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 some of them in order. I hope you enjoy it!
Note: I didn’t realize that 3/5 of my last movies were James Cameron films until after I had made my last post. I promise there will be more variety in the rest of my list. Sorry for those of you who are not big JC fans.
Science Fiction-Works of fiction that use scientific discoveries or advanced technology — either actual or imaginary — as part of their plot.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Why: Jurrassic Park is a classic sci-fi movie about man tampering with things it does not understand. In the film a wealthy idealist John Hammond decides to build an amusement park that features dinosaurs through cloning dinosaur DNA found inside of fossilized mosquitoes. It is a story most of us know and there’s no other dinosaur story that can even rival this legendary film. I love the film for so many different reasons. Its balances memorable characters, a suspense filled story, and some very intellectual, philosophical, and scientific topics. All of this in a simple story about how “life finds a way” as Dr. Malcolm so eloquently put it. This movie was also a huge break through in special effects at the time and they still hold up rather well even by today’s standards. I believe its because the movie is very careful when it doe use things like CGI and green screen. I found the casting for this movie to be almost pitch perfect with Jeff Goldblum(who gives the most iconic performance of his career), Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Richard Attenborough. All of them fit the role they are playing perfectly. Even Samuel L. Jackson has a minor role! Jurassic Park is a fantastic movie that is filled with adventure, suspense; with both philosophical and scientific concepts running throughout the movie. Thank you Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton for crafting such a great film.
Why: Wall-E is brilliant on so many different levels. It works as an animated film, a silent film, a sci-fi film, and a political statement among other things. There is so much depth to this universe that Pixar created. On the surface the movie is about a robot who develops a personality and who desires love. Eventually another more advanced robot named EVE comes to earth looking for organic life. Wall-E sees her and falls in love. He chases her all the way into space onto her space station. Its a love story. Its a great story that is easily appealing to a wide audience but at the same time has quite a bit of depth to it. The movie is set in a world where earth has become so polluted and filled with garbage that it is not longer inhabitable by humans. This movie speaks to its adult audience with a message that may be controversial but not arbitrary. Another thing I think is worth mentioning is what the humans have become after living in the space station for centuries. They became the epitome of consumerism. They were overweight, afraid to leave their hover chairs, and most of all; totally oblivious to the world around them. This movie certainly has an anti-consumerism mentality as it serves as a reasonable warning of what humanity has the potential to become in its current state. The fact that a movie can fit such a deep and adult message into a family oriented film without being blatant about it is brilliant. Another thing I love about the movie is that its so unique and different. The first half of the movie is a silent film set on a desolate earth while the second half is set on a space station almost completely run by machines. This isn’t to mention that the main protagonist is a robot chasing another robot through space. Tell me how Pixar pitched this film. In all honestly this movie shouldn’t have succeeded just based on the premise. But this film was made by Pixar and they do not make even mediocre movies(Cars aside). This film is easily one of the best animated films of all time as well as one of the best sci-fi films of all time.
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Why: Twelve Monkeys is a very dark and almost trippy time travel story about a man named James Cole(Bruce Willis) who is trying to prevent a viral outbreak that is supposed to cause humanity to hide underground to survive the virus. The thing about time travel in this movie is that its not an exact science which means that when Cole goes back in time he does not arrive on the exact date that he needs to. Another thing about the time travel is that time travelers can’t really stay in one time for very long. This results in James Cole bouncing around in time for parts of the movie. He goes from the present to WWI to many other time periods. Cole is told that he is not supposed to go back to stop the virus, but to find a cure for the virus so that he can save the future. Cole forgets what his mission is because of the side effects of time travel and he ends up stuck in an asylum in the early 90s for a while. In this asylum he finds the person(Brad Pitt) who will eventually become the leader of a terrorist organization known as the 12 monkeys. It is believed that this terrorist organization is the one behind the viral outbreak. It is from this point in the film that Cole believes that he can stop the terrorist. Terry Gilliam’s films have always been either a hit/miss due to his very odd and distinct style, but for this film I think its a definite hit. The reason I really like this movie is because of its really odd dark tone as well as very ambiguous storyline. The movie actually lets on several times that Cole could potentially just be crazy and that the virus is all made up. The movie never blatantly explains itself leaving it up to the viewer to understand what the movie means. It is for this reason that the movie demands repeat watches which is something I really like in movies. Other than the brilliant story of the movie we get to see Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt perform some of the more memorable performances of their career. Watching Brad Pitt play the psychotic and eccentric leader of the 12 monkeys is nothing short of fun to watch. Some people might find it a bit over the top, but I find it very well done and believable. Overall what makes this movie great is its ambiguity, excellent performances, and intricate story. Its one of the best time travel stories I’ve ever seen.
