With the upcoming release of ’s Elysium, let’s take a look back on the science fiction films that have been released so far. There were plenty of massive blockbuster hits this year, not all of them breaking box office records, but even those were spectacular.
Of course, not all of them really change the genre in a drastic way, but a few of these hits have brought us fantastical visions of worlds we thought only existed in our imagination. So, with Elysium coming out, here’s my Top 3 Sci-fi films of 2013 so far, in no particular order.
Directed, produced and based on the comic book by , Oblivion centers on Jack Harper (), who is a drone repairman on Earth in the year 2077. Aliens known as The Scavs came to Earth and decimated humanity, until we fought back using nuclear weapons. Now, Jack and his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) have two weeks until they rejoin the rest of humanity on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. But when a craft crash-lands with human survivors, everything Jack knows is turned upside down, and the war for humanity’s survival is far from over.
Tom Cruise, even with bad press following him everywhere when it comes to Scientology or something like that, proves he’s still one of the best actors in Hollywood. After a damn good thriller that was Jack Reacher, Cruise goes back to sci-fi in force.
Yes, Oblivion is not the most original science fiction film, but it takes a whole new spin on the genre and sub-genre of alien invasion. We see a guy repairing drones one minute, but then the next he’s using skills only a military man would know, using cover and swift maneuvering when facing the enemy.
While Cruise’s performance here (if you ask me) is his best by far, it’s the visual effects that make this stand out as a phenomenal addition in the sci-fi canon. Plus as a bonus (sort of like ’s Prometheus), questions are raised about where the alien beings shown in the film come from.
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2. Europa Report
This is the best science fiction film of the year, by far, and for good reason. Some movie-goers may go into this movie thinking they will see a thrilling spectacle about the discovery of alien life, and that’s exactly what you get. Except, what drives this slow-burning epic is how, almost the entire movie is based in fact, not fiction.
The actors and actresses are all believable as astronauts and scientists, there are no sub-plots or pathetic romances that help take screen time, and there are no petty squabbles between the scientists about morality or “how far they need to go” to secure their mission. It is a straight-forward telling of a mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
The company who supposedly compiled the “documentary” for us actually feels like a documentary for once, with a lot of movies using the “found-footage” formula with the horror genre. What I found to be the best thing about this movie, was that, yes they’re there to drill beneath the ice, but the scale of what would happen if we proved we are not alone in the universe.
That feeling of being watched from the starry sky, by unseen eyes. Europa Report is a very powerful film, and for those not acquainted with the science fiction genre should steer away from this film, for now. If you’re like me and watch pretty much everything (excluding the constant crude comedies and rom-coms), then dive in. Although, the radiated ice of Europa isn’t the only cold feeling you will experience.
3. Pacific Rim
is a visionary director, with great writing skills as well, bringing us the amazing films Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy II The Golden Army (the first Hellboy was awesome, but the second one felt much more satisfying).
With Pacific Rim, Del Toro took us into his own private world, and melded it with the old monster movies and newer sci-fi blockbusters. I just wished people would stop comparing this to Transformers as they are completely different movies. If anything, Pacific Rim is more like Independence Day; it has clichés, but turns them on their heads and makes them work in such a way that they feel refreshing. The battles between the Jaegers and Kaiju progress, becoming much more dangerous and intense.
Then, the characters. I loved all the characters, even the minor ones, because you got to know them. Yes, we didn’t get to know the crew of the Crimson Typhoon, but that’s because they weren’t as important as the Jaeger they were piloting. But characters like Hannibal Chau, who didn’t have a lot of screen time, but enough to the point where you knew that character, his goals and what he stood for, if anything.
But in the end, I’ve never felt better about watching movies when I left the theater after Pacific Rim. It was everything I wanted in an action blockbuster. Pacific Rim deserves a sequel, and I’m glad people are seeing this. I just hope it’s not like last year’s Dredd, where we have to wait for DVD and Blu-ray sales to help secure a sequel, because Dredd is another that needs one.