5 Modern Sci-Fi Films You Should Probably Watch

Just do it.

The Machine (2013)

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A prime example of a film with an unoriginal concept (military trying to create super-soldier cyborg types to defeat a pesky Cold War enemy) but with great execution. Like most of the films on this list, the budget for The Machine was low (around the £1million mark) but they still managed to bag a decent cast (Toby Stephens, Denis Lawson, Caity Lotz) and make fantastic use of the low key location. Lotz steals the show, her transformation from enthusiastic young graduate to kick-ass cyborg is sublime, though Stephens puts in a decent performance as the scientist driven to obsession. There are some delightfully well choreographed fight sequences and while it is a little naval gazing and slow in parts, it does pose some interesting questions, and the ending stays with you.

 

The Final Cut (2004)

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Before Black Mirror plunged in there with its weird dystopian visions (that seem to be coming fruition scarily enough), Omar Naim produced this little known nugget of sci-fi weirdness. Released during the period where Robin Williams was throwing out some curveball performances (One Hour Photo, Insomnia), The Final Cut sees him playing it a little more straight and restrained as Alan Hakman, a cutter who is drawn into a dangerous game of intrigue and blackmail. The Final Cut is not going to win, and didn’t win, any Oscars, it’s structure and plot are pretty standard. However, the world building and concepts are where the film really comes into its own, and you sort of wish they had kept the focus on that instead of heading down the action thriller route. Either way, The Final Cut is a strong and interesting entry into Robin Williams’ filmography.

 

Grabbers (2012)

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Lots of jokes about being drunk. Check. An alcoholic lead character. Check. Excessive use of the word ‘feck’. Check. All the hallmarks of a decent Irish film, and Grabbers is no different. It’s a proper no frills, sci-fi/horror/comedy monster film, with some amusingly gory deaths, daft plot twists, and amiable character stereotypes. The monsters are fantastically realized and the one key aspect of their biology leads to residents of the island retreating to pub and getting pissed. Grabbers does nothing new, it owes a lot to Tremors, however the film has such heart and wit, and some gorgeous cinematography, that it is more than enough to make watching this film well worth your time. And have a few drinks while you’re at it.

 

Coherence (2013) 

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Coherence is an absolute mind-fuck (excuse my French). It starts as a seemingly straight forward relationship drama with a lot of smug people sitting round a dinner table, however after an astronomical anomaly passes by, things begin going south. Coherence sets out a truly fascinating ‘what if’ scenario. What if we existed on parallel realities but co-existed on the same plane? What if we saw those ‘other’ versions of ourselves but they weren’t quite ‘us’? What if we interacted with those ‘others’? The major thrill in Coherence is that you don’t know which characters or which ‘others’ you are watching at any one time, you don’t know whose reactions are legitimate. Where you watching the ‘others’ in the first place? Are the ‘others’ just as baffled as confused as the first set of characters we meet or are they already aware of the situation? Coherence is a film that deserves multiple re-watches and almost requires it, and it also deserves a first watch so get going onto Netflix and seek it out.

 

Primer (2004) 

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When I first watched Primer I didn’t quite understand what was happening. When I watched Primer for the second time I still didn’t quite understand what was happening. Primer is an obtuse, borderline impenetrable piece of work, but therein lies its charm. Shane Carruth (director/writer/producer/actor) refuses to dumb down the science or give people massive doses of exposition to help them understand exactly what is going on. The plot of Primer is a simple one to start with; two friends invent a device in a garage which they discover can send objects back in time, however, their relationship begins to fracture as does their grip on what they have created. Primer is a staggering bit of cinema when you consider the size of its budget ($7000), the fact that no one in the film had acted before, and that Carruths had never written or directed before. Like Coherence, Primer is on Netflix and it is worth keeping on your ‘to watch’ list even after you’ve watched it for the third or fourth time.

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My Five Favourite Things About Harry Potter

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I’m fully aware that I’m obsessed with Harry Potter, it’s an addiction that I never plan to get over. I find that there are very few people who have never read Harry Potter or who have not seen the films but if you are one of these people then you may want to not read this because there may be some spoilers.

