When we talk about the best science fiction movies over there, people tend to completely ignore animated movies. Turns out that’s actually a pretty big mistake. One of the things that usually makes this genre so fun to watch is the special effects that come into play. It’s actually a little easier to use those special effects when a movie isn’t trying to be so realistic . Indeed, some of the best and most underrated sci-fi movies.
Whether it’s a Disney or Pixar animated sci-fi movie or something from another studio, there are plenty that stand the test of time. Some of these sci-fi animated movies are often brought up when talking about someone’s favorite. Others have been largely lost and forgotten over the years. There are many that just haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Everything seemed to be set up for Atlantis: The Lost Empire be a great success. The film was coming out as animated movies were making a bit of a resurgence, even among adults. It was based on a subject that has long captured the imagination of science fiction fans. It centered on a group of adventurers who felt like Atlantis was a real place and they just had to find it. There were futuristic machines and tools that people got to see the characters use and the cast was pretty star-studded for 2001 with Michael J. Fox at the height of his popularity in the lead role. There were many other actors whose voices were also well known, including Leonard Nimoy and James Garner.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire was also a Disney movie, so it seemed like it should have had it all. So what happened? It’s not exactly clear, but it was a big flop at the box office, making just $185 million against a budget of around $120 million. While the film wasn’t that popular when it was released, video and streaming gave it a second life. He’s even got a bit of a cult following and has made a few lists of Disney movies that need another shot. Still, it’s one of those movies that only diehards will remember right off the bat, so it certainly counts as a pretty underrated movie.
For some reason, Disney had some real trouble with sci-fi animated movies in the early 2000s. In fact, the studio had some big box office flops during the early years of the decade. Atlantis: The Lost Empire debuted in June and disappointed in the spring and summer of 2001, then treasure planet appeared in November 2002 and also struggled mightily to attract an audience.
This was another film whose struggles seemed rather odd given that the Mouse House was supporting the film with a very good budget and some big cast stars. It was also a story that people should have been able to relate to because it was basically treasure island but in space. Maybe those were just really bad years for animated sci-fi movies despite what other animation genres may have done.
When Michael J. Fox couldn’t make his star a life of power the lost empire at the box office, the same lament could be said for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who headlined treasure planet. The film had plenty of other stars with Martin Short and Emma Thompson lending their voices to the underrated animated sci-fi flick. Now, many years after its initial release, the film is finally finding a bit more cult following as people are starting to realize that treasure planet was better than people thought. It’s still a film that’s been mostly lost in the dustbin of history despite the rather obvious swashbuckling appeal of space.
Meet the Robinsons
Yet another great Disney sci-fi animated film that struggled to find an audience in the 2000s. Meet the Robinsons centers on a brilliant young boy who grows up in an orphanage and struggles to to adopt. In a desperate attempt to find out who his mother is, Lewis invents a mind scanner that attracts the attention of a villain known as the “Bowler Hat Guy” who travels from the future to steal it. He is pursued by Wilbur Robinson, who returns to 2037 with Lewis to show him how the future is really in danger.
Needless to say, plenty of hijinx break out in this computer-animated sci-fi flick that the Mouse House probably thought would be a really big hit. Instead, it only made $169.3 million at the box office on a budget of $150 million. Still, the film is underrated thanks to its ability to touch the heart while showing sci-fi fun.
Monsters vs Aliens
Monsters vs Aliens is a worthwhile addition to this list if for no other reason than the film was actually quite popular. A Dreamworks film released in 2009, the film about a young journalist exposed to a goo that eventually turns her into a giantess who must then fight alongside a group of monsters against an impending alien invasion has grossed over $380 million. dollars out of a budget of $175 million.
The movie also had a heck of a big-name cast with Reese Witherspoon playing the giant Susan, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Stephen Colbert, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland and Hugh Laurie. It was popular enough that there were even TV spinoffs. Which makes it all the more bizarre that it’s one of those sci-fi animated films largely forgotten these days.
Like Monsters vs Aliens, Megamind is not underrated as it was a box office flop. Considering it featured Will Farrell and Brad Pitt alongside Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, David Cross, and Tina Fey, the movie was hugely popular when it was released. However, as also Monsters vs Aliens, this film is about a young boy from another planet who ends up becoming a supervillain and ultimately a superhero seems to be largely forgotten these days.
This movie is also the newest entry in underrated animated sci-fi movies, as it was released just 12 years ago. Still, it’s one of those films that has been largely forgotten by all but the most dedicated fans of the genre.
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