– This is some weird juju. It’s a highly original, unconventional revenge thriller plagued (quite literally) by the supernatural. While innovative and strikingly directed – the aesthetic is awesome – it’s too batshit for my tastes.
The Artifice Girl
– Don’t expect fireworks, this is dialogue driven and practically theatrical, not to mention nearly all set in a single room, but it’s a timely, intelligent and engaging sci-fi that transcends its low budget and small scale with a strong cast and thought-provoking script.
– Soderbergh’s lockdown corporate conspiracy thriller, in which a moderator of an Alexa-like smart device hears screams and becomes convinced she’s witness to a murder, is slick enough, but entirely forgettable and not especially exciting in the moment either.
Avatar: The Way of Water
– it’s always disappointing when in the absence of new ideas, a sequel just rehashes the plot of its progenitor. In this case, there isn’t even a new villain. They just bring the psycho Colonel from the last film back from the dead (literally), and send him on the same rampage through Pandora, this time replacing the jungle tribes with water tribes. If I hadn’t been starved of cinematic spectacle this last year or so, I’m not sure I’d have made it to the end, but the sheer scale and beauty of Cameron’s CGI world is at least alluring and immersive, and if nothing else, it has some flashy new nautical visuals to fill the 3hr12 runtime. A pity it’s irredeemably hamstrung by a weak, uninspired story and crap dialogue.
– caved and watched this Nic Cage end of the world thriller on false intel that it’s been overlooked and is underrated. It hasn’t and isn’t. It’s absolute balls. Avoid.
The Peripheral S01 (TV)
– what starts out as a visually arresting, striking vision of a dystopian future, after a few episodes, through some quirk of ‘made for TV’ homeostasis, becomes far too conventional for its own good, with the innovative aspects of the lore taking a back seat in favour of painfully familiar themes – crime families, evil scientists, PTSD suffering soldiers, forced romantic side plots – and infuriatingly complacent, arrogant protagonists. There’s hardly a character who isn’t self-satisfied and hubristic, making them quite irritating to watch. The highly futuristic and impressively realised sci-fi elements – peripherals, sims, melding psyches, parallel universes and cross temporal communication, apocalyptic pandemics and artificial environments – novel areas that would be fascinating and potentially original territory to explore, all end up as almost farcical gimmickry in the service of telling very unremarkable, even boring stories. After receiving the start of the series enthusiastically, disappointingly, I’m not excited at the prospect of another. A shame, as it’s a waste of diverse talents, not least from the VFX crew.
– silly but fairly entertaining thriller about a tribeswoman fed up of being the gatherer in her hunter-gatherer community who decides to tackle the new threat facing her tribe, only to discover it’s an advanced alien predator. Lightweight but slickly produced with some beautiful landscape shots.
Don’t Worry Darling
– Olivia Wilde’s high profile sci-fi thriller is a mess. It spends so long establishing its manicured 1950s suburbia that by the time it tries to find a story or say something worth saying, it’s already lost the plot and squandered any audience interest. It wants to be Shutter Island, or The Truman Show, or A Cure for Wellness, but falls short on intelligence, creativity, originality and every other metric. Frankly it seemed like it was throwing shit at the wall to see what stuck, and the answer is, none of it. Perhaps the production really was as much of a shambles as has been reported, or perhaps it’s just a god awful script. Either way, not recommended.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
– arguably this is just an inventive rehash of the same themes Hollywood blockbusters have been selling for years, pushing contemporary values like not taking for granted what you already have, learning to accept what you can’t change, fighting for what matters to you (but only in the name of love), seeking truth etc. While there’s nothing wrong with that messaging in and of itself, when it’s ploughing those furrows, this is artless, and could be any Marvel superhero flick or Disney Pixar animation, dialogue laden with cheese and cliché. But that didacticism underpins 90-99% of the movies that are produced these days, and this one is only really guilty of laying it on thick in the final act. For the most part, it is one of the most visually and comedically innovative, batshit crazy pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen. It embraces the surreal, the supernatural, the farcical, and does it with such derring-do and love for the silver screen. It is filled with nods and winks to the zeitgeist, tributes and pop culture references ranging from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars, from Ratatouille to The Matrix. It borrows building blocks from the giants of every genre then stands on the shoulders of those giants to build a physics defying tower worthy of Escher. Without resorting to drug trip comparisons, it’s hard to articulate just how far this film is willing to enter the bizarre. Where it falls short is in finding a substantive plot to match the genius of its visual creativity. Whatever it’s trying to say about nihilism, solipsism, maybe about mental illness and the nature of identity, when the fight sequences include dildos and butt plugs, characters have fat hot-dog fingers and the big bad enemy threatening to destroy everything in the multiverse is a giant black bagel, it’s hard not to see it as glib. In short, this is absolutely worth watching for the extraordinary absurdity and freneticism of the whole thing, but don’t expect to be affected on a deeper level. Smiley for effort and originality.
– convoluted Korean sci-fi thriller riffs on the Groundhog Day repetitive loop. It’s intriguing up to a point, but also overly contrived, and the characters’ behaviour and motivations are unconvincing and eventually a little tedious.
