My invitation to an early screening of James Cameron's Avatar got lost in the mail (cough, cough), so I'm just as eager as the rest of the world to see what a little imagination -- and $250 million -- has wrought when the flick finally opens in theaters tomorrow. We may never know the actual budget of Avatar, but if it delivers on the early buzz, we won't care. Money talks, but it doesn't guarantee that good scripts will be written or that actors will give good performances or that directors will find new ways to surprise and amaze us.
Here are ten sci-fi films from the past 40 years that delivered the biggest bang for the buck, in my estimation. Some had micro budgets, while others had $30-35 million at their disposal, yet still exceeded expectations, delivering thrills and chills that rank among the very finest the genre has to offer. As it happens, the list is weighted toward more recent fare, so feel free to share your favorite 'bang for the buck' sci-fi flicks.
One of SciFi Squad's best science fiction films of the decade, Nacho Vigalando's stylish thriller gets tremendous mileage out of its simple concept: a man travels in time and wrecks increasing havoc upon himself. The script is clever, intelligent, thoughtful, and entirely logical as it plays out the consequences of the man's actions, progressing from lighthearted playfulness to something darker and richer. The film is aided immensely by Karra Elejalde's performance as that ordinary man caught up in extraordinary circumstances.