Pacific Rim wide poster

Zach Snider’s rebooted Man of Steel looks actually really interesting. Iron Man 3 should hopefully be a return to form, though the villan looks like he’s from the same mould as the second movie. The there’s Thor: The Dark World, which could go either way as I hear it’s going to have a very different look and feel to the first one, which I rather liked. I have suitably low expectations for Star Trek Into Darkness, which is to say I think I’ll really enjoy it but will still bemoan the fact that it isn’t real Star Trek.

2013 has already brought us Cloud Atlas, a flawed but entertaining and satisfyingly complex work. All signs point towards Ender’s Game being a quality adaptation too.

But for me 2013 looks like it could be a great year for the original SF action film. Of course, ‘original’ is a difficult word to apply to any Hollywood blockbuster, but below I’ve collected the posters and linked to the trailers for four non-franchise, non-remake, non-sequel, non-adaptation movies coming out later this year.

Oblivion — April 2013

From the director of the very stylish Tron: Legacy and the producers of the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I know a lot of people have a strong distaste for Tom Cruise, but I rather like him in this kind of film. Minority Report is a modern classic and the recent Mission: Impossible films have been outstanding.

After Earth — June 2013

Another film set on an abandoned distant-future Earth. It feels like this film has much less substance (and a greater reliance on CG effects) than Oblivion, but there’s still plenty of room for it to be a great movie.

However, After Earth is an M Night Shyamalan movie, so set your expectation accordingly. Also on the negative side, Will Smith’s character is called Cypher Raige, which makes you wonder what else might be ill-conceived about the film.

Pacific Rim — July 2013

Guillermo del Toro says Pacific Rim will be “a beautiful poem to giant monsters.” I trust him entirely to deliver on the monsters – I’m a big fan of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth — but I consider del Toro entirely unproven in the SF genre. A bit like Tim Burton directing Superman, this could be a case of two great flavours that just don’t go well together.

The trailer is certainly exciting, but it doesn’t even hint at anything more than mecha vs. monster battles going on. Fingers crossed that it turns out to be better than the godawful Transformers movies. I don’t really see how it could be any worse. Nice to hear GLaDOS in there anyway!

Elysium — August 2013

Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium could be the best movie of them all. His District 9 was an extraordinary movie, reminiscent of Alien Nation in plot, but with an anti-hero in the lead and a surprisingly action-packed finale.

Elysium poster

I’m not a great fan of Matt Damon, but having Jodie Foster should make up for that. On the downside, the plot seems overfamiliar — Earth has become a slum so the elite live on a utopian space station called Elysium and Damon’s character needs to get there for a cure — but I’m hoping (and confident) that Blomkamp can make this film more that the sum of its parts.

Gravity — October 2013

Another film with potential is Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. It sounds like opinions will be split on this one, which only makes me more curious to see it. I certainly rate his Children of Men very highly. An AICN spy certainly liked what he saw:

This is not just next level shit, this is several levels ahead of next level shit, & quite possibly the highest level shit you could possibly make. This is like if Avatar had been released in 1927 a week after The Jazz Singer.

Odds are these movies won’t all be great. The film I was looking forward to the most last year was Prometheus, and we all know how that turned out. Still, it’s fantastic to see a higher-than-average amount of original movies like this, even if the flavour of originality is somewhat familiar.

Light-based media

Sci-fi summer spectacular 2013

2013 looks like it could be a great year for the original SF action film. Get excited for Oblivion, After Earth, Pacific Rim & Elysium.


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