EDITORIALS

A New Era of Sci-Fi is Upon Us - Looking Ahead to Worlds That Await

by
March 27, 2013

Oblivion Science Fiction

"Here is your mission: pass your knowledge on to the next, as it was passed on to you." A new era of sci-fi is upon us. In just a few years we'll be watching another trilogy of Star Wars movies, picking up where the original trilogy left off 30 years ago. Star Trek has already been revived on the big screen, coincidentally by the same director set to bring us the next Star Wars - J.J. Abrams. Ever since James Cameron's Avatar raised the bar with another box office record in late 2009-early 2010, science fiction movies have been back with a vengeance. Aside from Star Wars and Star Trek returning, things are getting more exciting every day, with filmmakers like Chris Nolan, Alfonso Cuarón, Ridley Scott and Edgar Wright venturing into sci-fi.

We have already seen so many fascinating, entertaining sci-fi movies in the last few years, it already feels like we're in the middle of the new era. From the big ones like Avatar and Prometheus, to Dredd and Battle: Los Angeles and District 9, to Tron Legacy, John Carter, Lockout and the Total Recall remake, to indies like Moon, Another Earth, Monsters, Never Let Me Go and Safety Not Guaranteed. Of course, there's no denying it was many of these films that have brought us into this upcoming sci-fi era to begin with. They're responsible for pushing the genre, bringing excitement and originality back to sci-fi cinema once again.

Go to→ The Upcoming Sci-Fi Movies of the New Era
Go to→ 9 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the Past Five Years
Skip to↓ Is Cosmic Fascination Fueling Sci-Fi Interest?
Skip to↓ Technology Opens the Door to Limitless Storytelling

One of the first articles about this new era that I came across was written last year by Nordling on AICN, in a post titled "Science Fiction Cinema Is Exciting Again" about Cloud Atlas, Looper and Elysium. He says "filmmakers are using the new technology to tell interesting stories as opposed to selling Happy Meals or cereal boxes." Technology has progressed so much, that filmmakers can tell deeper, richer stories that mirror the deeper, complex struggles of today's global society. He adds: "[we're getting] movies that are way more interested in telling compelling stories, using the medium to advance ideas as opposed to just blowing things up. The days of Star Wars are gone, and we seem to be getting more films of higher caliber, full of rich cinematic themes and perspectives." Ironically, a month later it was revealed Star Wars would be back.

"[The sci-fi genre] pushes itself. You've got people like Neill Blomkamp out there. We wouldn't have been able to make Dredd if it weren't for District 9."
-Alex Garland, September 2012

How does the sci-fi genre continue to evolve? That's the question I posed to screenwriter Alex Garland in my interview about Dredd last year. His answer, short and succinct, hit it perfectly: "It pushes itself. You've got people like Neill Blomkamp out there. We wouldn't have been able to make Dredd if it weren't for District 9." I love that idea — it's filmmakers challenging themselves, putting their passions and cinematic desires into storytelling, that keeps pushing the genre. The success of certain films invigorates and inspires, while the failure of others prevents some from getting made at all. It's better not to have an over-abundance to maintain a quality this genre needs to progress. But that's the thing - quality has been rapidly improving.

Over the last few years, movies like Cloud Atlas, Chronicle, Moon and District 9 have proven to audiences and other filmmakers that taking a risk with bold, unique ideas can pay off. Maybe not pay off financially, but cinematically at least. The fact that films like Looper and Attack the Block were even made, got released in theaters, built substantial buzz, and nurtured large fan-bases shows that love for intellectual, entertaining sci-fi is still rampant. Audiences are ready to embrace science fiction that is challenging and exciting and not just another remake. Yes, we've got more Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers and even Godzilla on the way, but for each of those we've also got original ideas like Gravity, Pacific Rim, Oblivion and Elysium, too.

I personally love sci-fi. I'm sure it has to do with being raised on continuous viewings of Star Wars, Flight of the Navigator, E.T. and "Alf", plus intensely following certain 90's sci-fi movies that left an imprint (mostly Independence Day, The Fifth Element, Starship Troopers, Contact, Men in Black and Gattaca - 1997 was a fantastic year for science fiction). Looking back at that time, it's interesting how closely this upcoming era mirrors what happened in the late 90's. Excitement for sci-fi back then hit its peak in 1999 with Star Wars: Episode I (and The Matrix), which came just a few years after some of these phenomenal 1997 sci-fi classics. Now we'll be getting lots of strong sci-fi movies in 2013, two years before Star Wars returns again in 2015.

As someone who has a special place in his heart for a lot of sci-fi, I'm still just as excited for each and every upcoming movie as I am about revisiting the classics. When I get to experience a film like Looper or Cloud Atlas, even Prometheus, no matter the results I'm just happy to be seeing more science fiction. Especially from filmmakers that I love, filmmakers that naturally push storytelling and quality no matter what genre they're working in - Rian Johnson, Ridley Scott, The Wachowskis. Was Prometheus as groundbreaking and incredible as we were all hoping? No, unfortunately not. But that doesn't mean it wasn't exciting as hell to see anyway; to know the man who gave us Blade Runner and Alien and yet notoriously stated six years ago, "sci-fi films are as dead as westerns," was finally getting back to the genre. But that was just the start.

Ridley Scott on Prometheus

Now it's time for even more amazing filmmakers like Chris Nolan, Neill Blomkamp, Alfonso Cuarón, J.J. Abrams, Edgar Wright, Guillermo del Toro, Zack Snyder, Joon-ho Bong, The Wachowskis, Gareth Edwards, David Twohy, Matt Reeves, Wally Pfister, Joseph Kosinski, Doug Liman, M. Night Shyamalan, Gavin Hood, Bryan Singer and Spike Jonze to continue to evolve the genre next. All of these filmmakers, and many others, have sci-fi films in the works right now, from a few major 2013 releases (mostly arriving starting this summer) onwards into 2015 and beyond. And that's not even getting into any of the Star Wars movies or Lucasfilm's standalone features, which will definitely liven things up.

It's also getting exciting to see Hollywood occasionally push stories further into the sci-fi realm just for the fun of it. Seth Rogen's This Is the End and Edgar Wright's The World's End, both comedies about the world ending, will be out this year. Even Shane Black's Iron Man 3 seems to be leaning a bit more towards sci-fi, same with Snyder's Man of Steel and Now You See Me. Last summer there were films like The Watch, Battleship and Amazing Spider-Man that went overboard with sci-fi even when they didn't really need to, which might've been pushing it a little too far, but that's a whole other discussion for another time.

My mind has been nearly overloaded with sci-fi over the last few months. Between the criminally underseen indie Upside Down and Cloud Atlas, to the gasp-inducing Chris Nolan & Star Wars announcements, there's been a resurgence of science fiction mania. I've decided to not only take a quick look back at some of the greatest sci-fi movies in the last five to ten years that have influenced this latest era, but also organize the definitive guide to nearly every upcoming sci-fi project arriving in the next few years. But before I get into that, I have been wondering what it is recently that's making us crazy for sci-fi all over again. Is it something in the air? Was it Ridley Scott and James Cameron reviving the genre? Was it 3D enhancing the experience?

There's no definitive answer, because the genre is continuously evolving and pushing itself, just like Garland said. But I tried to find at least one major influence in our modern society that was encouraging a renewed interest in science fiction. After writing an entire post about the Russian meteorite influencing filmmakers, I realized it's the stunning and infinitely-vast universe we live in that remains the greatest inspiration of all.

Is Cosmic Fascination Fueling Sci-Fi Interest?

Science fiction as a genre is most often influenced by our contemporary society - its concerns, its worries about the future, its current fascinations, its technology. We've reached a point now where, stepping beyond the bleak future envisioned in movies from the 70's and 80's, sci-fi is pretty much real. In our pockets we all have devices that can connect us to anyone and anything around the world instantaneously. Go back just 50 years and that would've been considered magic, fiction. So if that kind of technology is commonplace in 2013, which fascinations of today inspire new sci-fi stories? The answer might partially explain why science fiction is so popular again and why exploring the cosmos is one of the trends in so many modern sci-fi films.

NGC 4945 Spiral Galaxy

In the last few years, I've noticed a resurgence of interest in the cosmos, space, space travel and the universe beyond our solar system. Maybe it has to do with younger generations' growing disconnect from religion (grounded on Earth) and science itself becoming more interesting on its own. In less than three months into 2013: physicists have confirmed the existence of a Higgs(-like) particle, a bus-sized meteorite disintegrated over Russia in sonic-boom-causing brilliance, and every day NASA adds more awe-inspiring photos to their astronomy archive. I can't be the only one who feels my subconscious fascination with the scientific reality of our universe is what drives my excitement for so many of the spectacular sci-fi movies we see nowadays.

As we know, Prometheus was all about asking (but not answering) questions about existence, while bringing us away from Earth to figure out why there is life on this planet we call Earth. Sure, there's the "escapism" aspect of movies and the desire to be in a whole other world. However, instead of just showing us another world and frolicking around, we're getting real characters with complex, compelling stories in these worlds. Not that we haven't seen this in many great sci-fi movies before, but it's becoming the norm again, which is important to keep invigorating and evolving sci-fi when there's more Star Wars and Star Trek on the way.

