With Chappie releasing in theaters this past weekend, I thought it would be fun to do some science fiction based films. I haven’t gotten around to actually seeing Chappie yet but, from what I’ve heard, it’s a step up from Neill Blomkamp’s previous film, Elysium. If you don’t want to make the trek to the theater for it, then these 5 should give you a healthy science fiction fix!
District 9 (2009)
This seemed to be the most obvious starting point given the film is the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp. The story takes place in an area of South Africa that houses poor aliens who have come to Earth. With its sharp political message, beautifully photographed action scenes and strong performances, District 9 set a new bar for the alien genre. If you missed out on this one during its original release, now is as good a time as any to visit it.
X-Men Series (2000 – 2014)
Yes, this is technically one of my cheats, but I didn’t want to single out any single entry when more than half of them are fantastic films. An argument could be made that these aren’t exactly science fiction, but I think the setting and story involving human evolution qualifies. X-Men as a comic has been around for decades and the films are some of the finest within the super hero genre. Most of the core series (aside from The Last Stand) have been excellent films in their own right, but the full series is a behemoth of sci fi/superhero that is basically unrivaled. You can skip the two Wolverine off shoots if you want, but watching X-Men through X-Men: Days of Future Past is one doozy of an experience.
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Switching gears to the more independently minded science fiction, we come to one of my all time favorite films, based on one of my top 10 favorite novels. A Scanner Darkly takes place in the near future where we have effectively lost the war on drugs. A powerful new substance has taken over a huge portion of the population while organizations and authorities scramble to control the craze. A Scanner Darkly is one of the most intensely realistic depictions of drug addiction out there. Utilizing a sadly underrated form of animation called Roto-scoping, they shot the entire film in live action before going through frame by frame to color it in. The effect can be a little daunting at first, but once you get used to the visuals, you will appreciate just how much attention to detail is on display. I could go on and on about this film and its themes, but it’s better you just watch it. The film may be a little too heady for some viewers, but those looking for a challenging, rewarding experience need not look any further.
Children of Men (2006)
I’ve seen Children of Men only once, in theaters, when it released nearly a decade ago. It was Christmas Day and I went with my best friend. The experience of this film has never left me, and in some weird ways I’m afraid to watch it again because of the chance that experience may be tainted. The story involves a future where women are no longer able to get pregnant, and the ramifications that arise when our lead character meets an impregnated woman. Their journey to get her to safety is one of heartbreaking resonance, and it possesses one of the most committed takes on a bleak, desolate future. Of all the films on this list, I think Children of Men is the one everyone, no matter your tastes, should give a single watch to. I’d be surprised if you’re disappointed.
Last but not least I needed to give some love to the ever budding Time Travel subgenre. I was torn between this film and another, low budget film called Primer (also worth a look), but went for this because I think it has a broader, less daunting appeal. The story is a little hard to explain without spoiling, but it involves a man and his wife and the consequences he faces when coming into contact with a masked man, a strange murder, and a time machine. Most movies about time travel wind up failing due to their own paradoxical logic, but Timecrimes is one of the few whose ending actually makes sense. It may not be for everyone, but people who enjoy foreign films ought to give this one a gander. You’ve probably never seen anything quite like it.
I’ll be keeping this Sci Fi train going tomorrow with a list of the Top 5 Science Fiction films of the Decade So Far. Check in tomorrow!
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