– Visually sumptuous and immersive when it counts, Peele’s UFO thriller vacillates between downright dull and epic sensory overload. While a narrative thread eventually emerges, it flaps loosely, such that the various subplots seem barely attached to the greater whole, instead an excuse for supernatural scene setting and jump scares. It’s hard to say if the end result works, but at the very least, it includes breathtaking elements: a confused, technically masterful and quite beautiful cinematic work, but not a particularly good film.
– I genuinely have nothing positive to say about the experience. Bad acting, a disastrous script and unimpressive visuals. Initially I assumed the stilted weirdness was deliberate, a stylistic choice, but on reflection, it’s just crap.
– if the name conjures intrigue, the conceit proves depressingly straightforward and low intelligence: a villainous, charismatic pharma-CEO uses prisoners to test drugs that co-opt their emotions. What does he do with this super power? Makes them have sex, laugh maniacally and cower from staplers. It’s tonally and stylistically schizophrenic (as many of Netflix’s ‘films by algorithm’ are), with a typically facile depiction of scientific transgression. That it remains compelling is largely thanks to Hemsworth and Teller’s aptly indelicate performances.
Mortal Kombat (2021)
– terrible acting and a script that exists solely to string together repetitive fighting scenes between macho idiots and monsters. Even allowing for its gaming origins, this is laughably bad.
– noir, low lit and low key reimagining of the caped crusader might be too ponderous and grimy for its own good. Pattinson’s Batman is a greasy straggle haired emo, a scarred wreck of a man, his aesthetic more misanthropic, washed out rocker than billionaire playboy. His tech is lo-fi and clunky, his boots thicker soled than Trinity’s. But there’s nothing wrong with Pattinson’s performance, nor his chiselled jaw or inevitably gravelly voice. It’s no fault of his that director Matt Reeves wanted sombre and sluggish over suave and swift. Nothing says sleek like jumping off a building, snagging a parachute on a bridge, getting hit by a bus then bouncing along the pavement like a discarded coke can. Every movement, be it a kiss or a car chase, feels unrealistically, achingly slow. The runtime could have been halved if characters just moved and spoke like normal people. But credit where it’s due: when all is said and done (three hours later), it is this stylistic choice, derivative of the noir serial killer detective thrillers of the late 90s, that conjures the thick atmosphere and carries the action. It’s not a great film, but it’s not bad either, and that makes it stand out in the superhero panoply.
– ok, I guess. Underwhelming but gentle and occasionally amusing. A hyper modern version of Castaway with robots instead of coconuts.
The Matrix Resurrections
– quite tragic really. Basically a meta commentary on how Lana Wachowski was coerced into making an unwanted sequel and the subsequent battles with studio execs over what it should be about. Anyone coming to The Matrix now would do well to watch the original and none of the others. A gimmick and a missed opportunity.
Foundation S01 (TV)
– Apple’s attempt to realise Asimov’s world building certainly looks pretty, but after a stately start, Foundation’s knot of stories weaves itself into a bland and unconvincing tapestry, with a cast that seem, other than Lee Pace and Terrance Mann, woefully out of their depth, and nearly universally uncharismatic and unlikeable to boot.
– on a second viewing Villeneuve‘s epic sci-fi is somehow more compelling, perhaps without the weight of expectation. It’s a visual marvel. I would have liked more upbeat emotional moments where merited, a bit more dynamism from the cast beyond their fight scenes, and it’s a shame that some sequences draw such clear influence from Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, but by and large, this is a worthy adaptation of Frank Herbert’s magnum opus.
– while undoubtedly a prodigious spectacle and, on balance, highly recommended, Denis Villeneuve’s stylish introduction to this new epic sci-fi franchise is too sprawling and, despite its runtime, struggles to portray the complexity of the source material. There’s also no getting away from the fact that it feels hugely incomplete, in a way that other trilogies (such as Lord of the Rings, with which it shares more parallels than you might expect) managed to avoid. For the most part, it’s visually awe-inspiring and beautifully desolate, but in places, the costumes veer a little close to Power Rangers, and the characters, both in their appearance and sometimes indecipherable accents, stray into caricature. I’ll be interested to see how it fares on a repeat viewing, as it deserves that at least.
– director James Gray delivers one of the most visually striking and beautiful depictions of space to date, but for a film about humanity, it’s lacking in humour and heart. Every line is a dour monotone, and every scene emotionally flat, despite the surprising range of Brad Pitt’s eyes. Short of greatness, it’s nonetheless worth a watch for scifi fans and fans of spectacular cinematography.
– typical M Night Shyamalan: garishly directed and pulls its punches, but with an original, intriguing conceit that keeps you hooked.
– practically single cast scifi thriller is bare bones, dubiously grounded in science, and although exciting at times with some genuinely surprising twists, perhaps should have been a short.
– Hugh Jackman speaks a few octaves deeper than a regular human and does his best deadpan Max Payne impression in this densely expositional dystopian sci-fi that leans so heavily into the neo-noir genre it’s practically a parody, with universally unlikeable characters, unfeasible tech and a wretched script offering lines like, ‘The past is just a series of moments. Each one perfect. Complete. A bead on the necklace of time.’ What a load of tosh.
The Tomorrow War
– two decades ago this sort of ludicrously stupid alien time travel tomfoolery might have landed on its feet, sitting among Independence Day and other mindlessly bombastic blockbusters. By today’s standards, it’s just vacuous nonsense, so formulaic it could have been scripted by an AI.
– Painfully stupid. It’s embarrassing that Antoine Fuqua has his name attached.