While society continues to quarrel over the division of wealth, something that will be addressed in upcoming sci-fi like Elysium and Oblivion, at the same time we have wealthy people like Richard Branson trying to turn science fiction into science reality. He has already conquered technology, travel and entertainment on Earth, so now even he's headed off of this planet and up into the stars with his Virgin Galactic program, practically ripped straight out of a sci-fi story. We can spend Saturday evenings staring in awe at the USCSS Prometheus, pouring over viral artwork late at night, then spend our weekdays wondering when and how Branson's "SpaceShipTwo" will actually make space trips possible in our lifetime. I can't wait to visit Mars!

It's no longer insane to believe that one day soon we'll be mining asteroids and sending humans to Mars - NASA is working on both. Until then, we can always make a few more Mars thrillers (like Ruairi Robinson's Last Days on Mars) but sci-fi cinema has to push further. Now we're getting Europa Report, with a crew trying to reach Jupiter's moon, and Chris Nolan's Interstellar, about an "interstellar voyage to the furthest reaches of our scientific understanding." We need to keep our minds on the edge of their "seats" while we're in the theater, which is getting harder when our actual universe is breathtaking enough in its natural awe.

Even though the Space Shuttle was introduced in 1981, over 30 years ago, it was amusing to see almost all of Los Angeles nearly lose their minds with excitement when Endeavour rolled through the city. Obviously there's an intense fascination with space and the technology that takes us off of this planet, and filmmakers are even capitalizing on that by making movies more "realistic", or "grounded", as if all this could possibly be real one day (giant Jaeger robots, trips to other planets). To make everything feel more real, effects need to be seamless - fully rendered but never questioned. It was Blomkamp's District 9 that set the most recent precedent for perfect integration, and he might do it again with Elysium. Or something else brand new will.

Technology Opens the Door to Limitless Storytelling

One of the biggest factors that's changing the way sci-fi is made is technology. On one hand, it allows movie studios and Hollywood filmmakers to create vast worlds on small green screen sets, and envision complete characters out of nothing and make us believe in them. On the other, it allows up-and-coming filmmakers and budding talent to experiment with non-existent budgets, and also create vast worlds from their own home. This visual effects revolution, which we've known about for a while, has rocked Hollywood by way of all the (mostly sci-fi) shorts that are made and released online. Most of the good ones will usually land the director an agent/manager in Hollywood, or sometimes even an entire directing gig, like Wes Ball of Ruin.

Kaleb Lechowski's Rha

From personal experience, I know that all of these shorts, even the mediocre ones, are being watched closely by Hollywood. Sometimes they influence development ideas before we even know about them. Having the technology at our fingertips, and the ability to learn on our own, is what has opened the doors for creativity. In addition to shorts like Stephan Zlotescu's True Skin and Wes Ball's Ruin, which are featured in the new era, there are others like Kaleb Lechowski's alien-machine film R´ha that sent chills through the industry. That short looked better than some Hollywood movies and it was made entirely by a 22-year-old filmmaker.

"I think it's movies like DISTRICT 9 and Gareth Edwards' MONSTERS, movies that are about more than just weird aliens and explosions, movies made on the cheap and yet remain incredibly cinematic, that have boosted the new science fiction into high gear."
-Nordling of Ain't It Cool News

As the technology gets cheaper, and becomes more readily available for any consumer to learn and use, it pushes the entire industry forward. Filmmakers are less concerned about the technology being a roadblock and more concerned about the story and characters and how they are unique. Which, at this point in the evolution of sci-fi, is very important. As Nordling pointed out, technology has provided an opportunity to make "films that challenge the seemingly popular misconception that good science fiction has to be heavy on spectacle and light on ideas." The sci-fi movies of the past few years, like Super 8 and District 9, were proof to Hollywood that intelligent stories can also have intelligent visual effects. They set the stakes for this era.

From here, the possibilities are endless. Filmmakers growing up today aren't thinking about how much film they'll need to buy or if they can rent that camera, it's all about finding a worth story to tell and a world to tell it in, and figuring out a way to make that happen. Even if it means doing all their own animation during their spare time on grandma's computer. There are no limits on the stories they can tell. We're now in an era where 9-foot-tall blue Na'vi aliens are considered just another race, and a movie adapted from Edgar Rice Burroughs' seminal John Carter of Mars story fully realized with 4-arm, green-skinned Tharks is regarded as the genre's biggest blunder. What an odd time this is, but it's also a time of exploration and innovation. A time where Kickstarter can fund any crazy idea anyone has, as long as enough other crazy people like it, too.

While the technology is inspiring young and on-the-rise filmmakers with endless possibilities, it's pushing Hollywood to be even more creative to keep up. If effects work that good be done that quickly by anyone, then ILM and Weta need to deliver work that still blows us away and revolutionizes the industry. But that's what the summer movie season is for, and that's why they like working with filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro, J.J. Abrams and Darren Aronofsky on their projects. These are the kind of filmmakers who care just as much about the story as they do the visuals, and about balancing everything inside of an intimate but detailed world. Their requirements for ambitious storytelling demand the industry stay ahead of the curve.

James Cameron made some of the greatest leaps in cinematic technology with Avatar. Not only did he gives us completely computer-generated characters that were more realistic than they've ever been before, but he built a virtual world for them to interact with while filming. The way he was able to merge the digital world with the physical set and real actors opened so many creative doors in Hollywood, showing that the world is no longer a limitation, and it can be used to enhance the story. Just like a good visual/special effect can and has in many great sci-fi films before. We can easily build incredible worlds, now let's explore them.

Looking Ahead to Sci-Fi Worlds That Await

One of my favorite conversations last year was our interview with Jon Spaihts, co-writer of Prometheus, who we met and ended up talking with for almost an hour. One topic we spent a lot of time on was world building in sci-fi. Spaihts reiterates: "I think no matter how dazzling a cinematic background you lay behind a story, you are only going to invest to the extent that you connect to the characters you are watching..." He's hoping to see the genre evolve from its current geekier trends to something more grand and fascinating: "I want to bring back the macrocosmic space opera with high concept driving that story." To my ears, that sounds exactly like what Chris Nolan is planning for Interstellar, and where this new era might be headed.

Oblivion Sci-Fi

Another great line from Nordling's article: "As special effects become more inexpensive, I think studios can take even more risks on these compelling stories and with the opening up of new filmmaking technologies that are even more immersive than ever, we could be seeing some amazing science fiction movies in the near future." I couldn't agree more. There are so many wonderful worlds to explore, stories to be told, characters to meet. He continues: "I can't wait to see them and talk about them. For a science fiction fan like myself, this is a very exciting time." Indeed it is. We're entering that new era, and I'll be in theaters to experience it.

This next set of sci-fi movies hitting this year including Oblivion and After Earth and World War Z have even decided to re-imagine our own planet. They will try to make audiences believe what we're seeing isn't really Earth, it can't be—but it actually is. How did it get that way? Was it our fault? What does seeing that make you think? I love the kind of thoughts a vividly realized world can evoke, which is one of the many reasons why I'm so excited to explore so many different worlds in so many different sci-fi movies coming up.

In all truth and honesty, I can't wait to get back to the Star Wars universe; or JJ's Star Trek universe; to any world Neill Blomkamp or Joe Kosinski dream up no matter where it is; to Marvel's cosmic universe. I'm already anxious to find out what Wally Pfister is envisioning for Transcendence, taking us inside a computer like Tron again, and what Chris Nolan has up his sleeves for his heroic Interstellar sci-fi voyage. Based on the cryptic one-line description, that sounds like this might be the pinnacle of the new sci-fi era in the way Nolan might be testing the limits of "our scientific understanding" both as an audience and as a modern society. To top that off, The Wachowskis are back into sci-fi in a big way with Jupiter Ascending.

Thinking back over the past few years, I have so much admiration for all that we've had the chance to enjoy, even the biggest failures, for trying and still staying true to their worlds (e.g. John Carter, In Time, Skyline, Dredd). But for each failure I also think of all the successes, all the indie gems and sensations that helped push the genre along (e.g. Primer, Another Earth, Sound of My Voice, Chronicle, Attack the Block, Moon, Timecrimes, Extraterrestre, Melancholia) and what they might inspire next. I love being enthusiastic about what's ahead, because being excited about the next evolution in a genre as beloved as sci-fi is what keeps these filmmakers motivated to challenge themselves, to never get lazy, and to always strive for the amazing.

J.J. Abrams' Star Trek

I also need to mention The Hunger Games, the "Twilight replacement" series adapted from a popular set of novels, but unlike Twilight, this one is all out sci-fi. It's almost more of a post-apocalyptic action-thriller, which is the same classification most big Hollywood sci-fi movies fall under, but it has all the elements of good science fiction. If anything, this is keeping Hollywood studios enthusiastic - that young females and young males are both interested in sci-fi right now, and it's not so much the world/setting that would scare any of them away, it's moreso about making sure there's a great story and characters to follow. Catching Fire is next in the series, due out this November directed by Francis Lawrence (of I Am Legend previously).

After all of this excitement, I thought it best to end with a quote spoken by James Cameron about the one and only Stanley Kubrick and his seminal sci-fi classic 2001. Part of the Making of 2001 doc found here.

