The year 2013 is now long passed so I figured I’d review the science fiction films released that year. Here are 10 significant (meaning only that I saw them) sci-fi movies from 2013, with my ratings, from best to worst. I didn’t include super hero movies like Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World, and The Wolverine because they belong in a separate category in my mind.
1. Gravity – Grade = A. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney adrift in space. This movie had me on the edge of my seat from the first scene to the last. No real plot to speak of, and not much character development, so I can understand why a lot of people don’t like this movie so much. But I loved it.
2. Oblivion – Grade = A-. Tom Cruise as one of the few humans on Earth after a war with aliens. I rarely have high expectations for a Tom Cruise vehicle, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Very clever plot. At the end, I found myself saying, in a good way, “Why didn’t I see that coming!?”
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Grade = B. Jennifer Lawrence competes against previous champions in a fight to the death. I didn’t like the first Hunger Games (2012) movie at all. I was forced to see this film and it was another pleasant surprise. This second Hunger was a lot less trite and clichéd than the first.
4. Star Trek into Darkness – Grade = B. Kirk versus Khan. Again. A third 2013 film that exceeded my expectations. I liked the first Chris Pine as Kirk Star Trek (2009) a lot, but sequels can be iffy propositions, so didn’t know what to expect here. I prefer this sequel to the 2009 film. Good action combined with intelligent plot.
5. Ender’s Game – Grade = B-. Space cadet Ender Wiggin destroys an alien species then saves their last egg. Many of my friends are huge fans of the book and so were rather disappointed with this somewhat lackluster film. Not a bad film, just not a really good film.
6. Pacific Rim – Grade = C. Giant robots are created to battle giant alien monsters emerging from some other dimension or something, on the ocean floor. I liked this much better than I thought I would. A good friend of mine, Ken L., is a often perfect negative indicator for me. Usually, movies that he likes a lot, like Sucker Punch (2011), are not my favorites, and movies I like, typically leave him unimpressed. So, when Ken raved about Pacific Rim, I was wary. But it was much better than I thought it’d be.
7. Elysium – Grade = C. Matt Damon champions the downtrodden on Earth against the elite citizens in space. I like most Matt Damon films. And the story sounded intriguing. But the movie just didn’t do much for me. The entire story seemed a bit illogical and too far-fetched to me, which I know is weird when I can suspend disbelief for other films.
8. Europa Report – Grade = C. Found video footage reveals how a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa went wrong. Not a bad low-budget little movie. Seemed fairly realistic to me, but the story dragged a bit.
9. Riddick – Grade = C. Arg! Vin Diesel doing a lot of staring and a lot of fighting. I really like Chronicles of Riddick (2004) and had high hopes. But, alas, this part III just didn’t come together for me. Just a little too slow, a little too lame. One of those films where the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
10. After Earth – Grade = F. An incredibly annoying Jaden Smith and a moderately annoying Will Smith roaming randomly in a thoroughly annoying movie. Bad movie. Very bad movie. It’s hard for a movie to be both boring and not make sense because of the action, but this film did. Epic bad.