Further to my post on Nov 13th about apocalypses of all forms being the current flavor of popular fiction and a follow-up post on Nov 15th, I can’t help but call attention to another variety of apocalypse hitting the big screens in 2013.
In these posts, I referred to apocalypses caused by plagues (resulting in zombie and vampire swarms), robots, aliens and gendercide. Besides these exotic apocalypses, we also have the garden variety of apocalypse caused by good old nuclear war and also pollution/ ecological disasters.
I am currently reading just such a book – the classic scifi post-apocalyptic novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, referred to by many critics as the only true literary masterpiece to have emerged from the scifi genre. The novel was published in 1960 and having reached halfway through the book, I am inclined to agree with the opinions of the critics. I’ll probably write about this book at length once I have finished reading it.
However, the main purpose of this post is talk about the trio of post-apocalyptic films coming up in 2013, all of which feature a largely depopulated Earth ravaged by war or some other form of man-made cataclysm.
- The first of these films is Oblivion (Universal Pictures), to be released April 19th. The film, which just had its first teaser trailer and poster released last week is directed by Joseph Kosinksi (of Tron: Legacy fame), based on his own graphic novel. The movie features Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who plays the infamous Jamie Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones). The response to the poster was very positive, although the trailer itself left me feeling a bit underwhelmed…a confused. For some reason, it felt like a mash-up of several other futuristic stories, although I couldn’t specifically pinpoint any one element which I could say was copied from past source material. Nevertheless, I am very much looking forward to the film…I don’t expect something award winning, but clearly there will be some strong individual acting performances and great visual effects.
- Next we have After Earth (Columbia Pictures), to be released June 7th and directed by M. Night Shyamalan – his first film since 2010’s disastrous adaptation of Nickelodeon’s Avatar the Last Airbender. Mr. Shyamalan has certainly lost his way – and his goodwill with the movie-going public – since the great days of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. In this case, there is some hope, as the screenplay is by Stephen Gaghan who won an Oscar for Traffic and was nominated again for Syriana. More importantly – from a box office perspective – the film stars the father-son super-duo of Will Smith and Jaden Smith as General Cypher Raige (yes, really) and his estranged son Kitai Raige. Clearly Will Smith has a clear strategy to build up his son’s box office credentials. Young Smith started off in a supporting role in 2006 (at the age of 8) with his father in The Pursuit of Happyness, then held his own with Jackie Chan in The Karate Kid in 2010 and now will effectively play the lead in After Earth. All 3 films are produced by Will Smith and his producing partner James Lassiter and generally speaking, these guys have yet to pick a stinker as a project. So, there is every possibility that Mr. Shyamalan will once again have a genuine hit on his hands.
- At the very end of the summer comes Elysium (Sony Pictures Classics/ Columbia-Tristar), to be released Aug 9th, Neill Blomkamp’s follow up to his masterful debut film District 9. The film features a very buff Matt Damon alongside Jodie Foster and the star of District 9, South African actor Sharlto Copley. The set photos I have seen indicate that we will once again see a gritty action picture with socio-political overtones like District 9, but I am also looking forward to seeing Elysium, the pristine space habitat built using the Stanford Torus design concept (essentially a hollow, doughnut shaped construct with the populace living inside). Based on the concept art featured here, Blomkamp will use the space habitat setting to accentuate the stark difference between the ‘Haves’ living there and the ‘Have Nots’ living on the surface of a ruined Earth.
As a scifi fan, I will be rooting for all 3 films. I expect Elysium to have the highest critical acclaim, followed by After Earth – provided the critics can get over their hatred of Shyamalan. Oblivion looks a bit generic right now, but will probably benefit by being the first off the blocks at the start of summer and therefore may actually end up earning the highest box office revenue among the 3.
I am pretty sure that by now I have covered every possible post-apocalyptic scenario that can be featured in scifi books, graphic novels and movies. But if I come across a new spin on this sub-genre, I’ll be sure to write about it!