Thursday, March 31, 2011

Top Five Sci Fi films

Once again, Charles Gramlich has inspired a post (though this time he flat out suggested it). The subject of his own post was top movies of all time, and then broken down into sub-categories. He focused on Sci Fi, which I love, so I will also.

However, in thinking about this, I have come to the conclusion that I need to set a couple of rules for myself. Mainly because I am a Moviephile, and any list of “favorites” or “Top #” will invariably be longer than intended, and will certainly be missing entries that didn’t pop into my mind until later.

Rule #1 – Trilogies and Series count as one entry. When you see my list, this will make more sense. Suffice it to say, when a movie spawns sequels that are inter-related with the original, it’s often (but not always) hard for me to separate them and judge them as individual movies. I prefer to judge the whole story presented.

Rule #2 – This list represents what I think as of right now, and is subject to change on a whim. More than likely, there will be other entries that will make me slap my forehead for forgetting later.

Ok, so here’s my list:

5. Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick – Though only slightly interrelated, these two movies relate a story about some really interesting characters. Riddick is one of the coolest characters out there. And Pitch Black was a sci fi/horror film that I consider on par with Alien. Then they took those same characters and progressed them into a whole new film style, expanding on the universe. I love these films. And I am stoked to know that they are planning a third film.

4. Firefly/Serenity – Like many of my favorite films and TV shows, this property is highly character-driven. I think there is a little of everyone in at least one of the characters. Wash’s fate was definitely one of the most shocking moments in non-horror film history for me. This is also one of those “genre benders.” It really was a space-western (the first aired episode was about a train robbery, if I recall).

3. 2010 (The year we make contact) – Though the prophetic title and premise didn’t quite pan out, this movie still stands as a very gritty, realistic sci-fi film. Aside from having the ever-cool Roy Scheider in the starring role, the film introduced scientific principles and scenarios that make you wonder what the future holds for us. And, let’s face it, HAL is about as creepy-cool as you can get. I still get geeked out when I see a reference to him in another movie. This is one of those instances where I thought the sequel was better than the original film. 2001 was great, but the last half hour of it seemed drag on, and was a bit too “trippy” for my tastes.

2. Star Trek (II, III, IV & VI) – I remember developing a love of all things Star Trek when I was about 13 years old. Just prior to III coming out, I met one of my all-time best friends, who was a huge Trekkie (a term I personally carry with pride). We would sit and discuss the movies, the show and the technology of Star Trek. When taken together, II, III and IV tell a complete story arc, that includes some of the best dialogue in ST history…

Kirk: (Giving the Vulcan hand greeting) How many fingers am I holding up?

McCoy: That’s not very damn funny.

…as well as having my all-time favorite Klingon character, Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd). Star Trek VI, I felt, was a fine capstone on the whole TOS era, and though I like Generations well enough, I’d have been happy with ending it on that note.

And of course…KHAAAANNN!!!!!

1. Star Wars (Eps. IV, V & VI) – The original trilogy. This is one instance where, had Lucas stopped with the very first film, it would have been wonderful. And the other two (even with any shortcomings) really only added to the overall awesomeness that is Star Wars. I saw it twice in the theatre when it first came out (I was 6 when the original was released) and I was immediately in love. My personal favorite of the three has always been The Empire Strikes Back, and it alternated with Conan the Barbarian as the “Movie most likely to be playing in the background” in my room at any given time. I’m not a huge fan of the prequel trilogy, though I do like certain parts of all three (and I know I am in the minority when I say that I didn’t find Jar Jar all that annoying, beyond the amount he was supposed to be). And, on any given day, I prefer the Originals.

At various points in my life I have carried the monikers of Conan-Fanboy, Trekkie (or Trekker), Comic Book Geek, and Dragonlancer. But my first sci-fi/fantasy love will always exist “A long, long time ago…in a galaxy far away.”

Honorable mentions:

Demolition Man (had to get a Sly reference in here somewhere)

Total Recall


The Road Warrior

The Matrix


Charles Gramlich said...

I'd almost forgotten Pitch Black. That was truly a great film, I thought. Great ideas, great cinemotgraphy, good acting. that one should go higher on my list too. I also read the novelization of Chronicles of Riddick and it was pretty good.

Andre said...

We don't agree. :)

What Id' remove:

Star Trek. The movies didn't do anything original or interesting that the series didn't already accomplish. I don't think they did much for the genre.

Pitch Black. Good film. Very solid. But cult and not original in any way. Chronicles of Riddick is like Highlander II - DIDN'T HAPPEN.

Firefly: Never reached it's potential. It had a lot of promise, but it simply can't hold iconic status for the genre as it is. Stay tuned.

What I'd Modify:

2010 should be 2001. If we're talking about genre greats, the power of 2001 cannot be overstated. Yes, the film dragged on, but it was iconic for what it did.

What I'd add:

The Matrix. This film was based on the definitive sci-fi literary work of our age, Cyberpunk. It holds an absolute top slot for the genre.

ET. Spielberg's early contribution had everyone looking at the stars in a different way and changed the landscape of Sci Fi.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (original)- Arguably this film set the course of Sci Fi in Hollywood. It was a primer for everything to come and managed a LOT consdiering the limitations of film.

Star Wars, of course, we agree on.

Tom said...

I think where we differ, Andre, is in film philosophy. For me, it's not enough for a film to be "innovative" or "ground-breaking" to be considered great. It also has to entertain. And that is where most of the movies I list shine (IMHO). They entertain as much as they do anything else. 2001 was a great movie, but not very entertaining. ET was a great movie, but I can't look at it as a pure sci-fi film. It was more about a coming of age story. ET could just as easily been a stray dog, with the sci-fi elements taken out, and it would have still been a heart-warming story. And the greatness that is Trek is the characters. The movies were an extension of the series, and allowed Roddenberry to explore new vistas that he was not able to do with the TV series.

And The Chronicles of Riddick is an amazing film. It's Conan in Space, for Crom's sake! :)