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2019 in television and film: the best sci-fi content to come

It’s been a year to rejoice for fans of sci-fi: and there’s more to come

It’s been a year to rejoice for fans of sci-fi: and there’s more to come  

From the staggering masterclass of ‘Dark’ to Pitt’s ambitious turn in ‘Ad Astra’, the genre has excelled this year: but what more can fans expect?

It might have been the new golden age of television for the last two decades, but the last few years have seen the sci-fi genre rule the roost, more so with the advent of streaming platforms. In film too, the last three months of 2019 beckon to a blockbuster period for futuristic cinema, with hardcore fans who grimace at the mention of Marvel’s superhero films being classified under sci-fi, already in delirium at the wealth of offerings to come. Continuation of legendary franchises? Comic book/ graphic novel adaptations? Bonafide A-listers? There is something to satisfy the geekist of them all.

With the biggest sci-fi movie of the year, and major Oscar contender next year, Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra, releasing well into December (or later), fans in India have a lot to look forward to —and then some.

Here’s the best of sci-fi in TV and film to come this year, with a peek into what you may have missed so far, and what 2020 could bring too:

Terminator: Dark Fate (film)

He’s baaaaaack! While 73-year-old Sly huffs and puffs his way to beating up the entire Mexican cartel as Rambo in a laughable addition to the franchise, somehow you get the feeling 72-year-old Arnie has something different up his sleeve in the next Terminator movie.

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’: : Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton deliver all the feels

‘Terminator: Dark Fate’: : Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton deliver all the feels  

Terminator: Dark Fate releases in November, and if not for nothing, the anticipation of seeing everybody’s favourite Mr. Universe suit up one more time, mount the Harley and smash that damned Skynet ‘liquid metal’ Terminator into smithereens one more time.

It promises to be an epic nostalgia ride: Schwarzenegger will have both Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong reprising their roles as Sarah and John Connor from Judgement Day. Considered a direct sequel to the first two movies in the series, producer James Cameron and director Tim Miller (of Deadpool fame) could well knock it out of the park with this one.

Ad Astra (film)

Ah Brad Pitt.. the man who never ages. If there were any at all, who doubted Pitt’s acting chops even after decades of delivering regal performances, they were surely silenced after his latest turn as stuntman Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Booth was everything you wanted to be, but probably never will, and Pitt’s sycophantic charm was the perfect foil to DiCaprio’s steadfastness in the film.

Brad Pitt in ‘Ad Astra’: finally an Oscar nod?

Brad Pitt in ‘Ad Astra’: finally an Oscar nod?  

In the sci-fi epic Ad Astra though, all that changes as Pitt goes on a mind-bending journey into outer space in search of his last father, while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Already billed to garner the leading man an Oscar nom, it’s a fascinating phenomenon to note that 2019 has become the ‘Brad Pitt’ year, similar to what happened with McConaughey in 2013: two actors universally adored by fans for their looks and charm, finally coming good on their initial promise as some of the finest talents in this generation.

Ad Astra promises to be a genre-defining experience, with similar expectations as that of movies such as 2001: a Space Odyssey, Interstellar and Gravity. The big-budget production is directed by James Gray and also stars Ruth Negga, Tommy Lee Jones and Liv Tyler.

Star Wars : The Rise of Skywalker (film)

The latest instalment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy will open in theaters in December as the final episode on the nine-part ‘Skywalker saga’. The Jedi and the sith face-off in the mother of all galactic battles hurtling towards a (possibly) heart-breaking climax, and expectations are already sky-high.

‘The Rise of Skywalker’: All good things need to come to an end

‘The Rise of Skywalker’: All good things need to come to an end  

The success of The Force Awakens and the Last Jedi only cemented the impact of Star Wars even in modern-day millennial pop-culture (if at all there were any wavering questions) with the young, ridiculously good cast, more than an able match to their predecessors.

Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Billie Lourd, Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell… and Mark Hamill all are back, along with Carrie Fisher, who played the iconic Princess Leia, part of the film through unreleased footage from the previous instalments.

Get ready for a lot of goosebumps. Along with your hankies to dab all those tears away.

His Dark Materials (TV series)

Based on the trilogy of epic sci-fi/ fantasy novels by British author Philip Pullman, the show will also be set in a multiverse, moving across parallel worlds.

The series will follow the life of young Lyra Belacqua (played by Dafne Keen), an orphan living at Jordan College, Oxford, who comes across a secret that involves Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter (played by James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson respectively) that sets off a series of happenings and leads Lyra on a dangerous journey. Similar to the book, all human beings also travel with a companion called dæmons, which are external physical manifestation of a person’s ‘inner-self’.

‘His Dark Materials’: James McAvoy is at home in another sci-fi outing

‘His Dark Materials’: James McAvoy is at home in another sci-fi outing  

Director Otto Bathurst has earlier stated that some elements have been changed from the book to give a more modern feel, with the show set to premiere late 2019 on BBC One in the UK and HBO in the USA and other markets.

