Saturday, June 01, 2013

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Troy Foreman of The PC Principle


Troy Foreman is one of the masterminds behind the Back to Frank Black campaign, a terrific blogger at the PC Principle, and an outstanding interviewer.   Today, he caps off the top ten lists with his selections.

Troy writes:

"Fantastic idea for a Reader's Top 10 list. I sat down and racked my brain for a day on this one. As a reader said before, ask me later and it may change, but for right now, here is my list. The films I chose are the ones that had an impact on me as a viewer and in my opinion, had an impact when it comes to making movies!

This list is in no particular order because that would take another day!


Sunshine - a COMPLETELY overlooked and underrated film. If you haven't seen it, rent it now.
Pitch Black
Star Trek II - The Wrath of Kahn
The Day The Earth Stood Still
The Empire Strikes Back - although Star Wars changed the game, Empire took it to another level.
Aliens - probably the best franchise sequel ever
Planet of the Apes - another game changer
The Matrix
Moon - Sam Rockwell was brilliant in this film
Monolith - a little known film that starred Bill Paxton and Louis Gossett Jr.

Troy, I'm happy to see the love for Sunshine (2007), here, and also appreciate that you included Pitch Black (2000).  I'm a big fan of that David Twohy film.  Your list also is continues the Aliens (1986) surge we've been seeing here of late, with that sequel getting some much-deserved reader love.

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: William Johnson at The Paxton Configuration


William Johnson is the great blogger at The Paxton Configuration, and a dear friend.  He's got a great sense of humor, and a way with words.  At his blog, he now posts his Top Ten list, so check it out to get all the explanations and descriptions.

Here's the list in short:

1. Blade Runner (1982)
2. Aliens (1986)
3. Contact (1997)
4. Planet of the Apes (1968)
5. Back to the Future (1985)
6. Alien (1979)
7. Terminator 2 (1991)
8. Galaxy Quest (1999)
9. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
10.Robocop (1987).

I like the unconventional selection of The Voyage Home (1986) in this list, and make note that three directors split the lion's share of the selections: James Cameron, Ridley Scott and Robert Zemeckis.


Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Jeffrey Canino of Nessun Timore


Jeffrey Canino, who runs a fantastic blog -- Nessun Timore -- chronicling his screening of horror movies, contributes our next list.

"In no particular order:

Westworld (1973, Michael Crichton) - The sort of film that would send Jean Baudrillard into a tizzy. It also makes me wish Crichton had had a longer career as a filmmaker.

Dark Star (1974, John Carpenter) - Strangelove is a better film, but Dark Star might be as funny. As slipshod and cheap looking at it is, its satire bites hard.

Fantastic Planet (1973, René Laloux) - Fantastically animated, trippy-as-all-heck social SF tale preaching tolerance at the beginning of a decade that hoped to foster some.

Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky) - Coming only two years after, Stalker was the antithesis of Star Wars. It re-defined what SF cinema could be, and has consequently been ignored by most viewers outside the arthouse crowd since. Can one even imagine what SF might have become in the 1980s if Stalker had proved more influential?

Altered States (1980, Ken Russell) - A messy and hallucinogenic tale that probes the borders between science, mysticism, and humanity. Silly at times, but undeniably powerful by its conclusion.

World on a Wire (1973, Rainer Werner Fassbinder) - The only film I've seen that accurately adapts the dryly humorous existential malaise of late '60s/early '70s New Wave of print SF to film. Sprawling in length, but claustrophobic in intent.

Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott) - Its philosophical weight might be overvalued, but there's no denying that Scott and his crew whittled PKD's distracted novel down into the most distinctive and awe-inspiring SF vision of the future that cinema has yet seen.

Primer (2004, Shane Carruth) - A film that obliterates the Hollywood notion of time travel as a blissful adventure without consequences. Made for peanuts, it's as engaging as any big-budget SF film ever made (if not more).

Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang) - A classic for a reason. Visionary, intelligent, and still a marvel to behold all of these decades later.

