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11 Modern Sci-Fiction Movies That Have Different And Refreshing Plotlines

These movies had some interesting plotlines and detailed worlds, although some of them had bad reviews and were not well received by critics or audiences. There are so many other fantastic and innovative sci-fiction movies out there, but these are some of the first that come to my mind. (This list is no specific order).

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1. Children Of Men (2006)

Universal Pictures / Via indiewire.com

A movie that strikes a deeply painful cord, especially nowadays with political interests determining the fates of millions in the world, this movie is incredibly relevant in our world now. This acclaimed movie from Alfonso Cuarón is set in a dystopian world where widespread human fertility has left the world in shambles and refugees flee to the United Kingdom, the only country with a still-functioning government. Strict immigration laws prevent these refugees from coming into safety and an activist must help the first pregnant refugee reach safety.

This movie is possibly one of the best science fiction movies of all time, and that is an incredibly loaded thing to say. Yet, a movie from 11 years ago that manages to speak of our world today surely must deserve such a statement. This movie has a stellar cast with Clare-Hope Ashitey, delivering an incredibly powerful performance.

The movie was also shot in single shot sequence, meaning that the shot does not break, which is incredibly difficult to accomplish, and this gives us a sense of continuity as life does not have cuts or breaks in the middle. An incredibly bleak movie that tires me just considering that parallel universe, it deals with intense subject matter, while also giving us something that we all need from time to time: it gives us hope.

2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

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Come on, you really think I wouldn't mention this movie? Judge me all you want, guys, but this movie is one of the notable examples of innovative science fiction movies that transcend their genre and turn into something uniquely human.

In this classic sci-fi romance movie, shy and calm Joel Barish seeks to erase all his memories of his girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski following a bad breakup. Now, the plot is not as simple as it sounds, since the movie is nonlinear and explores Joel and Clementine's relationship from its first moments to its bitter end. Along the way, parallel plot-lines involving the employees of the company that Joel hires to erase his memories add a richness to the movie and one pretty big plot twist.

Although the plot sounds simple, it is this movie's ability to truly convey the human experience, relationships and the inherent risks we take when we form relationships with others that makes this movie so fresh, unique and a favorite among many many people. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst's acting helps elevate the characters personalities and make them 3D. Without that strong acting, their characters would've come off as aloof, pretentious and annoying. In the movie, their characters come off as flawed people who are really just trying their best.

This movie gained critical acclaim upon its release and quickly developed a cult following that is still around until this day. It is also hailed to be one of the most movies of the decade and an example of a movie that manages to come out of the screen and into your heart.

3. Ex Machina (2015)

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This movie is director Alex Garland's directorial debut which makes it all the more impressive, considering that this movie won countless international awards, was nominated for two Academy Awards (and it won one) and was called one of the best independent movie of 2015.

The premise of the movie is simple enough: a CEO of a tech company invites one of his employees to his home to perform a Turing Test on a humanoid robot of his creation, Ava. The Turing Test is a cornerstone in philosophy of artificial intelligence and is composed of a simple test that requires that a human subject must be incapable of distinguishing a machine and another human from their responses. The plot goes smoothly, up until the last 30 minutes where the plot twists come so quickly that watching the movie unfold will literally put you at the edge of your seat. Although the ending felt cheap to me and succumbed to stereotypical thriller tropes that the movie worked so hard to avoid, it is a masterpiece as a whole. It also poses many questions regarding artificial intelligence and what exactly makes us all human.

The cast, led by the mesmerizing performance of Alicia Vikandar as Ava, flesh their respective characters brilliantly and with the deftness required to make this movie work. Although the movie did succumb to archetypal endings of thriller movies, it didn't feel like anything I've ever watched and was not scared of veering into uncharted territory with sensitive and provocative implications.

4. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via mubi.com

A movie first developed by legendary filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick and later on continued by Steven Spielberg, this movie presents a similar question to Ex Machina, what makes us human? However, that is where the similarities with Ex Machina end. This movie polarized many critics, where many felt like the movie failed to reconcile the redeeming qualities of both directors' works and instead, succumbed to mindless winding. On the other hand, other critics felt like this movie would've made Kubrick proud and he would've approved of the movie.

Set in a futuristic world, David, brilliantly played by Haley Joel Osment, is a lifelike robot who is programmed to love. He then embarks on a journey with his robot teddy bear, Teddy to be a real boy and regain the love of the human mother who adopts him.