A Quiet Place (Part 2)
– albeit less remarkable than its predecessor, this is still a high tension and innovative dystopian horror. It depicts the immediate aftermath of the first film: if every couple of days is filled with high drama like this, it’s a miracle any of the characters are alive or sane.
– Russian sci-fi is technically polished and engaging throughout but struggles with a dead-end story and questionable characters. Still worth watching.
Love and Monsters
– ramshackle monster comedy elicits the occasional guffaw, but generally feels pitched to a young audience. Watchable only thanks to the charms of its lead, Dylan O’Brien.
– intriguing sci-fi thriller hugely undermined by a dreary mid-life crisis subplot and less than precise ‘time travel’ logic. Worth it for genre fans though.
– Gawd almighty! This is a scarring and difficult watch; it ought to carry a warning or something. Most disorienting and savagely twisted thing I’ve seen since Eraserhead, except with stylishly stark colours, modern technology and today’s desensitisation to extreme violence, this is so much more harrowing. I genuinely think it’s a health hazard…
Roald Dahl’s The Witches (2020)
– Dahl’s fetid classic is given a fresh lick of CGI. While I personally wouldn’t show something this twisted to my kids, I expect for some, it will make a memorable childhood trauma.
The Old Guard
– silly action shooter provides slick choreography and a lot of entertainment if you can check your mind at the door. I’d watch a sequel.
– both leads are phenomenal in this fast paced, slickly shot headscratcher that’s as confusing as it is engaging and either too clever or too tangled for its own good. Not as enjoyable as Nolan’s last few films (excluding The Dark Knight Rises which is a bad anomaly).
Beforeigners S01 (TV)
– light-hearted sci-fi scandi crime series playfully ridicules modern and historic societal attitudes while erring on just the right side of spoof. Definitely not high art, and definitely unfinished after one series, but there’s enough fun and mystery here that I’m happy to recommend.
– a semi-interesting premise is kneaded over and over but remains as shapeless as it did at the start. Plants gas-lighting their growers? It’s like The Happening 2.0. Weirdly amateurish at times, too.
Avenue 5 S01 (TV)
– Despite wincing often, the black humour in the pilot made me laugh enough to watch further, but subsequent episodes were uncomfortably unfunny. Every caricature is taken to its intolerably tiresome extreme; shouty, annoying and puerile. Hard to believe this is from the same great mind as Veep and The Thick of It.
– accepting that it’s ridiculous, unoriginal, and often too crass, this is still a whole lot of fun and silliness, which is entirely what you expect from an Andy Samberg movie. High art? No. Entertaining? Definitely.
Devs S01 (TV)
– for an emotive premise, the Devs cast seems to have been carefully selected and briefed to be devoid of emotion. It results in dry and deadpan delivery that’s a real turn off, and in some cases downright infuriating (see preachy, expressionless Alison Pill as Katie who seems to be trying her hardest to stop viewers wanting to engage at all). As a fan of sci-fi, I’ve come to expect some pseudo-science-philosophy-waffle, it’s often required exposition, but here, presumably in an attempt to be profound, the explanatory science and logic is told in a condescending, imperious fashion, and the line between confident, self-assured plot, and smugly complacent “we know something you don’t know”-ism is crossed time and again. It’s a shame and especially frustrating as predeterminism is not even a particularly challenging concept. There’s so much going on here, and some of it is brilliant (like the soundtrack, set design and Nick Offerman’s simmering performance), but unfortunately, it ties itself in knots trying to one-up the viewer, and ends up collapsing inwards. If this was a first draft, the potential would be so exciting, but as a finished product, it falls very far short.
– this sci-fi is a really underrated little cracker. It looks great, has a credible script and taps into all the fears you’d expect being 7 miles underwater. I think it’s fair to suspend disbelief when it comes to the guys wandering around down there, even if it is against the science of it. (Incidentally, on that front, there’s a phenomenal piece in The Atlantic on this very subject, it’s fascinating!) Anyway, I went in with no expectations (other than that it’s a Eubank film and in general, I’m a fan), and thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of Pandorum, but under the sea instead of in space.
– Edge of Tomorrow meets The Terminator, with none of the ingenuity or humour, and evidently none of the originality. Clichés, Hollywood tech nerds and pseudo science abound. If you enjoy brute force action, there might be something for you, but I promise it’s nothing smart.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
– a masterpiece of creativity and a reminder of why superhero movies ever became popular in the first place. This is a self-referential, hilariously witty and inspiring animated genre mash-up that leaves every other superhero movie looking tired and tropid. A pleasure from start to finish.
– surrounded by unconvincing performances, static direction and dodgy editing, Peter Dinklage (aka Tyrion Lannister) turns sleuth and rummages through memories to solve a murder. It’s a disappointingly weak manifestation of a sci-fi premise which, though unoriginal, has stacks of potential.
The Platform (El Hoyo)
– gruesome spanish-language horror begs for dissection and analysis as it portrays a hierarchical class system in a barren, despairing prison called The Hole. Excessively violent and graphic, and cursed with a frustrating ending, but still thought provoking.
The Outsider S01 (TV)
– after an intriguing and promising start, this Stephen King mystery abandons the mystery, introduces a human-possessing demon and an expositional clairvoyant, then sinks the viewer into their very own hell: boredom. Hugely disappointing, an absolute waste of time.
