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Eight Sci-Fi Movies You Probably Missed In 2014, And Where You Can See Them

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Last year was a bit of a roller-coaster ride when it came to science fiction movies. There were some triumphs: the insane success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the surprising awesomeness of Lucy, and the sheer brilliance of Edge of Tomorrow. But there were also disappointments: half of Interstellar, all of Transcendence, and the fact that nobody went to see Edge of Tomorrow. But while high-profile projects such as Guardians, Godzilla, and the Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there were a ton of smaller projects that may have flown under your radar in the past 12 months or so. Here are some of them worth tracking down.

Automata

In a future where Earth’s ecosystem verges on collapse, man-made robots roam the cities to protect dwindling human life. When a robot overrides a key protocol put in place to protect human life, ROC Robotics insurance agent Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas) is assigned to locate the source of the manipulation and eliminate the threat. What he discovers leads Vaucan, ROC Robotics and the police into a battle with profound consequences for the future of humanity.

Helmed by Spanish director Gabe Ibáñez, Automata released this past October and received mixed reviews. You can check out Automata for free assuming you’re a Netflix Instant subscriber, or you can rent or purchase it via Amazon or iTunes.

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Movie Review: Under The Skin Is Not Your Typical Hollywood Alien Invasion

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UnderSkinWe’ve written about Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin a few times, but we never actually got around to reviewing the esoteric sci-fi film. Now that it has hit the home video market, complete with plenty of nude shots of Scarlett Johansson, it’s time to rectify that situation. A few words on spoilers. Not all that much happens in this movie—at least, not by conventionally measurable means, but there’s a lot going on under the surface, which the title hints at. If you’re looking for a traditional Hollywood blockbuster, alien invasion movie, this is the wrong movie.

Based on Michael Faber’s novel, and directed and co-written by Glazer, who also helmed the awesome Sexy Beast, Under the Skin is slow and visually luxurious—though it’s easy to imagine some viewers tearing their hair out. There are long, lingering shots, and 5, 10, even 15-minute stretches with no dialogue. Sometimes this made me wonder what I was missing, and every now and again I was unsure what the hell was going on, but overall the aesthetics adds to the ambience, which is perfect for a story about an alien trying to navigate humanity. The overcast, rainy Scottish setting provides a compelling atmosphere as well. If I’d have eaten a special brownie, it would have been perfect.

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Sci-Fi Stash: Four Things To Spend Your Hard-Earned Cash On This Week

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OriginsI Origins
If you’ve seen the trailers for I Origins in theaters you may have been left scratching your head. There’s a whole lot of talk about eyeballs and science and maybe reincarnation, but it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on. The official synopsis only makes it slightly clearer, explaining that, “I Origins follows a molecular biologist whose study of the human eye points to evidence with far reaching implications about our scientific and spiritual beliefs.” Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Pitt stars as Ian Gray, the aforementioned biologist, and Astrid Berges-Frisbey as Sofi, a free spirit he falls in love with, only to lose…a tragedy that spurs his research in unexpected directions.

I Origins was written and directed by Mike Cahill, best known for another surreal and cerebral indie science fiction flick, 2011’s Another Earth. His Another Earth actress and co-writer Brit Marling is also aboard I Origins, playing one of Ian’s fellow researchers. Aside from being saddled with an irritating title, I Origins isn’t faring too well with critics, currently sitting at 44% Fresh on RottenTomatoes. Still, I’m intrigued to see what Cahill does with the concept, and I’ll watch pretty much anything Marling is in. (Check out Sound of My Voice if you haven’t already.) I Origins opens in limited release this Friday, July 18.

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Scarlett Johansson Talks Nudity In Under The Skin

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scarlett-johansson-hotWhile science fiction movies tend to be heavy on action and adventure, there are a few films that come out every year that try to push the boundaries of the genre. Last year, Shane Carruth delivered a brilliant and abstract film with Upstream Color, and this year director Jonathan Glazer will give audiences the art film Under the Skin. Although the film is very minimal and strange, star Scarlett Johansson was quite open to the filmmaking process and comfortable with the film’s subject matter and nudity. [I’m guessing most of you would still keep reading even if that entire preceding paragraph was just the words “Scarlett Johansson nudity” repeated over and over again. – Ed.]

In an interview with Yahoo! Movies, Johansson talks about discovering her character, an alien named Isserley, and why the film’s nudity was important. Johansson says:

‘I’m a pretty private person. It’s not like I want to be displaying myself all over the place,’ the Avengers star explains to Yahoo. ‘But I think I realized that through the process of just letting go, and allowing myself as the character to be totally present in the moment, and making the discovery of my own self, as [my character] does… I realized what kind of judgment I place on myself, and how self-conscious I am about all different kinds of things. That wasn’t just the nudity, but many different situations, where I just had to… we just couldn’t capture what we needed unless I was totally free of myself. That, in a sense, was very liberating.’

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Under The Skin Almost Starred Brad Pitt And Scores Some New Posters

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under-the-skin-movie-poster-01The nine years that have passed between movies for Jonathan Glazer is certainly a long time. The British director’s last film was the genre-bending drama Birth in 2004. Last year, Glazer made the return to the big screen with the eerie art film Under The Skin. Starring Scarlett Johansson, the strange sci-fi story is about to hit theaters in a limited release.

While it took Glazer almost a decade to adapt Dutch author Michel Faber’s novel of the same name, the new movie could’ve been finished sooner if the financing could’ve been raised in time. In an interview with The Guardian, Glazer described the original concept for the movie, which was to feature two aliens secretly disguised as a Scottish farmer and his wife. Brad Pitt actually signed on to play the farmer, but the movie couldn’t find enough money to make it a reality. He later dropped off the project and the script was re-tooled with a minimalist approach and Johansson’s character Isserley as the film’s center.

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Under The Skin Clip Features Scarlett Johansson Picking Up Strange Men

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Opening in a limited release in about a month, Jonathan Glazer’s return to directing features, Under The Skin, is one of our most anticipated movies of 2014. The strange science fiction film combines experimental techiniques with eerie improv from star Scarlett Johansson interacting with real people who unaware of who she was. While the making of Under The Skin was odd, the premise is even weirder, as you can see in this new clip.

A24 Films and Digital Spy released this video that perfectly illustrates the dark and gritty tone, while highlighting Johansson’s ability to command the screen. Just imagine, you’re walking down the street and a beautiful woman picks you up and takes you for a ride. She’s flirting with you, seduces you, and you go with her to a random motel room. While you think you’re about to get lucky, she violently kills you and mutilates your body for meat.