Gen Z Streaming Stars React to Classic Sci-Fi Movies of the ’80s


the New York Times tried an experiment with four classic science fiction films from exactly 40 years ago:

If you were a moviegoer in the 1980s, you were constantly presented with imaginative questions that seemed cosmic and existential. Would humanity someday settle its differences here on earth and learn to travel the stars as a unified species? Or were we destined for a dystopian future with little more to look at than smoggy skies and gargantuan billboards? Did our advancing technology have the ability to literally absorb us or replace us entirely? Might we someday encounter alien life that was intelligent and benevolent? Surely some of these questions would be answered by the far-off future year 2000.

“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, have become foundational works, shaping the next several decades of fantasy franchises. But what if this wasn’t the science-fiction cinema you grew up with? What if you came of age in a later generation, and knew these movies only as celebrated if somewhat distant influences? Would they still seem exciting, innovative and thought-provoking? Or — to confront another terrifying speculative scenario — would they just seem uncool?

To find out for ourselves, we enlisted four stars of the current day — all born in the 21st century — and asked them each to watch one of those seminal science-fiction films. They shared their reactions and reflections, didn’t judge the special effects too harshly and still shed tears when they thought ET died.
they showed Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan to Celia Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura in the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Gooding’s response was “the machoism of the men in charge has not changed in the future… these are still two guys trying to see whose ship is bigger.”

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old star of Netflix’s Cobra KaiJacob Bertrand, was watching both Tron and its 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy. “I feel like the new one doesn’t hold a candle to the old one…. I was trying to think of how they could have done this with the technology at the time, and everything that I could think of just sounds like so much work. I was like, dude, how are they pulling this off back then? Holy cow, these people were dedicated.”

19-year-old Iman Vellani (star of Disney+ show Ms. marvel) felt that Blade Runner “hit the mark… I feel like everyone of my generation is always searching for some higher purpose or trying to prove they’re worthy enough or special enough for the spotlight, or just worthy of more life. I find myself sympathizing with the replicants a lot more, upon rewatch, in a way I did not expect.”

And the 19-year-old star of Netflix’s Stranger ThingsFinn Wolfhard, described ET the Extra-Terrestrial as “incredibly sweet.”

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