Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies

Since we had so much fun with the Military List. Plus, it’s Friday.

  1. Star Wars The original 1977 theatrical, error-filled release only. Han did shoot first. The storm troopers did want the blast doors to be closed only to then want them re-opened. Darth did do the wagging finger gesture for no apparent reason after his speech in the war room to Tarkin was over. When I saw the movie when it came out I wanted a light saber so bad it hurt. I was 13. I could still find a use for one.
  2. The Thing from Another World Original; the remake is excellent, too, but probably better classified as Horror; see below. If you have never seen this, you are in for a treat. I have seen this movie dozens of times, and each viewing I hear a new line I somehow missed before. This is one of those Rosalind Russell fast talking comedy dramas. It’s hard to keep up. Dr Carrington’s motivations are natural, believable, and consistent throughout. The only, very minor, jarring point is when Scotty faints at the end, when he had been on Okinawa during the end of World War II. Anybody who made it through that would not pass out when seeing a vegetable cook. This movie does not follow the now usual conventions and will surprise you. You also have to keep in mind that this came out at the height of the Great Saucer Scare.
  3. The Day the Earth Stood Still. The original! The scenes in the movie are as good or better than any today. The angle of the camera when Klaatu comes out of the ship and is shot is stunning. When suddenly we see—a non-computer generated—Gort immobile and menacing. Wow. That immobility was of a necessity, ok, because the moving robot looked a little clunky, but they made the best of what they had and it turned out to be better than they could have hoped. Sure, there’s the obligatory wild-hair scientist and precocious kid, but they are not so annoying. Thank God, no love story. The religious allegory you sometimes here of is there but it is sly and minimal. “Klaatu barada necktie.” Oops, wrong movie.
  4. Terminator All time travel plots are doomed to failure at some level, but this one is as perfect as can be. Nothing can beat Arnie is his prime. “I’ll be back.” Original in every way. Movies, especially sci-fi, should get right to the point and then move along. This does. Maybe it’s because I find Linda Hamilton so attractive, but she did a remarkable job. The number of special effects are kept to a bare minimum, and the movie benefits enormously from it. The ending at the gas station is chilling.
  5. Alien Mixed feelings here. First the bad. This was the movie that started the now cliche trend of killing a group off one by one, only to see the young, plucky girl triumphant in the end. Plus, it has what too many movies have: letters plotting across a computer monitor at a snail’s pace accompanied by bup-bup-bup sounds. Good grief! So it’s hard to watch now. But, boy, when it came out. It was new! Graphically stunning. Talk about surprise indigestion! Like Star Wars, this movie had the sense, where the movies from before that time did not, to make the equipment/space ships look used and lived in, like they were really there. You see it everywhere now, but it was innovative at the time.
  6. Planet of the Apes Original, natch. The best part of this movie is the interaction between Taylor (Heston) and Dr Zaius. To hear Zaius spin in the name of the faith is fascinating. “There is no conflict between science and religion. True science.” Of course, we’re now supposed to say how foolish this is. But given the ending (and the original intent of the book), it is not so clear that Zaius wasn’t doing exactly the right thing. “Take your dirty paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
  7. Blade Runner Theatrical version, please. Yes, with the P.I. voice over, dammit. Makes it more like a film noir, and gets us quicker through the boring parts. Yes, there are dull bits. Not when Batty is on the screen, though. There is an award-winning (yes, award-winning) professor at a place I know who uses this movie to demonstrate what it will be like when global warming takes over. You’re also supposed to root for the sophisticated interpretation of the ending, where Deckard realizes he’s a replicant, too. Oh my! If so, then the whole movie makes no sense, because every higher up would have known, thus invalidating the plot. This is one of the rarer instances where I will defer to the movie and not the original story. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was all right, but not wonderful. You’re not supposed to say that about Dick nowadays.
  8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind Again—computers, damn them! I am repeating myself—but the original, theatrical version only. The one that shows Roy go to his job site at the beginning of the movie, and so on. This had a certain hopefulness, an eagerness. It was more than a little frightening, too. Spare use of technical effects made the aliens seem realer than if we had been bombarded with them. Remember that, Mr Director! Too many effects ruin a movie. We care about what happens to the people. In this case, I was as jealous as can be of Neary (Dreyfuss). When I see the pile of bills arrive daily, and think about facing another ride on that smelly F train, I still am.
  9. Highlander Utterly absurd, but just as emotionally compelling. Maybe it’s because it’s layered on so thick that you can’t help but be effected just a little. The ending—the very, very end as they lay in the grass—stinks. The chief cop is a cliche, Christopher Lambert—Connor of the clan MacLeod—is a bad actor, Sean Connery’s part is goofy. But you can’t take your eyes off of it. Clancy Brown as the very wisely left unexplained “Kurgan” was excellent as he always is. Yes, even the music by Queen was good (it was in Flash Gordon, too). Maybe this is one of the movies you watch at home in a group of people who have consumed as much beer as you have. Love the scene where MacLeod gets in a drunken duel. “There can be only one.”
  10. Soylent Green The original greenhouse gas, population bomb movie. Characteristic of all those early 70s, late 60s dystopian dramas, many starring Heston, this one is the best. It’s a mystery. The head of the Soylent corporation is found dead. Suicide? Detective Thorn (Heston) is on the case! He steals some jelly and some “furniture.” His roommate “goes home” to Beethoven. Actually, I’m not so sure how great this movie is, but it’s one everybody should see so that they get it when somebody shouts the last line at them. Solyent Orange is on special today. Yummy.
  11. When Worlds Collide The pacing of this movie is perfect. A distant object—a new solar system of one planet and sun—is moving towards Earth. It will hit us. The one hope is to build ships to move to the new planet. An isolated group, financed by a wealthy curmudgeon, begins to build; the rest of the population blows it off, assured by politicians that they can handle it. A PA system in the background occasionally announces “Work faster! Only seventeen days left!” When the world learns the truth, the compound of the group is stormed. The people who built the ships draw straws to see who can go. Those with the short ones realize their predicament. Does humanity make it?
  12. Escape from New York Kurt Russel as pirate eye-patch wearing Snake Plissken? Ernest Borgnine as a crazed cabby (who listens to good music)? Manhattan Island as a prison? What’s not to love! Strangely believable. The ending is fantastic. John Carpenter used to do a good job with suspense.

Yes, I can count. Close enough to 10.

Honourable mentions (in no particular order): Tron A must see; War Games “Would you like to play a game?”; War of the Worlds Original only, the remake featured a midget ego-maniac Scientologist and had an asinine plot; Galaxy Quest “I see you managed to get your shirt off!”; Trekkies I & II “This year we even had a girl come.”; The Last Starfighter Come, on. Admit it. You love it.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers This time—the only time—both the 1956 (crazy man) and 1978 (Spock wears a turtle neck) versions. Not the most recent one; It Came From Outer Space Surprisingly good paranoia flick.

