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Five Science Fiction Films Worth Your Time

The genre of science fiction is built around the concept of what could be humanly possible in the future. Far flung journeys into outer space, robots ruling the world, artificial intelligence becoming a daily part of our lives: sci-fi films should take us into a future universe that does not seem outside the realms of human possibility. Indeed, for me, so many sci-fi films at their heart are about what it means to be human and if we’re willing to let technology change us. Here, then, are five personal sci-fi film favourites, which I believe represent what the genre can be at its best.

Under the Skin (2013) dir. Jonathan Glazer

Jonathan Glazer’s chilling and eerie feature is, I believe, immensely underrated. Starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien in human form, it is a deeply mysterious and visionary spectacle. The dialogue here is sparse; far more important is the music, atmosphere and general sense of unease. Set on the streets of Glasgow before journeying up to the Scottish Highlands, it covers powerful themes of attraction, temptation and lust in a terrifying, intelligent and utterly unforgettable manner. 

Gravity (2013) dir. Alfonso Cuaron

I watched Gravity on my phone one summer, though the experience would probably have been best enjoyed on the largest screen possible. Directed by the Oscar winning Alfonso Cuaron, who made the best Harry Potter film, it charts Sandra Bullock and George Clooney being stranded in space after their shuttle mission is destroyed by space debris. What is remarkable about Gravity is how much it packs into a short running time. It lifts you out of your seat, takes you along with immense tension, before slowly bringing you back down to Earth. 

Interstellar (2014) dir. Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan’s films are often known for challenging time and linear narratives, something which is certainly true in Interstellar. Starring Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut sent to discover new planets fit for human habitation, it has breath-taking cinematography and stunning imaginations of future worlds. But it is Jessica Chastain, starring as McConaughey’s ageing daughter, who really gives the film its emotional heart. While Interstellar is not a perfect film, its fictional ambition is remarkable. 

Ready Player One (2018) dir. Steven Spielberg 

Ready Player One presents a science fiction world I could imagine arriving sooner than we think. Directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg and starring Tye Sheridan, it presents a world of living virtually in the Oasis, due to the terrible conditions on Earth. Gaming is the aspiration, with Sheridan’s character completing a contest to win ownership of the Oasis after its present owner dies. The Easter egg references, breadth of characters and amount of exciting graphics give the film the pace it requires to work. 

A Quiet Place (2018) dir. John Krasinski and A Quiet Place Part II (2021) dir. John Krasinski

Like with all lists, going beyond the allocated number is compulsory. A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place Part II, both directed by John Krasinski, are based on such a simple premise: what if aliens that couldn’t see but would kill anything they heard took over the world? The dystopian society presented, at times, felt shudderingly reminiscent of the worst stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, like with all the best science fiction movies, it is the strength of the characters, especially the two played by Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds, which ensures the film never strays into melodrama and always remains quintessentially human.

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