La jetée (1962, Chris Marker) - About as beautiful and melancholic as SF can be, and it accomplishes this in less than half an hour."

Another vote for Dark Star! And I'm happy to see another notch for Primer.  I have Fantastic Planet at home right now....

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: James McLean


My friend and writer -- and one of the heroes of the Back to Frank Black movement to revive Millennium (1996 - 1999) -- has compiled another great list for our continuing series on reader top ten science fiction films.  

You can read all of James' great descriptions and explanations here, so check out the full post.

Meanwhile, here's his top ten:

1. Blade Runner (1982)
2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
3. Dredd (2012)
4. Dark City (1998)
5. Serenity (2005)
6. Starship Troopers (197)
7. The Black Hole (1979)
8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
9. Robocop (1987)
10.Total Recall (1990).

It is nice to see Dredd here.  I felt it was a powerhouse of a film; one that somehow made violence poetic and lyrical, yet also demonstrated how fragile -- and how fleeting -- human life can be.  

Verhoeven is also well-represented here with three films: Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers....

Dark City has appeared more than once in this week-long tally, and I must confess it is a film I have never entirely warmed to.  I've watched it twice and liked it both times...but I didn't love it, oddly enough.  Perhaps it's time for a third viewing...

Great list, James!

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: George Eichler


My long-time friend and regular reader, George Eichler, contributes our first list of the day.

Take it away, George:

"Haven't done one of these in ages and it was fun and a challenge.  I based my choices on, of course, personal favorites, but also on concept, execution, impact upon watching, and impact on films made afterwards.  So, here, listed by the year they were originally released, is my top ten.  Enjoy - I know I did putting it together.
1.  Metropolis (1926)
2.  The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
3.  Ikarie XB-1 (1963)
                (not to be mistaken for the English dubbed version ("Voyage to the End of the Universe"))
4.  La Jetee (1963)
5.  The War Game (1965)
6.  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
7.  Planet of the Apes (1968)
8.  A Boy and his Dog (1975)
9.  The Lathe of Heaven (1979) (do made for TV movies count - this one should)
10. Blade Runner (1982)
Alternates
1. The Damned (1961)
2. Creation of the Humanoids (1962)
I have explanations for all, but won't bore you with them.....unless you'd like me to  :-)"

George, I love your list, and I wondered if "A Boy and His Dog" would make any final ten.  Glad to see it did.  I enjoy that film tremendously.  I have not seen Ikarie XB-1, I admit, but now will try to get my hands on a non-dubbed, original version...


Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Star Trek The Animated Series: "The Lorelei Signal" (September 29, 1973)


The fourth episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 - 1974) is "The Lorelei Signal" by Margaret Armen, author of "Gamesters of Triskelion," and "The Paradise Syndrome" on the original series.

In this story, the U.S.S. Enterprise explores the Taurean solar system and hopes to investigate a long-standing mystery.  Specifically, every 27 years, a starship disappears near this section of the galaxy...never to be heard from again.

Soon, the Enterprise falls into the same trap.


The lovely women of planet Taurus II transmit a signal that hypnotizes all the males aboard the Starfleet vessel.  When Kirk, Spock, Bones and a landing party of men beam down, they are immediately drugged by the beautiful, technologically-advanced sirens of this world, and then forced to wear head-bands which cause rapid aging, and which drain their life-forces.  The women of this world thrive on that life force, and need it to survive...

On board the Enterprise, Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) assumes command of the Enterprise and promotes Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) to the role of chief medical officer.  Then, Uhura leads a landing party of female security officers to the planet to rescue the helpless males...


"The Lorelei Signal" utilizes as its source material the Greek myth about sirens who call to passing sailors, and then lead them to their doom.  The sirens appear in Homer's The Odyssey, but a variation of these beautiful (but deadly) creatures also appears in German folklore, which accounts for the title of this Star Trek episode.  In Germany, "Lorelei" (or sometimes Loreley) is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine.  It is also the name in folklore of a "feminine water spirit" associated with that rock.

