15 of My Favorite Sci-fi Movies (part 1)

This is a list of 15 of my favorite Sci-Fi films that will be released in three separate parts. They are not what I would necessarily consider the best sci-fi movies of all time, but they are my personal favorites. These are not in any particular order; I would have a very, very difficult time putting them in order. I hope you enjoy it!

Science Fiction-Works of fiction that use scientific discoveries or advanced technology — either actual or imaginary — as part of their plot.

-Cultural Dictionary

Children of Men (2006)

Why: Children of Men was a great example of a movie that does not worry so much about explaining the universe it what is as much as it spent telling a great character story about a man on a mission. The movie is told entirely from the point of view  of the main character Theo Faron in a world where babies have not been born anywhere in the world in over 18 years. When the movie begins as he tries to rekindle the relationship with his wife that had fallen through years before. He tries to do some work for her organization to win her love, but eventually things go bad. The bulk of the movie is Theo taking on his wife’s ideas and mission and carrying it through. The world he has to travel through is war torn and he has to evade both the military and the rebels to carry out his mission. The movie has a great cast that includes Clive Oven, Michael Cane, Julianne Moore, and Danny Huston. The film is directed by the eccentric Alfonso Cuaron and the film definitely shows his unique style. Along with the beautiful cinematography and dark art direction this film has both the story and the acting to make it a very excellent sci-fi movie.

Avatar(2009)

Why: This is a recent movie that has become quite the discussion in film circles. It may be the highest grossing movie of all time, but there are still many people who really do not like this film. Its become the latest bandwagon in the filming community; the “Avatar is a bunch of political crap” bandwagon. Despite all of the haters and people who knock Avatar for being nothing more than a glorified Fern Gulley( a rather ignorant statement; after rewatching Fern Gulley I found a hard time finding any major similarities), there are still people who like it. I am one of them. While I don’t think its the best scifi movie ever made; I do think that it was a great movie and a phenomenal experience. Like Star Wars that came before it; Avatar was more about the experience than it was the actual film. It was about being able to see the most cutting edge thing in technology implemented into film through a story that was pretty simple an familiar to audiences. We all know the story so I won’t waste time on talking about it. Needless to say; the story was familiar. That being said the movie used all of the latest tech to tell the story in a very different way that had not been done before by creating a huge immersive experience with the use of 3D.  Aside from the look of the movie; it had a solid direction from James Cameron and some great acting from Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi and Sigourney Weaver. One thing I found interesting about this movie was the way it blended the genres of sci-fi and fantasy. It had elements of both making it more unique and harder to define. Overall I thought this was a great movie any movie goer should check out.

Terminator 2 (1991)

Why: Terminator 2 is one of those few sequels that is not only better than the original, but almost on a whole different level than the original. The original is a beloved classic that mixes sci-fi concepts with a character driven drama. There was action, romance, and a solid (if not a bit convoluted) story that held it together. Terminator 2 is a substantially better film because it takes many ideas of the original and twists them into something entirely new. In the original movie there is one Terminator that tries to kill Sarah Conner, the would be mother of John Conner. John Conner is supposed to become the leader of the resistance against machines in the future. To protect Sarah in the original the humans send back Kyle Reese to defend her. T2 takes the idea of sending a protector back and makes it something new because instead of sending a human back; the humans send a reprogrammed Terminator back. In T2 the terminator who is sent back to protect John was the same model that was sent back in the original to kill Sarah Conner. This was brilliant. This scenario opened up many doors for what was possible in the sequel and the movie uses every bit of potential it had. Like the first movie there is a terminator(a more advanced model) that is sent back to kill John Conner when he is a teenager. The humans send another Terminator(the classic Schwarzenegger) to protect John. Throughout the movie we see John and the Terminator build a relationship that both Sarah Conner and the audience thought was possible. Like the original there is action, drama, and a great story; but unlike the original there is the added tension between Sarah Conner and the Terminator. The same model was the one that terrorized her in the first film so it is only natural that she does not trust him in this film. This very relationship raises many ethical and philosophical questions that the movie leaves open for interpretation. This relationship between the Terminator, John, and Sarah is the driving force of the film and in the end the movie has a very emotional and satisfying resolution.  As the movie progresses the trio decide that they need to try to stop the event that causes the war; Judgement Day. The movie has many twists and turns that allows for it to be watchable to action movie fans, sci-fi fans, and even people who are into drama.