– bold and indisputably extraordinary, this sinister, Brazilian dystopian drama is tirelessly intriguing but never clear. Though its metaphors are plain and the thin story captivating, without more grounded explanation, it feels incomplete. An interesting experience though.
– a pretty derivative addition to the ‘superkid’ dystopian sci-fi genre, very obviously ripping on Stranger Things and X-men. More than half way through it musters some excitement, but still ends with too many questions to ignore.
Watchmen S01 (TV)
– Not quite a masterpiece but certainly a masterful piece of TV storytelling. Racism, identity, time travel, religion and transgression are just some of the themes considered, all under the guise of a slickly produced and extremely stylish action thriller. Nice work.
The Witcher S01 (TV)
– another disappointing video game adaptation, this one hoping to capture the Game of Thrones audience with a moody atmosphere, the requisite conspiratorial plotting and plenty of gore. Though a huge fan of the games, I found this dull and confusing.
– a bleak prophesy of our colonial space future, and an equally bleak metaphor for our fleeting time here on Earth. Impressive in its way, but distinctly vapid and a massive downer.
– flash flash bang bang, lots of orange, lots of blue, lots of little green men. It’s a bog standard Marvel film with a bit less humour than usual. Take it or leave it.
Counterpart S01 (TV)
– JK Simmons’ doppleganger sci-fi definitely suffers from an overly ponderous pace and dour tone, but if you’ve the patience for it, there’s a smart spy thriller at its core, with a pleasantly convoluted and twisting plot, fantastic acting and an evocative musical score.
The Signal (2008)
– the medium is the message in this tonally confused, disorientating and unhinged horror about mass-media induced psychosis. Arguably more valid than ever in the current climate, it’s intense and genuinely unsettling in parts, with appropriately rough edges and a grittiness reminiscent of 28 Days Later, but overall it’s too gruesome, muddled and messy to wholly recommend.
Alita: Battle Angel
– surprisingly good dystopian teen sci-fi is comfortable wearing genre tropes and carries itself with aplomb. Vaguely reminiscent of Equilibrium (2002).
– from Gattaca writer Andrew Niccol comes another solid dystopian sci-fi noir. It’s sometimes contrived but, on the whole, is intriguing and smarter than average.
– long and slow allegorical drama dressed up as sci-fi demands serious patience but is effective as a profound, dystopian contemplation on religion, science and philosophy.
These Final Hours
– low budget, fringe end of days thriller suggests there’s little more to humanity than venal hedonism and selfishness. It’s an unflattering and pretty unoriginal vision, and even for a short film takes too much effort to engage with.
– Cool conceit and initial set up is let down by plotting that seems contrived to keep costs low, resulting in an underwhelming, slow thriller that never realises its latent potential.
– refreshingly original and thought provoking take on the time travel genre, where time and its nature is the centrepiece rather than a cheap plot device. Things escalate a little too fast, but overall this is fairly excellent, and has flown remarkably low under the radar. Deserves more attention.
In The Shadow Of The Moon
– Somewhat goofy time travel thriller offers thinly plotted entertainment value, but nothing more substantial.
The Boys S01 (TV)
– wildly original as well as just plain wild, this is a superhero misadventure with more dark twists and psycho kinks than a comicon in a bondage dungeon. The script is often too try-hard, whether in attempts at shock or humour, and the characters and Machiavellian scheming sometimes just too obvious, but as a cocktail, it’s hard not to swallow the lot with a giddy smile and extend the glass for more. Cross Deadpool with Banshee and you’re somewhere close – Antony Starr sure can pick ’em.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
– immensely underwhelming given the cast and director. Ehrenreich’s Han Solo is unlikeable, pompous, and apparently astonishingly lucky. With endlessly annoying smug bluster, he squares off against and double crosses two dimensional villains while joining some story dots for all the fans who aren’t bored yet.
Isle of Dogs
– Like watching tumbleweed float along a barren dirt road, it’s bland and not particularly compelling, but there’s a certain breezy, beautiful charm to it.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
– why I’m still watching these is a valid question, and one I ask myself often. Every now and again, they surprise with an enjoyable few hours. This is one such time. Heavy on the humour and overall, good, silly fun.
Gozilla: King of the Monsters
– If the script fails to bore you with its fortune-cookie platitudes and lazy exposition, the convoluted, badly-realised set pieces and self-indulgent runtime will. These monsters of mass destruction are a massive waste of time.
The Wandering Earth
– albeit commendably audatious in scope and premise, this futuristic space sci-fi is weighed down by exposition and video games graphics. A reminder that mass appeal doesn’t necessarily correlate with quality.
– some jokes, some tedium, some indulgent moping, and enough dodgy CGI to remake the Star Wars prequels results in a (just about) tolerable three hours, and thankfully, finally, maybe, a conclusion to the Avengers. Can we have the actors back now?
– engaging WW2 war thriller with a twist. Whether the twist adds to the film or detracts from it, I’m uncertain, but it packs a punch either way.
– Wow. How a film can continue to conjure such immediate wonder, excitement and hope after 20 years defies explanation. An absolute thrill ride, every bit as fresh as when I first viewed it all those years ago. A once in a generation, maybe even once in a lifetime masterpiece.
Stranger Things S03 (TV)
– a sillier season than its predecessors, with some annoyances like Hopper’s incessant rage and shouting, and Will’s neck-scratching demotion to near irrelevance, but overall, fans of the franchise will still be entertained, and it promises another fun follow-up.
