It’d be fair to say that several initially promising-looking sci-fi films set for release this year severely disappointed when they actually arrived in cinemas.
Think of Mute, which fell far short of the standard which director Duncan Jones had previously reached with his 2009 classic Moon. It was a similar story with The Cloverfield Paradox, which rivalled its predecessor for hype but little for end-product quality.
Fortunately, the following gems have been priceless reminders that modern sci-fi isn’t dead after all.
Ready Player One
With virtual reality gaming having recently finally entered the mainstream with the likes of the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, the release of Steven Spielberg’s latest cinematic adventure feels timely. It focuses on OASIS, a virtual reality world where its users hunt for a lucrative Easter Egg.
At the time of writing, Ready Player One has attained a score of 7.9 out of 10 among users of IMDb, with many critics having hailed the film as well.
Marvel has had an, err, marvellous run of form with its recent superhero films – and a particularly spectacular entry has been this year’s Black Panther. It sees T’Challa ascend to the throne of the hi-tech African nation of Wakanda, only to see his position surprisingly challenged…
Unsurprisingly, there are strong elements of African culture in Ryan Coogler’s film – which, according to Film School Rejects‘ Christopher Campbell, even made his eyes well up on two occasions.
Alex Garland had already been at the directorial helm of a modern sci-fi classic, 2015’s Ex Machina, before he recruited Natalie Portman to star in another, this year’s Annihilation.
The film, which follows a biologist as she embarks on a risky and secretive expedition into a zone unaffected by the usual laws of nature, has a particularly strong cancer allegory – though, while noting the film’s “memorable images”, Campbell has deplored a lack of “emotional resonance”.
The Shape of Water
The long unjustly overlooked Sally Hawkins stars as a lonely human, Elisa, who falls in love with a sea creature. The film landed four Oscars at the Academy Awards in February but particularly made history as the first sci-fi film to land the Best Picture accolade.
That’s staggering considering the nine-decade-long history of the Academy Awards, but what a worthy film to break that losing streak. The performances, music and production value are all great – even if Inquisitr has highlighted many other sci-fi films that it reckon should’ve won Best Picture first.
The Maze Runner: Death Cure
The third instalment of the solid Maze Runner trilogy also arrived into cinemas this year. It’s the story of young hero Thomas, who seeks a cure for a lethal disease called “The Flare”.
Though the Maze Runner series did become disconcertingly scattered after its intriguing first adventure, it’s hard not to be taken by the young ensemble cast of this third iteration. We’d be more excited about a Doctor Who film – in the wait for which, we can simply shop at The Who Shop.