It’s hard to believe that we are staring at the end of a decade! Looking back there have been many great achievements in sci-fi films (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” being a prime example.), and some missed opportunities (“Terminator Dark Fate”, I’m looking right at you.).
Along with the great movies, and what some would call “box office bombs”, are those that did not get nearly enough attention, or in some case more negative press, than they really deserved. These shining examples are what we need more of in the cinema, and I hope they keep cranking out goodness like them more often.
Here is my list (in no particular order) of the most underrated sci-fi flicks of the past decade:
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Rotten Tomatoes score- 81%
Metacritic score- 69
Domestic box office (US)- $31,611,316
You like video games? This movie has you covered! Killer soundtracks more your thing? Oh man, this flick has it! Or are you a big movie nerd and appreciate a solid cast, with a director that has some great cred? Scott Pilgrim vs. The World hit the high score with this one!
This movie is themed like a video game where Scott (played by Michael Cera) battles his way through the seven evil ex’s (count Chris Evans aka Captain America, and Brandon Routh aka Superman as two of the seven) of his love interest Ramona Flowers (with Mary Elizabeth Winstead in this role). Each battle is themed like a boss battle in a game, and was quite a feat for the director (Edgar Wright, known for his film Shaun of the Dead) to pull off. Sealing the deal was a stellar soundtrack featuring some of the best work by indie artists Beck, Plumtree, and Frank Black.
Sadly, this fine cinematic piece fell short of breaking even with a box office haul well below its budget of about $90 million.
Rotten Tomatoes score- 93%
Metacritic score- 84
Domestic box office (US)- $66,486,205
There was once a director who did some solid work directing an episode of, arguably, one of the best TV shows ever, Breaking Bad along with an awesome sci-fi movie called Looper.
Looper, written and directed by Rian Johnson (no, I am not even going to get into “The Last Jedi” here) did some top-notch work on a time travel, sci-fi action movie that looks at what would happen if time travel technology fell into the wrong hands.
A large chunk of the movie-going public were not buying in to another time travel flick, and I can get that, but the premise to Looper as well as the way it was handled, was unique which certainly should deserve a bit more attention (and a lot more viewings!).
Rotten Tomatoes score- 95%
Metacritic score- 84
Domestic box office (US)- $4,563,650
The next film on my list is a gem by Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, and has some really stellar casting with Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Ed Harris to name a few of the talent in this flick.
This cautionary tale of the after-effects of global warming did not get the attention it deserved due to limited state-side release due to a disagreement with the original distributor, The Weinstein Company. I could go on all day about them, but ultimately Snowpiercer was given a limited distribution thanks to Radius-TWC. However, it was mainly available at art house cinemas and not many people were aware this great sci-fi movie even existed until Netflix began streaming it later in 2014.
Once released Snowpiercer garnered critical acclaim), but fell short of some audience expectations. I see it as a solid film, and very much worth sitting down to a viewing on a night on whichever streaming service has it available.
Rotten Tomatoes score- 32%
Metacritic score- 41
Domestic box office (US)- $31,569,268
Neill Blomkamp is known for delivering solid sci-fi, but his 2015 offering, Chappie, did not fly as high as some would have hoped.
This film can be best described as a dystopian tale of a self-aware robot in crime-ridden Johannesburg, South Africa. The great FX for this flick won me over, and one interesting note is that there was no motion capture for the title character, Chappie (portrayed by Sharlto Coply) as he acted out the scenes himself but was replaced by CGI courtesy of Image Engine (visual effects studio based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).
Would I say this is a stand-out film? Not really, but it truly does deserve a little more love than what it got. Great movie, with a fun story that is definitely worth a watch!
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Rotten Tomatoes score- 70%
Metacritic score- 62
Domestic box office (US)- $213,767,512
A more recent film on this list, Solo has a bit of history to it as it was original being filmed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but due to “creative differences” (they did not want to play nice with Lucasfilm/Disney) they were replaced by Ron Howard who essentially re-shot most of the movie.
Looking at it from my view, alot of the negative reviews can be contributed to bad word of mouth due to the debacle with the films previous directors. This film is classic Star Wars, and was far better than the 2017 abomination which will not be named here (see the list entry for Looper if you need a reference).
Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Glover all gave stand-out performances in a great sci-fi heist movie that gave us the origins of many things in the Star Wars universe. The icing on the cake for me is they did the friggin’ Kessel Run! How can you not like that? To be fair, there are other actors in the film, but they all feel kind of flat in their performances, so I can understand the gripes there.
So, is this movie deserving of the crap people gave it? Maybe a little. Is it worth viewing? Yes, multiple times with popcorn (or snack of your choosing) in hand!
There we have it! My list of the five most underrated movies of the past decade. Agree? Disagree? Think I am biased toward Star Wars? Comment away and let us know!