All too often, science fiction at the movies is just a standard action movie wearing a funny hat and drop-kicked into orbit. It’s rare to see films, especially Hollywood outings, that truly embrace the elements that define the best of the genre: a sense of wonder, a thoughtful exploration of where we may be going, and above all a story that uses the trappings of the futuristic or fantastic to examine the human condition in the here and now. By all accounts the indie science fiction movie Europa Report exemplifies the best of science fiction, and after a couple of months of exclusive video-on-demand release, this week you’ll finally have a chance to see the film in theaters.
Directed by Sebastián Cordero and written by Philip Gelatt (who has been rumored for the Dead Space movie as well), Europa Report is a found-footage science fiction thriller focusing on a privately funded voyage to Jupiter’s moon of Europa. After losing communications with Earth, the six-person crew is left to continue their mission to Europa, where they find something “more profound and terrifying than they originally believed.” That’s what they get for ignoring the warnings of the Monolith…
Europa Report is a breath of fresh air in a summer packed full of remakes and sequels, and one of our most anticipated movies yet to come in 2013, along with Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium (also starring Europa Report’s Sharlto Copley) and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. It’s all too rare to see original big-screen science fiction that isn’t based on a pre-existing movie, show, book, or what-have-you. That’s the reason we were so keen to support Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (aside from the fact that it was awesome), and that’s why we’re equally hopeful Europa Report will be a success. Hollywood may often be cynical and soulless, but they do love the smell of money, so we plan to get out there and support original science fiction! (If you’re still not sold, check out Brent’s review of Europa Report right here.)
Here’s what else is new This Week in Science Fiction!
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “The Endless Thirst”
This week, the folks under the dome realize that their water supply might be dangerously limited. Next week’s threat: so much poop.
The Capture (The CW, 9/8c) — “The Hunt Begins”
The CW may have given the axe to their Hunger Games-inspired pilot The Selection, but they went ahead with a reality-show version of the same sort of concept, thus answering the question, “What could I possibly be less interested in than the CW’s drama version of The Hunger Games?”
THERE IS ONLY ONE RULE: DON’T GET CAUGHT — Luke Tipple hosts this new action-adventure reality series where twelve teams of two are about to enter the Hunting Grounds, a high-tech wilderness compound, where they must live in primitive conditions for one month in a winner-take-all battle to survive. Armed with the latest GPS technology and a “talon,” which acts as a kill-switch to the vests worn by the hunted, the hunters search four acres of wilderness, sometimes in brutal weather, in order to capture two teams in 48 hours. In addition to battling fatigue, hunger and extreme weather, the hunted teams cannot stand still for more than three minutes without alerting the hunters to their location. Once two teams are captured, the others vote who should be sent home. Relying on their survival skills and primal instincts, the teams form alliances and strategize to be the ones that take home the coveted $250,000 prize.
“Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold)” by David Weber
Summary via Amazon:
David Weber’s New York Times bestselling Safehold series of military Science Fiction adventure, which began with Off Armageddon Reef, continues with Midst Toil and Tribulation
WAR AND FAMINE
Once the Church of God Awaiting dominated all the kingdoms of Safehold. Then, after centuries of stasis, the island kingdom of Charis began to defy the edicts of Mother Church-egged on, some say, by the mysterious warrior-monk Merlin Athrawes, who enjoys the Charisian royal family’s absolute trust.
What vanishingly few people know is that Merlin is the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, felled in the war in which aliens destroyed Earth…and that since awakening, his task has been to restart the history of the long-hidden human race.
Now, reeling from the wars and intrigues that have cascaded from Charis’s declaration of independence, the Republic of Siddermark slides into chaos. The Church has engineered a rebellion, and Siddermark’s all-important harvest is at risk. King Cayleb and Queen Sharleyan struggle to stabilize their ally, which will mean sending troops-but, even more importantly, preventing famine. For mass starvation in Safehold’s breadbasket is a threat even more ominous than civil war…
Star Trek: The Next Generation — Redemption (Blu-Ray)
The show’s fourth-season finale/fifth-season premiere surrounding the Klingon Civil War has been re-edited into, essentially, a standalone movie for Blu-Ray release. Granted, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who cared enough to want The Next Generation on Blu-ray, but added the caveat, “I only want to buy small parts of it at a time.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation — Season Four (Blu-Ray)
Case in point. Why not just save up for the full-season sets?