Now, let’s talk my top five favourite things about Harry Potter;

1 – There is a character for everyoneOotp076

Now this may seem obvious but recently I’ve realised that not everyone loves the same characters, I’ve just re-read the series and once again I fell in love with Snape and cried my eyes out when I once again read about his undying love for Lily, I laughed when Fred and George left Hogwarts and my heart broke when Fred died. I’ve always been a big fan of the twins and Snape and I’ve always felt a strong connection to the strong female characters that are Ginny, Hermione and Luna. I did recently find out however, a lot of my friends disagree. I have a friend who hates Snape and a friend who will always tell me how annoying she finds Ginny, to counteract this, I never really warmed to Dobby (please don’t hate me) and felt no emotions when he died. I love that the characters are so real and have such depth that the reader can get to know them and essentially form an opinion of them.

2 – The pensieve

FSHQDAYGUQ4FS36.SMALLMy favourite parts of HP will always be the scenes with the pensieve, I love going back in time and rooting through peoples memories. I thought that J.K. Rowling’s invention of the pensieve was a perfect way to show us exactly what happened and explain the story a little more. The Half Blood Prince is my favourite book and a lot of this is based on how we can go back in time and understand Riddle a little more. I loved seeing his upbringing and how he came to be Voldemort, knowing that he hated life at the orphanage and how his magic powers made him feel special, made it a little bit more understandable why he wanted to become powerful.

3 – Strong womendownload (4)

I read a lot of books and I have a love for young adult and contemporary fiction but often with these genres I find a lot of female characters who I hate because they seem to live their lives around finding a boyfriend and nothing is more important to them. Harry Potter literally has the opposite type of women, Hermione being the lead example. Yes Hermione falls in love with Ron early and it seems pretty obvious from Goblet of Fire onwards that providing both them survive, they will eventually be together but this is never what Hermione was about. We loved her because she was strong and was always the rational one, she valued her friendships with Harry and Ron more than anything else in the world and she was the one who stuck by Harry through thick and thin. She was clever and funny and beautiful all at the same time. Let’s be honest, if Harry hadn’t made friends with Hermione, he would have been dead before he even found the philosopher’s stone. On top of this we have the likes of Luna who is eccentric and weird but she’s comfortable in her own skin and never tries to change who she is just to fit in, finally she finds her best friends by just being herself and we have Ginny who starts off as a giggly schoolgirl who swoons over Harry but it’s not until she’s over him that she actually grows a personality. Ginny is strong willed and feisty and she refuses to go home in the battle of Hogwarts, she knows she is at risk but she can’t sit back and do nothing. I love how J.K. writes all her main female characters as strong women who girls can admire and look up to.

4 – Quidditch

quidditchWe’ve all wanted to fly on a broom and hit balls through a goal, right? Quidditch is on my list because I simply love the fact that it has become a real sport. There’s nothing more entertaining than going to a university quidditch game and seeing a group of 20 year olds running around on brooms pretending they’re flying. Before you accuse me of mocking the sport, I’m really not. I genuinely love that Harry Potter is so important to people that they’re trying to bring the fictional sport to life. I’ve always wanted to play seeker so maybe one day my dream will come true.

5 – The magicDiagonAlley_homepage_hero

This one sounds obvious but for me the magic is so much more than just the spells they perform in the books. Earlier this year I visited Warner Bro studios where you can walk around and look at the sets they used in the actual movies and to me it honestly felt magical. Within five minutes of me being on the tour, I was close to tears because it was all so overwhelming to me. The magic in the books is brought to life, you can perform spells and drink butterbeer, you can take the train to Hogwarts and you can fly on a broom. This is only one part of the Harry Potter world, there is a huge theme park in Orlando and all over the world there are places to go for Harry Potter lovers to make the magic come to life.

Ultimately, I love that Harry Potter is so big that it’s more than just a book, it’s a community. I love that if I meet someone new and find out that that love HP, I know I’ll be able to talk to them for hours.  Basically, I really, really love Harry Potter.

Independence Day: Resurgence Review

I’m going to confess that I’m not really a fan of the first Independence Day movie. It definitely has it’s moments, I like the suspense they create before the aliens attack but as soon as everything starts blowing up I lose interest. Going into this movie I had really low expectations, I’d been hearing early review buzz and all signs were pointing to this being one of the worst movies of the summer. As it turns out going in with low expectations is probably the best way to experience Independence Day: Resurgence.

 

This review will contain story spoilers.

