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Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies That Make You Think

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies That Make You Think

You want to find those science fiction movies that make you think? I'm not talking about those over-the-top action flicks full of force powers, wookies, and Terminators. I'm talking about some serious Sci-Fi that makes you ponder some deep questions about reality, humanity's future, and life itself. No cheap thrills here.

We're talking about Sci-Fi that opens your eyes to the “what if” questions that we face. If you are looking for some deep, thought-provoking, dystopian science fiction movies, you've come to the right place. I've added some new recommendations this update (March 2011) to the bottom of the list.

You might also like the Top 10 Science Fiction Movies list.



A recent movie that gives us a glimpse of a terrible dystopian future without hope: humans can no longer reproduce. This dark future is just realistic enough to send chills up your spine. With current headlines monopolized by failing economies, terrorist attacks, and global warming meltdowns, the dystopian future presented by Children of Men may just be more then science fiction...

The dystopian future presented by Blade Runner is one scourged by social decay; it's an intense and prophetic look at a world plagued with some of the realities we face today: overpopulation, globalization, climate change, and genetic engineering. Without a doubt, Blade Runner has had a dramatic impact on literary, scientific, and cinematic pop culture, and the stark reality presented by the film and its accurate, if accidental, prediction of a future close to ours is nothing to sneer at.

In a world increasingly becoming influenced by genetic research, Gattaca has some terrifying relevance: what if you could be distinguished, not on the bases of race or color, but by your very genes? This movie came out in 1995 and was way ahead of its time. The plot, characters, and questions explored make this film a must watch.

With a Martin-esque plot and Jim Butcher pace, The Axe and the Throne is a definite "must read" for even the pickiest fantasy fans.

In his stunning debut, Ireman has built the type of world so vivid and engrossing that leaving it at the end is agony. In spite of leaning toward grimdark, where authors often enshroud every scene in depressing darkness, there is no lack of cheerful moments or brilliant scenery. Yet the pangs of near-instant nostalgia that come after you put down a book like this have less to do with the inspired setting, and far more to do with those who inhabit it. 

From savage, unremorseful heroes, to deep, introspective villains, the cast of this story is comprised of believable characters capable of unthinkable actions. And it is these characters -- the ones you wish you could share a drink with or end up wanting to kill -- that forge the connection between fantasy and reality. Keethro, Titon, Ethel, Annora. These are names you will never forget, and each belongs to a man or woman as unique as they are memorable. 


No book would be complete without a its fair share of intrigue, however, and there is no lack of it here. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and Ireman's masterful use of misdirection leads to an abundance of "oh shit" moments. Do not be fooled (or do -- perhaps that's part of the fun) by storylines that may appear trope-ish at first. This is no fairytale. 

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The world is a machine and reality is a fake; this action-packed thriller really makes you question your perception of reality. With the increasing role computer technology plays in our lives and the ever-expanding computer breakthroughs, it's not that much of a stretch to imagine the scenario presented by the matrix becoming a reality. It may be implausible but it could certainly be possible (minus Neo). 

Clearly drawing influence from George Orwell's famous dystopian novel 1984, Equilibrium is a thought-provoking look at a dystopian future where human emotion is repressed in exchange for peace and harmony. Besides being a really cool action sci-fi flick that seamlessly combines gun fighting with martial arts, Equilibrium presents a world where human emotions are trapped beneath a daily dose of drugs. No emotion results in a grey world void of any passion; there is no war, no conflict, and everybody lives under the harmonious rule of a one party government. In this "perfect" world, art is evil because art embodies creativity and passion, two powerful emotions at odds with the government's mandate.

What would happen if we were contacted by an alien intelligence? This movie presents the most realistic first contact scenario and its ramifications for human society I've yet seen.

This movie explores several ideas but the most prominent (and famous) is the idea of an AI rebelling against human masters. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most realistic portrayal of this scenario. To some extent, this idea has been handled by other movies (the Terminator series for example), but 2001: A Space Odyssey gives the most realistic scenario. This is a movie that has contributed to literary, social, and cinematic culture and should not be missed by any science fiction fan. 

A Clockwork Orange is based on the famous novel by Anthony Burgess and tells the dystopian story of a boy named Alex, his unlawful and violent lifestyle, and psychology's blundering attempt to cure his tendencies. This story is a cautionary tale against using psychological techniques to reprogram the human psyche. It's also one of the most violent and disturbing films ever to grace the screen. Not suitable for children. If you are into intellectual movies, this one is one of the tops.

What if your entire life was a scripted event and you were the unwitting star of the biggest reality TV show on earth? What's really disturbing about this movie is that I'm sure there are some greedy executive types waiting to try this on some poor child in the near future. You may be looking at the next wave of reality TV...

Another movie that questions the perception of reality, but unlike the Matrix, the questions are more subtlety nuanced. Vanilla Sky centers around one character whose perfect life becomes a living nightmare. Normally I pan Tom Cruise movies, but this is a very mature (and as much as I hate to admit it, well-acted) and nuanced film about love, reality, and dreams. It's one of those movies where you have no idea what's really going on until the very end. This is one film that you will either love or hate. It also proves that buried under all that couch-jumping, psychology-hating Scientology weirdness, Cruise is actually a pretty good actor. In short: if you want a complex, thought-provoking film with many layers, Vanilla Sky won't disappoint.