Galaxy Quest (1999)

In homage to every beloved Sci-fi TV series, the washed-up cast of an old show is mistaken for their on-screen personas by space aliens, who need their help. As in Three Amigos, they don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into; the faux crew are forced to spoof themselves to save both Humankind and the alien race from an evil warlord. The only catch is there’s no script or reshoots this time around.

The Iron Giant (1999)

This easily passes for a children’s movie given its young main character and sentimental tone. However, the historic context is noteworthy. Long before adventures were musical– certainly before computer animation, cartoons (such as the earliest depiction of the original superhero, Superman) were infused with a wariness of technology, especially in the era of McCarthyism.

This story captures the intrusion of industrial experimentation upon optimistic innocence, a concept lost on kids. Moreover, the military’s response to a creature capable of humanesque emotions will likely be disturbing to young viewers. But for a relatively mature audience, the theme of self-sacrifice will underscore the sweetness of friendship between a boy a robot during a time when the world needed it most. Perhaps it still does.

Melancholia (2011)

Lush visuals mirror colliding juxtapositions as the classical score provides a romantic– nearly spiritual– quality to a poetic tragedy that unfolds without frantic energy, hence the title, which is also the name of a planet headed toward Earth. The tension lies in a clash of social expectations and emotional reactions rather than in scurrying to save the planet. Its placid unfolding allows the audience to welcome the astronomical event alongside the characters, who– whether anxious, optimistic, or in denial– have no choice but to accept the inevitable.

Marjorie Prime (2017)

Memory is a perhaps the trickiest aspect of the Human Experience. Would technology designed to serve our need for emotional connection (dare I say “closure”?) enhance or hinder the natural process of grief? Far from flashy gadgets integrated into outer space- inspired decor, a glimpse into the not-too-distant future raises intriguing questions about the nature of adaptive technology/ artificial intelligence while challenging our perception of memories. Subtle foreshadowing/ allegory allows the obvious to speak for itself and stunning visuals are almost a distraction but completely appropriate given the main theme.

Mortal Engines (2018)

How to describe such a unique fantastical premise…

Entire societies are mobile; each hierarchical city functions within its own feat of engineering (think interlocking collapsible compartments). These giant robotic apparatuses roam the globe vying for power, forcibly assimilating anyone who gets in their way. The plucky young heroes could easily have been in The Maze Runner!

Until now, such an imaginative book series couldn’t have been adapted for the screen. Fortunately, The Peter Jackson specializes in bringing fictional worlds to life via intricately detailed sets and props enhanced by state-of-the-art computer animation.

I Think We’re Alone Now (2018)

To pidgeon- hole this as a post- apocalyptic story would be too crass for such a nuanced satire that intimately explores the Human Experience; few films capture such a raw and visceral perspective.¬†One of its co-leads compared this to Harold and Maude, which is apt given its subtle dark humor. However, the isolation the characters […]

The Maze Runner (2014)

Unfortunately, I need to preface this by saying that, despite being both sophisticated and dark, this was supposed to be a kids’ movie. It’s a significant consideration because, for some reason, it seems to garner recurring criticism over the supposedly impossible group dynamic. If we’re going to split hairs, it’s only fair to point out […]

Sunshine (2007)

A mesmerizing yet contemplative movie about a mission through space to refuel the dying Sun with a bomb. In place of aliens and lasers battles, breathtaking visuals coupled with a visceral urgency illuminate the self-sacrifice that undergirds its characters’ fierce determination to save Humanity.

In Time (2011)

That so many sociological/ psychological/ economical/ political themes are presented in one Sci-Fi action adventure will either intrigue or infuriate you. When and where time is money– literal currency– one of the poorest teams up with one of the richest to become Bonnie & Clyde with a Robinhood complex. Intentionally or not, the story explores […]

Mystery Men (1999)

The ensemble’s inability to reach consensus– both on and off screen– works for their chemistry, or scripted lack thereof. The final product ultimately fell flat for a large portion of its audience because it’s an awkward meld of spoof, satire and homage. But isn’t that– like it or not– the essence of superhero status? Comic […]