Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekend Weigh-in: What is the Best Sci-fi Movie of the 2000s?


Oblivion is out in theaters now, but a better title would really be Science Fiction: The Movie.

The genre has been big in the last 13 years. So which one is the best? If I had to predict the most popular response, I'll be it's a lot of Children of Men and District 9. But who knows? We could have some really big Paycheck fans.


  1. I'm counting Inception as science fiction, given the sciency briefcase thingy that lets them share dreams. Wall-E is also up there.

    And I'll give an honorable mention to AI: Artificial Intelligence, a flawed but hugely thought-provoking film.

  2. Distric 9 was the first that came to mind. Not only because it looks/feels like no other sci-fi movie (which is saying something because the 'documentary style' filmmaking had already worn thin from overuse when it came out) but because it relies on ideas and filmmaker ingenuity (i.e. maximizing a $30 million budget to look like $100 million) to not only wow with the eye candy but to make you care about the plight of all the main characters. The very last shot of the movie (and the powerful emotions they convey) makes me realize that it's not CG effects I'm afraid will substitute live performances, but that so few filmmakers are as skilled as Neill Blomkamp or Peter Jackson to properly use these tools for character development and emotional payoff.

    It might be too early to set it up high, but I think Looper will stand the test of time. It's definitely sci-fi, but it's so confident about the way it tells its story that it doesn't even have to flaunt that it is sci-fi. It just is.

    Another that doesn't get pegged as sci-fi because it's a children's movie but it's so full of ideas it deserves inclusion is Pixar's WALL-E. It has romance, nostalgia for an imperfect/artificial past, a dystopian future society that smacks us in our face with our own imperfect presence and action/SFX sequences that rival the best of Pixar's other work. "CARS" and its sequel are technically also sci-fi, but I'd rather just continue pretending those movies don't exist and are Pixar's equivalent of the money-maker hits that help it finance quirky "indie" fare like this and "Ratatoille."

    Other favorite sci-fi of the 2000's, in no particular order:

    -Serenity (though you do need to see "Firefly" to get its full impact).
    -A.I. Artificial Intelligence (flawed as it is there will never be another movie like this that combines the filmmaker ideas of the creators of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "E.T.")
    -Vanilla Sky
    -Jason X (because they went for it wholehog, and got what they were after)
    -The Jacket (the balls it took to avoid the temptation to modernize the idea/premise)
    -Children of Men
    -The Fountain
    -The Host ("Jaws" for the 2000's)
    -Appleseed (2004, CG anime done right)
    -The Avengers (because Gods and superheroes fighting aliens together equals FUN!!! :-P)

    My latest NEW-TO-ME TRILOGY:

    The sped-up photography mother lode for advertising agencies everywhere. Godfrey Reggio's KOYAANISQATSI (1982) on Blu-ray.

    The aural equivalent of Philip Glass sneezing all over your movie. Reggio's POWAQQATSI (1988) on Blu-ray.

    "Look everyone, I got a Paint Box! And Microsoft After Effects! It's fun, wii!" Reggio's NAQOYQATSI (2002) on Blu-ray.



  3. There have actually been some great sci-fi films in the last decade and a half but I think I might lean toward Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as one of the best of the genre in that period.

    It does what my favorite kind of sci-fi does: take a fantastic but plausible concept and puts it at the service of a story and its characters to explore aspects of human nature. I think it's also one of the best cinematic depictions of the perils and joys of relationships.

    1. well put. If I had more commitment, I'd be inclined to put ESotSM on top. Then again, I think it may be my favorite movie of the '00s.

  4. Personally, Star Trek probably gets my top spot. I still find it highly entertaining and enjoyable to watch. I can't wait for the sequel.

    Other honorable mentions:
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    District 9

    1. Since Patrick became a full-on Trekkie from watching Abrams' "Star Trek" I can't think of any other sci-fi movie from the 2000's besides "Avatar" (which got the whole "F This Movie" kickstarter thing going... how many hundreds of dollars are we up to now? :-P) that he'd name as his top pick.

    2. Haha, well, I won't speak for others in this case, but I really like it. Eric Bana as an underwhelming villain is the primary criticism I'd offer against it. I think I'll go listen to the Star Trek F This Movie! episode again.

