2013 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for science fiction, probably the biggest since 2009 brought us heavy-hitters like Avatar, District 9, Moon and Star Trek. Major sci-fi releases this year will include J.J. Abrams‘ sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, Zack Snyder‘s Superman reboot Man of Steel, Neill Blomkamp‘s D-9 followup Elysium, Iron Man 3, World War Z, Ender’s Game, and Guillermo del Toro‘s monsters-vs-robots extravaganza Pacific Rim, among many others.
Two of the sci-fi juggernauts vying for your theater bucks are Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, and After Earth, featuring Will Smith. Both are big-budget future tales involving a major box office star returning to Earth after humanity was forced to abandon the planet, only to find something sinister at work. Which of these movies looks to be more worth our time? Let’s size them up – Flickchart-style, head-to-head – and find out.
Olympus Has Fallen, director Antoine Fuqua‘s violent depiction of a direct terrorist attack on the White House, delivered exactly what I expected from it; nothing more, nothing less. (For the record, you can read what I had to say before seeing it in our Flickchart Preview.) It is Die Hard in the White House – so much so that it barely deviates from formula in even the slightest way. It’s a paint-by-numbers affair, but the painting is done professionally, so Olympus gets by with slightly more than a passing grade.
Such was the success of Die Hard in 1988 that action movies have never quite been the same since. There is a particular kind of film that now even gets pitched as some kind of variant: Die Hard on a bus, Die Hard on a battleship, Die Hard on a train, Die Hard on a plane… you get the idea.
It can be tough deciding what movie to watch. That’s where I come in. To help lead you through the cinematic landscape to hopefully avoid the duds and misfires that can soil ones love for the theater going experience. In this series, I will take the trailers for what I assume will be the top 2 highest-grossing new releases, dissect their trailers, and then summarize who I think should see which movie. I’m not here to say which one will be better. I’m here to help you decide which will be better for you.
Before beginning part 3 of my year-in-review opus I’d like to acknowledge how truly great a year we’ve had this year in regards to movies. For as many films and performances that will be nominated for awards, there will be just as many that have a right to feel snubbed. There were so many quality indie, genre, and franchise films that even the stingiest of movie watchers could easily find one movie they really enjoyed. This year was so great that they didn’t even abide by the normal January-February as dumping grounds mentality, releasing movies like Haywire, The Grey, Chronicle, and Wanderlust, which are all vastly superior to the normal dreck that’s usually released at the beginning of the year. Even some of the more disappointing movies of the year were at least interesting to discuss, like Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises.
Some Romances Are Stronger Than the Bonds of Time
Safety Not Guaranteed received quite a bit of love as the indie darling of the year. So much so that I assumed it would end up being this year’s annual indie movie that makes my top 5. Turns out, I didn’t like it nearly as much as everyone else. A lot of that had to do with my expectations being way too high, but the movie is far from flawless. As much as I like Mark Duplass his character is essentially a male version of a manic pixie dream girl and serves the purpose of being an eccentric person whose love saves the main character, Aubrey Plaza, despite being completely unrealistic to real life relationships. Jake Johnson has his own clichés to fight against as the guy who is a jerk but is funny enough where the audience doesn’t hate him. Then they find out his jerkiness is based around his unhappiness so they start to love him and he goes through a predictable character arc. Despite my complaints I still think the movie is good, just not as good as every other person seems to think.
Looper was writer/director Rian Johnston’s third feature film which starred Hollywood’s newest big man on campus Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis, or was Bruce Willis an old Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Time travel being used as a way for mobsters to have people killed with no evidence left behind? Awesomely brilliant idea, especially by having Jeff Daniels as the guy who traveled back in time to run it. Having numerous people have slight telekinetic powers? A little jarring and way more unbelievable than the idea of time travel for some reason. There was also a romantic sub-plot with Emily Blunt which felt a little forced, but since JGL and Blunt are so good, they made it work. That’s how the movie feels as a whole, though. It definitely has its problems and plot holes, but overall it’s so original and well-made/acted that it’s easy to forgive them.
And the Winner Is: Looper - but speaking of time travel let’s go back in time a few decades ourselves.