This is part 2 of our take on some of the great sci-fi movies in the 2000s and we are taking a look at the best science fiction movies of 2016. You can click here for the part 1 of our series, i.e. the best science fiction movies of 2015, in case you missed it.
Apart from the standard blockbusters, I am always on the lookout for small gems. Unfortunately, to date, I only managed to detect one. Please go thru my review of my best science fiction movies of 2016 and see if you agree with my choice.
10 Cloverfield Lane
A young woman victim of a road accident wakes up cloistered in an underground bunker. The owner of the site assures, in concert with a third occupant of the premises, that he does not wish him harm and that, on the contrary, he has saved her from a global catastrophe. Of course, he forbade her to go out, otherwise, they would all die. In the absence of certainty, she decides to escape …
A monster film in fake documentary format comes out on the screens of the whole world in 2008. This is Cloverfield, which will be relatively successful, and revives the fashion of found footage in all its sauces, several years after the excellent Project Blair Witch. The trailer for Cloverfield Lane revealed only very few elements, which goes against the gain compared to what we see nowadays, where teasers reveal too much information.
Cloverfield Lane is not the continuation of Cloverfield. The characters are different, as is the story. Farewell, also the formula found footage, probably considered too amateurish, and return to a rather classic staging. Much of the film takes place in a modern bunker, owned by the excellent actor John Goodman who now lives cut underground because life on the surface is, according to him, become impossible because of a mysterious attack. He collects at home a man and a woman, victims of a car accident. The owner, as imposing as it is very disturbing, will go so far as to forbid his guests to go out for their own safety.
Are they saved from an unknown external threat or held prisoner? What is most terrifying: to be locked up with a man who is psychopathic or to be free in the midst of an extraterrestrial invasion? The film is careful to provide an answer and put more on a climate of permanent mistrust. The whole party behind closed doors is pretty good, the tension never drops and we even see moments of good humor. The behavior of the characters is sometimes reminiscent of the Stockholm syndrome, which settles down for a few days of detention: they are free, even play board games together. This accentuates the doubt of the spectator as to the real threats at stake.
The big change in direction for the movie about two-thirds through. One moment, it was terror and then it became totally… This long final run takes the plot in a totally unexpected direction that would be criminal to reveal.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Starring – John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
Release date – March 8, 2016 (New York City), March 11, 2016 (United States)
Running time – 104 minutes
Language – English
Box office – $110.2 million
It can be considered that 10 Cloverfield Lane is a bit of a combination of two films in one, but with unequal lengths. It is this mixture that makes it original because taken separately behind closed and sci-fi remain relatively ordinary. The whole is, however, hyper-effective thanks to convincing actors and very good special effects. Totally … recommended.
In an apocalyptic world, oil reserves are drying up. Locked in a house and besieged by the enemy, an engineer has in his possession a technology that can end the civil war by releasing an unlimited supply of energy. But this technology has created an anomaly: he and his friends are forced to relive the same day again and again …
Like an Edge of Tomorrow, ARQ takes up the theme of the time loop, a topic that has been discussed many times but is nevertheless promising. ARQ is primarily more interested in the main characters. Although classic in its treatment, the film succeeded in spite of everything, establishing a true empathy towards the characters. The viewer literally relives the story with them and rediscovers the issues with them. Initially, the context is quite vague which causes some confusion, however as the plot evolves, the whole takes quite skillfully form. Although simple, the plot has the merit to be renewed and surprise because with each time loop, what the viewer took for granted vis-à-vis characters and stakes evolves.
The film is however not free of defects. If tension and rhythm are effectively maintained throughout the film, the Hollywood side quickly takes his rights with a love story fairly flat, and a slight bidding over the turn of events. The characters themselves are quite smooth and are really highlighted only through the loop system that allows each time to learn a little more about them. The actors do the job, no more. The classic realization is enhanced by a neat staging.
I liked that the loops evolve in that after each loop something new happens to affect the story. Normally, for the usual looping story, the story will always restart at the beginning. In this story, each new loop will continue from the end of the last loop as something changes each time to affect the situation.
Directed by Tony Elliott
Starring – Robbie Amell, Rachael Taylor, Shaun Benson, Gray Powell, Jacob Neayem, Adam Butcher
Distributed by Netflix
Release date – September 9, 2016 (TIFF), September 16, 2016 (Worldwide)
Running time – 88 minutes
Language – English
ARQ is not a big movie, or something really new. However, the ARQ is an honest, effective and unpretentious entertainment. Go see it. Trust me, you will be pleasantly surprised.
