There are some sci-fi movies that everyone freaks out about, but their fame lasts about as long as a summer romance. Think Inspector Gadget—sounds familiar, but the phrase “go, go gadget” never really swept the nation off its feet. Here are the top five sci-fi films that everyone loved but nobody remembers.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Like many of the sci-fi movies we’ve forgot, this looks very average, but you can’t judge a VHS tape by its cover! Tim Burton not only parodies grade B Sci-Fi movies with hysterically bad aliens that laugh like ducks quacking, but he also pokes fun at the coverage of politics in American media. The film follows several powerful sources of information and political campaigns after an announcement that flying saucers are surrounding the planet. Whether you want to make fun of elephants and donkeys, or just really bad Sci-Fi movies, this black comedy is plenty—no need for sugar and cream.
Matthew McConaughey and Jodie Foster star as two scientists searching the stars for radio signals from alien life forms. When they find a signal containing Adolf Hitler’s Olympic address speech and drawings of a human inside spinning rings, their search is over. Interestingly enough, the filmmakers search for evidence of alien life forms didn’t prove so satisfying. They misconstrued clips of Clinton speaking and included them in the film under the false context that he was speaking about aliens. Thus ensued the lawsuits.
The Truman Show (1998)
No, this is NOT about Harry S. Truman. But YES! We always assumed it was also, especially with the political looking poster! But seriously, this is Jim Carrey slowly realizing that his life is one giant TV show… or actually, Jim Carrey’s character realizing that his life is a reality show. Either or, this one could have written itself, don’t you think? Regardless, Andrew Niccol created the concept under some strong influence from The Twilight Zone.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Finishing this film is like waking up from dream and questioning your own reality. Cameron Crowe, the director, says there are five possible interpretations of the ending of the film. Then, Tom Cruise claims that half of the film is just a dream. The plot goes like this: Tom Cruise has two girlfriends and essentially two realities. Only when one reality offers him a way to prolong his life through lucid dreaming, he wonders if he’s already in a dream. Sound confusing? Sleep for yourself.
When told that Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, and Paul Giamatti were all in the same movie, we were ashamed to say we had no idea which one. We don’t know how this slipped under the rug, but we’re retracing our steps—though that seems to be the point of the movie. When an engineer works for competing companies, he undergoes quick memory swipes to maintain his integrity. But when some post-memory-swipe clues allude to crime-ridden work, Michael Jennings retraces his steps to uncover the evidence, even if it incriminates himself.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
You may remember this one, but only if you were big into the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Ashton Kutcher’s character has the ability to go back in time and change his behaviors, but too many changes and he loses his young love interest. Exercise caution: the loss of Demi Moore is really nothing compared to this.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
In this Gotham mystery flick, Gwyneth plays Polly Perkins (sounds a little like Pepper Potts). We suppose she was just ahead of her time… that, or Jude Law just pales in comparison to Robert Downey Jr. Speaking of being “ahead of your time,” this film was one of the first to be set in the Dieselpunk genre, the popular WWI and WWII inspired offshoot of Steampunk. The first time director, Kerry Conran, created a trailer in his living room and raised money to make the film, even without a distribution contract.
The Island (2005)
In a contained society, the government holds a lottery once a week to pick someone to move from the suffocating commune to an oasis—the island. Well, that’s what the inhabitants of the commune are told. Winners of the lottery are actually sacrifices stripped for organs or used as surrogate mothers. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson escape the commune to realize it’s basically a torture chamber in the middle of the Arizona desert. If only all futuristic torture chambers were inhabited by this many good looking people.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
As Arthur Dent lies in front of a construction crane, he probably wonders, “How did I get here?” And that’s the same question we were asking ourselves as we started watching this flick. But soon, it all makes sense. Aliens are simply demolishing human homes to make room for their industrial galaxy highway. You’ll have to visit the DMV on Mars before you get behind the wheel.
The Fountain (2006)
Darren Aronofsky said his film is “like a Rubik's Cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there's only one solution at the end.” Two characters are involved in three plotlines, each in a separate time period. One is their real life, one is the fiction they write, and the third is the life they imagined. The life they imagined has no death, but the movie begins on the woman’s deathbed. It's like a puzzle inside of an enigma inside of a spaceship!
What's your favorite movie that no one seems to remember?