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20 Underrated Sci-fi Movies You May Have Not Seen Yet

02 November 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

overlooked sci fi movies

Are we so shallow that it only takes a few laser pistols, flying cars, and matching jumpsuits to get our creative juices flowing? Are we so in love with the ideas behind the futuristic concepts of sci-fi movies that we’re willing to overlook massive flaws in storytelling? Or are sci-fi movies just vastly, vastly underrated by critics and audiences who can’t get past the androids and nanobots?

To be frank, while there’s been a ton of bad sci-fi product coming out of Hollywood over the years (looking at you, Wing Commander), there’s been just as much that hasn’t nearly received the credit it deserves. Here are our picks for 20 sci-fi movies that don’t nearly get the credit they deserve.

 

20. The Man Who Fell To Earth

the-man-who-fell-to-earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth is a daring exploration of science fiction as an art form. The story of an alien on an elaborate rescue mission provides the launching pad for Nicolas Roeg’s visual tour de force, a formally adventurous examination of alienation in contemporary life.

Rock legend David Bowie, in his acting debut, completely embodies the title role, while Candy Clark, Buck Henry, and Rip Torn turn in pitch-perfect supporting performances. The film’s hallucinatory vision was obscured in the American theatrical release, which deleted nearly twenty minutes of crucial scenes and details.

 

19. Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Special effects wunderkind and genre master Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds, The Outer Limits) won a place in the hearts of fantasy film lovers everywhere with this gorgeously designed journey into the unknown.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars tells the story of U.S. astronaut Commander “Kit” Draper (Paul Mantee), who must fight for survival when his spaceship crash-lands on the barren waste of Mars, a pet monkey his only companion. But is he actually alone?

Shot in vast Techniscope and blazing color, this is an imaginative and beloved marvel of classic science fiction.

 

18. Black Moon

blackmoon

Louis Malle meets Lewis Carroll in this bizarre and bewitching trip down the rabbit hole. After skirting the horrors of a mysterious war being waged in the countryside, beautiful young Lily (Cathryn Harrison) takes refuge in a remote farmhouse, where she becomes embroiled in the surreal domestic life of an extremely unconventional family.

Evocatively shot by cinematographer Sven Nykvist, Black Moon is a Freudian tale of adolescent sexuality set in a postapocalyptic world of shifting identities and talking animals. It is one of Malle’s most experimental films and a cinematic daydream like no other.

 

17. Tron

tron

This is where we get into the politics of calling a movie “underrated.” Tron, Disney’s 1982 foray into sci-fi and one of the godfathers of computer-generated imagery, has a fairly robust cult fan base and has inspired a slew of viral videos, fan sites, and lightcycle video games.

Tron, for all its faults (most of which revolve around its occasionally plodding narrative), is one of the most visually visionary films of the past 30 years and a darn fun adventure to boot, and it never gets enough credit for that.

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  • Eoghan-Tony Dwyer

    They Live

    • Joy

      Ha! Great classic.

  • Stan

    Thanks for listing ,Dark City, Silent Running, and Shape Of Things TO Come.Those films rightly deserve to be there.

  • srawrats77

    Seriously? Gojira? Tron?

    • Dris

      Gojira is an essential classic. It’s the “Night of the living dead” of the kaiju genre.

  • priss

    what about “Moon”?

    • Denny Prihastawan

      Agree. Moon is but a sci-fi gem from the most recent era.

      • jackschidt

        it’s still destined to be an underrated sci fi classic. Rockwell’s performance, I thought, was actually Oscar worthy.

  • MeriMakr8298

    The multiple releases of Metropolis over the years – I have one that was supposedly complete only another ‘more’ complete release was found. Sort of like Lost Horizon.

    In any case, Metropolis should be required viewing for everyone and anyone interested in either Science Fiction or film in general. The audio commentary that explains the symbolism of the film really added a lot for me.

  • Iam_Spartacus

    Seconds.

  • New120Man

    I’m calling bullshit on Dark City. Anything by David S Goyer would have been resurrected and lauded after The Dark Knight if it had any merit whatsoever. Anything with his or Nolan’s name attached that wasn’t dug up and presented to the fanboy collective as the holy of holies has to be assumed to be total shit.

    It also has to be said that only half the people who’ve seen Brazil call it a masterpiece and the other half call it pretentious. Scifi is rife with people who cannot tell the difference.

    • Eoghan-Tony Dwyer

      Wait so is Dark City good or not? I hate wasting time watching shit movies that everyone says is great

      • dunc

        I can’t tell the difference. Everyone said its good so I like it too.

        • ZedWrecker

          I like it because of it’s atmosphere and ideas. The logic may be a bit wonky, but that happens from time to time.

      • rogaine

        Let’s put it this way, I’ve seen Dark City 20 or 30 times over the years.

    • John Whatmeworry

      Dark City is awesome, and it’s pretty clear where the Matrix got it’s inspiration from.

    • ZedWrecker

      Guess you fall into the pretentious category, eh friend?

  • dunc

    Great list, Dark City is one of my all time favourites. I’d also add The Man From Earth & Timecrimes.

  • Philip Goetz

    Pretty good choices, but few of them are underrated. These are all famous movies.

  • Aroreiel

    ‘Moon’ should be on this list for definite. Sam Rockwell was criminally ignored around awards season. Danny Boyle’s ‘Sunshine’ should be seen too. I know the last part of the film is questionable, but the themes it provokes, the visuals and score make it quite a tense experience.

    • jackschidt

      I totally agree. Love MOON. Always have liked Sam Rockwell…and his performance in that movie should have at the very LEAST gotten him a Globe, and an Oscar nomination. Just astounding acting.

  • Alex Belinski

    What about Stalker? What about Ikarie XB-1 ?

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  • Allie Parker

    On the Silver Globe (1988) ??????????

  • Pyronaut

    I watched the Man Who Fell to Earth recently because people were calling it an underrated sci-fi gem. Man, it was soooo bad. I generally don’t feel like I wasted my time with films, but this is one of them. It had an interesting premise was very badly executed and in the end went nowhere.

  • Joy

    I’ve seen quite a few of these, actually. I own Dark City on DVD. The ones on this list that I have seen are really really good so I may give the others a watch, as well.

  • Joy

    Also, Virtual Nightmare. I think it was a Sci-fi original production (before it was syfy). I don’t know why that movie struck a nerve with me. Somehow, it got lost in time. I’d recommend it to anyone. I mean, it’s not the highest budget movie but it’s very surreal. If you’re a fan of actor John Noble, then you will enjoy this.

    http://www.fandango.com/virtualnightmare_v412742/plotsummary

  • Jake

    Fuck you Taste of Cinema. Children of Men is way better than this site.

  • Jake

    Fuck you Taste of Cinema. No Children of Men