11 Reasons 2015 Will Be a Great Year for Indie Sci-Fi
2014 was a great year for sci-fi in general, but it was an even better year for indie sci-fi. Small arthouse films such as Under the Skin and The Guest outstripped most of this year's big-budget blockbusters in quality, and four out our ten best sci-fi films of 2014 were indies. 2015 is shaping up to be an equally great year for indie sci-fi (we hope). Here are our eleven most anticipated underdog, non-Star Wars movies, from little romantic charmers like Space Station 76 to high-concept, philosophical thrillers that could be the next Snowpiercer:
(Note: the line between films that are technically "independent" and the ones that are "studio films" is slightly blurry, so we're defining "indie" to just mean "small arthouse-ish film." Enjoy!)
Predestination - January 9
[Credit: Sony Pictures]
If you haven't already seen Predestination, go see it now. Based on the short story "'-All You Zombies-'" by Robert A. Heinlein, the movie follows a government agent as he goes back in time to catch an infamous terrorist who killed 11,000 people in New York City. After coming out this past weekend, it's received plenty of positive buzz, with critics citing the clever script and the powerhouse performances of 2015 Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke and breakout newcomer Sarah Snook as the highlights.
Vice - January 16
This film stars Bruce Willis as the CEO of a company called Vice, which is populated with (supposedly) non-sentient androids who help customers fulfill all of their unattainable fantasies, from sex to violence to other kinds of crime, allowing them to enact their worst impulses without actually hurting anyone. Until one of the androids achieves self-awareness, that is. The concept has the potential to be derivative of superior works like Westworld and Blade Runner, and the early reviews have had similar complaints, but the trailer looks intriguing enough that we'll decide for ourselves.
Project Almanac - January 30
[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
The found footage film Project Almanac follows a group of teenagers who find plans for a time machine and set out to build it themselves, using it to fix their own problems with predictably terrible results. We were decidedly not excited about this movie when we first heard about it, as the combination of found footage, teen drama, and time travel seemed destined to be disastrous. But surprisingly enough, early reviews have been positive, with critics characterizing it as a fun and self-aware addition to the genre.
Chappie - March 6
We were disappointed by Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, which was mainstream fare at its most generic. But the more offbeat Chappie seems to show him getting back to his District 9 brilliance, as the early buzz makes the film look both thoughtful and adorable. Sharlto Copley stars as Chappie, an intelligent robot who has the mind of a human child, in a story that's half-robot thriller, half-coming of age story.
Ex Machina - April 10
We can hardly count the reasons we're excited for this movie. The cast, which includes Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander, is top-notch, it's written and directed by 28 Days Later's Alex Garland, and all of the promotional materials thus far indicate that this will be a high-minded, thoughtful look at the ethics of artificial intelligence. Gleeson plays a computer programmer who is invited to his boss's mountain house, only to find that he is part of a twisted type of Turing Test involving a self-aware and seductive female robot.
Victor Frankenstein - October 2
[Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The story of Frankenstein told from Igor's perspective, Victor Frankenstein stars Daniel Radcliffe as the hunchback assistant and James McAvoy as the titular scientist. Radcliffe has been making incredibly interesting and shrewd decisions in his post-Harry Potter career, and the change in perspective seems to add a refreshing new angle to the oft-told story of Frankenstein's monster.
High-Rise - TBA
[Credit: Recorded Picture Company]
Starring Marvel favorite Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, and Jeremy Irons, High-Rise follows a young doctor who is seduced by the lifestyle in an isolated high-rise community that is luxuriously cut off from the rest of society. With its barely sci-fi, dystopian concept and focus on class issues, High-Rise already seems like it has potential to be this year's Snowpiercer.
Equals - TBA
[Credit: Icon Film Distribution]
An original story from director Drake Doremus, Equals depicts a "utopian" society in which emotions have been completely eradicated, and shows a love affair developing between an artist and a writer when an infection causes their emotions to resurface. The premise could be cheesy or fascinating depending on how it's handled, but we're big fans of stars Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart (minus the whole Twilight thing), and Doremus, who helmed the wonderful Like Crazy, has proven himself capable of telling love stories without being mawkish.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - TBA
[Credit: Screen Gems]
Based on the classic parody of the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies combines everything good: Victorian literature, zombies, ninjas, katanas, and Doctor Who's Matt Smith. Using a zombie apocalypse to illustrate the rigid social castes of the 19th century is fairly brilliant, and we're excited to see what the film adaptation comes up with.
Cell - TBA
Not to be confused with The Cell, the widely panned 2000 sci-fi movie starring Jennifer Lopez, Cell is an adaptation of Stephen King's well-received novel of the same name. A modern, technologically-minded take on the zombie apocalypse genre, the novel follows a struggling artist who tries to find his family after a mysterious cell signal turns the majority of the world's population into 28 Days Later-type rage monsters. The screenplay is adapted by the author himself, and the film also reunites John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, who worked together on the successful King adaptation 1408.
Z for Zachariah - TBA
[Credit: Zik Zak Filmworks]
Based on the acclaimed novel from Robert C. O'Brien, Z for Zachariah follows a young woman who believes she is the last to survive a nuclear apocalypse, only to discover that two men with mysterious intentions have survived as well. The book was praised by critics for exploring the potential destructiveness of scientific endeavor, and the film, which stars Margot Robbie, Chris Pine, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, will hopefully live up to the loftiness of its source material.