10 Sci-Fi Movie Concepts That Shouldn't Work But Do

There's no way someone ever thought Being John Malkovich was a sane film to make...

being john malkovich
Universal Pictures

Often in sci-fi we get so swept up in the flashing lights and the glamour of alien worlds that we miss the bigger picture.

It's so easy to get lost in the beautiful environments and intricate lore of each new universe, or to choose to let a few inconsistencies slide by in order to continue enjoying your favourite fantasy universe.

However, if you take a step back and look at some of your favourite films, you might realise that the concepts behind them make absolutely no sense at all- and once you've done this, there's no going back.

There’s a whole host of bold concepts and ideas that shouldn’t necessarily work but they do: A.I. girlfriends, insect bosses, dream diving, doppelgangers - the possibilities are absolutely endless!

Sometimes these wild ideas are pulled off because of amazing performances, incredible scene-setting or scripting, or sometimes just because they introduce a new idea to us that we hadn’t confronted before.

Which is part of the charm of sci-fi, right?

With this in mind, let’s go ahead and take a look at 10 Sci-Fi Concepts that Shouldn’t Work But Do.

10. Primer

being john malkovich

Primer is a 2004 time travel flick with a twist.

And the twist is that it’s boring - but not in a bad way!

People have started talking about it again recently because of the release of Tenet, the new Nolan film which shares much of its high concept with Primer.

The difference between the two though, is that whilst both are known for their incredibly complex plots (which over the years have led people to create flow-charts just to even attempt to understand), Tenet is backed by a huge budget and big names, whereas Primer intentionally creates a down-to-earth presentation of scientific discovery.

The understated visuals and performances in the film help bolster its charm, which is a direct product of its low budget and director’s vision. For explosions and action and excitement audiences go to Tenet, but Primer is its quieter, smarter cousin.

Director Shane Carruth himself plays one of the two central roles after claiming he couldn’t find a single actor that wouldn’t deliver lines with ‘too much drama’. He insisted instead that he wanted the film to portray scientific discovery realistically.

Now this may not be for everyone: it’s more slow-burning and introspective than others like it. But nonetheless, Carruth proved to audiences that you don’t need big names and bigger budgets to bring an incredible, complex sci-fi idea to life.


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