I, Robot I wish they would have done more from the book and they could have had a franchise; Logan’s Run Ustinov was great. “Renew!”; Vibes a guilty pleasure; Mystery Men “The PMS avenger!”; The Philadelphia Experiment Much better than you would think.

Road Warrior (Mad Max II) I learned from this movie that Australians are just as crazy as Japanese people—I mean this as a compliment; Starship Troopers Supposedly, they didn’t harm any real bugs in the making of this movie; They Live! Silly plot, but best fight scene ever; Total Recall “We can remember it for you wholesale”; X-Men (I & II) Solid entertainment, but not much else.

Altered States Don’t remember this one? Plenty of weird religious allegory. Done when water/isolation tanks were big. Yes, they were; Back to the Future Goofy fun; Flash Gordon Awful in every way, but so awful that it’s worth watching; Forbidden Planet & Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Somehow these two seem a natural pair; Fifth Element But only because of Bruce Willis; Stargate Not too bad; Iron Man First part and last scene only; Alien Nation I even liked the TV show; Serenity Same thing, but you had to see the show else the movie made little sense. I saw this at a premiere where the audience was composed entirely of fans. A gasp ran through the crowd when one beloved character handed in his dinner pail.

I am sure I have left out honourable mentions that I have forgotten about. All animated movies have been purposely omitted.

More horror than sci fi?

Predator Jesse the Body: “I ain’t got time to bleed…”; The Thing from John Carpenter. “Why don’t we just wait here for a little while… see what happens…” ; Scanners Canadians on a rampage!; Godzilla Again, the original, and most of the Japanese continuations. Each is more ridiculous than the last. But, God help me, I do love them;

The original!

The obvious theme to this list is that most remakes suck. My official probabilistic estimate is that any remake has a 99.9% chance of sucking. I have seen the previews for The Day the Earth Stood Still and I fear the worst. Several other movies in the list above are slated for remakes. Even When Worlds Collide! This time, no doubt, some hero will save the day.

The unbearable wonderfulness of computer graphics

A word of caution: you cannot judge’s yesterday’s movies by today’s special effects standards! The older ones, especially since they didn’t have racks and racks of computers…were obviously better. The disadvantages of being burdened by computers are only too obvious. The temptation to add in an extra explosion or physics-defying stunt is just too much for most directors to resist. One more CGI space bug is just the thing! Poor, deluded souls. They deserve our sympathy. It’s really not their fault. The computer just makes things too easy.

What! You didn’t include X Y or Z?

No, no Star Trek movies. The best of them seem to be mere extensions of the TV show. No black mark against them, but somehow they don’t seem to be “real movies.” And I am a fan.

No, no Star Wars after the first. The second one was OK, the third one stunk, and the last three shows what happens when you pay nerds to play with computers but give them no moral guidance (“Love is like sand. It gets in your shorts and grates.”).

No 2001 either, though to not to include it is sign of unsophistication. I love the man-apes beating the crap out of one another, but the movie didn’t make any sense; the book did. It did do the physics right and deserves praise for that.

Sorry, but The Matrix was idiotic. The plot was ridiculous beyond even a small child’s ability to suspend disbelief. Pretty, sure. Yes, those computer graphics were innovative. But in the end, that’s all they are. Computer graphics. I remember when CGI first really took hold. Some group put out a VHS of various shiny-skinned human-like creatures interacting with ray-traced Greek-columned houses and such like. The kind of nerds who listened to Vangelis bought them. They have rightly disappeared without a trace.

Nope. Donnie Darko is theatrical version of pseudo-angst-filled Starbucks coffehouse imitation of deep, meaningful chatter.

You’re also supposed to list the original Solaris. I do not. Stick to the book. Also read Lem’s The Futurological Congress.

No Metropolis either. It’s boring. Being first does not mean being good (hear that, Beatles fans?).

Uh, uh. No Jurassic Park. Have you noticed that all CGI monsters do exactly the same thing? When the evil, man-eating creature comes upon somebody, does it snatch him up and swallow tout de suite as is within its ability? No! Instead, it stops cold, rears back, put it’s tentacles, arms, and other appendages to the back, strains its neck forward to its limit, then roars while shaking its head. Thus allowing the heroine plenty of time to escape or shoot. Every. Single. Monster now does this. It’s stupid. If you’ve ever seen a real predator go after real prey you know what there are no theatrics involved. It’s chomp city, baby, as fast as can be.


  1. Err…I preferred Aliens to Alien

    But the one movie you missed that I think completely belongs is Transformers…great pacing….

    and the other one movie (I can count too) would be Serenity. Joss Whedon comes close to Aaron Sorkin in snappy, clever dialogue.

    As you might guess, I prefer action sci-fi to drama/horror….and I think a real test of a movie is how re-watchable it is.

    I loved Iron Man the first time around, but the second time it really didn’t seem that great.

    I thought ‘Children of Men’ was so badly overrated as was ‘V for Vendetta’

    I probably would have included ‘Equilibrium’ in an honorable mention for the ‘gun kata’

  2. Rich

    I thought the point of Matrix was to watch Carrie-Anne Moss but then I’m getting on a bit.

    Can you watch Serenity without having watched the Firefly series first? I don’t think so.

    Galaxy Quest – oh yes! “Did you ever watch the show?”


  3. Joy

    Dr. Briggs,
    First and most important I am pleased to hear that you don’t rate Matrix. This would make you a rare creature indeed. We should form a group, we could be persecuted.
    I will admit that I refused to go and see it at the cinema, choosing to dust the piano stool in protest;
    It has everything to hate. It’s Si Fi for a start, but worse, it’s about computers. Worse still, it’s a virtual anorak’s world.
    When it was later acquired, a great prize, on DVD, I was restrained, I chose not to sit near the screen and take in it’s wonder as I figured I could get enough of an idea from supine on the floor so as to appreciate the surround sound. Noisy action films can be soporific from this vantage point.
    You were an old man, 13, I was six, I hadn’t realised I was that young when it came out, that would explain why I had a crush on Luke Skywalker. I was disappointed in the Princess’s dress. Her hair left a lot to be desired as well. However R2D2 was, and still is, the greatest Si Fi character that ever was. C3PO was a great companion and translator for the little droid.
    “Love is like sand, it gets in your shorts and grates”. Who said that! He’s doing it all wrong, someone should tell him.
    Not that I’d rate it, but “Event Horizon” has a scene in it where a hand floats past the camera. For some reason I found this particularly scary (I couldn’t make out what was happening and had been expecting to jump at any moment!) and let out a scream. The row in front visibly jumped, and much laughter ensued. I never lived that down. It’s all the creeping about I hate.

