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2013 Sci-Fi Highlights: To Oblivion and Beyond

The phrase “realized vision” is most often used figuratively in the sense of transferring an idea a director has of one film into a feature length production. In 1984, however, the term was applied literally when The Terminator, one of the most highly acclaimed science-fiction pictures of the last several decades, was invented one day, filmed the next, and released to audiences everywhere some time after that. The director, James Cameron, had in fact come up with this original idea in a nightmarish dream where he said he was being hunted by a robot killer from the future.

Originality today, however, has been put on the unfortunate life support feeding tube. In effect, it has been complicated by box office results, conflicting visions for a project, and a slew of special effects to numb audiences from discerning the difference between good art from bad. Despite this, originality still exists in the form of creativity when a director takes multiple themes and storylines and mixes them into one big melting pot, producing a stew of interesting ideas. Ideas so interesting that they verge on being original in their scope, design, and ambition. Science-fiction has been in this melting pot category for a while now, and every so often a balance is attained and the right chord is struck. Whether they will be follies, or epic adventures, or both, the science-fiction coming out this year will boast a heaping of stars, special effects, and story threads into one big entertaining spectacle.

, set to hit U.S. theaters this Friday, is one of these science-fiction vehicles where we are familiar with the plot, but A-list stars (Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman), a realistic observation of what the Earth may look like after a war with aliens, and a sense of surprise and urgency inhabit the linings of it. But Oblivion isn’t the only one getting this sci-fi treatment this year as seven more science-fiction films coming out will undoubtedly have one or more aspects of a “realized vision” embedded into them:

Star Trek Into Darkness: May 17

The well-told franchise story of a Starfleet group who journey through space and do battle with various evil entities gets a stylistic update in Director J.J. Abrams sequel to his 2009 hit Star Trek. In the same way Christopher Nolan corrected the Batman saga by focusing more on the dark roots of the hero’s origin story which sprouts into a relentlessly serious battle of good versus evil, Abrams’ Star Trek series should be viewed for its satisfyingly completest sensibility in appealing to both diehard Trekkies and general audiences.

The Purge: May 31st, 2013

After his run at horror in Sinister, Ethan Hawke returns to his post-apocalyptic, science-fiction self in this story about a family who tries to make the best of their setting where crime of any nature can take place without any punishment for one 12-hour period in an average 8760-hour year. Coming off his 2009 bloodsucking vampire-turned-human stint in Daybreakers, Hawke’s promise as a good actor, mixed with a premise that doubles as a parable on our future lives, make The Purge a not-to-miss event.

World War Z
: June 21st, 2013

Zombie flicks have been nearly beaten to death in the past several years. But this one about a man who scours the world in search of a way to end a zombie breakout that has dismantled domestic and international nations feels fresh. And Brad Pitt playing the lead makes that feeling simmer, especially when his name follows a movie title that reflects an epic yarn of events.

Pacific Rim
: July 12th, 2013

Guillermo Del Toro’s first film in the director’s chair since 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army has been long awaited. Now audiences can see the same man who made 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth fire on all cylinders in this science-fiction actioner involving a rock ‘em sock ‘em war pitted between God’s Godzilla-sized alien creations and mankind’s King-Kong monster robots. This very well may be Del Toro’s artistic answer to Michael Bay’s bombastic Transformers’ series.

: August 9th, 2013

After his successful turn at the aliens-invade-Earth subgenre in 2009’s District 9, Neill Blomkamp treads similar waters with Elysium, a sci-fi movie about how humans are the monsters of the future. Blomkamp’s new feature touches sensitive political issues such as health care, immigration, and class, which may appeal to those whose demographic this film does not reach. Whether or not he answers all the questions involving mankind’s morality or political state of mind, Blomkamp’s Elysium seems relevant to our contemporary society.

: September 6th, 2013

Upon taking a nosedive into muddy waters with The Chronicles of Riddick, the Pitch Black series seems to be surviving, against all odds. With this third entry into sort-of franchise that originated in 2000, this Vin Diesel vehicle is more focused on Riddick as a compelling protagonist who takes revenge on a bunch of aliens while trying to save his home planet, Furya, from destruction.

Ender’s Game
: November 1st, 2013

A smart boy is pulled out of school and compulsorily enrolled in a military school in space. The objective: to prepare for a future alien invasion in which the humans must win if they want to live and live freely. Need I say more? The film casts a number of stars, including Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin.


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