It’s hot, guys. Therefore, instead of sticking around trying to introduce this column like a genial professional, I’m going to stand under a cold shower while wearing ice overalls. Sorry for the visual, but this giant list of streaming releases should earn me some forgiveness.
Here’s what’s new in streaming science fiction!
The More Recent
World War Z (Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime)
Brad Pitt, millions of CGI-enhanced zombies, and a complete disregard for Max Brooks’ novel of the same name. That, in a nutshell, is Marc Forster’s somewhat surprising blockbuster World War Z. I mean, you could also talk about all the production problems and the bloated budget, but it’s not necessary. It’s a pretty awesome action movie, though there’s not a lot going on around the action. If you really want your undead fix, you can watch the unrated version on Netflix.
Doctor Who: Season 7 (Netflix Instant)
This was the final season to feature both Matt Smith as the eleventh incarnation of the time lord and Karen Gillan as his faithful companion Amy Pond — along with her husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). The latter two were replaced mid-season by new companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). What better way to anticipate the debut of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor this August than by binging on one of the most popular seasons yet?
Doc of the Dead (Netflix Instant)
Thought you knew everything there was to know about the history of zombie movies? Alexandre O. Philippe, the director of 2010’s The People vs. George Lucas, obviously talks about George Romero’s legacy, but also dips into the Haitian and African undead origins, with a slew of interviews of cast and crew from all kinds of zombie flicks, from Simon Pegg and Bruce Campbell to Robert Kirkman and Tom Savini. You won’t learn anything groundbreaking here, but you might find a couple of new movies to spend one of your next weekends with.
After the Dark (Netflix Instant)
Formerly going by the name The Philosophers, John Huddles’ After the Dark is a movie focused more on ideas than direct action, and takes a nuclear holocaust thought experiment to its logical conclusion. Okay, so this was actually about as illogical as science fiction gets, with a philosophy teacher (James D’Arcy) making his students debate the worth of their own existences, with the prerequisite plot twist that doesn’t do anything to help the story out. Still, big movies rarely get this heady, and indie movies are rarely presented so dynamically.
Space: Unraveling the Cosmos (Netflix Instant)
Got kids who are interested in space but for some reason decided not to show them Fox’s Cosmos? This is the show for you, as Space: Unraveling the Cosmos does a fine job of laying out an introductory course in stargazing, mixing CGI and photography in a mostly successful way.
Marksmen (Netflix Instant)
Based on the popular Image Comics series by David Baxter and artist Javier Aranda, Marksmen is the first ever 3D motion comic, for what it’s worth, though this isn’t the 3D version. I happen to like well-produced motion comics, and this one is pretty solid, though some of the voice work is stodgy. Marksmen takes place within a post-apocalyptic war society, where the tech-heavy New San Diego is one of America’s biggest survivor hubs. The titular squad are the offspring of the Navy Seals who defended the city during the country’s collapse, and their job in this story is staving off the impending threat of a nearby faith-based community. You’d do yourself better just reading it, but there’s nothing wrong with checking this out.
The Less Recent
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Amazon Prime)
Many films have director’s cuts and alternate versions, but few have as many as Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner, and all of its versions have their defenders and detractors. The film tells the story of Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, a cop whose mission is taking down biological androids called replicants. This 118-minute 2007 version is the “true” director’s edit, and was created for home release with Scott having full control over all aspects of it. It’s got the full unicorn dream sequence and zero lame-ass expository voiceover. Maybe this is what Ford is watching while he recovers from his recent injury.
The X-Files (Amazon Prime)
It’s hard to believe, as much as I want to believe, that it’s been 18 years since this first X-Files pic hit theaters. Also known as Fight the Future, the feature had Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigating a conspiracy involving aliens living on Earth — surprise, surprise — and spends a fair amount of time kicking it in the cornfield. Unlike its 2008 follow-up, this one is definitely worth a revisit, which I should have done before writing this.
4:44 Last Day on Earth (Netflix Instant)
New York filmmaker Abel Ferrara took something of a career detour with this 2011 drama, which takes place on the last day before the Earth’s ozone layer will be destroyed, as well as all life on the planet. Willem Dafoe and Shariyn Leigh play actor Cisco and artist Skye, respectively, who spend their final hours together running through the emotional gamut, with focus on conversations, minimal locations, and sometimes hammy performances taking center-stage over any big effects sequences.
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Netflix Instant)
In case the title didn’t tip you off, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same isn’t your average indie feature. This 2011 comedy follows three lesbian aliens who have come to Earth and who are secretly being tracked by government agents. The main story centers on the bubbling romance between Zoinx (Susan Ziegler) and the human Jane (Lisa Haas), who doesn’t know she’s falling for an E.T.
The Gerber Syndrome (Hulu Plus)
The debut feature from Norway-born filmmaker Maxi Dejoie, The Gerber Syndrome is am Italian faux documentary that offers up more drama than thrills, all hinging on a fairly unbelievable plot. A TV crew is creating a documentary centered on the titular disease, which is clearly the most contagious thing that’s ever existed. The story is told mostly through the cameramen following people around. It’s nothing to spread around to everyone you know, but the performances put this one above similar found-footage schlock. Plus, it was made in 2001, before the sub-genre imploded on itself.
See you next time!