6. I Am Mother
If we’ve learned anything from the past decade’s sci-fi offerings, it’s that artificial intelligence is going to single handedly destroy the human race. From Ex Machina to Upgrade to Kill Command, one thing is very clear: technology wants us dead. The growing interest in this subject means that directors and writers need to do more to make their films stand out.
When they fail to innovate, we get things like Transcendence. On the other hand, more capable filmmakers can create really exciting pieces of cinema, as was the case with last year’s I Am Mother.
The story of an overbearing robot with a dark secret does just about everything right. Sure, it borrows a few ideas and runs a little long, but that’s a small list of flaws in an otherwise excellent motion picture.
At the end of the day, this is smart, suspenseful, and endlessly entertaining. It has the thrills of a summer blockbuster, but it also has the smarts that we’ve come to expect in your typical indie sci-fi drama. It’s the best of both worlds, and that’s why it works.
7. The Wandering Earth
China’s recent box office behemoth exploded onto the scene in its native country, but it landed with a whimper just about everywhere else. Described as the country’s first big-budget science fiction epic, it’s easy to see why viewers flocked to the cinema. It took ideas from Hollywood productions and modified them. Unfortunately, that was both a blessing and a curse.
To an outsider, The Wandering Earth seems like your average disaster movie. What makes it any different from The Day After Tomorrow? In truth, not a whole lot. The film really does borrow a lot of ideas, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in grandeur.
This is a massive blockbuster that borrows elements from mainstream Hollywood epics and adapts accordingly. It doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but that’s not really the point. The average viewer will have plenty of fun watching a family try to save the world.
We hear so much about slow-burn horror movies, but what about slow-burn sci-fi? Like the aforementioned subgenre, these kinds of films are divisive. They take their time when weaving their stories, and to a lot of people, that’s just not worth the commitment. Thankfully, there are some enthusiastic cinephiles who will go wild for something like Starfish.
Starfish, like several mainstream successes from last year, focuses on the the subject of grief. Told with a sci-fi spin, viewers are able to understand loss from a different point-of-view. Again, this different point-of-view is sometimes frustratingly slow, but it’s still a story worth viewing.
Freaks is 10 Cloverfield Lane with a twist. If that interests you, feel free to close the article and find a place to stream it. If not, maybe a couple more paragraphs can convince you.
Actually, it might be hard to convince a skeptical reader without spoiling the fun. See, Freaks is the type of movie where you need to know as little as possible before diving in. The more information you know, the less fun you’ll have. The twisty little sci-fi tale cleverly experiments with the genre in the best possible way.
These twists and turns come from an inventive screenplay courtesy of Adam Stein and Lipovsky. The screenplay gives us a glimpse of a family in peril, but there’s more to it. It’s always fascinating even if it risks being generic at times.
10. See You Yesterday
Netflix’s time traveling social justice movie slayed with critics, but divided general audiences. The 95% tomatometer seems promising until you look at the 34% audience score. The negativity from the general audience comes as a result of two things. Your enjoyment of See You Yesterday largely depends on whether or not you are okay with these two things.
The more critical reason comes from the simple fact that See You Yesterday leaves viewers with more questions than answers. The 87-minute runtime unfortunately results in a number of unanswered questions. Put simply, the conflict isn’t entirely resolved. This kind of open-endedness is infuriating for folks who want something tied together with a neat little bow.
Others have slammed the film for its political message. This is an examination of police brutality. Given the increased political division, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that the ever-expanding practice of review-bombing has been used on things like this. See You Yesterday takes on a controversial topic, and unfortunately, not everyone is on board with that.
By now, you may have forgotten that the point of this list isn’t to drive people away. In spite of the deterrents listed above, See You Yesterday is an inventive time travel flick that often proves less is more. The sharp script and impressive ensemble come together to create something that’s as flawed as it is fascinating.