Andy Naylor shares his picks of the best sci-fi films of the past decade
With the decade coming to a close I felt a celebration was needed. A celebration to highlight what this decade has brought us in the world of sci-fi. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a sci-fi geek. All my favourite movies, books, TV shows and video games are dominated by the genre, and I make no apology for this. It is just what I like. For the most part, it’s the imagination I appreciate. The future can be absolutely anything and getting to see another person’s vision of it is a wondrous experience, even more so when executed in just the right manner.
The following list is in chronological order, picking just 10 from an entire decade was tough enough, putting them in a preferred order is like trying to pick your favourite pet. I hope you enjoy and I will list a few close contenders at the end.
This movie was a passion project for director, Christopher Nolan, and he was allowed to make it after The Dark Knight made over $1 billion worldwide. With a budget of $160 million, that’s some reward, and an indication of their faith in the director, from Warner Bros.
With a cast led by the talented Leonardo DiCaprio, the story revolves around his character’s ability to slip into people’s dreams and steal secrets and the consequences that ability had had on his life and what it has cost him. However, the twist and the challenge for DiCaprio’s Cobb is to plant an idea is someone’s subconscious and offer him the redemption he seeks.
Inception is a crime caper with an inventive, unusual twist, and despite it’s intimidating reputation of being an intelligent film, it is easy to follow and has an ending that will leave your head in a spin.
I’m aware this isn’t on everyone’s list, hell, I’m aware this is the film the highest percentage of people reading this probably haven’t seen, but it’s my list and Dredd 3D gave Judge Dredd fans what they deserved after the woeful Sly Stallone abomination that won’t quite erase itself from my memory.
Karl Urban plays John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s incorruptible Judge Dredd, who is a mainstay of the British comic book 2000 A.D. A one man system of law; Judge, Jury and Executioner in the future dystopian city of Mega City One. Tasked with evaluating an unusual cadet, Anderson (played by Olivia Thirlby), Dredd responds to a double murder in one of the city’s massive Mega Blocks and soon Dredd and Anderson find themselves trapped, being hunted by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her gang.
What follows is an engaging, violent and claustrophobic film that is true to its comic source but brings Dredd into the 21st century in a manner that will attract new fans to the character. One thing the film gets right, that Stallone’s 1995 calamity didn’t, is keeping Dredd’s recognisable helmet completely attached to the character for the duration of the movie.
It’s fun, non-stop, gritty and, clocking in at just 95 minutes, it is the shortest film to make this list. Sadly, thanks to a near lack of advertisement prior to release, the film was not a financial success and we are unlikely to Urban’s Dredd on the big screen again.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
If most casual comic fans were honest they would say they knew little to nothing about Guardians of the Galaxy, like me. In cinema’s era of Marvel this movie took most by surprise, in the most part because it didn’t feature any well known characters and it deviated from how Marvel made movies at the time. Most had a “Marvel feel” about them but Guardians had the lingering touch of a fun sci-fi movies, very much in the class of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and, follow up movie, Serenity.
Who would’ve guessed that a cast led by a, at the time, by an actor who was initially a small character from Parks and Recreation, a former wrestler, a talking trash panda voiced by Bradley Cooper, a walking tree voiced by Vin Diesel and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, armed with a bucket full of humour and an amazing soundtrack would end up being one of the most popular films of Marvel’s phase 2 slate?
This breath of fresh air in the MCU is worthy of a place on this list and, if comic book films aren’t your thing, it also works beautifully as a sci-fi film that has nearly as good a sequel.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Say what you want about Tom Cruise the person, but Tom Cruise the actor makes good movies, for the most part at least. He’s dabbled in sci-fi over the years, making the very good Minority Report and the very average Oblivion. Edge of Tomorrow might be on the best films on this list.
Its Aliens meets Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day. Tom Cruise plays a smug, weasely Major that has never seen a minute of combat who is cursed to repeat the same day over and over again, eventually rising to the challenge to save Earth from an alien invasion with the help of Emily Blunt’s kick ass Rita.
If that wasn’t enough for you, it also features Bill Paxton in one of his last roles, and he is an absolute joy to behold. Edge of Tomorrow is an exciting, action packed sci-fi movie, that if you haven’t seen, you will wonder how you missed it. Live. Die. Repeat.
This slow-paced sci-fi movie is Alex Garland’s official directorial debut, and with writing credits such as Dredd, Sunshine and 28 Days Later to his name, this is what attracted me to this film in the first place. It explores the creation and implications of artificial intelligence when Domhnall Gleeson’s Caleb wins a contest to visit his reclusive CEO’s country retreat, played by Oscar Isaac, and perform the Turing Test on Ava (Alicia Vikander).
What follows is an intriguing thriller that exploring the concept of consciousness and what constitutes life in the claustrophobic and inaccessible retreat and an ending that will have you reflecting upon it hours after you’ve finished watching it.
While everything else on this list so far contains a lot of action and a heavy dose of sci-fi, this is a near future event designed to make the viewer question their feelings on intelligence.
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