Perhaps the phrase “Love Conquers All” is nowhere more apparent in film than in the science-fiction genre. It’s here where we see love survive the craziest and most outlandish of scenarios including alien invasions, futuristic technology, and time travel. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here at The Daily Fandom, we found four sci-fi movies to watch with those you love – whoever that may be.
#1: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow is like a hardened heart-shaped pendant; its exterior is tough and filled with imagery of giant weaponized exoskeletons, dirt, and freaky aliens. When you get past this though and reach the film’s core, you’ll find a sweet love story between two war warriors. Major Cage (Tom Cruise) is a cowardly weasel who will do anything to avoid the front lines of a battle for Earth against alien invaders. After being forced into a hot warzone he soon learns he has the repetitive power to go back in time to the day before the fight – all he has to do is die.
On the field he meets Sergeant Vrataski (Emily Blunt) — a woman who used to have the same power, and whose experience has turned her into a lethal killing machine; she agrees to help Cage become a better solider after each death, so eventually, the two can go stop the aliens once and for all. Here, Doug Liman directs a movie perfectly structured, allowing you to quickly become attached to its two leads. Cruise and Blunt play off each other wonderfully as Cage and Vrataski go from strangers to badass battle buddies; it’s unexpectedly sweet to watch the drill instructor-like Vrataski bring out the confidence in Cage and help unleash his inner hero.
#2: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Written by Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine is filled with off-kilter and surreal energy. The plot centers on Joel (Jim Carrey), who’s unexpectedly been cut off from his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet). Joel finds out that Clementine reached out to a company who, through technology, erased the memories of him from her mind. Heartbroken, Joel decides to have the same procedure, stripping his memories of Clementine, but comes to question if his choice was the right call.
The film features a mind-bending direction from Michel Gondry and a whimsical score from composer Jon Brion; these movie elements are like cherries on a red velvet cake, with Carrey and Winslet being the heartfelt main ingredient. The two lead performers have magical chemistry. As Joel, a surprisingly toned down Carrey bounces wonderfully off Winslet, who’s as colorful here as her red dyed hair. Though Eternal Sunshine deals with the loss of memory it won’t be a film you’ll forget anytime soon.
#3: Her (2013)
Theodore is a wordsmith with post-break-up blues who ends up falling for his Alexa-like OS. Her has a plot that could easily come across as laughable; it could go wrong in so many ways. At the hands of writer/director Spike Jonze and performers Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, the film instead radiates palpable empathy. Though Phoenix is as fantastic as Theodore — a man searching for connection, much praise has to go to Johansson. Here, as the advanced OS named Samantha, she’s irresistibly charming though not appearing in a single frame of the film.
Using her voice, she sculpts a character that is funny, caring, playful, and inquisitive. Theodore loves Samantha, and as an audience member you can’t help but love her too. You smile as the pair go on a date at a crowded beach and worry when they argue. Hollywood typically pumps out so many films where romance feel artificial. It’s funny how in a movie with an actual artificial intelligence that Her instead feels extremely human.
#4: About Time (2013)
About Time is the movie equivalent of biting into one of those Valentine’s chocolates you sometimes receive: you expect one flavor then quickly realize you’re getting another. Luckily here the flavor is something sweet like caramel as opposed to an unexpected run-in with coconut.
For roughly its first half hour, About Time feels like a well-meaning rom-com with a sci-fi edge. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father that all men in his family are able to travel backwards in time. Like any twenty-something probably would think, the first thing that crosses his mind is to use this power to find a girlfriend; if he makes an embarrassing mistake while talking to a girl he can just go back and try again. Tim eventually meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), whose bubbly personality he finds delightful. With a few instances of time travel involved, the two end up connecting and beginning a romantic relationship.
As the film continues you soon start to realize that it’s more than just a love story between Tim and Mary, but a love story between a family. Tim’s family is heavily featured in the movie – his father played by Bill Nighy and sister by Lydia Wilson. These characters aren’t afterthoughts either; each has a quirk or personality trait that makes you invested in them; you care when Tim tries to go back in time to help them with their lives.
Written and directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), About Time is a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. It earnestly works hard to give your heart that tingling and light sensation and succeeds. The writing is nice and often times tackles cliché rom-com moments in a refreshing way or avoids them entirely. None of this would work completely without the charisma of Gleeson and McAdams, who make their characters’ relationship worth investing in. It’s because of them you’ll want to come back to the film again and again, and why it’s a sweet Valentine’s treat.