Now that 2016 is well over, I’ve had a chance to see most of the main science fiction films from 2016. It was an uneven year with a few decent films but some real clunkers too. Here are my top ten science fiction films from 2016.
1. Dr. Strange – Most people don’t classify this as a science fiction film, but for me the introduction of the multiverse makes it so. And besides this is my blog so I can do what I want. This movie was a pleasant surprise – good effects, good acting, good pace, decent plot. I give Dr. Strange a solid A- grade.
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Another pleasant surprise, mostly because of the absolutely awful “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from 2015. I think Rogue One is the second best of all the Star Wars films, ranking behind only Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope (the first one, released in 1977). I grade Rogue One at a B+.
3. Star Trek Beyond – A third nice surprise. This is just a good, plain old action film with a nice balance of plot, effects, and character development. The crew of the Enterprise is lured into a trap on Altamid. No academy award winner, but a good film and I give it a B+ grade.
4. Arrival – I had high hopes for this aliens-come-to-earth film, and it’s pretty good, but I somehow get the feeling it could have been a bit better. I liked the realistically portrayed effort to communicate with the aliens, but the film was a bit too slow and disjointed. I also liked the twist ending. Grade = B.
5. Spectral – I liked this film much more than my friends. Soldiers fight ghost like creatures that turn out to be 3D printed semi-humans. Clever idea and good action sequences. Grade = B-.
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane – John Goodman kidnaps a couple of young people to protect them in his bomb shelter from an alien invasion. Or is he just crazy? Good premise but this film is really slow. Grade = C+.
7. Passengers – The biggest disappointment of 2016 for me. One of those films where the whole is less than the sum of the parts. Some films just don’t quite work. This is one. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are alone on a spaceship because they woke up too early from their 120-year trip. Not bad by any means but could have been much better. Grade = C.
8. Independence Day: Resurgence – Groan. Just a bad film which on the one hand is surprising because the original Independence Day was so good, but this film has sequel-itis. The aliens come back but things like plot continuity and story didn’t. More special effects isn’t always a good thing and this film is an example. Grade = D+
9. The 5th Wave – I foolishly had high hopes for this film. I don’t even know how to describe it — take the most annoying parts of any recent teen-based sci-fi film, mix them up, and you get The Fifth Wave. When this film was over I was glad to give it a wave goodbye. Grade = D.
10. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Terrible film. Annoying film. Why did I torture myself? Ugh. Grade = F+.