Sci-fi films

Discussion in 'Whatever' started by ultrakaiju, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. ultrakaiju

    ultrakaiju Die-Cast Staff Member

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    Sci-fi films
    So, given the evident popularity of the horror movies thread, I figured we might as well have a place for discussion/in-depth analyis, or just random sharing, of scif-fi films too. I imagine a lot of the folks here have similar tastes for science fiction as much as horror - most of us came this way due to guys in rubber suits after all. :) While there isn't exactly a dearth of them, they don't quite reach the numbers of horror I realise. Probably because horror films have [a long history going back of] been made on low budgets, made rapidly, and tend to cash in on certain 'trends.' But still, movies like Alien, Star Wars, Terminator, Godzilla, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Robocop, 2001, etc. will always be classics, and hopefully serve to inspire (but not copy) future filmmakers. Personally, I can't get enough of a good sci-fi film, there just is a lot of crap (like horror) out there;too much at times. But, I nevertheless enjoy wading through the garbage and scraping the bottom of the barrel, because you never know, you might just get entertained along the way. And, every once in a while, comes a rare time where you can discover a real gem of a film. For all the stinkers and rehashes, I remain hopeful and keep watching; you don't know until you give it a try. Anyways, intro aside, let the discussion begin.

    Also feel free to include 'fantasy' or other similar genre pics. It's a good bet we are mostly like-minded people on the board (not that that means we will agree!). Science fiction is a pretty wide open definition as it is, from my point of view at any rate, and I am all for free discussion on more films. Hard/soft sci-fi, new or old, dystopian futures or speculative fiction, creature features, whatever.
     
  2. ---NT---

    ---NT--- Super Deformed

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    My favorite genre! But yeah, there IS a lot of crap out there (same with books...ugh, I've been reading a lot of boring sci-fii lately...mostly older stuff).
    Just watched Ex Machina the other night. I didn't know anything about it, other than it was about AI. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
    Samsies for Intserstellar and Predestination.
    Looking forward to The Martian - I just started reading the book this weekend and I'm almost done. Very engaging page-turner.
    Was really disappointed with Elysium and Automata, and mildly disappointed with Gravity.
    A little older, but I really enjoyed Moon, and liked Europa Report.
    Just heard that the Expanse novels are going to be turned into a TV series. I've read the first two, and they're fun if a little stiff - this could be a case where the TV show is better than the books.
     
  3. hellscrape

    hellscrape Addicted

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    Looper, directed by Rian Johnson (also directing the new Star Wars, apparently), is a brilliantly crafted piece of time-traveling scientific fiction. I'd recommend that!

    I grew up with Star Wars, so I've always loved sci-fi when done right. I'd classify Tetsuo the Iron Man as sci-fi. Now there's a mind-bender...
     
  4. ultrakaiju

    ultrakaiju Die-Cast Staff Member

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    I just watched Ex Machina the other night as well. Surprisingly, I seem to be in the minority, as I was not in the camp who found it deplorable, nor did I think it was amazing. It was an okay film, plenty of plot holes, but still a decent concept. I am not really sure why people feel so strongly about it; most of what I saw was all done before, so it wasn't a shock surprise ending, nor do I find it really proposed any original philosophical discussions. It was just fairly simple. Maybe I have just seen too much of these movies.

    Erg. I won't subject you to a 20 page rant Interstellar. Suffice it to say that I find that Nolan movies are some of the most overrated of all cinematic history. Why this is, I couldn't say, other than an overwhelming crowd mentality. It was better than Gravity, but in all fairness, that is barely a scale of praise at all. And yes, I will put it out here now that I am an extremely grumpy curmudgeon, and when it comes to films, that goes double. :razz:

    Moon, on the other hand, was one of the few really well done sci-fi pics I have found in recent years. I don't know that it was mind-blowing or anything (none of my favourite films are), it was just leaps ahead of most of what immediately comes to my mind.
     
  5. SaintOfSpinners

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    I was trying to figure out why I dislike so many horror films though I love a good horror film. What I came to terms with is that I like more of a ghost story. Something that is scary but has logic to it, a background, and some detective work. Sometimes resolution which is more of a haunting story and sometimes none, which is more horror. Horror it seems is the feeling of inescapable suffering without resolution.

