Top 8 Most Ambitious Sci-fi Movies On Amazon Prime
List Of Top 8 Most Ambitious Sci-fi Movies On Amazon Prime
1. Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within
3. The Abyss
4. The Man Who Fell On Earth
5. High Life
6. The Lighthouse
7. The Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan
Detailed Information on Most Ambitious Sci-Fi Movies on Amazon Prime
1. Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within
The first and last feature film from Square Pictures, a division of the video game company known only at the time as Square, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a movie that made history in more ways than one. It fits comfortably alongside other gigantic Hollywood flops like 1980’s Heaven’s Gate in that its failure was enough for its owners to get out of the movie business altogether. But 20 years later, this movie stands out in ways that are still surprising.
The Spirits Within is the vision of Hironobu Sakaguchi, who directed the first five games in the Final Fantasy series from 1988 through 1992. The franchise became known for bucking storytelling conventions of video games at the time to great success, reviews looking back at this era note that games like Final Fantasy IV “pioneered the whole concept of dramatic storytelling in an RPG.” Sakaguchi moved through the ranks in Square, producing and helping to develop the game that broke Final Fantasy out to mainstream Western audiences, Final Fantasy VII.
The Spirits Within didn’t just want to be a great animated movie. It wanted animation to become equal with live-action stars that could appeal to everyone. Aki could be an empowering figure for women in the movie itself, and then earn the favor of teenage boys with Maxim covers and special photoshoots made for the DVD.
The Spirits Within ended up confusing audiences more than anything, and the movie cost Square nearly $100 million. The box office was so terrible that it threatened to halt talks on an ongoing potential merger Square was working on with another company, Enix. It also ultimately resulted in Sakaguchi’s departure to form his own games company, Mistwalker, in 2004.
|Photo: Los Angeles Times|
Directed by Pete Travis, written by Alex Garland, and released in 2012, the movie stands distinctly apart from other comic book movies from the time. The year was filled with franchises either ending (The Dark Knight Rises), entering new phases (The Avengers), or getting rebooted (The Amazing Spider-Man). There was hope for all these, with critics saying 2012 could be “the year of the smart superhero movie.”
Dredd is built to stand on its own. Garland, who would later go on to direct stunning sci-fi properties of his own like Ex Machina and Devs, had started writing the movie in 2006 with the hopes of avoiding the mistakes of 1995’s Sylvester Stallone mess Judge Dredd. Looking back on that movie, Stallone once remarked that “the philosophy of the film was not set in stone” during the shoot, meaning no one on set was sure if they were making a drama or an action-soaked comedy.
Fealty towards comics is often displayed by movie adapters, but when it’s backed up by a co-creator (John Wagner) coming on as a consultant, it becomes clear that Garland wanted to show Dredd as a stoic, fully-formed character against which all others judge themselves.
3. The Abyss
|Photo: The Guardian|
THE ABYSS HAD A NOTORIOUSLY difficult production. Cameron’s desire to shoot the film’s underwater sequences as practically as possible meant that 40% of the filming on The Abyss was done in massive water tanks. Cameron, the film’s crew, and the actors all had to spend hours at a time underwater, which resulted in a decompression chamber being built on-site and special safety divers being assigned for each actor.
The process wore down everyone who worked on the film, but their hard work paid off. The Abyss is one of the most beautiful-looking films that Cameron has ever made, and that’s thanks in large part to the practical means in which it was shot and Mikael Salomon’s work as its cinematographer. It’s the kind of film that fills you with awe while watching because you just have no idea how they managed to make it.
THE ABYSS IS A WILD, AWE-INSPIRING RIDE. It boasts all the things that make James Cameron’s films feel as special as they do, including truly incredible levels of spectacle and a cast of likable, flawed human characters. It’s also driven by a beautiful score by Alan Silvestri, which helps imbue the film with a sense of wonder and emotion from beginning to end.
All of this is to say that, The Abyss is another stellar entry in Cameron’s filmography — an underwater sci-fi adventure that should be discussed with the same level of reverence as Cameron’s more recognizable blockbusters. If you’ve got some time to kill this weekend, it’s well worth checking out for the first time.
4. The Man Who Fell To Earth
|Photo: The Ransom Note|
Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth is rereleased after 40 years and it looks more exotic, more preposterous, more fascinating than ever, like a hyper-evolved midnight movie in the manner of Roger Corman. Roeg shows us some of his classic narrative dislocations and juxtapositions; this has something of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, but Roeg is genuinely uninhibited about sex in a way that Kubrick never was. And of course there is an extraordinary sui generis central performance by David Bowie as the intergalactic visitor Thomas Newton – his unselfconscious gentleness and vulnerability now look very moving and bizarrely authentic in a way that they didn’t in 1976.
Is the movie a metaphor for immigration and innovation and a sclerotic corporate culture? Or is it perhaps a pop culture parable for the British music invasion? Or is it simply about Bowie himself?
The story unfolds in a daring sequence of narrative leaps. Newton crash-lands in a small town where he is befriended by a hotel receptionist Mary Lou (Candy Clark) in whose presence this delicate stripling faints; she has to carry him to his room – an extraordinary sequence. They become an item. Newton quickly finds himself in New York, where his superior intelligence and knowledge allow him to create a world-beating energy and media company, which hires a disillusioned, lecherous chemistry professor Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn), the only person in whom the increasingly reclusive Newton can confide. Newton needs to establish utter mastery of Earth’s technology so that he use its water for his own drought-stricken planet. But, far from being a sinister predator, Newton is a delicate victim, a Wildean holy child of poignant unworldliness, whose business is taken from him. He stays young while everyone else gets old. A freaky, compelling concept album of a film.