When mysterious spacecraft land at various locations on the planet, a team led by expert linguist Louise Banks is tasked with investigating. As humanity is on the brink of a new world war, Banks and his team begin a race against time to find answers. For that, she will take all the risks, for her as for humanity …
It was released in 2016 and the director is Denis Villeneuve. In short, there are ships from another planet appearing in twelve different places on Earth. Governments in different countries do not know how to react to their arrival. These oval-shaped vessels are suspended a few meters above the ground.
In Montana, the US Army is asking a reputable linguist, Louise Banks, to come and help them. On board one of the ships, which defies the laws of gravity, Louise and a mathematician must develop the bases of a language with the extraterrestrials. They are immense and communicate by vaporizing a volatile ink, which remains in the air, forms complex symbols. With several meetings, a certain understanding begins to be made. One day, an alien chooses a word misunderstood by humans, which triggers a certain terror and governments decide to protect themselves. Are visitors dangerous or do they come to help humanity?
Personally, this film represents evolution. for once, we do not have aliens coming to earth and spouting the standard statement “We come in peace” or “Take me to your leader” in perfect English. Instead, we have the new concept of trying to communicate anew with the outside on their terms, which is to adapt to the aliens. This is a great proof of evolution.
The arrival also shows that the empathy of humans can take over our animal instinct of destroying what we do not understand.
Apart from the said new linguist angle, watch out for a great twist in the story.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Based on “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Starring – Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma
Release date – September 1, 2016 (Venice), November 11, 2016 (United States)
Running time – 116 minutes
Language – English
Box office – $203.4 million
I loved the end of this movie, it’s pretty unexpected and that’s one of the reasons I liked it. I love smart movies and I really recommend it for all ages.
Jim Preston is a mechanic. He embarked aboard a spacecraft for a 120-year mission to a distant colony. As a result of a technical problem, he is awake 60 years too soon. After spending a year living alone, surrounded by robots and androids, he finally decides to wake up another passenger: a journalist named Aurora. Jim and Aurora must now accept the idea of spending the rest of their lives aboard the spacecraft. As they gradually experience an undeniable attraction, they discover that the ship is in serious danger. The lives of thousands of sleeping passengers are in their hands …
A clever script from studio to studio since 2007, Passengers finally leaves for Sony with two glamorous contemporary stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, to fill a script of an infinite emptiness, obsessed with death. With two characters aboard, awakened too early on the intergalactic path, far from an overpopulated Earth, to a colony more than a hundred years human, they find themselves alone, to contemplate death. The insertion of a third life, in the person of Laurence Fishburne, which returns us to the darker and more exciting Event Horizon (1996), does not give a little breath to the narration.
Wait a minute, with such a depressing premise why did I select this as one of the best science fiction movies of 2016? Being awakened too early meaning that these travelers will never get to see the end of the mission. In fact, there were quite a lot of similar negative reviews for this show. So what gives? Please go to the Final Words for my views.
The movie is actually beautiful. All scenes showed the inside of a high tech ship in all its splendor.
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Starring – Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Release date – December 14, 2016 (Regency Village Theatre), December 21, 2016 (United States)
Running time – 116 minutes
Language – English
Box office – $303.1 million
I like that the movie makes us see the other side of the coin. If we continue to moan about what we lost and never consider to assess what we have, then everything is indeed lost. But if we can actually learn to see the positives of the situation, then we can face the situation in the best possible way. So by actually deciding to enjoy the remaining days of their life on board the ship, the characters have taken a bad situation and make it incredible even though they changed nothing to their predicament. I will imagine them having the time of their life on board the ship being served hand and foot, and living in the luxury of a resplendent space ship where androids do most all the work.
When taking from this point of view, the show is actually a great love story. I urge you to see it.
The story of Rogue One takes place before episode IV of “Star Wars”. A band of warriors, fighter pilots, from the Rebel Alliance (Rogue Squadron) unite to undertake a perilous mission: to steal the plans of the Black Star, to bring new hope to the galaxy. The film, directed by Gareth Edwards, is a prequel to a trilogy derived from the world of “Star Wars”. The story will be independent of the next episodes of the saga.
Make an event simply mentioned in episode IV a feature film capable of self-sufficiency. That’s the stakes of the first Star Wars spin-off. Exploit the vein to the core and deliver a good movie, is it possible? If Rogue One does not reach peaks, it remains effective in its genre, that of the war movie transposed into an intergalactic world.
For a war movie, Rogue One is classic in its course (constitution of a team and final battle) but can rely on a rather solid cast (including Mads Mikkelsen and Donnie Yen), irreproachable special effects (android K2-SO is full of realism) and a rather dark tone (especially in its last part). Missing nevertheless an important element: an issue. Recovering the plans is, of course, one, but we can hardly be surprised by a known outcome for about 40 years. Still, this does not diminish its ability to stop us from empathizing for the characters. The ending left me wanting for more. But alas it is not to be…
Another little criticism, the desire to want to stick to the episode IV. If seeing Darth Vader again is always enjoyable (see his last scene), recreating numerically dead or too old actors leaves me a bitter taste. Yes, we get to see Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher again and looking almost the same as the original show. But to me, they do not look human no matter what some reviewers say. They looked like zombies to me. However, this may be the future of movies that we are seeing. Not sure it is something to look forward to. Maybe further improvement to the tech will mitigate this in future.
