“The encounter could create a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum, and destroy the entire universe! …….Granted, that's a worse case scenario.” – Doc Brown, Back to the Future Part II
After Star Wars came out there was suddenly a huge demand for big, special effects laden movies. This was both good and bad. It was good because it created a huge market for summer movies. (Believe it or not, the summer used to be kind of dead in regards to movies.) It was bad because it meant studios mostly stopped making SF movies that made you think, and instead made dumbed down sci-fi movies. They missed the fact that Star Wars was more than flashy effects. This even led to the first incarnation of Battlestar Galactica on TV. Let’s just say the writing left something to be desired. (“Admiral, the cylons are two microns and closing.”)
First, explanations on a couple of terms I am going to use. There are two kinds of science fiction movies – “sci-fi” and “SF.” “Sci-fi” movies are the somewhat dumbed down ones whose only ambition is to sell tickets – lots of them. These make up most of the science fiction movies that get released, from all the superhero movies, to all the space battle movies, to all the creepy/cute alien movies. These have the biggest “wow” factors.
“SF” movies, on the other hand, are actually about something. The best science fiction books and movies make you look at things in ways that you never have before. They stimulate thought and maybe even discussion after you are done with them. These kinds of movies do not get released as often because they usually do not sell as many tickets. Also, let’s face it - a majority of moviegoers today don’t want to have to actually pay attention to a movie that makes them think. They want one that they can still follow even though they are talking over it, texting, etc. They just want to be entertained.
Both sci-fi and SF movies are entertaining to me. Depending on what mood I am in, either one can provide a couple hours of enjoyment. Are these two categories mutually exclusive? Almost. On very rare occasions a movie gets released that is both sci-fi and SF. The Matrix is an example of this.
There are so many good science fiction movies that came out after Star Wars that I will probably revisit this category at a later date. To pare this list down for this first post I will skip any big name films like The Matrix, as well as any superhero movies.
In this set I am going to cover Contact (1997) – SF,
(1998) - SF, The Iron Giant (1999) – SF and sci-fi, Battle Royale (2000) – sci-fi, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) – sci-fi, Serenity (2005) – SF and sci-fi, Children of Men (2006) – SF, and The Man from Earth (2007) – SF. Dark City
You can find my posts for these movies here:
Serenity (2005) - [previously posted]
You can also see my Before Star Wars category by clicking here.
On to the reviews…