    On the other hand scifi is about possibility and there for is meant to make you think and come to your own conclusions of what could be. For this reason I even tend to like bad scifi since my mind is spinning on ideas afterwards even if its frustrated with bad acting and writing. This is especially true of time travel films (really enjoyed Predestination and Lee's Adventures).

    One of my favorite writers for a long time was Gene Wolfe who always seemed like a fantasy writer until two thirds through every series you began to realize it was scifi. And in comics it's Grant Morrison for combining ancient religions with scifi.

    Ex Machina made me sad. The one problem I tend to have with our idea of aliens or AI is that we tend to think of it as ourselves. We see both as selfish beings intent on hostile takeover. AI doesn't need to do a thing to take over. Mankind will buy in. Who can live without a cell phone and the internet? I think the current tv show 'Humans' has a decent take on this though same as usual too.
     
  6. ---NT---

    ---NT--- Super Deformed

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    I'll admit that I'm not nearly as critical about movies as I use to be. If there's something - anything - I find enjoyable about a movie then I tend to overlook plot holes, etc. Regarding Ex Machina, I basically wanted to live in that house/research facility, and I really liked the CGI of Eva. It was a simple movie, but I enjoyed looking at it. There could have been a lot more going on with the two male characters, but whatevs.
    I also liked that I was made to sympathize with the "villain" before her status was revealed (even if she really wasn't a villain).
    The same kinda goes for Interstellar. I just want to travel in space, visit other worlds, etc. Interstellar did more for me in that regard than Gravity. The more I think about Gravity the more I kinda hate it - not even cool visuals could make up for the complete lack of story. And I could never forget that it was Bullock/Clooney. Fuck that bullshit movie! But yeah, I have a friend who HATES Interstellar because of plot holes and bullshit message. Again, whatevs - it didn't bore me, it looked cool, I dug it.
     
  7. Lttr Prssd

    Lttr Prssd Comment King

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    Sci-fi films
    Ooh, Sci-Fi films! I'll have to rack my brain, but off the top of my head I enjoyed Primer quite a bit. Smart, low-budget brain twister. Found Beyond the Black Rainbow to be completely overrated and exhausting, although there were definitely some cool moments.
    The Andromeda Strain has become a fave of mine in recent years.
    Will post more when my brain remembers them.
     
  8. ---NT---

    ---NT--- Super Deformed

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    Primer? If so, agreed on both counts!
     
  9. Lttr Prssd

    Lttr Prssd Comment King

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    Yes, Primer. Prime? Isn't that the one with Gwyneth Paltrow?! Blah.

    Gonna fix my post...
     
  10. Lttr Prssd

    Lttr Prssd Comment King

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    Dang, I mean Uma Thurman. I can't even get my wrongs right.
     
  11. blakewest

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    Haha I did a search because I was sure Starship Troopers had been mentioned before, and I found this thread from 2006, with Frank! viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6433

    Anyway, Starship Troopers. It's not the book, obviously, but it's great for many reasons: the cheese, the satire, the bugs, stoopid human behavior. If I had one wish, it was that the cast had not been all white. But then again, maybe it's supposed to be about Nazis.
     
  12. ultrakaiju

    ultrakaiju Die-Cast Staff Member

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    Thanks Blake, great thread. I did do a check for something similar but didn't turn up that one. A good thing too though, because I don't want to start - or even have to think about - narrowing my film choices to five. Heck, even ten is going to be so difficult.

    I guess I fall into the camp that never really got Starship Troopers. There was a lot that came together I think to just turn me off that movie personally, but I respect it for all the fans it has. It seems like an odd movie to have developed both general film popularity (at least at the time) as well as a cult following. I am a massive Heinlein fan, but that doesn't make me dismissive of it automatically. Still, just never really saw what 'it' was. I am probably due for a re-viewing of it soon. And then I can r̶e̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶l̶e̶t̶ ̶f̶l̶y̶!̶ give it a fair critique.
     
  13. psilo110

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    Roman said it best
     
  14. Dr Dave

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    I'm the same - as I get older (and I'm pretty old) I've become waaaaay less critical. Probably has something to do with all the crap I sit through with my kids, but at the same time, there's something to be said for that altered perspective where you can enjoy it more because you see how something might be totally entertaining to a 9 and 13 yr old that you might have not even sat all the way through as a too-cool-for-school ultra-critical 20-something (no offense to any of you here - ha ha!) I've found this is especially applicable when all the mostly-crap Summer Blockbusters roll out. I fell asleep towards end of JURASSIC WORLD, but the parts I was awake for were pretty fun to see with my 13 yr old son because it was his first Jurassic movie in a theater and he was totally losing his shit for it.

