Science fiction, a long, long time ago in space the final frontier…
Way back in the USA 1916 a pioneering underwater film based on Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was made. In social commentary contrast the European Metropolis(1926) followed. Then the atomic bomb caused a renewed interest in science, a boom in science fiction happend in 1950’s,  1968 saw the Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey and the rest is history as they say. Is so difficult it pick out sci-fi films because there are so many and they such an array of topics.
I’ve covered some of the mainstream ones, including Alien, Blade Runner, Moon and Stars Wars in in my previous posts
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So below are some modern notable Sci-fi films that are either underrated or overstated, that is in my personal opinion.

Ultraviolet (2006)
The opening few minutes of Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet is a rip roaring, pulse pounding set up of action sequences and chases. Then the film calms down for a little breather until the next amazing fight sequence.
Following a holocaust some humans have become Hemophages, a sub-species with enhanced physical abilities. Violet, must protect a nine-year-old boy who has been marked for death by the human government.
In the wake of 2005’s disappointing Aeon Flux, underrated Kurt Wimmer director of Equilibrium (2002) writer of The Recruit (2003) and Salt (2010) set about creating an up-to-the-minute Sci-fi.However, after shooting wrapped Kurt left after being pressured to deliver less emotional PG-13 rated film. In turn, Ultraviolet was completely re-edited by the studio and unfortunately this lowered the quality of the film significantly. Acting wise, William Fichtner puts in an unusual performance, Sebastien Andrieu and Nick Chinlund both seem unsure what’s going on.
With an abundance of forgettable bad guys, Milla Jovovich excellently plays Violet who has enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence. Her character at first seems very one dimensional as she plays her usual Resident Evil kick-ass self. But even in the short running time her character develops, you’re given glimpses into here past, as she bonds with six played well by Cameron Bright.
There’s great effects, stunts and a thumping score. A lot of reviews have criticised the CGI usage, however, it’s stylised, hyper-real and sleek. It’s not meant to be faithful representation of a real world. Holograms, swords, a new invented language, gun-fighting and martial arts. It’s science fiction entertainment, set 21st century, nothing more, nothing less.
It’s fast, it’s fun – Ultraviolet is an pleasing sci-fi action but possibly could have been so much more if Wimmer was allowed to deliver his cut.
The Road (2009)
The Road is a touching film of a father bonding with his son in post-apocalyptic setting where stealing, gangs and cannibalism has become the norm’.
John Hillcoat delivers a breathtaking dark vision, and while the story is emotionally engaging it never becomes captivating. It is excellently written and Viggo Mortensen is first-rate as the troubled father, who tries to educated and prepare his son for this new harsh world. However, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce are sorely under utilised.
Its not a film to be enjoyed and you need an acquired taste. Nevertheless, it is arguably the most truthful and touching post-apocalyptic film to date, but also the least rewarding.
Thirteenth Floor (1999)
Made the same year as The Matrix, Thirteenth Floor was lost in ‘bullet time’, leather coats and guns and sadly failed to be appreciated or reach a large audience.The set decorations are of a high-quality, the CGI effects are very subtle and mostly used to recreate L.A.
The cast are excellent, notably Armin Mueller-Stahl as Fuller and the charming Gretchen Mol. Writer/Director Josef Rusnak delivers a perfect vision of a virtual reality simulation of 1937 Los Angeles against the distinguished cold sleek computer enterprise. The contrast of the past and present is astounding, this murder mystery oozes atmosphere.
Craig Bierko plays Douglas Hall who cannot recall the night his colleague was murdered. Now a suspect he tries to uncover the truth, but the reality is harsher than he could ever imagine.With a twisting script based on the book by Daniel F. Galouye it is a well made grounded sci-fi that is sorely underrated and overlooked.
It’s must see for those who don’t need big bangs and explosions in their Science fiction.