I Am Mother
– the thin and unconvincing script distracts from an otherwise intriguing dystopian sci-fi. All in all, it’s a messy endeavour and a disappointment.
– Scrappy and chaotic dystopian scifi thriller. Despite some heavy hitter casting, none of them have the opportunity to really engage the viewer, who is buffeted from one frenetic sequence to another before ever becoming invested in the story, setting or characters. Ambitious and nearly redeemed towards the end, but remains a missed opportunity.
– yes it’s on this list twice in the space of a month. It’s that good.
Mirage (Durante La Tormenta)
– This Spanish time travel thriller is engaging enough and fun to watch unfold, but its production feels low-fi and the story and acting are hammy.
– interesting direction and good performances just about save this baffling time warp sci-fi. As monster movies without monsters go, it’s better than average, but the fun of guessing and speculating runs thin after a few hours, and far from delivering a satisfying conclusion, the ending brings only more questions.
– bat shit crazy and wildly original vampire thriller from the Russians. Innovatively directed and compellingly played. Not quite tight enough for excellence, but way better than anyone could reasonably expect from the genre.
– albeit low budget, this is a very good, original spanish sci-fi with tight editing and direction and convincing performances. Recommended.
– surprisingly better than expected. It’s kind of like a pilot or concept sci-fi film – and now it’s demonstrated potential for the story and the premise, I’d like to see it made to a higher standard with a bit more depth to it.
– deserving of much more praise, this is a low key scifi neo-noir with excellent acting, an extremely weird and whacky setting and premise, and generally solid direction. I enjoyed it a lot despite the somewhat plodding pace.
– disastrous from start to finish. Its success with viewers suggests it tugs the heart strings of a certain audience, but fans of dystopian sci-fi will be disappointed.
– an impressive and strong performance from Christopher Soren Kelly, but for all the film’s potential, it just isn’t quite engaging or thrilling enough. Good sci-fis are few and far between though, and this one is worth watching for fans of the genre.
– indie sci-fi that intrigues and holds some promise but doesn’t ultimately deliver.
– plays out like more of a high concept pitch than a completed film, but enough of it works that I can recommend it. It’s rough around the edges with some blunt scripting that would be laughable in any other style, but can somehow be overlooked packaged like this. Slipped under the radar like a ninja and deserves more attention.
– Gripping, entertaining, well cast and acted with innovative direction. Yes it had flaws, but lets not write off the whole film because of some scientific inadequacies and rash decision making. I’m amazed this film flew so far under the radar, it’s really way above average for a modern sci-fi.
Deadwind S01 (TV)
– Based on episode one only, this is a plainly unoriginal and formulaic drama following the tropes established by The Killing, The Bridge and other far superior scandi-crime dramers/ thrillers. Given how competitive this space is, shows really need to do better to stand out.
– incompetence, irrationality and clichés abound in yet another massive budget flop from Ridley Scott. Agonisingly frustrating to watch, so don’t.
– ropey low budget sci-fi thriller with Lee Pace. Its basic direction and cinematography leaves a dystopian vision that never quite convinces, while even with great actors delivering the lines, the script is so clunky they still feel stilted. Disappointing.
The Crossing S01 (TV)
– very low quality soap opera sci-fi. A shame as the concept is strong and Steve Zahn is terrific in everything.
– Surprisingly excellent. It’s received so little acclaim and generated practically zero mainstream hype or discussion that I assumed it was going to be a generic Netflix bargain basement Zombie flick. Instead, it’s a thought provoking and very moving, human story. Basically a drama dressed up in the guise of a horror. The characters were all deep enough to be interesting and albeit quite slow paced, the story was relentlessly engaging. Interesting to see Martin Freeman do a film like this too, his acting chops have come so far since The Office!
The Tribe (2016)
– Unconvincing acting and scripting make this low budget post-apocalyptic survival thriller near unwatchable.
Ready Player One
– albeit a children’s film through and through (hence extra-condescending exposition), this is a brilliant dystopian sci-fi adventure – a love letter to video game nerds and pop culture nerds alike, filled with a ton of references and Easter Eggs. Thoroughly entertaining.
– Garland hasn’t repeated the splendour of Ex Machina here, but it’s still an intriguing scifi. Too abstract for my tastes, without enough clues to lead me to a satisfactory conclusion. Polished, but I wouldn’t watch it again.
The Cloverfield Paradox
– a demonstration of how to make a terrible space thriller with a great cast. Criminally wasteful of talent. It’s inconceivable that someone gave this unwatchable mess a green light.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
– a big budget spectacle which pales in comparison to its chronological predecessor. The plot alone is reason enough to face palm. Without the scene stealing performances from Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Adam Driver, there would be no reason at all to watch this.
– I just couldn’t care less.
The Bad Batch
– Visually stunning but so slow and underdeveloped as to be tiresome. Avoid unless you want inspiration for whacky aesthetics.
What Happened To Monday
– Madhat and brilliantly conceived. Great performances from Noomi Rapace. Lots to unpick and ridicule, but still good fun.
Blade Runner 2049
– stunningly beautiful, masterfully directed, but suffering the same achilles heel as its predecessor: the story takes itself so seriously, is so poe-faced and, at times, dull. A shame, as the dark dystopian world Villeneuve creates is delightfully immersive.
