Science-fiction films have always been a fascination for audiences. These films can seem like a fantasy that might actually come true one day. It is also a genre that can be explored in a huge variety of ways. There are massive epic blockbuster science fiction films, there are quiet and intimate science fiction films, and then there's everything in between.
The 2000s saw some ground-breaking films in the genre and some of the most acclaimed modern science-fiction films, like Children of Men and District 9. Of course, there are also those movies that never got the due they deserved and the ones that got a little overpraised. Here are the most underrated and overrated sci-fi films of the 2000s.
10 Underrated: Star Trek
It might seem strange for a franchise as massive as Star Trek to be considered underrated, but everyone seems to have forgotten how much fun J.J. Abrams Stark Trek was. The film acted as a clever reboot of the old series while using time travel to keep certain continuity alive.
Though they had big shoes to fill, the cast is all perfect stepping into the iconic roles. The film balances all the characters well and injects a lot of great humor into the huge adventure film. It feels reminiscent of the tone that the MCU would adopt for their massively successful films.
9 Overrated: Serenity
Serenity is another film that brought a beloved science-fiction television series to the big screen. After the cancellation of Firefly, Joss Whedon got the chance to continue the story of his cult show, bringing the whole cast back together.
Fans of the show loved to see it live on with a movie and critics generally praised the interesting science-fiction Western. However, for those outside the Firefly sphere, it's hard to see the appeal. Although it's not a bad film and the characters are fun, the movie seems strangely lacking, like it has nothing interesting to do with the sci-fi adventure.
8 Underrated: Moon
Moon is probably one of the smallest scale science-fiction films you're likely to see. The movie stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut serving as the sole caretaker of a base station on the moon. As his tour of duty comes to an end and he prepares to go home, he makes a shocking discovery.
The movie is basically a one-man show for Rockwell and thankfully the actor is very much up to the difficult task. He manages to keep the story compelling the entire time, selling the concepts in a human way. The mystery at the center of the story is also thrilling and unique.
7 Overrated: I Am Legend
Will Smith also tried his hand at the solo science-fiction adventure with I Am Legend. Smith stars as the last living human in New York City after a virus wiped out much of the population and turned the rest into mindless creatures.
The movie was a huge hit at the box-office, but it remains a pretty standard and forgettable film overall. Smith gives a great performance but shoddy CGI and formulaic storytelling do him no favors. The film also seems to completely misunderstand the point of the source material, replacing the original thoughtful ending with a generic one.
6 Underrated: Minority Report
The prospect of Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise teaming up for a science-fiction mystery sounds like a sure-fire winner. Minority Report also had a killer premise. Set in the future in which crimes can be predicted, Cruise plays a cop who becomes an outlaw when it is predicted he will murder someone in a matter of hours.
Somehow, even with the amazing concept and the high-profile creative team, Minority Report wasn't a major hit. In the years to come, its reputation has improved some but it is still surprisingly overlooked. However, it remains a highlight of both Spielberg and Cruise's amazing careers.
5 Overrated: War Of Worlds
Spielberg and Cruise teamed up again in the 2000s for another sci-fi film, but this time on a much larger scale. War of the Worlds is Spielberg's first take on "scary aliens" in the story of an imperfect father (Cruise) who is trying to bring his children to safety during an alien attack on Earth.
While Minority Report didn't connect as much with audiences, War of the Worlds provided the huge, disaster film they were looking for. But despite a thrilling and effective first half, Spielberg seems to run out of ideas at the midway point. This results in a rather anti-climactic end to the adventure.
4 Underrated: Sunshine
Sunshine tells the story of a group of astronauts who head out on a dangerous mission to reignite the Earth's sun after it began to fade. Though the premise might sound like a Roland Emmerich disaster film, this is a much quieter and moving story than you might think.
From director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland, Sunshine is less about the mission and more about exploring the lives of this small crew and the way this mission has changed them. It might not be what some sci-fi fans expected, but it is a fascinating and beautiful film nonetheless.
3 Overrated: Transformers
Transformers are one of the most popular toy lines in the world and have spawned countless cartoons and comics. It was only a matter of time before they made the live-action version. The movie centers around a young teen who buys his first car only to discover it is a robot in disguise. This leads to him becoming involved in a massive war between the Autobots and Decepticons.
The movie was a massive hit that spawned a huge franchise. Though most agree the sequels are awful, there's not much to like in the original either. It's filled with Michael Bay's typical loud and juvenile humor, but the big shock is not messy and uninteresting the action sequences are.
2 Underrated: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
The great thing about science-fiction is people can take the biggest, most mind-blowing concepts and use them to tell the most simple and intimate stories. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an insane love story in which a depressed man (Jim Carrey) undergoes a procedure to have his ex-girlfriend wiped from his memory.
As wild as the idea is, the movie keeps things perfectly simple as we go on this surreal ride. The performances from the cast are all pitch-perfect, playing straight against the big ideas of the film. It is a thrilling and unique movie that rewards multiple viewings.
1 Overrated: Avatar
James Cameron has created some of the most iconic and ground-breaking science-fiction movies of all time. With Avatar, he tried to outdo himself by using new technology to tell the story of a soldier on a distant alien planet who begins to be accepted by the native creatures who live there.
To be fair, the highest-grossing movie of all-time runs the risk of being considered overrated. The filmmaking techniques of the film are indeed ground-breaking and Cameron created a fascinating world within the film. But the story is so formulaic and the main character so uninteresting that the movie oddly doesn't leave much of a cultural impact.