When it comes to sci-fi movies, we tend to hear about the blockbuster hits all the time from the media.
In the 21st century alone, we’ve had the likes of 28 Days Later, Inception and Snowpiercer grab enough headlines to fill a year’s worth of newspapers.
But what about those flicks that fly under the radar? The ones that maybe haven’t smashed the box office, but have enough quality to attract a cult following anyway?
This article will look at five underrated gems that you may have missed out on. Enjoy!
Sunshine follows the Icarus II and its crew as they attempt to resurrect a dying sun using a massive celestial explosive device mounted to the front of the spaceship. Icarus I, the missing spacecraft from Earth's original effort to preserve the dying star, is discovered after they cross Mercury.
Should they divert their course to man the bomb on the second ship and double their chances, or should they stick to their current track knowing that their bomb might not go off?
The movie is tense and does an excellent job of engaging the spectator in the crew's anxieties and conflicting values.
Robot and Frank (2012)
We know that some people find new technology difficult to handle. In their defense, the internet has progressed rapidly over the last decade: even online casino games now boast features and graphics that would have graced a PS2 console 20 years ago.
Frank Langella, though, takes tech illiteracy to the extreme. The protagonist of this comedy sci-fi movie has endured a few stints in prison, as we discover, and reveals to his newly-purchased Robot that he was a "second-story guy": skilled at getting past security measures and stealing valuables from wealthy homes. New tech in the meantime, though, has passed him by.
Frank initially finds Robot annoying, but over time he learns that the small guy can be trained to perform helpful tasks, such as lock-picking and safe-cracking.
In this flick, the plot and characters come first, not the technology. Instead, the tech is only there to demonstrate how, despite how much things may appear to change, certain things will always remain the same.
Quiet Earth (1985)
This 1985 New Zealand flick, which recently underwent a thorough makeover, tells the story of the final three humans on Earth and the nervous tensions that develop between them.
The opening half of the movie has shocking visuals as the director Geoffrey Murphy takes extraordinary measures to depict what the planet might look like if humans suddenly vanished.
The second segment of The Quiet Earth comments on how sneaky humans might be when there’s just three of us left. Hobson meets Api and Joanne. It doesn't take long for sexual hubris, mistrust, envy, racial stereotypes of intelligence, and passive-aggressive violence to follow.
Strange Days (1995)
The events of Strange Days take place over the final two days of 1999, and the movie clearly envisioned a chaotic future in which Los Angeles is essentially a war zone and corrupt police officers are only held accountable thanks to personal recording devices.
However, in the weird world of Strange Days, individuals wear illegal gadgets that record life as the user perceives it all through their cerebral brain. Of course, people didn't have iPhones back then, and the mobile phones they did have didn't have cameras either. When you press the record button, the SQUID gadget captures everything you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch so that you or another person may "playback" that specific instant (in the form of a clip) whenever you want.
Both critically and commercially, Strange Days was a flop. Nevertheless, it turned out to be so far ahead of its time, so entangled in its plethora of narrative strands, so full of dazzling formal innovations, so rich in its cultural criticism, and so creative in its depiction of the future that its reconsideration seemed inevitable.
The movie is a great example of director Kathryn Bigelow's examination of traditional movie genres via a postmodern and feminist perspective, and is probably the best of her career.
It is obvious that this is an Alien rip-off, but still an interesting watch.
Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey more than meets the challenge set by Emmanuel Lubezki's Oscar-winning work on Gravity with this breathtaking set-piece.
In this movie, a crew of six astronauts from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds who are conducting significant scientific studies on the International Space Station intercept a cargo ship that is allegedly transporting the remains of a mysterious creature found on Mars.
It’s so rare these days to see such a solidly put-together piece of popcorn entertainment. By definition, these movies are supposed to be filled with plot holes and cardboard characters, convenient contrivances and pathetic, laughable dialogue. But not with Life.
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