BEST SCI-FI MOVIE
Two regular contributors to Sci-Fi Movie Page pick their best - and
worst - SF/Fantasy movies of 2004.
"Enough elbow room to entertain audiences of all ages ..."
HARRISON CHEUNG's picks:
2004's best movie - sci-fi or
not - was unquestionably THE INCREDIBLES. We expect quality animation and
story-telling from Pixar but with THE INCREDIBLES reaching for Disney's first PG
rating, the story had enough elbow room to entertain audiences of all ages.
On one level, this is a
superhero movie. Of course it's also a Disney family story, but subversively,
it's a poke at obsessed fandom - something sci-fi fans may know a thing or two
about. And like the bittersweet look at maturity in TOY STORY 2, THE INCREDIBLES
is a heartening story about middle-age. Want more? How about a nasty poke at the
corporate world that equals THE OFFICE in cynicism? When we see our middle-aged
hero wasting away in cubicle hell, it's clear that that writer/director Brad
Bird can sympathize with those of us who are trapped in offices but dream of
other lives. Add to that a retro-cool-James Bond-like art direction, tart
dialogue, and a 60s soundtrack, and you've got the smartest, most stylish and
best movie of the year.
"Shyamalan, who fancies himself to be a modern day Hitchcock, confuses
style with formula . . ."
Picking 2004's "worst" movie is
a tough chore because there are movies that were technical duds and there are
movies that disappoint after setting high expectations.
THE VILLAGE fits the bill
nicely thanks to the year's biggest hype campaign that begged audiences to be
blown away but instead devastated people with Shyamalan’s now trademark (and
predictable) plot summation. You'd think that after a century of movie-making,
studios and directors and writers would have learned from past mistakes so that
movies today would be just about perfect!
But even with a brilliant cast who all
delivered great performances, THE VILLAGE falls apart because it signalled its
surprise plot twist well in advance. Once we get over the twist, inconsistencies
abound and logic falls apart. THE VILLAGE is one of those movies where everyone
shuffles out of the theatre muttering, "That couldn't have happened. How did
that happen? That's not right. Hey, they forgot about..." Shyamalan, who fancies
himself to be a modern day Hitchcock, confuses style with formula. And now that
Shyamalan’s one trick formula is out in the open, hopefully he'll try something
"I generally don’t like anime, but Innocence is so
mysterious and beautiful that it sucked me right in ..."
THE FRIDAY & SATURDAY NIGHT
First things first: full disclosure. Among the movies I missed this year
were The Chronicles of Riddick, The Day After Tomorrow, and the
Wall Street/time machine satire Primer. My favorite sci-fi of year is a
close race between Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence and Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I generally don’t like anime, but
Innocence is so mysterious and beautiful that it sucked me right in.
didn’t really know what was going on, but I didn’t care either. It was enough to
know that technology had left the two philosopher-cops adrift, morally,
spiritually, and sometimes physically. Eternal Sunshine works in
something of the same way, by keeping its audience in relative ignorance of
what’s going on, but drawing us in with powerful imagery and the universal
appeal of love gone awry.
As for the most over-rated
science-fiction film of the year…I didn’t go to the bathroom once in
Spider-Man 2, yet I somehow still missed the part where it became the best
superhero movie ever. I barely recommended the movie because Tobey Maguire’s
performance made me really care about Peter Parker and want to know what
happened next, and I also like that director Sam Raimi let the movie have a
sense of humor, particularly in Parker’s boss. Otherwise, I found Spider-Man
2 to be ham-handed, overly talky, and sparked by action sequences really not
more remarkable than any other CG superhero adventure. I don’t know what all the
fuss is over. Maybe I just don’t understand comic books.