    I wonder what you rate as best, I’m going to guess:
    “Highlander”, possibly “Matrix”,
    Can we do love stories another day?

  4. Briggs


    Love stories?

    How about Smokey and the Bandit?

    No higher love than a man has for his guitar.

  5. JH

    Goodness! I cannot wait to read what Meimie has to say about the movies mentioned.

  6. Joy

    Dr. Strangelove,
    I resisted, I pressed delete.
    I mean real ones!

  7. Hi –

    Well, you’ve opened the can of worms now. 🙂 I was in the Film Club as an undergraduate…

    1) When Worlds Collide: the mob swarm right before take-off of the ark ship was the result not of those outside trying to get in, but rather due to the fact that there were more workers needed to build the ships than could be taken. As a result, a lottery was established, and it was the losers of that lottery who tried to swarm the ship. The attack from outside the camp was in the original novel, where it was shown that rocket exhaust make dandy flamethrowers (they hovered the ship over the attackers).

    2) The Day The Earth Stood Still: the original story “Farewell To The Master” has a surprise ending that would have been vastly better to actually use than the absolute eco-freak drivel that the 2008 abomination used as what is, at best, euphemistically described as a “story line”. Go to Wikipedia’s entry on the original story and at the bottom there is a link to it: someone should actually make the movie…

    There’s more, but it would make me look like even more of a nerd than I already do…

    Trivia: which film inspired Alien?

    Hint: it’s Italian.

  8. Joseph Temple

    Scuze me but wasn’t “Silent Running” made before “Alien” and didn’t it give us lived in interiors and what might as well be R2D2?

  9. Briggs


    Hmm. Well, there was a lot of dirt and a lot more loony Bruce Dern in Silent Running. So I might have to give it to you.


    No idea. Tell us!


    What about A Boy and His Dog? Sci-fi and a love story rolled into one! “She certainly had good taste!”

    I forgot to add that movie to the list anyway.

  10. MDM

    Briggs, are you sure it wasn’t Flash Gordon that Queen did the sound track for?

    Escape from N.Y.: I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one who appreciated that one. Too bad they had to go and ruin it with Escape from L.A.

    2001: Also relieved that I’m not the only one who didn’t get it (I read the book years later). Despite that, the Blue Danube segment is one of my all time favorites.

  11. I will join Matrix-haters club. What a snooze that one was.

    My bone(s) to pick: 2001 and Donnie Darko. Just to be clear, I don’t think Donnie Darko belongs on any top ten list of great SciFi movies, but it’s much, much better than you give it credit for being.

    2001. Wow. Sorry, i just don’t see how this one can be left off. No, it doesn’t make much sense, but should it? It’s about an encounter with the incomprehensible. To have it make complete sense would be to miss the point. In fact, if it made sense, it would be Close Encounters: visually impressive but uncompelling in every other way.

  12. John

    I like Sci-Fi a bit off the wall and as such would toss in the likes of “PI”, “Memento” and “Brazil”

    Comedy – Ghostbusters
    Horror – Event Horizon
    Animated(yeah I said it) – Akira

  13. Wade Michaels

    I like John’s idea, but I’d take GalaxyQuest over Ghostbusters. GB dragged at points, although GQ was a bit campy. I’d take “Vampire Hunter D” over Akira.

    Briggs, any chance you can remove the profanity? I love reading your blog at work and stuff like that draws the ire of our web admins. Hate to see you blocked from 21k+ employees.

  14. Briggs


    Yes! A typo/brain interruption on my part. Flash Gordon it was.


    I might be being influenced by the book overly much. Or perhaps it’s my contrarian nature.


    I’ve been searching, unsuccessfully, for a William F. Buckley essay on the word dammit and the limits of its acceptable use. He said better than I ever could just where and when such a lovely word should be placed. He often touted the book Stet, Dammit!, which I have yet to, but want to, read (just ordered it).

    But I take your point.

  15. JH

    Crap (not considered profanity, I hope)! I don’t have the list of our sci-fi movie collection at work. The following are some other good ones I can think of right now.

    All Frankenstein movies, Back to The Future , ET , Dune and Children of Dune .

    No higher love than a man has for his guitar.

    “No one touches my guitars. Sorry, including you, JH”, said Dr. S.
    Thank you, I finally understand! LOL.

    Briggs, yes, I see that you can count… maybe only up to 10? The little pinky finger cannot be numbered as 10 and 11 and 12… as I told my children when they were little. Maybe, just another maybe, you don’t have toes, so do check out this link.

  16. Ari

    Maybe not sci-fi in the classic sense, but Young Frankenstein deserves mentioning.

    Also, no E.T.? C’mon… Maybe it’s a bit too heavy on the corn syrup, but it’s still a pretty good movie. If only for the scene where E.T. gets drunk.

  17. Luis Dias

    (Duplicate comment?)

    Yes Joy, I did enjoy The Matrix (the first one) probably too much. Mr Smith is not great, he’s probably one of the best villains of sci-fi movies ever (the scene where he interrogates Neo, slowly opening the case, and all his performance is stunning). I do hate Keanu Reeves, but it’s not too distracting. So I’ll say that Briggs is completely wrong on this one. But no one’s perfect :). The other two movies were terrible, and I can only retrieve from them the speech made by the architect. Not the actual content of it, but the almost musical tone of it.

    There’s also an interesting B movie that surprised me when I rent it, “Equilibrium”. I was expecting full blown B or C moronic but full of action type of a movie and it did captivate me more than it probably should. Nice acting and a mesh of 1984 with Fahrenheit. Still a B movie.

    I did enjoy 2001: a Space Odissey too. More from an artistic point of view though. 2010 sucks, but it’s watchable. The books are interesting.

    The Sci Fi book that wowed me the most was “Childhood’s End”. Too bad never made to a movie. It did inspire the best scenes of Independence Day, the sentence comes to mind: The sky is full of ships.

    In a lighter tone, there’s always The Hitchhikker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but the movie version is just a speeded mesh of the otherwise hilariously written lines of the book. No one that didn’t read the book found it remotely funny, and I understand why.

    I don’t like Transformers, and I did appreciate the first Star Trek movie. Also the second and the fourth. I think they should be considered movies. It’s a downhill from those on, though and I agree that TNG (the next generation) movies stink and feel much more like extended episodes. Perhaps the next one will change that.

    Apart from these, I’ll agree with Mr Briggs. I haven’t seen all of those mentioned movies, but I will.

  18. Hmmmm… Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, The Green Slime, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity, Planet 9, The Day of the Triffids…

    Oh yes, we Australians are crazier than the Japanese 🙂

  19. Ari

    Pompous Git,

    I’ve lived in Japan. Not yet in Oz. I’ll have to say, however, that I find it hard to believe that the Aussies are crazier than the Japanese. Call it a hunch. 🙂

    Until I see an Aussie make a movie as crazy as the stuff put out by Takashi Miike, you guys get a close second.

