Writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium has been one of of most-anticipated films of the year, much less most-anticipated science fiction films. Blomkamp blew our minds with 2009’s District 9, and that was shot on a budget of around $30 million. For Elysium, Blomkamp had over three times that, around $100 million. The ads have made it clear that every penny of that budget is up on the screen, and with the enormous construction of the titular orbiting space station, Elysium is serving up a gorgeous realization of a “ringworld” style station, a sci-fi staple we’ve been reading and dreaming about for decades. Toss in a timely tale of class warfare, Jodie Foster taking villainous, a scruffy Sharlto Copley as a badass enforcer, and Matt Damon kitted up in an exoskeleton and and ripping the heads off of robots, and you’ve got my ticket money. This Friday, we’ll finally get to see if Blomkamp’s latest lives up to District 9’s legacy. (Or you can just read Brent’s review right here.)
Elysium isn’t the only exciting bit of sci-fi arriving this week. Earlier this year Tom Cruise’s Oblivion arrived to decidedly mixed reviews. While it’s derivative as hell, it’s also visually stunning, so if you skipped it in theaters it’s worth a rental. Lower your expectations appropriately and it’s a decent watch. In the mood for a bit of reading material instead? Check out a new comic series from Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski (Sidekicks) or a new RoboCop comic series that’s adapting Frank Miller’s original script for RoboCop 3. Lookie there, something good came out of RoboCop 3 after all.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “Imperfect Circles”
Sadly, this episode isn’t about crop circles beginning to appear inside the dome. That would add some ammunition to my “the Dome was created by aliens who are just kind of dicks” theory. “Big Jim takes action when his authority is challenged; a baby is born as another life ends.”
Antiviral (Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Download)
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg (yes, David Cronenberg’s son), Antiviral examines our culture’s obsession with celebrity by envisioning a future where you people will pay to be infected with the same diseases as their idols. Because nothing will bring you closer to your favorite c-list reality star than a mutual case of genital herpes. When one of the black market virus dealers infects himself with blood from a celebrity who dies shortly thereafter, he must try and figure out a way to cure himself before he dies as well. Unfortunately, his illness just made him a collector’s item…
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “The Vets Strike Back”
This isn’t actually the kick-off of the show’s new season. Instead, it’s a two-hour preview focusing on the returning veteran contestants, who will face off (ahem) against eight new competitors this time around. The new season itself premieres next week.
Oblivion (Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Download)
Tom Cruise stars as a drone repair mechanic operating on the mostly lifeless surface of the Earth. The rest of humanity has abandoned the homeworld after a brutal war against alien invaders, and Cruise’s Jack Harper is nearly at the end of his contract, after which he will leave Earth behind to join the rest of the species. But when he discovers a mysterious woman in the wreckage of a crashed vessel, he begins to question everything he thought was true.
Wing Commander (Blu-Ray)
Remember Wing Commander? It’s notable mostly for wasting some beloved source material: the excellent old-school game series created by Chris Roberts. (To be fair, Roberts himself directed the movie, so he can’t blame anybody else.) Ah well, at the rate they’re rebooting things, maybe they’ll get it right when they give it a second go.
Alien Files (Destination America, 10/9c)
On any given day you can find hours and hours of programming examining notions of UFOs or alien invaders on the History Channel alone, but if you’re craving something new, we give you Alien Files. Assuming you can find “Destination America” on your cable/satellite line-up.
Abductions, invasions, and conspiracies about aliens surround our world every day, from nightly news to video games to the latest box office hit. Delving into the “photoshopping” of space, the value of Wikileaks, and the role social media plays in alien stories, Alien Files offers a unique 360 degree look at how alien interaction may have affected our past, and how it will affect our future.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “Leela and the Genestalk”
“Leela grows tentacles due to a rare condition, and stumbles upon a secret genetic engineering lab.” If there isn’t at least one hentai joke, I’ll eat my hat.
Joe Rogan Questions Everything (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Robosapien”
Having already tackled stories of Bigfoot and weather control, this week Rogan is exploring the possibility that we’ll someday be able to transfer our consciousness into artificial bodies. Hopefully it’ll be quicker than teleporting…
RoboCop: Last Stand #1 (Boom! Studios)
And here we have the series we mentioned up top. Writer Steven Grant adapts Frank Miller’s original screenplay for RoboCop 3. Granted, RoboCop 3 was kind of awful, but I’ll still be intrigued to see how this shakes out on the comics page. Grant actually adapted Miller’s RoboCop 2 script as well, back in 2003, and Boom! is planning on re-releasing that series as a deluxe trade paperback at some point.
Sidekick #1 (Image Comics)
Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski releases the second new series in his Joe’s Comics imprint, following up on the horror-noir series Ten Grand. In Sidekick, Flyboy — superheroic sidekick to the Red Cowl — is left to fend for himself after his partner is murdered. Unfortunately, nobody takes him seriously, and his continued attempts to escape the shadow of the late Red Cowl and prove he can stand on his own never seem to work out right. But when he begins an affair with one of his former enemies, he learns a truth that “will give Flyboy something live for..and maybe, just maybe, something to kill for.”
Invasion Roswell (Syfy, 9/8c)
Apparently Thursday is the new Saturday, as Syfy has been shifting its unique brand of cornballery into the mid-week, abandoning their traditional Saturday-night berth where most people were busy and it was thus easier to avoid them. How do you top a Sharknado? We honestly don’t know, but for some reason Syfy is airing this.
Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Second Wave”
“Kiera is captured by Julian’s followers in the wake of a sneak attack executed by the shadowy group posing as Section Six; at the same time, Alec tries to track down Travis by reactivating his military chip, but shortly thereafter the hunter becomes the hunted.”
Primeval: New World (Syfy, 9/8c)
Syfy is marathoning the entire first season of this show beginning at 10am Eastern, and will air all of the remaining episodes beginning at 5 pm Eastern. If you’re curious and want to check the show out, tune in early, otherwise remember to set your DVR to catch all six of the remaining eps.