Critically panned and a commercial flop, Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 haunted house in space chiller is actually pretty great. As a rescue mission is sent out to investigate a previously thought to be lost spaceship, the tension builds to a genuinely frightening climax. It’s all in the eyes…
Although reliant on all the clichés associated with a vision of a dystopian future; feelings are illegal, oppressive state, small band of rebels etc. Equilibrium does make a worthy addition to the genre, if by only adding some startling action sequences to the mix. Read 1984, followed by a back to back double bill of Equilibrium and Brazil for an ultimate fix of pessimistic foreboding.
Perhaps to call Sunshine underrated is wide of the mark as it was met with a near unanimously positive response from critics on its release. Perhaps under-seen suits it better, as Sunshine would not be out of place in a list of greatest Sci-fi all the last 20 years, if not longer. Yet Danny Boyle’s 2007 near masterpiece seems to be continuously overlooked when discussing the genre’s greats. It shouldn’t be.
Can a movie set in the near future and only reliant on a relatively small hop in terms of technological advancement be truly classed as Sci-fi? Well for the purpose of the list it can, as I love Robot & Frank. Frank is a retired career thief who’s worsening health leads his children to buy him a robotic butler; what more could a cantankerous older gent need? What Frank quickly discovers is that Robot could potentially aid him getting ‘back to work’, whilst all the while highlighting the fragility of his own mortality.
I’ve not got a great deal to say about Lockout apart from; Die Hard In Space. For a reason not apparently clear the President’s daughter visits MS One, a maximum security prison in outer space. Of course it gets overrun by prisoners. As tradition dictates, an ex-CIA Operative is sent to rescue her and represents her ‘only chance’. Spectacularly silly and all a bit wrong, but I rather like it.
A critical success and a rare example of a remake being better than the original, 2002’s Solaris sees George Clooney’s Chris Kelvin sent to investigate a troubled space station, only to be confronted by a vision of his dead-wife. Slow-burning, grown-up and though provoking, this is not sci-fi for the adrenaline junkies amongst us, but is equally memorable.
In amongst the carnage of what is seen as Disney’s rather barren years there are some real hidden gems, none more so than their daring 2002 retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Seamlessly applying all the staples of the Disney story-telling, it is indeed a bold move to reimagine such a colossus work of American literature. To say they nearly pulled it off is to not damn them with faint praise.
While I fully understand why some of the movies on this list have failed to reach a wider audience, I certainly don’t here. A homage to classic invasion/siege movies, The Mist plays out as one of the best Horror/Sci-fi films of the past 20 years. Grab the Blu-ray to watch a beautiful black and white version, which although satisfying, will make the films climax nonetheless heart-breaking.