"Even to this day, Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey remains the all-time great science fiction film. Its groundbreaking photographic techniques still influence modern special effects. But as our films get ever more spectacular, 2001 reminds us that it's the ideas behind the spectacle that are still the most important special effect of all."
-James Cameron

A crucial reminder for the next generation—and current generation—of filmmakers. Spoken by a true sci-fi master himself. For the first time since launching this blog, I feel like we're entering a time where science fiction cinema will not only be the biggest box office draw in Hollywood, but also be responsible for pushing filmmaking technology and the limits of storytelling. It's thanks to a combination of the greatest filmmakers working today exploring the genre as well as the endlessly inspirational and stunning universe we exist in. The same wonder that makes us look at the stars and imagine other worlds is the same wonder driving this new era of sci-fi. An era of Jedi, Klingons and Na'vi, yes, but also of new beings, new planets, new places.

I'm so excited to explore the many worlds that await us in the many spectacular sci-fi movies being written, filmed, edited and finished right now. Let's usher in this new era with an optimistic look at the projects, and the filmmakers behind them, in hopes that it continues to inspire original ideas to enthrall and entertain us.

Is Cosmic Fascination Fueling Sci-Fi Interest?
Technology Opens the Door to Limitless Storytelling
Go to→ 9 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the Past Five Years
Go to→ The Upcoming Sci-Fi Movies of the New Era

