Many modern sci-fi movies tend to use sci-fi veneer as a way to cover up potholes or feature elaborate explosions and action. There’s always a time travel portal to act like the deus ex machina, and some advanced robot or alien that just seems interested in killing everyone.
I like those movies as much as anyone. But some filmmakers do make a sincere effort to imagine other realities and technologies that inspire the way classic science fiction does. It doesn’t mean that the movies have to be the on-screen equivalent of reading an MIT paper on quantum entanglement or something, just that they spin a decent thread inspired by real science.
The following are some slightly less commercial picks, rather than obvious choices like Interstellar either 2001 either Cook, that science fiction movie in which Jon Favreau dates Scarlett Johnasson and Sofia Vergara. That is the future I want.
Primer it’s easily the best time travel movie I’ve ever seen because it feels like you’re watching a documentary about two guys who actually made a time machine. The special effects, or lack thereof, certainly bear this out. This is not a flashy movie: no chase scenes, no colorful portals with beams of light, no rapidly aging characters. Two guys make a time machine in their garage, and it looks so realistic that part of you wants to take notes.
It is not without flaws. The movie is dense and could use a little clearer narration, so there are probably various graphs online trying to figure out what’s really going on. It’s compelling, though, and it might make you want to call a friend for a second and see if he’s free this weekend to play in your garage.
One of the basic things we ask of a good science fiction movie is to create, at least momentarily, a sense of wonder. Annihilation does this with concepts that have barely been explored in the movies, and it feels like something out of a Twilight Zone episode (one of the good ones, not that pig face thing).
Scientists embark on a secret expedition to an area where the laws of nature seem to have been distorted. Mischief ensues. The film makes a fundamental mistake that many sci-fi movies make: delving into superfluous horror and scary moments that are fun, but distract from the more interesting plot. Still, it’s a respectable effort and yet another reminder to never go into the woods with friends.
If most dinners turned out like dinner at Coherence, I would introduce myself to them more often. This party happens on the night of an astronomical anomaly (thanks for nothing, Google Calendar), and the group of friends find their reality twisted in a way that for once isn’t related to drinking too much pinot.
There are stunts, glow sticks and secret codes, and it’s much more entertaining than dinner parties where people ask what you do and pretend to be interested. It’s got a low-budget indie movie written all over it, with dialogue that feels like it’s from one of those one-room plays. But much of the movie works, and you won’t miss the lack of explosions or spaceships.
Matrix Y Dark City are one of the examples of two similar movies coming out at the same time, which I like to imagine is out of spite, like that episode of control your enthusiasm with spite shops. We all benefit independently. Dark City is a combination of The fugitive with film noir and a futuristic comic. I’m probably missing a few dozen genres (German expressionism, draculaetc).
We’ve all been there: You wake up with no memory as the prime suspect in a string of murders and are chased by pale people in hats that can fly. The visuals in Dark City they are impressive, with buildings morphing into each other and people’s lives existing in a seemingly thin veil of reality. If you want to be one of those annoying movie nerds, when someone mentions Matrix, can respond with, “Actually, I’d rather Dark City. But don’t be that guy. They’re both good.
Moon it’s admirable for taking a simple sci-fi concept and exploring its logic, and you also get to watch Sam Rockwell act like a madman for an hour and a half. I know it’s win-win. A lunar mining engineer is finishing up his stint working away from home and seems to find himself with a younger version of himself who isn’t the best roommate in space.
Nothing like a bad space roommate. The film is effective at imagining a future that is both strange and familiar, a reality we are nowhere near, and yet if we found out that one company was doing what the one in the film is doing, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise. . . As far as I know, How-To Geek is employing me in exactly the same way. But I’m probably wrong.