“The future is now”. – Snake Plissken. The past decade was a very exciting time for science fiction movies. Beginning in the year 2000, we managed to get movies that proved the previous century’s science fiction wrong. New York has not become a prison. Skynet did not take over. The Discovery did not encounter the Starchild or the Monolith. Y2K failed to happen and I’m still waiting for my jet pack.
This lack of predictions, however, allowed new sci-fi films to flourish, mostly by pushing that date back a little farther. We were given a decade full of great stories and emerging technologies that allowed these tales to come alive before our eyes in ways we couldn’t previous imagine. Granted, a lot of the best sci-fi was to be found on television (Battlestar Galactica and Lost, I’m looking at you), but there were still a ton of fascinating, interesting, and downright fun movies that delivered some solid sci-fi flicks that will hopefully stand the test of time. Here’s what I consider to be the best of the new bunch, with the hopes that some of their predictions come true.
NOTE: This was a difficult list to pare down, so I imposed some guidelines on myself. I deemed sequels to movies made prior to this past decade ineligible (Hence, no Matrix Reloaded or Revenge of the Sith*). This is straight up sci-fi, not “fantasy”, “horror” or “comic-book” movies, so no X-Men, 28 Days Later, Pan’s Labyrinth, or Lord of the Rings. David Lynch movies are not sci-fi, no matter how bizarre you think they are. They are actually documentaries about David Lynch’s dreams. Certain films with possible sci-fi elements and/or interpretations also didn’t make the cut. (Sorry, Prestige). With that in mind, here we go:
A group of astronauts and scientists on a mission to reignite the sun in the hands of Danny Boyle before he won his Oscar! What could have quickly transformed into Event Horizon 2 instead becomes a taut, exciting, and visually stunning film. the Blu Ray of this is sick beyond words.
9. DONNIE DARKO
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the impact this movie has. It inspires heated debate in conversations varying from the religious symbolism to just trying to figure out the damn narrative. It launched Richard Kelly, which begat Southland Tales, but we can forgive him that for all the fun this little mind bender gave us. A great blend of teen angst and time-travel sci-fi food for thought.
The biggest disappointment is that we won’t be able to see any more adventures of the crew of Serenity. Picking up where the cancelled TV series left off, Joss Whedon’s crew of Han Solos had one big screen adventure, but it was one that rewarded fans while opening up a new world to those uninitiated. Sadly, not many beyond the first group saw the film. Lots of fun, this movie is.
A tour-de-force performance from Sam Rockwell anchors what could, in lesser hands, become just another Outer Limits episode. Bonus points to director Duncan Jones for evoking 70s sci-fi standards in your production design. Already my favorite movie of last year, this piece will hopefully grow the cult following it deserves.
6. IDIOCRACY / WALL-E
These movies are disturbing spiritual cousins to each other. Both deal with the consequences our sad, stupid world is heading towards. One’s crass and hilarious, one’s elegant and gorgeously crafted. Both are relevant, as both of these movies have the greatest possibility of becoming true if we don’t start getting our acts together. And both are outright brilliant.
5. CHILDREN OF MEN
One of the few movies that’s about despair and desolation and filth and grime that didn’t make me feel unpleasant, or lose hope for the future. Clive Owen is damn charming in a hopeless world where children have stopped being born. Grim and depressing, yes, but also contains some amazing scene and camera work. From the man who brought us the best Harry Potter movie, no less!