5. High Life
Claire Denis’s deep-space trauma High Life is an Old Testament parable catapulted forward into the 23rd century, a primal scene in a pressurised cabin of sci-fi pessimism, suppressed horror and denied panic. As if in a recurring dream, Denis brings us repeatedly to the image of a cream-panelled spaceship corridor that curves sharply around to the right; the area is at first pristine and then, as the years go by, shabby and derelict, stained with what may be body fluids. And what is around that corner?
At its centre is Monte, played by Robert Pattinson, who is evidently all alone on a spaceship that exterior shots reveal to be shaped entirely without the elegant streamlined curves of a craft designed for purposeful travel. It is huge and rectangular, suspended in space like a clunking great container unit full of rubbish. Actually, Monte isn’t entirely alone. He has a tiny infant with him called Willow, whom he tends to and talks to conscientiously but unsmilingly.
The pure radioactive strangeness of High Life has something in common with Douglas Trumbull’s Silent Running (1972) in its onboard vegetable garden (although this garden is small, and perhaps symbolically represented). And there is something of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) in the glitzy, alienated weightlessness of everyone’s spacecraft existence being juxtaposed with the non-technological naturalness of Planet Earth: the soil, the streams, the grasses, those wild textures and smeared surfaces so different from the controlled metallic gleam of that incarceration way out in space. It is here that there will be almost limitless violence, a psycho-chemical reaction, a silent detonation, from which some kind of enigmatic new hope, or anticipation for the future is to emerge.
6. The Lighthouse
Robert Eggers’s gripping nightmare shows two lighthouse-keepers in 19th-century Maine going melancholy mad together: a toxic marriage, a dance of death. It is explosively scary and captivatingly beautiful in cinematographer Jarin Blaschke’s fierce monochrome, like a daguerreotype of fear. And the performances from Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson have a sledgehammer punch – Pattinson, in particular, just gets better and better.
Dafoe and Pattinson are Tom Wake and Ephraim Winslow – stern, taciturn men with pipes or bits of cigarette habitually jammed in the corner of their unsmiling mouths, about to start a four-week stretch of duty on a remote, wind-lashed rock to tend the lighthouse there. Tom is the ageing veteran “wickie”, a former able seaman now disabled with a leg injury whose cause is mysterious: he is the senior officer, with sole charge of the light itself, a privilege that makes him petulant and querulous.
What is so exhilarating and refreshing about The Lighthouse is that it declines to reveal whether or not it is a horror film as such, though an early reference to Salem, Massachusetts gives us a flashback to Eggers’s previous film, The Witch (2015). It is not a question of a normal-realist set-up pivoting to supernatural scariness with reliably positioned jump-scares etc. The ostensible normality persists; perhaps something ghostly is going on, or perhaps this is a psychological thriller about delusion. But generic ambiguity is not the point: The Lighthouse keeps hold of us with the sheer muscular intelligence and even theatricality of the performances and the first-class writing. Even Sir Donald Wolfit or Robert Newton could not have got more out of the role of Tom than Willem Dafoe does and Pattinson is mesmeric in his bewilderment and uncertainty.
7. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan
In the wake of the somnambulant Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the fledgling Star Trek movie series was in need of some zest, which is exactly what The Wrath of Khan provided. While retaining the thematic elements of the late-'60s TV series and utilizing the much-loved original USS Enterprise crew, Star Trek II added hefty doses of action, adventure, and suspense, injecting life into a concept that had been left moribund by its first big-screen feature. To date, this is the best Star Trek movie, and, arguably, the strongest any motion picture version of the franchise could hope to be.
Gone are the pastels and clinical whites of The Motion Picture, replaced by a more pleasing burgundy uniform. The ship also seems smaller and homier than three years ago, although there's a definite warlike aspect to its comforts (witness the detail shown as the Enterprise prepares for the film's climactic battle). The characters also seem more relaxed here, and the three-pronged friendship/rivalry between Admiral Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) harkens back to the best moments of the series. Director Nicholas Meyer (Time after Time), in conjunction with writers Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards, has taken pains to resurrect the humanity of Star Trek.
The Star Trek regulars do what's expected of them. William Shatner, not generally regarded as a top-flight actor, fits comfortably into this role, mixing heroic arrogance with surprising vulnerability. Of the seven Star Trek features in which he has appeared, Shatner does his best work here. Leonard Nimoy, as usual, plays Spock with a touch of sardonic wit, and DeForest Kelley proves to be his perfect, illogical foil. Familiar faces James Doohan (Scotty), Walter Koenig (Chekov), George Takei (Sulu), and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) are all on hand, although only Koenig has more than a few token scenes.
In one of the creepiest episodes of the vintage American TV series The Twilight Zone, residents of the apparently idyllic Peaksville find themselves cut off from the rest of the world, terrorised by the petulant yet godlike mind of a small child. Adapted from a story by Jerome Bixby, the episode (ironically entitled It’s a Good Life) struck a chilling chord with audiences in 1961, watching from behind their picket fences, mesmerised by its darkly comic vision of a world in which failing to think happy thoughts was punishable by death, or worse.
The title Vivarium (a container for observing small animals in a re-creation of their natural environment) provides a signpost for where this is going. Suffice to say that Tom and Gemma find themselves in a pastel-coloured simulacrum of suburban hell, raising a monstrous child whose arrival is prefigured by a horrifying opening sequence of a cuckoo invading a nest, screaming to be fed by its bewildered surrogate mother. “That’s nature,” Gemma tells one of her young charges, “that’s just the way things are,” adding forlornly that “it’s only horrible sometimes”.
You can see the seeds of Vivarium in the ghost estates of Finnegan and Shanley’s chilling 2012 short Foxes, and there are times this feels like a single idea stretched to feature length. But there’s enough visual and thematic invention to keep viewers gripped and unsettled, particularly in these unprecedented, isolated times.
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