Top 10 Mind-bending Sci-fi Movies

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In our Universe, there are plenty of warped perspectives, which consistently ask questions about Life and God. Movies about different dimensions and mind-teasing perspectives makes way to explore heady philosophical ideas like the nature of identity, time, and consciousness. All these kind of movies have couple of unique qualities: weirdness and an untamed story. These harbingered sci-fi movies are a combination of sound; sight and music, which takes the audience away on a wild and spaced-out ride.The following are the ten mind-bending sci-fi films that have some of the inventive, thought-provoking and far-out plotlines in the history of Hollywood. Set your minds and raise your eyebrows to marvel at and to unravel what you have just seen.

10. 2001 : A Space Odyssey (1968)

If there was ever a cinema that can be called as an “ART” it is Kubrick’s ‘proverbial good sci-fi’ movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It retains its artistic magnificence even after more than four and a half decades. There is only one advice to a viewer before watching it: Surrender yourself to it. If you so, then “2001” is a mind-shaper.In this influential, mind-bending story (based upon Arthur C. Clarke’s novel), Kubrick tracks the odyssey of mankind, from the dawn of man four million years ago to the exploration of deep space. Viewer’s today mostly prefer action in a sci-fi movie, this film doesn’t provide that. Nevertheless, it’s an exercise in spectacle and even in today’s world of CGI; it’s safe to say that the effects are still very impressive.Cinematically, “2001” altered the relationship between sound and the image and expands the technical possibilities of the medium. Story wise, it just depicted a quantum leap forward in human consciousness —so it practically demands such a leap, on an individual scale, from the viewer. Stanley Kubrick – the master of cinema — like many great artists, often took to examining humanity from the outside in, a quality that his detractors have mistaken for outright cynicism. 2001 is an irrefutable counterargument to such misanthropic claims.

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9. The Matrix (1999)

Wachowski’s sci-fi/action/apocalyptic fable “The Matrix” is the coolest journey you have ever made into a genuinely original vision of our cyber future that will have you checking your own reality by the time it’s over. It passes around enough imaginative ideas and digitized humans to make it a definite check-out-this-one for all science-fiction fans.’Matrix’ is the advancement to the, surreal and the intrigue of the internet world that has always primed us to explore. It follows the double life of Thomas Anderson. He is a hard working computer programmer in a 9to 5 job. But, he is also a maverick hacker named “Neo” in the privacy of his room. While the great hacker is looking for a meaning of his existence, a mysterious person ‘Morpheus’ reveals himself. Neo’s monitor says, “Wake up Neo. The Matrix has you. Follow the white rabbit.” That’s the start of an amazing sci-fi odyssey for both Neo and us.Dimension jump never looked this breathtaking, exhilarating, while the Hong Kong type action stunts balances the in-depth philosophical undertones. “Matrix” has various references to Christianity (regards Neo as a Christ figure), Gnostic and Buddhist (Neo, a benevolent man on the path to enlightenment who realizes that the suffering of the world is brought on by ignorance, greed, craving, and attachment. In the end, “The Matrix” doesn’t always make sense, but it seems to make sense, which is the key thing in mind-benders and science fiction.“The Matrix” won four Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects, Visual Effects, Film Editing and Best Sound.

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8. Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan’s brain-teaser “Inception” deals with dreams, but demands the viewers to stay wide awake. “Inception” is a popular entertainment, a block-buster with a knockout punch so intense and unnerving it’ll have you worrying if it’s safe to dream at night.Corporate spy Cobb uses a special method to steal ideas in dreams. After a failed extraction on a wealthy corporate Saito, he’s forced to achieve the impossible: “inception” – planting an idea in the mind of a target. If Cobb succeeds, he can see his estranged children and be a free man to return to his country or else, he’ll be trapped forever, either in dreams or in a jail.Inception is more admirable in intellectual ambition and technical execution than in emotional impact. With the physics-defying, thunderous action and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan has us just where he wants us — deliriously lost in a world where dreams and reality are indecipherable, and curious enough to watch it one more time. Inception is a mind-bender, but doesn’t leave you with endless frustration. Until the end – the script doesn’t screw with the viewer’s perception. It provides enough lucidity that we know where we are and what we’re watching and that we don’t founder.Watch “Inception” one more time for trying to convey difficult, ambitious themes, and even more times for actually succeeding. The movie won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.