I especially like the scenes involving Donnie Yen. Look out for the scene where he walks through the path of a crossfire.
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Starring – Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker
Release date – December 10, 2016 (Pantages Theatre), December 16, 2016 (United States)
Running time – 133 minutes
Language – English
Box office – $1.056 billion
Competent effort. Worth seeing.
Star Trek Beyond
The USS Enterprise has gone on a five-year reconnaissance mission. As time went by, links became tight between Captain Kirk and the other crew members. While the first years of the mission went off without a hitch, the ship is one day attacked by aliens of an unknown race. The latter do such damage to the “Enterprise” that men are forced to abandon. They land on a nearby planet, where there is no chance of a Starfleet shuttle coming to rescue them. There, Kirk and his men discover that they will have to face a terrible enemy: Krall…
That said, the director is a longtime fan of the universe imagined 50 years ago by Gene Roddenberry. The same goes for the two writers who have put their hands on this film, Simon Pegg (who – thankfully! – his role as Scotty) and Doug Jung. And that feels from the first seconds of the feature film. The Trekkies and Trekkers will feel at home. Comfortable. They will catch the winks (and there are many). And they will have a smile on their faces. With whom they will share the pleasure of a well-conducted intergalactic adventure.
The table is set immediately, while James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, who deliciously channels the character created by William Shatner) refers to being 966 days of the 5-year mission he leads. Things, he says, “seem to be a bit episodic.” WE love. But, well, the routine will be turned upside down when, after a call for help, the USS Enterprise heads for a little-known planet. Where the mythical ship will crash, and his crew, be dispersed and have to regroup (a little like some episodes of different TV series).
Meanwhile, Abrams, heavily invested, presented the film at the geek celebration of Comic-Con, a world premiere, as a tribute to Anton Yelchin, the young actor who died last June, who played the role of Chekov. He took the opportunity to say that this character would not reappear in the next episode, a controversial decision in the eyes of fans from the first hour who express their discontent on social networks.
All scenes involving Anton Yelchin is poignant.
Directed by Justin Lin
Based on Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Starring – John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba
Release date – July 7, 2016 (Sydney), July 22, 2016 (United States)
Running time – 122 minutes
Language – English
Box office – $343.5 million
This is a must for Trekkies and Trekkers.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
The film will set its action right after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution after Alice was betrayed by Wesker in Washington. As the last survivor of what was supposed to be humanity’s final onslaught against the hordes of the undead, Alice must return to where the nightmare began: Raccoon City, where Umbrella Corporation is joining forces for an ultimate battle against the survivors of the apocalypse. In a race against time, Alice finds old friends and an unlikely ally for a battle in action against the zombies and new mutant monsters between the loss of her superhuman abilities and the imminent attack of Umbrella. This film will be Alice’s toughest adventure as she struggles to save humanity.
Fourteen years after a first step that marked the tone, the adaptation of Resident Evil games bows out in the 6th film. B-series often aberrant, frolicking in poor synthetic images, with staggering cascades, and therefore fun. Many deplored a totally soft saga, in full contradiction with the spirit of the games and the ultra-gore decade (Saw, the movies of Zombies of the years 2000 and The Walking Dead on television recently) which had seen her born and develop….
The last episode will not reconcile the detractors of the franchise. Paul W.S. Anderson’s new film is a reflection of the first installment, which he himself launched in 2002. The difference in the budget lies mainly in lighting and photography.
In a final that puts an end to the story, it leaves the hope of a continuation in case of success. This final is still exciting, to say the least. I feel the main problem with this series is the different type of story that each show tried to portray. They are so varied that at times you do not know what the show is really about. Strangely, it somehow managed to appeal to the masses, hence its longevity as compared to most other shows based on games. Why so?
The warrior Milla Jovovich, alias Alice, always provide the fun. Sometimes Mad Max-like. Other as a glam-up incarnation of Michonne from The Walking Dead.
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson
Starring – Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, William Levy, Iain Glen, Ever Gabo Anderson
Release date – December 13, 2016 (Tokyo), December 23, 2016 (Japan), January 25, 2017 (France), January 26, 2017 (Germany), January 27, 2017 (United States)
Running time – 106 minutes
Language – English
Box office – $312.2 million
Milla Jovovich. Enough said. That’s why we watch the shows! This is her perfect vehicle. Still recommended.