6. Into the Forest
While Into the Forest is light on science fiction, technically fits into the genre. It’s a post-apocalyptic movie about a massive power outage that greatly affects the lives of two teenage sisters. The sci-fi elements are made obvious almost immediately. The audience is given a brief glimpse of several technological advancements before they are taken away from families that desperately rely on these innovations. Therein lies the main conflict.
The overarching conflict is fine. “Fine” might not be the most academic word choice, but that’s about as much praise as it deserves. This of course sounds like a major criticism until you look at the big picture. The actual conflict is indeed forgettable, but the relationship between the core family is surprisingly enchanting.
This is clearly the result of strong character development and equally strong acting. Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood pour their heart and soul into this movie. Viewers can feel the agony they are facing in every scene. There’s pain behind their eyes, but glimmers of hope make things even more complex. These two talented performers slowly modify and transform their characters throughout the entirety of the runtime. By the end, you feel like you’ve grown with them.
As the cliché goes, it’s the journey, not the destination. In Into the Forest, the pleasure comes from watching these characters shift as times get tough. The resolution might be the end goal, but the parts in-between seriously captivate.
Critics seem to be divided about Clara. To a lot of them, it’s your stereotypical manic pixie dream girl romance saga with a hint of science fiction thrown in. Other people have found it to be a profound meditation on love and loss. This critic tends to lean toward the latter while also acknowledging the fact that it is a flawed film featuring too many loose ends.
See, Clara has a lot to say, and a lot of it is rather intelligent. These overarching themes tend to reign supreme over some more unfortunate issues (like the aforementioned loose ends). It’s unfair to talk about Clara and ignore the criticisms, but it’s also important to acknowledge the fact that underneath everything is a really exceptional motion picture.
Really, your enjoyment largely depends on your patience and willingness to forgive. Overthinking Clara will no doubt taint it. However, people willing to sit back and enjoy the moment should find something worth praising.
8. The Last Boy
It’s strange to see just how many post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies get buried under more high profile films. If you were to look through comparable lists, you’d probably notice that these kinds of movies are abundant; they just can’t find an audience. Of course, that’s the purpose of this list. Movies like The Last Boy should find an audience because hiccups aside, they are more than capable of appealing to all sorts of viewers.
The Last Boy brings to mind Bird Box, another post-apocalyptic movie about a mysterious entity that causes destruction and chaos. The mysterious entity in this particular flick is an invisible wind that is capable of killing people on contact. Throughout the runtime, we watch a brave child traverse this gruesome landscape in an effort to reach a wish granting location that could bring his mother back. The heartfelt moments and strong acting often overshadow logical inconsistencies and forgettable supporting characters.
Yes, the initial setup is rather formulaic, but the crew does everything they possibly can to keep things fresh. In their defense, they do a really good job. Hell, everyone involved does more than enough to save something that shouldn’t be half as good as it is. Bravo!
9. The Osiris Child
The Osiris Child is the kind of dumb and pulpy sci-fi movie we rarely get blessed with nowadays. It’s not necessarily smart or groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be because it’s so gleefully goofy. It is, technically speaking, a pretty mediocre movie in terms of writing, acting, and directing. Luckily, this “check your brain at the door” movie has some tricks up its sleeve.
Satisfying action scenes and dazzling special effects are the two biggest lifesavers here. This is a gorgeous movie filled to the brim with brutal scenes of intense action. Laughable dialogue is hardly an issue when we get to watch a bunch of C-list actors face off against monsters that look a little too much like goombas from the Super Mario Brothers adaptation. If that sounds like an insult, it isn’t. That brand of insanity represents the heart and soul of this beautifully kooky work of art.
At the same time, this brand of insanity isn’t for everyone. The Osiris Child fits into a genre that often features thought-provoking ideas. The lack of thought-provoking ideas may deter certain viewers, but that’s their loss. Anyone looking for a good time will find it here, even if it’s not going to be a serious topic of discussion.
In Embers, five characters try to recover their memories after a global epidemic causes people to forget everything. These five interconnected stories come together to tell one grand story that (mostly) works. There are occasional missteps, but that’s usually the case in titles as ambitious as this one, so we’ll count it as a win.
The characters propel a movie that occasionally trips over its own ambitions. The grandiose storytelling is flawed. Thankfully, it’s not so flawed as to ruin something that clearly has something to say. Like most entries on this list, Embers isn’t a perfect sci-fi movie for mainstream audiences, but it is a solid entry in the genre regardless.