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7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Michael Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is part science fiction, part romance, part ‘nothing you’ve ever seen before.’ Like the best mind-bending sci-fi, it’s mainly a metaphor for a deeper dilemma: the question of whether or not we’d really be better off eliminating heartbreak from our lives.Joel, a timid guy discovers that his sparkly ex-girl friend Clementine has gone through a medical procedure to erase him from her memory. Annoyed by this, Joel also decides to do the same, but he soon changes his mind while watching his memories get erased. Now he must race through his own brain to stop the process. Am I clear? Yeah, most of the movie takes place inside Joel‘s where the relationship is replayed.As Joel, Jim Carrey has never dialed it down so much on screen. He looks like the perfect disillusioned, confused guy. I have carefully omitted mentioning certain key characters since your memory of reading such a thing could potentially spoil the several surprises the screen writer Kaufmann has laid out for you. This is one story, where it is devilishly hard to make it both lucid and entertaining, but Gondry succeeds on all counts, pulling us into an increasingly dark, suspenseful and even touching psychological adventure.For all its weirdness, this movie is a brilliant piece of visionary filmmaking and a deeply romantic love story. This may be the sci-fi movie that bends your brain and breaks your heart at the same time.“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” won a Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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6. Donnie Darko (2001)

Richard Kelly’s drowsy, weird time travel drama “Donnie Darko” is about a mentally disturbed teenager. And, like that teenager, the movie is brooding, complex, rebellious, and difficult to comprehend. It asks a simple question to you: what if the universe as we live it, not just as we theorize it, really isn’t as we imagine it?In October 2, 1988, a mentally disturbed school kid Donnie Darko confronts a six-foot demon-bunny during a sleep walk and is told that the world will end in 28 days. A few days later, a jet engine inexplicably smashes through Darko’s empty bedroom. That’s just a first of several signs indicating, all is not right with reality and with the future.With “Donnie Darko”, the 26-year-old writer/director Kelly, not only elucidated the universal traumas of growing up, but also does so with a startling uncommonness. The film fails on some levels, like that head-scratching ending. At the same time, this is a movie that has aimed for the moon and fallen a bit short, not a film that was happy being average. As with any richly woven sci-fi movie, if you’re attuned to it, you take what you need from “Donnie Darko” at each given viewing, and you definitely take something different every time.

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5. 12 Monkeys (1995)

Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys” – along with the director’s grotesquely comic hallmarks – is a more complex and rewarding sci-fi fantasy. Its dark like “Blade Runner”, but a convoluted film with too many ideas for its own good, blends (among other things) the virus thriller with the post-apocalyptic genre. The desperate hero of this movie is James Cole has been sent from the 21st century — around 2025 — back to the twilight of the 20th century. His mission is to gather information about the virus that will break out in 1996 and kill 99% of the world population by 1997. But there’s been a mix up, so instead of landing in 1996, Cole lands in 1990, where, of course, he starts raving about his mission and is locked up in a mental hospital.“Diehard” fame Bruce Willis, in an eruptive performance of startling emotional intensity, stars as Cole. And, there’s also Brad Pitt, with a delicious over the top performance. The whole scopes of this movie is completely insane, often confusing, and sometimes almost unintelligible; but hang on there, somehow at the end it all comes together and everything makes sense if you have looked at it closely enough. What makes “Twelve Monkeys” great is that, the story is a conventional Hollywood time travel, sci-fi thriller with big stars, but despite that Gilliam has turned it into his own rough beast. To say it like “Joker”: This is what happens when an unconventional talent meets straightforward material.