  20. Briggs


    My number 2 son provides me with this depressing news of the day. They are considering remaking Escape from New York!

    Now you can read the full review over at AICN, but the main hits are the Cabbie role that Snake made an alliance with in the original is watered down to merely finding a map for his escape, the President is now a woman who is idealistically right and won’t stop preaching about it, and Snake is a bit of a wet blanket.

    Here’s a snippet of dialogue that they provide from the new script:


    Are you gonna shut up one of these days?


    No, I’m not. I’m going to lay it on the line.
    We have wars being fought, not just overseas, but
    here on our own soil. And all we know to do about
    any of it is to impose curfews and throw tear gas
    at the problem.

    I grieve, I grieve.

  21. Bernie

    SF is not really my cup of tea. However, I do agree on the first Star Wars, Soylent Green and Blade Runner and the apocalytic Mad Max. I also happened to like Predator.
    The Tom Hank’s Apollo movie was also pretty good, but I am sure it may have driven many knowledgeable NASA folks crazy.

    Is Ghostbusters SF or horror or comedy?

  22. Luis Dias

    Oh and people aren’t we forgetting 12 Monkeys? Queer, insane, chaotic, and surprising!

    There’s also K Pax, but I don’t even remember well that one…

  23. Luis Dias

    PS: Bernie, Apollo is not a sci fi movie, it’s an historical movie. And GhostBusters is evidently comedy, though when I was a kid and first saw them both, they really scared the hell out of me!

  24. Bernie

    I guess I am showing my age!!
    I agree 12 Monkeys was pretty good.

  25. WjB

    Highlander???? Replace it with the 5th Element!!!!!

    You have Bruce, amazing space scenes, humor, a plot that doesn’t get deep or too silly, and Lelu– the hottest sci fi girl ever conceived. Highlander has some beefy dudes, toy swords, and a premise only people who sit on the floor of B&N and read comics could love.

    I’m also saddened you didn’t include dune or 12 monkeys.

    Honorable mention goes to: SUNSHINE…It’s too new to be considered a great but it’s the Alien of today.

    P.S. They are remaking The Warriors.

  26. Briggs


    You just like 5th Element because Bruce Willis strips down to a wee tank top.

    Besides, everybody likes Highlander. Not everybody admits it.

  27. Ari

    OK, I just re-read your post, Matt, and realized that you said something… very very incorrect.

    Star Wars I (ANH) is NOT, in any way, better than Empire Strikes Back (ESB). Here is why, using a completely scientific and analytical approach, you are incorrect.

    Let’s assume that Star Wars movies are best defined by the following variables: a) lightsabers; b) Darth Vader kicking ass; c) the excitement of “good vs. evil” (or the “EPIC BATTLE” proxy); d) good quips; and e) The Force

    For the sake of simplicity, let’s give all five variables equal weight. After all, Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without one of the five variables anyway. So let’s compare the two movies:

    a) lightsabers– ESB wins this one hands down. The battle between Luke and Darth Vader was far more exciting than the battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Also, we finally see an appendage get cut off. Clearly ESB.

    b) Darth Vader kicking ass– Is there any doubt here? From the scene that shows Vader in his “super Star Destroyer,” to when he cuts off Luke’s hand, Darth is in top form in ESB. He also chokes someone over an intercom. COME ON.

    c) “Good vs. Evil.”– Hmm, this one is actually tough. The Battle of Yavin (first Death Star) is a lot of fun (“Stay on target!”). On the other hand, ESB has Hoth and the AT-ATs. I’ll say tie on this one. But just barely.

    d) Good quips– OK, so it’s true that ANH has some good quips, but do any of them top: “I’d rather kiss a Wookie!” or “Do or do not, there is no try.” Absolutely not. No way.

    e) The Force– ESB hands down. Yoda lifting the X-Wing, getting all metaphysical about the universe, and Vader trying to bring out the Dark Side in Luke? This is just not even fair. The scant 10 minutes of “Force time” in ANH can’t compare.

    Clearly, ESB is the better movie. Clearly.

  28. Joy

    Ari, Ari! No! you can’t use such tactics, you must use words! I have to admit though, it was sad when Luke lost his hand. Especially when he was so good with the sabre.
    “The sky is full of ships” that’s profound.
    Did you see the BBC series of “Hitchhiker’s guide”? I knew the man who said,
    “Resistance is useless!” He was “The Bishop” in the mediaeval group, very eccentric and not dissimilar to his character in the series. He took his role seriously! (Hope he’s not reading). If you are, hello Bish! Mine was very much a spectator’s role! But I got to wear the frock.

    MDM and Briggs,
    Highlander was Queen “Who wants to live forever” remember?
    But you’ve all missed the best one of all, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
    With Gene Wilder.

  29. Kevin B

    Independance Day should easily make the top ten of anybody’s best SciFi movies.

    Ok, it’s not ‘profound’ like some of your examples, and compressing the whole story into a couple of days leads to some weird plot lines. Like cracking the aliens code and installing a virus in the mothership with an ibook. In a book of the film it would have been a lot of supercomputers and a team of boffins, and taken a month. (And only been resolved in the nick of time.)

    But it’s a movie! Good guys and bad guys and the good guys win!

    I agree that the original Alien was by far the best. I saw it in a theatre with surroundsound and when they were in the hold and the chains started creaking behind me! Scary! Of the rest of the series, only Alien v Predator is worth a look.

    2001 has the opening scene completely wrong. It wasn’t some alien monolith that caused the apes to start bashing each other with clubs. It was a pile of fermented plums. Two apes were lying flat on their backs on the plains of Africa, sozzled out of their skins, when they started to see patterns in the stars. One started making the oooh ooh alarm call for lions and another started making the noise for scorpions then one saw Orion. Inspired by what he saw, he picked up a stick lying near by and, using a handy length of liana,secured it round his waist. The next morning the Alpha male started giving him a hard time and, being as he had the mother of all hangovers, he smacked old Alpha round the head with his new club. Result; new Alpha male.

    And the rest is history.

  30. Briggs


    It’s on! Let’s go point by point.

    a) We saw an appendage cut off in # 1 in the Mos Eisley cantina, the “Wretched hive of scum and villainy.” I’ll give you that Darth striking down Obi—who disappeared into God knows where—was not as good as the longer battle you describe. But it was nothing more than a standard sword fight. The one in Princess Bride was better.

    b) Come on! Luke commits, or tries to commit suicide, after learning The Awful Truth. What a Catlike (starts with ‘p’) object! What beats Darth in the war room in # 1? “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” A line so cool that even my old dad knows it.

    c) Ok, tie.

    d) Quips? Lines? My good sir! The above mentioned lines (“Hive” and “Faith”) I have already demonstrated. “Great kid. Don’t get cocky.” “That’s no moon.” “Ooklah numa” (Guidoo, right before he sucks laser). “You’re a little short for a storm tropper, aren’t you?” And I’m just getting warmed up.

    e) Yoda? A scrunchy muppet in a swamp voiced by Miss Piggy beats Obi Wan’s “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”? Not a chance. In fact, scene for scene, Obi beats Yoda with a sharp stick.

    f) Scenes: I’ll give you # 2’s “I love you” “I know”, but beyond that, not much is better. Where everything is in # 1. Plus, the music was new, everything was new. It was cool, unexpected, different. # 2 (and the rest) are mere extensions.

