Sci-Fi: Out There

Sci-Fi: Out There
Often used to illustrate the philosophical battle between determinism and free will, along with the nature of futility, the sci-fi genre is a breeding ground for social misfits, or those who just don't get the human need to clump together, which is perhaps why so many of these shorts are about isolation and idiosyncrasies. A couple of them are pretty darn fantastic, even if the opening propaganda mockumentary is kind of gross and off-putting.

Unsurprisingly, the prop doc is German and involves a monkey that brings a killer disease to West Germany. It's allegorical! "Civilian" is a brief collection of artsy images used to animate Betty Hill's alien abduction story while under hypnosis. The alien calls her "stupid."

On the more amusing front is "Marooned?," which is a short about a zoftig fellow that hires people from the internet to play Star Fighter with him in the desert. An unexpected head injury changes the tone of their game, however. "Attack of the Robot from Nebula-5" registers some laughs as well but leans towards depressing, given that it is about a young man that convinces himself aliens are going to kill everyone but him. When trying to warn the only two loved ones in his life of this they respond with indifference.

One of the two standout shorts in this section is "Survivor of the Hippocampus," wherein Alice (Juliette Noureddine) takes a tour inside a friend's brain to solve his family issues. It's fun, pretty to look at and psychologically interesting. The other standout is "Cold and Dry," which is a Norwegian short about a man that develops a way to freeze-dry people who hope that the future will hold something better for them. Isn't that what everyone hopes?

Two animation shorts, in the form of "Star Games" and "Postman Returns," join the program, bringing with them animated zeppelins, enthusiastic athletes and snazzy wartime trajectories. They're brief and forgettable, unlike final short "Captain Coulier," wherein a depressed and lonely Canadian spaceship captain looks for love in endless, boring space.

This one is surprisingly funny but probably didn't need to the big ole Canadian flag to point out its heritage. We're humble, kind and quietly resentful, no?