In my free time, I enjoy scouring streaming services in an attempt to find great sci fi movies. I found Prospect on Netflix earlier this year, which was a good space westernish sci fi film.
But after that, I went on the hunt again, this time turning to Amazon Prime Video. Prime Video is home to a lot of interesting speculative fiction movies and shows, including the upcoming Wheel of Time series.
In my search for the best sci fi on Amazon Prime, I found The Mandela Effect, a 2019 film that saw limited release in theaters.
The Mandela Effect was first showed at the Other Worlds Film Festival in the later half of 2019, and then it moved onto various streaming services, including Amazon Prime.
The film was written and directed by David Guy Levy, whose other work includes the horror film Would You Rather and the 2011 film, A Love Affair Of Sorts.
The Mandela Effect stars Charlie Hofheimer, Aleksa Palladino, and Robin Lord Taylor. Despite high hopes for the film, it received harsh reviews from critics, scoring a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story follows a game developer, Brendan, as he and his wife grieve the loss of their young daughter, Sam. After Sam’s unfortunate passing, Brendan starts to notice irregularities in his day to day.
He clearly remembers a children’s book series as The Berenstein Bears, but later finds out it’s actually called The Berenstain Bears. A series of other events lead him to begin researching the Mandela Effect, a theory about clear memories of things that never happened. The effect is so named because people vividly remember South African president Nelson Mandela’s death in the 1980s, but in reality, he died in 2013.
Brendan continues to explore the world of alternate realities and parallel universe in hopes of bringing back his daughter, but when he begins to tamper with reality, the world starts to change around him.
Even though this film received scathing reviews, I think it’s underappreciated, and arguably one of the top sci fi movies on Amazon Prime, and here’s why:
Signals Sci Fi Movie Review
The Mandela Effect takes a well-known theory and runs with it. The examples provided in the film of the effect are real-life examples, and it really got me thinking about our reality.
But the film does more than just raise questions. It sparks emotion.
Watching Brendan obsess over the idea of alternate realities and life as a simulation, all the while grieving for his daughter, instilled in me a keen sense of sympathy for him.
The pain he felt after Sam’s death was palpable, and the tension throughout the rest of the film as he teeters on the brink of sanity made it hard to step away from.
What started as a seemingly normal film gradually built into a deeply unsettling sci fi horror flick that had me thinking long after the credits rolled.
That’s what good films do for me, especially the best sci fi movies. They make you wildly uncertain of your spot in the universe, and they spark new ideas to help you think outside the box. In this instance, outside the simulation.
I do think the film stumbled over itself a bit when it came to the scientific aspects. I’m neither a game designer nor a quantum physicist, but I could tell some of the technical stuff was watered down for the audience.
The movie does play into the trope of the hacker man, where he’s holed up in his basement surrounded by screens that run with code. These types of scenes always irk me a little, and compared to the fleshed out technical jargon of, say, Mr. Robot, The Mandela Effect’s computer science falls short.
However, visually the film was well-refined. Scenes contrast from dark to light to dark again, which reaches a neat, critical point near the end. The musical choices varied, but overall, nothing felt out of place, and it added to the horror aspects.
Overall, the film was a good watch, and certainly a high point for David Guy Levy’s career.
While The Mandela Effect isn’t the best sci fi movie on Amazon Prime, it is certainly one of the best.
I give it an 8.5 out of 10.