I guess it's hard to find a good sci-fi story on the screen

I guess it’s really hard to find a good story on the screen in general.

A good sci-fi movie is Edge of Tomorrow. I’ve watched it several times (the second time was a must) and I think I would enjoy watching it again. It is the result of the great hard work and tremendous talent of the people involved in this production.

Although I love sci-fi, I kind of dislike fantasy and superhero (or superhero-like) stories. There are a few exceptions such as Hellboy, which had me on the edge of my seat, or Guardians of the Galaxy, which my family absolutely loved.

My family also enjoyed watching Men In Black, which I mostly found cartoonish. Another movie they’ve liked is Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets, whose visuals are fantastic but whose story has left me disillusioned.

I’ve watched Blade Runner 2049 by myself. Initially the spectators are fascinated by the mood and visuals, which promise a profound movie, but eventually people wind up disappointed by a simplistic story teeming with clichés.

I was kind of intrigued by the series Counterpart, which struck me as a well-made show, but I was dissatisfied with its unsubstantial sci-fi content.

Even though I felt Westworld was going to abound in clichés I still watched four of five episodes, where so much artistic effort was invested to exalt shallowness and futile violence.

There are lots of good Sci Fi stories - we’re in a bit of a golden age of it, IMO - off the top of my head, in the recent past I’ve enjoyed Arrival, Moon, Ex Machina, Altered Carbon and many others.

I agree, and that’s because technologically speaking directors have become virtually omnipotent. But the stories… Arrival is relatively interesting, but kind of didactic like Robert Zemeckis’s Contact.

I saw others as well which I could have mentioned but I don’t recall the titles and I didn’t even watch them till the end in most cases because I became bored and/or frustrated.

I haven’t watched Altered Carbon though.

Define “good science fiction story”. Do you mean a fiction story with good science, a story with good science fiction, or a good story in the science fiction genre?

The Expanse.
Black Mirror.
And yes, even Guardians of the Galaxy.
MrDibble is right; we are in a new SF Golden Age.


The didacticism was there in the literary source, before Zemeckis.

And I quite like didactic SF, as long as it’s not hardcore libertarian or paternalistic preaching like your Heinleins and co…

Ooh, I forgot The Martian in my earlier list. And someone else mentioned* The Expanse*, that’s very good.

Whether you like it may hinge on how you feel about violence, and having deeply flawed people as protagonists. But I found it quite a fascinating look at the implications of functioning technological immortality - but in full form for only a small segment of society.

With computer generated special effects that are nothing less than phenomenal, we are in the golden age of science fiction movies as far as I’m concerned. There isn’t anything that the best science fiction authors can dream up that we can’t make look completely real on the screen.

You beat me to The Expanse. I’m not a huge fan of the story, but it is very well-executed.

Dark Mirror is, by its nature and intent, all over the board as far as being “good SF.” The better episodes are great.

The Magnetic Monster (1953)

Well-paced thrills of a man-made super-magnetic substance wrecking havoc. The impressive climax was lifted from the German film Gold (1934).
Creation of the Humanoids (1962)

Super-cheap and seemingly cheesy beyond redemption, this is a surprisingly intelligent sci-fi film dealing with many of the same issues as Blade Runner.
The Final Programme (1973)

Generally considered a flop, this adaptation of Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories may still be ahead of its time.

Alas, special effects are no substitute for plot and character. The ability to do CGI for things blowing up means that the script writers put in lots of things blowing up, which I’m damned tired of.
Arrival had relatively little in the way of CGI, and while I have my problems with it, it was still intelligent.

In my opinion, special effects are what’s killed good science fiction. I like my science fiction to have interesting ideas not big explosions.

Seconded. And CG still doesn’t quite match up to the best practical effects.

This apparently started life as a script for one of the intelligent 50s television drama series. It’s one of the best discussions of what aintelligent robots would mean for humanity in movies. And halfway through there’s an amazing twist. I’ll spoiler it, though it’s not a real giveaway.

it makes you start rooting for an analogue of the Klan, which should be impossible and yet works in context. (Not in any real life situation, of course.)

Small, script-heavy, cheap-to-make films are the best science fiction, because they’re all about ideas. Greg Pak’s Robot Stories and Robot and Frank are good recent examples. Ex Machina is even more intelligent than Humanoids.* And they were done for budgets that wouldn’t suffice for a backstage buffet on Pacific Rim.

*The only special effect is the robot, which is uncannily good, pun intended.

Speak for yourself. When I think of my favorite classic SF writers - Vance, Zelazny, Herbert, Silverberg et al - little of what they wrote can, in theory, be faithfully translated to the screen without modern special effects. Science fiction may be the literature of ideas, but it’s also the literature of awe. Its job is to transport the reader/viewer to an amazing new world, to show them things they haven’t seen before. It’s hard to do that with sock puppets.

I like all above mentioned. But for low budget films…


Same here - of my all-time favourites - Banks, Cherryh, Brin, Herbert, to name a few - only Ursula LeGuin is really amenable to a no-CGI approach.

There’s no good way to do Orbitals & GSVs & Idirans & the Affront; Hani, Kiff & Mahendosat; The Galactics and the Six Races; or Shai Hulud & Navigators justice *without *FX. Not any more, that genie’s out of the bottle.

Puppets would not do. Yes, I’ve seen Lynch’s Dune. I stand by my statement.

And no-one can tell me those I just named are *not *the literature of ideas.

Wall-E. It’s so much more than a cute robot love story.

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Talking about movies like this, who can forget Dark Star (1974) - John Carpenter’s first feature film?

It has wonderful deadpan black humor, and some hilarious scenes, but by the end it becomes a little thought-provoking and moving as well. It may be too slow for those who like lots of action, but a really fun movie!

This demands a definition of “science fiction.” What is science fiction, what is space opera, what is fantasy? Is dreaming up a bizarre world populated by bizarre beings science fiction? One of the great science fiction stories ever was “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury. If it were to be produced in movie form, it would require nothing strange, no awe, no amazing new world, no special effects whatsoever. But it is a very powerful story.