– a spectacularly menacing and then outright batshit crazy visual assault. Recommended if only for the masterful film-making, this is an unpleasant allegory with the subtlety and nuance of a battering ram. (Key clue: Mother! is Mother Nature).
War for the Planet of the Apes
– hugely disappointing final act to the ape apocalypse.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
– moderately enjoyable sci fi, but I still fail to see the rationale for the hysteria surrounding this franchise.
Los Ultimos Dias (The Last Days)
– Mostly solid sci fi love story plagued by truly terrible CGI, some really weird direction and peculiar costume choices. Fortunately, the latter criticisms don’t detract much from enjoyment of the movie.
– slow and gentle drama exploring the relationship between a psychiatrist and his patient, who claims to be from another planet. Mostly intriguing, but its pace drags behind comfortable.
Ghost in the Shell
– visually impressive and just about adequately engaging scifi but the generic storyline and weak script disappoints
The Path S01
– this obsession with cults and the supernatural is a bit tiresome. Not bad, but didn’t wet my whistle. Won’t be watching season 2.
Kong: Skull Island
– a spectacle at the very least. Drawing strongly on Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now influence, this is a fast paced action thriller that ought to entertain even the most passive of audiences.
– surprisingly better on a repeat viewing. Excellent sci-fi film.
– so much more impressive on a second viewing, perhaps in part with maturity and in part from a greater and more complete understanding of the trick. A fantastic film to be sure.
Underworld: Blood Wars
– a fitting continuation for the series. Albeit critically panned, it’s an enjoyable return to the Underworld vampire lycan saga and a solid 85 minutes of light entertainment.
– as a moderate fan of the games, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this moderately enjoyable. It ticks most of the boxes for fun, even where it fails on story and overloads on style above substance.
The Last Panthers S01 (TV)
– a strong, high concept pilot episode disintegrates into a dull, muddled mess of a crime drama.
– the best Star Wars movie to date, originals included. Everything is on point from the cinematography through to the scripting, and it’s so well cast. The only duff note is the cgi reincarnation of Peter Cushing who died in 1994. But Ben Mendelsohn is just made to be a villain – the guy is so ridiculously menacing, and Mads Mikkelson is emotionally powerful even as a hologram. Plus on a smaller note, it was great to see Daniel Mays put in a short appearance – he deserves international recognition and better opportunities. All of that aside though, it was just a genuinely excellent sci-fi film, which I can’t really say about any of the others.
– after a promising, intelligent and smartly scripted start, this sci-fi crumbles into far fetched stupidity and unexciting action. A shame, because James Badge Dale delivers beyond the call of duty as the lead.
Star Trek: Beyond
– lighthearted but tedious sci-fi sequel.
– sci fi romance that fails on the science and the fiction, but somehow remains enjoyable, perhaps partly thanks to Chris Pratt being a loveable baffoon. J Law is always solid casting too. The lasting question as the credits roll, though: where the hell did Andy Garcia come from?
The OA S01 (TV)
– Weird sci-fi drama with an unlikeable cast, if just about intriguing enough to command attention. Mostly well produced, its a shame about the plot.
The One I Love
– fantastically inventive and surprising sci-fi drama with great performances and a hugely intriguing story. Great film.
– unique sci-fi drama that’s difficult to describe. Not what I was expecting, and perhaps slightly underwelming given the hype, but it certainly set me thinking and deserves a second viewing.
– great soundtrack, unconvincing plot, occasional flashes of genuinely bright comedy. Not the time bending, universe warping sci-fi romcom I had been expecting.
– happily surprising and unique time travel sci-fi thriller. So much better than reviews or its reputation would imply. Highly recommended.
The Girl With All The Gifts
– excellent British sci-fi that falls before the final hurdle, disrupting and destructing an otherwise original and fascinating zombie film. Suffers from the same pitfalls as many of its ilk, not least the inability to call a zombie a zombie.
– slow to the point of boredom, this is otherwise quite an interesting, contemplative dystopian drama
– far and away the weakest film in the whole franchise. Boring. Glum. Beyond irritating scripting and delivery. Bad vocal effects, a bad story, unconvincing CGI, agonisingly long, inconsistent rules, scrappy editing. Just all in all infuriatingly terrible. Even the actors seem like they’re embarrassed to be starring in a glorified episode of Power Rangers. Except that that was clearly for kids, whereas this takes itself so dreadfully, sombrely seriously. I think it’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, and certainly the worst super villain.
– effortlessly engaging if fairly whack thriller, wouldn’t recommend it, but you could do a lot worse than watching it on a slow Sunday
Warcraft: The Beginning
– albeit watchable, and even, at times, entertaining, this sci-fi fantasy is quite astoundingly bad. Impaired by its poor, computer-game visuals and erratic editing. Too much of the film must surely have been edited out, leaving a husk that feels like a tech demo from the early naughties. If this is to continue, I hope the VFX changes hands.
El Desconocido (Retribution)
– undeniably compelling and fairly exciting, but whether it’s the limited, confined space or the unlikeable cast, something doesn’t quite square. Worth watching though.
10 Cloverfield Lane
– deeply sinister and edgy sci-fi thriller with horror elements. Very effective, albeit almost comically ridiculous!
