Science Fiction

Sci-fi Films that Transcend the Genre & Have Broad Appeal

By: Domonique Salberg

The science fiction genre within cinema offers us stories that are imaginative, often psychologically and physically startling, and, most important, stories that bend the laws of the world and how we see it. Speculative, with futuristic elements, and fictional science-based portrayals of phenomena not accepted by conventional science, are the foundations of the sci-fi genre. They also often include expert film production design, advanced technology gadgets, and fantastic special effects. Plus, popular defying features such as aliens, time and interstellar travel, robots, cyborgs, spacecraft, and sixth sense.

More so, these films frequently focus on political and social matters to explore philosophical issues like the human condition as in one of the genre’s earliest and acclaimed films Metropolis (1927). Although, with all their fancy sets and awe-inspiring plots, there are still people that cannot get behind the fiction. Thus, that is where this list comes in. To introduce people to some of the best film experiences regardless of genre, worth seeing. Each film a part of this list uses traditional elements of the genre along with a mix of others with efficacy, transcending sci-fi.

Children of Men (2006) 

This dystopian action thriller film follows Clive Owen in a world that takes place in 2027 that is experiencing the aftermath of two decades of human infertility—leaving humanity on the brink of collapse. Besides the traditional dystopian world found in sci-fi films, Children of Men offers for casual fans of the genre amazing achievements in screenwriting, cinematography, art direction, and innovative single-shot action sequences that any moviegoer can appreciate. 

The Martian (2015)

Ridley Scott’s adaptation depicts an astronaut’s lone struggle to survive on Mars after being left behind, with attempts to rescue him and bring him back to Earth. The film feels very much like a typical movie with an astronaut in space, but instead, it takes place on Mars. As a result, the film is not heavily sci-fi, allowing non-fans to enjoy still the story, which is primarily driven by an engaging and charming performance by Matt Damon. He makes us forget about the setting to focus on the man and not just the splendor of mars. Damon’s several nominations and a Golden Globe win for lead actor attest to the films favorable performance that anyone can enjoy.

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

This Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet lead romance science fiction tragicomedy is a love story in reverse. The two leads play an estranged couple who have erased each other from their memories. Thus to tell this story, the film uses elements from the psychological thriller and nonlinear narrative to examine the nature of memory and romantic love. It is an original and pleasingly loopy Oscar-winning screenplay by the brilliant writer Charlie Kaufman. His other notable works are the equally delightfully mind-twisting Being John Malkovich (1999) and Adaptation. (2002).Sci-fi casuals get to enjoy the funny man Carrey in a refreshing, more serious role and a familiar ensemble cast with Elijah WoodKirsten DunstMark Ruffalo, and Tom Wilkinson. Another perk: it is a soft sci-fi film as life looks very much like it does today.

Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan offers yet another stellar epic starring Mathew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. It is set in a dystopian future, and humanity is struggling to survive, prompting a group of astronauts to travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new home. What any genre fan can enjoy most about Interstellar is that its brainy, sincere, dazzling, and has flawless acting. It truly is a mind-bending opera of space and time with soul. 

A Quiet Place (2018)

For those in the mood for a genre-bending flick that has a mix of thriller, horror, drama, and sci-fi, A Quiet Place is a film that delivers just that. It centers around a family that must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. With a cast that absorbs the audience into their terrifying world, it is original, intriguing, and aggressively scary.

They Live (1988)

Campy, entertaining, humorous, and satirical, They Live is a B-movie classic that has stood the test of time. Written by the creator of the classic Halloween, John Carpenter, the film is filled with a bizarre and absorbing combination of political allegory and old-fashioned paranoid horror. Bonus: for WWE fans, it stars the lively and surprisingly perfectly cast, Roddy Piper.  

The Truman Show (1998)

Following a naïve salesman played by Jim Carrey, his unbeknownst life is telecast live around the globe 24 hours a day; discovering this, he decides to escape. A humorous and intelligent sci-fi film, The Truman Show is thought-provoking with outstanding performances great to watch with friends and family. The film is also popular among academics. It has been analyzed as a thesis of existentialism, reality television, Christianity, simulated reality, and metaphilosophy.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Written and directed by one of the biggest and enduring dreamers in Hollywood, Steven Spielbergs film tells the story of an every-day blue-collar worker in Indiana whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO). Everyone can appreciate this thrilling adventure story that is also a stunning example of the art and craft of filmmaking. 

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