With Star Wars dominating the box office, we thought we would take a look at some of our favourite sci-fi films that aren’t Star Wars
10 Gattaca (1997)
The Story: Set in the not-too-distant future, Gattaca follows Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) who has been identified in the DNA based society he lives as being inferior, limiting him to a life of the underclass, crushing his dreams to travel to space. He takes on the identity of Jerome Marrow (Jude Law) to bypass societies restrictions via fooling DNA systems in place to control citizens. When Vincent’s mission Director is murdered, he must outwit the police to keep his dreams alive and to avoid being placed back into the life his society dictates.
What We Think: Gattaca is an interesting take on the assumed society norms and class systems in place in societies, where the rich thwart the system to stay at the top of their game biologically, pushing the idea of engineered humans to a cold and confronting place.
9 Gravity (2013)
The Story: Gravity is the story of Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who are completing a mission in space. During a routine day and routine spacewalk disaster strikes the space station leaving both alone in space. Their aim now to return to Earth alive.
What We Think: Gravity is filled with some of the visually stunning scenes in sci-fi, and film in general. The pace is fast and there are moments that leave you gasping for air wondering how the characters are going to move to make it through the challenges they are face with. Considering the film is practically Sandra Bullock alone for the majority, without leaving you bored, is a testament to the actress and the writing of the film
8 The Thing (1982)
The Story: A research facility in Antarctica is flown over by a Norwegian helicopter, trying to kill a dog. After the helicopter is destroyed the members of the base head over to the Norwegian base and find all the base members dead. They find a burned creature and take it back to their base. The creature is an Alien lifeform and can assume any shape it touches.
What We Think: This film scared the life lout of us when we were kids, the alien is incredibly scary at times and without knowing who it is, it adds a huge level of anticipation throughout the film. It stars Kurt Russell, who gives a stellar performance. There is a remake – but avoid that one and stick to the original.
7 War of The Worlds (2005)
The Story: HG Wells classic sci-fi thriller gets a modern take by Director Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, it follows the journey of the father of 2 and his kids (Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin) as they fight to survive and stay together after Earth is invaded by Aliens.
What We Think: Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise can sure make epic action films, teamed up with Spielberg, War of The Worlds is an non-stop CGI feast for the eyes. There are some really fantastic scenes in this film – and some outright creepy ones (the basement with Tim Robbins).
6 Avatar (2009)
The Story: Avatar is set on the distant moon of Pandora, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) has been selected to replace his brother who died to become an Avatar of the native inhabitants of Pandora – the Na’vi. Jake is torn between the mission his brother had, to work with scientist Grace (Sigourney Weaver) who wants to study and work in co-operation with the natives, the Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) who wants to destroy them and his developing relationship with the Na’vi Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).
What We Think: Avatar, when it was released at the cinema, was one of the most visually stunning films that had come so far – with its pioneering use of 3D it set the benchmark for 3D films that followed and blew you away. The story is relatively simplistic but you can just lose yourself in the visual world James Cameron created, that never fails to amaze.
5 E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
The Story: E.T. follows the story of a friendly and lovable alien that crash lands on Earth. Found by troubled boy Elliott (Henry Thomas), E.T. (nicknamed by the boy), he brings him home and introduces him to his brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and Gertie (Drew Barrymore). With the help of his friends, the kids rush to help E.T. return home before he is captured by the Government.
What We Think: Having grown up watching E.T. this is one of my all-time favourite films, every time I watch it I completely fall back into what it was like as a kid to watch this movie – feeling like anything is possible. I still can’t help sobbing towards the end of this movie – it just gets you in the feels.
4 Guardians of The Galaxy (2014)
The Story: Part of the Marvel World, Guardians follows the adventures of 5 unlikely heroes, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) on a mission to save the Universe from evil guy Ronan (Lee Pace).
What We Think: Guardians was a complete surprise, it was funny, visual stunning and with an cool storyline. When this came out I resisted seeing it for ages, but after lots of goading from friends decided to give it a look – since then I’ve watched it at least 10 times, it’s become a go-to “nothing on TV” film to watch.
3 The Fifth Element (1997)
The Story: In the twenty third century, civilisation across the galaxy is threatened by pure evil. The only hope is for the powerful being “The Fifth Element” to fight off this evil before it is too late. Following the unlikely hero Corbin Dallas (Bruce Willis) and otherworldly alien LeeLoo (Mila Jovovich) they must obtain the 4 elemental stones and make it back to Earth before it is too late.
What We Think: This film is hands down one of my favourite films, from the beautifully colourful world created by Director Luc Besson through to the amazing costumes provided by Designer John-Paul Gautier, there’s edge of your seat action and laugh out loud comedy, provided mainly from a hilarious performance by Chris Tucker, this film is for sure one not to be missed and was a must for being added to our list of great sci-fi.
2 District 9 (2009)
The Story: In 1982 a massive spacecraft descended over Johannesburg in South Africa, twenty-eight years later those Aliens live in a slum outside the city. As the slum is overcrowded and too close to the city for the residents liking, the plan is to move the Aliens to another refugee camp. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copely) is tasked with heading up this eviction, after he is exposed to an alien liquid, an unlikely ally is found for the aliens.
What We Think: District 9 is not for the faint of heart, with overtones of social problems like refugees, apartheid and genocide – Director Neill Blomkamp creates a film that is both amazingly original and harrowing. The film is graphic in some cases and will leave you feeling hopeless in others, the film is an amazing example of treating the “other” (in this case aliens) with hate and
1 Alien (1986)
The Story: A commercial spaceship (the Nostromo) picks up a deep space rescue transmission that wakes its crew from hyper sleep. The crew are given direction from the company they work for to investigate the signal. Upon finding the ship they mount an expedition where one of their crew members is attacked by an alien creature,, once back on board the creature dies – however this is just the beginning of the nightmare the crew will face
What We Think: Alien is another sci-fi film that will scare the life out of you, the ground-breaking x creature design by H.R. Giger is one of nightmares. This film has sparked a number of sequels (Aliens, Alien III & Alien 4) and spinoffs (Prometheus & Prometheus II, Alien vs. Predator & Alien vs. Predator II) and by most counts the sequel “Aliens” is typically far more popular than Alien – though you just can’t beat the original.