In the wake of my review of the dismal Prometheus (the word still prompts that “I feel a yawn coming on” feeling), a reader asked for my own Top Ten list of favorite science fiction films. Below is a list of more than ten, in no particular order. A few notes are in order: (1) I have excluded super hero films (e.g., The Dark Knight, Avengers, etc.) and fantasy (e.g., Lord of the Rings, Princess Bride), since those aren’t science fiction. (2) inclusion on the list means I have watched them all multiple times — the sort of movie that, if I see it while someone is channel surfing (I rarely watch TV), I’ll feel the urge to make them stop so I can watch at least some of it. (3) I like these movies for different reasons — a clever premise, several great scenes, imagination, that sort of thing. (4) Ancient Aliens isn’t a movie, or that would be on the list. Here they are:
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek (2009)
Empire Strikes Back
Planet of the Apes (1968)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
X-Files: Fight the Future
The Boys from Brazil
Thanks a lot for sharing your favorites with us. Star Trek IV made me giggle- watched it the other day. I would have to add Pandorum (if I may). I found it to be one of the most original sci fi movies of the last few years.
Gattaca! One of my all-time favorites.
I must disagree with only one point… at an hour and a half per episode, Ancient Aliens should really qualify as a series of great science fiction. The production value is hampered somewhat by Georgio Tsukalous’ prevalence, but on the whole it’s an amazing bit of sci-fi- even if they do lose the plot about two episodes in.
In all seriousness, though… The only change I might make to this list is a simple swapping of Knowing for the oft-underestimated Enemy Mine. Even then, I can only cite a mistrust of Nick Cage and his tendency to pick truly terrible projects when he should know better.
The only one on this list I haven’t seen is The Boys From Brazil, but it’s now on my list of must-sees thanks to this post.
Have you ever seen Blade Runner ?
not all of it – just parts
…a couple missing:
Book of Eli
guilty pleasure…Shogun Assassin
What about Space Odyssey 2001?
Brave New World (1980? 1998? ????? -> 2011 – with Leonardo DiCaprio???)
Youth Without Youth
15 Great Science Fiction Movies of the ’70s:
I was bored by 2001; I read Brave New World and wasn’t that impressed (1984 was so much better, and more terrifying). But it’s only my list.
I was bored again in 76 and no much impressed me after that, but 2001 really got a friend of mine so worked up he was convinced that it was the book of Revelation in modern script. I dunno? Mr. Nobody was a bit wishy washy, but I thought Youth without Youth apart from the weird scenes wasn’t half bad.
The Aliens stuff was just too ridiculous, though I really got a thrill watching I-Robot. Okay, I’m not the sci-fi expert but I do love the fantasy stuff and there was something I couldn’t remember, I think it was called ARC – it’s about a couple a kids who are trying to save their world. Of course, Lewis’ trilogy never fail to turn me on (though that was also back in the seventies) and I’ve not since found the innocence to embark on the journey again.
I-robot should be on the list; good one. I don’t know how you could get Revelation out of 2012.
Oh, btw, did you get a listen to the Faraday lecture Science and Religion in the Writings of C. S. Lewis by Dr Michael Ward ?
no – but thanks for the link. I’ll listen to this, hopefully this week.
I have to second the suggestion for Equilibrium if you haven’t seen it yet — seems very much in line with your other tastes. Good list, though. I assume the Ewoks prevented Jedi from making it? lol
I don’t recall hearing of Equilibrium before. And, no, I’m not an Ewok fan.
+1 for pandorum.
I passed on several of these (like super 8) but I will have to give them a 2nd chance now.
Dr Heiser have you seen The Fallen Ones? Here is the plot summery from wikipedia. “The story involves an archaeologist uncovering, and ultimately fighting, one of the Nephilim. This creature is the offspring of a “fallen angel”, named Ammon, that is trying to destroy the world by reviving its son after having him mummified prior to the biblical flood. Once its son is revived, Ammon would be able to spawn a new generation of Nephilim.”
Its a stupid movie. But given your interests it may be worth a chuckle.
Was this the made-for-cable movie? I saw something (can’t recall the station) makes me think it was this — it was abysmal (pun intended).
I like most of what is on the list except the matrix, the story is good but i do not like how they mock or even blasphemy Christianity notice the names in that movie Morpheus(Father), Neo(Son) and Trinity if i remember correctly Neo and Trinity get intimate
The Matrix is basically a blend of Christian theology, Gnostic Christian motifs, and some eastern religion for garnish. The Neo – Trinity intimacy happens in the second one (and I didn’t even bother seeing number 3). Another example of how a lack of depth in the major themes resulted in going on obtuse tangents (i.e., nowhere).
