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8 Offbeat Science Fiction Movies

BY SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE

Underrated films slowly pass on to a state of coma since their release and any hope of being revived depends on the film-watching-sentiment with which a movie buff would probably have soaked himself in. There are certainly a few of us who want more. Better than anything the sci-fi plots have ever foisted upon unsuspecting fans, but indeed some of the full-length movies have more genuine thrills and interesting themes than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The films here in this list serves up a deliciously off-beat thrilling experience, especially if you love tiding yourself over science fiction.

  1. Gattaca (1997)

Full of futuristic philosophies and techs, this film includes exciting, edge-of-your-seat moments and experiments the idea of what it means to be human. The great plot is supported by breathtaking sets and visuals. Gattaca is a brilliant under-rated piece of cinema that the not-too-distant future will, in retrospect, see it as one of the more outstanding movies of the nineties.

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  1. Equilibrium (2002)

This “The Matrix” inspired film’s effects are mesmerizing, transcendental; Equilibrium is basically a progression from a fairly complex sci-fi film to a thriller to a “gun fu”-styled actioner. The film is superbly designed and delivered with relentless carnage from all angles, considering its low-budget. Christian Bale gives a moving and credible performance in the role of John Preston. Equilibrium savagely entertains for those with the stomach for it, and more than satisfies its intended base audience.

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  1. THX 1138 (1971)

It is one of the first Orwellian films in describing a world of the future controlled by an omni-present mind-control machine. ‘THX 1138’ is a visionary movie. This is cinematic horror whose power is based on plausibility. It is not “The Matrix” or “1984” — there is no malevolent enemy with supernatural powers, no deliberate campaign of enslavement or exploitation. The realism of the bleak and alienated world depicted in the film is what fascinates the most. In comparison, Star Wars seems to have aged badly.

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  1. Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome is truly a surreal experience. Videodrome rightfully predicted the growing consumption of mass media playing a major role in shaping a human psyche or even society as a whole. The clever writing and devious film-making shock us with a purpose. Filmed in rather sober settings, with some of the finest and most nightmarish stop motion artwork ever, this film is for those who are looking for a little bit more, a little bit off and a little bit challenging.

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  1. Dark City 1998)

This film relies a lot on imagery; and the fantastic production values are laced with a perplexing storyline that keeps the viewers’ eyes glued to the screen. The eye-catching stylish future noir designs a visionary world, evinced in a setting injected with a theme about the loss of identity and the destruction of individualism in order to create an ideal society. A thoroughly cogent flick which keeps you guessing what is going on.

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  1. Strange Days (1995)

Strange Days is a truly astonishing science fiction offering, part scripted by James Cameron and directed with relentless panache by maverick lady-director Kathryn Bigelow. The script plumbs the complex abyss of love, unrequited and lost, with the sort of emotional intelligence beneath the sheer strength of its adeptly interwoven and macabre-intrigue elements and overarching themes. Compelling from start to end, Strange Days is a modern work of art that is and probably will stay an under-rated piece of work.

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  1. Sunshine (2007)

There is noticeably a tremendous visual sense throughout “Sunshine” with a screen that is awash with sparkling explosions and each frame saturated with bright colours and dimmed contrasts. Director Danny Boyle chooses a philosophical tangent, leading to questions of exactly what defines humanity, and the value of a single life weighed against the future of mankind. Daft comparisons aside, this is a superb stab at a psychological sci-fi and one of the few movies in recent years that is greatly underrated.

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  1. Moon (2009)

Cinematographer Gary Shaw contributes to the impression of the eerie stillness of life on the moon with the copious use of still camera and slow tracking shots. “Moon” is evocative of the sci-fi greats whose visuals were done in-camera, i.e., on set as opposed to being created by computers in post-production. ‘Moon’ doesn’t dazzle but gives pleasure in its low-keyed conviction; a paranoia we feel about a possible future increasingly dominated by evil, pervasive corporations.

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It is up to you whether to unravel the multitude of layers and depths swimming beneath the surface of these cautionary tales or to take them at face value. The aspects of the films can potentially leave many viewers understandably unsatisfied and unmoved. But there are still solid science fiction – and have got something that lacks in many recent movies bearing the same label. Leave a comment and tell us what’s your ultimate off-beat science fiction films.

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