So maybe you didn’t notice it, what with the year being stretched out over so many weeks like it is, but this was an amazing year for science fiction at the movie theater. Not since the post- Star Wars reactionary vomiting of terrible sci-fi onto the public that came in the late 70s have so many big budget films starring droids and clones and aliens and R2-beepos or whatever been released in one calender year. I’m totally making that up. Like if you fact check me, I’ll just fold now and take a nap. But yeah…there were a lot.
There were terrible ones like Battleship, which relied on the nostalgia of youth for a board game that you couldn’t win if the other person was even remotely dishonest, and then turned it into a movie about underwater space aliens invading Rihanna. It was one of the few movies I saw this year that I genuinely hated. But it WAS sci-fi. Stupid, stupid sci-fi. Same goes for Iron Sky, the space Nazi movie, which SOUNDS like it could be kitschy and amazing, but was really just mishandled and annoying like Matt Lauer’s interview with Anne Hathaway post vagina-gate. (TOPICAL! ZING!)
In the “Meh” category of science fiction from 2012, we find a treasure trove of movies to put on while we pick through our friends list on Facebook so we can delete all the jerks who won’t stop asking us to play poker with them. Movies like John Carter, which was way better than a movie about a guy who jumps all over the place should ever have been, or Lockout where Guy Pierce plays an angry guy who has to go to space to do…something…I don’t know…I had just gotten like 6 invitations to like “Slots” and was feeling vindictive, so I kinda blanked out on the movie. Also, Men in Black 3: The Ending is Stupid, But It’s Not The Worst Thing You’ve Ever Seen.
Then there were the remakes Dredd and Total Recall. Dredd was a beautifully done sci-fi adventure with ultra-violence and slow-motion defenestration and super-drugs and hot Olivia Thirlby, that bore no resemblance at all to the monstrosity that was the Sylvester Stallone film from the 90s. It was really quite brilliant. I keep telling people to see it and they keep sneering at me. I guess a little memory of Rob Schneider goes a long ways. Total Recall on the other hand, was markedly less impressive, however still watchable. I would have put it in that other chapter about okay sci-fi films above, but then I didn’t because I wanted to put it in the remakes paragraph. I know…I know. This amazing story of my creative process seems like a nonstop rollercoaster ride of thrills.
And don’t forget the blockbuster sci-fi! The Avengers had mutant flying space whales and skeletal bony monsters on Flash Gordon hover-bikes for punching and singularities, and a wacky physicist…Sure it’s a comic book movie but I’m counting it, because everything Iron Man plays with is Jetson’s technology and that equals sci-fi. And The Hunger Games which is just dystopian sci-fi set against the backdrop of teen hormones and killer bees. Oh Peeta! Why do you have to be so damn good at camouflage! YOU CAN’T CAMOUFLAGE YOUR HEART!!!! That was a pretty good movie because Jennifer Lawrence.
The best science fiction of 2012 though, is encapsulated by four films. They cover a variety of arch-types and methodologies, but where they dovetail is in the excellence of their storytelling. They were all interesting, poignant, challenging, and confident in how they promoted their narratives. And one of them was my favorite film this year. They are: Looper, Cloud Atlas, Chronicle, and Safety Not Guaranteed (It’s THAT one). I’ve reviewed all but Chronicle in-depth so if you care, follow the links. Chronicle was the first found footage film I’ve seen that didn’t allow its style to devour its story. It made sense in the way the story unfolded and there wasn’t TOO much shaky-cam. So that was nice. But it was brilliant storytelling.
Oh yeah. And Prometheus. Don’t fucking get me started on Prometheus.
Next year is going to be big too, with films like Star Trek Into Darkness, After Earth, Oblivion, Pacific Rim, and probably some others I don’t feel like researching right now.
It’s a good time to be a geek, is my point.