10 Science Fiction Movies in First Half of 2017

spaceship in atmosphereBack in January I wrote my regular post about upcoming science fiction movies for the first half of the year, along with their release dates and my take on how they would do at the box office. Now that the first half of the year is over, let’s look at how well these movies performed—and what kind of critical reviews they received.

Here are the 10 science fiction movies in H1 2017 in chronological order of their actual release dates—which may differ from the dates that were published in January. Production budgets are estimated and rounded up. Movie links go to the movie’s IMDB page.

Death Race 2050

  • Release Date: January 17
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Fresh / 34% Liked
  • Box Office: NA
  • Production Budget: NA
  • Viewed: No
  • My Take: We didn’t catch it during its brief shot at the big screen. It will be on TV (SYFY Channel) on July 14. The huge discrepancy between the seven critical reviews and the 307 User Ratings should tell you something. Audiences stayed away in droves. How much money could it have made when the gross didn’t even make Box Office Mojo’s list?

The Space Between Us

  • Release Date: February 3
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 17% Rotten / 57% Liked
  • Box Office: $7,885,294
  • Production Budget: $30,000,000
  • Viewed: No
  • My Take: One look at the bad scores—and the fact that it’s basically a teen flick—and we passed on paying money to see this movie. Plus, I had an immediate negative reaction to a kid born on Mars running and jumping like a normal teen on Earth. Maybe we’ll catch it on TV.

A Cure for Wellness

  • Release Date: February 17
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 42% Rotten / 43% Liked
  • Box Office: $8,106,986
  • Production Budget: $40,000,000
  • Viewed: No
  • My Take: We saw the trailer for this movie enough times to be intrigued and put it on our “Maybe” list. But the bad scores changed our minds. You will notice a direct correlation between bad scores and low box office. I may catch it on TV just to see the location shots at Castle Hohenzollern and Hechingen in Baden-Württenberg, Germany,


  • Life movie poster 2017Release Date: March 24
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 67% Fresh / 57% Liked
  • Box Office: $99,501,199
  • Production Budget: $58,000,000
  • Viewed: Yes
  • My Take: This is the first movie on the list that we saw in the theater and we found it to be a waste of money and good talent. If you like being in space (I do) then you will enjoy that experience as well as the production values (I did).
    But there’s no getting around a scientist who behaves in an unscientific way, an organism that’s predictably hostile, and an ending you can see coming from the International Space Station. I kept wondering what Neil DeGrasse Tyson would say about it—and that’s never a good distraction from the experience.

Power Rangers

  • Release Date: March 24
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 45% Rotten / 75% Liked
  • Box Office: $85, 364,450
  • Production Budget: $100,000,000
  • Viewed: No
  • My Take: We skipped this one, too. I give a movie some leeway when viewers like it more than the critics do because I often disagree with the critics, especially when it comes to science fiction.  I’ll check it out when it hits TV.

The Discovery

  • Release Date: March 31
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 43% Rotten / 46% Liked
  • Box Office: NA
  • Production Budget: NA
  • Viewed: No
  • My Take: If this ever hit the theaters, we missed it. I don’t even remember.

Ghost in the Shell

  • Release Date: March 31
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 45% Rotten / 57% Liked
  • Box Office: $40,563,557
  • Production Budget: $110,000,000
  • My Take: So here we are at the end of March and we have seen just one of the science fiction movies on the list. One after another they turned into disappointments—not worth the money. This one, based on anime, didn’t appeal, even with Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. Sigh.

The Circle

  • Release Date: April 28
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 15% Rotten / 23% Liked
  • Box Office: $20,497,844
  • Production Budget: $18,000,000
  • Viewed: No
  • My Take: The Circle had potential. It really did. We saw the trailer several times and put it on the “Probably” list of potential movies to see. Alas, the Rotten Tomatoes scores changed our minds. I mean, really, it’s hard to get past scores that low and plunk your money down on the counter. We declined and, clearly, so did a lot of other people.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

  • Release Date: May 5
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 81% Fresh / 90% Liked
  • Box Office: $385,560,026
  • Production Budget: $200,000,000
  • Viewed: Yes
  • My Take: It was fun and enjoyable and all that. But this movie lost me by throwing an incredible number of enemy ships at Our Heroes. Even in a movie where you suspend disbelief at the concession stand, this is offputting and throws you out of the story. No one could survive that. Plus, the end of the movie is just so loud and overwhelming that I left the theater feeling like I escaped. It spoiled my earlier enjoyment. Even Neil DeGrasse Tyson didn’t attempt to analyze the logic or the science. What logic? What science?

Alien Covenant

  • Alien Covenant, Ridley ScottRelease Date: May 19
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 71% Fresh / 60% Liked
  • Box Office: $73,842,907
  • Production Budget: $97,000,000
  • Viewed: Yes
  • My Take: WTF? There hasn’t been a coherent movie in this franchise since Aliens. I said all I had to say about this irrational, unscientific, illogical stinker in this blog post. Dr. Tyson didn’t like it either, but his criticism focuses on only one point. Why stop there when this movie offers so much sheer stupidity on the part of seemingly well-educated and highly trained people. Good Grief.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Summer Movies 2017

Good Movies and Science Fiction 

Of the first 10 science fiction movies in 2017 we saw just three and, really, only one of those was worth the ticket price. We are the target audience for science fiction movies and they lost us on seven out of 10. Duh.

spaceship in atmosphereWhat this proves—once again—is that no A-List stars, no humongous special-effects budget, no Academy-Award-winning director, and no amount of fan support will make a film successful unless it’s also a good movie.

That means it must have a well-written screenplay, a good plot structure, dramatic tension that pulls in the viewer, and a denouement that makes sense. This applies to any movie but, in the science fiction world, the film also must have a sound basis in science.

Dr. Tyson, our astrophysicist friend says about “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” that if you throw enough stuff at him he’ll forget about the science and just sit back and watch the space silliness at work. I may or may not agree.

Making Sense in Science Fiction Movies

But when you take me into space, I want the space to make sense. In space there’s no sound, no gravity, no fire, no heat, no oxygen, no friction, no up and no down. Those are the basics.

No! This is not rocket science!You don’t send human beings to colonize an unknown, unexplored, and uncertain planet without sending robots first. You don’t get from one planet to another in hours, days or weeks. You don’t poke at an alien life form when it’s hibernating or treat it like your pet gerbil when it wakes up really annoyed.

You don’t walk around an unexplored alien environment without a containment suit on. You don’t ever assume that you are smarter than another species because you’re bigger or more technologically advanced. You don’t ever stick your face in a giant leathery egg. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Fundamentals like that make a big difference because science fiction fans pay attention to them. They make the difference between a movie that will get good word of mouth support and one that will die a quick death.

You get the message. I only wish that Hollywood did.

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