In theory 2012 will be an amazing year for science fiction at the movies. Following the meager offerings of 2011, that’s pretty good news. Whether any of these upcoming films will deliver remains to be seen, but standing here and now looking over the precipice of a new year, 2012 looks like it could be one of the best years for science fiction ever.
Here’s a look at the upcoming sci-fi movies we think you should be most excited about in 2012.
John Carter (March 9, 2012)
It’s written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the guy behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.. So in a sense this is the first ever live-action movie from the geniuses at Pixar who, until the release of Cars 2 last year, had never made a movie that nearly everyone didn’t think was great. That pedigree alone makes John Carter a must see, but it’s also adapted from a truly classic science fiction series, written by lauded author Edgar Rice Burroughs. The books involve a Civil War soldier unexpectedly transported to Mars where he discovers several different races of warring aliens and that he superhero like strength thanks to the planet’s less than Earth normal gravity. And if that hasn’t convinced you this shouldn’t be missed, there’s always the film’s brilliant trailers.
[ UPDATE! Read our John Carter review. ]
The Hunger Games (March 23, 2012)
At the other end of the spectrum from John Carter stands The Hunger Games, also adapted from a series of popular books, but books which were written in 2008. It’s not exactly classic material, but it’s solid stuff which could be made even better if put on screen in the right way. Whether director Gary Ross is doing it the right way remains to be seen, but the things we’ve glimpsed from the film so far haven’t looked particularly onerous, if not exactly impressive. If nothing else we hope they’ll capture the brutality of author Suzanne Collins’ story, which involves a girl named Katniss, living in a dystopian future where peasant teenagers are selected to fight in battles to the death for food. Katniss gets picked and finds herself whisked off to the capital city and dropped in the middle of the games where there can be only one survivor.
[ UPDATE! Read our Hunger Games review. ]
The Cabin in the Woods (April 13, 2012)
Co-written by Joss Whedon this sounds like another one of those horror movie parodies, but it’s actually a sci-fi monster movie in disguise. There’s a big twist in the middle, which the trailers have kind of spoiled, but I won’t. Suffice to say it goes some pretty great science fiction places. A group of kids go to a cabin in the woods for a weekend, and horrible things start to happen… which turn a lot of the usual horror movie clichés on their head. Did I mention that it was co-written by Joss Whedon, the guy behind Firefly? Also I hear Joss Whedon wrote part of the script, you might remember him as the mind behind a great television program called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Additionally, the creator of Angel and Dollhouse may have helped write the story.
[ UPDATE! Read our Cabin in the Woods review. ]
Lock-Out (April 20, 2012)
It’s basically an outer space prison-break movie in which a badass played by Guy Pearce must break in and then break out of an orbiting maximum security prison. To rescue the president’s daughter, who’s become stranded there, he’ll have to face riots and being punched in the face. The trailer makes this look like a sort of space-faring Escape from New York, and if you don’t know why Escape from New York would be completely badass, then you probably haven’t watched Escape from New York. Do that. It’s also written and produced by French action impresario Luc Besson. Besson should be best known to science fiction fans as the mind behind the excellent movie The Fifth Element, and the really good news here is that Lock-Out captures at least a portion of that awesome 5th Element future look.
[ UPDATE! Read our Lockout review. ]
Prometheus (June 8, 2012)
Director Ridley Scott has played coy about whether or not this movie actually connects to his 1979 film Alien, but since the trailer goes out of its way to connect the two, all indications are that yes, in some way at least this is an Alien prequel. Whatever it is, Prometheus looks brilliant. It’s Ridley Scott’s first sci-fi film since Blade Runner. When Ridley does sci-fi there’s not only a chance that you’ll get something good, there’s a chance that you may get one of the best movies ever made. For now all we really know about Prometheus is that it involves a group of astronauts who go looking for the secrets of mankind’s origins, and in the process uncover something which may instead be humanity’s end. Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Wilson, Guy Pearce, and Noomi Rapace star as humans.
