The Things to Come Page

Introduction
HAL Has You
 

This article has a collection of thought provoking science fiction (SF) movies. It surveys an exciting range of imaginative technology, computers, futuristic visions, and underlying modernism. In most cases the films portray compelling possibilities for progress, speculative ideas, or "what if" thought experiments.

The article has a top 100 list of the best SF films of all time, as rated by film critics and users. The ranking is calculated from online critic and user ratings. We can't change the ranking of these films unless the user or critic ratings change, but you can rate the films at the sites that we use as sources. The meta-ratings and grades throughout the pages are also calculated by these source ratings.

Next is our editor favorites presented in a short list of 30+ SF essentials. The goal is to emphasize films that are supportive of future science or technology, or films that are semi-pure to SF, timeless in their visions, or dense with SF gems. The movies don't need high ratings, broad appeal, or box office success; they only need to have excellent or unique SF thought experiments. We also have dedicated decade pages for our complete editor picks of the greatest science fiction movies.

You can compare our comprehensive meta-scores to the ratings of other sites for perspective. Our meta-scores help to understand the Internet buzz for a movie, but they aren't intended as the sole indicator of a movie's quality or to reduce film art and criticism to numbers (our editor choice lists ignore the hype and attempt to comment on the most fascinating SF movies).

Spoiler Warning: Possible unintentional or minor spoilers follow.

Index
 

Quick Links

 

Complete Editor Picks and Dedicated SF Pages

 

Most Recent Changes

  • Added entries for "Through the Wormhole", "The Right Stuff", and "When We Left Earth". Stranger Than Fiction. June 24-26, 2011.
  • Added Gojira (#31), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (#57), Cube (#91). Two new films on the Top 10 Worst SF. The Top 100+ SF Movies. June 20-22, 2011.
  • Added entries for The Sky Crawlers, Gamer, The Time Traveler's Wife, and expanded Inception. Best of 2000s. June 20-22, 2011.
I. Best Internet Buzz: The Top 100 Science Fiction Movies of All Time, a Poll of Polls List
 

[*Critics Choice (Best Avg. Critic Ratings with 93.7)]

[*Users Choice (Best Avg. User Ratings with 86) goes to “Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back” (1980, 85.7/A+)]

[*Series: VI - Return of the Jedi (1983, 74.8/B+)]

[*Series: BF II (1989, 70.6/B), BF III (1990, 69/B)]

[*Series: Alien (1979, 82.8/A)]

[*Series: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, 78.5/A-)]

[*Series: Iron Man 2 (2010, 68.2/B)]

[*Series: III: Search for Spock (1984, 66.6/B-), IV: Voyage Home (1986, 70.9/B), VI: Undiscovered Country (1991, 70.3/B)]

[*Series: The Matrix Reloaded (2003, 68.2/B)]

[*Series: Mad Max (1979, 73.6/B+)]

[*Series: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004, 69.8/B)]

  1. Metropolis (1927, 87.5/A+)

  2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977, 86.7/A+)

  3. WALL·E (2008, 86.3/A+)

  4. Back to the Future (1985, 84.3/A+)

  5. Aliens (1986, 84.2/A+)

  6. La Jetée (The Pier) (1962, 83.7/A)

  7. Blade Runner (1982, 83.7/A)

  8. Solaris (1972, 82.8/A)

  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, 82.8/A)

  10. Star Trek (2009, 82.7/A)

  11. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, 81.5/A)

  12. Avatar (2009, 81.4/A)

  13. Brazil (1985, 81.3/A)

  14. A Clockwork Orange (1971, 81.2/A)

  15. Inception (2010, 81.1/A)

  16. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 81/A)

  17. The Terminator (1984, 80.7/A)

  18. Iron Man (2008, 80/A)

  19. The Invisible Man (1933, 79.7/A-)

  20. The Truman Show (1998, 79.3/A-)

  21. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, 79.3/A-)

  22. Akira (1988, 78.5/A-)

  23. Children of Men (2006, 78.3/A-)

  24. Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan (1982, 78.3/A-)

  25. The Matrix (1999, 78.2/A-)

  26. The Thing (1982, 78/A-)

  27. Seconds (1966, 77.8/A-)

  28. Forbidden Planet (1956, 77.6/A-)

  29. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981, 77.5/A-)

