6. Save Yourselves!
How many millennials does it take to survive an alien invasion? That’s the question Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson seek to answer with Save Yourselves!, a quirky sci-fi comedy about a couple who decide to ditch technology for a week in an effort to disconnect from the world. This decision to disconnect from the world, as you may be able to guess, turns out to be poorly timed. Just as the two protagonists go on a mental vacation, an unknown species decides to take an intergalactic vacation.
That’s the basic setup, and honestly, the plot doesn’t get much more complex than that. The storytelling is all pretty simple, which leaves plenty of room for the two leads to chew the scenery. The alien invasion simply acts as a backdrop for the more compelling moments involving the dynamic relationship between two lovably bumbling characters.
These doofuses are played by Sunita Mani John Paul Reynolds, and they are the clear stars of the show. Save Yourselves! is by no means a poorly written film; rather, it prioritizes aspects that one might not expect in a film like this. By definition, this is a science fiction film, but it’s also a light character study about a naive couple trying to make a positive change. This is the heart and soul of the movie.
That being said, none of the other aspects are bad. Save Yourselves! is well-crafted cinema through and through. The sluggish first half might feel like a turn-off, but once things get into motion, this is a riotous adventure featuring two fascinating characters.
Never accept car rides from strangers. That’s one of the many takeaways from Meander, a tense sci-fi horror flick about a series of trap-filled tubes. It doesn’t stray too far from the formula established by Cube in 1997, but it remains a skillfully crafted genre hybrid with appealing visuals and plenty of suspense.
The lack of original ideas can be frustrating, especially when you consider just how experimental the genre can be. That being said, Meander is a polished slice of suspense that’s more than capable of keeping you glued to the screen. A memorable lead performance goes a long way, and the remarkable visual effects don’t hurt. It doesn’t exactly linger in your memory, but that doesn’t make it unsuccessful.
8. Space Sweepers
South Korea’s first space blockbuster largely succeeds in spite of some niggling limitations. The visually stunning space Western might not have many fresh ideas, but it more than makes up for that because of its lavish setpieces and likeable cast of characters. Few films are able to use Hollywood tropes to their advantage, but Space Sweepers finds plenty of ways to keep viewers interested even with its overuse of clichés.
This is largely because of its charm. Space Sweepers offers no-frills entertainment that benefits from an abundance of personality. Critics generally try to dissect every piece of a motion picture, but that doesn’t need to be done here. The film prioritizes fun, and honestly, we need that right now. Just don’t expect to start an academic discussion.
Soundwave introduces us to Ben Boyles, a teen who has created an invention that could change the world. Following hours upon hours of tinkering, he manages to create a device that allows him to listen to soundwaves after they have already been created. Eventually, after fiddling with it and using it as an eavesdropping machine, he finds a way to use the device for good. After collaborating with a local detective, Ben gets in over his head, but is his thrilling vigilante night job worth the danger?
That’s the basic setup of Dylan K. Narang’s lean sci-fi action flick. While the premise might sound tailor-made for a slower drama akin to Black Mirror, Narang goes all in on pure adrenaline-pumping entertainment. Since the priority seems to be more on the action, you’re bound to run into some shaky science. Thankfully, in spite of some questionable moments, Soundwave remains an enjoyable thrillride thanks to likable characters and ample amounts of suspenseful twists and turns.
With so many large-scale sci-fi films being released every year, it’s easy to understand why microbudget indies like this one get swept under the rug. Why should you spend your time watching this when there are movies like Dune? Well, Soundwave isn’t really in the same category. It’s a straight-to-the-point dose of fun that never overstays its welcome. It deserves to coexist with Hollywood’s biggest releases because it offers something completely different.
Tom and Janet, the protagonists of Happily, are annoying, but they’re not annoying in the traditional sense. It’s not like they chew with their mouths full or talk during the best part of Bohemian Rhapsody. No, they’re annoying because they are the happiest married couple around. It’s not like this is some kind of honeymoon phase either. Fourteen years later, the two can’t keep their hands off each other, and their friends are sick of it.
The audience eventually learns that this should not be the case. Tom and Janet are such an anomaly that they are eventually given the opportunity to become a “normal couple” when a mysterious man comes to their door and offers them a serum. This leads to murder, double-crossing, and a series of bold revelations. It also leads to plenty of entertainment for the viewer.
The Twilight Zone inspired premise results in the perfect amount of intrigue, and the dedicated cast leans into the absurdity with confidence. In particular, McHale and Bishé take every opportunity to crawl under your skin with their over-the-top sappiness. They are as annoying as their friends claim, and that’s precisely the point.
That being said, those opposed to loose threads may find Happily frustrating. There are more than a few unanswered questions by the time the credits roll. Still, it’s easy to argue that it’s more about the journey than the destination, and luckily for viewers, the journey is worth your time.