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 ..."


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 new.


"I generally don’t like anime, but Innocence is so mysterious and beautiful that it sucked me right in ..."


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.

No, I 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.



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