Films of the Decade: Science-Fiction

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It hasn’t been a particularly great decade for science fiction. The Star Wars series limped along, the Matrix trilogy imploded and both Star Trek and Avatar were colossal disappointments. Despite this, a few films came along to brighten the gloomy skies.

Top Five Sci-Fi Films

5. District 9

The first half of District 9 is an interesting take on racism and intolerance and the second half is a no holds barred action movie. The two sides of the movie could have perhaps been blended together better (a la RoboCop), but it’s still a wonderfully realised movie.

4. Moon

A fantastic old-fashioned science fiction film that brings back memories of films like 2001, Silent Running and Alien. The film has a very real, physical feel. It’s a world that you can reach out and touch – it’s a great move to use lots of physical effects. It’s also a film that plugs into corporate and technological paranoia. Will technology set us free or will it enslave us? The ending is perhaps too glib but it’s an amazingly powerful and thoughtful film.

3. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Up until the final sequence, A.I. is an excellent movie – dark and strange, it has the heart that is sometimes lacking in science fiction films. But the final few minutes descend into sludge. However, this is easily forgotten when you can enjoy the exploits of sex bots and suicidal boy robots. The scene where the mother abandons her android child in favour of her toolish son is wonderfully done.

2. Sunshine

If it weren’t for the highly formulaic final act, Sunshine would actually be one of the best sci-fi films of all time, instead of just one of the best of the decade. What precedes it is so imaginative and so gripping that you can’t help but be disappointed to see it turn into some horror nonsense. But the scene where the astronauts have to fix the heat shield is easily one of the best of the decade.

1. Children of Men

A gritty apocalyptic science fiction fable about the collapse of civilisation after the female population becomes infertile. Filmed in long takes and with lots of sudden violence, it’s a scary look at a slow rot of an apocalypse. Humanity here will not destroy itself over night. It’ll just violently limp on for a few decades before going out with a whimper. Of course the right place to set this film is Britain. Only us British could try and establish some sort of normality and order in the face of humanity’s extinction. Right to the end we shall be moaning and queuing. But Theo’s heroic, selfless effort to preserve a single piece of hope and innocence in this apocalyptic wasteland gives the film its power and beauty.

Five Worst Sci-Fi Films

5. Signs

The creepy atmosphere that’s generated is immediately ruined by the fact that a bunch of aliens who are allergic to water decide to invade a planet rich with the stuff and not wear suits. Never mind a glass of water, what would have happened if it had rained? ‘We’re baddasses! We’re badasses! Wait a minute, what’s that? Oh, bugger, I knew I’d forgotten something…’ Plus would the existence of psycho aliens really help you rediscover your faith in god? It’s doubtful.

4. Planet of the Apes

A bland hero. An ending that defies logic. Burton’s film is a colossal failure. The only bright spot in an otherwise dismal film is the make-up, but that’s hardly a reason to watch it.

3. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Attack of the Clones was a piece of shit, but Revenge of the Sith was even worse. Basically we find out that Vader didn’t become evil because of some sort of complicated inner conflict. No, he became bad because he was a weak-minded emo. ‘How could this happen to me? I’ve made my mistakes. Got nowhere to run, the night goes on.’ Noooooooooo!

2. AVP: Aliens vs. Predator

As a teenager I thought there would be nothing cooler than an Aliens vs. Predator film. How wrong I was. Paul W.S. Anderson manages to both piss and shit in the mouth of two science fiction franchises. Well done, sir!

1. Mission to Mars

An incompetent attempt at making a modern 2001. It removes the mystery and complexity of Kubrick’s film and adds boring action sequences and awful CGI – the Martians look ridiculous. Plus Gary Sinise goes through the whole film seemingly wearing eyeliner, making him look like a square-jawed, pointy-eared Robert Smith.

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