope one day to be loved the way Kirk loves Spock.

Jacob Bertrand

The old Tron movie is one of my dad’s favorites. I went and saw Tron: Legacy [the sequel, from 2010] with him in the cinemas. I remember how we left at the end and he was very disappointed. And I thought that was the best thing. After a few months, my brother and I were playing this phone app that was like the light bikes in the movie Tron, racing against each other and trying to cut each other off. I still like Tron: Legacy, but I definitely think the first Tron is better – I feel like the new one doesn’t hold a candle to the old one.

When I was really young, my dad still had his old Atari, and I grew up playing it. My brother and I played tennis together, a lot of Pac-Man. My mom used to kick my ass in Donkey Kong. So I was very used to that era of gaming and that aesthetic. I was laughing the whole time [“Tron”] some effects that really look older. But I was actually quite impressed – I was trying to think how they could do this with the technology at the time and all I could think of was that it sounds like so much work. I was like, dude, how do they do it then? Holy cow, these people were dedicated.

Young Jeff Bridges looks so different from the Jeff Bridges I know. I was really shocked. I was surprised at how charismatic he is. I thought of him in The Real Thing [2010] – it’s so different here. He was the lead programmer for this huge game company, so it would have been easy to play him to make it simpler. Back then, many programmers were stigmatized as freaks. But he played straight all the time. He was overconfident. I thought that was pretty cool.

Iman Vellanis

I feel it hit the mark. It’s weird because it’s 2019 and now it’s not the future, it’s the past. But the movie has finally caught up with reality. It gives a good look at where humanity is compared to how people in the 1980s envisioned the future. Forget about flying cars, electronics and technology, I feel like everyone in my generation is always looking for some kind of higher purpose or trying to prove that they are worthy enough or special enough to be in the spotlight or just more worthy of life. Rewatching it makes me empathize a lot more with the replicants in a way I didn’t expect.

I’ve always seen Harrison Ford as this cool, Han Solo-type guy, but I’ve never looked too much into his performance until now. Seeing his face when he was drinking alcohol at the bar after killing the snake [Zhora, played by Joanna Cassidy] – Oh my God, the vulnerability. Heaven [Batty, played by Rutger Hauer], in particular, is simply an outstanding character for me. It is clear that he must be an enemy or a villain. But the way he gave his last speech – with a look of fear on his face – he is one of the only characters who truly understood how beautiful humanity and life is.

After watching this movie I felt like a super existence. I was like, what does it mean to be human? What is the meaning of life? Typical sober Friday afternoon thoughts. It’s crazy to think that it didn’t get the attention it deserved at first glance. Honestly, I struggled to get people to watch this movie. This is a task. I don’t know if today’s casual moviegoers would be invested in a movie like that. It requires a lot of patience. I feel like you have to give yourself up emotionally and psychologically to love it. And when you do, it’s phenomenal.

It was one of the greatest movies of my childhood. I had the anniversary DVD that I watched before it was scratched [expletive]. Then it disappeared for a really long time, and then I saw it on 35mm in a theater in Atlanta when I was shooting Stranger Things. Seeing him as a more mature person made me see things a lot differently. It was a lot of mean stuff for me. That opening scene where the kids are playing Dungeons & Dragons, the way it’s lit – the whole room is basically dark except for the middle of the room where they’re standing at a table and there’s this super bright light that illuminates the board. and children. I thought this movie was so well shot. But it’s Spielberg. Not hot at all.

That movie totally blew me away too. [E.T.’s apparent death] is a real slap in the face. But it is so earned. It’s such a chaotic scene and it turns into a different movie. This is turning into a really serious operation. Oh, we may never see these characters again. These two are in real danger. You’re watching a movie that’s a totally fun adventure, and then something happens that makes you realize that life is precious and everything can die. But this is not a cynical film. It’s actually incredibly sweet. I was talking to my dad about it the other day and I said to him, I really want to make a movie for kids, but I want a moment that scares [expletive] of them forever. It’s fun, they remember it and shape who you are, what you fear and what your sensitivities are.

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