Written by David “Max” Millgate
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Loved this film! It felt very fresh and new when it came out. Using Johannesburg was not an obvious choice of location for an alien invasion movie, but that’s exactly what made it stand out. We’ve seen so many Hollywood movies with aliens arriving and hovering over Los Angeles or New York. The South African setting of this movie made it look very original. Add a great script, great direction, great AlienFX and an unlikely (and somewhat unlikeable!) main character and you have a terrific piece of work!
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
This is a good example of a movie that you really need to ‘experience’ in a proper cinema and on the BIGGEST screen that you can find! I’ve heard people saying that they didn’t enjoy this film, but they were generally the same people who then admitted that they only actually saw it on a TV. It just doesn’t have the same effect. I’m not a huge fan of 3D movies, but this was one where I felt that the extra dimension did add an extra level of immersion to the film. You did feel like you were actually in space and at times you really felt dizzy watching it! Even if George Clooney‘s performance was rather odd (…wooden?)
Directed by Duncan Jones
A great time-travel movie and from David Bowie‘s son, no less! It’s an interesting idea too. That you can revisit/relive a moment back in time, but only a very short amount of it (about 8 minutes, in this case!) So Jake Gyllenhaal has to take the exact same train journey over and over again until he can find the man responsible for planting a bomb on-board. Each time he fails we see he’s actually situated inside some kind of futuristic pod in a military lab. It’s all very strange and keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on, but the military in sci-fi movies almost always means that we suspect a conspiracy of some sort and we know they’re up-to-no-good. However, the fact we suspect this all along doesn’t spoil our enjoyment of the movie. It’s a cool film.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Let’s face it, if Ridley Scott had never made another sci-fi movie he’d still be regarded as being one of the most important directors of the genre. ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER both pretty much influenced every sci-fi movie that came after! So, it’s really great to see him deliver a science fiction film that’s as fresh and joyful as this one is. The idea of an astronaut being presumed dead and who then ends up being left behind on Mars is really pretty dark, but it manages to be quite uplifting and laugh-out-loud funny at times. The novel it’s based on was original and different. The movie simplifies all the heavy-science somewhat, but is still basically very faithful to the original source material. Of course, none of this would work without a good central performance from the lone-actor, so hats off to Matt Damon for carrying this film and creating a character the audience could actually give a damn about. It’s basically a modern take on Robinson Crusoe…set in space!
Directed by Alex Garland
An interesting and low-budget sci-fi movie all about a reclusive billionaire’s search to create artificial intelligence and ultimately a sentient robotic being. However, to share and bear witness to his monumental ‘moment-of-genius’ he’ll need to open the doors of his secret mountain retreat to one of his most promising young programming/hacking employees. The youngster in question will eventually begin to find out that he’s not just there to watch the events unfold, but he’s actually an essential ingredient in one his employers much darker experiments. Can he answer a very basic question…is it possible for a robot/AI to fall in love with a human being…and…vice-versa?
ROGUE ONE – A STAR WARS STORY
Directed by Gareth Edwards
What I liked about this ‘prequel’ to the original STAR WARS movie is the dark, gritty feel it had, which reminded me of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The characters were all strong and varied and I thought the female lead was terrific in her role. It was also nice that Darth Vader was actually scary again! It had the vibe of a war film at times, or a men-on-a-mission movie. For me it ticked all the boxes that those three Star Wars prequels sadly missed. I enjoyed the JJ Abrams effort too (THE FORCE AWAKENS) but I liked ROGUE ONE more!
EDGE OF TOMORROW
Directed by Doug Liman
A Tom Cruise movie first and foremost (aren’t they all?), but it’s still a cool sci-fi film and the central concept is somewhat similar to another movie in this list (SOURCE CODE), in that it plays with the idea that it’s possible to relive a very specific moment in time, but from many different perspectives. I’ve nothing against the mega-star that is ‘Tom Cruise’, but in every single movie he is…always…well…just Tom Cruise, but having said that he does employ the talents of some of the best people in their cinematic fields and I think Doug Liman made a solid sci-fi movie experience here. The alienFX were impressive (and intended to be!) for this to hold together. It also features one of my favourite actors in the late, great Bill Paxton, now very sadly missed.