Science Fiction

By Noelle Buffam · March 26, 2011

Science Fiction film is a genre that incorporates hypothetical, science-based themes into the plot of the film. Often, this genre incorporates futuristic elements and technologies to explore social, political, and philosophical issues. The film itself is usually set in the future, either on earth or in space. Traditionally, a Science Fiction film will incorporate heroes, villains, unexplored locations, fantastical quests, and advanced technology.

Examples of Science Fiction film:

The Matrix – The fight for the future begins when a computer hacker learns the world exists in an alternate reality and he is chosen as “The One” who can save mankind in the war against the computer agents who control it.

2001: A Space Odyssey – An artifact is discovered on the moon and humans set out on a quest, with the help of a sophisticated computer system named HAL. 

Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi – Rebels rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt and go on to battle the Empire, while Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker, attempts to bring his father away from the Dark Side.

Sub-genres of Sci-Fi:

Apocalyptic Film

Apocalyptic film is a sub-genre of Science-Fiction film. The plot revolves around an impending disaster. Within this genre, the disaster is usually an alien invasion, a nuclear war, a pandemic, or a natural disaster. The development of technology plays a large role in these films and often serves as the source of conflict.  While many films in this sub-genre center around the disaster, many focus on the post-apocalyptic state of the world.

Examples: Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Armageddon.

Dystopian Film

Dystopian film is a sub-genre of Science-Fiction film that focuses on the upset state of the world. These films take place in the future and feature a world that is overrun with violence, oppression, and disease. In other words, a Dystopian film explores what it would look like to achieve the opposite of an Utopian society. This sub-genre often holds the same themes and characteristics of a post-apocalyptic film. Generally, the common themes within Dystopian films include dehumanization, the repression of individuality, and uniformity at the cost of human rights.

Examples: V for Vendetta, Mad Max, Blade Runner.

Time Travel Film

As stated in its name, this sub-genre of Science-Fiction film centers around the concept of time travel. These films can explore traditional time travel through futuristic devices or space-time travel. The Time Travel sub-genre can also explore the concept of alternate histories, alternate realities, and parallel universes.

Examples: The Terminator, Back to the Future, Star Trek.

Alien Film

Alien film is perhaps the most prominent themed sub-genre in Science-Fiction film. These films can explore the existence of aliens, alien invasions, and alien abduction. Often, these movies include some sort of government conspiracy or cover-up. A common theme in this sub-genre is the coexistence between human beings and aliens.

Examples: Predator, Mars Attacks!, Alien.

Monsters and Mutants

Monsters and Mutants is a sub-genre with a long tradition within Science-Fiction film. Unlike horror films, this sub-genre contains a monster or mutant that derives from a scientific explanation or origin. These films can contain a scientific experiment or accident that produces the said monster. In many Science-Fiction films, these mutants can be created from technology and take the form of robots and technologically advanced beings.

Examples: Godzilla, Cloverfield, Tremors.