SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES – BEST AND WORST OF 2015

Here’s the list of science fiction movies I saw in 2015, from first to worst:

mad max fury road poster

MAD MAX:  FURY ROAD (2015) – *** 1/2- While I view MAD MAX: FURY ROAD more as an action/adventure movie, it certainly also falls under the science fiction category since it takes place during an apocalyptic future.

Writer/director George Miller who wrote and directed the original MAD MAX movies starring Mel Gibson, returns to his roots here and has made an action film for the ages.  This one contains some of the most creative and intense action chase scenes I’ve seen in some time.

And while Tom Hardy is fine as Max, good enough to make you forget Mel Gibson, it’s Charlize Theron who’s most memorable in this one as the gritty female protagonist, Imperator Furiosa.

Best seen on the big screen.

And more importantly the best science fiction film of the year.

 

CHAPPIE (2015) – ***1/2- I guess I’m a sucker for the films of Neill Blomkamp.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his earlier films DISTRICT 9 (2009) and ELYSIUM (2013), and now I can add CHAPPIE to that list.  Of course, I’m in the minority here with CHAPPIE, as it was largely panned by critics, and yes, I recognize that this tale of an artificial intelligence robot come to life relies heavily on the melodramatic and the overdramatic, but it all worked for me.  I loved Sharlto Copley’s motion-capture performance as Chappie.

For me, CHAPPIE pushed all the right buttons.

Chappie-movie-poster-2015

STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) – ***- Like the rest of the STAR WARS series, STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS is more space fantasy adventure than science fiction, and but its setting definitely places it in the science fiction category.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is grand entertainment and hearkens back to the original STAR WARS films, especially the first one, sometimes a little too much, as at times it plays like a straight reboot of that original film.  Awesome fun to see the original characters back, especially Harrison Ford as Han Solo, but it’s the newcomers, especially Daisy Ridley as new heroine Rey who ultimately steal the show.

The Force is strong with this one.

THE MARTIAN (2015) – ***-  Ridley Scott’s science fiction tale of an astronaut (Matt Damon) accidentally left on Mars who uses his scientific knowledge to survive while he waits for a rescue mission is a fan favorite, as it seems everybody loves THE MARTIAN.  I liked this one too, but I found it a bit too upbeat and predictable.  Never was there any doubt about the outcome.  I felt as is I was watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  I love Bugs, but does he ever fail?  Same here.

martian poster

PREDESTINATION (2014)- *** – technically, this one came out in 2014, but I saw it in 2015.  This one did not get a wide release and I had to see it at home On Demand, not on the big screen, which was too bad because it’s one of the best science fiction films of the year.  It’s also one of the finest time travel tales ever filmed.  So, for folks who love time travel stories, this one is a must-see!

Its tale of a special agent (Ethan Hawke) who travels through time to hunt down criminals is so much more than a melodramatic adventure.  It’s a thought-provoking character study that will ultimately blow your mind.  If you’re expecting action and adventure or geeky science fiction, you’ve come to the wrong movie.  It’s literary science fiction at its best brought to life on screen.  The less said about this one the better, till you see it.

JURASSIC WORLD (2015) -***- also included this one on my horror movie list, though I view it more as an action adventure film than a science fiction/horror movie.  Still, it’s tale of resurrected dinosaurs fits into the realm of science fiction.  Very light in tone, I nonetheless found the adventure tale fun and engrossing, and really enjoyed Chris Pratt’s performance, more so than the dinosaurs in this one.

TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015) – *** – Critics hated this revisionist Terminator tale which changes some things from the previous TERMINATOR movies, but I liked it.  I guess I’m just a sucker for Arnold Schwarzenegger and the TERMINATOR films.  Arnold skipped the previous installment, but he’s back here, and I found him thoroughly enjoyable.

There’s enough twists and turns, and action and stunts to keep the most hardened faithful fans happy.  Not quite sure why so many folks disliked this one.  It worked for me.

EX MACHINA (2015) – **- Another tale of artificial intelligence.  This is a much more serious and highbrow take on the subject than CHAPPIE.  However, it was also far more stoic and far less emotionally satisfying.  Its tale of a grad student (Domnhall Gleeson) working with an eccentric and bizarre scientist (Oscar Isaak) on a female creation with artificial intelligence named Ava (Alicia Vikander) never really grabbed me.  If STAR TREK’s Mr. Spock wrote a movie, this might be it.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (2015) – **- This re-telling of the Frankenstein story from the perspective of Igor is worth watching only for the spirited performance by Daniel Radcliffe as Igor.  Underwhelming movie.  Tries to be action-oriented a la the Robert Downey Jr. SHERLCOCK HOLMES films but is not up to the task.

TOMORROWLAND (2015)- **-  Hmm, another movie based on a Disney World attraction.  Yep, as bland as it sounds. Actually, there were parts to the tale of time and space manipulations starring George Clooney that I liked.  Unfortunately, there were other parts that I didn’t like.  Potentially intriguing and thought-provoking story dumbed-down for younger audiences, which is an insult to that age demographic.  They could easily handle the more complex material.  I expected more from screenwriter Damon Lindelof, who  among other things wrote STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013), PROMETHEUS (2012) and episodes of the TV show LOST. Co-written by director Brad Bird, whose resume is equally as impressive.

PROJECT ALMANAC (2015) – ** –  this time machine tale of a group of teenagers who build a time machine is OK but fails to reach the next level.  The main characters use their machine to do things like go back and re-take a test they failed the first time.  How’s that for drama?  When it tries to become a darker thriller, its folds under the weight of its own pretensions.

JUPTER ASCENDING (2015) – **- colorful but ultimately ridiculous fantasy about a princess (Mila Kunis) seeking her intergalactic royal birthright which has ramifications for all of Earth and beyond.  Cast includes Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, and Eddie Redmayne!  The type of tale regularly told on the old 1960s TV show LOST IN SPACE.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT (2015) – * 1/2- Part science fiction, part horror, this one also appeared on my HORROR MOVIES list from 2015.  Horror, science fiction, it doesn’t matter.  Both parts are equally bad.

This modern “Frankenstein” tale of a group of medical students experimenting with resurrecting the dead has the right idea but ultimately the wrong story, which never “lives” up to the material.

Worst science fiction film of the year.

And that’s my list of science fiction movies from 2015.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES – BEST AND WORST OF 2015

  1. I read The Martian first… and glad I did because the movie did the book justice without taking away the joy of reading even more science than made it into the movie. There is nothing like having real science in your science fiction! I have to say therefore, I liked The Martian best of all…

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