The year is drawing to a close, and it’s time to look back on the highs of science fiction…
For me, this has been a strange year so far as SF on the big screen is concerned. There have been some incredible films, sure, but they seem to have been few and far between. I’ve largely excluded superhero films from this list for the purposes of argument (I’m going to be covering that genre next week; the beast has grown so out of control that it must have its own listing!), and also fantasy (which, again, seems to have been under-represented this year).
Despite some significant highs (BR 2049: I’m looking at you), there seem to have been too many lows this year. From ALIEN: COVENANT, to GHOST IN THE SHELL, to TRANSFORMERS; so many of this year’s big budget SF entries have to have missed the mark.
Have I missed a movie? Do you disagree with my review of the year? Let me know in the comments below!
Perhaps this is a controversial entry, but I thoroughly enjoyed the shlock-horror, B-movie effort of LIFE. The plot isn’t original, and the cast isn’t the strongest, but LIFE is more than the sum of its parts. It’s an entertaining ride through familiar SF territory, done well, and that earns LIFE a spot in my best films of 2017.
4. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2
I know I said that I wouldn’t be including superhero films in this list, but is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY a superhero movie or an SF movie? That’s perhaps an interesting one – there’s of course an argument that superhero movies are really a subgenre of SF. GUARDIANS is perhaps more SF than most hero franchises; relying more heavily on sci-fi elements than most movies of this type. GUARDIANS 2 might not be as polished as the original (which would be hard to top, in fairness), but it’s an SF movie with heart.
3. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
The new APES franchise continues apace. Another strong entry in the new timeline, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES combines stunning special effects with a strong cast. Is it better than the original PLANET OF THE APES series? Not by a long shot, but it’s still great to see a public appetite for our simian cousins…
2. THE LAST JEDI
Although technically it hasn’t yet been released, how could I do a 2017 list without including THE LAST JEDI? The trailers suggest that we’re going to be treated to a slice of classic space opera, and if JEDI continues in the same vein as THE FORCE AWAKENS I won’t be disappointed. My biggest concern is that this new trilogy must break its own ground. We can’t continually rehash the original STAR WARS stories forever, especially when the expanded universe offers such potential.
1. BLADE RUNNER 2049
BR 2049 has to be the standout SF movie of the year for me. Given the enormous hype supporting this film, and the tremendous budget, there was a lot riding on the success of this film. The original BLADE RUNNER is a cult classic; an almost universally-revered SF masterpiece. But director Denis Villeneuve didn’t disappoint. BR 2049 is an intriguing extension of the original’s universe, both in plot and feel.
But does BR 2049 perhaps explain why there have been so few true SF movies this year? I suspect that it might. BR 2049 met with a wall of positive reviews from critics and viewers alike, but that hasn’t stopped it from underperforming at the box office. I think we’re seeing a shift towards more populist SF, which might well explain why the superhero genre has thoroughly exploded in 2017…
As I promised, join me next week for a rundown of the best superhero films of 2017…