Sci-fi! Galactic adventures! Ray guns! Three tits! All characteristics of the some of the most heralded science fiction movies of all time.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Whilst Alien, Star Wars and many others have taken awards for other categories, I thought I’d pick this, one of the best blockbusters ever, as my favourite sci-fi flick. Taking influences from the spectacles of the 70s and 80s, right down to the soundtrack, the explosive action and one-liner-wading dialogue boils down to entertainment in its purest form. The sci-fi elements are probably the strongest seen in the MCU, with space battles, aliens and blaster guns. Ooga chaka.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – Quick warning for anyone even thinking about saying “ooo what about the first one tho” — DON’T. THIS HAS BEEN HARD ENOUGH YOU HAVE NO IDEA. YOU SIT THERE ALL FAT AND COCKY READING THIS AND YOU DON’T KNOW THE STRAIN THIS PUTS ON A SOUL, A PRECIOUS SOUL. Ahem. While I love the original Arn-droid, its sequel just feels bigger and more Hollywood, which, in this case, is actually a good thing. The CGI, while a little dated now, was groundbreaking at the time and still entertaining today. It also helps that the T-1000 is basically Pepsiman.
District 9 (2009) – AY DID NOOT FACK A PRAUWN. Apart from having that absolute DIAMOND of a line, Blomkamp’s stunning debut features a unique and extremely relevant plot, very good, if gruesome, special effects and the breakout performance of Sharlto Copley, who you can count on to just be fucking mental.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – I couldn’t have sci-fi and not have Star Wars with it. While it might not be my favourite in the franchise, this is usually the sequel people bring up when someone says “oh all sequels are shit” (suck it The Godfather). It’s got all the goodness of a Star Wars flick, it’s like an old friend, a warm cup of cocoa or a
sex act behind a McDonalds a nice hug.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Juuuustttt aboouuuuut missing out on getting a mention in the 90s category, I thought I’d give this dinosaur flick its own separate honour. Although I never quite fell in love with this film as much as a lot of other people, I can’t help but admire its majesty and the technical achievement it showed off, as well as its wonderful soundtrack. With all its jump scares and huge sci-fi goodness, it’s just a great watch from start to finish and a true cinematic marvel which should never be forgotten.
For a long while I would say that sci-fi was my favourite genre, but considering I haven’t really seen enough to say that, I don’t anymore. However, E.T: Extra Terrestrial is a lovely little CLASSIC, and gets my first mention. Aside from episodes 4 and 5 of Star Wars, which I chose to give decade honours, The Last Jedi, as one of the most exciting cinema experiences in a long time and a film that made me BUZZ, I think deserves a nod. In terms of modern science fiction movies, I want to collectively give the remade Planet of the Apes Trilogy of the past few years a very honourable mention, for the spectacular grandeur they possess and their general chunky awesomeness. We’ve also got Arrival, a claustrophobic, intelligent masterstroke from Denis Villeneuve. (Also, there’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind which is deserved of a place here, but I decided to put it into the 70s category to bulk it up a bit, heh…)
This could be in the Best Of All Time list, the Best Horror list, the Best Of The 70’s list but I chose to put it here. The future never looked as realistic as it does on board The Nostromo. The crew of space truckers look utterly convincing going about their work in their dirty old rig. Then, the otherworldliness of HR Geiger’s creation peeps into view. A masterclass in how it’s done.
The Terminator (1984) – The original Arniebot movie has the edge over the sequel because they had to get creative on a limited budget and still make the killer from the future look convincing. What they did with latex, lightbulbs and fake blood in a bathroom mirror had just the right effect. The synthy soundtrack, the striplighting and the relentless march of a big guy in a trench coat did more than 20 million dollars of CGI could ever do.
Logan’s Run (1979) – The idea that 30 was considered too old is one side of Logan’s Run‘s enduring appeal as I age. The utopia where people teleport for cyber-sex, wear floaty gowns based on their age and travel their bubble city on Hornby train-sets dressed as monorails has a dark secret. It turns out dressing as a power ranger to get blown up on your 30th birthday isn’t for Sandman Michael York. So, he escapes into a derelict Washington, pursued by the law. When he gets there, he has Peter Ustinov perform an under-cast am-dram performance of Cats at him in the ruins of Congress. Renew!
Event Horizon (1997) – It looks like Alien. It feels like Alien. And, yet… The fabric of the universe is the villain. By messing about with the laws of physics (neatly explained by poking a biro through a nudie mag), Sam Neill and his crew have broken reality and have come back from somewhere else with something dark at the heart of their ship. The scary part of the whole premise here is ‘you broke reality’.
Altered States (1980) – Drugs are bad, m’kay? William Hurt gets all kinds of fucked up in a floatation tank in the name of science. The trippy visuals and evolutionary concept have holes in them for sure, but watching Ken Russell push the boundaries of good taste and ramp up the mind games really monkeys around with the audience’s expectations. Sci-fi should make you scratch your head from time to time.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Star Wars (1977)
Children of Men (2006)
As a huge fan of science fiction with too many favourites, I went back and forth between Solaris and Children of Men, which both triumph in story and visuals. My decision finally came down to the latter, which presents compelling commentary on the good and the bad of human nature that shows under desperate circumstances.
Blade Runner (1982)
Dirty, depressing futures are just my thing it seems – not everyone’s bag of tea but I really do love the world created in this film and Rutger Hauer is one of the best ‘villains’ in cinematic history, a proper classic and a game-changer at the time it came out, this is one I will always return to.
WALL-E (2008): Beautiful animation, engaging characters that are also robots, a great message, romance, hope, post-apocalyptic setting, futuristic designs – just everything about this film is great.
Prometheus (2012): Yes, I like Prometheus, get over it.
Arrival (2016): Denis Villeneuve does it again with the most original, thought-provoking, intelligent and beautiful sci-fi film that I’ve seen in a long time.
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!