This has already been an incredible year for science fiction movies and the best is yet to come! Here is a breakdown of 2015’s scifi offerings
Oren Peli hasn’t directed a film since 2009’s pretty great debut, Paranormal Activity. Completed the same year that Paranormal Activity was released, Area 51 has been sitting on the shelf but will finally be released this year. The trailer promises more of the same in terms of suspense and scares contained within a found footage format and even if it contains only 1/10th of the imagination of its spiritual predecessor, it should be a good time.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
This weekend, it would be a good idea for a studio to not release anything, knowing that the latest installment of The Avengers is coming out. The sci-fi elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been tentative, but we have artificial intelligence, robotic suits and man-monsters created from radiation. Also coming out this year in terms of comic-book heroes, we have Paul Rudd as Ant-Man coming out this summer and a reboot of Fantastic 4.
So far, the year is only less than half over and already Ex Machina is my personal favorite movie (of any genre) to come out so far. If something else comes along to take its place as my favorite of the year, I’ll have to hail 2015 as being one of the best years for cinema of all time. Nothing within Ex Machina is inherently original—everything done, we’ve seen before—but rarely has so much thought and imagination been put into the exploration of mankind.
Unseen by me, but wildly divergent in its reception, Jupiter Ascending is one of those “love it or hate it” movies. There’s an unofficial rule that if you’re going to shoot for something, shoot for greatness for five stars, or if you’re going to be bad, go all the way. Nothing is worse than being middle-of-the-road and boring or forgettable. Jupiter Ascending has the excitement of the Wachowskis behind it and their work varies from imaginative wonder (The Matrix) to… god only knows what drugs were consumed (Speed Racer).
22 years ago, Jurassic Park was THE quintessential Summer Movie. It had groundbreaking special effects that still hold up today and look as gorgeous now as they did then. It had a great sense of humor and a sense of adventure that was giddy with childlike glee. Jurassic World has a lot to live up to, and it’s a bold move to have the director at its helm be a relative unknown, known for his indie features. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that this sequel can only hold a candle to the original because what’s cooler than dinosaurs? And the answer is none. None cooler than dinosaurs.
Disney tries the whole “let’s make a movie based on an existing ride” thing again. The thing is, it’s not always a terrible idea. The first Pirates of the Caribbean is a lot of fun. The Haunted Mansion with Eddie Murphy is… I’m sure it has a great personality. Brad Bird is helming Tomorrowland and his track record for great movies is STAGGERING. From his work on The Simpsons to The Incredibles and Ratatouille all the way up to somehow making a third sequel in a film series be the best entry yet, he’s a director to be trusted with just about any medium and any genre.
We always have the first two, right? Terminator and T2 are two movies of equal quality and they’re two of the very best sci-fi action movies ever made. If you were a kid when T2 came out, chanced are you’ve daydreamed at some point in your life about how awesome it would be to be made out of liquid metal. Terminator Genisys seems to realize this and the trailer threw all the familiarity of the series, including its original setting, at the viewer. There promises to be everything we love: Time travel, robot destruction, Kyle Reese, liquid metal… but the PG-13 rating for a very R-Rated (originally) series smacks of a studio looking for maximizing profits instead of being true to the series. I hope I’m wrong because director Alan Taylor has dabbled in some of my most favorite TV series.
Almost every director gets one of those “lifetime pass” movies, where if everything they make is middling or something kind of awful, they have that one movie made early on in their career that showcases all of their talent. M. Night Shayamalan has The Sixth Sense. Michael Bay has The Rock. Neil Blomkamp has District 9. Neither Elysium nor Chappie are anywhere near being terrible, but he seems to be repeating the same story again and again with diminishing results, which is a shame because he’s a wonderful visual filmmaker who has a lot to say. If he veered out of his comfort zone, like he hopefully does if his proposed Alien movie gets made, he might be able to knock it out of the park again.
One of the things I dread about getting old is that one day someone very, very young is going to ask me, “Did people back then really think Adam Sandler was funny?” And I’ll sigh and set aside my future pipe and roll over to him in my hover-chair and I’ll say, “Sort of. Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are pure gold. And if you didn’t appreciate him in Punch Drunk Love, I got nothing to tell you.” Pixels actually looks like it might be fun. Christopher Columbus has made boundlessly fun movies in the past and Adam Sandler, for the first time in a long time, doesn’t look like he’s showing up only to get a paycheck. The old school video game references have me hoping it’ll be something reminiscent of Wreck-It Ralph.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Disparaging Star Wars and the anticipation of a new movie is the easiest reaction to have after the prequels struck. But you can’t possibly have a functioning heart if you can’t imagine the best scenario, sitting in the theater and being blasted with that classical John Williams score while that familiar yellow text flies overhead, introducing you to the universe where anything is possible. JJ Abrams has it in him to make this movie be awesome. I can’t wait until this comes out because I’m going to geek out harder than anyone would ever imagine. It’s going to be embarrassing how hard I geek out, frankly.