Science fiction has been one of the mainstays of all narrative media for hundreds of years. From the books of Jules Verne to the very latest foray into the 3D world with James Cameron, we’ve all been fed our fair share of sci-fi one way or another. In recent years, though, sci-fi seems to have taken a back seat, with filmmakers focusing on other avenues like the ubiquitous ‘rom com’. In the world of cinema, perhaps the ‘heyday’ of science fiction was during the 1970s and 80s with blockbuster movies like the original Star Wars trilogy, the Alien saga, Terminator movies, and more. So has the genre stagnated? Has it been spending too long on its reclining sofa and not enough time reaching out to new audiences? Perhaps so; but thanks to recent and upcoming big-budget flicks, we might be on the brink of a sci-fi renaissance.
The golden age of science fiction
There haven’t been many movies in the last decade that soared to the heights of popularity as quickly as James Cameron’s Avatar. Released at the end of 2009, it pioneered new methods in 3D technology and really brought the ‘new’ 3D to a mass audience. Obviously James Cameron is a veteran of sci-fi movie making (with his being a significant contributor to two of the franchises mentioned earlier), so who better to reinvigorate the genre and bring it back to the fore? Of course, sci-fi never really died out completely, and there have been a number of good attempts at kick-starting it (with very varied results). Examples such as M. Night Shyamalan’s movies could fall under the sci-fi umbrella, but whether or not they are out-and-out successes is a point of contention (barring The Sixth Sense of course). Then there are the more ‘cult’ examples of film sci-fi such as Sunshine and Moon. Both great movies in their own way (if we ignore the final act of Sunshine, that is), they never really got the fanfare or success that perhaps they deserved. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a movie on the horizon which is going to change all that and be the runaway success the genre deserves.
Sci-fi on the horizon
Ok, are you paying attention? Got your reclining sofa in the upright position? Good. Here are a couple of movies which are tipped for box office success. First off, we’ve got Super 8. Being released in August, it’s a collaboration between prolific director Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams, creator of LOST and Cloverfield. That combo sounds like it will sell tickets on its own, but luckily this one has a rather intriguing story. In a nutshell it’s about a train that crashes whilst carrying a ‘creature’ of some kind, and follows a group of kids and their journey whislt going through this rather unusual turn of events. It was actually released in the USA in June, so half the world already knows what happens, but the movie sees its UK release in August – so it’s definitely one to keep an eye out for.
Another flick which looks like it could reignite the world’s passion for sci-fi is the interestingly named Cowboys and Aliens. Not much is known about this one at this stage, but it stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford: two big names who are sure to draw a crowd. And Harrison Ford is star of one of the most famous sci-fi franchises of all time: Star Wars, so how can it fail? From the director of Iron Man, this one hits at the end of July, so mark it in your diary!
As with any other form of popular media, genres tend to ebb and flow. Sci-fi will have its moment in the sun again, and maybe it’ll be sooner rather than later. Do remember, though, that this also means rom coms will have their time again too. You have been warned.