Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Ranking of 2015's Science Fiction Movies.

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
5. Infini
6. Project Almanac
7. Self/Less
8. Wyrmwood
9. Mad Max: Fury Road
10 Terminator Genisys
12. Jupiter Ascending
13 Chappie.

The first three are must sees. 


graywave said...

Thanks, Graham. So far, I've seen the bottom 3 and Self/Less. It would be great to see a good sci-fi film again. In fact, a good film in any genre!

The Martian is top of my to see list. my daughter read the book last year and gave it rave reviews.

Don't you count the Avengers: Age of Ultron as sci-fi? I know there's a good argument for saying all superhero films are fantasy.

Anyway, I'll be catching up on 2015 films during 2016 and hope you'll be doing another list in 2017 so I know which of this year's films I should have watched.

Graham Clements said...

I reckon you will enjoy The Martian. I have the novel, but did get time to read it, but people do rave about it. I gather you know Andy Weir successfully self-published it to begin with.
I did see Avengers: Age of Ultron, but consider it more fantasy. It was entertaining but forgotten as soon as I left the cinema. I think the super hero genre should disappear for a few years unless it can come up with something more than super hero versus super bad guy. I enjoyed seeing some of 2014's movies that I had missed in 2015 on DVD and foxtel, like Under the Skin, The Giver, Snowpiercer and The Maze Runner.

Anthony J. Langford said...

The car chases in Fury Road were traditional stunts, and not cgi. Its getting a ton of accolades and for good reason. I didnt care much about Max either, but I like the religous aspect they brought into it.
I agree with you on Ex Machina. A great film. Havent seen 4 or 6. I loved Star Wars and thought Chappie was quite good. Ive been to South Africa so picked up on alot of the street talk. Perhaps its too South African.
Self/Less pretty good. I thought Terminator was terrible and The Martian overrated. All that American, bring him home patriotic crap ruined it for me.
These Final Hours was very good. Rover not so good.
At least we agree on No. 1, which has just been nominated for Best Screenplay. Well deserved.

Graham Clements said...

Anthony, I remember reading that Fury Road looked real before I went and saw it, and then they have this CGI rendered tanker flying though the air, looking very much like it was animated. There was another scene where water was supposedly cascading down a rock wall and all the desperate people were holding out dishes and bottles to catch it. But they all seemed to have their dishes and bottles in the wrong place because the water was not there, but cgi generated. When I think about it, I have real problems with them all hanging out in the desert anyway. Why? Surely there is some habitable coastal landscape where they can boil the sea water or set up simple desalination techniques. But above all I could not care less about the characters. I did not get the religious aspects, all I thought, was that those women could supposedly have healthy kids, but why bother, considering the world they were going to be brought up. I thought the two main actors, the South Africans, in Chappie were woeful, the acting on scale with Play School. When you think about it Ex Machina and Chappie were both about when is an AI sentient. Chappie was full of cliches, Ex Machina wasn't. I found The Rover to be much more interesting and realistic than Fury Road, and I wanted to know what was in the boot. In Fury Road, I wanted to know, what the fuck is the point. The Rover answered my question, Fury Road didn't.