My 10 Favorite Science Fiction Movies

 #10  -  2001, A Space Odyssey

Here is a science fiction movie that had the money and talent to present space travel in a believable way. Many earlier movies tried for realism (Conquest of Space comes to mind) but budget or technology were not adequate. Even 40 years later there is little, aside from Bell Telephone and Pan Am, to detract from the almost perfect illusion.

#9  -  Blade Runner

I prefer the version with the voice-over narration to the “Directors Cut”. By the end of the movie you feel that this is a viable future if we are not careful. Another example of a movie that has aged well.


#8  -  The Fifth Element

Sometimes you are in the mood for an over-the-top comic book experience, and here it is. What cheapens the experience of this movie is that TNT plays if at least 12 times each week. I try to watch once per year.


#7  -  Star Trek, First Contact

O sure, I could list several Trek movies as my favorites but decided to list what I considered the absolute best here. The story was excellent, staying true to canon, and played on all the years of established Trek history. This movie is watchable from start to finish, unlike the first movie with its 30 minute V’Ger fly-by sequence.


#6  -  Gamera, New Trilogy

Yes, I like giant monster movies. The original 1960’s Gamera was sometimes painful to watch but the three movies of the reimagined series are top-notch (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Gamera, Attack of Legion, and Gamera, Revenge of Iris). Catchy song on the DVD comment track also.


#5  -  Forbidden Planet

Nobody takes Leslie Neilson seriously now that he has done the Airplane movies, but he started out as the leading man, and sometimes the heavy. This movie was the Star Wars of its time, spawning many imitators.


#4  -  Godzilla, Showa, Heisei, and Millennium Series (but never, never, the American version)

I know it defies common sense, but I just love Godzilla movies. How can you not love a guy in a 200-pound latex dinosaur suit stomping a toy city. Two hundred years from now, when historians try to unravel where it all went wrong, it is my  hope that Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster provides the necessary insight into our culture and becomes the archetype for how we will be portrayed.


#3  -  Colossus, The Forbin Project

If ever there was a movie that deserved more recognition, this is it. Even the studio could not decide what to do with it and held back the release for several years. 40 years of technological advancement has taken its toll on the computers presented in Colossus, but the story is as vital and relevant as ever….ripe for a remake (but they would just screw it up like they did with The day The Earth Stood Still). If you have not seen this movie, and you probably haven’t, I urge you to see it.


#2  -  Star Wars

No matter what George Lucas has done to tarnish the Star Wars franchise in the past couple years, the original 1977 version of Star Wars deserves recognition for the following reasons;

- It kick-started the science fiction movie industry (need I remind you that Starcrash was released around the same time frame, try watching them both on the same day and you will swear that there was 20 years between them).

            - It made it cool to be a nerd.

            - It brought special effects to the next level.

            - For me, it killed 21 afternoons during the summer of     1977.

#1  -  Aliens

Don’t get me wrong, the first Alien movie is great also, but I have to give props to James Cameron for taking the world created in the first movie and turning up the action and suspense to “11” (Spinal Tap reference). Let me quote from Roger Ebert’s July 18, 1986 review:

“The movie is so intense that it creates a problem for me as a reviewer: Do I praise its craftsmanship, or do I tell you it left me feeling wrung out and unhappy? It has been a week since I saw it, so the emotions have faded a little, leaving with me an appreciation of the movie's technical qualities. But when I walked out of the theater, there were knots in my stomach from the film's roller-coaster ride of violence. This is not the kind of movie where it means anything to say you "enjoyed" it.”

“I don't know how else to describe this: The movie made me feel bad. It filled me with feelings of unease and disquiet and anxiety. I walked outside and I didn't want to talk to anyone. I was drained. I'm not sure "Aliens" is what we mean by entertainment. Yet I have to be accurate about this movie: It is a superb example of filmmaking craft.”

It is the kind of movie you can watch one hundred times, each time see something new or still reacting to the monster popping up. Other movies have tried to repeat the formula by ratcheting up the gore and violence, but that is not what made this movie great. It is the anticipation, build-up, and ultimate payoff that make a classic. In the same way that there was actually not a lot of on-screen gore in the first Alien movie, the scene always cut away just before the actual gore, this movie exploits your prior knowledge of what is going to happen and your mind fills in the blanks. When the alien gets aboard the dropship and attacks Corporal Ferro you will swear you saw it, but look at that scene again; alien lunging-yes, screams-yes, blood on windscreen-yes, actual gore-no.

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