There was a time when I caught every sci-fi movie that hit theaters. There weren’t very many of them, really, and only a handful that were filmed on a budget generous enough to allow the director to fully realize his vision. Now, thanks in large part to computer- generated imagery (CGI), sci-fi movies are churned out so frequently that I only catch a fraction of them on DVD. Last night, I watched “Oblivion” (Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo). Overall, it was an enjoyable film. The tech was quite well done. The plot twist was more interesting than the events leading up to it. I really liked Olga Kurylenko. I’d never heard of this model/actress before, but I look forward to seeing her again in the future. The only other 2013 sci-fi movie that I wish to buy is “Gravity” (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris), mainly due to its stellar reviews.
I might add that good (or at least highly watchable) sci-fi does not necessarily require a big budget. For every “War of the Worlds” (a box office success) or “John Carter” (a box office disaster) there is a “Lifeforce” (Steve Railsback, Mathidla May) or an “Equilibrium” (Christian Bale, Emily Watson).
My all-time favorite science fiction film remains “Aliens,” an action classic which could almost be classified under Creature Features. Another favorite, which was heavily panned by critics, and which fared poorly at the box office, but which I find myself watching regularly, is “Red Planet” (Val Kilmer, Carrie-Ann Moss). I can enjoy a film regardless of whether it has been a financial or critical success. And it does not have to be a star vehicle (ahem!), as is the case for say, Will Smith’s “i, Robot.”
As for how I classify movies on my DVD shelves, I am not very consistent. I include “The Fountain” under Sci-Fi even though it is technically a Romantic Drama with elements of Fantasy (two categories which are far apart on my shelves). And my Sci-Fi collection excludes films like “The Fly” and “Splice” because I view them more as Creature Features (at least “Aliens” takes place on another planet and involves spaceships). Fantasy and Comic Book are separate categories. Although I separate DVDs by category, I also tend to blend them, so that, for example, “Aliens vs. Predator” occupies a middle ground between Sci-Fi and Creature Features. When you have nearly 600 DVDs, organization does become an issue. I suppose everyone goes about it in his or her own way. When films defy classification, or incorporate elements of more than one genre, it becomes problematic.
With respect to “Oblivion,” I know exactly where it belongs: Sci-Fi.