Men in Black III (May 25, 2012)
It’s been a decade since the last Men in Black movie and that’s just long enough that the idea of seeing them back on screen is appealing again. This one involves that old Hollywood sci-fi crutch of time travel, but as with any Men in Black movie the plot doesn’t matter so much as how much fun they’re having with whatever it is that’s going on. In an interesting twist Josh Brolin has been brought in to play a young Agent Kay, and if the trailers are any indication he’s doing a brilliant Tommy Lee Jones impersonation. Don’t worry, Tommy Lee’s still in it too. Expect to see him as his usual wrinkly, grumpy self in the modern world before Agent Jay (Will Smith) gets flung back in time to hang out with his younger version. Start practicing the MIB line dance right now.
Total Recall (August 3, 2012)
Yep, it’s a remake of a movie that probably didn’t need to be remade. The 1990 Paul Veerhoven movie is a classic and odds are this attempt to redo the same Philip K. Dick tale will end up about as well as that new version of The Thing from last year. Except Dick’s source material is so good, even with the odds stacked against it, you really have to give just about any adaptation made from his work a shot. They’ve changed the story a little too, as a way of differentiating from the Veerhoven movie. This time it’s set on Earth and involves a war between neighboring nation states. Colin Farrell (who’s regained a lot of his acting credibility in recent years) stars in the role originally made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger as a man who begins to suspect he’s a spy, but isn’t sure which side of the war he’s on.
Warm Bodies (August 10, 2012)
Warm Bodies is a zombie movie from director Jonathan Levine who’s last job was directing 50/50, a film I picked as the best movie of 2011. More than just a zombie movie it’s a zombie romance movie, in the most literal sense. Apparently the plot involves a zombie becoming romantically involved with the girlfriend of one of his victims. It sounds a lot like Romeo and Juliet if Romeo was dead and Juliet’s parents weren’t comfortable with the idea of their daughter dating a rotting corpse with a lust for brains. Teresa Palmer, who’s been on the verge of mega-stardom for awhile now, plays the lead. Other notables include John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, and Nicholas Hoult as the lovesick zombie.
Resident Evil: Retribution (September 14, 2012)
By now you know what to expect from a Resident Evil movie and that’s not likely to change in the seemingly never-ending franchise’s fifth installment. The last one added 3D into the mix and, as a matter of fact, did it so well that it still stands as one of the best 3D efforts (from a technical standpoint) that I’ve ever seen on screen. The plot will be ridiculous, Milla Jovovich will kick ass, and you should plan to go in with the attitude that you’re in for a ridiculous action movie and nothing else, if you want to enjoy it. The plot of Retribution involves Alice (Jovovich) teaming up with a resistance movement to continue the fight against the evil Umbrella corporation. Also zombies.
Dredd (September 21, 2012)
Here’s a remake which actually needed to be done. In 1995 Sly Stallone starred in an attempted adaptation of the popular series of Judge Dredd comics and it was sort of a disaster. Now they’re trying it again and it’s bound to be better than the last one. In this version, written by 28 Days Later screenwriter Alex Garland, Karl Urban stars as the titular Dredd. If you’re unfamiliar with the comics what you should know is that Judge Dredd is a law enforcer in a violent, futuristic city where individual police officers have the authority to act as both judge, jury, and executioner. In this take on the story Judge Dredd teams up with a trainee to fight a gang of drug dealers. Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby co-star, which instantly makes this movie worth the price of admission, if only to stare at them for two hours. Nice upgrade over Rob Schneider.
Looper (September 28, 2012)
This one’s the new movie from Brick director Rian Johnson. Joseoph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, and Piper Perabo star in the story of a killer who works for the mob in the future, and somehow discovers that one of his next targets is actually his future self. Yep it’s a time travel movie and if you’ve seen the complicated stories Johnson has had the skill to weave into the scripts for his other movies then you know he’s a natural fit to pull off a brilliant science fiction tale. This one’s still a long way off and only in early pre-production, but everything we’ve seen so far hints at something pretty good.
Gravity (November 21, 2012)
Gravity will either be one of the most original and breaktaking movies of 2012 or one of the most boring and frustrating. It’s too early to tell, but it helps that director Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) is at the helm. In it George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star in the story of a lone astronaut, stranded in space and desperately trying to get home to her daughter. Word is that much of the movie will involve Sandra simply floating alone in outer space and what’s more, none of the actors will be allowed to wear makeup of any kind on camera. You’ve probably never even seen Sandra Bullock without makeup, but in Gravity not only will you see her, you’ll see her in epic, slow, floating shots displayed entirely in 3D.