    NOT for kids, I recently finally checked out PHASE IV, the only feature-length film by titles master Saul Bass, and it's pretty sweet. Total 70s flavored and uh, kind of a downer? But the premise is cool and the actual practical effects used and macro-cinematography (is that a word?) is kind of amazing when you stop to think about how they got real ants to "act". Won't go too far into plot, but basically it's about what happens when ants decide to take over the world.

    And for the record (since everyone's chiming in) I thought GRAVITY was okay when I first saw it, but will probably never watch it again. I loved EX MACHINA, warts and all - definitely a lot of style over substance, but I thought pretty amazing performances by all three of the main actors. Plus, you can't deny that dance scene!! I also loved DREDD (which was written by EX MACHINA director/sci-fi writer Alex Garland). I think Chris Nolan is super over-rated, but actually liked INTERSTELLAR a lot, despite the wonky "science" involved. Only thing I knew going into it was that he wrote it for his daughter and all the father/daughter stuff totally got me square in the feels. Plus those robots were the BEST! LOOPER is awesome and way more entertaining time travel than PRIMER, in my opinion.
     
  15. petitetoilonrouge

    petitetoilonrouge S7 Royalty

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    Starship Troopers was amazing - it entertains on the first level and makes you think on the second level. If you have the occasion of watching it with commentary by the director (and I believe writer), it's enlightening.

    My short reviews for recently watched (for the first time or again) movies:
    Ascension (ok, not a film, but still): Great premise, but suffered from the usual terrible acting that made me stop after a single episode.
    Oblivion: Terrible, terrible ending, but I actually was surpirsed by a few twists and the film is visuals are pretty gorgeous.
    Edge of Tomorrow: Great action, great effects, funny - perfect action sci-fi flick.
    Upstream Color: If you liked Primer, UC is definitely for you as well. Super mellow, weird. The sort of movie whose atmosphere carries you along...
    Under the Skin: I like Glazer's work, but while there are great scenes in this movie and I'm in general not adverse to experimental films, it took itself just a bit too seriously.
    Her: The visuals of Jonze! My god this was a great movie. Sci-fi based on characters and not settings, way too rarely seen. Also check out his amazing short You're Here. One of the best soundtracks ever.
    Lucy: Hands down one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

    Excited about the upcoming:
    The Expanse tv series! Apparently the pilot rocked at SDCC. I love the books. Exciting!
    The Martian! Amazing book! I hope they don't muck it up! Damon couuuuuld be good for this!
    Red Mars tv series! They -could- make it great! If it ever gets done!
     
  16. ultrakaiju

    ultrakaiju Die-Cast Staff Member

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    Under the Skin was a bit of a question mark. I mean, sure, artistry and 'intellectual' sci-fi are one thing, but there is so much pretension too I find with a lot of recent filmmakers who are trying too hard to be "different" and if you don't get it then you are obviously too stupid/mainstream/not with it. Not that this was necessarily the case in Under the Skin, but I think it suffered a lot in focus on form over content.
    Such a real shame that Scarlett Johansson did this movie too. One of those films that makes you question the actions of all the actors involved (not that Morgan Freeman is exactly what I would call particular in choosing roles), and just cringe and look for that 'Undo' button.
     
  17. petitetoilonrouge

    petitetoilonrouge S7 Royalty

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    I think I watched Her, Lucy and Under the Skin within a few weeks of each other. I certainly admire her for the various roles she takes, but GAWD, Lucy!? I hope they gave her a gazillion dollars. I can understand why some people love mindless action movies, I do as well, but there were no, and I mean NO redeeming values to this feeble excuse for wasted bits of data. And it is also guilty of a gazillion articles on how we are using 100% of our brains and bwahbwah OF COURSE!

    Found a trailer for the Expanse:



    Some good actors in there, and Children of Men was definitely expertly written. Hope! Hope!
     
  18. Lalo

    Lalo Mini Boss

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    Sci-Fi is the best... I am easily entertained when it comes to that genre so I actually liked a lot of the movies mentioned negatively so far, haha.

    Check out Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes)
    I found it to be very entertaining!
     
