Traditionally, I haven’t been a fan of sci-fi in any form – literature, TV or movies. But over the last couple of years, I’ve developed an appreciation for it in certain forms. I’m still on the fence when it bleeds over into the horror or even suspense genre. I can handle suspense to a certain extent, but I am pretty skittish when it comes to horror movies. With the help of others at SaintelDaily.com, we have compiled a list of the best sci-fi films (and a couple of TV shows) to watch on Netflix. As I mentioned in my related post about comedy, I have a “free” weekend coming up, and I might use that time to sink my teeth into some science fiction. What do you think?
A fantastic piece of indie filmmaking, District 9 tells a story of alien refugees stuck on Earth. The story unfolds as they are mistreated at the hands of unsympathetic human officials. What’s interesting about this movie is that it draws a clear parallel with the apartheid South Africa – which is where and when director Neill Blomkamp grew up. When a company field agent assigned to evict aliens from illegal settlements contracts a DNA-twisting virus, he is forced to seek refuge himself. The catch? He can only do so inside an alien ghetto called District 9.
When Sarah witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks identical to her, she isn’t troubled by any of the existential questions. She simply sets about doing things to cause trouble for her doppelganger. Like emptying her bank account. Naturally, that brings its own set of complications, and before long she’s winging it as a detective, hiding bodies and uncovering a conspiracy of human cloning. Tatiana Maslany is amazing in these roles. This is a weird science fiction show, but the writing is skillful, and it plays out in a logical, coherent manner.
Looper is an amazing, mind-bending, futuristic, time-traveling action thriller that gives us Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an assassin. Gordon-Levitt’s job consists of putting a bullet in the head of people teleported to his time by a future mob organization. But when Gordon-Levitt appears before his future self (played by Bruce Willis), things get kind of complicated. The plot is strongly complemented by a ton of action and strong performances from all.
In the seven years that Prairie Johnson has been missing she’s regained her sight and apparently changed her name to ‘The OA’ – and that’s really just the start of the weirdness in this Netflix Original. Comparisons to Stranger Things are easily made: most of the protagonists are students, albeit teenagers here, and there’s a hearty helping of fantasy mixed in with the sci-fi. Those comparisons aren’t particularly favorable towards The OA, either, which is lacking the coherence and charm of the D&D-inspired sleeper hit.
But just because The OA isn’t as good as Stranger Things doesn’t mean it’s not worth a watch. After all, what is as good as Stranger Things? You will, though, have to be prepared to go with some very out-there ideas and some very unexpected shifts in tone. The OA definitely won’t work for everyone, but it really is worth giving at least the first of the eight episodes a try before you make the decision that you don’t like it.
Two words: Matt Damon. Need I say more? I kid, this blockbuster adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel is about an astronaut who accidentally finds himself stranded on Mars. Damon’s character could have been easily bogged down by all the math and technical information he needs, but he isn’t. He figures out how to survive long enough to get rescued. The whole movie is supposed to be grounded in actual science, and for the most part, they get it right. I find it interesting when movies kind of cross over into real life territory. Especially science fiction movies, and the aspects of science or technology.
Star Trek Discovery
Remember when I said that I wasn’t always into science fiction? Well, it was Star Trek that converted me, officially. If you haven’t seen Star Trek Discovery just yet, you need to start watching it ASAP. What’s interesting about this show is that it drops you straight into a war. And not just any war, but an all-out war. This show is set a decade before the original team of Kirk, Spock and the like. Sonequa Martin-Green is amazing, and certainly the most charismatic actor since Patrick Stewart. While there are many nods to the past, the refreshed format gives the show the ability to develop without the pressures of time.
Altered Carbon (Season 1)
Ok, so this isn’t a movie, but Altered Carbon is a gory, cyber-noir that takes us 300 years into the future – where Earth has become an overpopulated, dirty, decadent mess. Death, however, is a rarity. That’s because everybody can have their consciousness digitally backed up in a “stack”, a disc-shaped computer stored where the skull meets the spine. Get run over by a car? No probs: the paramedics can pop out your stack and – provided it hasn’t been smashed – put it in safe storage until a new body is available. While this isn’t my idea of a great way to spend my weekend, I definitely find these kinds of shows intriguing. I wish that I was less squeamish and could get into these kinds of shows.