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  • Xerxexx
    What's life without a little sci-fi.
    • David Banner
      We'll get a huge dose, 25, 30 each year :)
    • http://twitter.com/T0NSTER333 ÇℜΔÇK_ℵΙℵℑΔΔ
      life-fi not quite as good
  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.bosworth.18 Nick Bosworth
    Excellent article Alex!
  • Linkfx
    Nice article. I definitely think the industry runs in cycles...it's kind of interesting, because before the original star wars movies were released, there were a lot of way less successful science fiction or space fantasy movies released, and of course, many directly after Star Wars that failed to capture similar magic. We're in an era of films now that are informed by the successes and failures of those that came before, an era that obviously would never have been possible without Star Wars and Star Trek...new ground for new visionaries to chart new courses. Personally, I felt like the new generation of science fiction started with "sunshine" in 2007. I thought it was fantastic, shot in a brilliant new way, with a great score and emotional realistic character performances. In many ways, I felt like the star trek remake aped that film a lot in style and intensity while of course remaining decently true to Star Trek canon. I hope that "sunshine" gets a lot more props as the years go on...for pushing the boundaries of real hardcore science fiction cinema while we as an audience get to sit back and enjoy it all.
    • tigerianwinter
      I for one am hopeful that Sci-Fi will one day get its rightfully deserved Oscar.
  • Tey
    District 9 > Inception.
    • DAVIDPD
      D9 was hard sci-fi (I.E. aliens, alien tech, space ships) and INCEPTION was more fantasy. That being said I think INCEPTION was the better of two awesome movies.
      • Tey
        You've said it urself District 9 is pure Sci-Fi... & Inception is more like a fantasy all the more D9 was the best Sci-Fi in last decade.
        • DAVIDPD
          I agree that D9 was in my top 3 sci-fi of last decade. But I also would put MOON in there and STAR TREK/SUNSHINE.
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
            The New Star Trek is not Science Fiction. At the very best it is the softest of SciFi. Personally I put it in the "action movie in space" category. Spaceships+aliens does not necessarily make a scifi movie.
          • DAVIDPD
            I know for nerds and such, they might not call STAR TREK sci-fi, but honestly the majority of the world would call it sci-fi. As such, I group it into sci-fi as well.
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
            I disagree, just because people miss-attribute the term "SciFi" that doesn't change what "SciFi" means.
          • Jc Farnham
            If 99% of people call something SciFi, if directors, executives and agents classify a pieces genre as scifi, it's scifi. Here's an example in terms of music, a can belly ache till the cows come home about how "posthardcore" or for that matter "hardcore" have in modern times become the new name for bands who less than 5 years ago would have been called "metalcore". I may not like classifications sometimes, but we musicians along with SF/F writers (of which I am one) all have to live with the worlds classifications of our work. It doesn't matter to me whether I get put in with the romance lot, or lit fic, or action adventure, or metal, or punk, or whatever (just so long as sales don't suffer of course)... what matters is that I’ve produced something that I can be proud of and know/hope people will consume it regardless of executive meddling. You may not like it, or agree, but Star Trek is and has been considered science fiction since the 60s.
          • Brian
            Considering that Sci-Fi pre-dates Hollywood "directors, executives and agents", they have no authority to define science fiction. Sci-Fi is cerebral, philosophical and theoretical, supported by the factual; little JJ's action film is none of these things. For someone that claims to be a writer, you are pretty bad at reading.The comment that you replied to stated that Star Trek 2009 is not sci-fi, Mr. Sleider made no such comment concerning any other incarnation of Star Trek.
          • bfg666
            "Considering that Sci-Fi pre-dates Hollywood "directors, executives and agents", they have no authority to define science fiction." Maybe you should apply that sentence to yourself.
          • bfg666
            "If 99% of people call something SciFi, if directors, executives and agents classify a pieces genre as scifi, it's scifi." Not true either. It's not because almost everyone says something that it's right. For example, most people now use the verb "decimate" as a synonym to "slaughter" while its true meaning is "subtract 10 percent". Not quite the same, is it?
          • bfg666
            Ain't it so? Welcome to the wrong side of the dictionary, Brian!
          • avi
            true...
          • shadypotential
            soft sci fi? wtf is that?
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
          • shadypotential
            Star Trek 2009 is certainly sci fi. Futuristic space ships, teleportation, aliens, floating vehicles. it doesnt get more sci fi than that
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
            As I have said and have many people across the world who agree. Adding in aliens and space ships DOES NOT equal a SciFi.
          • shadypotential
            So what about time travel? or teleportation which were all in the movie? to actually call Star Trek NOT sci fi is a little idiotic don't you think? plus Aliens & space ships are hardcore SCI FI. what you are saying makes no sense. Inception is soft sci fi not Star Trek.
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
            As I have said, any Hard SciFi geek will not consider a movie scifi simply because it has aliens and spaceships. If you think it does thats cool, most of America would agree. SciFi should have social and/or political themes relevant to the current climate. Look back at EVERY other Star Trek, each one was a comment on something happening in the world at the time. Making up a non science based substance that some how makes black holes and wormholes is not Hard SciFi. Shoot midiclorians being the cause of the Force in The Phantom Menace is more SciFi than Red Matter. I feel you do not truly grasp what the heart and soul of SciFi is, I will give you a hint, it has nothing to do with spaceships and aliens.
          • shadypotential
            I am reading a Philip K Dick novel right now. Trust me I know what sci fi is. To say that EVERY story must have political or social themes in order for it to be true sci fi is ridiculous. Science fiction in definition deals with the imaginative with other worlds and inventions we do not yet have in our reality. There are many ways to tell a sci fi story and to incorporate social issues is definitely a way but to take away from so many great adventure sci fi stories that just deal with "space ships and aliens" and say they are not true sci fi is.....wack.
          • Dominic
            Actually Brian , you are doing the mis-labeling here . A movie that has " social and/or political themes relevant to the current climate " would be called a DRAMA . It becomes noted as Sci-Fi when there are elements of Science " FICTION " introduced into and along with the story . Elements which may only be "fiction" for a decade or so , until it becomes science FACT ( like the cell phone) . Now , GOOD Sci-Fi has both drama and SF elements well done and , as you say , relevant . But just because it's bad , or it's "soft" DOESN'T mean it's not Science Fiction . It just means you " hard SciFi geeks " aren't going to respect or like it ...
          • Brian
            Your definition is ridiculous and goes against the decades old standards of science fiction literature. Science fiction has always contained social and political themes. furthermore, it has been well documented that this social and political commentary has inspired many people to go forth and do great things for mankind, be it invention, politics or social activism. Gene Roddenberry's version in particular was a future where technology defeats the struggle for survival. In Star Trek, mankind is free from economy and the elite who control it and we truly become an entire species of inventors, philosophers, artists and explorers. This vision is absent from JJ's retarded action film.
          • Mark Wolf
            And it is absent from most of the other Trek-movies, and thank god for it. Trek was relevant in the sixties, and I love next generation and DS9, but it is in no way more thoughtful as Abrams trek. It's tv, that plays it safe (maybe with the exception of DS9) and is very naive and inoffensive. How does the economy work? They have no money, so I alway thought, they live in a communist state (but god beware that in an us-tv-show!) Where are the gay people? Where is the military, when they fight so many wars? Abrams trek maybe silly at times, the science (supernova threatens the galaxy, superblood heals and revives people and so on) is ridiculus, but again Star Trek was never the hard sf people claimed it to be. Babylon 5 had a realistic approach with real people, the new Battlestar Galactica asked the question if abortion should be illegal when only 50000 surviving humans remain. Compare this to most of the trek-episodes. And please: I agree, Science Fiction has not to be in space, or with aliens or spaceships, there are movies like for instance Soylent Green (based on "Make room"), and Science Fiction can and should extrapolate political and social developments. But nevertheless Aliens and Spaceships are Science Fiction elements and I would define every story with these elements as SF, maybe categorize it as space opera. Consider E.E.Doc Smiths Lensmen, the stories of Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett, I think nobody would deny them the label science fiction.
          • douglasac
            Hi, have you watched Starge SG-1? What is your opinion about it? I believe you've been making good points in all these comments.
          • bfg666
            I love it when people with erroneous certainties tell others that their notions are ridiculous. To be so full of it AND at the same time condescending is just priceless!
          • Brian
            None of the characteristics that you listed define a story as science fiction. Case and point, Blade Runner. Would you dare to say that Blade Runner is not sci-fi? Science Fiction, at its core, is a commentary on modern western society. Morality and social commentary is what made Star Trek great and the absence of which is why Enterprise and lil JJ's film has alienated so many Star Trek fans.
          • shadypotential
            Science Fiction, at its core, is a commentary on modern western society. NO it isn't. lmao where the hell did you get that?
          • Brian
            From every work of science fiction that I have ever read and/or watched. Are you so dense that you think it is really all about the superficial imagery of aliens and spaceships? have you every read something like "Dune"?
          • shadypotential
            ohh so its something you made up? cool bro. listen if that is what you believe, okay. enjoy being wrong for the rest of your life
          • Brian
            Wow, I guess Gene Roddenberry, Michael Piller, Ronald Moore, Frank Herbert (to name a few) are wrong too, huh? It is fascinating how you revel in your ignorance. Tell me, did you compete your high school education?
          • shadypotential
            because i'm right and you're wrong? lmao.
          • Brian
            Lol, proclaiming oneself to be right does not make it so. In your case, several of the greatest writers of the genre have made statements that support my comment. Now, run along little boy and enjoy the loud bangs and flashy, shiny lights and such of "Into Darkness". I know that it is difficult for you to get the deeper existential nuances of science fiction but I have been assured that this film is simplistic enough that people like you shouldn't be overwhelmed by it.
          • Brian
            Furthermore, to answer the question "where the hell did you get that"? Besides recognizing the obvious, it was Gene Roddenberry's entire reason for creating Star Trek. Also, the opinions of Michael Piller and Ronald D. Moore on the subject of Star Trek and science fiction in general.
          • bfg666
            Yes they do. Futuristic space ships, teleportation, aliens, floating vehicles are typical sci-fi elements. Science fiction relies on science that doesn't exist yet, not on the contents of the story. It doesn't require social commentary, though the best sci-fi usually delivers on that too. Blade Runner has flying cars and androids, hence it's sci-fi. Hadn't Philip K. Dick included a social commentary, it would still be sci-fi.
          • bfg666
            Umm... not hard sci-fi?
          • Dominic
            lol As if you could have Spaceships and Aliens WITHOUT Science FICTION
