Some day, probably sooner then later, science fiction and fantasy films fans will look back fondly on 2012 for being a great year.
In sheer number alone, 2012 is hard to beat with over 70 films released. Just about every sub-genre of sci-fi got some kind of love — post-apocalyptic, “hard core” pure sci-fi, time travel, space battles, super heroes, mega-cities, aliens and hobbits. So for all you lovers of sci-fi, here’s a recap in case a couple of them got past you (and a few to watch out for):
“Looper” was one of the best movies of the year with its mix of dystopian cityscapes, time travel and hard-broiled private eye detective plot-lines. Excellent acting, a cool time travel premise and a twist ending made this one a must see.
“Cloud Atlas” tried a similar sort of thing, but came out a confused blob of a movie with some straight up silly casting/make-up decisions. Still worth seeing though, if for no other reason to see what team Wachowski can come up with following its Matrix disaster.
“Iron Sky” brought to life something every kid who’s ever had World War II model tanks attacking the Enterprise thought would be cool — Nazis in space. Not anything close to having gravitas, the movie looks great and is a bunch of fun.
There were quite a few of these in 2012, with Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” given the most hype. Sadly, this was the biggest disappointment of the year, as you can only polish a turd so much. Massive continuity problems, horrendously bad acting, insipid storylines mostly borrowed from “Aliens vs. Predator” all made up for perhaps the most overwrought science fiction film of the year. It’s a master class on what not to do with $150 million.
Much better was “The Cabin in the Woods,” a movie that didn’t bill itself as sci-fi (cleverly so), and one that has perhaps the best swerve of the year in a year packed with films with good twist endings. I don’t want to say anymore if you haven’t seen it, but check this one out for sure.
My very own “Vampireland” hit the shelves in 2012, or should I say the pirate sites as it became one of the world’s most bootlegged films over the summer. Critics hate it, but it has a nice little following of people who want to see vampires throwing tanks around like a rag doll.
“Dredd” is perhaps the best Dirty Harry tribute film ever made, with Karl Urban as Dredd. Urban is nothing short of fantastic in this flick — if for no other reason then he can emote feelings without us ever seeing his eyes. It’s a beautiful, violent film that may be the year’s most satisfying offerings.
“John Carter” is a beautiful, wonderful film that finally gives Edgar Burroughs’s title character real life. “John Carter” might be the best romantic sci-fi film of the year, but it’s also cram packed with action. See it on a big screen if you can, as it’s simply amazing.
“Men in Black 3” was a surprisingly sentimental film, one that somehow managed not to suck, in large part because of a bravura performance by Josh Brolin as a young Agent K. Worth a watch, especially for fans of the first two.
“Lockout” is billed as “Escape from New York” in space. While it’s not close to being as good as John Carpenter’s brilliant film, “Lockout” is certainly a heck of a lot of fun and it might have the best “sh—” talking of any movie in 2012. It’s definitely worth a rental.
“The Hunger Games” set all kinds of records and made the bow and arrow the hottest toy since Doug Fairbanks wore green tights. Not a terribly good film, but hey, any film that has someone stung to death by bees and has rocket cars can’t be all bad.
“The Divide” starts strong as we join a group of people hiding in a prepper’s cellar hiding from an atomic bomb attack. Unfortunately, with a massive never explained plot twist, plus the trite old “everyone immediately turns into sex crazed rapists” when the lights go out characters, and you get a fizzle. Still worth a peek if you’re tired of playing “Fallout 3.”
2012 will likely be remembered first for superhero movies as “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” made mountain loads of cash. Add to it the (awful) Spiderman reboot, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and the excellent “Chronicle” and there were plenty of guys in tights in 2012.
“Ted” was loud, silly fun that sort of went off the rails in the second half as it took the “romance” storyline a bit too seriously, but heck, any movie where Sam “Flash Gordon” Jones swings into action against a talking teddy bear is a good one.
“Wrath of the Titans” was loads better then the “original” remake, including the 3-D, which was top notch.
“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” also had boatloads 3-D fantasy fun for kids — and proved Brendan Fraiser’s career just might be over while the Rock’s is only beginning.
The 3-D horse sequence in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” was a wonderful bit of fantasy and was perhaps the best “could never happen” film of the year.
Of course nothing can quite touch “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” for over-the-top 3-D, as Peter Jackson shook off the doldrums and delivered a master piece of medieval action.
AND THE AWFUL
Sci-fi is notorious for delivering its fair share of stinkers and 2012 was no different. From the aforementioned “Prometheus” to the completely stupid “Total Recall” remake, 2012 had some bad ones. “The Dark Knight Rises” didn’t outright suck, but the many giant plot holes and near-total lack of screen time for the title character made this film a huge letdown. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is another unneeded waste of time as was the completely lame “Red Dawn” reboot. But the worst movie of the year for sci-fi was without a doubt “Resident Evil: Retribution,” a movie so dumb and non-scary it’s hard to imagine making a worse piece of crap. Yes, worse then “Battleship,” which at least had Liam Neeson.
OK, there you have it — a recap of some of the movies that made 2012 such a great year for sci-fi.