Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Top Science Fiction Films & TV Shows of 2015

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

This is something I like to share every Sci-Fi Month, along with my top books – my favourite science fiction films and television shows watched this year. These do not have to have been released during 2015 – just watched this year by myself.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

I already spoke briefly about Jurassic World earlier this month when I discussed dinosaurs in science fiction, but I have to mention it again here because it DEFINITELY makes the cut. So it might not be the most amazing or smartest movie ever, but for the sheer fun, thrill and nostalgia, it does no wrong in my eyes. It took all the things that made the first film so fantastic, and built on them. And it was so exciting to finally have the park open to the public! Even if things went exactly as expected.

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Another film I have already discussed this month, Ex Machina is low-key, eerie science fiction. Although A.I. may not sound ‘low key’, the technology viewed in the film is quite basic in terms of presentation, and we don’t see much more than Nathan’s swish security system and Ava herself. A slow, creeping piece about what artificial intelligence means, this might keep you awake well past your bedtime.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers_Age_of_Ultron

Whilst Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t quite the film I’d been waiting for ever since it was announced, it was still a good, fun film – and to be honest I just can’t resist Marvel. Ultron was a little too comic to be a decent villain, but it meant we got to see more of the superhero team, as well as the new additions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I’m surprised it’s not on Netflix yet to be honest…

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Okay, this is probably cheating a bit since this is a rewatch, but I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy so many times since its initial release, and I still love it just as much. It’s funny, heartwarming, has a great amount of action and adventure, and an absolutely fantastic soundtrack. It’s a little more light-hearted and self-deprecating than other Marvel films, and all the more better for it.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6

It took me a little while to get round to Big Hero 6, and I’m so glad I finally made the time. This film was adorable in every way, and just so so cool! A group of teens go from robotics students to superheroes, along with what might be the cutest robot companion ever to exist. I want a hug from Baymax please.

Terra Nova

Terra Nova

I also previously discussed Terra Nova in my post on dinosaurs in science fiction, and I’m so gutted that it was cancelled! I don’t regret checking this one out on Netflix though, definitely give it a shot if you can.

Extant

Extant

Another cancelled series… I started watching Extant earlier this year, and rushed through the first season. It tells of an astronaut called Molly Woods, who returns from a 13 month solo mission in space… only to find out that she is pregnant. It sounds quite Alien-esque, and takes a little while to pick up, but it had me gripped by the end of the season, especially as it got a little creepier. Unfortunately after the second season, it was axed.

Have you watched any of these films or TV shows? What did you think? What are your favourites of 2015?

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Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Ex Machina and the Question of Artificial Intelligence

sfm15_5

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Please be aware that this post will contain spoilers for the film Ex Machina.

It was with great anticipation that I awaited the release of the film Ex Machina this past January. I finally made it to the cinema – and left feeling so unnerved. Ex Machina was not quite as I expected, although not at all in a bad way. It was more the fact that I wasn’t expecting the film to be so creepy, or to make me really think about so much of the film’s matter.

If you are unaware of the plot of the film, here is a brief synopsis:

Programmer Caleb wins an internal competition at the company where he works and is invited to spend a week at the mountain estate of the company’s owner, Nathan. On arrival, Caleb finds that the place is a state-of-art facility. Nathan gives him a non-disclosure contract to sign. Then he explains that he is assigned to evaluate the reactions and emotions of artificial intelligence in a female body called Ava. Caleb interviews Ava, and she uses a power outage to tell him that he should not trust Nathan. Along the day, Caleb is involved by Ava and plots a scheme to let her flee from the facility. Meanwhile Nathan tells him that he has been manipulated by Ava. Who is telling the truth? (from IMDB)

Or let the trailer set the mood:

After several sessions, the AI, Ava, begins to question Caleb about himself. She wants to learn about a person and therefore form a friendship through those bonds. Although the way in which she approaches making those bonds is not how natural friendships form, she is aware of how they work. Ava also asks why she cannot go outside. Later in the film, we see that Nathan’s previous AIs also asked this question, even demanding to know why and becoming aggressive and violent. Nathan is at first, a reclusive genius. Then his darker side emerges: he is an alcoholic, he seems to have ulterior motives for his AIs at times, and he has no qualms about psychologically terrorising Caleb.

Ava seems to grow rather attached to Caleb. He is, as Nathan says, the first man she has seen that is not Nathan, who is ‘practically her father’. It therefore only seems natural that she takes great interest in him, flirting with him, showing him her new clothes and analysing his microreactions for attraction. As she says, she is ‘testing him’. In the finale of the film, Caleb helps Ava escape. During the escape, she stabs Nathan with a kitchen knife. Did she do this because of his cruel behaviour, or because she saw his death as her only way out? She clearly has information on the concept of death, and knew how to kill Nathan. Was this something programmed into her, or something she picked up?

In a heartbreaking twist, Ava also abandons Caleb, leaving him locked in the house with no way out. This raises the question: was it her intention all along to use Caleb to escape? Did she truly have no interest in him? Or did she decide at the spur of the moment that it was best if she went alone, after what happened with Nathan? The film raises many questions that science fiction films of the past have raised, but the way of presenting them and the results of the ‘experiment’ is very haunting.

The lighting, setting – remote, modern and sterile – and music add SO much tension and atmosphere to the film. The soundtrack is truly outstanding, and sends chills down my spine. For a science fiction film, it’s less about the special effects and super technology (apart from Ava herself, obviously), and more about why we want things like this in our lives.

Have you seen Ex Machina? What did you think?