'New' Sci-Fi Movies and TV Series Coming Soon (but do they promise anything New?)

30.06.2020, 17:45

Here at Prizes Drop, we’ve got nothing against re-workings of really great and classic science-fiction books from the minds of Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov and James Herbert. 



That’s right, if you know your sci-fi stuff then you know we’re talking about 'Brave New World', the 'Foundation' series and the 'Dune' series. An extra bonus if you’ve read all of these books and can appreciate those rich source material without thinking of any screen adaptation. Because don't get us wrong: all those books are excellent, but are they still relevant today?


We’ve seen many attempts before at TV series adaptations of 'Dune', where CGI effects were able to bring any background or special effect readily available for less than the cost of a complete set. But... lots of CGI just doesn’t create great sci-fi adaptations automatically.


And, many of these books contain writing styles and visions perhaps too big for a screen, or too complicated. This doesn’t seem to stop more book 'resurrections' from occurring. Maybe it’s because it’s simply easier to capture an audience via a well-known sci-fi vision, especially a classic work, than to make something original. But in these days of Netflix and streaming, is that still true? New shows like 'Tales from the Loop' (Amazon) now have a chance to capture an audience like never before, if the synopsis is relevant to viewers, or intrigues them in some way.


At the same time, Netflix and Amazon streaming have opened the gates to a whole tidal wave of content full of straight-to-video, disposable stuff. Yes, there is some original work, and (occasionally) some original sci-fi films that don’t use CGI to a point where it’s frankly tiring and overblown (like nearly every superhero movie since 'Iron Man' which somehow managed to be good).


Luckily, Denis Villeneuve is the director in charge of the new Dune movie. He’s proven he can bring a suggestive touch and high levels of atmosphere back to science-fiction with his former movies 'Arrival' and 'Blade Runner 2'. Will this be enough to tackle 'Dune' again?


James Herbert’s 'Dune' books are trippy, visionary tales with a lot of religious undercurrents. Are religious tales still relevant? The 'fremen', the group of desert-bound warrior monks who have adapted carefully to their dry planet environment might represent an aspect that speaks to us now, as we continue to struggle with our relationship to our planet, its resources and our squandering of them... perhaps.


Next, a series coming soon to Apple TV+ (interrupted by COVID-19), is now destined for release in 2021. These books from Isaac Asimov date back to 1951 and although so well respected, remain fairly complex 'high science-fiction' books, based on the fall of the Roman Empire. Here is always a relevant theme for any society, to do with how change is necessary for new orders to form. That change, itself instigated by awareness of its alleged coming, is how the central character ends up managing to bring it about. It might manage to hold audience attention if it can convey its paradoxical themes.



But what about the need for original sci-fi? We can look to Alex Garland for his series 'Devs' (trailer below) which continues his trend of being both relevant and intriguing, exploring themes of AI and technology as something transcendent or mystical - and dangerous. Although it should be said that there are many shades of 'Foundation' here too.  'Interstellar' from Christopher Nolan was also a masterful experience that brought back some unexpected tributes to the space-race age and Ridley Scott’s 'Prometheus' and 'Alien: Covenant' revamped that sense of the brutal, cold nature in Nature - and the nightmarish. Humans do not fare well in such a realm, although women generally end up fending them off. Although many aspects may have been (brilliantly) expanded or re-imagined, there was nothing inherently original here.



Of them all, perhaps 'Brave New World' is the most relevant choice of material to revisit and adapt, since we’re living in the content streaming equivalent of its 'plastic society', where everything is CGI possible, but not so much feels 'real'. Beyond this, the work is still saying something important concerning how our science is moving us closer to genetic god-like modification of the future generation (hopefully we won’t very much) via CRISPR technology. You might say that Huxley really understood the sort of possible we (still) are trying to avoid.



We’ll have to see whether it will be able to hit all its messages home in an entertaining way that isn't afraid to pack some punches (aimed squarely at aspects of our society today.) 


'Brave New World' premieres on Peacock on July 15th 2020.


Stay tuned for more highlights of upcoming science-fiction TV series and movies, especially those we think may have something to say.


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