With 2007 film Golden Compass (based on Northern Lights, the first novel in His Dark Materials), receiving a lot of criticism globally, fans still remain excited but skeptical.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian (TV series)

The Mandalorian is set to be one of the selling points of Disney’s new streaming service. It will be the first live-action Star Wars TV series, and is slated to premiere in November on Disney +. The show’s timeline is set five years after the Return of the Jedi, before the emergence of the First Order, and will trace the travels of a Mandalorian, a bounty hunter going beyond the New Republic.

‘Star Wars: The Mandalorian’: Disney+ hopes to break new ground

‘Star Wars: The Mandalorian’: Disney+ hopes to break new ground  

The series boasts of veteran Jon Favreau of MCU fame as the show runner. The first season will be eight episodes long with weekly releases. The cast includes Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Bill Burr and Werner Herzog

Rick and Morty (TV series)

How does one even begin to describe the adventures of the mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his faithful but fumbling grandson Morty Smith through light years of interstellar travel that has shocked, awed and confused audiences in equal measure since its inception in 2013?

‘Rick and Morty’: Wild, madcap genius

‘Rick and Morty’: Wild, madcap genius  

Though the rest of this list features debuts, Rick and Morty finds a rightful place not only because it’s amongst the smartest and snarkiest shows to ever air, but the adult animated sitcom has been on hiatus since mid-2017 with the future of the show in question.

So when a recent announcement scheduled the fourth season’s premiere in November with ten episodes, it didn’t just feel like a revival — but the birth of a new era — one that will define TV animation for years to come.

Watchmen (TV series)

Inspired by the cult following for the 2009 Watchmen film, this show based on the DC Comics limited series, has been created and developed by Damon Lindelof for HBO. Straddling the twin worlds of sci-fi and superhero drama, this dark re-telling takes place in an alternative, contemporary reality set in the US, where masked vigilantes became outlawed due to their violent methods. What happens when some of them join forces to start a revolution, while others attempt to stop them?

‘Watchmen’: better than the movie?

‘Watchmen’: better than the movie?  

With a new trailer from Comic-Con announcing that the show is set to premiere in October and a cast comprising notable names such as Jeremy Irons, Regina King and Tim Blake Nelson, a legion of comic book fans globally eagerly await the binge.

Best of sci-fi in 2019 so far:

2019 has already seen a slew of sci-fi outings that have surpassed expectations, though there were disappointments like Netflix’s Another Life as well as the fifth season of Black Mirror with Andrew Scott’s Smithereens being the only saving grace. In other news, while pretty much the entire world cheered on Will Smith to have a hit with Gemini Man, the movie in itself followed Smith’s earlier disastrous trysts with sci-fi — Bright and After Earth — ultimately being a disappointment, that not even the presence of Oscar winner Ang Lee helming the project could salvage.

There was also much to criticise about the new revival of The Twilight Zone, based on the original 1959 television series created by Rod Serling, which included Get Out and Us director Jordan Peele among its creators, with a second season already announced.

Meanwhile, the surprising cancellation of The OA prompted fans to start a social media campaign to ‘save the show’ after Netlflix did not renew it citing ‘high production costs’.

‘Stranger Things’: Is Hop still alive?

‘Stranger Things’: Is Hop still alive?  

However, the new seasons of Stranger Things and Star Trek: Discovery assured that the shows cemented their place in modern sci-fi legacy, while other new debuts like The Umbrella Academy (adapted from the comic book) and Good Omens (based on a 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) lived up to their hype.

But our best pick of the year?

Netlfix’s ‘Dark’: A mind-bending masterpiece

Netlfix’s ‘Dark’: A mind-bending masterpiece  

Coming close is David Fincher and Tim Miller’s dazzling and at times, audacious, animated sci-fi anthology, Love Death + Robots, that despite its dark and NSFW themes, just about slam-dunks its ambitious highs.

Yet, it is Netflix’s German show Dark, which dropped its second season earlier in 2019, that is the clear winner and might even end up in the realms of sci-fi folklore, as a true-blue classic. Subverting every hitherto-explored time travel trope with a narrative that flirts abundantly with the metaphysical, the show is no easy watch, but the dividends pay off towards a masterclass viewing.

What can we expect in 2020?

It’s never too early to look forward to next year, especially when it comes bearing gifts such as The New Mutants, the 13th and final installment in the X-Men film series, and stars Game of Thrones’ Maisie Willaims and Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton among its cast.

‘The New Mutants’: something to excite ‘X-Men’ fans

‘The New Mutants’: something to excite ‘X-Men’ fans  

Another much-anticipated show is Star Trek: Picard, the eighth series in the iconic franchise and centers on the character Jean-Luc Picard, 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.

Then, there’s our very own friendly neighbourhood Tom Holland, taking a break from playing Spidey, to star in Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness’ young adult sci-fi trilogy of books. The movie also stars Daisy Ridley, Nick Jonas, Mads Mikkelsen.. need more?

Finally, video game buffs globally cannot wait for the TV adaptation of Halo — one of the true great sci-fi games of all time —to start production. The show will center on the 26th-century conflict between humans and an alien threat known as the Covenant, and is looking at a late 2020 debut.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 1:31:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/2019-in-television-and-film-the-best-sci-fi-content-to-come/article29725312.ece

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