Top Science Fiction Movies

Blade Runner

This was not called execution it was called retirement.

I love Cyberpunk, it’s so 80s, from animation to books to movies it’s always held onto that feeling of the 1980s. Blade Runner is the very essence of Cyberpunk and was the leader in establishing it’s style as it influenced countless other films, TV series and animations. Yes cyberpunk was in books first but Ridley Scott brought it to life onscreen.

The way to see this Neo Noir is on the big screen. It is amazing that a film from 1983 can still blow you away with it’s visuals and intelligent story. I had the fortune to see “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” on the big screen, rather fittingly in the place that had an inspiration on it’s Director while he was filming it. Tokyo. Take a look around Shinjuku and Shibuya in Tokyo or Dotonbori in Osaka to see where that beautiful opening was born from. The film in turn inspired Japan to ask Sdy Mead to design parts of Yokohama like LA’s futuristic city in Blade Runner. If you visit Yokohama at night you can see oil refinery plants spuming fire from the chimneys of each just like the opening scenes of Blade Runner.

There has been numerous spin offs of Blade Runner. The absolutely horrible sidesequel “Solider” starring Kurt Russel. An unofficial sequel TV series called Total Recall 2070, a Japanese adult film called “IKU”, a Korean movie that is heavily similar called “Natural City” and a forthcoming prequel called Purefold announced by Ridley Scott in June 2009 which would consist of 5-10 minute shorts taking place before Blade Runner.

Will Ridley Scott ever make a sequel? Maybe. As recently as 2007 he has mentioned he might. There has been two rumoured concepts, one called “Blade Runner Down” based on the novels set after the movie. The other called “Metropolis involving Decker on the run and coming to terms with the idea of being a Replicant.
Is Decker a Replicant? It’s always being a question. Scott has said he is while Ford has said he was told he wasn’t. I think while later cuts do heavily imply that Decker is a replicant it’s still open to personal interpretation and perhaps should be left that way. The Directors cut adds a scene of a Unicorn that links itself to a final scene in the movie and changes how we view Decker. However this scene wasn’t originally filmed in the beginning so it’s hard to say what the Truth is from the start.

Favorite Quote: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.” – Roy Batty


Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan

At the end of the universe lies the beginning of vengeance.
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Harve Bennett and Nichlos Meyer stuck to the two most important elements of the original series to make this one of the best Star Trek and science fiction movies around that has had a lasting effect on many filmmakers and fans. One of those elements was the Horatio Hornblower concept of which Gene Rodennberry felt Star Trek should be. Nichlos Meyer also noticed that Star Trek was basically Hornblower in space after watching some episodes of the original series and followed in suit.  The other important element was the dynamic relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

It’s perhaps the darkest of all Star Trek films and takes itself the most seriously. This and “The Empire Strikes back” set the standard for what good sequels should be like. It is even considered to be one of the best ‘revenge’ movies and it has never been quite eclipsed by other Star Trek Movies. It’s heightens the reality of the fantastical world of Star Trek by bringing it’s drama closer to home, dealing with the death of an important character, growing old and the results of Kirk’s flings with many ladies.

It shows the vulnerability of characters more than ever before as Kirk has to come to terms with growing old and letting go of his true love, the Enterprise, to a younger generation. Even though the proceeding events with Khan leave a devastating scar on him, his ship and his crew, it brings Kirk back to what as Spock says he is “born to do”.

The impact of losing Spock is not felt any less all these years later, even though he returned from the dead in the following film and has appeared in the most recent Star Trek film making it the most recent appearance of any of the original series crew members.
It is still the reigning Champion of Star Trek films with First Contact biting at it’s heels.

Favorite Quote: I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper. – Spock

Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..

Mixing elements from Westerns, Akira Kurosawa’s “Hidden Fortress” and “The Dam Busters” George Lucas finely blended these into a deeply rich and epic science fiction story, he does it so well in fact that those elements mentioned don’t really stand out as either one or the other but creates it’s own unique pop cultural mythology.

Not only thematically does it captivate you but cinematically too from the beginning the two ships coming onscreen from overhead is what blew away people upon first viewing at the cinemas. An epic space battle with lasers in the vastness over a desert planet is an impressive opening to the film. The colors soon shift to the desert introducing us to the heroic young man who will save a galaxy from his dad.

