Thought-Provoking SCI-FI can profoundly Change your Perspective on Life.
It can make you question your way of thinking and believing in what is possible, alter the way you observe life and transform your foundations of reality.
PLANET OF THE APES — (1968)
Based on the novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle, Planet of the Apes deals with thought-provoking concepts like evolution and humanity’s place in the universe.
In the film, an astronaut crew crash-lands on a strange planet in the distant future. Although the planet appears desolate at first, the surviving crew members stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes have assumed the role of the dominant species and humans are mute creatures wearing animal skins.
The story delves into themes of racism, social class, misunderstanding, and fears of the unknown.
The third act brings Taylor (Charlton Heston) the lone crash survivor, closer and closer to the Truth of this new planet, his “destiny” so to speak. The final scene, one of the famous endings in movie history, is remarkable maybe more for its downbeat nature than anything else.
The credits roll not on music but on the eerie sound of water crashing onto a beach … leaving the audience with plenty to think about.
2010 : THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT — (1984)
2010: The Year We Make Contact walks back a central premise of 2001: A Space Odyssey — that the universe is neither good nor bad, but is indifferent to the wants of its inhabitants. In the big picture, small stuff like people flying around attempting to figure it out is just an eyeblink in the expanse of time. (That’s why the characters in 2001 seem so cold.)
This thought-provoking sequel is a highly subjective, and decidedly human story centering on regret and guilt. Dr. Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) is a man caught up in a failure with his name attached to it but no clear answers why it happened. He’ll leave his family behind to solve the mystery and there is a grave possibility it is a one-way trip.
Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban) created the operating system of the Discovery, which inexplicably decided to kill the crew in 2001. He has borne the brunt of responsibility while, at the same time, knowing the harm HAL 9000 inflicted was never a part of its programming.
While the universe remains indifferent to us, 2010 suggests we have a responsibility to not be indifferent to each other, and when the times call for humans to work together, we’ll need to step up to that challenge.
THE MATRIX — (1999)
The Matrix remains one of the most engrossing, thought-provoking pieces of Sci-Fi storytelling in cinema, with a central plot that plays on cultural fears of rapidly advancing technology and a whole lot of Kung fu fighting for good measure.
On a surface level, the film is about Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) path to asserting himself as the savior of the human world, pushing the boundaries of reality, time, and space in the process.
The Matrix begs the question of what is reality … and how society has come to understand the world around it. Early in the movie, Neo accepts his existence for what it is and doesn’t consider the legitimacy of his environment. He eventually learns of the simulation from Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne), which pushes him to wake up — literally and metaphorically — in his actual body.
The story also explores the concept of the individual, and one’s decision to embrace or reject the identity that comes with it. Neo’s journey from the lowly hacker Mr. Anderson to humanity’s messiah is a dramatic transformation that culminates in the acceptance of his True Self.
MINORITY REPORT — (2002)
Minority Report is definitely one of director Steven Spielberg’s best, with thought-provoking scenes, thrilling sequences and Sci-Fi elements that are ahead of its time.
Set in the year 2054 — when Washington, D.C.’s police is overseen by PreCrime, an elite law enforcement unit that arrests criminals before they can commit crimes. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is a dogged PreCrime captain who’s wholly devoted to his job, especially since his young son went missing and his wife left him. But soon, Anderton himself will be the target of his unit, which is powered by the PreCogs, a trio of psychics who can predict crimes and believe he will commit murder. Anderton goes on the run, trying to clear his name even though he hasn’t done anything wrong. And because he lives in a future where retinal scans are everywhere so that the police (and advertisers) can find you at any moment, that means he’s going to need some new eyeballs.
Besides being a gripping action-thriller, Minority Report is a dark commentary on post-9/11 life — specifically, our collective anxiety about an American government that was increasingly invading our privacy in the name of national security. The film serves as a mirror, presenting a society in which law enforcement prosecutes citizens without a trial, all in the name of keeping people safe. It illustrates the dangers in such a system when (as Anderton learns) the watchdogs are corrupt.
“The Internet is watching us now,” Spielberg said in 2002. “If they want to, they can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The scary thing [is], we’ll lose our right to privacy.”
Over twenty years ago, he basically predicted our modern reality.
