With September in the rear view mirror, I had thought time for reflecting on my favorite summer Sci-Fi films with some of them finally transitioning to DVD and Pay-Per-View. Along the way, I had watched The Amazing Spiderman 2, Godzilla, Into the Storm, Transformers: Age of Extinction and a few other non-genre films. Of the those aforementioned titles, adjectives like overindulgent, slow and derivative had come to mind. Then, there were movies worthy of paying full price of admission on opening weekend. These five movies had encapsulated great elements of Sci-Fi with sophisticated special effects, highly choreographed action sequences, exploring mature themes of “What does it mean to be human?”, humor, drama, and more.
5. X-Men: Days Of Future Past
After X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Wolverine films, this franchise had started heading into a downward spiral toward mediocrity; however, building on the First Class prequel, Days of Future Past had placed the X-Men brand back in the proper light. This film had continued exploring the conflict of interests and relationships between Magneto, Charles Xavier and Mystique. These characters had provided the centerpiece for which action flows. The three big takeaways were Quicksilver’s scene stealing moments, the end, and post credits teaser for X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
This colorful entry was nimble at shifting tone from the sublime to serious and back. With characters like Rocket Raccoon emulating a cat, Groot grooving, and Drax the Destroyer’s literal nature, I hadn’t remembered a Sci-Fi picture working so hard in commanding my attention with humor and action. With an antagonist like Ronan The Destroyer, a movie watcher wasn’t required to know a lot about comics, just knowing the difference between good vs. evil would suffice. The movie was also strong closer with a final musical number. Though, the post-credit scene had left me with a “What the frack?” moment but, smiling all the way out the theater.
3. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
Action, action, and more action had epitomized this sequel. With the theme of conspiracy, the story had changed the rules for victory. During first half of the film, Captain America had articulated,”This isn’t freedom. This is fear!” This social commentary on government encroaching on personal privacy had elevated the story into contemporary pop culture, recalling recent stories of the NSA. With an equally matched bad guy in the Winter Soldier, Cap’s victory was hard fought leaving open questions for a Captain America 3.
2. Rise of Planet of the Apes
“Rise” had invoked a primal response by blending acting and special effects. Emotionally investing into Caesar’s survival was easy when forgetting the line between real and fantasy. The opening and closing shots on Caesar’s eyes had sealed the deal for #2. Putting aside how guns undercut a natural order, the story had depicted the story of two leaders, one human and one ape. Both, despite their best attempts had tragically failed at avoiding a broadening conflict between species. With two great plot twists and CGI hair, I had learned to “Like apes, more than humans.”
1. Edge Of Tomorrow
With Tom Cruise playing against his action hero archetype, I had found this movie a pleasant surprise. With an alien invasion and a time loop, this film had delivered a flurry of action sequences. With an ending leaving my head bent, this story had explored different elements of this genre exceedingly well. A surprise why? I hadn’t believed possible such a satisfying Sci-Fi film with Tom Cruise cast despite his other films like Minority Report or Oblivion. Hmm, maybe it was the joy of watching Cruise’s numerous death scenes or the futuristic combat gear?
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (rottentomates)
Guardians of the Galaxy (rottentomatoes)
Captain America 2: The Winter Solder (rottentomates)
Dawn of Planet of the Apes (rottentomates)
Edge Of Tomorrow (rottentomates)