Minority Report (2002)

Why: Minority Report is a film that deals with many ethical issues that would arise if we did somehow figure out how to predict crimes. Would a person be guilty for a crime they had not committed? would we warn the victims? Is is possible to change what has been foreseen? This film tackles all of these issues as well as the age old them of destiny vs free will. Aside from all of the subtext and philosophical questions this movie raises; it is also and excellent movie about a man who is trying to prove that he will not commit a crime that has been foreseen by the precogs( precogs is the term referring for the three people who have  the ability to see the crimes before they happen through dreams). In this movie John Anderton(Tom Cruise) is part of a branch of the law enforcement called pre-crime and they keep crimes from happening by arresting the criminals before they commit the crimes.  The film really takes a turn when the precogs see John Anderton killing a man he claims he has never met. For the bulk of the movie Andertron is on the run from the police (who were formally his coworkers and friends) who try to stop him at every corner. Like many of the films on this list; Minority Report has a great story and some really interesting characters that make it more than just a high concept film. This movie also has a very distinct look and feel to it. The film has a very grainy texture to it and the color pallet is loaded with different shades of grey. The movie also has a great pacing to it as well.; the film never feels like it is dragging. When the film isn’t developing John as a character or adding a new twist to the story there are action scenes to keep the film from feeling boring.  All of this is brought together through Steven Spielberg’s masterful directing that leads this to becoming a great film. This film may look like a high concept film on the surface, but there is a great character development and story to be found underneath it.

Aliens (1986)

Why: Aliens was a great example of how a new direction can be a great thing for sequels. The original Alien which was directed by Ridley Scott was a very suspenseful sci-fi horror that is widely considered a classic. The original was a great film, but personally I much prefer the sequel Aliens because it takes a completely new direction that I thought was more fitting for the franchise. In Aliens there are now multiple aliens as well as an alien queen that creates more of them. This movie still keeps the dark tone of the original but feels more like and action drama than the original. James Cameron takes the character of Ripley and molds her into a very strong female lead that is determined to survive. The movie also introduces many themes and ideas by bringing in the military and scientist to study the aliens. The movie goes back to the age old theme of man tampering with themes they don’t understand. If you take that idea and implement it into the alien franchise, you get some impressive results. Along with Ripley there is a very strong supporting cast of memorable characters that help propel the film forward. Characters like Hicks, Bishop, Newt, and Hudson are all very interesting and memorable. The film is also filled with iconic moments such as the mech fight between Ripley and the Alien Queen at the end, or the scene when Ripley goes in and torches the queens eggs. The movie may not have been a horror, but there were still some very suspenseful moments in the film involving facehuggers and aliens. I think this is a very iconic film in the history of the sci-fi genre because this along with Star Wars and Star Trek helped usher in an era where sci-fi could thrive in the mainstream.

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4 comments

  1. I am an Avatar naysayer. lol It definitely wouldn’t make it in my top 15, 20, or even 30 Sci-Fi films. I’m excited to see the rest of your list.

    • Tyler you have no valid reason posted to be such a hater of Avatar. It was a great movie. Keep lying to yourself if you like but you need to seriously reconsider the movies that you like.

  2. This definitely makes me want to see Aliens and the Terminator films. Sadly, I’ve missed out on those when I was younger. However, Avatar in 3-D is in my top movie-going experiences of all time (the first being The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring). I’ll definitely be checking back here to see what other films I may have missed!

  3. Avatar was not a remake of Fern Gulley. It was a remake of Dances with Wolves. I for one am glad for it too, because it raises those same questions to an audience who will never see DWW (I think I am one 10 who have).

    Love the blog Caleb. Keep it up!

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