          • Austin Patrick
            good point there.
          • Brian
            So true, not to mention how unbelievably stupid Trek 09 is. Star Trek always had scientific consultation so as to not appear implausible; I guess lil JJ is too good for that. Just a few points of the tip top of my head: A super nova that threatens the galaxy. Really? Fall into a black hole and be transported into the past. Really? Black holes are unimaginably destructive, their gravitational influence is so great that they flatten three dimensional objects into two dimensions! The mining platform hanging in the atmosphere from a ship that is orbiting the planet. Really? Spock can see the destruction of Vulcan in glorious detail with the naked eye while standing on another planet. Really? Most people look up at the night sky and can't tell Venus, Saturn and Mars from the other stars never mind the level of detail shown in this cinematic miscarriage. Fake Kirk goes from a 3rd year cadet to captain of Starfleet's flag ship. really? The movie is beyond retarded. Regardless of it's title, it's a bad story!
          • Kelderic
            There have been a lot of points here, and a lot of you are wrong. Let me give you all a brief history lesson. Sci-Fi stands for Science Fiction. There's a debate as to when it started, but early ones include Jules Verne and Mary Shelley (Hence debate, over whether Frank was sci-fi or horror). The 1940s, the so-called golden-age, first brought about wide-spread readership. This is when sci-fi changed from cheap pulps to actual books. It also spawned the three grandmasters, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. Since then, Sci-FI has spread out, and spread from books into movies/TV/etc. Lets go back to what Sci-Fi is. Science Fiction is fiction, that related to science. Sci-Fi differs from Fantasy because it is extrapolation. It takes current science, and what we know is true about the universe, and extrapolates. It doesn't conjure up magic tricks, like Fantasy. The reason that Brian is so bent out of shape about the 2009 Trek, is that "red Matter' makes no sense, and has no scientific basis. However, there are other elements in the movie that DO make sense. And it's entertaining. So it's good fiction ... bad "Science" Fiction. As to the comment that Sci-Fi "requires" political/social commentary ... that's wrong. But it's a mistake that is easy to make, because most good Sci-Fi DOES. Most good Fiction in general does. Now we go from fact to opinion. In my opinion, good Sci-Fi requires one additional thing besides extrapolation of technology/trends. It requires that the characters make sense. A good sci-fi book will take a few big ideas, inject them into the world to change it, and then examine how people react. If it's good, the people will make sense, and the book will make sense. Can an author make you identify with someone who is in a totally alien environment? If yes, then it's good fiction, and if the science makes sense, good science fiction as well.
          • Kelderic
            One additional thing. For anyone looking to dive deeper into Sci-Fi, I'd recommend "From Here to Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature". It is a recorded set of lectures from a college course taught on the subject, and it's quite in-depth. Amazon has it for sale, as do other places, and it can probably be found online for free somewhere, but I haven't looked.
          • bfg666
            'Nuff said.
          • disqus_ucIWLiTToR
            Black holes don't flatten three dimensional objects into two dimensions. Black holes compress three dimensional objects into four dimensions and greater. I.e., a thousand steel ball bearings can easily occupy the same space.
          • bfg666
            You definitely need to check the definition of sci-fi.
          • chiffmonkey
            The Man From Earth. I don't know if that counts as sci fi.
    • ⚔Christophuh⚔
      Snickers > M&Ms
    • Brian
      I think that the true meaning of District 9 was lost on the public. like good sci-fi it had a deeper, relevant meaning. D9 was a scathing criticism of what the is currently going on in Africa; everything despicable that was done to the aliens is currently be committed upon refugees today.
      • Mike Grunwald
        So glad you're here to condescend to us about "real sci-fi" and how none of us understood District 9. Where would we all BE without you, Brian?
      • douglasac
        Not just in Africa, all over the world people is being treated like that.
      • Kelderic
        Because of it's deeper commentary, it WASN'T science fiction. Or only barely. It was 95% a human rights documentary. It just had a Sci-Fi-ish gloss over top, to make it more appealing and so raise awareness.
        • bfg666
          Pal, the best science-fiction is always a vehicle for social commentary. Asimov, K. Dick, Brunner, you name them. Always. FYI, science-fiction is a setting, rules for the depicted world like fantasy or western, but absolutely not the story itself.
          • Kelderic
            How is the Foundation series social commentary?
          • bfg666
            How is a scientist-led society becoming a fascist state not? How is the inescapable downfall of any kind of government not? How is the reliance in statistics, which by definition can't predict the unpredictable, not? Jeez, did you even read the books?
  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.peloquin.14 Matt Peloquin
    Great article, I also loved Upside Down and wish it would've gotten the credit it deserved. Out of all the films you mentioned the only one I've actually never seen is Gattaca so I think I'll check that out tonight. You mentioned World War Z and I'm curious as to if that would actually be considered sci fi?
    • bfg666
      Unless the contagion comes from a technology that doesn't exist yet in today's real world (like in 28 Days Later), zombie movies are pure fantasy.
  • http://www.facebook.com/maxwell.morro Maxwell Morro
    THIS is one of the main reasons why I enjoy stopping by this website: An incredible & intricate article Alex!
    • son_et_lumiere
      seconded! in fact, i've just re-read it. to all involved, many thanks. more of this, please!
  • Marcus
    Danny Boyle's Sunshine and Duncan Jones' Moon are two of my favs from the last decade. I have high hopes for Elysium and Gravity.
  • http://twitter.com/devv88 Devin Garabedian
    Optimism. So refreshing. Well written.
    • axalon
      Right? This article is like an island in a sea of cynicism. Well done Alex!
  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.groves.507 Chris Groves
    My opinion, Avatar was much better than District 9...which I found quite forgettable. It wasn't underwhelming...but I've maybe been able to sit down and get through ONE re-watch of it since I saw it opening night in the theater. I could watch Avatar just about any day of the week.
    • Hatorian
      I'm sure you enjoyed transformers over inception as well
      • Chris Groves
        Nope, Inception is fantastic and gets better with every viewing while the Transformers films have a shelf-life of exactly one viewing. They are fun once, I won't pretend to not enjoy the spectacle...but the bad jokes, bad characterization, and bad pacing kill the entire experience after the 'fun' of seeing it once.
        • bfg666
          All of which District 9 doesn't have. It's a great sci-fi film but clearly not a fun one, which is presumably why it eluded you. Then again, fun is a subjective notion: I, for one, take absolutely no fun in watching something as mindless as a Transformers flick, no matter how big the 'splosions.
          • Chris Groves
            To be honest, in some points, D-9 tried a little too hard to be fun. The gun that causes people to explode seemed like it was only there to get some kind of "OH DAMN!" reaction from the "dudes" in the audience every time it was fired....which was a ridiculous amount of times. The things I dislike about Transformers and District 9 are quite different. The Transformers movies are a bit too 'willfully dumb' while District 9 just has structural and stylistic problems that make it unappealing to me. D-9 was a bit too insistent on being overly gritty and violent, and the narrative style of switching between 'found footage', 'post-event interviews' and the traditional narrative style whenever it was convenient kind of irked me. "Oh, lets do post-event interviews to set the mood and spoil that a lot of these characters will survive the events of the story" "Oh, lets cut to security camera footage because it will be cool, and then we can say that the movie was grounded in reality." "Oh, we don't have any avenue for telling this part of the story with some sort of found-footage? Well, we'll just go traditional narrative style, just because." "The movie is starting to lose it's legs, lets throw in some gross-out violence to catch everyone's attention, that will be cool." I don't like to get heavily into all of the things I dislike about District 9, because it makes it seem like I just loathe the movie, when that's far from true. It's a good movie, but has it's flaws that keep me from loving it, and I'm genuinely perplexed that some people see it as some kind of holy grail of modern sci-fi.
          • bfg666
            I didn't feel this randomness you're describing at all when watching D9. I dunno, maybe you're overanalyzing what is essentially a good B-movie with a relevant social commentary. I think what makes it so praised is 1) the fact that it's a south-african movie with production value on par with what Hollywood can deliver; 2) what impressed me most, which is the perfect integration of CGI in such shaky camera moves. If you didn't like the style of D9, I doubt you'll like Elysium. I just saw it and it's basically the same with a wider scope (minus security footage and a little less gore). Nice heartless bitch performance by Jodie Foster though, and it's good to hear french not butchered by the actors for a change (yes, I'm looking at you, croatian Mira Furlan - Danielle Rousseau of Lost fame). Even Foster who usually speaks a nice french but with a slight accent sounds fully french-born here. In a time of Norse gods (or french revolutionaries) speaking modern english, it's quite refreshing.
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
      Avatar better than D9? I liked Dances with Wolves too....when it came out in the 90s.
      • $126191
        The "fish-out-of-water" story is as old as the hills, long before that 1990 film. Avatar was a very average example of that story idea.
    • merwanor
      I also love Avatar, it has a simple story yes, but it is epic in scale and a joy to watch. D9 does have a much better story, but it does not have that factor that makes you want to rewatch a movie many, many times. The two movies are so different, that I can't really say which one I like the most, as both are great movies. And I think the comment in the article about Sam Woringthon being a bad actor is bullshit, to me he made Avatar epic, along with Zoey who did a truly amazing job in Avatar.
      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.groves.507 Chris Groves
        Yeah, just because he hasn't exploded as a star since Avatar doesn't mean his performance didn't work great in Avatar.
  • vangpo
    If more films like Moon are produced and less films like Star Trek XI make it to the big screen, then I'll think Hollywood got it right. Unfortunately Hollywood values flash and sex over relevant social commentary (which is what great sci-fi has always been about) and good solid storytelling. I suspect we'll have a lot more sci-fi that emphasize big explosions, copious amounts of CGI and half naked actors and less of the type that makes us think and evaluate ourselves.
    • Cody W
      As a cinephile I completely agree, but the side of me that uses movies to escape sometimes doesnt, and that can be said for a big chunk of moviegoers as well, some people dont want to think and just want to switch there brains off.
      • son_et_lumiere
        i think you can have both the social commentary @vangpo:disqus talks about and the escapism and still retain good storytelling and characterisation - provided the film-makers and studios bother to put the effort in. Blade Runner has its analysis of morality and mortality, Alien has its big set-piece shocks, but both rely not just on well-executed spectacle but also on the audience caring about the characters portrayed, because of good writing in alliance with good acting. here's to more of *that*.
        • Cody W
          A good script and characters that you care about is one thing, but existential, thought provoking movies is another. Dont get me wrong, I agree with you completely, but I think its safe to say people dont want to have to think about life and moralities etc when they walk into a theater, people have to think about enough shit as it let alone have a medium that they go for distraction and entertainment preach to them about it.
          • Brian
