Discuss the conventions of science fiction films with reference to Armageddon and Independence Day.
ASSIGNMENT 2 Media
Discuss the conventions of science fiction films with reference to Armageddon and Independence Day.
Two of the earliest science fiction stories were Frankenstein and war of the worlds by H.G Wells. Telling these stories gives directors plenty of opportunity for special effects. They can use their imaginations to design aliens, spaceships, robots, cities etc. Science fiction films are stories about imaginary scientific discoveries, space travel or life on other planets, they are popular because of this. People can just escape from their boring lives and enter a world of fantasy, where the only limit to as far as a science fiction film can go is your imagination. Science fiction is a popular genre of film, with a wide range of audiences. People enjoy collecting the memorabilia, they enjoy the action, the weapons, and the characters. Most science fiction films are set in the future, this is because the film can be as imaginative and as serial as you want. One of the most popular science fiction films ever made was star trek.
All science fictions films follow a Set pattern, there is a peaceful world at the beginning of the story, and then a problem is created by a new type of technology, an alien world, or an unknown force. A hero takes on the job of saving the group threatened, which is a whole world, a town or a family. Difficulties arise in defeating the danger that creates tension and excitement for the audience, eventually there is a confrontation, the hero wins and order is restored.
In Independence Day it starts with a peaceful world, the film begins with the American flag on the moon, there is then a close-up shot of the words ‘world peace’ this revels that the film starts off peacefully. A similar way is used in Armageddon as in Independence Day, as it begins you see the world from space, it looks peaceful but then the mood changes, you can tell that something is going to change the world by the music, it changes from high keys to low keys this indicates that something bad is going to happen. In Independence Day you can not see the threat to the world straight away, whereas in Armageddon the threat is apparent from the start of the film. This starts to create tension and excitement for the audience, because they don’t know what the threat is yet.
Independence Day focuses on an alien world, they have come to earth in the hope to kill all the people on it and to use up the world’s resources, and this is the problem. It is similar to Armageddon because both of the problems come from space. In Armageddon the problem is a huge asteroid heading towards earth, but if it hits then the whole world will be destroyed, and the entire human race will be wiped out.
In all science fiction films there is a hero, and Independence Day and Armageddon are no different. They both have strong, powerful and brave heroes. They both set out to save the world, but in different ways. In Independence Day Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) sets out to destroy the aliens and their spaceships. Whereas in Armageddon Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) a deep core driller, sets out to destroy an asteroid the size of Texas. He attempts this by drilling a hole deep enough to drop a nuclear bomb into the giant iron rock to blow it up in time for it to miss the earth.
But then a problem arises and it needs to be solved as quickly as possible, In Independence Day the mission to save the world from the aliens is going well, at least until a problem occurs. They soon find out that the huge spaceships, which are looming over the cities of the world, have some sort of force field around them. This protects the spaceships from anything that tries to come into contact with it, unfortunately this includes all of the missiles, and nukes that are sent their way. It’s a job for Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson), he needs to find a way that he can corrupt the protective shield, so that the spaceships can be destroyed. This is a completely different problem to the one created in Armageddon. In Armageddon unlike in Independence Day, everything is going wrong. They get into space, that goes well, but then everything goes downhill from there on. They go to re-fuel, but a leak occurs in one of the pipes, this causes the space station to blow-up. Luckily they all manage to just escape with all the crew onboard the two spaceships. Then as they try to land on the asteroid, there are some unexpected rock showers, these cause one of the spaceships to go down, and lose all communication. But then another problem arises, because of the rock shower, the ship went off course, this means that when they land the ship, the conditions are rougher and harder to drill in. but this doesn’t stop the worlds best deep core drilling team. There are a few more small problems throughout the rest of the film, such as NASA trying to remote detonate the nuke before the hole was finished, the severe conditions killing some of the crew and problems with the ship. There are a lot of problems in this film, but this is done to create tension and excitement for the audience, they don’t know what to expect to happen next. The main problem in Armageddon is when the remote detonator on the nuke is broken, this means that the bomb has to be detonated by hand and the crew have to draw straws. This part of the film really creates tension, and is really serious, you can tell by the close-up shots of the crew’s faces when they draw the straws, they look scared and worried. And the rest of the camera work makes you think about the situation that they are in.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Order is restored in completely different ways in both of these films, In Independence Day they manage to corrupt the proactive shield surrounding the ships by planting a virus into the mother-ship. This gave them the chance to nuke the spaceships and destroy the aliens. The shots used are mainly establishing shots to show where things are, and to show the size of the ships compared to the cities and close-up shots these are to show the emotions of the character. The music used is quiet ethereal, as if the peace is a miracle. They use shots from all different types of cultures to show that everybody around the world is celebrating the triumph against the aliens. In Armageddon the ending is quite different to Independence Day, Harry (Bruce Willis) stays behind to detonate the nuke, he says a really emotional goodbye to his daughter Grace, and it is a really upsetting ending because you don’t want the hero to die. The crew get back to earth and land safely, they run to their family or friends. The shots are mainly over the shoulder when they are with their family. At he end of the film the song I don’t want to miss a thing by Aero smith is played and shots of A.J and Grace getting married are used. The ending is emotional.