  30. District 9 (2009, 77.4/A-)

  31. Gojira (1954, 77/A-)

    [*US Version: Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956, 72.7/B+)]

  32. The Face of Another (1966, 77/A-)

  33. The Man in the White Suit (1952, 76.5/A-)

  34. Minority Report (2002, 76.2/A-)

  35. Twelve Monkeys (1996, 75.7/B+)

  36. Ghost in the Shell (1995, 75.6/B+)

  37. Alphaville (1965, 75.5/B+)

  38. Sleeper (1973, 75.5/B+)

  39. Planet of the Apes (1968, 75.4/B+)

  40. Moon (2009, 75.4/B+)

  41. The Fly (1986, 75.3/B+)

  42. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, 75.3/B+)

  43. Serenity (2005, 75.2/B+)

  44. Jurassic Park (1993, 74.8/B+)

  45. Them! (1954, 74.2/B+)

  46. Fantastic Planet (1973, 73.8/B+)

  47. The Thing From Another World (1951, 73.8/B+)

  48. Pi (1998, 73.5/B+)

  49. Fahrenheit 451 (1966, 73.5/B+)

  50. Metropolis (2001, 73.2/B+)

  51. Star Trek: First Contact (1996, 73.2/B+)

  52. The Abyss (1989, 73/B+)

  53. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976, 72.7/B+)

  54. Men in Black (1997, 72.7/B+)

  55. The Time Machine (1960, 72.5/B+)

  56. Village of the Damned (1960, 72.5/B+)

  57. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954, 72.5/B+)

  58. Dark City (1998, 72.2/B+)

  59. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005, 72.2/B+)

  60. Gattaca (1997, 71.8/B)

  61. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, 71.8/B)

  62. Wings of Honneamise (1987, 71.3/B)

  63. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970, 71.3/B)

  64. Videodrome (1983, 71/B)

  65. Slaughterhouse-Five (1972, 71/B)

  66. Robocop (1987, 71/B)

  67. War of the Worlds (1953, 70.8/B)

  68. Five Million Years to Earth (Quartermass and the Pit) (1967, 70.8/B)

  69. Escape from New York (1981, 70.6/B)

  70. Westworld (1973, 70/B)

  71. Things to Come (1936, 70.2/B)

  72. The Fly (1958, 69.7/B)

  73. Galaxy Quest (1999, 69.7/B)

  74. Transformers (2007, 69.5/B)

  75. Time After Time (1979, 69.5/B)

  76. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984, 69.3/B)

  77. Fantastic Voyage (1966, 69.3/B)

  78. I Am Legend (2007, 69.3/B)

  79. The Hidden (1987, 69/B)

  80. Total Recall (1990, 68.8/B)

  81. Contact (1997, 68.8/B)

  82. Sunshine (2007, 68.7/B)

  83. The Fifth Element (1997, 68.5/B)

  84. THX 1138 (1971, 68.5/B)

  85. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959, 68.5/B)

  86. TRON (1982, 68.5/B)

  87. Death Race 2000 (1975, 68.3/B)

  88. Primer (2004, 68/B)

  89. Soylent Green (1973, 68/B)

  90. Altered States (1980, 68/B)

  91. Cube (1997, 67.8/B-)

  92. The Andromeda Strain (1971, 67.7/B-)

  93. War of the Worlds (2005, 67.5/B-)

  94. A Scanner Darkly (2006, 67.3/B-)

  95. Steamboy (2004, 67.3/B-)

  96. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, 67.3/B-)

  97. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964, 67.3/B-)

  98. Silent Running (1972, 67.1/B-)

  99. Predator (1987, 66.8/B-)

  100. AI Artificial Intelligence (2001, 66.8/B-)


 

Top Decades -- The Top 100 has the following distribution of films by decade:

1920s: 1 1960s: 12 1990s: 15
1930s: 2 1970s: 17 2000s: 19
1950s: 13 1980s: 20 2010s: 1
 

Top 10 Worst SF -- For when you're in a mood to see a really bad movie:

  1. Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000, 26/E)
  2. Rollerball (2002, 32/E)
  3. Barb Wire (1996, 38/E)
  4. A Sound of Thunder (2005, 38/E)
  5. Skyline (2010, 40/E)
  6. Supernova (2000, 40/D-)
  7. The Incredible Melting Man (1977, 41.5/D-)
  8. Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004, 43/D-)
  9. RoboCop 3 (1993, 43/D-)
  10. AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem (2007, 43/D-)
 

