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Old January 9 2014, 03:43 AM   #1
RAMA
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The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

According to me. I'm in no position to name anyone else's top 5.

2013 will probably go down in history for fans as one of those special sci-fi years such as 1977, 1982, 1995 and 2009. We saw some mid level space sci-fi make a comeback (Astronaut:Last Push, Europa Report, Last Days on Mars). Huge space epics: STID, Gravity, Oblivion, Elysium, After Earth, Ender's Game, and other pop genre movies like Hunger Games and WWZ, and superheroes high on the sci-fi quotient (Iron Man and Man of Steel)rule the worldwide box office. Even the "B" movie hit it big with Sharknado creating a twitter buzz for a week or two. Short films are also making headway on youtube and elsewhere, including AMP (list of best scifi short films here: http://www.shortoftheweek.com/category/genre/sci-fi/)

So what are the best sci-fi movies of the year? It wasn't easy, I try to balance the production/scale of the movie with the story and sheer entertainment value, ultimately I had to enjoy it. So here they are:

1. Pacific Rim: Its basically the Star Wars of 2013. A big, flashy, pop culture movie that gets it right, pushing all of our scifi fan buttons and managing to do it with style and a genuine sense of reverence for it's subject..not easy to do when most of the source material has cardboard monsters and zipper enhanced kung fu stuntmen. For making mecha cool again, and sheer entertainment value this movie takes the top spot.

2. STID: A hard one to judge in some respects, I named ST09 the best sci-fi movie of the 2000s (not 2010s), and it has to compete with that movie for a lot of people. In terms of fun, the first movie may come out on top, but STID is probably a slightly better film, with a deepening advancement of the characters, a darker, more topical story, and a gigantic scale unfathomable in previous Trek movies. This movie is high on the rewatch factor, I could easily watch it every day if I could.

3. Europa Report: Much better than the near-future darling of 2013: Gravity. I love this movie. It's been getting more notice and critical acclaim lately, much deserved. It's not particularly high on characterization..so what. It's a 2010(1985) style film, a sober, realistic telling of an investigation of findings on Europa, the ending...it's a sad one, but also filled with hope. A pro-science movie in a Hollywood realm filled with knee-jerk pessimism.

4. Man of Steel: The best superhero movie ever, period. Light years better than the Avengers on every level except "fun factor" and not even comparable to the horrible Iron Man 3. Heroes and Alphas tried to make superheroes "real" on tv, but MOS makes one of the most unbelievable characters "real"! It ditches the idea Lois can't tell who Superman really is. Turns Zod from a badly dressed disco lunatic into a genetically engineered protector of his people, who takes the job way too seriously. Jor-El is no longer an ineffectual bystander, he's a doer. Every scene is bursting with some sort of history, either Kryptonian or Earthly. Nolan can do no wrong.

5. Oblivion: A potential classic. This movie echoes sci-fi of the 70s, with a modern flair and amazing visual style. Pays lip service to ideas like the Singularity, but also tells a nice personal story. While the themes and background are large scale, it enfolds like a play, quiet and somber until we learn the details of Earth's war with the aliens.

Honorable mention:

Yes, there are some happily, since it was a year burgeoning at the seams with sci-fi.

6. Gravity: Undeniably well made, a visual ride, but if you're a sci-fi fan very familiar story. The actors are good, but not particularly monumental. Less scientifically accurate than Europa Report.

7. Ender's Game: Underrated, mostly accurate translation from the book. I'll enjoy rewatching it on bluray.

8. Elysium: On many levels a disappointment. It's a cautionary tale that we are told is already happening now according to it's director, though I don't believe it's an accurate future for many reasons. As an action sci-fi movie, it's above average, as a relevant story, it's a failure.

9. After Earth. Was every critic who watched this on crack?? It's not a bad survival tale, with a story right out of a cozy winter reading of a good sci-fi short story collection. Talk about a popularity backlash. I feel sorry for Will Smith.

There may be a few films I missed. I'm tracking down Upstream Color and hoping that's good, as I named Primer one of my top 15 sci-fi movies of the 2000s.
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Last edited by RAMA; January 9 2014 at 07:20 AM. Reason: Movie title correction
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Old January 9 2014, 03:59 AM   #2
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

Thanks for mentioning Europa Report, a reminder that I need to see it.

Gravity otherwise easily outranks the remainder of your top five for me, including Pacific Rim (which don't get me wrong, I also loved for different reasons), to the point of being in basically a different league, but hey, that's me.
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Old January 9 2014, 04:13 AM   #3
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

BigJake wrote: View Post
Thanks for mentioning Europa Report, a reminder that I need to see it.

Gravity otherwise easily outranks the remainder of your top five for me, including Pacific Rim (which don't get me wrong, I also loved for different reasons), to the point of being in basically a different league, but hey, that's me.

Gravity is probably the default popular answer for most people, but I think my top 5 will be more fondly remembered 10 years from now than Gravity..which I liked but was not overwhelmed by. I thought Mission to Mars had better and similar scenes to Gravity (almost to the point of eye rolling), and had a stronger emotional reaction to them and Europa Report is better at almost everything else.

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Old January 9 2014, 04:24 AM   #4
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

I really found no memorable sci fi films this year. Visually, Gravity was beautiful but Sandra Bullock and George Clooney's acting take me right out of the film. I still want to see Pacific Rim and I liked Man of Steel much more than recent DC movies but most of the films I found utterly forgettable.
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Old January 9 2014, 05:00 AM   #5
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

Upstream Color is not for everyone, but it wasn't forgettable in any sense of the word.

