Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

Sister M sent me a link to the Guardian Newspaper's rankings of the top 10 science fiction movies of all time. I pretty much agree with their list. Here it is:

1. Blade Runner
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
3. Star Wars (New Hope & Empire)
4. Alien
5. Solaris (1972 version)
6. The Terminator/T2
7. The Day the Earth Stood Still
8. War of the Worlds (1953 version)
9. The Matrix
10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

For once I didn't read one of these lists and shake my head.

This is a good list. I must say, however, that I haven't seen Solaris and only parts of The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds. But I like the explanations the Guardian gave and I give them credit for acknowledging the true titans of sci-fi.

Let's examine:

Blade Runner is a very deserving choice, though this will not sit well with many folks. Like the number two choice, many people find Blade Runner dull. From personal observation, I'd surmise that this is mostly due to the fact that they saw the director's cut the first time and not the theatrical version. Purists will roll their eyes, but I personally think the theatrical version is better (good luck finding it - it disappeared off the face of the Earth). I enjoyed the monotone film noir narration, and if it's your first time seeing the flick I find it hard to believe you'll catch all the issues and themes without it. This movie still looks great and was sooo far ahead of its time in terms of aesthetic that it should be required viewing for any film fan.

Personally, I might have dropped 2001 a little further down the list, but I have no problems with it being number two on the Guardian's list. It's a classic, no doubt about it. It's so effed up and took so many chances that it deserves to be way up there on any list of sci-fi or overall films. But it's definitely a little dull and not everyone's cup of tea.

Star Wars is one of my favourite films of all time. I probably would have had this number two, if not number one. When you consider the Guardian paired the first two released films, well, hard to deny it the top spot with twice the firepower. This was the film for my generation. It inspired us, thrilled us and revolutionized the toy industry. If you owned the Millenium Falcon, you were a god. Add the fact that this movie had virtual no-names leading its cast (Hamill, Fisher, Ford) and was essentially a fairy tale set in space, and you've got to give it huge props. The themes were timeless, the performances were terrific, the look was sharp, the film technology was revolutionary...Yeah, I think this probably deserved to be number one. Oh, right, and then there was Vader. Best. Villain. Ever.

Considering episodes 4 & 5 of Star Wars were lumped together (and T1 & T2), I wonder why Alien and Aliens were not. I actually think Aliens might have been the more complete film. It had everything, especially in the longer version. Even if they're separate, I think Aliens should have made the list. Regardless, the original Alien was a great flick that scared the crap out of teenagers in the 70's. It also featured one of the hottest, most memorable deaths put to film.

Solaris: didn't see it, plan to see at least the updated version, so didn't even read the description. Don't wanna spoil it. I'll assume they know what they're talking about.

The Terminator was way better than T2. WAY better. Not even close. Way better performances, way better story, way more theatening. Arnold didn't have to act as much and barely spoke. 'Nuff said. If it weren't for the special effects and great cinematography, you could even mention T2 in the same breath as this list. The Terminator deserves to be on this list. Alone.

Can't really speak for The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds, so I'll skip 'em.

The Matrix is a modern classic. How often do you see a movie these days and say, "Wow"? The Matrix was stylish, compelling, and more than a little religious. It seemed so original in so many ways that it is a natural choice for this list. Would it have been better without Canoehead Reeves? Maybe. Too bad the sequels dropped the ball.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a classic, no doubt, but I'm not sure it's top ten material. It's epic, grandiose, well shot and charming, but when you reflect one it...there ain't much there. The script might have been 5 pages.

Hold on...where the f**k is E.T.!?

F**k all that sh*t: here's my personal list of favs (not "greatest"):

1. Star Wars
2. Blade Runner
(very close)
3. Empire Strikes Back
4. Predator
(More "action", but it has an alien, for Pete's sake)
5. Aliens
6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
7. E.T.
8. The Terminator
9. The Matrix

10. Alien

I left some off that I felt weren't really "sci-fi", like Escape from New York and 28 Days Later (both would have made the list for sure). There's a fine line between Science Fiction and Fantasy. Science Fiction to me involves either aliens or a level of science that is far beyond our current levels. EfNY isn't that far-fetched. 28 Days Later is essentially a zombie movie/horror. Superhero movies are fantasy for the most part. Lord of the Rings is fantasy, and so is Harry Potter (though it's a moot point for that Harry Potter shite). Is Donnie Darko sci-fi? Back to the Future? I guess so...Both would have still missed the cut. Honourable mention to Jurassic Park for the innovative effects. I also really liked AI, despite the terrible ending.

Now go forth and rent some of these classics!

Billy: I'm scared Poncho.
Poncho: Bullshit. You ain't afraid of no man.
Billy: There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man. We're all gonna die.
- Richard Chaves and Sonny Landham size up their odds in 1987's Predator


Art said...

Great list, but would also include ...Time After Time, The Thing, Planet of the Apes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Westworld, Soylent Green....damn my list is just too long!

Reel Fanatic said...

I wouldn't vote Donnie Darko in as sci-fi, and therefore would definitely near the top of my favorites .. It took me at least three times watching it to begin to understand it, which for me is the real mark of great mind-bending sci fi

PS said...

Art: Yeah, I considered all of those, and liked them all, but they just didn't crack the top ten of my favs. (Remember the belly "jaws" in The Thing (Carpenter version)? Freaky.) I, too, realized ten is a very small number when compiling my list. Westworld is definitely a guilty pleasure.

RF: So you mean you *would* vote it in as sci-fi? It was definitely messed up and had a great vibe to it, but look at what it's up against. Again, it just doesn't crack my top ten. But, to me, it's fantasy - I have an easier time lumping it in with Harry Potter than I do with Planet of the Apes, you know?

Thanks for posting, guys.