– Dystopian/ Utopian drama. Stylistically brilliant, and extremely competent film-making/ scoring etc. But it needed a sense of cohesion that wasn’t there, or at least it needed to hint a little more at the method in the madness. The whole film was itself basically one big orgy: self-indulgent, chaotic, gratuitous, exciting, and ultimately an anti-climax.
Never Let Me Go
– dreary and tiresome sci-fi drama despite the interesting concept
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
– albeit a rehash of earlier film plots and a tribute to some of the (very) old characters, this is still a moderately enjoyable entry into the sci-fi franchise. Very much a ‘kids film’, the world and the action is unconvincing but innocuous, vacuous fun. Nowhere near deserving of the hype.
– An extraordinarily peculiar romantic drama in a most unconventional sci-fi universe. I was reminded of HG Wells ‘Valley of the Blind’.
– Excellent high concept space odyssey. More drama than thriller so doesn’t really compete on the same page as Gravity, despite the similarities on paper. Solid.
– Another AI scifi flick, a little too dry as it focuses on trying to be a clever thriller, but certainly a worthwhile watch for any scifi fan.
– Dull, overacted and nonsensical sci-fi with such garish SFX, it feels like a billion dollar B movie. Soulless.
– Slower viewing the second time around, but equally satisfying and a continuing source of time travel discussion. Love this film.
– Phenomenal, mind-blowing sci-fi. Simultaneously made me want to give up on life and feel a surge of irrepressible excitement for what we’re a part of. Operates on so many levels. Well acted, beautifully composited. Watch it.
– ludicrous female costumes and perhaps Willem Dafoe’s easiest role are really the only two overt flaws in an otherwise hugely original, entertaining and lighthearted sci-fi horror. A breath of fresh air. Anton Yelchin is great.
– Mindbending sci-fi time travel noire that falls in to place exactly as it should. Immensely satisfying, thought provoking and compelling. Ethan Hawke is a blast and Sarah Snook is remarkable in what should be her kingmaking role. This is the film that Looper wasn’t.
– Strikingly original quirky thriller sprinkled with very black humour. Gyllenhaal turns in perhaps his finest performance. Hopefully award recognition could see more in this vein in the future.
– Curiously desperate attempt to weave an intricate time travel thriller that falls flat, with bad acting, a bad script, and a predictable premise.
– Terrific, if emotionally overwrought space age sci-fi from Chris Nolan. An ambitious and exciting spectacle.
– Mindbending and utterly bizarre sci fi exploring the ramifications of virtual reality. A lot of parallels with Inception.
– Certainly mindbending, if stupid, adolescent sci fi pitching a clash of drunk and scantily clad party goers against their dopplegangers. The weakest of this niche time travel sub-genre: too over-sexed and underage for an intelligent audience.
– quite original and very compelling sci fi thriller. Highly recommended for sci fi fans, probably not what you’re expecting.
The Thirteenth Floor
– interesting and philosophical sci fi noire thriller. More Max Payne than Max Payne ever was, and as multilayered as Existenz, if not Inception. Good fun and intriguing concept, albeit perhaps a tad on the nose!
– Riddled with more holes than one of Lucy’s victims, this Besson action sci fi is nonetheless a lot of fun. Take it with a pinch of salt.
The Leftovers (TV)
– Lifeless, po-faced and painfully grave, this speculative dystopian TV drama isn’t short on intrigue, but stubbornly refuses to offer answers or resolution, resulting in an inexplicable world of shock factor scenes, irrational behaviour, and detached angst. I really wanted to like it, but there is very little to like, let alone praise.
– Excellent concept and imaginative indie execution for this (somewhat) original sci-fi psuedo-quantum time thriller. Highly recommended.
Guardians of the Galaxy
– Nowhere near the film the hype implies, this has still got a lot of entertainment value with off-the-wall comedy hurled in with the usual action sci-fi.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
– Very detailed and solid follow up to The Rise (although the naming order is embarrassingly senseless). It’s doubtless good, but sadly much darker than its predecessor, delivering a less enjoyable experience. Despite shortcomings, it remains a must-watch sci fi.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
– Remains an excellent sci-fi thriller even on a second viewing. The CGI is truly worthy of marvel, the apes so human it is difficult to feel anything other than compassion. Not flawless, but a brilliant remake nonetheless.
– Continuing the trend of the adultification of children, this is sufficiently intriguing as a high budget sci-fi, even whilst it fails spectacularly as worthwhile cinema. The script is poor and riddled with tropes, the casting generally unconvincing, and the abrupt, heavyhanded direction, amateur. For all its length, the final edit is a hacked up carcass of what could have been a much tighter, more refined film. Sadly, this measly spark is all that remains of the promise of fireworks.
Gods and Monsters
– Frasier and McKellen find an impressive rapport in this solid biopic drama detailing the salacious private life of James Whale.
2001: A Space Odyssey
– Understandably a classic space sci fi. Striking imagery and an ambitious, epic, aeon-spanning story. Not easily watchable though – it’s very long and slumbrous, even boring, with extended silences and often little onscreen action. Remarkable what Kubrick achieved for the time though.
Only Lovers Left Alive
– Painfully slow and pseudo-intellectual vampire drama. As depressing to watch as Hiddleston’s character is portrayed. Little here to seize interest.
– Inane but entertaining sci fi blockbuster, if a little too po-faced and dour.
