Top Science-Fiction & Fantasy Films, 2001-2010
Did you agree with the inclusion of No.8-10 on the list? Today we'll be looking at an altogether more impressive set of films.
7. Minority Report, dir. Steven Spielberg, 2002
Philip K. Dick's fiction has been fruitful ground for film-makers, dating right back to Bladerunner. Dick was much better as a writer at throwing out brilliant ideas than he was at translating them into formally satisfying fiction, but those brilliant ideas make fantastic elevator pitches. Minority Report is certainly not especially faithful to its source, but it builds on the idea of a police force which maintains order by being able to see crimes about to be committed. This future, and the tensions and contradictions it embodies, are neatly realised in Spielberg's vision, and the presence of Tom Cruise at the height of his stardom does not unbalance the whole. A pacy thriller and subtle exploration of a deterministic future, Minority Report remains an underrated piece.
6. The Dark Knight, dir. Christopher Nolan, 2008
Nolan has an extraordinary body of work, and although The Dark Knight is remembered primarily for Heath Ledger's bravura turn as The Joker, the film is much more impressive than that would suggest. Most comic book adaptations rarely impress on the big screen, but Nolan's vision of a dark and corrupt Gotham City never fails to grip. Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne is a dark, unhappy soul and he's entirely at home here. Anyone who remembers the earlier film representations of the Caped Crusader will be astonished at the power and resonance Nolan has extracted from the source material. The special effects are stunning, but the viewer is so caught up in the narrative that they are hardly noticed.
5. Serenity, dir. Joss Whedon, 2005
Whedon is in some ways Nolan's antithesis. Every bit as talented, he has the sad knack of creating excellent work which fails to score the commercial success necessary to continue. Firefly and Dollhouse were both remarkable TV series and both were canned prematurely (especially Firefly). Serenity is the film we got to round off the Firefly series instead. It's a fine film, pleasantly low-tech, with nuanced characters and a script well above the norm for the genre. An ensemble cast create a believable and likeable crew, enhanced by a crackingly menacing turn from Chiwetel Ejiofor. Whedon's vision here is the nearest cinema gets to Jack Vance. It's a fine end to the Firefly experiment, but it leaves the reader melancholy for all the TV series we might have had.
Next: films 2, 3 and 4.