Hero- In all films there are certain characteristics of a hero they are brave, powerful, a leader, willing to sacrifice their own lives to save others, they are resourceful, they are quick thinking, and they seek justice. In the two films the heroes share similar qualities of being a hero, but they are completely different. In Independence Day Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) is strong, powerful, and brave, he is a natural born leader, he is fearless, he has a sense of humour about the whole situation, he is confident, and he is willing to endanger his own life to save the world. In Armageddon Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) is more serious, he is tougher, he is not as much a family he has a daughter called Grace which you can tell he loves very much, but he doesn’t let anybody get close to him, he is domineering, argumentative, protective and quick-tempered.
You can tell the characteristics of the heroes, by the storylines. In Independence day there is no real plan as to how he will defeat the aliens, he just does what he thinks will work and if it doesn’t then he tries something different. Until he eventually finds a way to successfully destroy the aliens. Whereas in Armageddon there is a plan to follow, he knows what to do, and when to do it. He and his team know their mission and stick to it the best they can. Even though many problems arise, they still know what to do, even if that includes thinking of a way to solve a problem that was unexpected, they think about how to solve it logically. Both the heroes are completely different, the share similar characteristics, but they do things, and solve problems completely different to each other. But they are both still equally good heroes.
Helper- The helper should be brave, truthful, loyal, crafty, protective, resourceful, moral, and a quick-thinker. There can be more then one helper but in most films there is just the one helper. In Independence Day the helper is President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), he has all the qualities of the helper and assists the hero all the way through the film. In Armageddon the helper is A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck) he also has the characteristics, of the helper. He plays an important role in this film, he is in love with Grace, Harry’s daughter, and he will do anything for Harry to let them be together. When the problem occurs he draws the short straw, but Harry makes him get back on the ship and stops him from detonating the nuke. Harry then approves of Grace and A.J. getting married.
Princess- This doesn’t necessarily mean that she has to be a princess, in most cases she is someone that is some sort of relation to the hero.
In Independence Day the princess is Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox). She is a strong, clever and a determined woman, she saves many peoples lives, including herself, her son, the first lady, her dog and many other various survivors of the attack.
She is engaged to Captain Steven Hiller, and they have a son. During the film they get married. And like all princesses she needs to be saved by the hero. In Armageddon the princess is Grace Stamper, she is Harry Stampers daughter, and she is also engaged to A.J. Frost, but Harry does not agree with this. Harry feels like A.J is not good enough to marry his daughter. She loses her dad but marries A.J.
Scientist- In all science fiction films there is a scientist. They usually help to save the day I one way or another. In Independence Day the scientist is Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson). He is very
Environmentally friendly, and plays a big role in the movie. It’s his plan to destroy the aliens, which saves the day and restores order to the world. He is kind and helpful throughout the duration of the film. In Armageddon there isn’t really a scientist; NASA plays the role of the scientist in this film.
