Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reader Top Ten Greatest Science Fiction Films 2000 - 2013: Cannon

The great Cannon returns for today’s second reader top ten list, of science fiction films 2000 – 2013.

Cannon writes: “As usual, I preface the following list with the opinion that Star Wars isn’t science fiction. Otherwise, them prequels would be all up in this mother.

10. Hulk (2003)

Judge it not as a superhero movie, but as a monster movie, one that explores, psychoanalytically, the origins of its monster before ending with an expressionistic, god-level battle between father and son.

9. Déjà Vu (2006)

A love story that spans time between a dead woman and a living cop who’s trying to solve her murder. Here, time is a window that can be replayed and reshaped like all other modern visual mediums. Destiny can be re-edited.

8. The Thing (2011)

As much a response to the original’s premise as it is a mere repeat, though repetition itself might be considered a theme: the same thing happening twice, but to different characters, or at least different character dynamics. An end-piece holographic pixelator suggests the evolution of recurring patterns.

7. Ghosts of Mars

A Space Western/Horror with a nifty Rashomon-style (x 3) narrative that pits a matriarchal empire against voodoo Martian nativism, the latter of which is understood only through drug use. The ensuing fight exposes the law(wo)man and the outlaw as two sides of the same coin.

6. Pacific Rim

Canceling the apocalypse with giant robots means piloting said robots with two separate people, which in turn means connecting these people via neural-rift symbiosis. Therefore, to save humanity is to connect humanly. A rocket punch to the face also helps.

5. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

In a future of cyber-brain hacking, Batou and Togusa investigate the deaths of seemingly unrelated victims inflicted by seemingly non-autonomous, Gynoid sex dolls. What they discover are ghosts, naturally, and what they must face is the profound question: Who is the doll-maker and who is the doll?

4. War of the Worlds

Not just 9-11, but the horrors of the holocaust and distant cultural memories of America’s Revolutionary War underline this invasion of Earth by soulless harvesters. Spielberg renders darkly imagery in the vein of movie posters and magazine covers from 50s sci-fi. And consider the notion that Harlan Ogilvy (Tim Robbins) isn’t even real!

3. Dredd

The events within a single tower block structure serve as a microcosm of the surrounding Mega-City One metropolis. A world slowed through eyes of a drugged up Ma-Ma and pierced with the mind of a psychic Judge Anderson. Dredd, however, is simply Dredd: unwavering, unrelenting, incorruptible.

2. Minority Report

Spielberg kicks into high gear his storytelling through visual motifs -- eyes, water, Lincoln -- juxtapositional editing and the deft staging of action-suspense for this bleached, neo-noir thriller where the ends justify the precognitive means ...until they don’t. "Can you see?" is the film’s mantra; the ability to see the future is the ability to change it.

1. Youth Without Youth

A superhero movie that isn’t a superhero movie, taking the mutant premise away from blockbuster spectacle and adolescent comic book trappings into a leisurely but hypnotic narrative where metaphysics, anthropology and religion swirl amidst a central theme of love and love lost. On the cusp of WWII, Tim Roth is a lonely, elderly professor of 70 blessed/cursed by a freak lightning strike with lasting body rejuvenation, mind powers and a double (who no one else can see or hear) that guides him along his journey to discover the secret origin of languages. There’re pulpy elements of war espionage and Nazi mad science mixed with the travelogue romance of vintage European cinema, and even a few moments of downright horror–all of it strung together through FF Coppola’s penchant for painterly, surreal imagery; "dream-like" is more than apt. At its core, the film transcends the linear concept of time and showers it’s viewer with a sense of infinite cosmic possibilities while never forgetting the very human price paid for by its protagonist.

V for Vendetta
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Supernova (hey, sue me)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Cannon: Every time you make one of these lists, you give me new titles to see, and I appreciate that.  I have not seen Déjà vu, or Youth Without Youth, and am now very curious about both.   I have only seen Supernova (2000) once, but I remember that I liked it very much…despite the critical drubbing.   I also don't know how I managed to forget to include Dredd (2012) on my list...


  1. Great to see PACIFIC RIM, DREDD, and especially DEJA VU, here.

  2. Nice to see "Ghost in the Shell 2" on the list. I'm going to struggle between that one and "Avalon" for my Oshi pick. Also good to see "Paprika" on there. I just revisted that film and it was better than I remembered. Kon was really a master of the animated medium.

    "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time", eh? I enjoy that flick, but I don't know if I'd add it to this list. I didn't find the ending to be very satisfying, but I liked the execution over all. Well worth seeing.

    1. I just dug the plucky, pedestrian scale of it -- the earnest plight of teenage, high school life -- mixed with such a profound sci-fi premise. It was light and breezy, but also emotionally poignant.

  3. Cannon - you always have bold thoughts. Enjoyed your latest.
    I am very much united on a number of your choices. I just wanted to note that I particularly enjoyed your reflections on War Of The Worlds. I've seen it a few times and loved it and will need to see it again now.

    I also need to rectify not having seen Dredd, Ghost and the remake of The Thing.

    Finally, I really can't stand Ang Lee's Hulk, but I loved your fascinating impression regarding how to view that film. I don't know if it would change my opinion of it as an entertainment but boy it is an interesting view.

    Btw, just saw The Avengers (finally) and boy, that was just plain long and boring. I'm stunned by all of the love for that movie. Good grief. It was hard to believe it was the same man who did Serenity. I know I'm in the minority (report) in that one, but The Avengers was just not that good. Cheers Cannon. sff

    1. I thought The Avengers was just so-so; basically a live action cartoon or a made-for-Syfy-movie with a $200 million plus budget. It has some divertingly fun moments, but is cinematically bland. I don't think much of Whedon as a director.

      Hulk. Yeah. It's a tough sell, I agree. It's long and oddly paced, awkwardly mixes brooding drama with pop-comic editing and, well, features a scene where Hulk fights Hulk-poodles. But it's also ambitious with its ideas, and Ang Lee brings the same lyrical touch to his action/imagery that he gave Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Hulk running along the sand dunes and battling his lightning-morphed father as flashes in the clouds.

      You haven't seen Dredd? Get on it.

  4. I did like Crouching by the way.

    Now Cannon, your first paragraph is EXACTLY how I felt watching The Avengers. A couple of cool moments here and there but BLAND as TRANSFORMERS. The broad daylight action stuff that is perfect for kids but there was nothing interesting about it. I was extremely disappointed and I wished I had my 2.5 hours back. This kind of crap is the polar opposite of Pacific Rim which was artistic, grand and magnificently designed cinema.


25 Years Ago: Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

Twenty five years ago, Wes Craven celebrated the tenth anniversary of the creation of his most popular boogeyman: Fred Krueger. The...