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MindFood: Dinosaurs Versus Aliens

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May 11, 2011 | 7:05am EDT

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I try to be optimistic about movie news. Even when something sounds like the worst idea on the planet, I make an effort to pick out something, no matter how small, to be positive about. Because, if you’re going to be a movie geek, and you don’t at least try to make some kind of sense out of the stream of bullshit decisions Hollywood makes on a daily basis, you’ll eventually become so burnt out and jaded on the industry that it will kill your love of movies.

Having said that, whoever gives a green light to Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dominion: Dinosaurs Versus Aliens should have their lungs revoked. It’s the stupidest God damned idea I’ve heard from the movie industry, yet alone anyone in Hollywood, in recent memory-- and recent memory includes a movie called Strippers vs. Werewolves (which, by the way, has teaser sales art so bad SEAL Team 6 needs to shoot in the eye and dump its body in the ocean).

I gave a pass to Cowboys & Aliens because of who wrote it, who stars in it and who directed it. I’m simply ignoring Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as if it doesn’t exist. I even defended Zombies vs. Robots because its conceit actually sounded more unique than the dumbed-down versus pitch that became its titles. But, I’m sorry, I just can’t stand for Dinosaurs vs. Aliens. This is a doomsday omen for anyone who likes original, creative, robust scripts.

Cowboys and Aliens

Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in 'Cowboys and Aliens'

The problem isn’t who is involved (though that is also a problem, it’s not the root of all evil), the problem is that if Hollywood actually winds up making Dinosaurs Versus Aliens, they are legitimizing The Asylum’s business model. They’re proving that all they think people care about are a bunch of objects smashed together. They’re turning the weekend box office into Syfy’s Most Dangerous Night of Television. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, Piranhaconda-- this is the crap that belongs on Syfy. The reason it doesn’t get made in mainstream Hollywood is because it should only ever be watched from the confines of a couch, and preferably one equipped with a cupholder sized to fit a handle of Jack Daniel’s.

District 9 PosterAnd I actually like the Syfy channel! I’m one of the few people who watches it all the time, who gives it all the credit it deserves, and who has fun watching the dreadful dreck they call 'Original Movies'. But Syfy can lower the bar all they want because, well, it’s Syfy. They invented their title solely so they could distinguish their instantly recognizable brand of not-so-serious entertainment from legit science fiction. I actually respect that. At least they have the wherewithal to acknowledge what they’re producing.

But a studio giving the production thumbs up to Dinosaurs Versus Aliens from the guy who directed all three Men in Black movies isn’t just lowering the bar, it’s getting rid of it entirely. They’re not even pretending any more. They’ve acknowledged that their shameless; that they have no clothes and that they’ll throw fistfuls of money at whatever stupid idea comes their way so long as it makes for some eye catching sales art. And that puts us, as film lovers, on a terrible course for which there is no reward.

Two years ago you could have walked into a movie theater and seen Moon, Star Trek, District 9 or Avatar. Two years from now you will walk into a movie theater and see Dinosaurs vs Aliens, Zombies vs. Robots and Strippers vs. Werewolves. What did we do to deserve this?

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