I still need to see Europa Report; the same goes for Elysium and Oblivion.

Gravity was, technically, a masterwork. Dramatically it was very effective, although some of the character work was rather thin and conventional.

I think Star Trek Into Darkness was a terrific movie and one of the best blockbusters of the year (it was certainly my favorite franchise film).
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Old January 9 2014, 05:01 AM   #6
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

RAMA wrote: View Post
I think my top 5 will be more fondly remembered 10 years from now than Gravity.
I can't speak to Europa Report yet, but I would almost lay money down on a bet* that all three of STID, Oblivion and MoS (which have aged poorly even in various way even in the year of their release, especially Oblivion and MoS) will be largely forgotten long before Gravity. Pacific Rim not so, but it and Gravity are almost in different genres.

[* If I had any money. ]

I thought Mission to Mars had better and similar scenes to Gravity
That's odd. No comparison to the deservedly-obscure Mission to Mars ever occurred to me. Different strokes, I guess.

(Haven't seen Upstream Color either, thank you Harvey.)
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Old January 9 2014, 05:05 AM   #7
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

BigJake wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
I think my top 5 will be more fondly remembered 10 years from now than Gravity.
I can't speak to Europa Report yet, but I would almost lay money down on a bet* that all three of STID, Oblivion and MoS (which have aged poorly even in various way even in the year of their release, especially Oblivion and MoS) will be largely forgotten long before Gravity. Pacific Rim not so, but it and Gravity are almost in different genres.

[* If I had any money. ]

I thought Mission to Mars had better and similar scenes to Gravity
That's odd. No comparison to the deservedly-obscure Mission to Mars ever occurred to me. Different strokes, I guess.

(Haven't seen Upstream Color either, thank you Harvey.)
That is odd, since it was almost scene for scene. Mind you, Im not saying Mission to Mars was a better movie than Gravity--it isn't--but there are a lot of familiar space disaster tropes in Gravity, and it copies Mission to Mars almost directly. I also found the character build up and loss of the astronauts to be more emotional since they built he characters longer.

PS I had this opened in a tab and forgot I was responding while doing something else. Excuse the late posting.

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Old January 9 2014, 05:11 AM   #8
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

RAMA wrote: View Post
That is odd, since it was almost scene for scene.
"Almost scene for scene"? We're talking about the same Mission to Mars featuring a long planetside act with Don Cheadle and an alien holographic library about panspermia hidden in a mysterious storm, right?

If so, there are couple of broad similarities in the first act (though for my money Gravity's execution and acting is vastly better), but the "almost scene for scene" claim is just factually wrong.
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Old January 9 2014, 05:13 AM   #9
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

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Last Astronaut
Do you mean Astronaut: The Last Push?
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Old January 9 2014, 05:18 AM   #10
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

I recognized a few beats from Mission to Mars in Gravity, but hardly enough to warrant mention. For all the problems I have with the characters in the latter, it is by all measures a superior movie to Mission to Mars, a largely forgettable disappointment.
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Old January 9 2014, 07:17 AM   #11
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

Agent Richard07 wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
Last Astronaut
Do you mean Astronaut: The Last Push?
Yes, that's the one. Its not a bad movie, just slow going.

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Old January 9 2014, 07:22 AM   #12
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

The only two sci-fi films I saw were STID which was iffy and World War Z which I enjoyed for what it was. Does The Conjuring count? That was definitely a favorite of mine.
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Old January 9 2014, 07:27 AM   #13
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

Harvey wrote: View Post
I recognized a few beats from Mission to Mars in Gravity, but hardly enough to warrant mention. For all the problems I have with the characters in the latter, it is by all measures a superior movie to Mission to Mars, a largely forgettable disappointment.

I like Mission to Mars for various reasons, but agree it's not better than Gravity. What I mean is the disaster in space trope used in movies since the 1950s and updated in Mission to Mars was used again in Gravity, but some of the disaster scenes as they occur are much like MtM, not the whole movie. The scenes with the tether, the scramble to reach a spacecraft/station for safety uncontrollably, take up more than a few minutes of the movies and since they were integral to both, I can't help but compare them.

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Old January 9 2014, 12:33 PM   #14
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

Here's my own top 5:

1. Gravity - Technically groundbreaking, brilliant visuals and an incredibly tense story. An instant classic in my book.
2. Pacific Rim - So much fun, and so impressive! Impeccable world building and visual storytelling.
3. The World's End - Very smart and funny. Fantastic characters and some pretty cool big ideas!
4. Thor: The Dark World - Just a ton of fun. The best-looking and funniest of the MCU movies.
5. Catching Fire - Unexpectedly moving. Even better than the first one.

Also pretty good: About Time, John Dies at the End, Iron Man 3, The Wolverine

Films I found disappointing: Star Trek Into Darkness(!), Man of Steel, Elysium
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Old January 9 2014, 01:55 PM   #15
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Re: The year-end, 5 Best Sci-fi movies of 2013

Really not a great year, especially if you omit comic book movies, but from the ones I've seen the best were :

STID
Thor 2
Iron Man 3
Man Of Steel
Wolverine

The crap, average or overrated selections are more interesting :

World War Z
Pacific Rim
Gravity
Enders Game
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