    I think we can see that I have won handily.

  31. Noblesse Oblige

    “Body Snatchers” (the original with Kevin McCarthy) is number 1 simply because it is the most prescient. The film ends ambiguously. It is not clear whether humanity as we know it will win. Now more than 50 years later, it is clear that the pods won. Political correctness reigns supreme. The multitudes embrace a message of “hope” without thought or critique. Those who resist are pursued. And only a few have managed to remain awake all these years.

    “Things to Come” with Raymond Massey is number 2 because it is the second most prescient. H.G. Wells correctly anticipates the post-modernist rebellion against progresss.

    “The Thing” (the original with James Arness) is the most scary and is really the model for “Alien.” An isolated group of humans is pursued by something relentless and totally evil. The original features fast action and the artful use of doors continually opening and closing. Most of the time only a human is behind the door, but every so often something not human. It rattles the nerves; one never knows when the thing will come on the scene. Beautifully done.

  32. Kevin B

    Oh, and no Men In Black! Much more fun than Ghostbusters.

    And be honest, who hasn’t known someone who is clearly from another planet. Particularly a schoolteacher from your youth!

  33. noahpoah

    I haven’t read the whole post yet, much less the comments, but I feel I need to pick a quick nit:

    Han did shoot first.

    In fact, in the correct, original form of the movie, Greedo didn’t shoot at all, so it’s proper to say simply that Han shot. Click here for documentary evidence.

    Also, click here for a reductio ad absurdum of George Lucas’ bad idea.

  34. Luis Dias

    Ari, that was hilarious! And Correct too! (Sorry, mr Briggs, but I also prefer ESB to ANH)

    Joy, it’s not “deep”, but it worked pretty well in The Independence Day. It was the best part of the movie, and not one of the best parts of the book I mentioned.

    I’m not very good in memorizing lines, but there is another line in The Childhood’s End that is more profound. It’s when the good alien chief teaches mankind a fatal truth: The Stars are not for Man.

    I fully recommend the book, it is astounding, and it’s from the 50s! And if it turned you off, it has nothing to do with The Independence Day. Nothing, except that line (The sky is full of ships).

  35. noahpoah

    Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green, but no Omega Man? Okay, I’ll settle for two brilliant Charlton Heston movies in the top 10 (to 12).

    I liked the first Matrix movie okay, silly but fun and, as you say, nice to look at. The second one was terrible, and the third was unimaginably stupid, both of which facts downgrade the first significantly (p < .001).

    Also, if you haven’t seen Primer [wikipedia], you’re doing yourself a disservice. Excellent movie under any standards, but when you take its budget ($7000) into account, it’s simply astonishing. It richly rewards multiple viewings.

    More typical of low budget sci-fi, and still quite good, is Cube. It is set in a cube.

  36. noahpoah

    Finally, with regard to A New Hope vs. The Empire Strikes Back, two more reasons to support A New Hopes’ superiority:

    1. A New Hope can stand on its own, whereas Empire cannot. Empire is a sequel, and so is worsened.

    2. A forgotten wonderful, quotable line (as you read, listen in your head for, and then savor, Luke Skywalker’s fine whine): “…but I was going to Tashi station to pick up some power converters!”

  37. *Out There* with Bill Campbell, Wendy Schaal, Rod Steiger, Jill St. John, etc.

    *The Loved One* with Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Anjanette Comer, Dana Andrews, Milton Berle, and Rod Steiger again. Maybe this one isn’t SciFci exactly, but it did have rockets.

    *Hitchhiker’s Guide* (abfab, Joy) although it was a TV series not a movie. And if those count, *Dr. Who*, too, and *Babylon 5*.

  38. Ari


    Surely you’re joking, Mr. Briggs!

    a) Bringing in Princess Bride, while a fine movie in its own right, is a non sequitur. We must stick to the galaxy far, far away to correctly gauge this. And I’m going to have to say that you’re missing the key thing that makes the battle in ESB so much better: Luke getting handed his ass. It was just awesome! I mean, one could ALMOST root for Obi-Wan in ANH, but nobody in his right mind could root for Luke in ESB. Darth’s presence is just too cool to not secretly root for him as he throws boxes at the whiny little Jedi.

    b) Luke trying to off his whiny self doesn’t change the fact that Darth is committing random acts of awesome throughout the movie. Tell me that the scene where he chokes the Imperial officer over holo-radio isn’t one of the best scene so of Darth goodness in the entire series? I mean, really!

    c) Agreed.

    d) “The force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet. ”

    “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try”

    “Luke: I don’t, I don’t believe it.
    Yoda: That is why you fail. ” (Is there any better display of Luke being lame than this one? Well, maybe when Darth throws him down the stairs with one push of his lightsaber…”)

    “Darth Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
    Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed him.
    Darth Vader: No. *I* am your father. ” (COME ON! This is the line! THE line!)

    e) See, here’s the thing: I liked watching Yoda berate and belittle Luke because Luke annoyed me so darn much. Obi-Wan was patient, understanding, deliberate, almost *loving.* Ugh. He was an enabler. Watching Luke get brought down to size by a Muppet (I like Muppets, BTW…) was just… fulfilling. I agree, however, that Sir Alec was the finer actor.

    f) Newness is definitely in favor of the first, I’ll grant that. But if we never had had ESB, we never would have had Darth Vader’s theme. And then what would people play in their heads as background music for bad guys? Duh duh duh, duh duh duh… duh duh DUH!

    ESB also saw a slight improvement of Mark Hamill’s acting. Slight.

    Oh, and where’s Raiders of the Lost Ark?

  39. Ari


    Willy Wonka is another movie filled with fantastic lines.

    “Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet.”

    “If the good Lord had intended us to walk he wouldn’t have invented roller-skates. ”

    “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. ”

    “Willy Wonka: But Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he he always wanted.
    Charlie Bucket: What happened?
    Willy Wonka: He lived happily ever after. ”

    “Charlie Bucket: [about the Wonkamobile] Is this going to go fast Grandpa?
    Grandpa Joe: It should, Charlie, it’s got more gas in it than a politician. ”

    And many more! Fantastic movie.