– Technology is the new mumbo jumbo that steps up to fill the vacated shoes of magic in this relatively engrossing sci fi. All of the performances are adequate, albeit too flat, besides Bettany, a massively underrated actor who turns in a good show and raises the bar. The pacing is off and the premise flounders throughout, although these flaws would be easily overlooked if it wasn’t such a tasteless and unlikeable concoction.
– Terrible and hugely overrated sci-fi comedy. Horror elements are entirely undermined by slapstick comedy and goofy acting. Misleadingly high rated on IMDb, this is so bad it’s difficult to watch.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
– Upbeat, clever and fast paced addition to the X-Men franchise. Vastly better than the last two iterations.
– Far from as terrible as early reviews suggested (it is evidently very popular as a critic to give M Night Shymalan a hard time); this is not a good film – just too serious, and frankly, too unexciting – but it’s an engrossing enough sci-fi and I can think of worse ways to spend a few hours.
– Just astonishingly beautiful. My grievances with the plot didn’t lessen on a second viewing, but the narrative is essentially by the by when you are presented with a feature length set piece that is perhaps the cleanest, best produced and most intensely wondrous vision of space ever to grace the screen.
– Painstakingly po-faced and self-assured remake. Gareth Edwards doing the monster thing in his usual peekaboo style. Not terrible, just massively overhyped and underwhelming.
– Surprising and engrossing sci-fi noir thriller, if hampered by a slightly b-movie feel (perhaps due to dated sfx).
The Lost Boys
– Bizarrely engrossing although undeniably bad. Perhaps it has just dated, but my God, how it has dated! 80s vampire cult noire, laden with screams and cross dissolves.
– Films like this demonstrate how far CGI has come. It’s watchable for sci-fi fans, but not recommended.
– Very disappointing, pseudo sci-fi time travel flick. Intriguing for the first thirty minutes and then rapidly descends in to chaos. Nowhere near as clever or as philosophical as it tries to be.
– A two star sci fi action if ever there was one but it’ll keep fans of Riddick immersed, just about.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation
– Both hilarious and thrilling, absurd and absurdly underrated. Mel Gibson excels unlike I’ve seen him in over a decade. The script is high concept with its tongue firmly in cheek and the editing is surprisingly sharp. The only question, why was this condemned straight to DVD?
– Disappointing second outing from Neil Blomkampp. Neither the plot nor the dystopian futuristic settings withstand much scrutiny, as is painfully obvious on a single viewing.
– An original sci fi, amusingly scripted and directed with warm characters. A little too procedural for my tastes, but definitely a good watch.
World War Z
– Thoroughly enjoyed this although it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Straight up, fast paced Zombie thriller.
– Original, French, space set sci-fi that explores an interesting subject but pulls its punches. Definitely worth watching for sci-fi fans though.
– Original, slow-burning but thrilling sci fi featuring great performances all round. Highly recommended.
– As cheesy and didactic as we’ve come to expect from Pixar. Not as good as the original, but still fun.
Man on the Moon
– inspirational biopic of showbiz legend Andy Kaufman, with Carrey as the main man. Brilliant and largely accurate with an open minded ending…
– In an attempt to do something original with the whole vampire ‘thing’, Neil Jordan opts for ‘drama’ over thrills and spills but in doing so draws the viewer, inexorably, to boredom.
– Massive robots fight massive alien monsters. Exactly how you imagine it. Stupid and heavy handed. Nuff said.
– quirky, off-beat zombie comedy. Definitely no Shaun of the Dead. If you’re really bored on a Sunday though…
– Fantastic take on the vampire genre that is an absolute stand out during the recent vamp revival. Brilliant acting, pacing and story. I felt it could have afforded a fractionally more upbeat ending.
– considerably more enjoyable than you might expect. Act one offers an excellent sci fi premise, it’s a pity acts two and three fall in to the realm of cliche and moralistic Hollywood stereotype. Nonetheless a highly entertaining watch.
Los Cronocrimenes (Timecrimes)
– A superbly compelling, if thoroughly flawed, time travel suspense thriller. Highly recommended.
– Beautiful visuals and VFX don’t elevate Prometheus beyond an attractive, if fairly lifeless sci-fi actioner. Despite its technical eloquence, the film suffers a bland, meandering Hollywood-fare script and lacks resolution.
– possibly the worst sci-fi film I’ve ever seen. More plot holes than words in the script. Simply awful awful film making. Even the action sequences and special effects are dire. Who thought throwing millions of dollars at this terrible excuse for a script was a good idea? Next time pay me and I’ll shit you a better script.
Cowboys and Aliens
– not your average Western! I liked it, but it’s high on the Hollywood gloss
The Mighty Boosh: Future Sailors
– very funny, but not a patch on their original standup
– this caught me by surprise. A terrific piece of futuristic, dystopian action.
– another unexpected treat. I’m still hoping for a sequel. Great sci-fi
– brilliantly effective alien sci fi, unlikely and unnecessary romance plot
– bizarre sci-fi horror in the vein of HG Wells
– bizarre and oppressive but intriguing sci-fi
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
– low budget but surprisingly slick vampire flick
– From Duncan Jones of Moon success, crazy shiz on a train. Definitely worth watching
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
– further fantastic effects from the WETA team, now someone hire them for a solid script
– extreme, sickening, well made
– at last a decent vamp film
Vampire aka Demon Under Glass
– laughable B-movie