Top 10 User Snub List -- Here are SF films that users gave significantly higher ratings than sometimes snobbish critic meta-ratings, while also giving good user ratings (at least as high as the lowest meta-score on the top 100):

  1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (+30)
  2. Equilibrium (+27)
  3. Appleseed (+26)
  4. Returner (+25)
  5. The Chronicles of Riddick (+22)
  6. Tron Legacy (+18)
  7. Predator (+17)
  8. Transformers (+17)
  9. Bicentennial Man (+17)
  10. Terminator Salvation (+16)

 

Movies are ranked by a poll of polls rating gathered from various sites.

Formula: =(Average(MRQE.com; Rottentomatoes.com *10; Metacritic.com; Moverreviewintelligence.com) + Average(Netflix.com *20; Flixter.com *20; IMDb.com *10)) /2

Secondary formula for (typically older) films with fewer than 20 critic ratings: =Average(RT *10; Netflix *20; Flixter *20; IMDb *10)

Often these sites have multiple rating systems. We only choose qualitative averages. For Flixter user ratings, we used the user average shown on Rotten Tomatoes. The Metacritic and MRI ratings aren't available for older films, so the number of sources varies. However, four sources and 1000 user votes were required to receive our meta-score.

The max score is 100 in theory, but since no movie scored higher than 87.5, grades were awarded as follows: A-Excellent (88-76.1), B-Above Average (76-64.1), C-Average (64-52.1), D-Poor (52-40.1), E-Terrible (40-0).

Some popular series brands are in brackets to allow diversity, but only if they would have made the Top 100 and are within a decade of the base film. Some high quality and unique films get placed in brackets, but this rule keeps us consistent.

To keep the list as SF oriented as possible, some films are excluded when a major database site (IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Netflix, MRQE, Wikipedia, etc.) didn't think to tag them as SF, or if they were listed as "SF & Fantasy" for fantasy. However, if a film is about progress or has unique ideas, then we may include it if it doesn't fail at one of these standards:

We exclude (a) films that emphasize supernatural powers (superhero films, Ghostbusters); (b) monster-horror films (but we follow Vivian Sobchack by including "creatures", such as those produced by mutation or radiation); (c) other films with weak or minor SF elements that aren't central enough (such as some kids films, comedies, etc.).

II. Editor Essentials: Top 30+ Science Fiction Movies by Decade
 

Metropolis (1927). Meta-Score: 88/A+

Envisions a future industrial-city complex in which underground workers rebel (under the direction of a female humanoid and a mad-scientist) against a tyrant tycoon. The mad scientist creates a mechanical robot, but it was imagined prior to digital machines and so lacks realistic artificial intelligence. However, the robot transforms into a sort of human-Frankenstein monster, so it reflects the desire of humans to master nature and control it as in Shelley's Frankenstein. It also portrays central monitoring and a control desk for invasive workplace supervision.

Starring: Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Based on the novel by Thea von Harbou. Directed by Fritz Lang.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

H. G. Wells' Things to Come (1936). Meta-Score: 70/B

Flat Panel Desk IntercomThe first 2 parts seek to reduce to absurdity the rise of wasteful wars and rule by nationalist barbarians. The 3rd part speculates that progress and exploration toward the moon and beyond is the key to ensuring a meaningful use of human talents. It depicts a space launcher and a helicopter, along with inventive mass communication devices, elevators, flat screen panels, and wireless intercoms. The pro-progress characters (the two Cabals) believe humanity could 'live forever' by protecting the freedom of the governing council to engage in science, preserving their experiments and progress for future generations, and always standing on our humanity as if on the shoulders of giants. Some viewers dismiss it as naive, but Arthur C. Clarke suggested it as one of the best SF films ever. Notes: The DVD has a colorized version. Watch the full movie in B&W at IMDb (free via Internet Archive).

