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!
Science Fiction-Works of fiction that use scientific discoveries or advanced technology — either actual or imaginary — as part of their plot.
Star Wars (1977-2005)
Why: This film(series) is pretty much a given when it comes great Sci-Fi. The reason I put all of the films into one is because essentially they are all telling one really big story. Each movie is just telling one chapter of a huge space epic. The films are filled with great memorable characters that many people have grown to love. Sure this series may have its faults(weak dialog, odd direction), but its told a story that three or four generations have grown to love. Star Wars tells a tale of adventure, romance, action, politics, good vs evil, redemption, and tragedy. Its a story that has many layers and shades to it but is also widely accessible to a huge audience. Back when it was first released in 1977 it was something radically different than what was being released at the time. It will always be remembered for being a break through in special effects, but in many ways it was a break through in storytelling. Star Wars gave us a universe that has only consistently grown larger and larger than it was when it was released. Years after the original trilogy was finished Lucas decided to release a prequel trilogy to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker and how he was turned into Darth Vader. The prequel trilogy may not have settled as well for the older crowd, but it brought the story of Star Wars to a new generation using the latest in technology. I personally have no problems with the prequel trilogy; it really fleshes out some of the characters briefly seen or even only mentioned in the original trilogy. Some claim that the dialog is horrible and the storyline is too political, but I say that the dialog in the original trilogy is no better and when dealing with a storyline that is showing the formation of a Galactic Empire there will have to be politics involved. I personally think it adds depth to the story. Star Wars is one of the movies that will be remembered as one of the greats in the history of film making because of the impact it had on multiple generations and on film making its self.
The Matrix (1999)
Why: The Matrix is a movie that kind’ve just showed up in 1999 and to most everyone’s surprise was something very good and very different. It took the idea of living in a dream and modernized it. Aside from it high concept it borrowed many techniques and story ideas that are used in the Asian culture and brought them to the American big screen. That being said; it still has quite a few themes, concepts, and ideas that are from the Greco-Roman storytelling that drives the American cinema. Its a movie about philosophy, action, characters, special effects, and story telling. It can be watched for enjoyment or it can be watched to be intellectually stimulated. It has something that appeals to many different people. The movie also pioneered many special effects that are now common today such as slow motion or the extensive use of green screen. The Matrix is just a really solid; really great movie on many different levels aside from the fact that it is a great sci-fi movie which is why I like it so much.
Why: Gattaca was a sci-fi movie that I actually find fairly believable in the sense that it could actually happen. The movie is set in the the near future where genes and DNA are what decide social class. In this future parents can choose whether or not to change a child’s genes to enhance the baby before it is born. The movie follows the character of Vincent whose DNA was not manipulated to become an ideal child because his parents wanted to leave it up to Nature(or God). The movie follows him on his journey to become the person he has dreamed he will become despite gene discrimination. The movie develops him from childhood to adulthood in a world that discriminates against people who haven’t been enhanced. Throughout the movie he has to change his identity and take on a whole new persona just so he can make it into NASA like he dreams of doing . The movie also brings in a very interesting dynamic when Vincent’s brother Anton enters the picture. Anton was Vincent’s younger brother that was enhanced by his parents. When the two are in scenes together you definitely get the general themes of the movie personified by each of them. It is clear that there was always bad blood between the two of them and it really shows the difficulties on Vincent’s journey. What is most intriguing besides the story of Vincent is the very believable setting. With all the things we are learning about genes and DNA and how we could potentially manipulate them I found it believable enough that this could be possible in the coming years. People who have been enhanced taking control of society and persecuting the non enhanced actually seems plausible. I also like that this film is not retreading the same themes and story angles that other sci-fi movies have already done. It takes the concept of gene discrimination and makes it something new. The film has a great sci-fi setting, a very good character driven story, and is something fairly unique for the genre.
The Fountain (2006)
Why: After quite a bit of contemplation and research I decided that The Fountain could technically count as sci-fi. The Fountain is Darren Aronofsky’s very tragic and open ended film that deals with the themes of grieving, letting go, love, and the acceptance of death. The movie chronicles three separate storylines. The first is a story of Tomas the conquistador who is trying to find the Tree of Life for his queen; the second is a story of Tommy the neuroscientist who becomes obsessed with finding a cure for his wife’s inoperable brain tumor; and the final storyline follows Tom the space traveler as he journeys to a golden nebula to try to save a tree he is transporting with him. All three of these storylines are intertwined in some way or another even though it is never spelled out what the connection is. Even though these are all different storylines the themes that run through all of them the same; dealing with death and coming to accept it. The reason I like this movie so much is because of its open endedness. Even though there is a plot running throughout the movie; it is the view who has to connect all of the dots because the film wants to be interpreted. Like a work of art this movie can mean so many different interpretations depending on who the viewer is. Things such as what the connection between the three storylines are and what exactly they are all trying to say is up to the viewer to decide. I also thought that Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz both do a fantastic jobs portraying the tragedy that they are going through in the movie. There is a scene that Hugh Jackman brings me to tears as you can see the pain and agony this man is going through. Its a very tragic tale for these characters. The visuals and music in this movie are also fantastic. For each of the different storylines the movie has a very different look. For the story of the conquistador the movie has a very Spanish look to it while the futuristic space scene has a very Asian influence to it. The movie may turn a lot people off because of its very nonlinear storytelling style, but for me this was definitely one of the most emotional and character driven movies on the list.
Dark City (1998)
Why: Dark City was a tough call because for a long time I wasn’t sure how much I liked it or not, but what eventually won me over was its very in depth themes and its very distinct style. The film looks sort of like a Neo-Noir film crossed with a gritty sci-fi movie. Other than the look the movie is also a mash up of Greek, post-modern, and sci-fi storytelling which makes for a very interesting mix. This movie also has a unique spin on the idea of reality not being exactly how we percieve it. In the film people are constantly having their memories changed and the environment is constantly shifting yet everyone assumes that reality has always been like that. In Dark City there is a group of “strangers” who are behind all of the changes but most of the people do not even realize that they exist. The strangers are doing experiments to all of the citizens of Dark City to try to find something. The movie takes place from the perspective of a man named John Murdoch who begins to see the changes occur and investigates only to discover a massive conspiracy that is happening in Dark City. The movie is a very unique and I haven’t really seen anything like it. As I said its a blend of different types of story telling that ends up being something very distinct and feels like nothing else I’ve seen before. The movie has quite a bit of depth because of all of the concepts thrown into the movie which gives it quite a bit of rewatchability Overall its a very odd movie which may turn off a lot of people, but underneath is odd and distinct style lies a great amount of substance.
Other movies I considered for the list
Back to the Future(1985)
Planet of the Apes(1968)
The Road Warrior(1981)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan( 1982)