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4. Eraserhead (1977)

David Lynch’s – master of surrealism – feature debut “Eraserhead” is one of those rare mind-bending films that really deserves its cult status – a nightmarish, heavily symbolic story set in a post apocalyptic future. Eraserhead can be defined by these following adjectives: Disturbing, hilarious, repulsive, frightening, sensitive and challenging. The movie is set in an industrial wasteland with inescapable noises and smokes. The story follows Henry (Jack Nance), who has increasingly bizarre dreams, each one more horrific than the last. He falls in love Mary X, who has frequent spastic fits and then falls pregnant only to give birth to a mutated baby.This movie is so mind-bending that it makes you literally, physically ill. You might feel a little feverish or a throbbing headache. Watch this movie detached enough to disconnect from the discomfiting emotions it dredges up and focus only on the art. With “Eraserhead”, Lynch is in his most devoted and purest form, and is unconcerned with anything outside the view of his camera. “Eraserhead” offers so much to look into and also represents a monumental shift in how movies are seen and digested – it raised the level of aptitude and film literacy throughout the world.Well, beware of this sci-fi, it really gets under your mind and skin in ways that very few sci-fi’s ever have.

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3. Dark City (1998)

Alex proyas’ allegorical science fiction “Dark City” is a visual marvel of a cinematic experience. Even before the release of “Matrix”, it has explored one man’s existential journey to understanding while trapped in a world not of his making. “Dark City” revolves around John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), who wakes up one night lying naked in a bathtub in a room in a strange apartment in a strange city. A phone call tells him that somebody has erased his memory. Murdoch tries to connect certain dots to find out who he is, while a police detective searches for a serial killer, where all the evidences points to Murdoch as the ruthless killer.Director Proyas fills the screen with lot of cinematic and literary references ranging from Fritz Lang and Murnau to Kafka and George Orwell. You might feel that the movie is a bit overbearing at the first time, but the film holds up under repeat viewings, revealing more and more complexity and coherence. Many complained that the movie is only stylistic. Yeah, “Dark City” is mostly about style, but it’s a style so engrossing, it more than makes up for any lack of substance. Overall, I must say that you will thoroughly enjoy this movie from frame to frame, if your mind is set to the ‘absorb’ mode.

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2. PI (1998)

Shot in grimy black-and-white, with a budget of $60,000, Darren Aronofsky’s debut feature-film “Pi” plunges into the mysteries of knowledge, power and the nature of God. The movie “Pi” is like the value for mathematical notation ‘pi’, which has been calculated to one billion decimal places and counting. Like that number, the movie does not fail to generate curiosity and speculation. ‘Pi’ takes us to the mind of Max Cohen, a mathematics genius, who locks himself into a tiny New York apartment with a homemade supercomputer, conducting an intense study of momentous numbers to unlock the mystery of universe.  He also suffers headaches and paranoia that seem to be the side effect of his genius.Are you intimidated by math? Then don’t fret: deftness at mathematics isn’t a prerequisite for enjoying Pi, but it is difficult is to view this film without a mind seeking to be intrigued, because, if you don’t want intrigue, you shouldn’t be watching Pi. Every small action is packed with meaning in this burdensome potent film.“Pi” won the Sundance award for best director (Aronofsky).

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1. Primer (2003)

Shane Carruth’s mind-bending, ultra low-budget, sci-fi film imagines its viewers to be smart, possessed of a decent attention span and game for a challenge. When it comes to movies, it doesn’t come often. The movie tells the story of four unfledged entrepreneurs, who have built a cottage industry of error checking devices in a garage. One day, when the science geeks are tinkering in their garage, they discover an unexpected application for a gadget and then dip a toe into the tricky field of time travel.Don’t expect “Primer” to be a time-travel fun movie like “Back to the Future,” because the director Carruth challenges us to imagine the impossible scenario of time-travel and also asks us to consider the ethical, moral and spiritual implications of what we have witnessed, and put those considerations on equal basis with man’s desire to go where no man has gone before. At times, the film is so impenetrable that the intrigue always remains hanging-like a dog chasing a ball of string. Anyway, you could inflict “Primer” upon your enemies, and watch them squirm as they stare blankly at the screen.

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Conclusion

2001: A Space odyssey is not a planet hopping, special-effects spattered sci-fi film; it is a motion picture (and ‘the’ best one) that appeals to our emotions, and the feelings of awe, wonderment and terror that overcome you watching it are simply indescribable. Also, remember this seminal, mind-bending film launched a whole sci-fi cycle: “Silent Running,” “Star Wars,” “Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Star Trek,” and “A.I: Artificial Intelligence.”“2001: A Space Odyssey” won only an Oscar for Best Special Effects (Kubrick). May be, even the guys at Oscars didn’t had a clue what a great masterpiece it is.

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