Science Fiction has long been a cherished Hollywood tradition - telling stories of aliens on far off planets, peppered with special effects that truly made you believe you were in a galaxy far, far away. Science fiction has been somewhat monopolized by big budget producers, since bringing a believable world to life has typically required considerable amounts of cash. From the forests of Endor to the streets of Neo Tokyo, crafting a realistic setting complete with aliens and androids, has always been an expensive affair.
However, in the recent years with the advent of high powered personal computers, it's entirely possible that a small studio (or even a single person) can create high fidelity effects, and elaborate characters and landscapes without necessitating a half a million dollar budget.
But guess what? Some of these creations are really awesome. Even better? Some of the most compelling scifi movies you can watch while eating lunch at the office. The best part? They are completely free.
Here are 7 (plus one bonus!) truly awesome sci-fi films that you can watch on your lunch break. Some will make you laugh, one or two may make you cry - and one might actually scare you. Enjoy!
Disclaimer - Violence and strong language in the following clips.
Tether - Corridor Digital
Tether is a cool dystopian short film taking place in a snow covered land, decimated by a plague. Mankind has had to rebirth itself from the ashes of civilization, and compete with a tyrannical militant government. Amidst this chaos, another event takes place - from the heavens falls a drop pod containing a mysterious girl - and a silent soldier with advanced weaponry. Why are they here? We'll let you figure that out.
ABE - Rob McLellan
The story of ABE is a truly terrifying premise, and a reoccuring theme in science fiction. While iRobot creator Isaac Asimov took the idea of a sentient AI and crafted into to a heroic, empathetic protagonist, ABE is about an unfeeling psychopathic robot with a calm and collected tendency towards violent tyrannical sadism.
The Gift - Carl E. Rinsch
We've watched the gift numerous times - and it's still a bit of an enigma. We know there's a 'Unicorn', a wrongfully accused robot, and it takes place in Russia but that's about all we're sure of. There's a deeply buried story in here somewhere, though it's only teased out in the back of our minds. Upon further reflection though - that inexplicable story is what makes the gift so intriguing.
AMP - Triton Films
AMP is the story of a human and a robot out to take on the world. It's a familiar plot as far as movie tropes go, but AMP is a cool visualization of the somewhat overplayed boy and his faithful dog. Per usual, a dystopian government has restricted everyone to the point of complete autocracy. Quinn has to salvage parts to keep his best friend and robo-pal running. But when push comes to shove and the time comes for Quinn to take a side in the bitter conflict, the duo decide that things have got to change.
Gloam -David Elwell & Gareth Hughes
Gloam is a beautiful little tale about curiosity. It's one of the shorter films on this list, but it doesn't need to be long to get the point across. It only has one character - a docile horned creature that spends it's days walking aimlessly through the woods, until one day it sees something... different. Not unlike a child or an animal that encounters something new, the little creature lets it's passion for discovery guide it towards that wonderful end of understanding.
R'ha - Kaleb Lechowski
This is a truly intriguing story. While there is not one human to be found in R'ha, the story is, in many ways, more human than most stories found in mainstream Hollywood. It involves a captured alien named R'ha, and a torturous AI interrogator who is coercing him into betraying the location of his kinsmen. Even though R'ha looks completely inhuman, his valiance in the face of death is something that most of us will hold in hold in high esteem.
Good news too! It looks like Kaleb's work has been recognized as R'ha has been picked up by Rick McCallum, the former head of Lucasfilm and producer of the recent Star Wars trilogy, and will be made into a full budget short film.
Natalis - Daniel Brkovic & Jan-Marcel Kühn
Natalis is a very short story about the psychic robot in charge of a garden paradise, who stumbles upon the newly born baby Enki. She sees into Enki's future - and what she sees is destruction. (Fun fact - 'Natalis' means 'Birthday' in Latin!)
BONUS : Dubstep Guns - Corridor Digital
Can't go wrong with this one. Though it's not really hard science fiction, it's got a very clever use of dubstep (a popular genre of electronica usually associated with futuristic themes) and some really cool graphical goodness. Add a pinch of self-mocking humor, and you've got a recipe for a quick, fun little movie.