 

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Welcome to Earth

 

As the film opens we’re treated to a quick fly over of Washington DC so we can see how advanced civilization has came since the first movie. The people of 1996 who defeated the aliens in the last movie took their technology and used it to advance our own even going so far as to copy their landmark destroying weapons. As we pan over all the future things they replay Bill Pullman’s iconic Independence Day speech. We also learn that one of the ships that landed in 1996 has transmitted the recording of Pullman to all their buddies and now they’re really pissed off!

 

We follow a character into the white house with the camera behind him, he stops just outside the oval office to take in a gold framed painting on the wall. A painting of Steven Hiller AKA Will Smith who’s been killed between movies because he wouldn’t reprise his role. I burst out laughing at this because it just looks so goofy. They were clearly thought this would be a cool moment but it looks like a promotional image from the first movie.

 

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Just imagine a big fancy frame around this photo and you’re basically there.

 

It also turns out that this young man we’ve been following is Hiller’s son Dylan, who’s followed in his father’s footsteps and became an ace fighter pilot. They are trying to introduce some new blood into the franchise but the problem is that they don’t get rid of any of the old guys. They bring back pretty much everyone you care about: Ex-President Pullman is back with a beard this time, Jeff Goldblum is probably the closest you get to a main character here, the two weird scientists get to rekindle their relationship and Judd Hirsch even shows up to be a ridiculous cartoon character of a man.

 

Quietly out of the Night

 

This movie goes at breakneck speed throughout. There’s absolutely no suspense when the aliens show up after what feels like 15 mins. They just appear literally out of nowhere in a huge ship and make quick work of Earth’s puny defenses stationed on the moon. They say the ship is about 3000 miles long, so big that it has it’s own gravity. All the aliens need to do is fly over London and within seconds it’s completely destroyed under chunks of our own British hubris *drops monocle*.

 

To be honest though all the destruction and action scenes throughout were a bit lackluster in my opinion. These scenes would have been cool in 1997 but after all the crazy Michael Bay and Zack Snyder madness we’ve had since then you need to do more to impress jaded action movie fans.

 

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Gooey Center

 

So after landing their ship over the entire Northern Atlantic Ocean their uninspired plan is to drill a mile wide hole all the way down to the Earth’s core and extract all of our delicious liquid hot magma. Just like Dr. Evil’s plan in the first Austin Powers movie except our evil aliens aren’t concerned with getting 1 million dollars, just revenge.

 

One thing I was hoping for in this movie was a little bit more of the alien’s backstory but they didn’t deliver. You’ll notice I’m referring to them as the aliens a lot, that’s because they don’t even give us any other name for them. All they tell us is that they steal other planet’s resources to power their ships and that each mother ship has a (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) queen alien that controls all of the drone warriors. I don’t know if it’s just me but I need some back story for my villains so I can get invested in their plan.

 

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The Saga Begins

 

While the aliens are setting up their mining operation the humans uncover a mysterious orb that happens to be part of an advanced civilization that has been battling the jerk aliens for years now. So this is the moment that the franchise hooks really embed themselves. The scientists learn from the orb that there is a galactic refugee planet which is the only place safe from the jerk aliens (see, this is why they need a real name!) and this orb was coming to invite Earth to be a part of it so we could avoid destruction.

 

This was the only part of the movie that really interested me, Humans joining up with a bunch of weird good aliens to fight evil aliens sounds like a much better movie idea. However this revelation did devalue the movie for me because from then on all I could think about how I’d rather be watching the sequel. They out their own movie as simply a stepping stone about an hour before the end. This made the final battle feel really flat because we already knew that this alien queen is only the start of Earth’s battle.

 

So yeah, as you can imagine they blow up the queen seconds before the laser reaches the Earth’s core and the world is saved!…Except there’s now a mile wide hole in the middle of the Northern Atlantic Ocean that goes down most of the way to the core. Now I’m no scientist but I think that would cause a few problems for our little blue planet.

 

Movie: “Screw your pesky science, it’s Independence Day!”

 

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I could only recommend this movie as a rental, there’s just not enough substance here to warrant full ticket price. There is some fun to be had if you turn your brain off and just let the stupid one liners and explosions wash over you but it loses it’s charm if you start to think too deeply about it.

 

★★☆☆☆