What are the aliens like? (If there aren’t any, in what way is the earth threatened by an unknown force?)
In Independence Day there are aliens, whereas in Armageddon there aren’t any. In Independence Day what you first see of the aliens is the large spaceships shadowing over the cities of the world. They are huge ships they look really technical and threatening. There are smaller spaceships as well which come from the larger spaceships they protect the ship when it gets attacked by the planes. There is also an invisible protective shield around the large spaceships, this stops any of the missiles and nukes reaching and damaging the main ship. Unlike in Armageddon where the earth is threatened by an asteroid the size of Texas, It is travelling at a speed fast enough to wipe-out the entire world and anything on it. It is a completely different story in Independence Day, the actual aliens themselves are frail, slimy, ugly, have lodes of tentacles, they are as fragile as humans, and are more advanced, they are violent, they are callous, they communicate with each other telepathically and they use high pitched screeching to hurt the people experimenting on them. They invade different planets, use up all the natural resources and then move on to the next planet. They are a threat.
In Armageddon the asteroid is dark, scary, jagged and daunting.
It has very dangerous conditions, and they can change at any time.
In Independence Day the aliens are defeated by a virus, working out that any computer no matter how technical can be destroyed by a virus, Jeff Goldblum set about planting a virus in the mother ship, this gave captain Steven Hiller and his team just enough time to destroy the spaceships whilst their defences where down.
Unlike in Armageddon where the only way to stop the asteroid from hitting and destroying the earth, is by blowing it up before it reached the zero barrier, this would mean that the asteroid would be blown up into two pieces and would miss the earth completely, but if it wasn’t blown up before reaching zero barrier, then the pieces would still hit and destroy the earth. But in order to blow the asteroid into two pieces, Harry Stamper and his team have to drill a hole deep enough to drop the nuclear bomb into.
Sound is a very important convention of a film no matter what the genre, it creates tension, excitement and it sets the scene. In Independence Day there are lots of different ways that the music and sounds create tension and different feelings, it also gives you clues as to what is going to happen next. At one point in the film the song end of the world by R.E.M is played on the radio, this automatically gives you a clue as to what is going to happen. Drum rolls are used as well, this is usually used when the American flag is shown, and this is patriotic. The same thing is used in Armageddon when the American flag is shown. There is quiet a lot of ethereal music used in both of the films, this is when order is restored, when the heroes and their teams arrive after winning.
In Independence Day there are a lot of robotic, and technological sounds are used when there is action with the ships, this is done to show the audience that the are technical, and futuristic. At times the music is really dramatic, this is done to show the seriousness of the situation, and to indicate the feelings of the characters. To build tension at times the music starts soft, and subtle, but then as it gets louder it begins to create tension and excitement for the audience. This is used when something is about to happen, either good or bad. Also minor keys are used to create tension and excitement for the audience for the same reason. Similar sounds and music are used in Armageddon. But there are a lot more sounds, screaming, shouting, shattering glass, crashes, bangs etc. the songs used in this film are quiet sad and upsetting, they really indicate the way the character is feeling, such as when Harry said an emotional goodbye to his daughter Grace, I don’t want to miss a thing by Aero smith was played, this revealed how they were feeling, it also has an effect on the audience.
There is a wide range of camera work in these two films, but they are all used to create different effects. In Independence Day, The film begins with a close-up shot of the words ‘world peace’. This establishes the fact that the film starts off with a peaceful world. A high angle shot is then used to show that the large shadow covering up the words is somehow going to be a threat to the earth, you can immediately tell that this shadow is a very powerful force. They used a high angle shot for this part of the film to show that it is powerful, but you still cannot tell what the object is but you can tell that it is very large.