This Movie changed the face of Science Fiction cinema and in no small part is what brought Star Trek to the big screen. Other films have tried to emulate the success of Star Wars by retelling other Kurosawa movies such as the Seven Samurai being remade as “Battle among the Stars”. TV shows like the Original Battlestar Galactica certainly has some credit to owe to Star Wars. But nothing has really come after Star Wars that has being an epic Science Fiction Movie filled with the scale of Battles in Space. Nothing really captures our attention and imagination like that of Darth Vader and it’s no surprise that later instalments and the franchise as a whole places itself on this character

Favorite Quote: “The Force will be with you, always.” – Obi Wan

The Empire Strikes Back

The battle Continues….

This is the Film Noir of Star Wars movies.Even from the opening the colours are bleaker, from the cold tones of the star destroyer in space to the ice planet hoth below to Luke’s Training on Dagoba. The undertones of Luke possibly falling to the dark side and the final breath taking twist The man he thought had killed is Father IS his father. Can you get any darker? It’s no wonder it’s so dark when one of the writers of the movie was Leigh Brackett, writer of “The Big Sleep”

The film introduces another popular character that would remain famous in cinema next to Vader. Yoda. He is the Philosopher, not the swordsman that Kenobi was, but the wisdom giver, like some Tai Chi master or ancient Samurai. He puts Luke through some physical training but in the end it’s not so much the training of the body but the mind that Yoda trains. Luke doesn’t understand it at first, taking the heavy training but it’s the mind that Yoda hones, wears down so Luke can understand just what it really is to be a Jedi. In the last scenes together Luke leaves to help his friends against Yoda’s advice. He is right to do so since he can’t be as cold as he is expected to be but that burning feeling of friendship is also what Yoda and Kenobi knows could be turned against him, not only that but the fact that Vader and the Emperor have got a major ace up their sleeve, that being Luke himself.

This film also set the trend for sequels being better than the original. I would place it a notch higher above Star Wars, maybe because it ends on such a heavy note. By the time you reach the end it’s a pretty messy state of afairs our heroes have found themsleves in and boy do we love it.

Favorite Quote: “I am your Father” – Darth Vader

2001 A Space Odyssey

The Ultimate Trip.

Some find it long and boring, some find it good to watch on a Drug trip. I find it highly compelling, atmospherically and thematically and leaves many open questions afterwards for us to ponder. It presents a far more realistic science fiction world than other movies of it’s time and those that have come after have. To think, this was made in 1968, almost 10 years before Star Wars and while Star Trek was still on the air. The effects are extremely impressive. A strong appeal of it is the Verisimilitude. While finding an alien obelisk might not be so in tune with that the technological representation of man’s development into space flight is a more straightforward in thinking towards technology development in future which grounds it in reality than the fantastical magical technology of other science fiction genres.

Hal too is easy to imagine in today’s world full of personal computers and the budding of AI but the concept of it back in the 1960’s is far more intriguing an idea. Not even the computer of the Starship Enterprise had that advancement. But it’s getting closer to reality in our future with dependence on machines and the Internet to keep things running. Hal is the culmination of that in our future world.

Favorite Quote: “Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.” – Hal 9000

Forbidden Planet

Earthmen on a fabulous, peril-journey into outer space!

The quintessential Sci-fi film. A genre defining movie. Visually colourful and vibrant
this is science fiction at it’s best.

This film was partly an inspiration for the creation of Star Trek. Forbidden Planet itself is lightly based on “The Tempest”. A classic element of the movie is the unseen Krell monster which is far more terrifying as the unseen danger to the crew of C-57D. The monster is almost like something out of a fantasy novel than science fiction, the ominous foot prints it leaves behind is chilling. The set pieces to the effects in this movie are not only impressive but highly attractive and vivid in colour. For a movie of this time it looks like a labor of love with a friendly budget to boot.

The film stars Leslie Nielsen and Robbie the Robot. It takes a little while to get used to Leslie Nielsen since he is so ingrained in my memory from the ‘Police Squad’ and ‘Naked Gun’. But it is very refreshing to see him do a serious role. As a ships commander he has a large presence.

Again, one can’t help compare this to Star Trek, especially the pilot episode. To take that into consideration the movie is of far greater influence than it may be given credit for.

Favorite Quote: “Alta, about a million years from now the human race will have crawled up to where the Krell stood in their great moment of triumph and tragedy. And your father’s name will shine again like a beacon in the galaxy. It’s true, it will remind us that we are, after all, not God.” – Commander John J. Adams

Metropolis

There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.