  40. deadwood

    Yup, your twelve matches my top 10 too, except mine goes on to about 20.

    And the Last Starfighter! Me too!

  41. I second Primer. ‘noahpoah’ says that ‘It richly rewards multiple viewings.’ I’d say that it demands multiple viewings. Unless you’re some kind of genius you are otherwise unlikely to fully understand the four dimensional pretzel that is the plot.

    The year of The Matrix (hey, I was excited by it) also saw two other virtual world movies: ‘eXistenZ’ and ‘The Thirteenth Floor’. Neither as stylish as the big M, but the latter in particular has an interesting and involving plot, while the former has Jude Law buried in multiple deep levels of a VR game.

    In my opinion Star Wars is not science fiction. It is an advanture that happens to take place in space. On the other hand Gattaca is a pretty hard core science fiction story even though there are no special effects to speak of and everyone drives around in late 1960s Triumphs and Citroens retrospectively fitted with electric motors.

    For me, science fiction means exploring the implications of some really interesting future development.

    As to Starship Troopers, Prof, I’m shocked! Heinlein wrote the novel as an explicit political statement to the effect that, contra the pacifists of his time, and in response to Eisenhower’s unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, war and military service could be noble, even the highest of enterprises. So controversial was the notion even back in the late fifties that the publisher of his previous dozen novels rejected it.

    Along come Verhoeven and Neumeier and they make a movie which explicitly pours scorn on Heinlein’s theme. They do so in a movie with ludicrous science (a comet is launched from one side of the galaxy to the other by bugs whose only other weapon for distance work is the farting of noxious fireballs, yet can be almost dodged by a spaceship and is detected by the fluid in a glass tilting alarmingly … in a space ship with artificial gravity). The military science is ludicrous (with all of space available, massing your spaceships makes all kinds sense). The coolest gadget of the book — the Mobile Infantry armour, featuring negative feedback sensors for control, and upon which Heinlein lavishes a chapter of description — is missing. The coincidences make me shudder. The military training is mean-spirited (Zim snaps a soldier’s arm on purpose, while in the book he apologizes when he accidentally does it, remarking that he was rushed).

    And, finally, Johnny Rico in the movie is whiter-than-white Casper Van Dien, and ruthlessly ambitious to boot. In the book, Rico is Filipino, and undirected initially, finding his way through experience and the help of others.

  42. bgc

    I think you’re right about the vastly over-rated Matrix; after I watched it I wondered why I had bothered. When it came out it overshadowed a much better film – Dark City. This is a noirish SF thriller (of sorts) with marvellous ambience. The protagonist is a bit of a drip, but this is compensated for by the other characters (including Kiefer Sutherland playing a wonderfully creepy doctor).

    Another film that should be on the list is Them! I was watching this a few weeks back and it stands up surprisingly well. It’s a fun B-movie from the days when the government were the good guys and not out to sell us into alien slavery.

    One British film I’m particularly fond of is “Quatermass and the Pit” (Also titled “Five Million Years to Earth” I think). Part of its appeal is the strange blending of science fiction with a faint feel of the occult that the British managed so well in the sixties and seventies.

    BTW you might like Spiked’s review of the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. A sample: Big-screen aliens come in all shapes and sizes, although invariably, without clothes. They also come with a variety of intentions: some to wage war, others, like ET, to make cheap rate phone calls. In Scott Derrickson’s environmentally correct offering, The Day the Earth Stood Still, they turn up with a far more serious intention: they have come to tell us off.

  43. PG — I liked *Andromeda* too, with Hercules as the Captain, fighting the Nietzcheans, and the sentient starship Andromeda Ascendent, whose avatar was a babe and a half.

  44. Rob R

    Nobody has mentioned “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” which was so whacky as to be brilliant. Not sure if its a musical or if its horror or if its Sci Fi. Perhaps its all of these and more. Anyway its in my top ten, as is “2001”.

    I enjoyed the Matrix but it wouldnt get into my top 20.

    Planet of the Apes makes it. Star Wars is marginal.

    What about A Clockwork Orange? Seriously disturbing back then.

    Independance Day was fun but not particularly thought provoking. Only just above the level of Men in Black, which was fun but nowhere near as good as Rocky Horror.

    Highlander is in my top ten. It makes no real sense but it is fun.

  45. Tomas S

    I second “Primer”, a really excellent budget SF movie.

    And I would like to suggest another movie, “The Man From Earth”, also a low budget movie, and a pretty good one.

  46. Joy

    I agree, “Apollo 13” was the best space film. Since people are all breaking the rules I think it should be allowed in.

    Rob R,
    One of the bit part actresses in “A Clockwork Orange” was my drama teacher. She told of how she was in a scene around a grave wherein they all stood on a ramp to be in correct line of the camera, It was wet, and very, very, slippery, once one started to go from behind, there was no going back.

    No, it goes,
    Duh, duh, duh,,,duh, duh duh,,,,duh, duh duh!
    Da, da, da,,,,,da. Da da da da, da da. Da, da da da da, da da.

    “Independence Day was a good film and especially so on a big screen for the sceen you mentioned.

  47. Noblesse Oblige

    All time greatest science fiction film: “An Inconvenient Truth” Nothing else is even close for audacity, slickness, imagination, and influence.

  48. Bernie

    An Inconvenient Truth? Fiction – Yes, Science – No!

  49. TCOisbanned?

    I agree with your preference for the original versions of SW and BR.

    Possible additions:

    Final Countdown (although it can be argued to be more naval aviation than SF, nevertheless perhaps SF owrks better when it is Chricton-like single element SF.)


    Logan’s Run (If you can man up and admit liking Highlander, I’ll top you.)

    Earth Girls are Easy

    Time Bandits (although maybe this is fantasy?)

    Outland: Desmond Ryan at the Philadelphia Inquirer called it: “A brilliant sci-fi Western. In many ways, Hyams has made a film that is more frightening than Alien , because he surmises that space will change us very little and the real monsters we are liable to encounter will be in the next space suit.

  50. TCOisbanned?3

    Darko is crap. Even funnier when I see little neo-punks think it smart. Siesta did it better. But Vanilla Sky worked for me.

  51. I’d add Time Machine (original). It’s much easier, of course, to come up with a list of worst sci-fi movies, particularly if you’re the old-fashioned sort who thinks sci-fi should be scientific, and fantasy doesn’t qualify.

  52. Timecop was disappointing. They held the whole time travel thing together quite well, I thought, except that eventually the story depended upon the claim that if two versions of the same person touched each other, they would both blow up. Huh?

    Vanilla Sky struck me as a convoluted story only able to be resolved by the primary school student’s trick: ‘and then he woke up’.

