13 January 2013

Top 10 Science Fiction Films of the decade so far...

Top 10s. They're everywhere, I know, but I am going to put some of mine on this blog. Any such list is of course going to be highly subjective - I welcome comments.

The hardest thing about this list was figuring what order to put these films in. So without further ado, here are the science fiction films of the last three years that I have enjoyed the most. (* = saw it at the cinema)


"Predator" is one of my favourite action/sci-fi films ever. A sequel produced (and with story largely by) Robert Rodriguez was of course going to grab my interest. Unlike "Predator 2", this one went back to its roots and dumped a whole lot of humans in a jungle. And killed them off one by one. (Which is one of the reasons I also have a soft spot for "AVP" regardless of its place in either Alien or Predator canon.)


Philip K. Dick is one of my favourite SF authors, but I must admit I haven't read the story that this sci-fi/romance/thriller is based on. The Bureau's men in hats give a nice 50s/noir kind of feel to the film, and I like the visual effects of the magic doorways, and the colour-coded timelines in the Bureau books. The film brings up questions of free will, fate, and things of that nature. Science fiction - more than just giant spaceships and lasers that go "pew pew".


Another "thinking person's" science fiction film. An intelligent character-driven drama (while thematically similar to Michael Bay's "The Island", there's no explosions or special FX here) that features strong performances from its leads. This is a great example of how elements of science fiction can be used as a backdrop for something more than mere "space opera".


Ridley Scott's not-a-prequel (but "set in the same universe") to "Alien" features vast alien landscapes, claustrophobic spaceship drama, and strange alien creatures that are incredibly friendly... in a face-hugger kind of way. As a standalone film, I enjoyed it despite (on some level, perhaps because of) its lapses in logic. In a creepy alien environment, when a snake-wormy like lifeform appears, whose first thought would be "I must pat that"? And <sarcasm>surprise surprise</sarcasm>, it's a prequel to "Alien" after all.


"Found footage" has become its own little sub-genre in the last few years. This is one of the best I've seen. It begins with mostly home video footage (with the plot device of the character trying out his new camera) and then as the story expands into the wider world, other footage from CCTV cameras, news helicopters, and even eyewitness mobile phones is edited together. One in a long line of teens-get-superpowers stories, this one features three students who develop telekinetic powers (up to and including flight) after touching an alien artifact in a cave. A strong story and impressive effects help this "low-budget" superhero flick really fly.

Sorry about the pun.


A crime drama. That happens to feature time travel. Part "12 Monkeys", part "Road To Perdition", this sci-fi/gangster film avoids dwelling on paradoxes too much - Bruce Willis (as the older version of the hitman protagonist) even brings it up in dialogue:
"I don't want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we're going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws."
For a longer review, see my previous post here. To quote myself, "an interesting and intelligent science fiction film, and one of the best handlings of time travel in recent years."


James MacAvoy as young Xavier. Michael Fassbender as young Magneto. And Kevin "Six Degrees" Bacon himself. Highly entertaining, with all of the fun of the first "X-Men" without any of the "too many mutants" mis-steps of "The Last Stand". In addition to being a fan-friendly prequel that shows the friends-to-enemies backstory of the two mutant leaders, it's just a great combination of script and cast.


Dreams and reality are a common theme in science fiction. Christopher Nolan took it a little further with this dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream story, thanks to a good cast (with a high Dark Knight trilogy contingent) and some highly impressive visual effects. We travel back and forth through multiple layers of reality, with the clever addition of increasing levels of time dilation, in a way that helps the viewer keep track of who's where doing what. (Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" could have benefited highly from a bit more of this.) Still... by the time the credits roll, you might be starting to doubt what's the dream and what's reality.


I was disappointed when this didn't stay long on cinema screens, and I hadn't got the chance to see it. This is top of my "I wish I'd seen that on the big screen" list. I still haven't read any of the books yet - prior to this film "The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (the books, not the film) were my only exposure to this pulp sci-fi hero from the creator of Tarzan. George Lucas, however, is clearly a fan. Either that, or Edgar Rice Burroughs was a time-travelling Star Wars fan.


Or to use a great word I saw in someone else's review, Chimpocalypse.

Gollum, King Kong, Captain Haddock... Andy Serkis is the go-to guy for motion capture acting. And for all the techno-wizardry required to bring CGI fur onto the screen, this is acting, not animation (Jar Jar Binks, anyone?). Every millimetre of expression on the chimp Caesar's face comes from the actor "inside". And like Gollum, a believable character is created in the process. There are a few scattered references to the original movie series, but slight changes in continuity do make this a kind of reboot - and a much better one than Tim Burton's 2001 remake of "Planet Of The Apes". (Depicting Caesar's rise to leader of an ape revolution, it's also a kind of remake of Conquest, without Escape's temporal loop backstory) I enjoyed this so much I saw it twice on the big screen.

What are your science fiction hits of the decade thus far?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...