Friday, December 24, 2010

Top Science-Fiction & Fantasy Films, 2001-2010

With the first decade of the new millennium coming to a close, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the best movies of the period; this being an SF/F blog, though, I'll focus on that genre.  I don't claim to have seen every film released, so my list is necessarily partial.  If your favourite is omitted, it may simply because I never caught it (although if your favourite is 2012, it's not on the list because it's sh*te).

Today we look at films No.8 to 10 on the list.

10. The Butterfly Effect, dir. Eric Bress &  J.Mackye Gruber (2004)
This was pretty much uniformly panned on release; time and two worthless sequels haven't helped its reputation either.  Starring Ashton Kutcher (bear with me here) as a time-traveller who can go back an alter the past, The Butterfly Effect is not particularly original in concept, but it scores points for the bleakness of its vision.  Evan Treborn (Kutcher) repeatedly goes back in time to right past wrongs, only to find that his efforts make matters progressively worse.  This plays out--in the directors' cut at least--to an inevitable but grim conclusion.  The logic of the time-travelling works more logically than in many such films, and while it is not a classic, The Butterfly Effect deserves more credit than it gets.

9. Avatar, dir. James Cameron (2009)
I described this at the time as great cinema, but not a great film, and that still feels about right.  The 3D pyrotechnics overshadow a plot which never rises above the serviceable, but the overall effect is certainly dramatic.  3D does not in itself make an exciting film (step forward Alice in Wonderland), so Cameron deserves credit for making a picture which fairly skips along.   A science-fiction film which gets so many people through the doors can't be all bad.

8. Harry Potter sequence, dir. various (2001-11)
Harry Potter, whether on the page or on screen, tends to polarise opinion.  I'm a fan of the books, and the films have been enjoyable, if undemanding, entertainment.  They deserve credit for fidelity to the books, and the quality of the child actors is much better than generally recognised.  The films are likely to remain staples for years to come, and to bring a new generation to the books.  The special effects are consistently excellent, but--unlike Avatar--never outshine the plot or the characters.

Come back soon to see the films I've rated No.5, 6 and 7!


C. N. Nevets said...

The Butterfly Effect has long been on my list, and I need to make that a priority.

Avatar has just not caught my interest at all. What's the hook? Just spectacle?

I haven't read the HP books, but the films are exactly as you say.

Tim Stretton said...

I suspect The Butterfly Effect works best if you go in with low expectations - I wouldn't want to overhype it.

Avatar, yeah, is all spectacle - but in 3D, what a spectacle! The plot is adequate but unsurprising, and Sigourney Weaver does a nice turn on autopilot.

The HP books are worth reading - particularly the second half of the series - but won't necessarily add a great deal to your enjoyment if you've seen the films.