Science Fiction Films

So, I have a question for everyone.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Jupiter Ascending and I fucking loved it. I’ve been flailing about it a lot on Tumblr, and will probably get a post together about why I loved it and what it did right (and a bit that it did wrong–looking at you, terrible Russian stereotypes), but that is not what I am asking right now. There have been some talk online about how Jupiter Ascending is not a sci fi, but a fairy tale wrapped in the cloak of a sci fi film.

Which, okay, when I read that, that makes sense. But I pose this question, then: what makes a sci fi film, then? Bear in mind, I am by no means and expert in sci fi or film. I like sci fi, and I like movies, but I’ve never really been super excited about either in that kind of no-holds-barred sort of way that fans tend to experience.

So if Jupiter Ascending, a movie very heavily based on the idea of futuristic aliens being able to grow humans and harvest their genetic material and turn it into a fountain of youth, a movie filled with aliens and space ships and cool pew-pew guns, if that’s not a sci fi film, then what is a science fiction film? Because I honestly do not seem much of a difference between Jupiter Ascending and Star Wars, a movie that is mostly a soap opera but with cool space ships and weird, yodeling dog aliens and laser beam swords.

Jupiter Ascending may be a retelling of a fairy tale–it certainly has lots of fairy tale elements and a Trial of Three plot structure–but I’m not sure if that disqualifies it from being a sci fi. And if it does, then what is a sci fi? What are a sci fi film’s qualifications? What makes a movie a sci fi?