The myth of the siren has been a near constant in science fiction television circles.  Space:1999 (1975 - 1977) -- which shot in 1973 -- featured a great variation called "The Guardian of Piri," in which the Siren was a computer, and its call was heard by all on Alpha, save for Commander Koenig (Martin Landau).

Star Trek featured another, perhaps-less memorable variation of the idea in the 1997 Voyager tale: "Favorite Son," involving Harry Kim (Garrett Wang).

Some folks have complained, vis-a-vis "The Lorelei Signal" that the alien sirens might have just asked for help from Starleet, rather than abduct and drain male passers-by.

Although this is true, it isn't a particularly strong criticism in terms of the Star Trek universe.  Alien races in "Wink of an Eye," "Mark of Gideon," "The Corbomite Maneuver" and many, many other installments might also have just asked for help, rather than act in what might be interpreted in hostile fashion. That's not the point.

The point is that alien races think differently than we do, as human beings.  The arc of every Star Trek is to begin with distrust, hostility and confusion, and end with rapprochement and understanding.  "The Lorelei Signal" conforms well to this outline, and it seems silly to slam it on the basis of a criticism one could apply to probably fifty Star Trek episodes over six TV series.


I've always appreciated this episode for the opportunity it presents regarding Lt. Uhura. As I child, I remember reading that she was fourth-in-command of the Enterprise after Scotty, although I suppose Lt. Sulu could make an equal claim. Still, I would have very much enjoyed seeing Uhura take command in an Original Series episode or three, though it was not to be.  I do find it unfortunate that the only opportunity she gets in the center seat arises because ALL the men are incapacitated.  That's a bit insulting.  Uhura should command because she is a highly-qualified officer, plain and simple.


On the other hand, this Star Trek episode is extremely forward-looking because it portrays female security officers in action.  The original series never hinted at the existence of female security officers, though by the time of The Next Generation, Tasha Yar commanded the Security Division on Enterprise-D.  Still, as late as the 1990s, women in Star Trek were still seen smashing crockery over the head of the bad guy, rather then engaging in fisticuffs ("Q-Who") or phaser play, a fact which makes this episode all the more important.

One other negative observation about this particular installment: the purse strings are showing.

I love Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barrett as much as any Trekker, but they not only voice their regular characters here, but the computer, the female security teams, and the alien sirens.  There's no attempt to disguise these voices (save for in the case of the ship's computer), and so throughout the whole episode, it sounds like only two women are talking.  Maybe one other actress could have been hired to play a role?

Next week: "More Tribbles, More Troubles."

Friday, May 31, 2013

Superman Week is Coming: June 10 - June 14


Mark your calendar!

June 10th through June 14, 2013 will be Superman Week here on the blog.

In anticipation of The Man of Steel (2013), I'll be posting (relentlessly...) about Superman movies, TV series, and toys/collectibles from Monday thru Friday. Should be a blast...

Don't miss it!


Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Bruce Nims


Reader Bruce Nims contributes a final top ten list for today.  Lists resume tomorrow!

He writes:

"As a caveat, I don't get into boxing a movie into a "sci-fi" category instead of some other genre as I think some of the best movies out there easily cross multiple genres.  (For example, I think you can just as easily argue that Blade Runner is a Film Noir instead of a "sci-fi" movie).

In no particular order, but if there is an overriding theme in my list it is that I feel that each of these movies have been incredibly influential on movies and popular culture (so much so that I think their impact is self-evident):


1)  Alien

2)  Outland

3)  Forbidden Planet

4)  Blade Runner

5)  Star Wars

6)  2001 A Space Odyssey

7)  Close Encounters of the Third Kind

8)  The Matrix
9)  The Thing
10)  The Terminator

Bruce, I am thrilled to see that Outland (1981) made your list.  I am a big fan of that movie, and think it is time to watch it and review it again for the blog.  I feel it was always unfairly dismissed with the "space western" label, when in fact some of the production design is exquisite, and the ideas about corporations very timely.

Well done!

