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Science Fiction Films Galore

Adapted from a comment I made over at Chris’ blog to help him and his buddies kick start their science fiction club, by suggesting films they should watch.

Generally speaking, I think you could say that Science Fiction films have roots in ideas, whereas fantasy have root in the fantastic. To use a comparison from one of my friends, while a whole batch of films coming out these days could be considered science fiction, like Iron Man or any James Bond movies (ever), since they make use of technology currently unavailable to us, that isn’t really the crux of science.

I’ll try and stray away from the obvious ones, but you can’t get around 2001: A Space Odyssey. And if you do watch it, make sure the sound is so loud that you’ll think on more than one occasion: “Should we turn it down just a notch?”. And then don’t.

For a modern ‘true’ science fiction film that’ll make your head spin, go for Primer. Don’t read about it too much ahead of time, and then read the hell out of it afterwards.

If you’re up for some archive diving, go for Forbidden Planet, the base of what would become Star Trek and ‘inspiration’ for Cameron’s Xenogenesis short. Starring the classic hottie Anne Francis and an unlikely but surprisingly good Leslie Nielsen. This is classic science fiction at its very best. And the soundtrack. Oh dear. Best. Ever.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is one of the best sf films in the history of ever. And it actually manages to stand tall even today, carrying with it some grand moral themes from back when sf was about ideas, and not explosions.

I would also recommend the original War of the Worlds, but then we’re slowly moving into slightly cheesier territory. But it’s worth it for its historical value alone (for the time, crazy good effects) and its slight influence on E.T. (arguably one of the best films of all time). And if that doesn’t convince you, this poster will, though it oversells it a tad.

And of course, don’t forget Mars Attacks!!

Though Star Wars is almost too obivious, even if it is Science ‘Fantasy’, you should check or re-check THX 1138, which is quite honestly a masterpiece from a bygone era. Its cold and distanced style only makes its human qualities so much more endeering. I love it. And its worth also checking out the American Zoetrope documentary on the DVD while you’re at it.

Back in the modern era, Children of Men along with AI. (lalala, I can’t hear you, cuz it’s AWESOME!) and Minority Report, is one of the few great sf films to come out in the last decade or more. If you haven’t seen it, it’ll definitely leave a mark.

A few obvious ones:

Blade Runner: Final Cut if you haven’t seen it yet. Make sure, if at all possible, that you see it in HD.

The Abyss is fairly obvious, but sometimes forgotten. Other than the raw matter-of-factness of the first Terminator, this is certainly Cameron’s best.

And finally, since it’s also the only Spielberg film out on blu-ray, Close Encounters is definitely worth a re-visit.

Finally I’d say stuff like Omega Man, Soylent Green, TRON, The Last Starfighter, Logan’s Run and When World Collide. They’re all flawed in their own way, mostly by dragging their feet here and there, but worthy of watching for completeness sake for sure.

And of course Josh Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity, in that order.

Finally, if all else fails, Hobgoblins will save the day (and make you ready for the sequel!) The horror. The horror.

Have fun! :D

PS: Comments are open for further suggestions and discussion.