            Hence why science fiction draws a smaller audience. Sci-fi fans enjoy the debate and enjoy the intellectual and often times spiritual challenges posed by true science fiction. We want to entertain our minds, not turn them off. A good example of this is Prometheus. So many people hated this film because it required them to think! If one is not a cerebral individual then the film is lost on them. Personally, this film gave me a slight hope for science fiction in the cinematic media.
    • $126191
      Was my first thought about this when I saw the title. There's a lot more flash in the movies, but less thoughtfulness and intelligence, or even decent scripts in the genre.
    • Andro ang Christopher
      The new Star Treks are great summer adventure movies. They're well-made and extremely entertaining. They wouldn't draw so much criticism if they weren't Star Trek films. I love old Star Trek and Moon too, but Abrams Trek offers simple stories about life in general that resonate with me, plus bits of old Star Trek for nostalgia value, in a beautiful package, so I have to choose them. To my surprise, Star Trek XI has proven to be one of the most rewatchable films in my collection. And there's about 30 seconds of "half naked actors" in it.
      • M_1
        Well-made? lol... They rank among some of the worst movies I've seen in my life. Vapid acting, terrible storylines (particularly the gaping plot holes int he first one), and a director who thinks lens-flare is the greatest invention in cinematic history. Pathetic. Not to mention simply wrecking one of the best long-running sci-fi traditions in existence. JJ Abrams should retire in shame. Good generic FX, but everything has that, these days. They wouldn't draw so much SUPPORT if they weren't Trek flicks.
        • Andro ang Christopher
          In my opinion, the only aspect deserving criticism is the writing of Into Darkness. I don't always agree with Red Letter Media, but I think they were right about these films.
        • bfg666
          That's a matter of opinion, or maybe you're so full of yourself that you think your taste has to be the absolute truth?
          • M_1
            Perhaps you should review how discussions work. You're in the wrong place if you're looking for a love-in where everybody agrees with everyone all the time. I understand it's probably hard to see that from waaaay up there on that high horse.
          • bfg666
            Talk about high horse... I'm not the one spewing opinions like they were the truth. Perhaps you should review how discussions work.
  • http://www.facebook.com/TheSweetieMan Chris Bob
    Amazing article, Alex. Here's hoping Blomkamp delivers with 'Elysium.' My expectations are pretty high. Also can't wait to see what GDT does with Pacific Rim.
    • Linkfx
      Woot! Can't wait to see Elysium!!
  • Alan McNevin
    The article left me with two questions; when does/did this era begin and is there really a value in celebrating bad SF just because it's SF. Whatever year you state as the year of era inception, one can step back just one year and find a litany of SF, especially if the quality of that SF isn't at question. Very quickly you'll find yourself back in the Nineties with the last remarked era of SF. Don't get me wrong, I love good SF. I'm a SF fan. Which is why I can't celebrate bad SciFi. When SF elements are used as a crutch to try and tell bad stories (Looper, for example), this shouldn't be applauded. This will just encourage Hollywood and Indie to continue to make bad movies. (Also, if we're celebrating a genre, it would be good to correctly categorise the specific movies) All in all, If a new golden age of SF is upon us, we won't know it without hindsight (as with all golden ages).
    • bfg666
      Looper wasn't a bad movie. It had its flaws, yes, but it was pretty good overall. Also, no movie in this list was wrongly categorized, all of them can be called sci-fi (see my answer to Brian Sleider above). Some of them are more than that, but all of them are indeed sci-fi.
  • Keltari
    I liked all of these... except (Im sure Im in the minority) for Moon. Moon was a great idea, I just didnt like the execution.
  • JacksonHart
    I was one of the few who wasn't a fan of Inception. No, it's not because I couldn't understand it. Just didn't care for it. All these other movies he mentioned are great though. Cloverfield is one of my favorites in the last decade or so. District 9 was very well done, as was Looper, and I thought Attack the Block was awesome.
  • YeahISaidIt
    Gattaca...one of the best truly grounded Sci-Fi movies ever.
    • Brian
      +1 for Gattaca!
  • avi
    inception and gattaca are two classic movies who can join predator, alien and kubricks 2001 in the pantheon of godlike sience fiction movies. The other ones are also great but to much''popcorn ''!
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
      Lets not forget Moon, District 9, and Source Code.
    • Brian
      Predator, really? At least Alien has a message about corporate greed but Predator? Now Total Recall was good cinematic sci-fi.
  • Scuba Steve
    Did anyone else like Pandorum? I thought it was going to be awful, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. That it was great.
    • avi
      i liked Pandorum, the last 15 minits where astonishing! Great movie...
  • David Banner
    These articles on future Sci-Fi are the best you've written Alex. But what about TV, what has happened there last 10 years in Sci-Fi and what is on the horizon in TV-land for Sci-Fi shows(yes, somewhat rhetorical, but TV and movies often mingle)? Remind me please :)
  • Hatorian
    Cloverfield was shit and looper was waaaaay overrated
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
      CloverField is not SciFi. It is action horror. Adding in an "alien" does not a SciFi movie make.
      • bfg666
        Yes it does. Again, buy a dictionary.
  • Isildur_of_Numenor
    Just noticed... the site has the initials FS which is SF backwards. Pretty *ucked up, eh? Amazing article(s). Appreciate the love and sweat put into this. Here's to science fiction and cinema!
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Sleider/1847907840 Brian Sleider
    I would only count 4 movies on that list as SciFi
    • bfg666
      #9 alien invasion = sci-fi #8 other worlds and aliens = sci-fi #7 alien invasion = sci-fi #6 time travel = sci-fi #5 space travel = sci-fi #4 moon base = sci-fi #3 robots = sci-fi #2 alien invasion = sci-fi #1 tech allowing dream exploration = sci-fi Buy a dictionary.
  • Greg dinskisk
    If you're including films with religion tied in like some (the Seth Rogen one is more religiously toned than sci-fi. I'd explain but I don't want to spoil it) then would Darren Aronofsky's NOAH deserve a spot on this list?
    • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Alex Billington
      Hey Greg, I was considering including it... but I realized, it's much more of a fantasy-drama than it is sci-fi. It's essentially a gritty historical story with a few fantasy elements, like angels and demons and a great flood, but I wouldn't really call it full on science fiction like most of the projects on this list. But I did mention Darren Aronofsky working with ILM in the editorial.
      • Greg dinskisk
        Alright, thanks! Just wondering!
        • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Alex Billington
          Of course. The more I think about it, by the time a trailer comes out, I'm sure I'm going to get some crap like "it should've been on there!" And we'll see the trailer and think "yea, maybe." ;)
      • bfg666
        Unless God is revealed to be an alien, it actually has strictly nothing sci-fi. Fantasy and sci-fi are two very different (one might even say opposite) notions. They may sometimes get blended in the same story but still, they don't mean the same thing at all.
  • merwanor
    I have yet to see Looper or Moon, but I have heard great things about both movies. I have seen trailers for both, but I am a bit skeptical about MOON, just not that into psychological plots. But I will watch it on netflix soon. I do not agree with the comment that Sam Woringthon is a bad actor in Avatar. It is his best role and he did an amazing job in my opinion. Don't see what is bad about his acting.
    • bfg666
      Moon is basically the 2001 of the XXIst century, it's most definitely worth watching.
  • http://twitter.com/crazzeeedave dave
    We have an entire universe of trek next gen ds9 and movies where Romulus and Vulcan exist J J Abrams is non canon
    • bfg666
      You need to grasp the concept of alternate realities. Abrams' reality is now as much canon as the rest. Deal with it.
  • gert
    Sunshine was defo better than Avatar, Cloverfield, Star Trek.... It also has the best score (well second best - Moon would be number 1 ) of the films listed.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=602070079 David Keith
    It's a crying shame that while American science fiction films are flourishing, American science fiction novels are all but dead. I remember the days in the 70s and 80s when Asimov, Clarke and others spent weeks on the NYT Bestseller Lists. All the best science fiction nowadays is from Great Britain. But it doesn't sell here. We just had an major and amazing new novel from Peter F. Hamilton, Great North Road that didn't even get near the Bestseller lists. Why are science fiction novels dying as science fiction films flourish?
    • Zeph
      Not a John Sclazi fan, huh? I thought the Old Man's War series was rather good.
    • The Saint
      It'll come back around, Steampunk, horror, and fantasy seems to be the flavor currently, and if you are looking for a science fix, steampunk while not futuristic science, does have it's own flare. Side note, read Ready Player One, for a bit of scifi and a great nostalgia trip if you are over the age of 25, and WB picked up the rights for the movie version so hopefully we will see it soon. For now film wise look forward to Elisyum, Pacific Rim, and Ender's Game
    • bfg666
      What about Kim Stanley Robinson? He's still around and I'm pretty sure he's one of the heavyweights in the trade.
  • definately not the author
    Keep an eye out for Samuel Blondahl's The Anahita Chronicles too. As soon as a studio buys the rights. Hey studios, buy the rights ! http://www.blondahl.ca
  • Steve
    So, when does Flesh Gordon get remade?
    • bfg666
      Hopefully never. And it's Flash, Flesh Gordon is a porn parody.
  • JustAClearMan
    Overall good list, but just 1 question.... Where Da' Fuq is the " JLA " ?!!!!!
    • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Alex Billington
      That's exactly what we're wondering, too! WB is still in development hell with the project, it's doubtful/possible we'll see it by 2015. Plus, without knowing any of the characters, plot, setting, or director yet, I can't say it'll be anything more than a comic book movie and those are in a genre of their own. JLA is something we'll see at the tail end of this sci-fi era, but we're watching closely to see what WB comes up with for it.
    • bfg666
      Read. The. Goddamn. Article. Jeez!
  • Thom
    I, for one cannot wait for "Tards from Phobos" and the epic "Spetnaz-V-Cosmic Lesbian Mutants" Golden days of sci-fi ahead, my friends. And they'll both have Worthington.
  • k5000
    If only someone was doing a proper adaptation of an Alastair Reynolds or Iain M. Banks story...
  • Prince Awesom3
    What happened to Amazing Spiderman 2, Captain America: Winter Soldier, TMNT, and Wolverine?
    • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Alex Billington
      More comic book/fantasy than they are sci-fi movies...
    • bfg666
      You might wanna read the article before asking stupid questions about superheroes.
  • http://twitter.com/cy12 cy12
    If anyone can come up with stuff in their bedrooms which is just as good as what Hollywood does, then where does that leave Hollywood? I think it will go the way of the music industry, where it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to have a sustainable career as a creator in movies. This will 'commoditize' talent and creativity.
  • crystaltowers
    Kind of amazed to see Rendezvous with Rama mentioned. I remember reading about how that film was "coming" over 10 years ago. I kid you not. Morgan Freeman was pushing it, and they even had an official website for a while. I think they even debuted some wireframe footage at one point. Sadly, I'm not holding out hope it will appear within the next 10 years either.
    • bfg666
      Maybe it went back into development hell after they witnessed the videogame make such a flop.
  • bill c
    I am still crushed by what appears to be a miserable remake of RoboCop. The one thing the City of Detroit had going for it was RoboCop and now they are even going to mess that up. They should have begged Peter Weller to done the costume again. People would be lined up for a mile to see it.
  • bill c
    Oh yea, someone please share with me why Avatar was such a hit? The story was stupid, the acting bad and the CGI was miserable. Someone help me out here.