Starring: Raymond Massey. Based on a novel by H. G. Wells: "The Shape of Things to Come". Directed by William Menzies.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Technovelgy / News

 

Destination Moon (1950). Meta-Score: 58/C

Portrays a mission to the moon by plausible scientific theory and by business/engineering know how. It also has a semi-modern rocket launch and a differential analyzer (an actual mechanical computer from the 50s), scientific equipment to investigate the moon (telescope, Geiger counter), and communications between astronauts on the moon and reporters on earth. It symbolizes its moon landing as a claim on the moon for all mankind, and it has lighthearted moments with a Woody Woodpecker cartoon to demonstrate space flight.

Starring: John Archer, Warner Anderson, Tom Powers. Screenplay by SF guru Robert Heinlein, Alford Van Ronkel, James O'Hanlon. Produced by George Pal. Directed by Irving Pichel.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Meta-Score: 79/A-

Includes the traditional flying saucer, a ray gun effect, and a cool guardian robot. A Martian (Klaatu) displays a love for peace by use of robotic force, and (Einstein-like) scientists are sought as ambassadors to unite our warring planet of divided nations. The full idea of the robot (Gort) is fascinating and also the high esteem held for scientists (such as portraying an Einstein-like scientist and having Klaatu discuss science with an excited human child).

B&W. Starring: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe. Based on a story by Harry Bates: Farewell to the Master. Directed by Robert Wise.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

When Worlds Collide (1951). Meta-Score: 64/C+

1950s Differential AnalyzerA pair of astronomers calculate a massive threat to earth (using telescopes and a differential analyzer), and (with a rich financier) make plans to build an ark with 44 people, microfilms of our knowledge, and many animals. Can they flee to a new world in time against the law of the jungle and general panic?

Starring: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen. Based on the novel by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. Produced by George Pal. Directed by Rudolph Maté.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

The War of the Worlds (1953). Meta-Score: 71/B

The ultimate classic alien invasion movie in which the aliens treat us as lower life forms, best left destroyed! The special effects were good at the time, but now look outdated. Nevertheless, it's arguably still the best version.

Starring: Gene Barry. Based on the novel by H. G. Wells. Directed by Byron Haskin.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Forbidden Planet (1956). Meta-Score: 78/A-

Has an advanced robot (Robby!), a machine for improving human intelligence, supercomputers for running an ancient alien civilization (the Krell), a hovercraft, and semi-virtually projected creatures (or a dangerous materializing-Freudian-id!). It is a movie rich in ideas as a Star Trek-like crew investigates a planet (Altair IV) and unknowingly run into a lot of trouble and a tempest.

Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen. Directed by Fred Wilcox.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

The Time Machine (1960). Meta-Score: 73/B+

This is the classic time machine story, with a fantastic demonstration of an object entering the 4th dimension from the point of view of people in the present. The second half is interesting because it might signify a future in which some humans evolve into a different species (becoming cannibals called the Morlocks) and in which our future human descendants (the Eloi) become like hedonistic cattle (with little interest in science and progress).

Starring: Rod Taylor. Based on the novel by H. G. Wells. Directed by George Pal.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Village of the Damned (1960). Meta-Score: 73/B+

A group of creepy children with blond hair are dangerous mind controllers gifted in self-defense, mind reading, and stoicism. They are psychically linked together in a collective of brainpower, with the potential to help make advances in science and contact with aliens on other worlds.

Starring: George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens. Based on a novel by John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos. Directed by Wolf Rilla.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). Meta-Score: 67/B-

Begins with a NASA inspired space sequence (using typical astronaut talk, procedure, ship detachments, plausible landers) with U.S. astronauts orbiting and researching Mars. After a forced crash landing, most of the middle of the film is about the struggle of astronaut 'Kit' Draper (Paul Mantee) to survive and overcome isolation. The documentary smartly notes that the stranded astronaut explores many different environments on Mars in contrast to George Lucas' frequent tendency to portray one environment per planet (desert planet, city planet, etc.). Haskin wanted scientific realism (except for a few dramatic fireballs) and so the film is like a time-capsule of our understanding (and misunderstanding) of Mars at that time. It makes Mars feel alien by using a red sky and locations like Death Valley National Park, California, and it has a few noteworthy gadgets (miniature camera, portable radar and omnicom).