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Cannon Blaster


The amazing Cannon Blaster, the cat who helped me to re-consider and re-contextualize the 2011 version of The Thing -- and who brilliantly went toe-to-toe with me on Oblivion and Return of the Jedi -- offers his list of top ten SF films.  

As you might suspect, there are some surprises here...

Here's Cannon: 

1. The Thing
2. Alien
3. Blade Runner
4. Jurassic Park
5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
6. Ghost in the Shell
7. THX 1138
8. Youth Without Youth
9. Forbidden Planet
10. Things to Come
Runner-ups:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Dredd
Starman
Akira
The Terminator
Minority Report
Total Recall
Altered States 
12 Monkeys
Robinson Crusoe on Mars

This is the first list to include THX-1138, a great film from 1971 that likely deserves a stronger showing than it has received.  

I'll confess, I've never seen Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth (2007), but I plan to rectify that oversight immediately...

And it looks like Star Trek: The Motion Picture is having a very strong showing in our tally.  It has made the top ten in quite a few lists at this point...


Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Mike S.


Mike S. contributes our second list for this beautiful Friday, and provides a little tweak on the format:

Here he is:

"Here's my top 10 science fiction list (with a twist).

Lists are easy, but giving yourself limits can be fun. My list is limited to only one movie per decade..."


01. Metropolis (1927)
02. Things to Come (1936)
03. Dr. Cyclops (1940) [hard to pick, sci-fi not a big genre in the 40's ?]
04. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
05. Planet of the Apes (1968)
06. Star Wars (1977)
07. Blade Runner (1982)
08. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
09. Serenity (2005)
10. Looper (2012) [well, so far]

Some hard choices for me, especially in the 60's to 80's period.

And now for my next trick, top 10 science fiction SEQUELS (and only one sequel per franchise)....er, maybe not...


Mike S, I like your self-imposed limit here, although in my opinion, that makes matters way too difficult.  I just saw Looper (2012) a week ago and thought it was great.  I'll be reviewing it this summer on the blog, but suffice it to say...it was amazing.  I agree with you about the 1940s too.  I've made a mental note that not many titles on these lists originates from the decade of film noir...

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: SGB


The great SGB, a frequent comment-writer and regular reader here on the blog this morning offers the first "top" science fiction film list of the day.

Here's SGB:


"I had to jump into this fun.
 
All of these science-fiction films I experienced in theaters beginning as a boy in the '70s, including re-releases in theaters. It is based on both the emotional impact and the milestone of the film at the time of it's original release.  Sorry, I have a top fifteen list.  I just can not 'tie' as they are numbered by importance to me beginning with most important number one.
 
1. Star Trek:The Motion Picture(1979)
2. Planet Of The Apes(1968)
3. Empire Strikes Back(1980)
4. Star Trek II:The Wrath Of Khan(1982)
5. Star Wars(1977)
6. Beneath The Planet Of The Apes(1970)
7. Walt Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea(1954)
8. Escape From The Planet Of The Apes(1971)
9. Alien (1979)
10. Andromeda Strain(1971)


11. The Time Machine (1960)
12. Logan's Run(1976)
13. 2001:A Space Odyssey(1968)
14. Westworld(1973)
15. Silent Running(1972)
 
There is nothing like sitting in the theater with others and experiencing a film."


SGB: I love your final sentiment there, and I agree with it wholeheartedly.  Going to the movies is a magical experience, to be sure. 

I also love your selections.  I grew up with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and still love that film with a passion.  I also appreciate that you express some love for a few of the Planet of the Apes sequels.  I've always thought that the Apes saga had quite a few outstanding installments.  

Cult Movie Review: Moon (2009)


Victor Hugo once wrote that "the greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves or rather loved in spite of ourselves.”

Now imagine a world in which you carry such great happiness and love in your heart, only to discover one day....that it's not true. 


Or more accurately, that it's not yours. It isn't your love at all.  Rather it is an illusion, and the love you carry is but the "property" of someone else, another individual.

