Awake (2021, dir. Mark Raso)

A dysfunctional mother tries to protect her unique child after a freak event which prevents people from sleeping. Patchy Bird Box/Children of Men variant that struggles to tell its miniseries story within a movie running time. A decent (if not always well-used) cast and a few nicely weird moments help, tho.

Here’s the trailer.

Oxygen [AKA Oxygène / O2] (2021, dir. Alexandre Aja)

A woman wakes inside a futuristic sealed pod: she is running out of air. Like a near-future spin on Buried, this works hard to maximise its single location conceit and ticking clock/real time elements. A series of escalating problems and pressures well-handled, and a resolution that plays fair.

Here’s the trailer.

Another Earth (2011, dir. Mike Cahill)

While a doppelganger planet approaches Earth, a young woman’s and a bereaved composer’s lives become entangled. Odd little drama with SF/fantasy elements. Not sure it needs the space threat/opportunity context (apart from to finesse its ending), but there’s some lo-fi pleasure to be had here in the approach and lead performances.

Here’s the trailer.

Marooned [AKA Space Travelers] (1969, dir. John Sturges)

A US space vehicle suffers a failure prior to re-entry: NASA works on solving the problem. Stolid SF drama trying to present a realistic version of an Apollo-ish space race-era disaster possibility. Slow and serious, and not especially dramatic as a consequence.

Here’s the trailer.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, dir. JJ Abrams)

Attacks on Starfleet propel Kirk and crew into a manhunt in Klingon territory. Second of the alt-timeline reboot film series works fine as a pacy SF adventure with plenty of comedy to counterpoint the action, though struggles – as before – with its villainy and a need to over-reference its predecessors. A third movie followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Countdown (1968, dir. Robert Altman)

With the Soviets poised to reach the moon first, the US scrambles to respond by sending a Gemini astronaut into space. Talky and somewhat passive Cold War-era basic training/mission flick enlivened by NASA access, and by getting earlier to material explored by later, better films. No classic, despite interesting credits.

Here’s the trailer.

The Abyss (1989, dir. James Cameron)

A team of deep sea drilling experts attempt a rescue on a sunk nuclear submarine. Overambitious but in parts dazzling SF/action hybrid. There’s too much going on, but the film looks great, feels as authentic as it might, and is still impressive in technical respects.

Here’s the trailer.

Stowaway (2021, dir. Joe Penna)

An injured technician is found aboard a Mars mission: a dilemma ensues. Contrived hard SF drama that struggles to maximize the possibilities of either its premise or the ensuing threat. Not really a stowaway either. Good-looking and well acted, though. Nevertheless, Marooned did this better back in 1969.

Here’s the trailer.

Love and Monsters (2020, dir. Michael Matthews)

A young man journeys across giant creature-infested territory to reunite with his former girlfriend. Derivative but fun post-apocalyptic survival flick with a little heart. It borrows from everything from A Boy and his Dog to Mad Max 2 via Tremors, but still works. Michael Rooker offers serio-comic grizzle in support.

Here’s the trailer.

Palm Springs (2020, dir. Max Barbakow)

A man is resigned to being stuck in a temporal loop at a wedding. Solid SF/fantasy comedy with sharp edges. Smart playing, a fine soundtrack, and enough diversion from the Groundhog Day template all helps, as does a pleasingly amoral streak. JK Simmons and Dale Dickey are along for the ride.

Here’s the trailer.