Tired of watching the same old three movies? We’ve got you! Bored by the umpteenth remake? We’ve got you! Curious about hidden sci-fi gems waiting to be experienced? We’ve got you! Here’s a list of under-appreciated 2010s sci-fi movies for your thirst for new visions. We’ve got everything you need – from arthouse interpretations of the genre to genre-bending alterations, and more!
1. AUN – The Beginning and the End of All Things (2011)
Investigating the future of mankind, faced with environmental crises, “AUN – The Beginning and the End of All Things” is a very current movie. Written in collaboration with Reinhard Jud, director Edgar Honetschläger immerses us in a painfully beautiful rendition of the human quest for survival and improvement. During the process of inventing a new alternative energy source – an engine that burns water – a Japanese scientist dies from experimenting with a sea snail discovered by his son Aun (Hiyori Yuki). Twenty years later, another scientist from Brazil named Euclides (William Ferreira) keeps experimenting in the same field, recognising how the sea snail could be the essential element for a renewed future for mankind.
“AUN – The Beginning and the End of All Things” offers an art-house perspective on the themes of the apocalypse and the end of the world. It is characterised, firstly, by a tasteful use of camera movements and cinematography; especially the latter makes an intelligent use of lights and shades. At the same time, the potentiality of the movie is elevated by the soundtrack, composed by Christian Fennesz and featuring landscapes of sounds that captures the listener entirely. Lastly, Honetschläger’s movie also offers substance, other than form, between the philosophical and the poetical. A must see!
2. Antiviral (2012)
Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, “Antiviral” mixes the sci-fi and horror genres in a satirical and bloody story. The movie by the Canadian director – son of body horror king David Cronenberg – also competed in the 2012 edition of the Festival de Cannes, in the section Un Certain Regard. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works at the Lucas Clinic, an enterprise with an odd business proposition. The clinic first extracts pathogens from famous celebrities, who get sick; then, it injects such viruses to paying clients, who want to feel more connected with their favourite celebrities. As a side hustle, Syd uses his body as an incubator of the viruses, being able to transport them out of the clinic and sell them to the black market. However, Syd will encounter problems when he tries to steal the best-selling virus of the company. First things first: It is evident how Brandon
Cronenberg’s “Antiviral” owes something to the body horror legacy of his father. Nonetheless, the director is able to show his own capabilities perfectly, giving his own taste and twist to the sub-genre. What captures the attention of the viewer is the flawless technical rendition; the camera movements perfectly capture the evolution of the movie, from aseptic and cold to dark and bloody. At the same time, the movie is packed with a caustic and satirical vision of the economic system and its blind thirst for profit, no matter how morbid or repulsive the product may be. A future cult film!
3. The Machine (2013)
Starring Caity Lotz as an artificial intelligence researcher named Ava, and Toby Stephens as Vincent McCarthy, a scientist with a secret personal mission, “The Machine” combines science fiction and thriller in a aesthetically pleasing and brain-teasing story, playing with the rising discussion about artificial intelligence and its ambiguous potentialities. In the future, the city of Taipei, Taiwan is about to fall to the Chinese. The British government, in an effort to prevent that change of power, seeks to find militarily ruthless soldiers who are also fluent in Chinese. After a first deadly attempt to install a cybernetic implant on brain-damaged soldiers to restore their functions, Vincent is able to develop stable cyborgs. His recruitment of scientist Ava in the mission will change the course of the story permanently.
“The Machine” hits you first with its stylistic and slick aesthetic, where images, sounds, and costumes conspire together to materialise the vision of director Caradog W. James, who also wrote the script. Suddenly, though, once your eye is getting used to the beautiful compositions of James, the movie starts to release information for your brain; the story and its reflections on our reality more and more characterised by machines, unpacks a possible consequence of the development of sophisticated artificial intelligence devices. It’s up to the viewer, then, to decide on the ambiguous character of such devices. This British sci-fi thriller captures you with its style and then convinces you with its substance. Food for the eyes and the brain!
4. As the Gods Will (2014)
Based on the eponymous manga series by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Akeji Fujimura, “As the Gods Will” is everything you can expect from a Takashi Miike movie. Mixing science fiction, horror, and comedy, this Japanese release is again further proof of the creative and always developing Asian cinema.
Shun Takahata (Sota Fukushi) is a high school student who spends too much time playing violent video games. One morning, his life suddenly changes completely, when he is forced – with his classroom – to play the game of Daruma-san ga koronda (Red Light, Green Light). The penalty for those who lose is as simple as terrifying: death. You can never go wrong with Takashi Miike, even with a minor movie, because of his immense and magnificent career. Combining the structure of a video game, surrealist humor, and a good portion of blood, “As the Gods Will” is a sui generis sci-fi that doesn’t shy away from thrilling and action sequences either. As always, the Japanese director is able to construct a world of its own in his movies, while at the same time aiming for bending genres and style into something different. Thought-provoking, funny and terrifying.
5. Realive (2016)
Marc Jarvis (Tom Hughes) has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer: he is terminally ill. In an attempt to save himself, he decides to freeze his body in cryostasis. Seventy years later, in 2084, Marc is resurrected. Being the first person to come back alive, Marc starts to question the meaning of his life and the relationship between life and death. Written and directed by Mateo Gil, “Realive” mixes convincingly melodramatic elements with a philosophical underpinning.
Aside from the convincing and solid technical aspects of the movie, it’s the philosophical element that emerges mostly from the script: being the first man to be resurrected, the protagonist has to overcome the unprecedented feeling of having beat death and must adapt to his new life. Gil not only describes the immense spiritual journey of Marc, but convinces the viewer to embark in that journey too; while watching the movie, you will be inclined to address the same questions and doubts of the main character, empathising and relating to him. “Realive” is food for the brain, without a doubt. This movie cannot be watched just to spend time, just to have a couple of hours off. Substance, substance, substance.