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Catching Up on SciFi Movies (Part 11)

As I’ve done before, here are my quick takes on the genre-related films I’ve watched in the last several weeks…

  1. Knowing (2009) – Directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage as a burdened professor of astrophysics and widower, Knowing morphs from spooky supernatural numerology thriller to apocalyptic film – a transition inaccessible to the masses and probably only appreciable to genre fans. And darned if it didn’t have me engrossed the whole way through despite the sometimes heavy-handed religious symbolism and the few unanswered, hand-wavy plot points.
  2. Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending look at shared dreams, although suffering a bit from pacing issues, offers a brilliantly constructed plot — perhaps meant more for moviemakers than moviegoers — that jumps around your brain long after you leave the theater.
  3. Daybreakers (2009) – Daybreakers is what you get when you mix the sf-nal “what if?” scenario with vampires. But its interesting premise is hastily implemented and unfortunately paced, ultimately yielding a near-future without a whole lot of bite. (See what I did there?)
  4. The Book of Eli (2010) – A formulaic post-apocalyptic snooze-fest until the final confrontation between Denzel Washington (whose Eli almost comes off like an invincible action-hero touched by the hand of God) and Gary Oldman — then there is finally some decent world building. And, ugh!…the sepia filter!
  5. Forbidden Planet (1956) – It’s Shakespeare’s The Tempest…in spaaace! It’s hard to get past the 50’s-era filmmaking quirks, but once you do, there’s a fairly decent (though long-winded) episode of ST:TOS lurking underneath.
About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

9 Comments on Catching Up on SciFi Movies (Part 11)

  1. I applaud your courage to admit you enjoyed Knowing. Too bad about Eli. It looked promising.

  2. Apart from Book Of Eli which I haven’t seen (it did look promising but I’m a bit apocalypsed out at the moment) I thought all of the above were flawed but worthwhile films, including Knowing. I’d have rated Daybreakers higher than you did although it’s still a B-movie, and Forbidden Planet even more so – it’s really well scripted, and for me the backstory of the Krell (and the visuals of their city) plus the A+ casting push it into an epic movie despite the filmmaking quirks.

  3. Only seen a couple of these movies – Inception which I really enjoyed but wish it had stuck to its thought concepts and not gone for the pointless snow action fight scenes which I felt spoilt the pace of the movie, and Daybreakers which i think has been given a fair mark, the premise was good, the movie started out well but half way through just seemed to loose focus and then drift to an anemic and unsatisfying conclusion, whilst setting up a sequel it probably isn’t going to get.

  4. i DARE you to make it thru at least 20 min of Recon 2023. its on Netflix instant streaming.

  5. sorry make that Recon 2022…whew….

  6. I also enjoyed Knowing.  I also enjoyed Eli more than the critics.  Daybreakers is the weak one for me.  Forbidden Planet is a classic.  What you call 50s filmmaking quicks were groundbreaking at the time.  A Classic!

  7. I really loved Inception – it’s one of the better films that I’ve seen out there in the genre, up there with Moon and District 9 for me. I also really liked Daybreakers – It was a neat concept, the right amount of over-the-top ridiculousness and conception. Never saw Knowing, but I didn’t like Book of Eli – I fell asleep during it. 


    Forbidden Planet, now, there’s a classic that’s just stunning. 

  8. I’ve often defended Proyas’ film, Knowing, for a variety of reasons that include the filmmaking, the brilliant Marco Beltrami score (Caleb Leaves being one of the best cues of 2009), and the willingness to at least create an inelligent thematic discussion determinism and free will (I’d steer anyone interested toward the very lengthy discussion prompted by Roger Ebert’s blog post.  Some fascinating internet discourse in there). Also, not easy to end a Hollywood film like that in today’s market–Have to applaud that decision.

    Inception – just a very smart, fun, well made film. As a big budget, Summer release, I hope that it carries some influence with what can be successful.  “Smart” can earn money too.



  9. Knowing, that’s one I’ve got to see!  I like those intellectual based apocalyptic films especially when they involve symboliology (I like intellectual movies involving symbolic systems even if they aren’t from any kind of religion; Enigma was one of those, although it wasn’t really science fiction and definitely not fantasy).  Plus this movie has scary supernaturalism in it as well as astrophysics, a great mix for a science fiction/fantasy film!

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