M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here! Sprouting from the success of the Best of the Best in Horror Countdown that ran all last month, I thought we would Countdown the Best of the Best in Sci Fi in 2017. Since my area of expertise is horror, I have enlisted my buddy Matt Adler to come up with the Top Ten Sci Fi films of 2017. Along with Matt’s picks for the top ten, I will be adding a pick of my own that is worth noting. Many of these films are available On Demand, digital download, or on DVD/BluRay and when I can, I’ll try to link to them at the top of the reviews.
As far as how the list was compiled? Well, Matt will explain in each of the review why he thinks this film is worthy of the countdown and why it is where it is in the list. For me, I am simply going to offer lesser known suggestions that may not be blockbusters, but they pack a big sci fi punch despite all of that. Any film released after November 1st, 2016 is game for the list. Look for new countdown entries every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through November.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let us know what you think of the films, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong we are, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
#3 ARRIVAL #3
aka STORY OF YOUR LIFE
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Eric Heisserer, based on the story by Ted Chiang
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma, Abigail Pniowsky, Julia Scarlett Dan, Jadyn Malone, Frank Schorpion, Lucas Chartier-Dessert, Christian Jadah, Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld, Sonia Vigneault, Mark Camacho, Larry Day
Find out more about this film here, @WhyAreTheyHere, and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Matt Adler
“Why are they here?”
That is a question posed by most stories of extraterrestrial encounters, but what sets ARRIVAL apart is that it makes that question the centerpiece of the film. The lead characters, Louise Banks and Ian Donnelly (played by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner), are tasked with coming up with the answers.
A lot of people have described this film as “cerebral” but it’s more than that. There’s an emotional core to it, best exemplified by the performance of Amy Adams, that lends meaning and truth to the film beyond the intellectualism of its plot.
There are echoes of other great sci-fi films here, including THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and CONTACT. But Arrival really stands on its own as it touches us on a personal level, focusing on the choices we must all make that will determine the course of our future. Or is that future already determined for us?
EL INCIDENTE (2014)
aka THE INCIDENT
Directed by Isaac Ezban
Written by Isaac Ezban
Starring Raúl Méndez, Nailea Norvind, Hernán Mendoza, Humberto Busto, Fernando Álvarez, Gabriel Santoyo, Paulina Montemayor, Héctor Mendoza, Leonel Tinajero, Marcos Moreno, Luciana Villegas, Adrián Ladrón de Guevara, Leticia González y Magda Brugengheim
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I mentioned this film in my horror countdown last month and I feel that I need to repeat myself (as events repeat in the film, how much of a stellar film this is that deserves to be seen and seen again. Films like PI, CUBE and TIME CRIMES often come to mind when talking about innovative and low fi takes on sci fi standards, using innovative concepts to tell a tale that is one step beyond what we call reality. I dare to add EL INCIDENTE to the list of sci fi films that folks will be talking about for years and years to come in terms of engrossing ideas and innovative ideas about space and time.
A pair of hoodlums make chase away from a police officer into a stairwell. A family sets out on a road trip along a desert highway. Two scenarios that aren’t all together original, but once in motion, these two parallel stories start moving grows to a rapid pace quickly and dangerously. Soon all parties involved realize that they are caught in a loop of both space and time in an infinite flight of stairs and a never-ending stretch of road.
EL INCIDENTE follows the confusion, shock, and disbelief of these people when they realize the path they are on has been travelled over and over in a manner that illustrates this mixed bag of emotions subtly and clearly. Given the age and status differences in the cast, it’s fascinating to see how the cast reacts to being stuck in a non-stop loop. Some crack. Some die. Some persevere. And some grow. This story illustrates all of that with so much finesse that not one moment is wasted. And while the realization of being stuck in such a predicament is where any normal TWILIGHT ZONE or even in a substandard sci fi movie would leave off, this film is just getting started. Just wait until we fast forward 35 years and check back in on our stranded parties in the hamster wheel. It’s absolutely astounding where this story goes.
The resolution of EL INCIDENTE is bound to leave a few people scratching their heads and if I were only half watching this film, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it myself. But this movie is too engrossing to half-watch and if you’re paying attention, even though it is a bit broad and meta, I think you’re going to enjoy how this film wraps up as much as I did.
EL INCIDENTE is the type of sci fi that would make Bradbury, Serling, and Wells stand up and cheer. It’s a sophisticated take on the redundancy of life as well as a lesson in physics, psychology, and the human condition. Horrifying at times—mesmerizing all the way through, I was in awe of how clearly writer/director Isaac Ezban makes these complex and abstract concepts easy to follow without dumbing things down one bit. EL INCIDENTE is an intelligent and terrifying trip into a new kind of TWILIGHT ZONE. It’s a film once seen you’ll want to tell others about and one you definitely will not forget. Blending sci fi, philosophy, psychology, and horror gently, expertly, and skillfully, EL INCIDENTE is a masterpiece in modern science fiction and should not be missed.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#10 – GHOST IN THE SHELL
#9 – VALERIAN & THE CITY OF ONE THOUSAND PLANETS
#8 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol.2
#6 ALIEN: COVENANT
#5 KONG: SKULL ISLAND
#4 WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Matt Adler is a writer/journalist, currently writing for AICN among other outlets. He’s been reading comics for more than 25 years, writing about them for more than 10, and spends way, way, too much time thinking about them, which means he really has no choice but to figure out how to make a living out of this stuff. He welcomes all feedback.
M.L. Miller goes by many names—Ambush Bug, Mark L. Miller, hey you jerk over there! He’s an original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
I’ve also set up a Patreon Page to help keep this website rolling. It’s going to be crucial in these early stages that we get some kind of funding to keep the lights on, so if you have extra dough, please support me! Also, if there are any people in need of advertising on MLMILLERWRITES, feel free to contact me here and we can talk turkey!