Director Lars von Trier, who, of late, seems to like to make movies with the intent on offending people, offers some restraint with Melancholia. Operating under the premise that a new planet, Melancholia, is approaching Earth and set to collide, the movie follows Kirsten Dunst as she walks around depressed.
That plot summary diminishes the depth of the movie though as it examines mental illness both through a literal lens and a metaphorical one. Drawing on his own struggles with the condition, von Trier certainly knows how to write and portray depression and he does so with bruising impact here.
The movie can be read different ways but one of the more accepted hypotheses is that it plays with the idea that life is meaningless because death is unavoidable. The planet approaching Earth represents the sensation that depressed individuals feel every day which is that they know an end is coming so why do anything, just end it. It’s a melancholy vision but a rewarding one for viewers willing to sit through it.
While other movies on this list aim to have deeper meanings or make some kind of larger point, Predestination recognizes the value of having just traditional, exciting, sci-fi entertainment. Smartly infusing a thrilling story with ideas like manipulating timelines, it’s a movie that’s bound to be appreciated by the sci-fi fans who haven’t seen it. It has twists and turns that’ll have your mind bending for awhile after and, in many ways, that’s what good science-fiction entertainment accomplishes.
Since its release critics and audiences seem to agree that it is a solidly crafted sci-fi feature and one that with a higher budget could conceivably be a large blockbuster.
A perfectly paced, small indie sci-fi movie that is a real gem. Working on a small budget and cleverly using a condensed location, Coherence is an exciting, claustrophobic sci-fi thriller that everyone should see. The movie follows a group of friends throwing a dinner party as a meteor is supposed to pass by Earth. As it does, a kind of black hole is created in the street where anyone who walks through enters an alternate reality.
Constantly making you guess as well as providing the audience with a multitude of interesting characters, Coherence definitely deserves more attention than it’s been given.
2. Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer’s cerebral sci-fi masterpiece is not even a decade old and is being called one of the best movies of its generation. It’s not hard to see why. Playing into themes of identity, humanity, and observing ourselves through different eyes, Under the Skin gives the audience fascinating insight into the human condition and the elements that comprise our nature.
Not always accessible but no less entrancing, Under the Skin proves that the science fiction genre is a perfect platform for philosophical musings. It relies heavily on visual storytelling and the audience is left to their own vices for trying to understand it. Following the simple premise of an unnamed alien scouring the cities of Scotland for human subjects to study, Under the Skin is a very experiential movie and one that every fan of intelligent cinema should see.
1. Escape from Tomorrow
Sci-fi, horror, drama, fantasy, and maybe even comedy are all applicable genres to this impossible to classify movie. A low-budget movie shot secretly in Disneyland, at times, on iPhones, Escape from Tomorrow is a very unique piece of cinema. The movie divided critics at its premiere with those in favor arguing that it was a daring movie executed in a unique style. Detractors found the movie self-indulgent and lacking in technical proficiency. However, the response by the audience was almost overwhelmingly negative, holding an audience score of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Escape from Tomorrow demands a revisit though. It’s a creative and audacious critique of commercialism. Filled to the brim with surrealistic touches and narrative turns, the movie is a thought-provoking exercise and deserves a far better reception than it got.