Science fiction cinema is full of imaginative concepts and depicts a world totally different from our own. 2001: A Space Odyssey is notoriously known as one of the greatest Sci-Fi movies to date. Stanley Kubrick, the director of this film, was seen as a pioneer in the industry and it was this film that gave birth to iconic titles like Solaris and Star Wars. Since then, the genre has gained increasing popularity and there have been an abundance of sci-fi classics. The genre has exploded into the mainstream and as a result, there are a plethora of sci-fi titles out there today.
Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is now more affordable, it has become relatively easy to produce and release a sci-fi film. For example, Sandra Bullock stars in Gravity (2013), where she struggles to survive in space following an accident. Ridley Scott’s, The Martian (2015) is of a similar vein, where actor Matt Damon is an astronaut who must keep his wits about him, so that he can signal back to Earth and let them know that he is alive. Life (2017) is one of the latest sci-fi offerings. It stars Ryan Reynold’s and Jake Gyllenhaal. In some ways the film is reminiscent of Alien with its graphical content and suspense build-ups.
Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick were passionate about sci-fi. Their films conveyed their love for imagination, their zest for adventures and we’re equipped with mind bending stories. The generational change means that today, studios treat sci-fi films as an investment, they coordinate huge opening weekends, international appeal and the like. Given this shift in motivation, the sci-fi genre could be at risk. When money becomes the primary motivator for film production, the quality of the film is likely to suffer. Apart from Arrival 2016, which was a breath of fresh air and questioned our knowledge of language and time, many recent sci-fi offerings have been very similar in nature. But it’s not all doom and gloom. As the sci-fi industry matures, we can expect, or maybe hope, to see thrillers from existing franchises that tackle something different and offer more than the generic ‘stranded in space’ storyline. Literary adaptations are another area where we could see more richer sci-fi stories developing. Given that a literary adaptation would have already been fully-fleshed out and completed before hitting the studio, it’s likely to stay true to what sci-fi has always been – imaginative, challenging and unique. Titles like Edge of Tomorrow are testimony to how sci-fi films can stay true to its roots.
Where money is concerned, studios are always going to try and make as much profit as possible, it’s not only the sci-fi cinema that is at risk, all genres could stand to be diluted by big budgets, overused CGI and highly promoted opening weekends, all designed at getting the highest bottom line possible. As the sci-fi industry grows and sees new directors take the stage, we can hope to see areas of the genre remain true to form. New players in the industry will definitely have a lot to live up to, but one can assume they will do the genre justice and we should be seeing more pinnacle titles being released in the years to come.