    • crystaltowers
      Cool story Bill. To answer your question: It was a hit because most people liked it, even though you didn't. To date, $2.7billion at the box office.
  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.pulido.14 Alex Diaz
    You forgot to mention; Clash of The Titans 3; the sequel to Wrath of The Titans.
    • bfg666
      Nope. Even if it had the slightest chance to be good, we're talking sci-fi here.
  • Bite me
    That Seth Rogen film sounds like the perfect excuse to carpet bomb a set. You'd wipe out most of the annoying little shits in film today without any effort.
  • Red
    There's also Cloud Atlas.
  • http://www.facebook.com/juan.a.valdivia.3 Juan A. Valdivia
    Moon left me stupid and emotionally wrecked for weeks!
  • http://www.facebook.com/juan.a.valdivia.3 Juan A. Valdivia
    Moon and District where the only two i can say really hit emotionally, the rest of these films where good some great but didnt hit the same spot those two did.
  • jeff
    district 9 !for the win
  • steak and kidney pie
    nice article. but, apart from the top four, a pretty poor choice of films in my opinion.
  • spag bol
    perhaps James Cameron should take notice of the Kubrick quote before releasing films like Avatar.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Cowan/1666950044 Sean Cowan
    District 9 was horrible...
  • nobonesl
    Here are some 50s/60s classics I wouldn't mind seeing as remakes (with adventurous, imaginative directors & writers, able to kick the story up a notch from the original film): Kronos; Forbidden Planet; The Flame Barrier; Gorgo. Plus, A comic book I've always thought could make a great movie is "Turok, Son Of Stone". I'm a bit tired of superheroes at this point due to oversaturation.
    • ericmvan
      J. Michael Straczynski has written a Forbidden Planet prequel (the story of the original Bellerophon expedition) that, if successful, would become a trilogy, the last of which would be a remake of the original. Premise is that much of what Morbius told the crew was untrue (perfectly credible!), allowing JMS to include all sorts of surprises without contradicting the original. No reason why this shouldn't happen some day!
    • bfg666
      Turok, seriously? The guy who goes back in time to stuff a bunch of dinos with some lead? Uh, no thanks.
      • nobonesl
        Lead? No--Stone, actually. Hence the title, "Turok, Son Of Stone". Stone arrowheads. Actually, it was poisoned arrows using venom from some exotic plant, I believe. They were Sioux warriors somehow transported thru time. Works for me. The suits aren't as cool as in the superheroes' stuff, though, I must admit. But the Honkers rock!
        • bfg666
          I remember playing the first videogames, of which the comics were derived, and Turok had a shotgun and other modern weapons. I read a recent comic a few months ago, and there were also more modern weapons than bows and arrows.
  • ericmvan
    Here's a personal top 25 favorites, including a whole mess of under-the-radar gems, from a World Fantasy Award nominee who has seen a ton. Plus grades on a 0-100 scale! (I don't really dispute the high ratings given in the article to four films that didn't quite wow me as much as others; taste is taste.) 25. Knowing (2009), 80; 24. Timecrimes (2008), 80; 23. Another Earth (2011), 80; 22. Never Let Me Go (2010), 81; 21. The Hunger Games (2012), 81; 20. Cloverfield (2008), 81; 19. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), 81; 18. Looper (2012), 82; 17. Fish Story (2011 DVD), 83; 16. Monsters (2010), 84, 15. Wall-E (2008), 84; 14. Prometheus (2012), 85 [largely for the visuals], 13. Limitless (2011), 85, 12. Moon (2009), 85; 11. Source Code (2011), 86; 10. The Adjustment Bureau (2011), 86; 9. Sound of My Voice (2012), 87; 8. Perfect Sense (2012), 87; 7. Attack the Block (2011), 87; 6. Star Trek (2009), 88; 5. District 9 (2009), 88; 4. Avatar (2009), 96; 3. Cloud Atlas (2012), 99 and the only egregious omission from the article; 2. Inception (2010) ... and what could possibly by #1? Upstream Color (2013), 100. 1.
  • ericmvan
    Bookmarking this, and noting the irony that you left out *one of the two or three best science fiction films of all time,* which opened April 5: Shane Carruth's follow-up to Primer, Upstream Color.
  • anon
    Avatar is a shit movie, the only thing going for it was the graphics.
    • Huels
      Graphics are what they have in video games. Movies have CGI or special effects
      • M_1
        CGI: computer-generated imagery, AKA "graphics."
  • http://twitter.com/TheMightyPathos The Mighty Pathos
    I still can't believe Roland Emmerich is attached to Foundation. I can see it now, 2 hours of Harry Seldon narrowly outrunning collapsing buildings. A perfect title would be Foundation: Escape From Trantor.
    • bfg666
      Right here with you. You don't give such a staple of intelligent sci-fi to a hack like Emmerich.
  • http://www.facebook.com/dannysi Danny Sivan
    you forgot "The Wolverine" in july 13
  • ⚔Christophuh⚔
    Iron Man isnt sci fi? ok, you're an idiot.
    • Kyle Edgecomb
      Well it is, but its mostly superhero genre
  • Dante Solablood
    As a huge animé fan I can't help but notice that both Battle Angel (Alita) and the live action Ghost in the Shell are missing... the rights being owned by Cameron & Spielberg respectively. These are both based on seminal works of fiction and if handled well (as in NOT like Dragonball), could take sci-fi into a new era. While Cameron has stated that Battle Angel is not going to be started until Avatar is completed (so 2016/7), it appears GITS has dissapeared off the radar. Lets all forget about DeCaprio's Akira... please.
  • Gudni
    These are all great movies...except Cloverfield....that had people too stupid to be enjoyed.
  • douglasac
    15 Season of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis should have help a little to this "Sci-Fi Boom"
  • Guess
    I'm going to watch Cloverfield just right before Pacific Rim comes out to put me in the right mood for some 'Kaiju' bashing :)
  • J.F. King
    Uh, you missed "Primer."
    • David
      I couldn't finish that movie, it looked cool but I was lost and I still have to finish it. Hopefully some time soon, I guess.
  • OldMule
    "Forbidden Planet" and the original "Star Wars" still set the all time standard for me. When I compare those movies to your "last five years" list, only "Avatar" and the new "Star Trek" are in the same league.
    • bfg666
      Of course, the first four being in a much higher league. That is, sci-fi that makes you think, which is what the best sci-fi is always about.
    • Mars
      Avatar was a rip off of Fern Gulley.
  • Kelderic
    Nice article. Only issue ... Starship Troopers is the gold standard of how NOT to make a sci-fi movie. It's what I judge sci-fi movies made from books against, in terms of utter terrible-ness. Starship Troopers took the ideas of the book, ripped them to pieces, threw them on the ground, spit, doused gasoline, and lit them on fire.
    • Wilf Tarquin
      And made a good movie. The future fascist state in the movie is straight from the books.
      • Kelderic
        Given that you seem to think it's a series, not a single book, I don't think that you've actually read it. If you had, (assuming you know the definition of the word 'fascism'), you wouldn't have made that comment.
        • Wilf Tarquin
          Hm? Oh, I see - "books". Heinlein wrote a lot of books, none of which particularly good, and the society he outlines as his utopia is fascist. That Verhoeven played that straight, and made the film as a propaganda film from a future fascist dictatorship, was part of what made the film great.
          • Kelderic
            Please explain how a society in which every single person, regardless of sex, race, etc etc, has the opportunity to vote and run for office is a fascist state?
          • Wilf Tarquin
            They don't. Only military veterans were allowed to vote in Heinleins utopia, (because the military makes responsible citizens). The society was also formed by a military coup.
          • Kelderic
            They do, because every person, regardless of sex, race,etc etc, can serve a term in the military and earn the right to vote. Which brings me back to, everyone has the opportunity to vote. Not all take it. In our own society, people still have to do things in order to vote. One has to register, one has to complete jury duty. The differences are that in his idea, the requirements are a bit more rigorous (prove you care about society by putting yourself in possible danger to protect it), and that it's optional, unlike with our own requirements. Additionally, the vote is not actually limited to military veterans in that society. There are other equivalents to military service.
          • bfg666
            You don't "earn" the right to vote in a democracy, and thankfully not by serving as disposable cannon fodder for the higher-ups. You have it, plain and simple, and you don't need to do anything for it. They might strip you of it if you refuse to do your civic duty, not the other way around. Society as depicted in Heinlein's book is a fascist state because it requires you to conform to abusive rules to be considered a citizen, squashing your individuality and personality in the process. It is an ant farm designed for humans. Also, the idea that serving in the military makes responsible citizens is an especially partial and twisted vision of human nature that the military like to teach their offspring.
          • Kelderic
            I'm not sure where you got your ideas on Fascism, but being required to conform has nothing to do with it. Fascism means that a single entity, be it a single person or a group of like-minded people, control the government. Given that in the world in that book, anyone could earn the right to vote, and could vote however they wanted, fascism is factually incorrect.You can dislike the system, you can be glad it's not our system, but you can't just call it something it isn't. Well you can, but you'd be wrong. Your last paragraph, about how serving in the military doesn't cause responsibility, is more of an opinion, and you are certainly entitled to whatever opinion you'd like to hold. I hold a different one though. I would say that a person who is willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others is on average a more responsible citizen. It doesn't mean that I agree that the world that Heinlein describes is a place I'd want to live in. It doesn't mean that that system is fair, or even logical. But it's certainly not fascism. It's just a more limited democracy than our own. One thing I always recommend to people when I speak in person about this issue is that they read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Also be Heinlein, it discusses a situation that is almost exactly opposite. An exploration of libertarianism to the point of anarchism. Reading both books gives a much better feel of the author than either one by itself.
          • bfg666
            A system that requires you to comply to certain rules in order to acquire full citizenship clearly is closer to fascism than democracy. It's even worse because it doesn't have the balls to put the right words on its methods and uses a pseudo-democratic facade to hide its deviousness (Huxley's Brave New World ringing any bell?). My last paragraph is not an opinion. Believing the military makes responsible citizens, however, is. Education does that. Granted, a few thick skulls need to be mistreated by a frustrated sarge to get that education across but I surely didn't need to serve to become a responsible citizen. Also, I know people who were damaged (both physically and psychologically, sometimes permanently) by their time in the army, so please don't feed me that partial crap. To travesty a quote of yours, I would say that a person who is willing to kill others is in no way a more responsible citizen. Your mention of The Moon... has little to no relevance here. Any author can write about anything, that doesn't mean he endorses the ideas developed in his books. Even if he does... well, Heinlein was a complex man who contradicted himself more than once. And I specifically talked about Starship Troopers, not another book or its author - though ST is believed to be the closest Heinlein ever wrote to his own ideas.
    • bfg666
      When the ideas of the book are so nauseous, what Verhoeven did is in the public interest.
  • James Justsun Jr
    Seen all of these films, surprisingly..
  • John Taylor
    Just as long as they leave the Heinlein novels alone. After the way they screwed up Starship Troopers, I hope they leave Heinlein's worl alone.
    • David
      Asimov's works are touched in "Elysium"
    • bfg666
      You mean "after the way they enhanced Starship Troopers", right? Verhoeven turned a borderline fascist book glorifying the military into a brilliant and much needed political satire.
      • John Taylor
