My Sci-Fi

Thoughts on movies, gadgets and cool tech

Top Ten Sci-Fi Movies of the Decade

The past ten years have been hard for the sci-fi genre.  While it used to be a busting category filled with hits and blockbusters, the decade began with a sour taste in our mouths thanks to George Lucas’ terrible Star Wars prequels.  Me thinks the years following showed a steep decline in our often space set films because public interest wasn’t there.  Instead we saw pseudo sci-fi stories.  Movies like Donnie Darko or Vanilla Sky, both involve very science fiction elements, but those elements took back seats to the more psychological side of things.

I’ve tried to leave out most of these somewhat sci-fis and focus on movies that have stayed true to the core of my favorite genre.  Following is a list of the top ten must see of the decade.  Oddly enough, the majority were not terribly popular or successful at the box office.  I put them in chronological order, it seems the least bias way to do it.  It also allowed me to dodge the painful process of deciding the order of “best”ness.

Pitch Black (2000) – You may not have heard of it, but it stared Vin Deisel before he was big.  It’s about a downed spaceship and the survivors attempting to stay alive on a moon that goes through periods of darkness.  This is great for the famed (and now freed) convict Riddick, who has a talent for seeing in the dark.  This movie is a cult classic and is a wonderful example of good sci-fi in film form.

Titan A.E. (2000) – Old school anime, before all those Pixar movies changed things.  Besides having an awesome soundtrack (still listen to it), it has the typical theme of “outcast must save the human race.”  The catch is Earth has already been destroyed and he has to follow clues from his dead father on how to find the ship that can save our doomed species.  He also has a race of energy beings hell bent on stealing that technology for themselves on his tail.

I, Robot (2004) – Will Smith plays it good in this movie.  Lucky for him the script was based on a story by renown sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov.  Asimov ruled sci-fi like Tolkein ruled fantasy.  It’s a classic tale of robots gone bad, but the mystery detective nature of the story rings true to old school writers of the genre.

Serenity (2005) – Oh Mal, how I wish I coulda been one of the crew on your old firefly.  This is the sci-fi movie that should never have been.  After the series it was based on was cancelled with only 14 episodes, fans threw the biggest hissy-fit known to man.  So much so, that Fox was compelled to placate them by making a first class movie.  It’s a good film, about a bunch of smugglers taking on the world(s).  It’s on the top ten cause you just can’t stop the signal.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005) – Based on the book that is supposed to be funnier.  It’s the only sci-fi comedy that’s done it well.  Hilarious, absolutely hilarious.  It has Zooey Deschanel in it as well, who wouldn’t like that?  Quite a clever movie and a good space adventure.

The Fountain (2006) – Ok, this is one of those pseudo sci-fi movies.  But it bends the mind in funny ways.  It’s (in a simple way) about one mans quest for immortality and resurrection.  Yet it is so much more complicated than that.  If you want to watch Hugh Jackman in a way you’ve never seen, this is the movie for you.  Though I might call it pseudo sci-fi, it does it so well I can’t help but include it as one of the best of the decade.  No aliens, no spaceships (kind of), no big explosions (well…), just a tree.

Sunshine (2007) – Ah yes, sunshine.  Talk about a journey!  They’re going to the sun with what we can only imagine are thousands, if not millions, of pounds of matter designed to “restart” the sun.  It never tells us what year (good move for any sci-fi movies), just that the sun is dyeing and the 7 person crew is the worlds last hope.  Wonderful narrative and amazing use of the sun as an element for storytelling.

Before finishing the list… 2009 has seen an amazing resurgence for science fiction, so it’s no wonder that these three movies made it on for the best of the decade.  Since I’ve also reviewed these movies recently, I’ll keep it short.

Moon (2009) – One guy playing two characters throughout as well as a voice for a robot.  It’s practically a two person cast yet it delivers, BIG.

Pandorum (2009) – The two plot twists shoot this 1,000 years into the future and land solidly on true science fiction soil.

Avatar (2009) – A crowning sci-fi flick to round off the decade.  Talk about ending with a giant bang, go sci-fi.Lastly I’ll leave you with a list of movies that came close, some very, VERY close, but didn’t quite make it.

District 9 (2009) – My bias was too strong, I couldn’t in good conscience include it.

I Am Legend (2007)
Minority Report (2002)
Equilibrium (2002)
Children of Men (2006)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
The Island (2005)
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Donnie Darko (2001)
The Time Machine (2002)
Cloverfield (2008)
Star Trek (2009)
The Butterfly Effect (2004)

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Movies | Leave a comment

My Apology to James Cameron and Avatar

Last night at about 10:10 I found myself suddenly with egg all over my face. At around 11:00 my mouth was mysteriously filled with both my feet. By 12:30 this morning I was chowing down on my own words. Anyone that’s heard me talk about James Cameron’s Avatar prior to last night would hear me criticize the amount of CG and the Pocahontas in space story line and other bad opinions of it. All based upon the previews I’d seen. Well, after sitting through all two hours forty minutes of the most amazing 3D IMAX experience filled with industry changing computer graphics, my tune hasn’t changed, it’s been put down like a 20 year old dog and replaced with a brand new adorable puppy.

Yes there were some cheesy moments, a plot that might be considered liberal, pro-environment anti-industrialization, but ya know what, I feel it actually worked. No plot spoiler here, but this was the first time I’ve seen a character change sides and actually believe it. Not even half way through the movie (despite a few crops of corn) I felt for the Na’vi (indigenous population of Pandora).

It was easy for me to connect to the main character, Jake Sully. He was a Marine (me too), he was paralyzed (I almost was) and his brother had died on him (I fear that more than anything), so when he jumps into the Avatar program and is ordered to infiltrate the local Na’vi tribe to provide intel, but in the end joins them, wasn’t a big surprise to me.

Heck, I may be pro-technology and innovation, but I am very anti-kill-off-species-just-cause type of guy. Another aspect of the movie that I could love. Speaking of this issue, why do we call this movie anti-industrialization? If you rewind the clock a few hundred years and stay on the North American continent, what we humans wanted to do to the Na’vi, is exactly what we did to Native Americans. Was that pro-industrialization? Were we right in how we treated them? HELL NO! So please, in the interest of over analyzing, keep in mind our own nations history and the parallel this movie is to it.

Ok, now, the BEST part of the movie! THE CG! Wow. Wow. Wow. I’ve seen some good computer generated graphics in movies, but this changed things. I can never, never ever, look at special effects the same way. There were times, many many times, that I had to remind myself I was watching blue aliens tromp around on an alien planet, and it wasn’t real. I’m still in shock at how beautiful some scenes were. I will go back to see this movie, time and again, just to look for the nuances I missed the first time. I saw this with my cousin Luke, who had already seen it, and he mentioned things to me about the animation I didn’t notice. Needless to say, I’m more excited to see it the second time.

My last thoughts… Go see this movie, go see it in IMAX, go see it in 3D. It is worth the money. I am close to agreeing with Mr. Lewis in saying it’s futile to see it any other way. I probably wont buy this movie on Blu-Ray, not until I have a 3D capable 60 inch, top of the line HD TV. Yes, it was that amazing.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Movies | Leave a comment