As I have done the last few years, here is my review of the 2015 science-fiction films I managed to catch up with last year. Compared to 2014, last year was a huge letdown for science fiction. In 2014, there was the wonder of Interstellar, the cleverness of Predestination and the action packed thrills of Edge of Tomorrow. All of them are better films than anything released in 2015, except for perhaps the one that topped my list.
2015 was the year of the sequel, only one of them was good, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To my surprise, a tear nearly crept into my eye when the Star War’s logo hit the screen to the fanfare of the original music. But gee, wasn’t the film derivative of the first film and thus very predictable. I knew what was going to happen as soon as Hans Solo stepped onto that bridge. Still, with all its similarities to the first film, I found if fun to watch.
Of the other sequels, Jurassic World was okay, because all I was expecting was dinosaurs chasing stupid people, and this is what I got.
I went and saw Mad Max: Fury Road primarily because it was sought of Australian made, and I hoped it would return to the world building and character development of the original. I never thought much of the second and third movies. I am not much into car chases, especially when they are all computer generated and look so fake. My main memory from the movie is wondering how eleven or was it twelve people fitted onto five motorcycles, especially when Max and his saviour got bikes of their own. I really could not have cared less whether Max or anyone in the truck survived, as what was the point of them surviving? In 2014, Australia made four science fiction movies – Predestination, Infinite Man, The Rover and These Final hours - that were, in my opinion, much more original and therefore much more interesting, and fun to watch than Fury Road.
The last sequel was Terminator Genisys, a film that I struggle to remember. It was a pathetic attempt to wring more money out of the franchise.
For most of last year, Chappie was easily the worst movie of the year. It was a childish story with childish acting. The story was suitable only for tweens, but then they swore a bit and had a bit of violence to give it a MA rating. So its director Neill Blomkamp has now made an all-time classic in District 9, an okay film in Elysium, and a turkey in Chappie.
But near the end of the year, I finally watched the CGI mess Jupiter Ascending. A film that hoped its many unconvincing CGI battles would distract the viewer from the stupid plot, stupid ending, and cartoonish acting of Eddie Redmayne.
I thought there were two stand-out films for the year. The Martian was what I have been wanting from science fiction, a story of survival and discovery. But it was a bit predictable. To up the ante, I just knew that something was going to happen to his potato crops, and I knew the crew of the ship would turn back as soon as they found out about his survival. But to watch an astronaut use science to survive was engrossing.
Just before the end of the year, I finally saw Ex Machina. I had been really looking forward to seeing it, but the local cinema did not put it on. It’s about a computer programmer who wins a prize to go to an out of the way laboratory to test an AI to see if it is sentient. At one stage during the film I started to wonder if the guy doing the testing was an AI himself, which the film did a great job of answering. The ending surprised. It was definitely not a predictable film. And there was not an explosion or laser pistol or alien in sight. It’s a thoughtful film. The type of film I would like to see more often. It was my pick of the best science-fiction films of the year.
This is how I rank what I saw last year:
1. Ex Machina
2. The Martian
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
4. Jurassic World
6. Project Almanac
9. Mad Max: Fury Road
10 Terminator Genisys
12. Jupiter Ascending
The first three are must sees.