Surely this is the real inspiration for “CAprica” no?

The most expensive Silent movie ever made. The story at it’s roots deals with the social unrest between the people who work and the people they work under. The way this is solved is with love. Love?! Well, it is sci-fi.

The use of robo Maria is like the introduction of a modern messiah to a society which toils all day long looking for a glimmer of hope to survive. In this it is man who controls the machine and it is the machine who demands sacrifices of workers to satisfy it.
The backgrounds of the city in the film is absolutely beautiful art deco. It’s pretty amazing that a movie this big and complex could be made as far back as it was. Tones of Frankenstein and heavy political references. Raging against the machine long before the Matrix came along.

It’s great that more footage of this has been uncovered and restored to give the movie it’s longest running length of 145 minutes out of the original 210 minutes. Hopefully this new found footage will give the film a new lease of life to audiences once more.

Favorite Quote: “Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.” – Maria

War of the Worlds

They’re already here.

This is perhaps a controversial choice since many people either love this or hate it. I for one love it and thought it was a masterful movie by one of the greatest directors, Mr. Steven Speilberg.

I am usually vermitalitally against remakes for the fact that most movies that are remade can’t be improved upon, another problem I have with them is that often they only seem to copy what came before, in a way to update it and satisfy a new generation, thus a wonderufl movie from decades ago is forgotten about because a modernised version is placed on the big screen to cash in on a already good story.
This is not the case with Speilberg’s reimaging of the “War of the Worlds”. This is his own take on the source material and of the previous incarnations of the story which were portrayed in the likes of orson Welles famous radio broadcast in 1938.

The film reflects much of what has happened in our world in recent years. Images of September 11th come to mind when we see Ray standing in shock covered in the dust of dead people. Again Ray letting his son off to fight is like a Father letting his son off to War with a knowledge that the odds are very much against him.

Spielberg doesn’t’ make this a disaster adventure movie which has already been done in “Independence Day”, he portrays it in a realistic way that is a believable and perhaps accurate to such an event ever occurring. The action in this film is unrelenting, the invaders keep coming without stopping, it almost feels like we have no chance to breath and just when you think you have a time to relax your heart muscles the horrible horn sound of the Tripods looms in the distance of our characters. It’s truly chilling to watch them terraform the planet with the blood of those they harvest. It is something from the darkest dreams of man put onto film.

Favorite Quote: “No, Robbie, not like Europe!” –  Ray Ferrier

A Clockwork Orange

 Being the adventures of a young man …

Based on the novel of the same name the portrayal of youth as a menace to society isn’t so far from reality however the main character Alex is a far more fasinating and complex a teenager who loves Beethoven yet it is apparent that even such an aspiring young mind must face of the dumbfoundedness of his gang who follow under him and resent the way he holds artistic values in such high estime especially when he strikes one of them for interupting Betthovens Ode to Joy.

Societies answer to reforming the mind of Alex is to condition him so that the mere desire or actions of violence will make him nasuses. However is not having free will a cure to the desire to hurt others? Malcom Macdoud is very watchable in this movie as the charming ultra violent Alex, I could almost see why people would say he’d inspire young minds to do violence such is his lovable rouge quality. His performance inspired Health Ledgers performance as the Joker in the Dark Knight,

As with most things the film is not as shocking compared with what’s generally accepted as entertainment today.  Back when it was originally released the film came under heavy criticism and accusations linking the film to copycat crimes.  Kubrick himself withdrew it however it seems it was not for this reason but because he himself had come under threats for it’s release. It wasn’t until 2000 did it receive a re-release and gained wider notoriety. There’s a punkish sci-fi feel to this movie that I like. Something I find British Sci-fi movies have in common is that they don’t tend to go overboard with the futuristic view of the world, it stays rather minimalist as if it’s half our reality of today and half of a possible future.

Favorite Quote: As we walked along the flatblock marina, I was calm on the outside, but thinking all the time – Now it was to be Georgie the general, saying what we should do and what not to do, and Dim as his mindless greeding bulldog. But suddenly, I viddied that thinking was for the gloopy ones, and that the oomny ones use like, inspiration and what Bog sends. Now it was lovely music that came into my aid. There was a window open with the stereo on, and I viddied right at once what to do.  – Alex

This entry was posted in Best Ever, Book to Film, Noir/Neo Noir/Tech Noir, Science fiction, Star Trek, TV/DVD/Video/BluRay. Bookmark the permalink.

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