In broad terms that's the crux of the understated and haunting Moon (2009), a  science-fiction film starring Sam Rockwell, written by Nathan Parker, and directed by Duncan Jones.



Moon is set in the near future, primarily on a moon base called Sarang that is busy producing Helium-3, the miraculous new energy source needed down here on Earth.

Manning Moonbase Sarang is one lonely, strung-out astronaut, Sam Bell (Rockwell). Sam is rapidly nearing the end of his three year contract, growing a little loopy from passing the hours alone, and he spends much of his day chatting with the base's ambulatory computer/robot, Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey).


But Sam longs to return home to his beautiful wife, Tess, who periodically sends him recorded video messages. Sam also has a beautiful little daughter, Eve, that he misses desperately. In two short weeks, he can resume his life with them, he believes.

That's the only thing he is holding onto.

Sam is so excited about returning to his family that he ignores some odd events going on around him. Like the fact that the large diorama/model he's worked on for 938 hours was actually begun before he arrived at the base. 

Sam also ignores the phantasm of the girl in the yellow dress, and jolting video images of himself that seem to sparkle to life and then vanish on his view screen without rhyme or reason. He doesn't seem to worry much, either, that he can never, ever get a live feed transmission back to planet Earth.

Then, one day, there's an accident on the lunar surface involving one of the powerful energy harvesters. Sam is injured in a lunar rover and suddenly things take a turn for the truly weird. Somehow, Sam is returned safely to Sarang's infirmary.

 Who rescued him? How did he get there? Why can't he remember the specifics of the accident?

Upon recuperation, Sam overhears Gerty talking to officials of the LUNAR Corp. in hushed, conspiratorial tones...even though supposedly there's no available live feed to Earth. Then the officials abruptly decide to send a rescue mission to recover Sam before his tour of duty is over. Why? What is the real reason the enigmatic "Eliza" rescue team is moon bound?

Finally, Sam meets someone on the lunar surface, in the wreck of the lunar rover, and comes to realize that he's been a patsy in someone else's game for a long time. That reality is nothing like he had imagined it to be.


I don't want to write too much more about Moon's plot except to say that it is fascinating, and lives up to Outland's (1981) famous ad-line: "Even in space, the ultimate enemy is still Man."

And that allusion to an older science fiction film -- one set on a moon base orbiting Jupiter -- leads nicely into a discussion of Moon as dedicated homage to the outer space film tradition of the late 1960s-early 1980s.

I'm not talking about the swashbuckling Star Wars adventure tradition here, but something else entirely: the sort of "man alone"-confronting-the-mysteries-of-existence tradition. These are films and TV installments that focus on the details of our near-future space "tech" or hardware, but also on the condition and future of the man who operates it. It's not the holodeck/transporter room/bumpy-headed tradition of latter-day Star Trek, either (not that there's anything wrong with that...). But here, life in space is extremely difficult, and one little mistake means instant death.

Accordingly, Moon references a number of respected older productions. 

Alone on his job, going slightly bonkers, Sam might well be Bruce Dern's Freeman Lowell in Douglas Trumball's Silent Running (1972). 

There, Dern's character -- the only human aboard an agro-freighter called The Valley Forge -- had only three drones (Huey, Dewey and Louie) to converse with and play poker with. Here Sam has the company only of the computer, Gerty. 

Dern's character was also put in the position of disobeying orders and attempting an escape of sorts. Sam's journey mirrors that aspect of Silent Running too.

There's also a reference in Moon to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). 

Remember the scene in Kubrick's masterpiece which featured Dr. Floyd arriving on the space station and telephoning home to wish his daughter a happy birthday? There's a recorded birthday call between Sam and his daughter here too. It's interesting how the same idea is re-purposed in an original way by Jones. In 2001, the phone call represented a marvel of communication: a way for humans to stay close across vast distances. 

In Moon, the call represents precisely the opposite: Sam's distance from his family. The recorded message allows no real back-and-forth. It's only a reminder of what's lost: real-time contact between father and daughter.

