2017 looks like it's going to be a fantastic year for futurists and sci-fi lovers. Whether you're set on a much-anticipated sequel or a fresh standalone, this year is set to be awash in sci-fi features. Check out these five films to watch out for, and how they're tied to real scientific advancements.
Life (March 2017)
Set aboard the International Space Station, this six-member crew is on a mission to become the first team to discover proof of extraterrestrial life on Mars. While conducting research, they find that life forms not only exist, but also might be much more intelligent than ever expected. The trailer seems to hint that the film will combine the realism of Gravity with the abject horror of Alien.
A resurgence of films set in realistic space conditions could be a response to increasing public attention to current space travel projects, such as those being conducted by SpaceX. With the arrival of the first humans on Mars rapidly approaching, and increased scientific efforts to search for intelligent life, our interest in seeing these kinds of stories is only going to grow.
Ghost In The Shell (March 2017)
Based on the 1995 anime film sharing the same title, Scarlett Johansson plays the Major, a cyborg faced with a mission to take down a dangerous criminal hacker. We're hoping that director Rupert Sanders can combine his visual flair with a substantive exploration of some of the original film's heady concepts.
The story delves into ideas such as consciousness and the repercussions of technological advancement – topics that aren't at all unfamiliar to today's researchers. In fact, science just recently took steps toward pinpointing where in the brain human consciousness is centered. Lately, there's also been lot of focus on the ethics of AI within the scientific community, with some even calling for a mandatory kill switch.
Alien: Covenant (May 2017)
Alien: Covenant is the second chapter of Ridley Scott's prequel trilogy, beginning with Prometheus and connecting with the original Aliens in 1979. The film captures a colony aboard the Covenant, who are bound for an uncharted planet within the outer reaches of the galaxy. When they arrive, they find that they aren't alone. After they discover the planet's sole survivor, the last "synthetic" from the failed Prometheus expedition, they encounter an alien life-form that turns their paradise into a dangerous world where they must fight to escape.
It's too bad Steven Hawking was not a figure in the universe of the Alien films. Had he been, the crews from Weyland-Yutani would have known better than to make first contact. The famed scientist has recently warned against humans being the ones to initiate with alien beings, as the results could be devastating to our species.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 2017)
Luc Besson is returning to the beloved genre that put his name on the map. The director of the much loved (and hated) space opera, The Fifth Element is returning to the cosmos. His latest outing is based on the French comics series Valérian and Laureline. The trailer promises a wild ride full of lush visuals and plenty of over-the-top action to spare. The film's massive $180 million budget will allow for a lot of delicious eye-candy to complement the mindless action.
We back here in the present are also starting the see the beginning of the kind of super suits Valerian gets to wear which give humans heightened ability. Some of these suits are being designed to increase the abilities of the elderly or disabled, but they can also be used to assist workers doing heavy lifting or other physical tasks.
Blade Runner 2049 (October 2017)
Here comes the long-awaited sequel to the original Blade Runner, which was released over three decades ago. It takes place in Los Angeles, where a new blade runner (Ryan Gosling) is led on a quest to find the former blade runner (Harrison Ford) who hasn't been seen in more than 30 years. The film is being helmed by the visionary director Denis Villeneuve, known for his dark visual tone – one that matches the world created by Philip K. Dick and visualized by Ridley Scott in the original film. Watch out for the companion VR content being made available on the Oculus Rift, coming out around the release of the movie in October.
As with space travel, the technology behind bioelectronics and artificial intelligence is rapidly developing. Much like the world of Rick Deckard, robots are taking over tasks that only humans could previously do. The inclusion of VR content is also an interesting development for such a high profile film. It will be interesting to see what future campaigns will include, should this prove to be successful.