Excess Hollywood: Must-see Sci-fi Films of 2013

If one genre reigns supreme in 2013, it will be the science fiction film. Sci-fi flicks are in high supply this year, from original, prominently effects-powered stories to several thought-provoking blockbusters that have strong chances for awards season. Here are the five you won’t want to miss:

1. Oblivion – April 19
Co-writer/director Joseph Kosinski constructed one of the most visually satisfying and flat-out cool sci-fi action films in recent memory with “TRON: Legacy.” In his sophomore effort, he takes on an original concept involving a human-evacuated Earth. Tom Cruise stars as one of the planet’s last drone repairmen who discovers an underground group of survivors as well as a much greater threat. I can’t promise an overly unique story, but it will certainly be a grand feast for the eyes.

2. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17
There’s a reason FX plays the “Star Trek” reboot all the time: It’s so perfectly entertaining that it never gets old. The only aspect lacking a bit is the villain. This seems resolved in the sequel, as British badass Benedict Cumberbatch plays a dastardly opponent who’s destroying Starfleet from within, leading Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew on an epic fight for retribution. With J.J. Abrams at the helm again, this should be even more dazzling than the first one. The final frontier never looked so promising.

3. Pacific Rim – July 12
Creature master Guillermo del Toro returns to the director’s chair with a project of enormous scope and the simplest categorization: giant monster movie. Better yet, it’s exactly the kind your inner-child has been dying to see ever since you stopped watching Godzilla films: humongous robots vs. gargantuan monsters. Seriously, what’s not to like? Even if that sounds silly, del Toro is an excellent filmmaker who’s guaranteed to turn this guilty pleasure premise into a righteously awesome spectacle.

4. Elysium – Aug. 9
South African wünderkind Neill Blomkamp surprised everyone with his mind-blowing debut, “District 9,” creating one of the most unique, meaningful and visceral sci-fi movies ever made. Well, imagine that on steroids with a dystopian future instead of aliens and you’ve got his follow-up, “Elysium.” Matt Damon stars as a man outfitted in crazy high-tech weaponry on a mission to equalize the playing field between the poor, living on a desolate Earth, and the rich, living on a perfect-world space station. Expect one intensely kick-ass ride.

5. Gravity – Oct. 4
Early test screening reports indicate that this simple yet powerful story of two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney), lost in the abyss of space after their shuttle is destroyed, trying to find a way home before oxygen runs out, is nothing short of revolutionary filmmaking. Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”) brings his signature long takes — the opening shot alone lasts 17 minutes — to the phenomenon of drifting weightlessly in magnificent 3D. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re in space, here’s your ticket.

  • Updated Jan. 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm
  • Edited by Sarah McCabe