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Most Underrated Science Fiction & Fantasy Movies

Science Not FictionBy Stephen CassJuly 8, 2008 9:59 PM


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The summer movie season is upon us, and I'm looking forward to watching a bunch of science fiction movies over the next few weeks. Batman, Hellboy, X-Files, Babylon A.D. are all getting the full blockbuster promotional treatment. Chances are though that some of them will be overrated, which got me to thinking about some of the most underrated movies I've seen. I love underrated movies: for whatever reason you plop yourself down in front of the screen not expecting much and then: "Hey! This is pretty good!" Here's my top ten -- what are your suggestions?

  • The Satan Bug (1965): Before The Andromeda Strain and Outbreak, this cloak-and-dagger thriller brought the specter of species-killing disease to the big screen.

  • Silent Running (1972): Although a little preachy, an uncompromising ending rescued the movie from cheesiness as the spaceborne remnants of Earth's forests face destruction.

  • The Quiet Earth (1985): Twenty years after I first saw it, the enigmatic ending of this Last-Man-On-Earth tale still sticks in my mind.

  • Last Night (1998): Another movie with a haunting ending, it follows the lives of a handful of people in the final hours before the Earth is destroyed.

  • eXistenZ (1999): Overshadowed by The Matrix when it was released, this virtual reality tale is wickedly imaginative.

  • Pitch Black (2000): Although it spawned a sprawling sequel, the movie that introduced the character of the lethal Riddick was a tight thriller that relied on psychology more than special effects.

  • Underworld (2003): I loved the surprisingly rich backstory that gave a war between vampires and werewolves some real weight.

  • The Fountain (2006): Another movie that, whatever other flaws it may have had, paid off with a great ending.

  • Stardust (2007): Peppered with wry humor -- and with romantic leads that manage not to irritate.

  • Sunshine (2007): The on-screen physics didn't make sense, but the psychology of a crew pushed to extremes by their environment worked for me.

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