Have you seen Looper? It's about how a mother's love can save the world.
Wait, wait, you say. Isn't Looper the new Bruce Willis/Joseph Gordon-Levitt time-travel action film based in a dystopia? Isn't it full of gun battles and blood? Why yes, yes it is--sort of. As a friend of mine pointed out it's also full of plot-holes and time-travel No-nos, and as far as science fiction is concerned it's really very shoddy. There's even a scene near the start that repeats itself, as if to drive home that what we do in the past affects the future, because science fiction audiences won't quite have that concept down just yet. Yow.
However, I enjoyed the film and I think it succeeded because I don't think it was supposed to be a time-travel action film exactly, or at least not just. I think it was doing something else, mostly because of the masterclass I attended at SIWC this year where Robert J. Sawyer talked about thematic science fiction.
He started by asking if we knew what three big sci fi films came out in 2009, and which two of those were nominated for an Academy Award. The answer: Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek, were released but only Avatar and District 9 were nominated. Why? They had big, important, divisive themes (the rights of indigenous people, apartheid), whereas the theme behind Star Trek was something we as human beings have already figured out: parents have a duty to children, children have a duty to their parents. (Also: friendship is good.)
Fascinating, Captain. Anyway, it made me examine Looper closer. I knew I enjoyed the film despite its flaws, but it was never going to be nominated for an Academy Award. So, why? While watching I became intrigued that they were giving a lot of time to things like lying in bed with wife who can't have children and lying in bed with prostitute who already had a child but not with you and it didn't seem to be about the sex. The MC made a point of saying his mother had sold him, and the female lead noted she wanted to raise her child out of the city because the city was full of lost men. Lost men in the Peter Pan sense. Orphans who'd they'd lost their way on the way to becoming men. They were still boys with no mothers.
Thinking about it, nearly everything that happens in the film from beginning to end relates to mothers and how (or whether) they love their children. I won't ruin the ending, but even the big finish depends on how the characters view that theme. And since human beings have pretty much figured out this theme, it's a Star Trek film theme, unworthy of huge acclaim yet successful in its own right.
Robert J. Sawyer expressed the contentious opinion that authors shouldn't waste readers' time with themes that were banal. I tend to agree with him, though I enjoyed Looper for what it was and I wasn't upset by what it wasn't. If you saw it, let me know what you thought and also, of course, what you thought it was about.