  19. Lttr Prssd

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    Not a Sci-Fi movie, of course, but rather about the "greatest" Sci-Fi movie never made, Jodorowsky's Dune is completely engrossing. Plus it gave me the name of an artist I admired but never knew the name of, Chris Foss. Probably the main reason I enjoyed Elysium even a little are the Foss-inspired vehicles.

    I enjoyed Under the Skin more than I thought I would, but never bothered with Lucy.

    I've had Timecrimes in my Netflix list for ages. Need to sit down and watch it. As well as Upstream Color.

    Even though it's not Sci-Fi, Dogtooth deals with an "alternate" reality in a way, and is one crazy movie.
     
  20. Dr Dave

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    Awesome someone mentioned TIMECRIMES!! I love that movie (but always kind of forget about it when talking sci-fi)

    EDGE OF TOMORROW was another one I really enjoyed a bunch. I was already saying "Tom Cruise is back" after JACK REACHER, but this definitely sealed the deal (and I thought he was great in OBLIVION too, which overall was way more disappointing, but as stated by others, really nice to look at... plus I love it when the movie companies bust the big money for the HUGE classic rock songs!)

    And I'm in the camp that really liked UNDER THE SKIN... definitely ran a little long, but I still felt that was appropriate for what it was and actually saw it in the theater twice in the same week and enjoyed it even more the second time. If you liked it, definitely check out the book, which will answer some of the vaguer sci-fi aspects of the movie and is really interesting to compare to how Glazer adapted it for the movie.

    No one's mentioned GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (I assume cuz it's superheroes?), but I thought it was a great sci-fi flick that they snuck through as a big budget Marvel Studios film. Wish they'd beefed out the female characters a little more (if you've read the comics they had some juice there they left untapped) but overall, a really nice job done by James Gunn under the restrictions of what Marvel Studios seems willing to let their directors get away with.
     
  21. toothaction

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    A_broken_keyboard_is_keeping_me_terse...

    If_you_have_a_yen_for_some_artfart_that's_loosely_SF,_have_a_look_at
    The Sound of My Voice
    Criminally_underseen_tale_of_cult_infiltration_with_a_generous_side_of_possible_time_travel.

    Movies_I_wish_that_I'd_mentioned_first:
    Her
    Moon
    Phase IV
    Timecrimes
    Upstream Color


    Add_Silent Running_to_the_above_for_a_fine_little_festival
    (or_at_least_double_feature_it_with_Phase IV.)

    Somebody_needs_to_figure_out_how_to_unlock_Steve's_heart_and_mind_on_the_subject_of
    Starship Troopers,_btw
    EASILY_the_best_SF_biscuit_from_the_nineties.

    OH,_best_SF_on_TV?
    Rick and Morty!

    Pardon_my_underscores.
     
  22. Lttr Prssd

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    Just looked up The Sound of My Voice and it looks like my kind of flick. Gotta see where it's streaming.
     
  23. blakewest

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    I read The Martian a couple weeks back in anticipation of the film, and the one thing I find really implausible about the story is the sanity of the main character. I mean, even with keeping himself busy, I think that the existential threat would really get to him after being alone for so long. He just seems too chipper throughout the book. I hope that's something they can temper in the film.

    Don't get me wrong though. It is great science fiction (with math!), and the characters are mostly engaging. I also think Damon is great casting for the main dude. Looking forward to it.
     
  24. ultrakaiju

    ultrakaiju Die-Cast Staff Member

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    I thoroughly enjoyed Timecrimes as well. A very well done movie, original concept, and executed wonderfully with a very small cast and budget. The perfect example of how throwing money and production at something doesn't mean you get a good movie out of it. Comparitively, Predestination was an okay time travel movie, but again, based on another excellent the Heinlein story - but so much better than Looper. Might as well throw it out here for people to stay away from the Twelve Monkeys tv adaptation if they haven't already, as well as the recent Time Lapse. I haven't yet seen Project Almanac but I have very little expectations for that one. Come to think of it, I notice a trend with all these time travelling ideas - granted, it is a difficult subject, and tackling it will always inevitably open up plot holes and convenient devices, but they are rarely handled well. :? Honestly, I wish I (or someone) had a job where they would just sit through script meetings or editing screenings with the filmmakers and ask they why they are not considering [blank]. People really need someone watching/overseeing their work from a critical standpoint, instead of a moneymaking one (producers).
     
  25. Lttr Prssd

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    Anybody watched Coherence? It keeps popping up as a suggestion for me on Amazon, but I haven't taken a chance on it yet.
     

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