What do you do when you have a free weekend? I spend it catching up on chores and errands and watching as much TV as I can handle. And that, my friends, is what I plan to do this weekend. Which is why I’ve been bringing you these lists of things to watch. I am preparing myself for the weekend. In this part, we are going to explore some shows and movies that I feel are more up my “sci-fi” alley.
Star Wars – The Force Awakens
There’s definitely an argument to be made that Star Wars films aren’t really sci-fi – more space opera or fantasy. Which is what I like about these kinds of films. But you don’t have to look far to find some understandable criticism of the way this particular movie sticks to “A New Hope” as an inspirational template. That said, it’s Star Wars. For the first time in decades, it’s a Star Wars film that has really good direction (good pace, good acting etc.). If you’ve been living under a rock, The Force Awakens is the first sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy (which takes place a few decades after The Return of the Jedi).
This film has a new set of heroes who are rising to take on the menace that is the new doomsday weapon. That, along with a host of old favorites, this film has a sense of nostalgia and continuity that the prequel trilogy was never able to achieve. If you want a sci-fi movie that is less science fiction, and still a blockbuster, you’re going to want to check out this one.
Stranger Things (Seasons 1 and 2)
While Stranger Things isn’t a movie, it does hit a lot of the same tonal marks as some classic sci-fi movies like E.T, or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Which is why we decided to include it. Stranger Things is a drama series that looks at the mysterious disappearance of a young boy. The effort that his friends and family put into finding him give the impression that this is a 1980s sci-fi thriller. This is definitely one you’re going to want to binge-watch this weekend if you haven’t already.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again – two words – Matt Damon. Elysium is a follow up to District 9 and features Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. What more could you ask for? When Damon’s downtrodden worker suffers a lethal dose of radiation, he knows his only hope is to get to one of the Med-Bays used by the upper classes. The only problem is, the upper classes have abandoned Earth for a luxurious orbital space station – and they won’t let just anyone in.
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Into Darkness is the rebooted version of the Enterprise crew, and the latest installment of this classic sci-fi franchise. Starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, and Zachary Quinto as Spock, the movie sees these two face off against Benedict Cumberbatch who is the terrorist in this movie. Given that the previous film spent so much time and effort using time travel mechanics to reboot the series and strike off in a new direction with its characters, it seems a little perverse to immediately plunge them into a reprise of an earlier story. But director JJ Abrams’ new Enterprise crew (just about) carries it off on the strength of their personalities and chemistry alone.
If you’re a hardcore Star Trek fan and have been from the beginning, then this one isn’t going to satiate your need for more Enterprise. If you’re new to the party, like I am, this will probably provide you with entertainment and maybe some context to the characters.
Before James Cameron brought the world Titanic, he dived deep beneath the waves for this often overlooked sci-fi thriller. When a US nuclear sub releases its distress buoy then disappears into a seemingly bottomless ocean trench, a nearby oil company’s undersea survey crew – ensconced in the cramped confines of a seabed station – is drafted in by the military to launch the rescue operation. So far, so unremarkable, but things take a turn for the weird when not only do the roughnecks discover that their Navy SEAL overseer is suffering from psychosis-inducing pressure sickness, but that the sub’s accident was caused by something much more unusual than mechanical failure or Soviet foul play.
Are you in the mood for a lazy comparison? Dark is the German version of Stranger Things: both follow a group of kids trying to unravel a supernatural mystery; both feature a missing child and frantic parents; both are set (at least partly) in the ’80s. And both are really, really good TV shows.
But that is where the similarities end, because Dark is, as the name might suggest, a somewhat more difficult watch than its US counterpart. Dark is a complicated, surprising series that delights in constantly pulling the rug out from under you just when you think you know what’s going on; it’ll leave you with brain-ache at times. It’s also seriously gruesome and really puts its characters through the emotional wringer. Don’t let that put you off though, because this is one Netflix Original you don’t want to miss.
A dark, cynical, revisionist take on the idea of costumed crime fighters, Watchmen concerns a group of retired superheroes drawn back into their old roles when one of their own is murdered. The twist? The story takes place in an alternate version of the 1980s, where one of the heroes’ superpowers have given the USA the edge in the Cold War – ironically resulting in a greater likelihood of nuclear annihilation. Why I love this movie is that it has a taste of dystopia and it’s kind of dingy. It’s easier for me to digest this kind of film than something with a lot of gore and horror.