Star Wars Tech (Disney XD, 11/10c)
Just one of a ton of upcoming material where Disney will make the most of their Star Wars purchase. “A documentary about the technical aspects of Star Wars – from Darth Vader’s robotic limbs to the light saber, to how X-wings compare to modern jets.”
Disney Fandom: Earth’s Mightiest Show (Disney XD, 8/7c)
This half-hour special is said to preview Marvel’s upcoming slate of films, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we might get to see some footage from Guardians of the Galaxy. (They only just started production, but they had enough in the can to show footage at Comic-Con.)
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #7 (IDW Publishing)
Tying in to the show’s 50th anniversary, Prisoners of Time is telling stories of each incarnation of the Doctor, in order. This month we get a tale of Seven, originally played in the series by Sylvester McCoy.
Our yearlong celebration of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary continues! The Seventh Doctor takes the spotlight in this issue of a 12-part epic adventure featuring all 11 incarnations of the Doctor! In a 19th-century Scottish castle, a live-in nurse’s concerns about the elderly couple in her care are allayed by a visiting doctor and his curiously modern female companion.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “Assie Come Home”
Bender’s shiny metal ass takes the spotlight even more than usual: somebody has absconded with it!
Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (Marvel Comics)
There were rumors recently that Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan was going to be playing the character of Angela in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Those proved to be false, but Angela is front and center in this latest incarnation of the comic.
Joe Rogan Questions Everything (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Weaponized Weather”
Last week’s premiere had Joe snarkily exploring cryptozoology’s favorite star, Bigfoot. This week he’s dipping into the even nuttier field of weather-control conspiracy theorists
The Last of Us: American Dreams (Dark Horse Comics)
This four-issue miniseries is set before the events of Naughty Dog’s acclaimed video game, and was created by the game’s lead writer, Neil Druckmann, and lead artist, Faith Erin Hicks. The final issue is out this week, and a trade paperback collecting all four issues is slated for an October release.
Ellie and Riley thought they’d found a home with the Fireflies. Instead, they find themselves imprisoned, threatened with death unless they can prove their allegiance. Don’t miss the thrilling finale to this essential chapter of The Last of Us!
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “Did God Create Evolution?”
Given how often it’s been discussed in the news and/or American politics in recent years, it’s no surprise that the Freeman-hosted science series is finally getting around to exploring the notion of evolution vs. notions of intelligent design, some of which is a-okay with evolution, but insists there must be a divine guiding hand behind the process. I’m sure this episode will settle things and we’ll never hear the subject brought up again…
Do we live in the ‘real world’ or is it all in our mind? Our perception of reality is controlled by society. Thanks to ‘the optimism bias,’ we make unrealistic assessments about our own reality. Human senses capture only a small part of nature.
Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Seconds…”
“Alec’s mother is hit by a bullet intended for Julian, while Dillon’s new Liber8 task force faces a difficult test when Kiera must decide how far she will go to stop Julian’s murderous future.”
Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “Brazil”
“The 2nd Mass destroys an all-important base in the Season 3 finale. Also: The remaining survivors’ fate is put in doubt when additional interstellar figures arrive.” Don’t fret, Falling Skies fans: the show has already been renewed for a fourth season.
Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives (Discovery, 9/8c)
It’s Shark Week on Discovery, which is worth it for the below ad if nothing else.
Torchwood: Miracle Day Marathon (Encore, 10am/9am Central)
The last Torchwood series was a poorly paced mess for much of its run. Does it hold up better when viewed marathon style? Tune in Sunday morning and find out. (Or just rewatch the vastly superior Torchwood: Children of Earth.)