2009 was a pretty good year for the sci-fi film. Not only did it produce the movie that’s well on the way to becoming the highest grossing movie of all time, but also some great little sci-fi gems that you may have overlooked. So heres GeekTown’s top 5 list of sci-fi movies from the last 12 months:
GeekTown’s Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies Of 2009
Watchmen got a fairly mixed reception on release. Yes, it did lose some of the weight of the Moore/Gibbons source material, but considering the number of people that had said it was ‘unfilmable’, and the directors that had been attached to the project and given up, I think Zack Snyder did an decent job with it. Maybe it wasn’t a unique as the comic book fans wanted, but Zack still made a very complex graphic novel into a perfectly fine, engaging superhero movie.
Currently on it’s way to sinking Titanic as the highest grossing movie of all time, James Cameron proves once again with Avatar that he doesn’t know how to make a non-smash hit movie. The lush visual world Cameron creates on Pandora, and the groundbreaking CGI work used to create the Na’vi set a new benchmark for special effects in film.
Moon is probably the least well know of the films in this list, but is well worth seeking out on DVD/Blu-ray if you haven’t seen it yet. Duncan Jones makes a stunning directorial debut, in a clever film that has far more in common with the distopian sci-fis of the early 70s rather than your Avatar style blockbuster. The film is practically a one man show for the lead Sam Rockwell, who turns in a performance that (if there’s any justice) really should gain him an Oscar nomination.
Created for the tiny sum (in filmic terms) of $5 million, Moon proves you don’t need a massive Hollywood budget to create impressive, intelligent sci-fi.
2. District 9
District 9 was another of those films that crept up through the summers massive blockbusters of giant robots and pointy clawed mutants to slap them around the face and show you didn’t need a massive budget to make great sci-fi. Shot for a modest $30 million, Neill Blomkamp made a stunning feature length debut by adapting one of his earlier film shorts, Alive in Joburg, to create District 9. Taking on the themes of apartheid and translating them into a sci-fi setting Blomkamp creates a wonderfully intellegent and brilliantly original movie. The film is also a feature debut for lead Sharlto Copley (soon to be seen as ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock in the A Team movie), who manages the difficult job of taking his character Wikus van der Merwe, who really shouldn’t be all that like-able, and make you feel sympathy for him.
1. Star Trek
Like a lot of Trek fans, when it was announced that they were planning on rebooting Star Trek, a shiver ran up my spine… You can’t recast Kirk! You can’t recast Spock!.. Well, turns out you can. And very successfully too! JJ Abrams managed the seemingly impossible task of updating Trek without annoying Trekkers/Trekkies, and still bringing non-Trek movie goers to the franchise. By the simple but ingenious idea of creating an alternate timeline, thereby leaving the original universe intact, every body’s happy, and JJ has a whole new Star Trek universe to do whatever he likes with.
Zachary Quinto turns in a performance of Spock that nearly ‘out Spocks’ Leonard Nimoy (who also appears as ‘Spock Prime’). Chris Pine manages to still convey a very Kirk-like attitude, but without trying to imitate the unique Mr. Shatner. A mention also needs to go to Karl Urban’s brilliant portrayal of Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy which at times felt like he was actually channeling DeForest Kelley.
JJ Abrams achieved the seemingly unachievable in reinvigorating the Star Trek franchise without alienating existing fans and stomping over it’s rich lineage, and for that, we say ‘Live Long and Prosper’.