“In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitve ’80s Sci-Fi Documentary” is the latest proof that director David A. Weiner is THE man to document the genre films of the 1980s.
Weiner’s first two documentaries “In Search of Darkness” parts 1&2 (with a third in the works) were the deepest of dives into the Horror films of the 80s. These were docs that examined movies both big and small, interviewing actors, filmmakers, and writers and leaving no stone unturned.
Each film clocked in at over four hours and both were full-on entertaining for film lovers and especially fans of 80s genre cinema.
“In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive ’80s Sci-Fi Documentary” is equally delightful, setting its sights in the Science Fiction films of that fruitful decade.
Sci-Fi had always been a niche sub-genre until Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 “2001: A Space Odyssey” showed that this type of film could be philosophical and something beyond space monsters barreling astronauts. In the 1970s, directors such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas opened the entertainment gates, bringing Sci-Fi entertainment to the masses with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Star Wars”. The sub-genre was now a major player with big studio backing.
Weiner’s documentary takes hold right at the beginning of the 1980s, jumping into the deep end with films such as “E.T.”, “Blade Runner”, and the “Mad Max” films.
Of course, these films are only the tip of the iceberg. Many others are examined in depth while a cannon of lively interviews carry the viewer along with informative and entertaining anecdotes.
Cast members from James Cameron’s “Aliens”, Sean Young (who had two in the decade with “Blade Runner” and “Dune”), Will Wheaton, Comedian Julie Brown (whose cult film “Earth Girls Are Easy” makes an appearance), and filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Paul Verhoeven, and Ivan Reitman are just some of the many interviews that will have genre fans riveted.
Joe Dante has a lot to say, as his films “Explorers” and “Innerspace” are 80s cult classics and Peter Weller checks in with his two hits “The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai” and “Robocop”.
Lest we forget, the legend Billy Dee Williams getting to speak about his time as “Lando Callrissian” in his two “Star Wars” films.
Weiner’s work opens interesting conversations on important subjects that affect the filmmaking process beyond the 1980s.
One of the lost arts of crafting genre film is Concept Design. The consensus among the interviewed filmmakers and Special Effects professionals is that the art of crafting immersive worlds is becoming a thing of the past.
Science Fiction film scores and their importance are spoken of in detail.
Film composers such as Craig Safan and Brad Fiedel speak of how they have seen a decline in film scores. Genre films of today have little thematic music. It’s used more as a sound effect, never sending an audience home with a memorable theme.
A lot is covered during this massively informative work, even how the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986 affected the Sci-Fi community. It is quite moving to hear how genre filmmakers and actors felt a deep connection to that devastating tragedy.
The most important aspect that Weiner presents is how the genre opened bigger roles and offered better representation for women and actors of color, highlighting how mainstream Hollywood was (and still is) behind the times.
David A. Weiner knows and loves the Horror and Science Fiction genre films of the 80s. His documentaries are true love letters to that fruitful and inventive time. As a filmmaker, he wisely lets the film clips and interviews tell the stories of the time, getting the most informative entertainment value he can and never favors the bigger films over the smaller.
As with any film that covers an entire decade, it is impossible to hit every film (this is what the sequels will be for), but the ones Weiner takes on are covered completely, with each cementing their impact on the genre’s legacy.
Clocking in at five hours, this is truly the definitive (first part) look at the Sci-Fi pictures of the 1980s.
“In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive ’80s Sci-Fi Documentary” is an exciting rollercoaster ride of 80s movie nostalgia and a love letter to and for genre fans.
In Search of Tomorrow
Written and Directed by David A. Weiner
Starring John Carpenter, Will Wheaton, Peter Weller, Sean Young, Dee Wallace, and more
Not Rated, 301 Minutes, CreatorVC