5 Recent Sci Fi Films You Haven’t Seen (and Must)
Over the past decade, a wealth of great science fiction films, including District 9, Moon, and Source Code, have crept their way into the mainstream. But with the video-on-demand market skyrocketing and the influx of new filmmakers multiplying by the second, it’s easy to miss some of the great under-the-radar gems along the way. Here at Sensible Reason, we’ve compiled a list of lesser known–but undeniably cool– sci fi films that you probably haven’t seen, and must!
The feature debut from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, TimeCrimes, (or Los Cronocrímenes) is a simplistic yet genre-bending exercise in time travel mayhem. While TimeCrimes doesn’t have the dedicated science of H.G. Wells or the unabashed fun of the Back to the Future trilogy, it is still a pivotal and eye-opening tale about the consequences of time travel. Featuring mesmerizing cinematography of the Spanish countryside and a script that is as cyclical and twist-inducing as the best Christopher Nolan puzzle, TimeCrimes is truly a masterwork of science fiction without the aid of big-budget special effects or a top-shelf cast. Vigalondo’s film is an intimate, haunting, and often mind-boggling story of one man searching for the truth as he barrels down a well of murder, revenge, and temporal displacement.
Director James Ward Byrkit’s 2013 feature film debut is a harrowing and tension-soaked character study of a dinner party gone cosmically wrong. As a comet passes over a peaceful rural neighborhood in an unnamed American city, a group of friends reunites and soon falls prey to the temporal and dimensional effects of the scintillating meteorite in the night sky above. Utilizing a threadbare budget and an entirely improvised script, the film has an unnervingly realistic approach that helps to maximize the Hitchcockian levels of tension between the “friends” inside the house, as well as making us feel an inch away from the mind-bending and frankly horrifying mysteries that await them outside their door.
Europa Report (2013)
Following in the footsteps of films such as Mission to Mars, Prometheus, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Europa Report is a startlingly original sci-fi film that feels like a breath of fresh air in a genre polluted with copycats and derivatives. While the story of a group of astronauts traveling into deep space for answers about extraterrestrial life isn’t anything new, Europa Report uses a faux-documentary style, long-gestating tension, and scientific realism to stand out above the impostors.
Presented in a pseudo found-footage format, the film pieces together interviews with the astronauts and crew of the mission, spliced with the camera feed taken directly from the ship as it travels to the Europa, a moon of Jupiter, to investigate a mysterious heat bloom rising from the surface of the planet. Europa Report is another film on this list that faced budgetary constraints from the get-go but still found a way to tell a slick, scary, and realistic story about the human race traveling farther into the unknown than ever before. Aided by actual NASA scientists in the construction of its various scientific and technical elements, Europa Report presents a photorealistic portrayal of futuristic space travel and the horrors that may await those who leave the Earth behind.
The Dinosaur Project (2012)
The ever-lauded yet consistently popular “found footage” genre has produced about one great film for every ten that are released, and 2012’s The Dinosaur Project just so happens to fall into that small percentage of successes. As we all patiently await next year’s Jurassic World, now is the time to leaf through all the best dinosaur movies in rabid anticipation. The only problem? There really aren’t any (sorry Carnosaur).
Even the Jurassic Park sequels, while a lot of fun, stumble into absurd and often campy avenues that suck nearly all of the intelligence out of the series. What made the original Jurassic Park so effective was that film’s use of atmosphere, anticipation, and the under-exposure of the dinosaurs (in fact, in the original Jurassic Park, there is less than a half hour of actual on-screen dinosaur mayhem). Using crafty cinematography, slow reveals, and great special effects, The Dinosaur Project has re-captured some of that magic in a bottle, and even goes to places that Jurassic Park couldn’t have. While obviously restrained by budget and the found-footage format, The Dinosaur Project effectively deals out chills, twists, and inventive special effects that will make you feel closer to our fallen prehistoric brethren than ever before.
The 1990’s Gamera Trilogy (Includes Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion, and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris)
After seeing Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla stomp the multiplex this summer, you may find yourself hungering for another taste of massive monster mayhem. (Check out Monsters, Edwards’ first film, immediately if you haven’t seen it yet.) Instead of diving headlong into the multitude of completely awful, unnecessary, and inexcusably cheap Godzilla films (Godzilla vs. King Kong, I’m looking at you here), try the Gamera Trilogy from the 1990’s. Based on the original series of Gamera films released from the 1960’s through the 1980’s in Japan, this reboot trilogy from the ’90’s was meant to appeal to original fans of the series while also offering a more mature, violent, and updated feel for the tech-saavy, action hungry crowds of the ’90’s.
So, who or what is Gamera?
Essentially, Gamera is a two hundred foot tall turtle from space who can not only harvest the energy of the universe as a weapon that bursts out from his mouth and chest, but can also fold his arms and feet into his shell, transforming into a rocket-blasting UFO that leaves whole charred cities in its wake. Now do you want to know more? Sure you do! The Gamera trilogy is a surprisingly dark and especially violent series of films (Part 3 has some of the most gruesome large-scale monster movie destruction moments EVER) that will satiate any Kaiju fan in need of a fix. Featuring some of the most inventive man-in-suit special effects ever, the Gamera trilogy is a wholly convincing, sometimes hilarious, and seriously fun set of monster movies.
Even better? All 3 Gamera movies come in a Blu-Ray Trilogy set from Amazon for only $7.
Must-See Runners Up:
The Machine (2013)
The Divide (2012)