This movie has one of the most tragic endings I've ever seen and it has never failed to reduce me to a pile of broken shards of emotion. The resonant and spellbinding performance given by Osment at such a young age is indescribable. He fleshes out David in a way that makes him almost more human than the humans in the movie. He is enjoyed by equally amazing characters, including that of Teddy, voiced by Jack King, and Gigolo Joe, played by Jude Law. However, it is safe to say that Osment's performance is what makes this movie. This movie, I can safely say, is unique and breathes a whole new life in the genre of A.I movies.

Although it polarized critics, it managed to do well in the box office, earning twice its budget and was nominated for two Academy Awards.

5. Inception

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via legendary.com

A movie of epic proportions, this is the brainchild of Christopher Nolan, who is no stranger to the film-making process. This movie started off as an 80 page proposal for a horror movie about "dream stealers" that Nolan presented to Warner Bros. Eventually, it culminated in this science fiction masterpiece that masterfully deals with the complex topics it presents. Yet, it never loses sight of its primitive essence. It may seem silly to say this, but this movie is about family.

In the simplest of words, this is about a man, haunted by his past, who is given a near impossible job in exchange for the possibility of him returning him to his family. However, his past catches up to him and threatens his life along with the lives of his partners.

In the more complicated version of the plot, this man also performs corporate espionage by going into other people's dreams and extracting information and secrets. The near impossible job is doing the reverse of what he does. He must implant an idea into the subconsciousness of the son of a major energy company owner.

The ending is a suspenseful one, but it is also one where you can understand why it was left like that. The ending honors the essence of the movie, and shows that that's all that really mattered to Cobb.

A truly unique movie, it does not stop at the masterful treatment of the plot. The ingenious carries on to the performance of the ensemble cast, with formidable actors such as Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Michael Caine. Hans Zimmer creates a mesmerizing soundtrack to accompany the movie and the special effects are out of the world.

Is my inner fan-girl showing? I'll stop, don't worry, but let me just mention that his movie grossed more than 5x its budget of $160 million, was critically acclaimed by critics, was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, won four of those awards and voted the 51st best movie of the 21st century by the BBC. Okay, I'm done now.

6. Chronicle (2012)

20th Century Fox / Via collider.com

This movie explores the lives of three, very different teen boys who gain superpowers after encountering a foreign object. The boys have a lot of fun with their superpowers at first, until one of them, Andrew who acts out of repressed anger due to him being relentlessly bullied, starts using his powers for darker purposes and threatens the group's existence.

Now, this movie has a few themes that have been hashed and rehashed in many cinematic works. This didn't stop it from being a success in the US box office. We've all seen movies of teenagers who gain superpowers after strange encounters and use these powers to become superheroes. However, this movie takes an interesting turn into human psychology and brings up difficult questions to ask ourselves: is revenge ever okay, would I do the same thing if I had the power to, can I ever turn that dark and many more questions. It does not shy away from the vindictive and dark parts of human existence and thus, it does provide something of a fresh twist on an exhausted movie trope. The cast also manages to infuse emotion and conflict into the characters, elevating the movie from a teen drama to something darker and more primitive.

I must not be the only one who thinks so, because this movie garnered positive reviews from critics who acknowledged that while the movie isn't THAT original, it more than makes up for it. The audience must agree as well, because this movie earned more than 10x its budget.

7. The Fifth Element (1997)

Columbia Pictures / Via dorkly.com

An idea first conceived by Luc Besson when he was 16, this movie is a renowned cult classic, and for good reason. This movie created an incredibly unique futuristic universe, complete with cities, a unique language (spoken by Leeloo in the film), outfits, mannerisms, ways of living, etc, all in the span of two hours. Not only was this world unique, it also wasn't completely foreign from our own world, in that there was a McDonald's and NYC cabs. This futuristic universe was pretty immersive and felt authentic, although it did feel like it came from the figments of an adolescent boy's mind at times.

This movie introduces us to Korben Dallas, a cab driver who, one day, has a young woman fall through his cab and then finds himself responsible for preventing the doom of Planet Earth with her help.

Now, this movie has an incredibly entertaining tone and is actually pretty funny. The cast, made up of Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Gary Oldman and Bruce Willis, does an excellent job in infusing fun and character into the movie with Oldman and Tucker doing the best job at that. The movie never takes itself too seriously and the cinematography I found to be extremely captivating and gorgeous.

A movie made up of oddball characters and an interactive universe with a unique plot sounds like a good mix. This movie earned 3x its budget and garnered moderately good reviews from critics, yet it hold a dear place in the hearts of many people, including mine.