And, viewers familiar with Outland (1981) will instantly recognize the over sized, digital countdown clock ticking away to the "rescue" shuttle's arrival at Sarang. 

A similar clock counted down the arrival of a supply shuttle at Io in the older film. But that Outland shuttle was really carrying a team of assassins to murder troublesome Marshal O'Neil (Sean Connery). 

Likewise, the countdown clock serves the same purpose in Moon: building suspense, and carrying assassins bent on murdering poor Sam. In both cases, an individual (O'Neil or Sam) has stepped out of the prescribed order, learned a secret, and must be dealt with before the population-at-large discovers the hidden truth. 

There are even some similarities in shuttle design in the two pictures.

Right down to the smallest details, Moon echoes the outer space thrillers of yesteryear. One Purina-style logo on the computers comes right out of Alien (1979), as does the frequent talk of work "contracts." 

Also, the company LUNAR -- which runs the moon base -- is of English/Asian origin, just like nefarious Weyland-Yutani. 

And Sam's discovery of a body on the lunar surface -- wiping ice away from the face plate of a space suit -- also refers back to a haunting image from the classic Space:1999 (1975-1977) episode titled "Another Time, Another Place," and it's actually the same discovery: the horrifying vision of a corpse that can't possibly be a corpse.

 In that Johnny Byrne episode of Space:1999, the discovery involved alternate worlds and alternate selves. Moon boasts a resonance of the latter element.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the film's plot and resolution come around to echo Blade Runner's (1982) central them: the idea of man playing God with living beings who feel, think...and love; mankind tampering with life-spans, memories, and emotions.

What I found so consistently intriguing and delightful about Moon is that although it indeed alludes to all these great productions of the late 1960s-1980s, it isn't a remake, a re-boot, a re-imagination, a "brand," or a sequel. While cleverly aping the austere, minimalist visual style of 2001Silent Running and Space: 1999, director Jones nonetheless weaves an original and thoughtful narrative.

It's one that -- like Silent Running, Solaris, Blade Runner, etc. -- asks important questions about what it means to be a human being in the technological, "space age."  And Moon also questions whether love is something we can transfer -- perhaps through osmosis, perhaps through programming, perhaps through cloning -- to our creations.

Gerty is one answer to that question. 

Jones teases us throughout the film that Gerty (a robot with a 1970s yellow smiley face screen...) may be as secretive and manipulative as Kubrick's HAL 9000. The truth is somewhat different...and ultimately affecting from an emotional standpoint..

Gerty lives up to his programming, but it's implicit that he's doing something more than that as well. He boasts an (apparent) emotional bond with Sam that goes well beyond company directives and protocols. I mean, the robot understands the concept of self-sacrifice. 

So Moon seems to suggest that man and machine, clone and robot, are more than the sum of their "constructed" parts. 

When we dismiss such things out of hand, it makes us all...less human.  It diminishes us all.

Interestingly, Moon opens by explaining that we have conquered our energy problems. A voiceover narration informs the audience "there was a time when energy was a dirty word," for instance. But after optimistic talk of this great breakthrough, the movie then it goes on to tell Sam's story; a story of a corporation that has made moral compromises to achieve that breakthrough. 

Space:1999 episode of the 1970s ("Dragon's Domain") noted that "space adventuring is terribly expensive" and that "the opportunities" come "one at a time." Moon acknowledges that reality: watching the bottom line, LUNAR has assured that no humans will die on the moon; and that no interruption of the energy flow will occur either. But the way the corporation has achieved this end is both deceitful and immoral.

Moon is a sturdy, introspective, highly-intelligent meditation on the near-future trajectory of humanity. When we go to the stars, how will we treat the men and women who represent the vanguard? How will we replace people who are injured? How will we assure that those astronauts remain psychologically sound during a long span alone, isolated? 

Moon finds answers -- and it also pitfalls -- in LUNAR's solutions.

The film is not a shoot-em-up, it is not a blockbuster, and it is not a crowd-pleaser, either. The location may be "space," but the approach is entirely human; entirely grounded. The last film that attempted this alchemy was Solaris (2002), and I remember how vehemently modern audiences hated, hated, hated it. 

