I found the new feature film Edge of Tomorrow to be excellent entertainment, and the best sci-fi film of the year so far. Admittedly in the first 25 minutes there’s some clunky setup to wade through, and a difficult scenario for a Brit audience to get used to. That naff ‘dropships over the White Cliffs of Dover’ scene was perhaps the low point in the setup. It probably works best if you just tell yourself: “ok, so we’re in an alternative future-past”, rather than trying to reconcile the starting scenario with actual history. But after the setup the film just keeps on getting better, and does so right through to the end.
Edge of Tomorrow borrows a few Lovecraftian elements, which I don’t think I’m spoiling the plot by mentioning: aliens arrive on a meteorite and creep outward from there (“Colour out of Space”); the aliens send location-based ‘visions’ to those who are ‘sensitive’ (“Call of Cthulhu”). Then there’s the very cool visual style of the aliens, which riffs off Lovecraft (with friendly nods to H.G. Wells and H.R. Giger). But then Lovecraft gets neatly mashed into other highly entertaining elements (such as an alternative future-past London, done in a cool big-budget Doctor Who / James Bond / WWII ish sort of way; Starship Troopers; and the time-looping movies Source Code and Looper). It’s highly recommended, and is probably best seen without watching a trailer or reading up on the plot on Wikipedia.
Admittedly the competition for “best sci-fi film of the year” is currently very light, with only the good-in-parts X-Men: Days of Future Past as any real competition. Depp’s AI takeover movie Transcendence was dire, like a pot-poiling romantic novelist’s version of what a sci-fi thriller should be.
Of course Edge of Tomorrow is going to face some competition for Best Sci-fi of 2014:
* Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (In its post-apocalyptic ape-human war setting. Post-apocalypse earth seems a very tired-out idea these days);
* Luc Besson’s Lucy (Luc Besson’s over-the-top take on Limitless with Scarlett Johansson, ’nuff said);
* Monsters: Dark Continent (Seems to be a Heart of Darkness meets Starship Troopers bug-hunt, which sounds very easy to do badly);
* I Origins (Apparently an explosions-free serious drama on scientific discovery vs. faith. I’d guess at a ‘we were created by aliens and I can prove it…’ theme?);
* Jupiter Ascending (The Wachowskis do Space Opera, apparently in a wildly kitsch style. Sounds fun, in a kind of Japanese anime ‘it makes no sense at all, but looks great’ way);
* Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Seems to be a feel-good space opera romp, aimed at a younger audience and their merchandise-buying moms);
* There’s also the forthcoming The Maze Runner, the premise of which (‘boy trapped in a massive alien maze’) seems a touch similar to the Lovecraft/Sterling story “In the Walls of Eryx”.