8. The Matrix (1999)

Warner Bros. Pictures. / Via ifc.com

Ah, yes, this movie is a hallmark of the sci-fi movie genre and has earned a special place in philosophical matters concerning the experiences humans undergo as well as a much more humorous place in our pop cultural references. If that's enough to convince you that it's groundbreaking, this movie was added to the National Film Registry for preservation in 2012. The movie also popularized the use of a cinematography technique called bullet time, which was used to produce some of the most iconic visuals in this movie.

Now on to the plot that would confuse the minds of anyone who watches the movie, the movie is set in a dystopian universe where humans are manipulated into believing they're living when they're actually hooked to a reality simulation called the Matrix, by machines who use their body heat for energy. When a programmer, Neo, realizes the truth, he joins a rebellion to overthrow the rule of the machines.

Up until that point, no movie really explored the idea of "is this real life?" as in depth as the Matrix did. The Matrix also brought the ideas of philosophical thought wrapped up in cool action sequences and pop cultural references to make it palatable to its watchers. Its' innovative plot was brought to life by talented actors who brought their respective characters back to life and inspired us all to wear black sunglasses and be complete badasses. While Keanu Reeves is the front-man of this movie, I'm gonna say that Carrie Anne-Moss definitely stole the spotlight as Trinity.

This movie is widely considered as one of the best sci-fi movies of all time and was critically acclaimed upon its release. It also grossed 8x its budget of about $63 million. Now how's that for a movie?

9. Donnie Darko (2001)

Pandora Cinema / Via io9.gizmodo.com

A heavily thought provoking movie, Donnie Darko is a cult classic that deals with existential dread plaguing a teenager, Donnie, as he attempts to make sense of visions that come to him.

Plot twist: the visions are visions of the Earth's destruction and they come in the form of a figure in a monstrous rabbit costume.

Now, this might seem like a classic sci-fi movie, but the movie goes about this theme in a different way. First, it explores this theme in the form of a teenager. Second, this teenager isn't your polished, fit-for-screen teen, nope, Donnie is plagued with a lot of existential questions and he struggles to make sense of the world he's in. You know, he's a typical teen. The movie is not polished and it does not shy away from heavy subject material. It portrays honest human suffering and it gives us no resolution in the end, kind of like how life does.

Many big name actors starred in this movie such as Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Despite their young ages, they all give solid performances as teens trying to make sense of the world and find their place.

The movie, although a moderate box office success, garnered very positive reviews and borderline critical acclaim from critics. It also finds itself often on lists about the best independent movies of all time, best high school movies of all time, and best movies of all time.

10. Her (2013)

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via kingofwallpapers.com

Another example of a movie that transcends its genre to give us a movie that feels as human as any of us are, Her is a movie that tugs at your heartstrings. Instead of playing the doomsday angle concerning A.I. Intelligence, this movie plays on a different angle.

In our day and age, we are all very attached to our technology and most of us can't go a day without checking their phone. Some may say that this has impaired our ability to form profound human relationships and caused the deterioration of the human relationships already formed. Her explores these concepts through the life of a man who decides to pursue a relationship with his OS system.

It doesn't come across as pretentious or creepy. It comes across as sympathetic and sad. Through this relationship, he discovers many things about falling in love and about human relationships. And unlike most sci-fi movies, this movie doesn't end with the machines taking over the world. It has a happy ending and it gives hope.

Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams portray messy people who have messy relationships in a messy life in a messy universe. Life is messy and life is lonely and this movie does not shy away from that. That alone is commendable.

In addition, this movie received critical acclaim and received five Academy Award nominations, one of which it won for Best Original Screenplay.

11. Push (2009)

Summit Entertainment / Via aceshowbiz.com

Okay, this movie was actually pretty good, in my opinion. The movie was also a breath of fresh air in the typical superhero/science-fiction genre. The movie takes place in a dystopian era universe where a US government agency hunts down individuals with psychic abilities to turn them into a super army. There are nine different types of individuals with psychic abilities, including Pushers (individuals that can plant thoughts and emotions into a subject's brain) , Movers (telekinetics who can warp the air around objects), Bleeders (individuals who can emit high pitched screams that can rupture blood vessels), Watchers (individuals who can see the future), and Stitches (psychic healers who can manipulate cells). Now, these individuals must come together to destroy the agency and ensure their survival.

Although Camilla Belle's character came off as aloof and distant, Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning really pulled through with their performances and their chemistry. Djimon Hounsou also gives a solid performance as Evans' and Fanning's adversary. This wasn't enough apparently as the movie was only a moderate success, grossing $10 million than its budget, and it had negative reviews. What a shame, because the idea was very original.

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