        Really? I think Verhoeven turned a great book into a completely crappy movie. Borderline fascist? The movie was more than borderline where the book wasn't even remotely anything like fascist. I have encountered this opinion before. Usually expressed by someone who doesn't know the history of this country's military. Specifics in the movie. The whole of the character Carl. A science geek who gets killed off early in the book. Not some mental super-Nazi like in the movie. The women pilots. In the book, all wore buzz cuts/short hair. No A.G. in the book. Landing in transports. Most of the book, the landings were one man shells launched from tubes aboard ship. Where was the powered armor so prminent in the book? A lot more of the book dealt with training. Then there was the main character. Johnny Rico was not some white bread dude. He was from the Philippines. A matter of ethnic diversity which seemed to be almost totally absent in the movie.
        • bfg666
          The book wasn't even remotely anything like fascist? Wow, that's rich! I suggest you read it again, it has apparently eluded you. Furthermore, the book was completely first degree as it expressed the views of its author. Indeed, Verhoeven did underline the rampant fascism of the militaristic society depicted, so what? He did so with the specific purpose of an ever needed satire in mind, to call said society out on its sickening deviousness and warn us about its dangers, should mankind ever follow this dreadful path again. At least, a full-blown dictature has the honesty of laying its cards on the table, but hiding itself under the guise of a pseudo-democracy is much, much worse. Need I remind you this is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany? Things were kept under wraps and the overwhelming majority of the german people had no idea what was really going on until it was way too late. Remember the outcome? Also, what's the history of your country's military, whichever it might be, got to do with the subject? Unless you're German or Italian, nothing. You want a patriotic history lesson, go read a history book or watch a documentary. This is a fictional story about a future fascist society, for crying out loud! And please, don't even try to balance the substance of Verhoeven's purpose with mere details. I mean come on, transports, armors and... oh, haircuts, really? Jeez, this is so fucking preposterous! By the way, the absence of those powered armors was a budgetary constraint and the replacement of the Philippino lead by a white guy was to attract a larger audience, I thought these points obvious much. And you can't possibly cram everything from a book into the timeframe of a movie, this should be pretty obvious too. There has to be some cuts and I'm sorry but wasting one hour watching a bunch of grunts train would've been one hell of a drag. Again, if you want that, you can always jerk off to a documentary.
          • John Taylor
            One opf my favorites. Have read it many times. Absolutely nothing fascist about it. A strong support of the military, but also a strong support of the individual's right to choose his or her own fate. If you consider that fascist, then that's your right. However it is my right to accuse you of being incorrect in your assessment of the novel.
          • bfg666
            That's exactly the point you're missing: there's no real right to choose when you're not considered a citizen unless you forfeit your fate to the State. I didn't think it could be so hard to understand.
  • John Taylor
    Well, you had Star Trek and Avatar, so the list wasn't completely dreck.
  • Wilf Tarquin
    Sadly, the good ones tend to do badly at the box office (Firefly, District 9, Cloud Atlas, Dredd...) while the junk rakes in both cash and scorn (Star Wars 1-3, Pacific Rim, Prometheus...). The one exception I can think of offhand is John Carter, which was both bad and had poor sales, proving that yes, it is possible for films to be too horrible even for the kiddie crowd.
    • Håkon
      .Prometheus was prety good, you probably just didn't get it.
    • Bob
      District 9 did pretty good and Pacific Rim was an incredibly fun popcorn flick that didn't do that great actually.
    • Chris Cubitt
      I would not put pacific rim in with prometheus and star wars because it was everything it ever promised to be. A romantic B movie about giant fighting robots.
    • Mars
      Prometheus was epic, exactly what it should have been. Cloud Atlas was dumb. Far too long and a rip of so many movies. And John Carter was a C movie but the ending made it purely awesome.
  • spyergirl4
    I personally didn't really like Looper or Elysium (which I just saw today) - I thought they were too violent and put too much value in showing bloody gory messes. But I am really happy that sci-fi is making such a huge comeback, as it's my favorite genre. And I agree with you that Upside Down is amazing and it's a shame that more people haven't seen it.
    • Kyle Edgecomb
      Im dying to see Upside Down, they havent released it in UK yet, and alls we know is Lionsgate is distrubuting it in UK
      • bfg666
        You're sure they haven't released it yet and you simply missed it? I'm french and it was released in April in France, but it stayed two weeks tops in theaters. It's pretty good if a bit mellow, but I guess that's to be expected from any Romeo and Juliet retelling.
        • Kyle Edgecomb
          Im pretty sure, been keeping my eye out for it since last year, i might just buy the dvd from the US, cause im sick of waiting
          • bfg666
            Probably a good move. If they haven't released it at this point and are still not communicating about a release date, it means they have little to no care for it and bought the distribution rights only to prevent it from casting a shadow over one of their big releases. And if you like it and they finally deign to release it, you could watch it again in a theater then.
          • Saros7
            It's on Netflix here in the USA... ("/)_-
  • Amanda Marvell
    While not a movie, yet, I'd like to bring up the Mass Effect series. It's got an awesome universe, cool science and tech, great characters, an involving and emotional story, and it can really get to you when you get invested in it. Not a movie, but it ticks every box for 'great sci -fi' in my opinion.
    • waenhir
      Agree!
    • Saros7
      Hah, Mass Effect is a total joke! Do you honesty want Transformers or Star Trek Into Darkness, AGAIN? Oh, wait, you do! You wouldn't care? You just want "Mass Effect" as the title of the dam movie!
      • Amanda Marvell
        I don't care about the movie, I was on about the video game series; and as I said, in my opinion it's excellent science-fiction. Besides, the movie's barely even started production, who know's what it'll be like: all we know for sure is that it's source material is great.
        • Saros7
          Wait, there's going to be a Mass Effect movie? What?! That's ridiculous! There's already books and video games! The video game would NOT rival the movie! That's utter trash! A movie? How idiotic of them!
  • Brian Beard
    I am still waiting on the "Fallout" movie... Guess i'll keep on waiting.
  • Kyle Edgecomb
    I know theres this one sci fi coming out next year called Jupiter Ascending.....sounds interesting
  • B2
    Disconnect is a verb. Disconnection is the corresponding noun.
    • hp b
      C'mon man! English is pretty darn versatile. dis·con·nect noun - a discrepancy or lack of connection.
    • John
      This is the internet buddy, it's no place for perfect grammar.
  • Jeremy Schep
    Atrocious music and HUGE sci-fi movies. Proof that we're living in a repeat of the 80s.
    • Saros7
      We just need a 6'8 actor to dress up in a Sasquatch costume and a brother and sister that never knew of each other! Hah!
    • http://Disqus.com Saros7
      I just came to say... Have you watched Guardians of the Galaxy? because, well, it's awful, and it's exactly what you described there. I'm sure George and the rest of Marvel is getting royalties from all the sideshows they're leeching from their characters
  • Rob Dotzler
    I'm glad (and hoping it continues) that I'm still alive for this resurgence of Sci Fi, animation and the plethora of superhero adaptations. Glory be to whatever cosmic force allowed me not to die (permanently) after a cement truck made a pancake out of me and my car in '81 and through the illnesses I have now. Keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way!
  • Samuel Nicholson
    Looper was a pathetic film, it doesn't deserve a place on this list. It's arguable that it's worth a watch, but it doesn't deserve to be called one of the best sci-fi movies of the last 5 years because it doesn't work. The main problems are firstly, the time travel aspect which revolves around the films climax don't work, (Of course, I understand this is science fiction we're talking about and not truth, but the logic of it creates a paradox, and as such, as far as I can work out, prevents it from working,) and secondly the completely underdeveloped back story and that whole thing with the telekinetic people? That definitely was far too subtextualised, I'm not saying it needed to be spelled out, but it was just sort of there and then all of a sudden it became a massive plot point, seemingly out of nowhere. Woops, I've gone on a rant, apologies, if anyone would like to further discuss Looper, hit me up!
    • John
      Paradoxes such as the well known Grandfather Paradox are illogical. The only way backwards time travel would be possible is if there are infinite numbers of parallel universes, one for each possible outcome of every event that takes place in the entire universe, from a leaf falling from a tree to events on a cosmological scale. It would not work otherwise. Going back to the Grandfather Paradox. It proposes that if you went back and killed your grandfather before he met your grandmother then you would no longer exist. This of course is preposterous, you are not just going to disappear! It would simply mean that another timeline, or parallel universe, is created in which your parents never existed and in which a strange person with no past history suddenly showed up and killed a person. As for the universe you came from, you would simply become a missing person case. You disappeared and were never seen again, everyone would go on with their lives and you'd live the rest of yours in an alternate timeline, possibly in prison as a convicted murder with no past! I can't remember exactly how Looper finished but I'm sure if you think along the same lines as my thoughts above it will make sense......or at least there would no longer be a paradox.
      • Saros7
        Time Travel would not make sense at all then!? It's as real as the Tooth Fairy and Sasquatch!
        • inefekt
          Backwards time travel, no. Forwards time travel, yes absolutely, so long as you can find a spacecraft that can go fast enough.
          • Saros7
            Not possible, period
          • inefekt
            I suggest you familiarize yourself with Einstein's theory of relativity, in particular 'time dilation'. Time slows down, relative to the observer, the closer you approach the speed of light. So if you go fast enough then time will slow down enough that for every day you spend on the spacecraft, 100 years may pass for everybody else. One week later and you come back to a world which is now 700 years older than the one you left. This phenomenon has been proven in a host of experiments over the years so yes, time travel into the future is possible.
          • http://Disqus.com Saros7
            That's not time travel, that sounds like a group of travelers running away from their problems.
          • inefekt
            Try reallocating some time away from Facebook and redirecting it towards something more constructive..........like actually researching your subject before making blind statements, which are absolutely and undeniably wrong. I'm done trying to convince idiots, it's a waste of my time.
          • http://Disqus.com Saros7
            Well, you said that time travel is possible, but, there's a but...just as long as the travelers leave first and then come back. That means that those travelers went on a suicide mission to leave, let's say Earth, they come back and whoever is left would not even know if a spaceship was supposed to come back.
  • msep
    Just having a lot of sci fi films does not mean that things are great. Essentially, 80% of movies that come out in the sci fi genre are the same story. It would be a great time for sci fi if many different types of sci fi stories were being told rather than more Hollywood rehashes of the same us vs. them plot/ good guy vs. bad guy plots
  • Saros7
    The days of films like Contact and 2001 are over... These days the kiddies want to see Iron Man grinding against Thor while Loki watches.
  • Saros7
    It's best to NOT cast "A-List" *cough* Hollywood douchebags* coughs* for "grounded" Sci-Fi movies.... I think it's best to leave Sci-Fi to guys outside America... Just saying...

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