The Five Best Realistic Science Fiction Films in the Past Five Years

written by Maria Isabelle


There was a time when science fiction films consisted of more fiction than science, but as mankind grows more intelligent about the scientific forces that control the universe, our need for more believable science fiction also grows stronger. Here are some recent and realistic depictions of science and technology in film:


Gravity (2013)

When their shuttle is destroyed, a medical engineer and an astronaut must work to survive in space as they are adrift in orbit. This has become one of the most famous movies in recent times to be completely picked apart by modern rock star scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The physics is a little hit-or-miss, but there are times when Gravity did capture the zero gravity feeling, according to Buzz Aldrin. Other realistic additions include special props used by astronauts, correct alignment of buttons and controls, and the growing problem of space debris in Earth’s orbit.


Her (2013)

In this sci-fi dramedy, a man falls in love with an intelligent operating system named Samantha. Not the only film on this list to deal with man falling in love with a machine, Her is steeped in something a little closer to reality. More recently, humans have developed a growing trend of being attached to our technology at all times. How many people never leave the house without their cell phones or take them to bed with them? For some, it also seems that communicating remotely via email or messaging could make it easier to form more personal bonds. Perhaps in the future, when more sophisticated technology is developed, the prospect of relationships with artificial intelligence won’t seem so crazy.


Interstellar (2014)

In a far out scenario, a team of space explorers must travel through a wormhole to save mankind. Even though the premise is a little insane, there is a lot of sound science fact in this film. Using all available information, most scientists agree that the black hole and wormhole in the film are as close to real as we can imagine right now. Another fascinating aspect of correct science is the different aging rates of the cast. The gravitational pull of the black hole would, in theory, slow down time on the planet closest to the black hole.


Ex Machina (2015)

Ex Machina sees a man falling in love with an AI robot. Unlike Her, the AI machine here is an actual robot with a very realistic human face. The entire film is centered on the Turing Test, a way of testing AI against the realities of human intelligence. It seems that we may be way off until the technology depicted within the film but we’ve still made some small but great strides in advancing it: smart lights and appliances, remotely controlled home security systems, and even software that actually passed the Turing Test.


Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In a far off dystopian future, two people fight to restore balance and order. This film made the list, not for its great technology, but for its realistic depiction of our bleak future. After global climate change and increasing worldwide violence, the Earth is now barren and devoid of any similarities to our modern society in this film. There has been a breakdown in our culture and things such as water and gas have become the top commodities. It isn’t pretty, but close to our reality if we aren’t careful.



Although sci-fi films can sometimes be a bust, they key is to depict relatable and realistic stories in an imagined world. Let’s just hope the tragedies and violence surrounding these technologies and science in film never make it to real life.


Prof Pic 1Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy.

Movie Review: Her

written by David Steffen

Back in April I reviewed the Ray Bradbury Award nominees for the years as their deadline for nomination approached–I reviewed all the ones I could get my hands on, but there was one movie that wasn’t yet released on DVD–titled “Her” written and directed by Spike Jonze.

The movie takes place in 2025 in a world that’s very recognizable, but with some differences–holograms being commonplace and artificial intelligence has advanced to stages we haven’t reached yet. The protagonist is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who writes heartfelt letters on behalf of complete strangers for hire. He has just upgraded his personal operating system–which is more than just an OS in the way that we use the phrase and more of a personal assistant. He chooses for the OS to have a female voice (voiced by Scarlett Johanssen) and she names herself Samantha. He hits it off with Samantha and soon their relationship becomes more than just user-computer. Theodore is lonely, having little personal contact with anyone and clinging to the threads of an estranged marriage which he has been stalling on signing the divorce papers to end. He does have one friend Amy (Amy Adams) who is also struggling with her relationship.

As Samantha gains experience with the world she grows from a basic and functional assistant into a real person with real desires. The physical angle is a complication, of course, since she has no body, but they try things to work that out. Pretty soon, she starts changing as she develops faster and faster.

I quite enjoyed this movie, in large part because I found the relationship very plausible, and the movie even managed to make it seem not creepy (even though it is rather creepy). What I really liked about the movie is that I thought it was one of the better AI treatments I’ve seen in a movie–it was quite sympathetic to her and her situation–what it would be like to process the world at a much faster rate than the humans you’re dealing with, to try to be a facsimile of a person when you’re really not, and so on. I highly recommend it.