It's easier to tell a sci-if story about light sabers, aliens, and rampaging robots than it is about the condition of the human heart, I suppose. By some way of thinking, Moon is even a love story: an impossible love story.

Moon is a space epic all right, but it is an emotional epic.

And no, that desciption needn't be a contradiction in terms.

Movie Trailer: Moon (2009)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Roman J. Martel at Roman's Movie Reviews and Musings



Roman J. Martel is the great writer headlining the blog, Roman's Movie Reviews and Musings, and today, he offers his tally for the top ten science fiction films.  

Take it away, Roman:
"As you said, this is a fun question but a tough one. I ended up picking films that had a lasting impact on science fiction as a genre and an impact on film as a whole. Then I put them in order of what I perceived as having the greatest impact.

I’m sure if you asked me again next week it would change, but these were my top ten with a few runners up. Now, if you asked for a list of favorites, it would be a bit different. Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Ghost in the Shell would be much higher on the list.

1. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
2. Metropolis (1926)
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
4. Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
5. Forbidden Planet (1956)
6. Blade Runner (1982)
7. Alien (1979)
8. Akira (1988)
9. Close Encounters of a Third Kind (1977)
10. The Matrix (1999)

Planet of the Apes (1968)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Looking forward to your compiled list this weekend!"

Thanks, Roman.  I love your list, especially for including Metropolis.  I can't wait to start collating the results of this exercise...



Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Meredith


A regular reader, Meredith, contributes an excellent top ten list below.

Here goes:


"No particular order, but these are films that have made a lasting impression on me:

2001: A Space Odyssey 
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Star Wars
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Superman (the first Christopher Reeve film)
Jurassic Park
Jumanji
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (okay, not as good as the BBC incarnation, but still a favorite)
Galaxy Quest
Planet of the Apes (scared me silly the first time I saw it!)"


There are some new and worthy titles on this list.  I took special note of Superman: The Movie (1978), which I grappled with for my own list, and Jurassic Park (1993), undeniably a classic.  Galaxy Quest is also a beloved sci-fi film, and a great comedy, so it's cool to see it here.  Well done!


Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Rob B at Edge of the Fringe


Reader and blogger Rob B. at Edge of the Fringe contributes his top ten list this afternoon. 

Check it out:

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Thing (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
The Matrix (1999)
Sunshine (2007)

I am very happy to see Sunshine on the official tally.  It has cracked at least a few "honorable mention" lists, but I believe this is its first appearance in a top ten.  Cool!

Reader Top Ten Science Fiction Films: Robert


A regular reader of the blog, Robert, makes his list, our first for today, and it is filled with intriguing and unconventional choices.  

Check it out:

"Robert’s Top Ten Science Fiction Movies
(in alphabetical order)
Back to the Future (1985): Still as fun and exciting as it was in 1985. 
The Black Hole (1979): Crap science but stunning production design and a creepy, Gothic atmosphere. It's almost like a haunted house movie in space.  And don't forget that insane ending.
Children of Men (2006): An incredibly powerful, deeply moving film.  An allegory of our times.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977): Up there with Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark as Spielberg's best.  All those faces looking up in wonder.  Spellbinding.
Flash Gordon (1980): Hail Flash!
Planet of the Apes (1968): Best twist ending ever.  A movie featured twice this season on Mad Men!
Starman (1984): Poignant and soulful.  I love the scene in the truck-stop parking lot where Jeff Bridges's alien resurrects the deer strapped to the back of the car.

They Live (1988): An indictment of the Reagan era that still resonates today.              

Time After Time (1979): A great cat-and-mouse chase across time.
The Time Machine (1960): Fascinating in that most of the action takes place in a man's back garden--over a period of 800, 000 years." 
I just want to say I give serious kudos to a list that includes two dramatically underrated John Carpenter films (Starman, They Live), and pays respect to two incredibly popular films from my generation, Flash Gordon and The Black Hole.  Well-done!