Starring: Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin. Directed by Byron Haskin.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Fantastic Voyage (1966). Meta-Score: 69/B

Following in the tradition of The Incredible Shrinking Man, the film voyages to the micro "universe" within. A revolutionary scientist invents stable miniaturization technology, but after suffering an injury his secrets threaten to die with him. A team uses a miniature vessel (the Proteus) to try to heal the scientist. Most such movies about the micro world lack scientific credibility in the details, but they allow us to adopt a different perspective and to use similar thought processes that some scientists use in thought experiments. For example, Carl Sagan compares us to little universes (Cosmos #2).

Starring: Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence. See the novel of the same name by Isaac Asimov. Directed by Richard Fleischer.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Meta-Score: 83/A

It achieves excellence for its vision of realistic space flight, speculative spacecrafts, HAL 9000 (as a sentient computer or simulator of sentience), possibly an ancient alien transport and information pathway system (in the Star Gate sequence), a star child (perhaps an intelligent space dwelling being), and alien technology (the Monolith) that is so advanced in science it would look to us like magic. Perhaps it flaunts a Nietzschean-like evolution of intelligence from our ape ancestors, to humans, to machines, to a star child.

Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester. Based on short stories by Arthur C. Clarke. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Archive | Technovelgy / News

 

Colossus - the Forbin Project (1970). Meta-Score: 71/B

ColossusIncludes two supercomputers and a novel vision of computer led progress. Imagines a situation in which two governments (U.S. & Russia) decide to give super-computers control of their respective nuclear weapons, replacing flawed human decision-making with superior processing and hard cold logic. The two machines develop a new mathematical language, advance us years in science, and take control of a few things too.

Starring: Eric Braeden. Based on a novel by D. F. Jones: Colossus. Directed by Joseph Sargent.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

The Andromeda Strain (1971). Meta-Score: 68/B-

Includes a medical computer, automated decontamination systems, robotic arms, and SF questions about new forms of life. The epitome of SF: A team of elite scientists uses an intricate and secret underground research lab to investigate alien microorganisms (before it is too late). The novel includes discussions about the most likely alien lifeforms, co-evolution of life, and skepticism over the survival value of human intelligence.

Starring: James Olson, Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid. Based on the excellent novel by Michael Crichton. Directed by Robert Wise.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Technovelgy / News

 

Logan's Run (1976). Meta-Score: 63/C

Palm FlowerShowcases a civilization policed by sandmen (privileged police officers) and governed by strict age limits and religious-conditioning (involving beliefs about 'afterlife renewal'). The best part is its portrayal of a hedonist lifestyle that encourages sandmen to summon beautiful people from some sort of teleportation system! Includes an authoritarian computer, imaginative technology, and cosmetic surgery. The weak ending is built around an encounter with a mad robot and Logan's exploration of a post-apocalyptic civilization outside the dome.

Starring: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan. Based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George C. Johnson. Directed by Michael Anderson.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Tech News

 

Star Wars (1977-1983, 1999-2005)

Inspires scientists to create gadgets that mimic things in the movies, and sends fans into a frenzy of imagination about SF possibilities such as strange new aliens and new civilizations. It follows that it must be made by a director who likes to put cool characters in alien worlds and have them play around with gadgets. And then totally refashion his first three movies with the newest of computer technology. Although Star Wars is on the opposite end of the spectrum from movies like 2001, so are many computer programmers and a bunch of other nerds who love technology, popular science, and progress.

Written and produced by George Lucas.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia | Technovelgy / News

 

Alien (1979), 83/A. Aliens (1986), 84/A+

Contains many SF themes such as a central computer and an alien race, along with a heavy dose of spaceships, androids, cryogenic freezers, controlling corporations, and creative H. R. Giger designs. The first film, Alien, begins with an excellent, patient opening space sequence and investigation of the alien-infested spaceship. In the second film, Aliens, a group of marines enlist Ripley as an adviser to help investigate a terraforming colony (on LV-426). The marines have all sorts of weapons technology and an android (Bishop), but they bring along a watchful corporate official who secretly wants to preserve aliens for their immense biological warfare potential.

Starring: Sigourney Weaver. Alien, Dir. Ridley Scott. Aliens, Dir. James Cameron.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Blade Runner (1982). Meta-Score: 84/A

Achieves excellence in its portrayal of a futuristic cityscape, its density of SF gems, and its realism. It asks us whether we ought to extend ethical consideration to replicants when we know they are machines and when Deckard must use a complicated Voight-Kampf empathy test to try to detect them, i.e. when Tyrell designs them to be "more human than human." Also includes an Esper picture analyzer, genetic engineering (eyes, tiny logos), massive advertising (airships, moving images), and hovercrafts/flying cars.