There are a lot of shots of the spaceship over New York, a high angle shot is used, a wide shot, a long shot and a low angle shot are used when the spaceship emerges from the cloud. These are used to create tension, the editing between them is quick so it creates excitement for the audience, but even though the editing is quick, the spaceship only emerges slowly, this creates suspense. Later in the film when the ship opens up there is a long shot of the spaceship over a building, this shot is used to establish the size and positioning of the spaceship And then a low angle point of view shot of it as it opens completely, this gives you the view as if you are actually one of the people on top of the building below the ship, this also builds suspense, tension and excitement for the audience. A low angle point of view shot is used to show the size of the ships as if you are one of the people on the ground looking through the buildings at the spaceships. This really gives the audience the feeling of what it would be like to be there. Later in the film there is a high angle shot of New York on fire, this shot shows you the amount of damage done to the city, and reveals to the audience how much of a threat to the world these spaceships are. In Armageddon, similar camera angles are used for the same reasons. Like in Independence Day, Armageddon uses quick editing to build tension, excitement and suspense. They also use a low angle shot and a high angle shot of the earth, which are used in Independence Day too. There is a point of view shot of a man as if we are the asteroid about to hit earth, this shot is used to show the power and speed of the asteroid. A low angle shot is used as the buildings collapse after another asteroid hits, the buildings are collapsing towards the camera, so to the audience it feels as if they are falling towards them. Over the shoulder shots are used often in this film, they are used when one character is talking to another, and when two of the characters are hugging or kissing. When A.J. and Grace are together just before he lifts off, a lot of over the shoulder shots are used. When Harry is trying to catch A.J there are a lot of low angle and high angle shots used, this is because Harry and A.J are at different levels, this is done so that it is a more interesting mise-en-scene for the audience. There is a close up shot of Harry’s face to show how serious he is about catching A.J. Later in the film there are low angle shots, a wide shot and then a medium close up shot of the asteroids hitting earth, and the quick editing used between these shots creates tension. There are a lot of close ups, medium close ups and big close up shots of the drillers faces just before they lift off, these shots of their faces indicate to the audience their feelings towards their mission. They are scared, worried, serious, focused and upset. When they are on their way to the asteroid there is an establishing two shot of the two spacecrafts as they enter space. When one of the ships is about to crash there are lots of close up shots of the characters faces, this shows their fear and disbelief. When they are on the asteroid there are a lot of mid shots of them drilling and sorting out the equipment, this shows the audience how busy and focused they are. There are also over the shoulder shots when they are asking how each other are after the rock shower, this is done so that the audience concentrates and focuses on the one character only. In Independence day there is a big close up shot of the alien’s eyes, they are a mercury colour, but they look really cold and callous.
Independence Day and Armageddon use similar camera angles to create different effects and to have a different impact on the audience.
Different lighting techniques, can create different effects and atmospheres. In both Armageddon and Independence Day similar lighting techniques are used. In these films a lot of low key lighting and high key lighting are used to create an atmosphere whether it being happy, sad, serious, scary, etc. In both of these films they also use a lot of lighting effects, these also have an impact on the audience. Things such as flashing lights, they can come from anything, like a flashing red light could mean danger. In both Armageddon and Independence Day there a lot of flashing lights used to show a technical failure in either the plane or spacecraft, there is a lot of low key lighting used with this, it creates tension. Suspense is also created, when it is dark and the flickering light, lights up the characters faces and shows how serious they are. In Independence Day there are a lot of lights on the spaceship, when the spaceship opens up a bright illumines blue light that shines down, and in Armageddon there are sparks of white light flickering off the equipment.
The editing creates tension, excitement and suspense. It speeds up when something is going to happen. It also highlights the special effects and CGI in the film. In Armageddon some examples of the editing creating tension, excitement and suspense are when the asteroids hit earth the scenes speed up and create excitement, after the asteroids have hit the editing between the scenes of the destruction of down town New York and Paris. Then there is quick editing between lodes of different news stations, and then when they are preparing for the finial stages of lift off, and when the spacecraft crashes. All of these create tension, excitement and suspense for the audience. In Independence Day some of the examples are when the building get blown up, when the smaller spaceships attack the planes, when the government nuke the spaceships, and when there are the scenes of the whole world celebrating after the aliens are destroyed. Once again all of these create tension, excitement and suspense for the audience.