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Looking for recommendations for Smart Sci-Fi movies

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09 Jul 2019 09:06 #299427 by jason10mm
I, Mother = pretty decent with great mechanical designs.

Tremors = while not exactly sci-fi, it is, by FAR, the smartest monster film ever made. Every character makes perfectly logical decisions based on the info they have at the time.

Strange Days = been a while since I've seen it, but will have to rewatch now that VR stuff is closer to reality.

The Arrival = yeah, the Charlie Sheen one. I recall it being surprisingly smart.

Upgrade = guy gets a robot chip spinal implant. Goofy in places but pretty chilling overall and its third act mostly lands, unlike so many other sci-fi films that choke at the end.

Primer = time travel film that you MUST watch extremely closely. It deals with time paradox and altering events so subtly that you will miss stuff if just casually watching.

Wings of Honneamise = old school anime film. Very grounded and touching. Could probably throw in the animated "Ghost in the Shell" as well if we are opening it up to animation.

The Expanse = yeah, it is a TV show, but if you like hard science and are NOT watching this, then you don't really like hard science. Watch with subtitles on though, the first seasons audio mix combined with every actor doing a different accent can make the dialogue tough to follow and it is all very important.
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09 Jul 2019 09:37 #299428 by edulis
I second the Expanse television show. Especially the first two seasons.
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09 Jul 2019 09:46 - 09 Jul 2019 09:54 #299429 by Ah_Pook
I want to say The Thing since it's my favorite sci fi movie, but it's definitely not going to fly given the criteria.

Maybe Akira?

Edit: Buckaroo Banzai or Repo Man, if sillier things are on the menu. Also, not science fiction, but Apollo 11.
Last edit: 09 Jul 2019 09:54 by Ah_Pook.
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09 Jul 2019 09:55 #299430 by hotseatgames
Akira is definitely violent and has a rough scene with sexual assault.
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09 Jul 2019 10:18 - 09 Jul 2019 10:25 #299432 by Matt Thrower
My wife is indifferent to sci-fi as a genre and likes films on their own merits. We both very much enjoyed Annihilation which I don't think has been mentioned yet and would seem to fit your criteria. It's only loosely based on the YA novel that inspired it and seems to have several layers of depth added. As a bonus, one of its perspectives is feminist, with all the principal characters being women.

Snowpiercer didn't go down quite so well but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it would also seem to fit the bill, although there are some violent scenes.
Last edit: 09 Jul 2019 10:25 by Matt Thrower.
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09 Jul 2019 10:20 - 09 Jul 2019 10:24 #299433 by Sagrilarus

mezike wrote:
• Blade Runner – I have to admit that this is a film that I feel I am supposed to like more than I actually like. Worth a revisit as I don’t recall it being too violent, and I haven’t yet seen the sequel.
• Godzilla – giant monsters aren’t going to fly in much the same way as she dislikes films about aliens. I suggested Gareth Edward’s Monsters and even that got politely declined even though the aliens barely feature as anything more than a backdrop.
• Looper – I have this one but was holding back for now as she wasn’t keen on the premise. It’s a good movie.


The issue with Blade Runner is which version to watch. I recently watched the original (35 years after the last time I watched it) and came away thinking that maybe, just maybe, it's the best version. The Directors Cuts which are legion muddy things up more than a bit, as Scott was using them to generate revenue for further projects. Though a bit lightweight at the end, the theatrical version leaves the core questions fully intact. Later versions pile a lot of junk on top of that.
I found the sequel tedious by the way. Really a soulless film. I'll likely get a fair amount of rebuttal for saying that and I don't want to hijack the thread, but it is what it is. I turned it off and went to bed halfway through, picked it back up the following night. A bit of a walkabout film.


Godzilla, the original . . . oddly enough not a whole lot of monster in it. The beauty of low budget films is that they don't spend a lot of time showing big baddies. As an American it becomes very apparent how the Japanese felt about the atomic drops in the 40s. In the original film that is the heart of the discussion. The monster is only a supporting role. Really a great film in the genre, especially considering its source and its budget. The Raymond Burr remix is quite good too, but it's at best a glancing blow at the original thematic elements. I'd wager most people here have never seen the original and it's worth your time to have a look if you haven't.

I watched Looper until they got to the part where they showed people being shot in the back of the head over and over in a montage. That was about four minutes into the film. If your wife doesn't like violence that may be all the farther you get.
Last edit: 09 Jul 2019 10:24 by Sagrilarus.
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09 Jul 2019 10:44 #299436 by hotseatgames
I personally found Blade Runner 2049 to be incredible. I like both films but the first one is plodding in a way the second is not.
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09 Jul 2019 10:51 #299438 by quozl
Have you watched Serenity?
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09 Jul 2019 11:34 #299445 by RobertB
In Time isn't horrible. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Not as good as Gattaca, but not bad.
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09 Jul 2019 12:00 #299452 by Gregarius
Lots of great suggestions here, so I have only a few to mention that haven't been suggested already:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Either of the first two versions are great. I prefer the '78 one, but it might be too dark for your needs. (As an aside for other readers, the '93 version "Body Snatchers" is also really good, but too violent and action-oriented for the OP.)

The Fountain - Not to everyone's taste, but I think it would be perfect for you. It's better than people give it credit.

Contact - Almost no violence, a female protagonist, and near-current technology. I like this film more every time I watch it.

Somewhere in Time. Time After Time - A time-travel two-fer! The first is more romance than sci-fi, but it's a good thinkpiece. The latter is more action, but not as graphic as the premise might suggest.
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09 Jul 2019 12:27 #299453 by mezike
Some more brilliant suggestions! I love how diverse some of these are getting, thank you all for taking the time to offer your thoughts. Some are going on the list, others I don’t think will be a good fit, but I will be sure to respond to everything when I have time.

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09 Jul 2019 12:28 #299454 by Shellhead

jason10mm wrote: Tremors = while not exactly sci-fi, it is, by FAR, the smartest monster film ever made. Every character makes perfectly logical decisions based on the info they have at the time.


Tremors is more of a horror movie than a science-fiction movie, but it might work for the OP's purposes. The violence is generally off-screen and discrete, and most of the movie takes place in broad daylight. The characters initially seem like rubes, but they do make logical decisions based on available information.
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09 Jul 2019 12:51 #299456 by ubarose
The Shape of Water
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09 Jul 2019 13:07 #299459 by mezike

ubarose wrote: The Shape of Water


Yes! Bang on with that one I reckon.
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09 Jul 2019 13:22 #299461 by hotseatgames

ubarose wrote: The Shape of Water


Best movie I saw last year. Just incredible.
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