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Make Valentine's Day weird with these 6 unconventional sci-fi love stories
It's the season of romance, but it doesn't all have to be by the book.
It's Valentine's Day week, a time for romance, a time for classic gestures of love and affection...but, come on, sometimes you really don't want to do things by the book. Whether you're sick of the same old restaurants or the same old gifts or just all that pink and red, there comes a time when you just need a love story that's a little more unconventional, especially if you happen to be spending the holiday on your couch.
So, if you've got some time on your hands and you want to experience a love story that's a little less predictable, we've got you covered. From monsters to robots, here are five unconventional sci-fi love stories to get you through this week.
Yes, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is about an ex-cop (Harrison Ford) tasked with hunting down a group of rogue artificial humans in a visually stunning version of future Los Angeles, and it works completely on that level. But the legendary sci-fi film is also a love story, chronicling Deckard's fascination with and eventual affection for Rachael (Sean Young), a replicant who believes that she's human. The sci-fi action takes a front seat, but it's hard to ignore that connection between replicant hunter and replicant, particularly in light of where Blade Runner 2049 took the story.
Sam Raimi took full advantage of partnering with Universal for Darkman and made a film in the grand tradition of Universal Monsters, delivering something as pulpy as it was heroic, as horrific as it was thrilling. But this story of a scientist turned borderline crazy vigilante isn't just about Darkman going out to mess up some bad guys. This sci-fi superhero adventure all starts because Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is in love with his girlfriend, lawyer Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), and wants to protect her from the hardened criminals she's trying to prosecute. What follows is both a bittersweet love story and a rollicking superhero adventure.
Hey look, it's another story about a scientist who gets completely transformed, and the woman he loves. David Cronenberg's The Fly is considered one of the greatest horror remakes of all time, as well as one of the greatest body horror films and one of the best horror films of the 1980s. It's also a great unconventional love story, as Seth (Jeff Goldblum) and Ronnie (Geena Davis) spend much of the film doing their best to stay together and maintain their relationship, even as Seth becomes less like himself with each passing day. But sometimes, even a woman who's determined to care for a man who's turning into a giant fly can't make it work.
Spike Jonze's 2013 film about a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with the new operating system (Scarlett Johansson) who helps to manage his life is, of course, an unconventional romance from the start. But what makes Her so compelling and wonderful isn't just the premise of a man falling for a personality inside his computer. That's interesting enough, but the way the film develops that relationship and its implications is the real meat of the narrative. What starts as a meditation on our relationship to technology soon becomes an exploration of love in all its forms, and what it means when we lose it.
Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning film about a woman who falls in love with a strange, gilled creature in the lab where she works is not a Universal Pictures release, but it is inspired by Del Toro's lifelong love of Universal Monsters, specifically the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Where others saw horror in those creatures, Del Toro saw something more, and poured his personal love of monsters and our relationship to monsters into a moving, gripping, endlessly beautiful exploration of love. It's a masterpiece, and one of the best unconventional love stories you'll ever find.
Writer/directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead just keep growing in reputation and esteem on the cinema stage, and for many film fans that all began with Spring, the duo's second feature film. The story of a grieving man who decides to head out on vacation to try to get himself together, and meets a mysterious and beautiful woman while living in Italy, Spring is so satisfying because the romance works just as well as the horror and sci-fi elements. The film sets up an intriguing mystery and spends the whole runtime working to pay it off, but it also never lets go of the love story at its core, and that makes it both well-rounded and deeply compelling on multiple levels.