Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: The best sci-fi films

  • The List
  • 10 June 2014
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: The best sci-fi films

Featuring Coherence, Snowpiercer, The Anomaly, Koo! Kin-dza-dza and The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

Officially, this screening is called ‘EIFF & Empire present the Greatest Movie of All Time’ – a not in any way grandiose title. Episode V of George Lucas’ series has earned this honour after coming top of the poll of Empire’s readers to find the best 301 movies of all time for their 301st issue. However, this isn’t the first time that Lucas’ work has appeared at the EIFF: his student film, THX 1138 4EB, was screened alongside other shorts here in 1967.
Filmhouse, Wed 25 June.

Koo! Kin-dza-dza

This animated reworking of the cult film Kin-dza-dza sees a renowned cellist and his nephew catapulted across the universe to an alien planet with a strict class system. The 1986 live action original was noted for being a harsh satire of the Soviet Union and the reworking allows director Georgiy Daneliya to return to those ideas with a couple of decades of distance. This time, however, the story is packaged in an animated format that it is hoped will make it more accessible for an international audience and younger viewers, without losing that dark political criticism.
Cineworld, Sun 22 June. Odeon, Fri 27 June.


It seems to go against all of the rules in the book: a mostly improvised sci-fi thriller, which takes place mainly in one ordinary dining room and is plotted around theories of quantum mechanics. Four couples (among them Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon) attend a dinner party on an evening when a comet is sailing past the earth. Yet the Woody Allen-esque mood is broken when the lights goes out. Compared to cult favourite Primer for its determination to not to baby the audience, this low budget film promises to show just how disturbing glow sticks can be.
Cineworld, Wed 25 June; Filmhouse, Sat 28 June.

The Anomaly

Matrix-style action sequences, a requisitely scantily clad woman and futuristic medical apparatus as seen in the trailer promise that this film will anything but an anomaly from the sci-fi action genre. An ex-soldier finds that he has only minutes to live, yet each life is replaced by another. Perhaps Doctor Who has made a lasting impact on writer and actor Noel ClarkeIan Somerhalder even wears a tweed jacket and a bow tie at one point. However, the real intrigue may be the appearance of the mysterious third Hemsworth brother.
Cineworld, Thu 19 & Fri 20 June.


For months this Korean adaptation of a French graphic novel was denied a release in UK and America as Weinstein’s cutting scissors hung over it. The sci-fi dystopia portrays a viciously stratified class society onboard a train which is constantly traveling around a frozen Earth. By all accounts, the visually stunning depiction of the train is more than matched by the performances, from Tilda Swinton as a comic representation of the ruling classes to Chris Evans who carries the weight of an attempted class revolution on his shoulders.
Cineworld, Sat 22 & Sat 28 June.


  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • South Korea / US / France
  • 2h 5min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
  • Cast: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Go Ah-sung, Jamie Bell, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton

In a future where global warming has destroyed most life on Earth, the only survivors are those who inhabit the Snowpiercer - a train that is run by a perpetual-motion engine. A rebellion is brewing, though, between the elite controlling the front and the poor suffering in the back.


  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 29min
  • 15
  • Directed by: James Ward Byrkit
  • Written by: James Ward Byrkit
  • Cast: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
  • UK release: 13 February 2015

Em (Baldoni) and Kevin (Sterling) gather for a dinner party at the home of their old friends Mike (Brendon) and Lee (Scafaria) as a comet passes overhead – then a series of unexplained events ensues. Well-structured, micro-budget indie sci-fi focusing on character-based drama rather than effects, with nerve-shredding…

EIFF & Empire Present The Greatest Movie of All Time

  • 2014
  • 2h 7min
  • 18

We are pleased to put on a very special screening of a very special movie indeed. For Empire's Issue 301, the world's biggest movie magazine has let its readers have their say, voting for the 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time. And we have teamed up with them to show the winning film at EIFF.

Koo! Kin-dza-dza (Ku! Kin-dza-dza)

  • 2013
  • Russia
  • 1h 30min
  • Directed by: Georgiy Daneliya/Tatiana Ilyina
  • Written by: Georgiy Daneliya/Andrey Ysachev
  • Cast: Aleksandr Adabashyan, Georgiy Daneliya, Nikolay Gubenko

Superb traditional animation merges The Wizard of Oz with Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Two unlikely bedfellows, a classical cellist and an aspiring DJ, find themselves transported from Moscow to the alien world of Pluke, where they navigate a dystopian alien culture in a quest to return home. Georgian director Georgiy Daneliya…

The Anomaly

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • UK
  • 1h 35min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Noel Clarke
  • Cast: Noel Clarke, Ian Somerhalder, Brian Cox
  • UK release: 4 July 2014

A former soldier is taken captive and awakens in the back of a van where he learns that he only has a few moments to figure out how he got there.

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