LIH Editorial: Sci Fi’s Paradox in Popularity Vs. Critical Approval

21 Jul

By LIH Staff

In a summer with so many Sci-fi critical and box office failures, San Diego’s Comic-con International 2013 points to a resurgence in the genre.  Yet these successes so far are only critical.  We will focus on two significant, yet very different films the “Europa ReportandPacific Rim.”  These two films verify three of the potential strengths this genre is known for.   The dramatic tension, futuristic assumption, and bold invention tend to define the best Sci-Fi.


Described by Magnet Releasing studio:

EUROPA REPORT” follows a contemporary mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean. After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crewmember, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined.” [1]

Given Cruise, Smith and Pitt bad film reviews, I would describe this film as one of the best recent reviews for the genre.  Earning a 69% fresh rating on it’s any wonder whether the movie will eventually earn the audience to substantiate its praise.

Described by Warner Bros entertainment;

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.” [2]

Despite a rotten Tomatoes 72% fresh rating, directing superstar, Pacific Rim,” Guillermo del Toro must be suffering the lowest box office in his career.  Despite a huge marketing push, the movie has never placed hire than 3rd place since it’s opening.  Generally jubliant reviews aside, SCI FI is experiencing a paradox in popularity versus critical approval.

But honestly is Box office everything?  According to “Entourage”, yes it is if you’re “a suit” working in Hollywood’s business departments.  Underlying one of the hazards of relying on fan sites for film reviews, one might recognize that many in the general public review movies using the exact same receipt driven criteria.  And who should blame them; career anxious film critics almost unanimously encourage this behavior in columns and TV reviews.  But honestly one of my favorite sites, contradicting many professional critics, Comic Book Movie’s Josh Wilding [3] actually had the audacity to claim in one of his articles that…

“…Imagine The Worst Syfy Movie With Decent Special Effects

Joining Varieties, Stuart Oldham[4], PinHeadLarry145 of Letterboxd [5], and Scott Mendelson of [6], in suggesting that film content that are not well, fully, or competitively branded might be a poor film making investment. Blog dudes you can’t be that way.  Whether you like comic book movie content or not, we wouldn’t have most of the history of film if studios weren’t willing to take chances on untested and non-pre branded content.  In terms of movies, I’m talking about the Star wars, Terminators, Matrix’s etc. Suggesting that the enterprise of initiating a movie that does not have fully branded characters is almost a mistake; is evil and I hope no one else subscribes to this notion ever again.  Mr. Wilding if you just did not like the film that’s perfectly fair.

For those continuing to invest in this genre, please see fit to invest in “Elysium” due August 9th 2013. Some describe it as an almost sequel to the mega brilliant “District 9.” Having some of the characteristics of the worst films of the summer (as in an ”A” lister like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster), and a not yet “A” lister like Sharlito Copley, we hope “Elysium” flourishes to help continue this trend.


Articles This Week

Monday-Toss-Up-By Litllebells

Tuesday-Discussion on Monday’s article

Wednesday-3rd article in our series on Film Industry Implosion-By Parisienne

Thursday- Discussion on Wednesday’s article

Friday- Continued & Open Discussion on Monday & Wednesday’s articles


Essential References:









One Response to “LIH Editorial: Sci Fi’s Paradox in Popularity Vs. Critical Approval”

  1. Alice X. Kirk July 29, 2013 at 3:18 AM #

    I was one of the few lucky fans who attended the Sydney premiere and my impression was “Wow!” The use of a well known Roddenberry plot device to reset the franchise was a brilliant idea and means the franchise can now move forward without the “FANS” shouting “canon!” The movie itself was brilliantly cast and performed with each actor being enough like the original to be believable in the role without the over the top acting that was part of TV when it all began in the 1960’s.The special effects are top notch.Its a film which you can take anyone who enjoys sci-fi to, not just someone who knows the last 40 years of Trek.So what level of fan am I? I own 3 costumes, attend conventions and appear in “Trekkies 2”, and yet loved Enterprise because from the first episode I simply said its was in an alternate universe, its the same but different. I view this film in the same light, same but different.

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