District 9

The on-screen encounters of humans and aliens have multiple outcomes – peaceful enrichment, a bloody war, and even the end of the world. But what if humankind decided that chasing the extraterrestrial visitors off to a refugee camp in Johannesburg would be for the best? The debut of South African director Neill Blomkamp presents this premise in a very physical way: the aliens, derogatorily called “Prawns” by humans, are degraded to beings of the lowest category, and the film is oftentimes reminiscent of a raw war drama rather than classic sci-fi. Nevertheless, it shook the genre in such a way hardly any film managed to in the past fifteen years.

Elysium

Elysium means paradise but only for a few chosen ones. In the eponymous 2013 film by Neill Blomkamp, it’s a name of a space station where the richest have taken refuge so they didn’t have to suffer on the plundered Earth. The year is 2154 and the poor have nothing to lose and so they, under the leadership of labourer Max (Matt Damon), decide to make technological luxuries accessible to all. Elysium is a dystopian social drama thematizing inequality or immigration – motives that have been appearing in sci-fi since Metropolis. At the same time, it’s a visually attractive sci-fi thriller, which hasn’t lost any of its urgency since the release.

Mad Max

The 2015 Fury Road reminded all of two sci-fi icons: director George Miller and his cinematic offspring, Mad Max. Let’s forget Tom Hardy for a moment and take a look at how it all began. As early as 1979, Miller let Max, a law-abiding policeman at the time, catch rogue gangsters. But a fast-paced chain of events turned a decent man into a desperate outcast who’s left only with anger and a thirst for revenge. Bear witness to the birth of a legend that not only jump-started Max’s cult special V-8 Pursuit but also Mel Gibson’s career, and outlined a gruesomely realistic vision of the post-apocalyptic world.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

He’s back and couldn’t care less. The civilization crumbled and the remnants of humankind are split into those who have fuel and those who will do anything to get it. Somewhere in between, there’s Max Rockatansky, a former policeman, now a renegade in a ragged uniform, aimlessly cruising through the Australian outback. When Max stumbles upon a small oil refinery that’s being harassed by a biker gang led by masked Humungus, he helps the inhabitants in the unfair fight under the promise of juice. George Miller’s gasoline-scented lifework gained international recognition thanks to this sequel. Buckle up, this ride might just throw you out of your seats!

Memories

In the second half of the 90s, founder of the legendary 4°C Studio Koji Morimoto, director of the cult film Akira Katsuhiro Otomo, and creator of series Gods of Death and Darker than Black Tensai Okamura met to create an anthology film called Memories. Three animated stories offer a different genre each; the first and most critically acclaimed Magnetic Rose is an eerily poetic story of love and loneliness. The second, Stink Bomb, paints a humorous portrait of a man who becomes a foul-smelling biological weapon by accident. And the final Orwellian Cannon Fodder is shot in a specific way, to give the impression of a single long, uninterrupted scene.