Welcome to the first-ever batch of MindFood Sci-Fi Movie Awards, where I assign completely arbitrary awards (henceforth known as MindFoodies) in categories I’ve just made up to signify how I’ll always remember a film. Now that the summer movie season is over, it’s a perfect time to look back and hand out some newly minted, yet still largely irreverent, MindFoodies to all the theatrical sci-fi(ish) films that came out between May and September.
Best Reminder That Mickey Rourke Is Insane - Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 could have easily stood to lose 20 minutes of non-action, but even with its flabby midsection intact, I still wound up having more fun with it than I did the first film (yes, I know I’m in the minority here). Jon Favreau’s superb augmenting of practical effects with CGI is, once again, top notch; Downey Jr. is just as roguishly charming as he was the first time out; Sam Rockwell is hilariously scummy; and Scarlett Johansson kicks a surprising amount of ass in it. But for me the truly memorable addition was none other than Mickey Rourke. That accent, those tattoos, his dreadlocks, the freakin’ cockatoo -- the man lives in a different world than the rest of us, and I love that we’re seeing that personality bleed from off camera to on (he took it to an even more “WTF is he doing?” level in The Expendables).
Best CGI Animated Film You’ve Never Heard Of - Metropia
There’s a reason most people likely haven’t heard of Metropia: It’s a Swedish-made animated film about a dystopic future with questionable methods of mind control that only opened in NY and LA. The story gets a little strange, but the animation is unique and it's got a pretty cool roster of voice actors (Juliette Lewis, Alexander and Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier, Vincent Gallo) to help bring it to life. It’s not for everyone, but if that cast piqued your interest any, it’s certainly worth checking out.
Most Adequately Entertaining Blockbuster That Failed - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia could have been great. With a more spectacle-savvy director behind it, this could have easily taken the crown as the best video-game movie ever made (not that it would be hard considering the genre’s historical track record). That’s not what ended up happening, however. It’s not terrible, mind you, and Jake Gyllenhaal is better than expected, but it’s all still strictly...adequate.
Best Film That Most People Hated in 2010 That They Would Have Loved in 1985 - Splice
I’m a big fan of Splice. I think it’s a daring, refreshing creature feature that goes into darkly comic and twisted territory. I also think that by combining so many different elements into one film, director Vincenczo Natali actively alienated most of his audience. Unfortunately, we now live in a time where people don’t appreciate edgy, atypical films if they catch them off guard, and I think that’s what held Splice back from being a hit. If it had been made in the ‘80s, however, when genre fans weren’t so stuck-up, it’d be a sci-fi staple.
Film I Saw the Least Of - Jonah Hex
And by “Saw the Least Of” I mean “Completely Avoided Because I Don’t Hate Myself (That Much).”
Biggest Piece of Sh*t of the Year - The Last Airbender
Sure, the year isn’t over, but I’m calling it now. If someone makes a movie worse than the cinematic hate crime that is The Last Airbender, I will quit the human race.
Best First 45 Minutes - Predators
I liked Predators, but if it had ended after the first 45 or so minutes, I would have loved the hell out of it. The opening feels like the sequel that should have been, but after a certain character shows up, the whole thing gets a bit lethargic and never quite reawakens.
Film I Wanted to See But Didn’t - The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Technically, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice could have shared Jonah Hex’s prestigious MindFoodie since I didn’t see it, but unlike Jonah Hex, I did actually want to. Between Bad Lieutenant and Kick-Ass, Nicolas Cage has been on a winning streak of late, so I was certainly curious to see what kind of weirdness he brought to a modern-day sorcerer. Unfortunately, life conspired against me and I just never got around to it.
Best Sci-Fi Film of the Summer - Inception
I know, I know -- what a shocker. So much has been said about Inception at this point that I’m not going to say anything new about Christopher Nolan’s film in just a few sentences, but I do want to reiterate that this was hands-down the most awe-inspiring film of the summer. I’m not sure I’ll rewatch it nearly as often as I have Nolan’s other films, but I do think it deserves all the praise (and very little of the derision) of which it’s already been on the receiving end.
Best Film I Grew to Love On Second Viewing - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The first time I saw Edgar Wright’s much-ballyhooed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I merely liked it. I could see why critics all over the place were going ape for it; I just wasn’t in love. However, when I took my wife to see it, I was smitten. I’m not sure it will make my Best of the Year list, as many others have been quick to proclaim, but it’s got a ridiculously infectious and energetic spirit to it, and that’s something I just cannot say about any other film of the summer.