Today, two science fiction movies arrive on Amazon Prime Instant Video – the awe-inspiring 2001: A Space Odyssey from visionary director Stanley Kubrick, and the, erm, not quite as inspiring After Earth with Will and Jaden Smith. But what are the very best sci-fi movies on the streaming service to give you your space fix? Let’s take a look.
Nicolas Roeg, one of the most experimental and distinctive voices in cinematic history, turned his hand to the science fiction genre in 1976 with The Man Who Fell To Earth. Unsurprisingly, he made something completely one of a kind – an elusive and challenging tale of an alien who comes to Earth and becomes addicted to alcohol. David Bowie stars in the film’s lead role.
6. Source Code
Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, followed up his extraordinary low-budget debut movie Moon with Source Code, an intelligent and exciting studio produced blockbuster. A hybrid of Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap, the film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man charged with the mission to identify a terrorist who planted a bomb on a train. He does it by taking part in a virtual reality investigation where he is able to relieve the eight minutes leading up to the explosion. After these 8 minutes are complete, the programme resets and he must begin the investigation again. Each replay brings him closer and closer to the identity of the bomber.
The brainchild of Joe Cornish, one half of the hilarious Adam And Joe Show, Attack The Block is a homegrown sci-fi action movie that boasts suspense, humour and horror in equal measure. The story of a gang of urban teens who face down an alien invasion, Attack The Block is an 80 minute blast of pure fun.
Scarlett Johansson is at her very best in Under The Skin, playing an alien who takes on human form to hunt unsuspecting victims in Glasgow. The film was made largely in an improvised, fly-on-the-wall style, hiding Johansson in disguise and filming her encounters with real like Scots who were unaware they were being shot.
It was later remade into a modernised series of films – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – but as is often the case, the original will always be the best. The film, starring Charlton Heston, was an instant smash when it came out in 1968 and its shocking finale continues to haunt viewers today.
One of the very earliest science fiction films, Metropolis is a German silent film epic from 1927 about a huge dystopian city where workers are treated as slaves. The film, directed by Fritz Lang, was made on an enormous budget for the period: 5.1 million reichsmarks. As this was many decades before CGI, all of the gigantic sets were hand built and all the action scenes were shot realistically. It meant the production was incredibly demanding, lasting over a year with some scenes containing hundreds of extras. The results are monumental though and Metropolis is now regarded as not only one of the best of its era, but one of the best movies of all time.
Close to 50 years later after it was released, there still hasn’t been a science fiction movie quite like 2001: A Space Odyssey. It remains startlingly original. In fact, with the mainstreaming of science fiction and its popularization as a genre, 2001: A Space Odyssey somehow seems even braver these days. Stanley Kubrick’s experimental movie explores deep human and philosophical themes against a visual backdrop way ahead of its time. It is on Amazon Prime Instant Video from today.