Æon Flux (2005)
Æon Flux was lost in the flurry of 2005’s sci-fi films, including Doom, Star Wars: Episode III, Serenity and War of the Worlds. Not even Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd or Charlize Theron in tight outfits (even though less revealing than in the cartoons) could draw in the crowd.
Looking back fans of the MTV animated Æon Flux felt short changed, and I don’t blame them. The character of the film adaptation is very different to what fans had grown to love, an amoral, egotistical, volatile and sharp Æon. Where as the movie incarnation of Æon is plain moody and vulnerable. However, if you view Æon Flux as a standalone movie it’s a more rewarding experience.
Æon is assigned to assassinate the leader of last city on earth, but she uncovers a world of secrets and conspiracies. Packed with styled sets and costumes, there’s plenty to enjoy on screen. It’s different to most films set in the future, no grit, everything in 2415 is bright and hopeful but there is an atmosphere of something lurking under the facade.
There are some great special effects and action sequences. Marton Csokas is the perfect protagonist and Theron delivers a physical performance that she clearly put a lot of time and effort into. Nevertheless, the usually great Pete Postlethwaite is wasted and Jonny Lee Miller appears subdued throughout.
The film is competently directed by Jennifer’s Body’s (2009) director Karyn Kusama, it’s packed with some great sci-fi idea’s, including an array of weapons, genetically enhanced characters and gadgets. However, the screenplay is full of clichés and some jarring editing that’ll make you feel a lot of interesting stuff maybe on the cutting room floor.
While Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet (2006) is slightly better and more fun and if you put aside the fantastic animated series, Aeon flux is still entertaining.
Avatar (2009)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) as Neytiri is fantastic, as usual Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) is well cast in a strong lead role. Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez’s brief appearances are welcomed. Also Stephen Lang, as the tough Colonel Miles Quaritch gives a great performance.
Avatar is a visual spectacular with great acting and effects. It’s a moralistic tale, of following orders or protecting an alien world. However, the story is lazy, reminiscent Cameron’s own Aliens, Dances with Wolves, Apocalypto and Pocahontas to name a few. It mirrors Custers last stand, Vietnam and many other conflicts throughout history.
While the effects in creating the moon Pandora are mind-blowing, the lack of originality leaves you disappointed. I’m sure teenagers will teens love it, it’s the perfect money maker. James Cameron is a fantastic director and is instrumental in pushing industry movie techniques forward. However, in all the special CGI effects the great writer Cameron appears to have forgotten about his older fans, who wanted a meatier, original and complex story.

Carriers (2009)
Carriers follows a group of young survivors who make some tough choices after an infection has spread worldwide bringing civilisation to its knees.
There are a few harrowing and emotional parts in Carriers but it fails to connect with the viewer. Unusually pretty Piper Perabo and Chris Pine (of Star Trek fame) leads an excellent small group of unknown actors in a well directed virus survival film. However, Carriers is simply an anomaly, there’s no gloss, it has the spirit of big budget ‘The Road’.
The cinematography is great, the music and the script are fine but it feels too long and flat. It’s missing that impending doom atmosphere considering the characters hopeless situation.It is by no means a bad film, it explores morals and values, however, its just not very engaging or entertaining.
I’m sure directors/writers Àlex Pastor and David Pastor will go on to do something really great, but this just isn’t it.

Star Trek (2009)
J.J. Abrams incarnation of the phenomena known as Star Trek, wisely sticks closed to the spirit, look and fun of the original TV series. It follows the young James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew-members as they battle in space against a time travelling alien species.
With a star studded cast including Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, funny man Simon Pegg, reliable Karl Urban, and the exquisite Zoe Saldana as Uhura, it really is a pleasure to watch.
If you’ve never seen Star Trek it doesn’t matter as the story can be viewed as a stand alone sci-fi adventure film. However, die-hard fans will love the references to earlier Star Trek stories and characters.
Recommend, new version of a sci-fi classic.
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