    Some of my favourites that haven’t meen mentioned so far, or at least not often enough: 12 Monkeys (the switching of beliefs between Willis and Stowe), The Abyss (an alien world on our world, use of oxygen carrying liquids for breathing), Being John Malkovich, The Boys from Brazil (cloning), The Butterfly Effect, Contact (alien contact and belief), Déjà Vu, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Faculty (in which one of the characters correctly accuses Invasion of the Body Snatchers of being a rip-off of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters), The Fly (the Goldblum one, haven’t seen the other), The Fury (a telekinesis thriller), Kate & Leopold, ‘Life on Mars’ (a British TV series, and it has nothing to do with Mars), Mars Attacks (a barrel of laughs), Next (the logic in the way the character uses his minor precognition talent seems strong), On the Beach (still very moving), Robocop, Rollerball (love those 70’s distopian pics), Sphere (most viewers seem to dislike this one, but I thought the thinking was solid), The Stepford Wives (the serious 1975 Katherine Ross version, of course) and Sunshine (the attention paid to the solar shielding was good)

    And for a ho hum story, but solid science, don’t forget Destination Moon.

    Last, no discussion of science fiction is ever complete without including John Wyndham, so I have to toss in the 1960 version of Village of the Damned (based on Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos). Apparently the BBC are doing yet another Triffids at the moment, which could be interesting.

  53. Why haven’t these movies been mentioned yet:
    The Blob
    The Running Man
    Pitch Black
    THX 1138

    Now I’m not saying they belong in the top 10, I don’t even like the last two, but I assumed people liked them.

    Best. Line. Ever.

  54. Briggs


    How could I have forgotten Running Man!


    Thanks for the review link. Well done.


    Outlander was ok. Little dull in bits. I never loved Time Cop. There was a time when I liked Time Bandits; particularly the scene with John Cleese (but “biological altrusim”? Say it ain’t so!): “Are you are robber, too? Jolly good.”


    Give that I was forced to hear Paul McCartny’s (however he spells it) soul sucking Christmas song twice today, yours is the best music I have heard in a week.


    I think I saw in Troopers not what the director wanted but what Heinlein did. Though you’re right. When it first came out, I excoriated it very much to all who would listen.

    Ari, Ari, Ari. Ari.

  55. Joy

    Ebeneeza Briggs:

    In which scene did Obiwon beat Yoda with a sharp stick? That’s not the Jedi way.
    So devoted were some fans over here to the light side, that they filled out Jedi as their religion on a census form so that the authorities would have to recognise it officially as a religion. “May the fourth being their sacred day.

    Sir Paul McCartney? Soul sucking?
    It wasn’t his shining moment, but worse are the American over noted female singers that sing carols, hitting five notes for every one and hoping that you’ll still get the general idea. I hate that! You begin to wonder whether they can hit a note first time or whether, in fact, they learned the tune before attempting to sing it. They ought to be sent to sing in an English choir, one day for every vulgar and warbled twisted note. Failing that, to Austria where they can learn to yodel, a pretty sound, especially from a distance.
    Can yoda yodel? We will never know.
    Anyway, I’m off topic, it just happened.

  56. Briggs


    Yes, soul sucking. But I’m with you on the purposeful warbling. Pandora has a nice channel called “Jazz Holidays” where presumably by “holiday” they mean Christmas, as there are nothing but Christmas songs.

  57. Big Al

    “Blade runner” the best, notice it’s raining during almost all the movie!
    One from the 50’s “This Island Earth”, the gal is the best screamer in Hollywood!

  58. MrCPhysics

    Guilty Pleasures:

    Star Trek IV
    Logan’s Run
    Last Starfighter
    Star Wars IV (I chronologically)
    Total Recall
    The Fifth Element
    Independence Day
    12 Monkeys
    Men in Black

  59. Joe R.

    I have to put in my two cents for the “Back to the Future” trilogy. I thought it was not only great sci-fi, but a great story well told. The main character grows and learns from his trips through time, and the ending–“the future hasn’t been written yet!”–is consistent with current physics theories about multiple universes.

    “This Island Earth,” “The Last Starfighter,” and even “Galaxy Quest” represent a great genre: the technologically advanced aliens come to earth not to save us, but to get us to help save them.

    And “Brother From Another Planer by John Sayles! The ending was wonderful: the runaway slave/hero is rescued by a crowd of people, but you don’t really know if they are humans or fellow refugee aliens. Talk about low budget–the “aliens” were simply filmed walking backwards, then the film was reversed to make their motions look unnatural.

    I’ll always have a soft spot for “Robinson Crusoe on Mars.” It was silly, but fun.

  60. Joe R.

    I almost forgot “Forbidden Planet”

  61. Hi –

    Sorry for the delay, reality intruded.

    Joe R. – Yes! Robinson Crusoe on Mars! Perhaps one of the penultimate B films from the golden era of B films…

    The film that inspired much of Alien was called “Terrore Nello Spazio”, which translates (badly) as “Terror from Space”, and was called “The Planet of Vampires”:

    It was one of the most popular unknown movies that we screened at the film club, and it was really, really, really badly acted. But the basics remain: ship hear a distress signal, goes down, and one by one the crew are killed off/possessed. The visit to the alien spacecraft, long abandoned and populated by apparent giants, was something that Scott used for the atmosphere on the alien ship on the planet in Alien.

    Directed by the same man who made one of the worst movies ever, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (Meet the girls with thermonuclear navels!).


  62. Robinson Crusoe on Mars! Perhaps one of the penultimate B films from the golden era of B films…

    I saw that in the theater when it came out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to oil my wheelchair.

  63. John Gorter

    Animated – Wall. E. In flight movie, after dinner.

  64. Joseph Sydney

    Might I suggest ‘The Tempest’ aka ‘Forbidden Planet’ ?

  65. D Johnson

    I’m sure it doesn’t merit a top ten spot, but “Destination Moon”, together with a Collier’s Magazine article by Wehrner Von Braun, probably had a boyish influence on me that led to me to spend ten years involved with the Gemini and Apollo programs.

    And I agree that Apollo 13 was the best (and most accurate) space movie. Decidedly NOT fiction.

  66. Lance

    Mr Briggs,

    How old were you when you watched 2001: A Space Odyssey? Did you watch it on a 13 inch TV in the game room with your sister whining about missing The Love Boat?

    Boring? Since you were thirteen when you first saw Star Wars, a film that plays like a Saturday morning cartoon compared to Kubrick’s masterpiece, I’ll assume that you didn’t see it in the theatre. While its pace may seem a bit slow compared with the hyperkinetic inanity of stooges in white plastic suites haphazardly firing laser rifles at teenagers wielding buzzing popsicles, the underlying enigma was meant to be confounding.

    Try renting it on BlueRay disc and watching it in surround sound on a decent sized HD TV or even better seeing it in the theatre.

