There are 3 genres of films that I find very difficult to give relative strangers recommendations to watch and those genres are comedy, horror and Sci-fi films. Now comedy and horror films are, in my mind technically the same, both are very subjective and dependant on the person’s taste, one person might find gore terrifying while others find it dull, the same is to be said of comedy, some find fart jokes funny, others look down on it.
Sci-fi however, is not the same as horror films or comedies, sci-fi films don’t really share thematic structure with any other film genre. Sure, there are combinations with other genres, sci-fi fantasy, sci-fi horror but these are more like different flavours of sci-fi other than parallels.
While there are certainly great sci-fi films out there, the genre is very limited when compared to other genres which means finding quality films with a very limited pool of choice is difficult. Everyone knows about ‘Alien’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘District 9’, etc. But what I want to do is suggest some sci-fi films that you might have heard of but you might not have seen, which I think are definitely worth your time.
Children of Men (2006)
‘Children of Men’ is one of my favourite films of all time, it is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who you might know as the director of ‘Gravity’. If you liked ‘Gravity’ you will love ‘Children of Men’ as Cuaron managed to keep a group of characters traversing through England tense and exciting and if you thought ‘Gravity’ was beautiful, you haven’t seen the full extent of Cuaron’s magical touch. ‘Children of Men’ is superbly shot with some fantastic long-takes that flow so perfectly and are utterly breathtaking.
The performances are great, Clive Owen is at his best, Michael Caine is brilliant and Julianne Moore is a fantastic as ever. Combine the brilliant director and the fantastic cast with a unique and tense script and you have a recipe for an amazing film. This is simply Cuaron’s masterpiece.
Attack the Block (2011)
‘Attack the Block’ is an English sci-fi film in which aliens invade a block of council flats in London and the responsibility to save the world from these vicious aliens are the youths and their drug dealers. It is as ridiculous as it sounds and I loved every moment.
The film has some flaws but it is fun throughout and the alien design is gorgeous, especially considering that the look was gained through practical effects. The performances are great, the story is fun and the directing is very Edgar Wright-esque which is always a good thing.
Sound of my Voice (2011)
‘Sound of my Voice’ is better if you watch it knowing nothing about it. This is one of the more unique films that I have ever seen and I was gripped throughout. Watching this story unravel is absolutely fascinating and introduced me to the immensely talented Brit Marling.
The briefest plot synopsis I can give you to get you hooked is – A couple go undercover and join a cult led by a woman who claims she is from the future, hoping to reveal her as a con artist.
Watching this film is an experience everyone should have, sit there and let yourself be immersed in this great film and at the end, let it bore into your brain so you are left thinking about it long after the film is over.
Robot & Frank (2012)
‘Robot & Frank’ is a charming and heartwarming film with many different moral issues addressed without a single one feeling forced. This is not your typical sci-fi film, but I promise you, if you give it a chance, you won’t regret it, and if you do, you probably need to take a long look at your own life.
Under the Skin (2014)
‘Under the Skin’ is a bizarre but gripping film about an alien that has taken residence in Scotland and seems to lure unsuspecting Scotsmen to their doom. What is even more impressive is that some of the men that she approaches in the film, were normal members of the public that were secretly being filmed and watching their genuine reactions to a strange but beautiful woman asking them weird questions added an extra layer of intrigue throughout the film.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Please don’t look up anything about this film, don’t watch a trailer, don’t read a plot synopsis, it will spoil what is a great story. Unfortunately, going into the film, I had already been spoiled about certain story elements however, it is a testament to the film that even though I knew what was roughly going to happen, it still shocked me several times and absolutely tore my heart out. If you were to go into it knowing nothing, I can only imagine how powerful the film would be to you and if you can, you should definitely watch this film as soon as possible.
Another Earth (2011)
It seems like another ordinary day until one day, something appears in the sky, after some time it is discovered that this object in the sky is our Earth from a parallel dimension. Of course there is now a lottery-type situation where a select few are selected to travel to the other Earth. The question is, would you leave everything you had and loved for the unknown?
It is a fascinating look into human psychology wrapped around a story of one woman and her current life. This film is filled with powerful performances and very clever writing making it one of the more, ignore the pun, down-to-earth sci-fi films.
I Origins (2014)
I’m cheating here because I freely admit that this film is not for everyone, but I cannot pass up a perfect opportunity to recommend this film. It’s one of the strangest, weirdest, most unique films that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. The ending will either leave you angry, confused or thrilled, or maybe a combination of all three, which in and of itself convinces me that everyone should watch this film, I can’t guarantee that you will like it, but I can guarantee that you haven’t watched anything like this before, whether that is a good thing or not is up to you.
This film is filled with beautiful imagery, fantastic performances and an intelligent yet natural script and deserves your attention for every second of its 106 minute runtime. I will say though that the trailer absolutely spoils a lot of the film so please do not watch it.