Friday, October 11, 2013

Original Science Fiction Blockbusters of 2013

Oblivion: Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind

Oblivion A Lesson In Remembering

n April 19th, 2013 "Tron: Legacy" director, Joseph Kosinski, opened his second film to Science Fiction audiences. His film was about a man who is having trouble reconciling partial memories of his past, his present situation on a destroyed Earth, and his future. The film stared Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurilenko, Melissa Leo, and Morgan Freeman. Kosinski drew inspiration from many Sci-Fi tropes of past films. "Oblivion" spent 70 days in the theaters and brought in a grand total of $286,168,572 in world wide ticket sales. Only 31.1% were in domestic box office sales while the other 68.9% or $197,061,337 were earned in foreign ticket sales. 

n art as in science, we all stand on the back of others.  We filter our perceptions through the grid of our experiences.  Kosinski has done this by taking, what he thought were some elements of his favorite films of the sci-fi genre and skillfully wove these concepts and tropes to build a story that if it doesn't make you think, it will definitely entertain you. 

Sony / Columbia released on May 31st 2013,  what they had hoped would be a huge success for them. After all, Will Smith is a big star and has for many years, has been a  summertime box office draw. What happened instead is that this $130 million Science Fiction coming of age story barely got off the ground here, in the United States. Domestically, "After Earth" made $60,522,097 and $183,321,030 in foreign ticket sales. "After Earth" walked away with a grand total of $243.8 million world wide. 

ost critics hated "After Earth." The Rotten Tomatoes website gave the film a paltry 11% and had some harsh remarks about the film in general, and more pointed attacks on either the director (M. Night Shyamalan) or the main star, Jayden Smith. While I wouldn't consider the film epic in any manner, I did find the film entertaining. 

This is not your typical Will Smith film.  No sly remarks thrown in, no happy go lucky "Prince of Bel Air," no Captain Hillard whose charisma and appeal we saw in "Independence Day."  No, this is a Will Smith playing a father whose life and his son's life are in grave danger and how he is unable to save the day himself.  On one hand, we have Kitai working to defeat his greatest opponent in this film, and that is himself.  In a Jedi/Zen sort of way we are instructed that "Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice."  Jaden Smith plays his part perfectly.  

Pacific Rim: Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind

Pacific Rim ~ Apocalypse Canceled

n July of this year, Guillermo Del Toro took a childhood fantasy about the monster films he watched as a child and gave them an updated new look. Instead of focusing on one Kaiju, Del Toro focuses on several in "Pacific Rim." Like the other Sci-Fi films discussed in this post, DelToro's monster mash failed to make back its $190 million production budget in domestic dollars. "Pacific Rim" made $407,545,104 in world wide ticket sales. The studios, however, like domestic dollars to pay back production costs. While Guillermo's baby made $305.8 million in foreign sales, the film barely made $101.7 million in the United States. 

ritics had more favorable comments toward "Pacific Rim" giving the film a ripe 72%, while the users gave it a solid 80%. Partial credit for the film's success goes to Travis Beachamt, who co-wrote the screenplay with Del Toro. 

uillermo del Toro is a complete fan boy and loves to bring stuff from his childhood to the silver screen in bold new ways.  From "El Laberinto del Fauno" ("Pan's Labyrinth"), "Hellboy," "The Devil's Backbone," and the films that he has produced such as "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," and recently "Mama," all depict a certain sense of Guillermo del Toro's longing for the days of his childhood and his sense of philosophical justice that he brings to his films.  "Pacific Rim" is not epic, but it is impressive and awesome.  He and Beacham bring action and adventure, characters designed to be liked and sympathized with, and in some cases, unexpected comic relief that brings to mind the days before our innocence was lost.  Overall, "Pacific Rim" is that movie that the whole family can enjoy and not feel guilty about having to watch a completely mindless action film.

Elysium: Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind

Elysium ~ Somewhere Over The Wheel In The Sky

nticipation for Neill Blomkamp's sophomore film Elysium had been building up during the first half of the year. The question on fan's mind was what social cause was BlomKamp going to take up in "Elysium." He took on racism and apartheid in "District 9." Now his focus is on social inequality. The distinction between the haves and the have-nots is clear and pointed in "Elysium." 

ritics were a little less kind to Blomkamp's efforts giving the film a 68% fresh rating on the Rotton Tomatoes web site. The film was released on August 9th, 2013 which was the same weekend that Disney's Buena Vista films also released its animation kid pleaser "Planes." Overall, "Elysium" fell short domestically only bringing in just over $92 million and $180.5 million overseas. Elysium was in theaters only 59 days and brought in a total of $272,712,297 worldwide. 

ax De Acosta (Damon) lives in a world with little hope.  Los Angeles of the future is nothing more than a giant favela.  Max's world is a place where knowledge is power, and it can be uploaded or downloaded from a computer, into, or out of our brains.  He works in a factory where profit is job one, and safety be damned.  Max who is more of an anti-hero, an ex-con, an orphan, and he is a product of his environment.  A former car thief now on probation, Max is working at a factory that makes security robots.  The factory is owned by corporcrat and CEO, John Carlyle, and top citizen of Elysium, who stands aloof above the workers in his factory.He dismisses the board of directors with a swipe of a finger and demands from his underlings more work and more profits.  While on the floor below Max is doused with a lethal dose of radiation and now has a true motivation to seek the medical attention that only citizens of Elysium can afford.

Gravity: Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind

Gravity ~ Review of Sandra Bullock's Impressive Performance In Free Fall

ne would think that a film of an individual floating in space, pretty much alone would make for a boring movie. "Children of Men" director, Alfonso Cuarón proves this thought a fallacy. "Gravity" kept the audience on the edge of their seats. The film is in theaters as of this writing. The film is entering its second weekend and is already approaching the $80 million mark. "Gravity" opened strong with $55 million in domestic sales. As of this writing, "Gravity" boasts over  $102 million in worldwide box office sales and the critics at Rotten Tomatoes a solid 97% wile users of the website gave it only 90%.

ith its message of hope and the films allusions to evolution, Alfonso  and his son Jonás wrote a story that is essentially a roller-coaster ride of a film. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, however, Sandra Bullock is excellent as she portrays a women dealing with the idea of death and the search for a reason to live. Many of us face this question on a day-to-day basis; not a space catastrophe, but the basic question of why are we here. She handles these questions with a believability that resonates with the audience.

one of these have made their production budget back from domestic dollars, except perhaps "Gravity." I don't know if this is because of very high production budgets allotted to the film's director, or is it because the audience is voting with their wallets and just not venturing out to see these films..Going to a theater to see a film is costly and can be a pain in the ass. Science Fiction films this year, for the most part, were entertaining and worth watching, if not on the big theater screen, or IMAX, but are worth watching on a rented Blu-ray or DVD. Each film had a message and each had its own set of flaws that made the film unique in Sci-Fi genre. I liked each film for different reasons and found that each invoked different emotions upon watching them with my family. The goal of these films are to entertain and distract the viewer from the unrest on foreign soil, or from the inability fo our own government from going broke and shutting down.

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