    At least you praised the “physics”. Seeing the Discovery slowly displace the screen of non-twinkling stars with its engines blasting in complete profound silence further embarrasses the silly roaring noises of Lucas’s Keystone cops space-fight scenes. (Wanna tell me what those “x-wings” were supposed to be doing in space?)

    Uh, also what was that “Being first does not mean being good (hear that, Beatles fans?).” remark supposed to mean?

    Am I going to have to respond to a Top Ten Rock Groups list that leaves out the Beatles for Christ’s sake?

    Just when I was really starting to respect your opinions too….

  67. Briggs


    Excellent question. I’ve seen 2001 several times, most recently about two weeks ago when it was on TCM on a fairly decent TV set. Though I do remember my ma and sister insisting about Love Boat, which I had forgotten about until you jogged my memory.

    2001 was pretty enough, but I just didn’t love it. I did love, like I said above, that it got the physics right. Of course I liked the music. I think I am being unduly influenced by the book, to which the movie did not closely stick. I read the book first, and have read it more than once, thus I felt the ending of the movie was silly.

    You’re absolutely right about Star Wars, too. It is silly, syrupy, and even stupid in parts. But I did love it. Strangely, even though I own it, I watch it very rarely. I think it might be more of a kids movie, which is what I was when I first saw it (many times, then). It appealed to everything that built into the desire centers of teenage boys: adventure and killing bad guys. What was not to love?

    And, yes, your top 10 list would have to leave out that particular musical combo. Their music is tinny sounding to point of being monotonic, has nauseatingly repetitive lyrics, narrow scope and limited range, and hurts to listen to. True—I’ll anticipate your objection—most modern musical groups share the same failings, yet they are successful. Still, this is no excuse. Let me introduce you to Oscar Peterson.

    But if you can convince me by creating such a list as you propose, explaining where and how the members of that list are just as good as Art Tatum, Van Cliburn, Fats Waller, Artur Schnabel, Eubie Blake, Vladimir Horowitz, or Thelonius Monk (to stick just to the piano), then I’ll change my mind.

  68. I agree with many (12 Monkeys, Terminator, Alien, 5th Element), but must include:

    Equilibrium – Gun Kata, a dystopia caused by removing hatred
    Primer – really crazy and crazed time travel problems
    Gattaca – when genetic code knowledge becomes elitism
    Pi – The search for the ultimate number (and it is not 42!)
    eXistenZ – Games within Games
    Thirteenth Floor – Worlds within Worlds

    And for good mention: FutureSport (an interesting remake of Rollerball. It suffers from some movie cliches, but is overall quite watchable).

  69. Lance

    Mr. Briggs,

    I must also admit that I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was 13 and in the theatre in Super Panavision 70 Cinerama, the 1960’s analog of IMax.

    It was close to a religious experience.

    It was also my first real exposure to classical music at least composers as esoteric as Ligeti.

    I also have read the book, several times, and as you probably know it was released after the movie, so Arthur C. Clarke was allowed the luxury of making the ending a bit more understandable which I’m not sure is an improvement.

    Why should the evolution of humans, to our next phase, be comprehensible to us?

    Also I actually like Star Wars for what it is a kid’s movie as you point out.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about the Fab Four. While I agree the artists you list are impressive in their own right you slight the Beatles if you consider them just another unimaginative rock group.

  70. Earle Williams

    What, no <i?Tremors? Best B movie ev-ar! 🙂

  71. Earle Williams

    OK, should be Tremors in italics. Missed the preview button.

  72. Briggs


    Yes, Tremors! I completely forgot about it.

  73. Man Facing Southeast — my #1.

  74. Earle Williams

    I will now indulge in a bit of thread abuse. Matt, I hope you’ll delete this if you find it too egregious. I witnessed something in a television show that I see all too frequently in movies as well and it just drives me batty.

    I caught the tail end (or maybe beginning) of a scene from Heroes last night. A sincere serious-looking individual was pointing a semi-automatic pistol at the presumed villain. Mr. Serious presented the posture and intent of being ready to pull the trigger. Mr. Villain says “I don’t think you have the nerve” at which point Mr. Serious reaches up with his thumb and cocks the pistol. Or did he release the safety? Dunno. Actually this wasn’t so bad. Many is the time where the goon holding a gun, in order to emphasize just how serious he is, cycles the action thereby chambering a round. What the heck? No unspent round ejects when this happens, so the goon was standing there pointing his firearm at the head of some poor shmuck and there was no round in the chamber. Who hired that guy?

    Sorry for the little rant. I’m by no means a shooting expert or fanatic and watching these Hollywood gaffes just grates on my nerves. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone who handles firearms professionally, even the real world goons and thugs.

    So, getting back to science fiction movies, how about all those cool sound effects from explosions in space? With no atmosphere how does the sound propagate? And those banking maneuvers done in the absence of atmosphere? Howzat?

    Feh, getting excessively curmudgeonly. Not good this time of year, I might get mistake for a scrooge. I had better wish everyone Happy Holidays and go stimulate the economy. 😉

  75. Earle Williams

    Not sci-fi, I know, but how do you classify Big Trouble in Little China?

    Oh, and don’t forget Repo Man… “The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.”

  76. meimie

    i adore Star Trek, Star Wars and Dune.

    i like star wars revenge of the sith, attack of the clones, and the empire strikes back the best. personally i think that the books are WAY better than the movies. except Anakin, 🙂 i am a 14 year-old girl.

    Dune is my favorite book and is also my fav movie. it is so well written and all around amazing! i like the miniseries better than the original movie. i have watched and read them ALOT of times. and when i say alot i mean like 20.

    my favorite star trek series would have to be DS9. my fav movie is Nemesis. i just love how the whole locutus and borg thing comes back. the only down side is there are not enough Klingons. KILNGONS ARE SO AWESOME! they have this code of honor but kill with ease. everything about them is complicated and intense. they are overall my favorite species in the whole scifi world.

    the movie irobot was good but it wasn’t like the book. the only thing they have in common is the three laws of robotics.

    Personally I like the second Alien movie the best out of all the Alien movies. i still do not understand why they are rated R. I like the 2nd one the best cuz they just come in with guns and start blasting everything up. i know that is not a good reason and i love it for other reasons too. it’s just kindda hard to explain why exactly i like it. You know the feeling?

    Predator was a good movie too. i have only seen the first predator movie and alien v. preditor. i have no intention of watching the other predator movies cuz they do not have Arnold in them.

  77. TCO

    What would you call Brazil?

  78. Febra

    There was a sci-fic movie made in Britian I believe from 60’s I believe. A space ship in found underground, kinda spooky. Would love to find out the name of it and a copy if possible. Any help on name of the movie?

  79. anonymous

    The HAL shutdown in 2001 is, in my opinion, one of the greatest sci-fi scenes ever put to the screen.
    If you haven’t seen it go watch it. If you have go watch it and remember the awesomeness.

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