Blade Runner Director’s Cut (1992)
Why: Blade Runner is one of the best examples of a cult classic in the history of film. The movie flopped at the box office and received mixed reviews(most blame the studio intervention) when it was released in 1982. For whatever reason this film caught on after it hit home video and has grown to become a true classic with each of its new edits. The latest edit I’ve seen is the Director’s cut which I consider by far superior to the original(mostly because of the changed ending and the removal of the internal monologues by Rick Deckard). Blade Runner is another very ambiguous story about a police officer who is in charge of retiring some replicants(AKA a Blade Runner) that have escaped their colony and made it to earth. The movie has many twists and turns and has an very interesting outcome depending on which cut of the film you watch. What I love about this movie is that it creates a very dark, industrialized, and immersive world without explaining the specifics.The world just exists that way. Sure there are little clues throughout the film that raise certain possibilities, but its really not spelled out. Aside from the immersive world we get to see Harrison Ford do his thing( which means being freaking awesome). Aside from Ford the movie also stars Rutger Hauer,Sean Young, and Daryl Hannah. All of these supporting characters are key to bringing Ford to the conclusion he reaches at the end of the film which makes both Deckard and all of the supporting characters seem that much more interesting. Lastly what really makes this movie so brilliant is Ridley Scott’s direction. Ridley Scott crafted this masterpiece into what it has become(even if it took him 25 years to get the cut of the film he really wanted) and it is his ability to create such a world with such depth in such a short time that makes this a great film. It is his brilliant vision, the dark and immersive setting, and ambiguous story that really makes this a masterpiece in the history of science fiction.
Why: For any of you who know me well enough; you probably had no doubt I would put this movie on this list. It is legitimately one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years. I actually liked it even more than the already exceptional The Dark Knight(Christopher Nolan’s movie previous to Inception). I actually went into depth on the movie when I talked about it in my top 10 movies of 2010 list. I’ll keep it short because I could write a full length essay on why I love Inception. Inception is the most intelligent, complex(but not confusing or convoluted), and well done psychological sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen(at least in recent memory). There were no major flaws or plot holes I could find in the movie after several repeat viewings. The acting was above par, the cinematography was brilliant, the script was tight and well written, and most of all the film was masterfully directed by Christopher Nolan. I have not walked out of a movie that caused me to think so much about the meaning and the content of the movie in years if ever. This was truly a movie that seems custom made for me. Whats brilliant about the movie is that if you go and see it with four other people; you might walk out of with five different interpretations of what happened in that movie. That being said the movie is still telling a really thrilling, cerebral, and intellectual story despite the fact that it is very open to interpretation. What does the movie mean? It means whatever the viewer takes from it. The movie is like a giant piece of art; it is definitely telling a story and it all has meaning, but it is up to the viewer to figure out what it all means. On top of all of the artistic and intellectual aspects of the movie; it is also has some very impressive action and fight scenes that keep the plot moving and interesting. After watching this movie several times I still find myself wanting to watch it again so that I can examine it and discuss it with other people to see what they think. For me that is what a film should do; be entertaining yes, but it should also be something more; it should be something that gives the audience something to reflect on and discuss with others. It should stimulate and inspire the viewer. This is a fantastic movie that was masterfully crafted by Christopher Nolan who has now become one of the great directors in my book.