Last updated July 17, 2017 at 2:56 pm
This two-part series takes a look at some classics and underappreciated gems where, whether you realise it at first or not, science fiction takes a back seat. Part Two keeps its feet planted firmly on planet Earth.
Film Noir – Dark City
When the opening shot of your movie is a backlit dude in a trench coat and a fedora, you’re telling viewers loud and clear: prepare yourself for a mystery, lots of shadows, and a damsel or two, because this is Noir. Our protagonist wakes up with no memory, and has to stay one step ahead of the detective investigating a murder he might have committed. And a bunch more weird stuff keeps happening to him. Depending on your tolerance for such weirdness, this movie might work a little bit better in its ambition than its execution. It’s certainly ahead of its time, and its cult status is indicative of its influence on the genre. Treat yourself to a Dark City/The Matrix double feature if you want the full effect. Also, feel free to argue with me about this movies’ inclusion in Part Two of this series, reasons for which I will not go into because spoilers, sweetie.
Romantic Comedy – Shaun of the Dead
After a break-up fuelled big night, Shaun and Ed stumble through the first day of the zombie apocalypse, making a cricket bat and shovel iconic in the process. This movie will go down in history as the best bang for your movie-going buck of all time. Not only will it make you laugh so hard that you miss the next joke, you get two romances for the price of one. Shaun and Liz make a cute couple and she brings out the best in him, but the story is just as much about Shaun and Ed’s soulmate-level friendship. As a lover of all things zombie, I also appreciate that they stuck with classic, Romero-style zombies. It’s not explained per se, but there’s nothing supernatural going on here; this is a virus or infection ultimately fought by science.
Road Trip – Midnight Special
Sit back, relax, and let Midnight Special take you where it’s going. And then immediately tense up again because sh*t goes down in this movie and you just want everyone to be okay! This is such a satisfying movie because the detail is fed so purposefully. All you know at first is that a father and son are on the run from some shadowy, government-y type figures. I don’t want to tell you too much more except that, like any time Michael Shannon’s face is on the screen, this is one of those movies that will stay with you.
Heist – Ant-Man
I’m hardly the first to point out that Ant-Man has more in common with Ocean’s Eleven than it does with Iron Man – crazy-rich scientists, and maybe-evil tech corporations notwithstanding. Once the superhero origin story and training-montage stuff is out of the way, Ant-Man can get on with letting its band of crooks use their misbegotten skills for good and save the world. You’ve got your hacker, your thieves, your mastermind, and your girl-on-the-inside. Add the visual trickery of shrinking, and you’ve really got a device to make the heist a nail-biter.
Procedural – Fringe
If you haven’t heard of a procedural before, it’s because it’s a bit of an industry term. It’s basically either a law enforcement show, a mystery show, a lawyer show, or a medical show. Your CSI, your Suits, your Grey’s Anatomy, you get the drill. In the Fringe universe, the characters are part of a branch of the FBI that uses fringe science to investigate the unexplained. For a show with a mad scientist at it’s core, the characterisations and the relationships are really great. And in amongst the gripping plots of the mysteries and monsters of the week, the series arcs are well balanced. Plus, it’s always nice to see Pacey again.
Travel back in time to Part One, where we blasted off into space. And shout out if there’s a genre-bending sci-fi spectacular you can’t believe we left out!