    3. My question is still open: what if any is the subtext of that movie?

    4. To me the subtext of Abrams' "Star Trek" is clear: flare effects on-camera = God is watching you, he knows when you're sleeping and he knows if you're awake. ;-)

  5. Timecrimes

    Honorable mentions
    Star Trek
    The Host

    1. Timecrimes, interesting (and quite justifiable) choice!

  6. 1) Cloud Atlas
    2) Avatar
    3) Star Trek
    4) inception
    5) Monsters
    6) Idiocracy

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. ^^^ Read the opening paragraph: 'The genre has been big in the last 13 years. So which one is the best?'

      If you want to include "Inception" (only the best movie of 2010 based on the opinion of two out of three F This Movie regulars) then go for it. You tell 'em, fat lady!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Danny Boyle's Sunshine gets better and better after each watch. I watch it every year now.

  9. I watched it yesterday and the mystery unfolds only at the end. Beautiful visual effects ( I dont know if there is a 3D version to this film). The film is on similar lines to the Maxtrix Revolutions conceptually. Tom Cruise is brilliant, as usual.

  10. Two years, four flicks ('cause I can't choose).

    Primer (2004)
    I think I'm still trying to figure this one out. But at this point, I think this movie speaks on psychopathy. Manipulation, greed, power, -- specifically, how easy it is to go down that rabbit hole. How easily we are blinded by it. Thinking about this movie in historical context, reveals even deeper subtext.

    Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)
    Fictional tech that is central to the plot, which could easily become a McGuffin, instead winds up telling a deeply personal story. This movie still borders on the unsettling and poignant, almost ten years later.

    District 9 (2009)
    Oh hard science-fiction fans. Debating what is and what is not true sci-fi, forgetting none of this is science and all of it is fiction. Its all about what the movie is saying. It was the perfect allegory, at the perfect time. This movie confronts our very definition humanity. Whereas Avatar (which came out the same year) "wow"ed people (how I still don’t know), its message kinda crumbles under inspection.

    Moon (2009)
    Staying on a theme all these characters go through, isolation, no movie does this better than Moon. The trope of: things are not as they seem, is long-standing within the genre. This movie not only harkens back to older flicks, it is also the antidote for the Michael Bay factory: while more movies go bigger and bigger, this movie goes small--almost claustrophobically so.

  11. Changing my answer - Donnie Darko (forgot all about it)

  12. WALL-E

    (looking over a list of the science fiction movies of the 2000s I think something I read a bit ago was right. Science fiction in movies is dying because the majority of the films being made now are either depressing dystopian futures or time travel and not much else.)

  13. Let's all say it together... TRON LEGACY!!

    J/K In all honesty I would have to say Wall-E as well. I love a lot of the other movies people have listed too. (I also believe Jason X is an underappreciated spoof of the Jason movies.) As for newest best sci fi film its Looper no question. You know its hard to believe but I actually like Looper a hell of a lot more than Prometheus- which is an Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott. If you had told me that a couple years ago I would have said you were nuts.

  14. I'm going to with Serenity. (Is the Great Indecisive Pendulum of Fan Cynicism swing toward Whedon or away from him these days? I's so hard to tell.)

    Serenity has a lot of laughs and a lot of space action, and, yes, it works much better with the context of the show rather than as a stand-alone film. All that said, the movie has a lot of interesting stuff to say.

    Society tries to achieve perfection and instead creates monsters. Our hero Mal, on the other hand, is not perfect, but broken -- both physically (his back) and mentally (battle of Serenity Valley). In the end, though, his "brokenness" allows him to win. It's the ol' "our flaws are what make us human" thing, which I love.

  15. This is a tough question and there's a lot of great answers here - my gut reaction was Moon and I think I'd stand by that as my absolute favourite with District 9 coming in a close second.

    Primer is one I watched recently that I really liked but I think I need another viewing to wrap my head around it completely.

    It's really a shame Sunshine goes off the rails a bit in the last third - I watched that for the second time a few weeks ago and enjoyed it so much that the last third didn't bother me as badly as it did the first time, but still enough to bump it out of a top spot for me.

  16. "Children Of Men" (2006),not simply the best science fiction movie of the most recent 15 years,however one of the best movies period,Alfonso Cuaron's bravura tragic perfect work of art solidified the Mexican helmer's status as a fast-rising star,as well as one of our, absolute best.In view of P.D. James' novel,it's set in our current reality where no children have been conceived in two decades, and society has crumpled as humanity endures to kick the bucket.
    A.E. Oglesby