Science fiction has long been a staple of the film industry, captivating audiences with imaginative worlds and thought-provoking ideas. In recent years, the 21st century has seen an explosion of science fiction films, with new technologies and special effects allowing filmmakers to bring their wildest visions to life.
From epic space adventures to groundbreaking examinations of artificial intelligence, these films have pushed the boundaries of what is possible on the big screen and left a lasting impact on popular culture. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most influential sci-fi films of the 21st century and explore the ways in which they have shaped the genre.
Children of Men
This isn’t a list of the best sci-fi films of the century. But if it was, this film would definitely be in it. Cuarón’s masterpiece is proof that science fiction can be formally artistic and thematically complex.
The film is set in a dystopian future where humanity has become infertile and society is on the brink of collapse. The protagonist, Theo Faron, is tasked with escorting a young woman who is miraculously pregnant, to a safe haven.
The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki has been extremely influential in the sci-fi and action genres. The film utilizes long, uninterrupted shots to immerse audiences in the action and convey a sense of realism. The use of a handheld camera gives it a raw and kinetic feel, making audiences feel as though they are experiencing events in real-time. Sweeping shots, crane shots, and tracking shots, add to the film’s sense of tension and urgency. This dynamic visual style has influenced other films in the action and science fiction genres and has been attempted countless times since.
The film’s themes of social and political decay, and its commentary on issues such as immigration and reproductive rights, make it a relevant and thought-provoking film. The film’s portrayal of a bleak and hopeless future is both terrifying and cautionary.
Satoshi Kon’s film has become a classic of the anime genre and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of imaginative storytelling and animation. The film is a complex and thought-provoking exploration of the human subconscious and the relationship between dreams and reality, set in a near-future where technology has enabled people to enter and explore their own dreams.
The film’s protagonist, a scientist named Paprika, must navigate a world of dreams and reality as she tries to prevent the advanced technology from falling into the wrong hands. The film’s non-linear narrative structure and shifting perspectives, combined with its imaginative and surreal visual style, create a unique and unpredictable viewing experience that keeps audiences engaged from start to finish.
One of the standout aspects of the film is its imaginative and innovative animation style. Satoshi Kon’s imaginative and imaginative depictions of the human subconscious are both haunting and beautiful, and his use of innovative animation techniques, including seamless transitions between the dream world and the real world. A similar approach would be used by Christopher Nolan in the 2010 blockbuster Inception. It has also been cited as an early example of the cyberpunk genre. The film’s non-linear storytelling structure, as well as its use of dream-like imagery and shifting perspectives, has been praised as innovative and has inspired other filmmakers and animators to experiment with similar techniques
Avatar was a turning point for sci-fi. This visually stunning film directed by James Cameron, features incredible special effects, including the use of motion capture and 3D technology to bring the movie’s fantastical creatures and environments to life. It was at the time of its release the highest-grossing sci-fi film of all time.
The film is set in the year 2154 on a remote planet called Pandora, where humans are mining for a precious mineral called Unobtanium. The protagonist, Jake Sully, is a paraplegic Marine who is sent to Pandora as part of an Avatar program where he can control a genetically-engineered body that looks like the native species of Pandora, the Na’vi.
The story explores themes of environmentalism, corporate greed, and cultural differences as Jake becomes embroiled in the conflict between the humans and the Na’vi. The film is also notable for its stunning landscapes, intricate creature design, and memorable characters. The music score, composed by James Horner, adds to the immersive experience, elevating the already emotional and action-packed scenes.
Avatar had an immense impact on pop culture and the success of its sequel thirteen years later is further proof of that.
Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve is perhaps the most acclaimed sci-fi filmmaker of our time, so it should come as no surprise that a movie of his ended up here. Blade Runner 2049 was a sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott Blade Runner. Yet it manages to remodel its world completely while staying spiritually faithful to its successor.
The film’s influence can be seen in various aspects of popular culture. Firstly, it has inspired a renewed interest in the cyberpunk genre, which explores the intersection of technology, society, and humanity. This can be seen in the increased popularity of cyberpunk-themed works in the film, television, and video game industries.
Additionally, Blade Runner 2049 has had a significant impact on cinematography and visual effects. Cinematographer Roger Deakins is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and his work on Blade Runner 2049 finally earned him an Academy Award. The film’s special effects, which blend practical and digital techniques, have set a new standard for visual storytelling and have been widely imitated in other films.
Finally, Blade Runner 2049 has also influenced the broader cultural conversation around artificial intelligence and what it means to be human. The film’s exploration of these themes, combined with its stunning visuals, has led many to see it as a seminal work in the sci-fi genre.
I had to include a Marvel movie in this list. While Ironman and the first Avengers are worthy candidates, I think Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther beats them out. Released in 2018, it was not only a groundbreaking film in the superhero genre, but it also had a significant impact on popular culture and society. Its predominantly black cast and crew broke barriers in Hollywood as it became one of the highest-grossing films in history, with a predominantly black cast.
One of the most notable aspects of the film is its representation of black culture, pride, and empowerment. The film is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. The Wakanda depicted is a powerful, technologically advanced African nation that was uncolonized and untouched by the outside world. This depiction challenged negative stereotypes of Africa and created a lived in representation of a black utopia, inspiring people of the diaspora all over the world to embrace their heritage and cultural identity.
The film also tackled important issues such as colonialism, tribalism, and the black diaspora. The themes of responsibility, power, and the relationship between tradition and progress were also explored in a unique and nuanced way.
Black Panther had a profound impact on the film industry and popular culture, inspiring people to challenge their perceptions of Africa and African-American culture and to celebrate black identity. Not only that, but the soundtrack to the film by Kendrick Lamar was incredibly popular.