Blade Runner Advertising

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah. Based on a novel by Philip K. Dick (P.K.D.): Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Directed by Ridley Scott.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia | Technovelgy / News

 

The Thing (1982). Meta-Score: 78/A-

Paranoia is let loose when aliens are found to be genetic mimickers and body invaders of any species. In some ways it is closer to John W. Campbell's Who Goes There? than the original movie. The arctic locations are nicely atmospheric and the all male cast is noteworthy, but (like the original) it doesn't fully develop an interesting back story to the alien. The SF elements pose fascinating possibilities: an alien could seed other planets, invade and mimic diverse species, and either quickly learn about them (to transmit data back home) or increase their chances of survival. But the idea is vague on how alien explorers -- just on the basis of their genetics -- could know to send back information to their home world.

Starring: Kurt Russell. Directed by John Carpenter.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

TRON (1982). Meta-Score: 67/B

Includes the legendary SF creation -- the Master Control Program (one of the most power hungry computer programs ever), which was created by no one single person -- and the security Tron program and a far-fetched digitizing machine. A game designer is digitized and downloaded into a video game world. It portrays programs that are skeptical of intelligent design and place faith in 'users' while battling an MCP (master control program) intent on total domination.

Starring: Jeff Bridges. Directed by Steven Lisberger.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia

 

The Terminator (1984), 81/A. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), 79/A-

Portrays a war between men and machines (as in The Matrix), and people/cyborgs use time travel with the intention of altering or preserving future events (contra The Time Machine where the future/past can't be changed), though, we discover that the future ultimately depends on these efforts!

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton. Directed by James Cameron.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia

 

Brazil (1985). Meta-Score: 81/A

It creates an impressive and one of a kind futuristic world, with memorable scenes of cosmetic surgery, oppressive bureaucracy (mistakes, red-tape, invasion of privacy), dream fantasies, TV addicted workers, presumed terrorist attacks, torture, and alienation.

Starring: Jonathan Pryce. Directed by Terry Gilliam.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Jurassic Park (1993). Meta-Score: 75/B+

Apple Macintosh Quadra 700I love the computer hacker scenes, the chaos theory wisecracks (but they are better in the book), and all the sciency stuff whether in digging for bones or talking about plants (oh, and the dinosaurs are cool). Portrays gene sequence manipulation and an automated park. Most of all it's suspicious of underground, undisciplined, or business driven attempts to manipulate the near infinite varieties of complex systems (Crichton emphasizes this theme in many of his novels, such as in "The Andromeda Strain" and "Next", but he respects traditional university scientists like Einstein who had a conscience for the negative side effects of our scientific power).

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton. Directed by Stephen Spielberg.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia

 

Ghost in the Shell (1995), 76/B+. Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2 (2004), 70/B

Includes highly advanced androids, invisibility tech, mental implants for expanded access to the world's information, and sentient programs/ghosts. Both are serious anime movies with extraordinary visual, flashy contemporary-looking technology, and imaginative elements. Oshii's visions often take place in what he calls 'borderline realms' (such as an Internet). The ghost/body dualism seems to extend to computer information or programs in a network. In GITS-2 lookout for the memory hacking, loop traps, and humans as the birth of A.I.! It does have some long artsy sequences for songs and parades, witty speeches, and literary quotes in GITS-2.

Anime. Based on the manga of Masamune Shirow. Directed by Mamoru Oshii.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia

 

Star Trek: First Contact (1996). Meta-Score: 73/B+

Includes nanotechnology, borgized people, various types of Borg implants, warp engines, and an android. It explores the importance of discovering intelligent alien life and the birth of Roddenberry's vision of the future. The Borg, a network of zombie-like drones with a collective-consciousness, use time travel to try to assimilate humans into their collective.

Borg Queen

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner. Directed by Jonathan Frakes.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia

 

Contact (1997). Meta-Score: 69/B

Smartly portrays themes concerning SETI, scientific inquiry, and science vs. religion. Includes computer aided radio astronomy equipment and a speculative alien space transporter. It seems to mimic and improve the method of alien contact in This Island Earth and exudes a love for science.

