If you take a glance at the movie posters at your local theater, Disney and Marvel dominate, followed by The Rock, as the rest of Hollywood tries to play catchup and build a variety of cinematic universes. Does this mean that the golden days of sci-fi are gone?
Let’s go back to the 50’s. The USA and the USSR are starting their space race. In less than 20 years humankind sent the first person to outer space, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped their feet on the Moon. Optimism reigned, and Hollywood knew it.
Are the golden days of sci-fi truly gone? They never left. We are living in an endless festival of sci-fi. Every decade since the film industry became a worldwide phenomenon there have been classics. From The Day the Earth Stood Still to Interstellar, including unforgettable sagas such as Star Wars and masterpieces like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner.
Everything started in the 50’s. During that decade, the “fathers” of the science fiction were released: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet and The War of the Worlds. These innovated in almost every aspect possible, but especially in their plots and the use of creative to replicate advanced technology. Every picture of this genre has been inspired by those three features. They implemented the idea of humankind at the edge of extinction, exploring the last frontier or facing a lethal threat from outer space.
Some years before Apollo 11 mission, Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered. The later not only changed science fiction forever, but it is widely considered one of the biggest influencers on special effects industry.
From 1970 to 1979, this genre was as close as possible to perfection. The most celebrated filmmakers of that time handed to the fans masterpieces such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Clockwork Orange, Alien and Mad Max. Studios were now able to provide spectators with believe special effects and producers realized that every movie could turn into a blockbuster.
During the 80’s, original ideas dominated along with a considerable amount of sequels (Hollywood started to like this idea of expanding a story that still generated a decent amount of cash) movie listings. This decade gifted us with Blade Runner, E.T, Robocop, Predator, Terminator, Back to the Future and The Thing. What do these pictures have in common? They diversify the traditional storyline of science fiction. Now it’s not all about humanity fending off a major threat. We have plots about surviving against all the odds, hybrids between a thriller and sci-fi, films for all ages.
The next decade followed the same pattern. Sequels and different stories. Among this displays of originality, we could enjoy Independence Day, Total Recall, Twelve Monkeys, Contact, Le cinquième élément, Men in Black and Matrix. Again, the genre kept reinventing itself.
The 21st Century has shown us so far that sci-fi will keep innovating no matter the number of sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, spin-offs and other ways to bring back to life a dead story. Films such as A.I, I, Robot, Wall-e, Interstellar, Annihilation, Inception and Ex_Machina are the ultimate proof of this. Their approaches to science fiction are radically different to what spectators are used to. If this becomes the tendency for the upcoming releases, the future looks brighter than a lightsaber.