Sci-Fi Movies That Seriously Upped The Ante

Any negative connotations we might have had with “science fiction” are well and truly on their way out of the window.

Big blockbusters like Gravity, Interstellar and Inception are getting a lot of attention, and the genre once thought to be “geeky” has found one hell of an audience.

Science fiction can be scary, tense and exhilarating, but – by contemplating what life could be like (faced with disaster, alien invasions, artificial intelligences or even just capabilities we don’t have now), it also forces us to examine what life is like.

Here are fiveof our favourites:


Taking place in the near future, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine sees a group of astronauts hope to reignite the sun (which is dying) with a large “payload” (basically a nuclear bomb).

Something must go wrong. What goes wrong? Well, without giving too much away, we quickly learn that they’re the second group to attempt this: the first mission – “Icarus One” –was a failure, just nobody knows why, or what happened to the astronauts on board.

As “Icarus Two” gets closer to the sun, they pick up a distress signal from the first mission, and then have to decide whether to continue on with their original mission, or divert and try and pick up the astronauts from “Icarus One” on the way.

Okay. But what makes Sunshine any better than any other “astronauts saving humanity” space film?It’s not only very tense and scary, but it raises some clever philosophical questions that will force you to consider what you’d do in a similar situation.

You can check out a trailer here:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Is this technically a sci-fi film? Er, yes – it’s about a futuristic technology which allows people to wipe painful memories out of their minds. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) have been through a bitter break-up, and so both decide to “erase” each other.

The film follows Joel having the procedure, and reliving his and Clementine’s relationship – in reverse – as each memory is deleted.

So is it not a rom-com?It fits both romantic and comedic elements into a very sci-fi concept. That’s one of the things that make itso good..

But loads of films fit into more than one genre. What makes this one so special?As you can imagine, it’s very unique. The narrative jumps around a bit (which – admittedly – can make things a little bit confusing at first) but it’s extremely satisfying when things come together at the end.

It might even help you appreciate some of those memories that you’d rather forget…

Check out a trailer here:


This one is fairly apocalyptic. Earth has been frozen, thanks to a failed attempt at combating global warming, and the only survivors live on a gigantic train that circles the globe, but can never stop moving.

A gigantic train?Yes. Rich people occupy the front of the train, and poor people are crowded in at the back. It’s all very cruel, with the back of the train subjugated by the front (we see the pretty grim way they get punishedfairly close to the start), and so a revolt – masterminded by John Hurt and led by Chris Evans – launches.

Okay – what makes it so good?There’s never a dull moment. Every second of this film will have you on the edge of your seat, as the inhabitants of the back end of the train pass their way through each carriage, trying to make their way to the engine at the front.

Plus, directed by South Korean Bong Joon-Ho, there’s so much detail in this film that could never have come from a more traditional ‘Hollywood’ director. It’s almost absurd, but it’s so entertaining, you hardly notice.

Details like what?!We’re not going to give anything away, butthis film raises questions that you never, never thought you’d ask yourself…

Check out a trailer here:


Six years since a NASA probe crashed in Mexico – letting extra-terrestriallife loose – things are under control. The aliens have been contained in an “infected zone”, heavily guarded by the military, and the US has built a fairly substantial wall to keep themselves safe.

Photojournalist Andrew is in Southern Mexico, documenting life on the border of the “infected zone” when he gets a call instructing him to bring his wealthy boss’ daughter – also in Mexico – back to the US. Unfortunately, they miss the last ferry, leaving their only route as one on foot, through the infected zone.

I’m guessing that that’s probably not a good idea… We won’t give anything away, but if you walk through an “infected zone” filled with aliens, you’re bound to encounter some aliens.

Is it scary?In places yes, butit’s also very poignant. Most “alien” films look at the actual invasion, but this filmexamines how humanity has adapted to life, alongside these extraterrestrials. It’s very involving, but that isn’t to say it isn’t also very exciting.

You’ll find yourself asking who the “monsters” really are…

If you’re not convinced, the trailer is here:

Ex Machina

This one is fairly recent, right?Yes. It only came out last year, and it’s been nominated for a ‘Best OriginalScreenplay’ Oscar.

It sees a young coder (played by Domhnall Gleeson) win the chance to spend the week with the CEO of his company, at his luxurious mountain retreat. When he arrives, he quickly realises that CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac) has brought him there with an ulterior motive: to test the ‘artificial intelligence’ he has built, housed in a beautiful robot (Alicia Vikander).

Is it a bit like Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence?Well, a bit. Like that film, this deals with “artificial intelligences” and how far they can pass for human – how far they can “feel” (or at least appear to feel) human emotions.

Okay. And why is it so good? Despitethe fact that artificial intelligence is a fairly unoriginal idea, this film still manages to feel fresh and vibrant. It’s tense, full of surprises and has a nice pace – you definitely won’t be getting bored.

Check out the trailer here:

Image Credits: Indiewire, Third Monk,Signature Reads, Wired, Obnoxious and Anonymous, Dmitry in Hollywood, USA China Daily, Checking the Gate, Open Letters Monthly, Roger Ebert

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