Moon is intriguing
Gattaca is just beautiful
Serenity is fun in every way
Blade Runner surprisingly intelligent
Moon and Blade Runner seem to be on a lot of lists, so I have them down on my short list of films to watch this summer.
You wrote: ‘I-robot should be on the list; good one. I don’t know how you could get Revelation out of 2012.’
Yeah, it’s strange but one of the few movies that I’ve been able to watch again and again.
I notice that you’ve got no Japanese science fiction movies in your list. They have some amazing plot lines and are mostly animated.
Yup. Sci Fi channel.
Those are all worthy films of the genre, but I’d like to suggest you viewing the following films, which are generally overlooked as good SF
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1916, filmed with the first underwater camera with a real submarine supplied by Mr Holland.
The Mysterious Island, 1929, Lionel Barrymore in a semi-silent film that is similar to the Jules Verne story. Rare and worthwhile.
Metropolis 1927, early great effects, social commentary, a new restored version now available, you need to see this one again
Pi, 1998, a subtle thriller about number theory, conspiracies, and the nature of the universe.
Wall-E, overlooked as a kid’s cartoon, but it’s one of the best SF movies of the decade. The first 30 minutes or so has no human voices, which is a blessing in some films..
Frankly many Futurama episodes have more SF and story than the majority of recent films.
I didn’t know 20K leagues and its sequel were films before the Disney film and its own sequel. Both of these sound very interesting. Metropolis makes a lot of lists. I’d really like to see Pi. I saw Wall-E but didn’t care for it; it seemed too preachy.
In #3 Neo sacrifices himself to the robots to bring peace to the world. When he dies his arms are spread wide and a voice says, “It is finished.”
I actually find this movie very helpful with explaining the little I know about ANE symbolism to other Christians. I explain that just as the Christ symbols in the Matrix are unmistakable to us, the weird ANE stuff in the OT seemed normal to the ancient Israelites. It kind of helps break the ice.
interesting – I didn’t see #3 since I thought #2 was poor.
Seems like a lot of people commenting here would like the podcast called Framerate on TWIT.com. They mostly cover the technology and business side of movie industry, but both of the hosts are huge sci-fi fans and they often mention and review a lot of good films.
Children! Young people cannot appreciate “2001, A Space Odyssey”. When it appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, it was the most amazing thing anyone had ever seen. As with some SciFi, the story was mostly irrelevant. If you saw it when it first came out and found it boring, then it was because your eyes were closed.
Super * just made it to Netflix. Pretty cool movie. Not what I thought it would be.
Since it’s not on your list I guess you haven’t seen ‘The Man from Earth’ (2007).
In a nutshell a well liked professor retires and invites all of his colleagues to his home to confess to them that he is one of the immortals and has to move away to hide the fact that he doesn’t age. He invites all present professors of various academic disciplines to proof him wrong since he had more than enough time to study and master all of their fields. He also reveals his version of the origins of religion and goes on to tell the story of mankind in a different way.
The script is very clever and should be a real treat for someone who knows his way around history and religion. This is intelligent sci-fi at it’s best without the need for any special effects and I highly recommend it for a quite saturday night with a good glass of wine.
I’ve not seen that; sounds interesting.
Although it starts strong The Man From Earth seems to perpetuate the falsehood that Jesus’ teaching was simply repackaged ideas from Buddha. The lone Christian in the plot is made to look foolish.
Anyone who has read even the basics of comparative religion will yawn at this one.
got it; and agreed with your last line; hard to believe that equation is embraced, but most people never do any actual studying.
Mike, I typed in X-Files in the search box, and it brought me here. So I guess this is the most active thread on this topic.
Just curious for your take on the new X-Files. Or are you waiting for the conclusion of the mini-series to give you full evaluation?
I’m sort of waiting. I didn’t really like the first one (it was “okay”). I think it was misguided in several ways. The second one was much better; more faithful to the original feel of the series. I’m optimistic since (I think I mentioned this somewhere) I had lunch with R. W. Goodwin, one of the directors in the first five seasons (the best of the show in my view). He lives in the town where I work, and directed some of my favorite episodes. It was a treat to meet him (his wife plays Scully’s mom — hope I can meet her as well at some point). He obviously didn’t reveal any of the script content, but noted they were written by some of his favorite writers during his tenure with the show. So I’m optimistic.
It was a little funny how 2/3 of the topics in Mulder’s dialog in the second episode (about “what’s going on”) was covered in The Portent, my sequel to The Facade. I’ve had people email me about that.