Dark City: Alex Proyas’ intensely dark picture about a legion of mind controlling creatures isn’t just underrated, it’s criminally underrated. But here’s the awkward part, critics actually love this film, it seems to be contemporary viewers who ignore it on frequent occasion. Make no mistake, the film has it’s followers, but for being the masterpiece it is, it’s not appreciated as should be.
Twilight Zone The Movie: This one isn’t underrated so much as forgotten. Few talk about the greatness that lies within this picture, and things should be quite the opposite. If you’re re-envisioning a handful of classic Twilight Zone tales with a group of directors as competent as Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Joe Dante and George Miller, the chances of a misfire are remarkably low. And a misfire is not what TZ The Movie offered; rather, it offered beautifully shot, modern renditions of timeless tales with a handful of excellent actors lending their talents. Twilight Zone The Movie isn’t a must-see, it’s a must-not-forget!
Primer: This film may have been made on a shoe string budget (reportedly under $10,000), but it’s one of the more clever films on this list. It may very well be the best time travel film since the legendary Back To The Future. There’s a cool philosophical element to the film that often goes ignored in small budget films. This is a star amongst a star studded list, if you haven’t seen it, seek it out!
The Faculty: Nearly 13 years ago Robert Rodriguez released his hipster invasion flick The Faculty. The picture started fairly strong, earning some positive reviews, but quickly evaporated into the land of the underappreciated. What some have let slip their minds is that this flashy sci-fi picture is near flawless in areas. The character development is excellent, the acting is fantastic, and the atmosphere hit’s the mark in a major way. It may be flashy, but it’s anything but trashy.
Silent Running: Silent Running is an appreciated film, there’s no doubt, but it runs parallel to Twilight Zone The Movie in the sense that it’s been long forgotten by all but die-hard fans. There’s no reason to not recognize the genius of Douglas Trumbull’s visually pleasing, ecologically supportive feature. It’s one of those few films that really fit the “timeless” bill.
Reign of Fire: While some may prefer to label this picture fantasy, it’s as science fiction as any other on this list. This high speed tale of survival in a world overrun by fierce dragons was bashed all the way to hell and back by most critics, yet it’s an awesome movie! It’s got a stellar cast lead by Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey, impressive special effects and genuine replay value. Forget not about this one, it’s as exciting as it is interesting!
The City of Lost Children: This is easily the most visually stunning picture to make the list. Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet throw every outlandish idea in the book at you, and make it look absolutely amazing. From the mad child abducting scientist to the freaky conjoined to twins to the countless slave clones, this one has a little bit of everything, and it’s all creepy as hell. One of the greatest science fiction films to ever be made, this one should not go unseen!
Cronos: This tale of eternal life tucked in a tricky trinket isn’t just a fun watch, it’s as creepy as John Carpenter’s imagination circa 1979. A green Guillermo del Toro provides this offering, so you know there’s going to be some striking visuals on display. There’s also an impressive storyline and imposing mood to the picture that is rarely captured by filmmakers. Keep an eye out for long time friend and collaborator Ron Perlman as well!
Moon: Sam Rockwell’s performance in this mind bending tale of a lone man on the moon is thought provoking, to put it mildly. There are some impressive visuals to feast on, and a very clever plot to mull over. One of the most technically polished film’s to grace this list, Moon somehow went largely unnoticed upon release last year.
Screamers: Here’s another film that’s received a whole lot of unwarranted criticism. It’s by no means a perfect picture, but it is a highly enjoyable, fast-paced sci-fi flick that features heavy artillery, savage mechanical devices and robot’s that look real enough to make Arnold Schwarzenegger look more like an actual terminator than an actor. Plus it’s got Robocop in it, how do you go wrong?