INTERSTELLAR — (2014)
Interstellar is one of the most breathtakingly cinematic and thoughtful Science Fiction movies in recent memory. Critics felt that director Christopher Nolan had finally found a concept that was so big that it was out of his grasp: the future of humanity.
Packed with thought-provoking ideas and mind-blowing Sci-Fi concepts, special moments can be appreciated in a few sample quotes from its dialogue:
“You said science was about admitting
what we don’t know.”
Cooper’s relationship with his daughter, Murphy, forms the foundation of what Interstellar is all about, and the ways in which they inspire each other to do good things begins and ends with Murphy’s trusting nature towards her father.
“We used to look up at the sky and wonder
at our place in the stars.
Now, we just look down and worry
about our place in the dirt.”
The movie has a huge, epic scale and tells the story of the astronauts who set off through a wormhole to find a planet that the human race to migrate to after they foolishly destroyed their home on Earth. It would be tough to sell this in a trailer or a clip featured on a talk show if it didn’t articulate it so well in one line of dialogue.
“We’ve always defined ourselves
by the ability to overcome the impossible.”
For all of its lofty Sci-Fi concepts and depictions of distant planets, Interstellar is really just a movie about humanity. Cooper explains the miracle of humanity in this great monologue focusing on the ways civilization has always strived to reach for the impossible and dream the unfathomable.
Along with mostly being backed by sound science, Interstellar taps into the core of what it means to be human. While all the brilliant visual effects are a sight to behold, the film’s quieter scenes tend to leave an even greater impact. In the coldness of space, a touch of humanity goes a long way.
ARRIVAL — (2016)
Arrival is such a beautiful and thought-provoking film that it almost single-handedly makes up for every bad Aliens-coming-to-Earth film you’ve ever seen.
It’s about trying to communicate with Aliens rather than defeat them. It presents battle and war as last resorts, with only frightened, desperate people looking to violence as a solution. It champions education, compassion, and curiosity — with a strong female lead character.
Arrival is a remarkable Science Fiction drama, especially for anyone interested in science, space and the nuanced complexities of communication. Usually when Aliens touchdown on Earth in films, they’re accompanied by mass hysteria and violent outcomes. The arrival of giant ominous “heptapod” Aliens certainly creates a panic, but this isn’t like most Alien-centered films out there. It’s better.
The hero, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is an all-star linguist who specializes in rare languages. Her exceptional skill set makes her a desirable resource for the military when they are suddenly confronted by a worldwide Alien invasion and need someone to communicate with the creatures inside. The film challenges our very notion of what intelligent life might not only look like, but how they might think.
Unlike most action packed Alien invasion flicks, director Denis Villenueve provides a think piece, a brainy thought-provoking story meant to leave you sitting in the theater scratching your head while the credits roll on.
THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY
As Awarding-winning Authors of Young Adult Sci-Fi, we have created THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY to empower Women and People of Color.
Each thought-provoking story in the TRILOGY sheds light on racial injustice — as it explores the human connection to Ancient Aliens through the eyes of Native Mythology. Throughout history, native peoples have borne first witness to the TRUTH about our relationship to Planet Earth … and Life elsewhere in the universe. In the modern world, that Truth has been lost.
Book 1 A GLEAM OF LIGHT explores Native American Mythology as UNA WATERS, half-Hopi bureaucrat from D.C., is summoned to Hopiland. Her connection to the white man’s world makes her uniquely qualified to help solve a mystery linked to an ancient discovery, as she tries to reconnect with her roots and cultural identity.
Book 2 THE DRAGON’S GLARE explores Asian American Mythology with UNA on special assignment to investigate unexplained violence in Chinatown, New York City. She discovers a deep-seated cultural connection with Tibetan immigrants as Ancient Chinese wisdom battles a threat from Ancient Evil.
Book 3 BEYOND THE WORLD explores African American Mythology as UNA, stranded on her honeymoon adventure in Yosemite, uncovers a UFO mystery that leads to an Alien Conspiracy. Together with Explorer’s Club teens from the Kikuyu Tribe, she tracks down the source of strange events and fights to save humanity.
Thought-Provoking SCI-FI can Forever Change your Perspective on Life — exploring concepts like evolution, Alien contact, the boundaries of reality, right to privacy, racial injustice and the future of humanity.
BIG QUESTIONS … certainly worth thinking about.