Starring Jodie Foster. Based on the novel by Carl Sagan. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003)

Just for starters it includes a computer simulated reality program, training and educational programs zapped straight to human memory, hovercrafts, EMPs (Electro-Magnetic Pulses), and many designs of machines. Or it's simply the green coded world, with lots of martial arts & gunfights. The first movie is a likely SF classic, and the second tells us more about the matrix world. Watch for all the philosophical questions (such as skepticism, freewill, self-knowledge, dualism, Neo as ubermensch), the idea that the human mind can be hacked into just like a computer, causation themes, machine superiority against human resistance, and human reliance on machines.

Matrix Monitoring

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss. Directed by the Wachowski Brothers.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Wikia

 

Minority Report (2002). Meta-Score: 76/A-

Minority ReportThe pre-cog seers may be too much in the soothsayer tradition, but it's difficult to avoid appreciating the thoughtful consequences that result from this scenario. The pre-cogs were apparently part of genetic experimentation, so we also get a few glimpses of futuristic, genetically altered plants. In any case, it portrays a detailed futuristic city and excellent technology: cool spider-robots, an ultra futuristic public transport system, computer chips so cheap that they come with many common products (like musical cereal boxes), awesome computer graphics, gesture interfaces, e-papers, personalized advertisements, and automatic eye identification sensors in common public places.

Starring: Tom Cruise. Based on a short story by P.K.D.: Minority Report. Directed by Stephen Spielberg.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia | Technovelgy / News

 

Primer (2004). Meta-Score: 68/B

Its low budget and jigsaw puzzle story confuses some viewers, but it's a great vision of discovery in that science and technology does not always progress intentionally and colorfully, it could just be a couple guys out in their garage tinkering. It speculates about a novel type of time travel (by use of quantum theory and a replication side effect), and the script has witty comments about scientific discovery and causation.

Starring: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan. Directed by Shane Carruth.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

Links: Official Site | Primer Universe

 

The Island (2005). Meta-Score: 61/C+

Cloners use Orwellian tactics and conditioning to keep clones under control, and they use them for a grotesque commerce. Includes a table top computer (with a gesture interface), an Xbox virtual fight game, and massive invasive monitoring (synaptic nanobots, dream monitoring, and automatic urine analysis). Most of the inhabitants accept such invasive treatment as commonplace. We see analogous uses of power becoming common in our own society, so the film perhaps illustrates that what we call dystopia today could slowly become accepted as utopia. Some of the initial sets are stunning, but the final action scenes and car stunts are a bit out of place.

Starring Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Michael Bay.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

WALL·E (2008). Meta-Score: 86/A+

It's no surprise that Disney backed this type of film; it has all the signs of anthropomorphized robots, for WALL-E sighs, scares, dances, and flirts. The director attempts to use as few anthropomorphisms as possible as if the robot had advanced over many years, but the film fails to explain any new advances in programming. The good thing is that the movie has many other graces -- an extremely imaginative EVE-flying bot, a high tech automated ship, and a hopeful perspective on enriching our humanity (where humans do exotic things like question and learn).

Starring (voices): Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin. Directed by Andrew Stanton.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Moon (2009). Meta-Score: 75/B+

Sam Bell works alone on the Moon, repairing Helium 3 harvesters and sending the collected energy back to Earth. The plot makes sense of this loner situation later and further cuts off Sam in many psychologically interesting ways. Sam is joined by a GERTY computer/robot. We discover that Sam Bell may receive some programming too, but it's difficult to say much more without spoiling the psychological aspects of it.

Starring: Sam Rockwell. Directed by Duncan Jones.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Inception (2010). Meta-Score: 81/A

It adds layer upon layer of possibilities until you either want to run out and become an Architect, a God like master of designing mind-worlds, or let the images take over as they lead you through a labyrinth of dreams within dreams. Penrose steps showcase the creativity of the mind in dreams, dream projections take on a life of their own (but without their former humanity), and dreamers experience time distortions and weightlessness.

Dream Programming

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Sources: IMDb | RT | MRQE | Wikipedia

 

Complete Editor Picks and Dedicated Decade Pages:

All | Pre-1950s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | Meta-Scores (A-Z)

III. Related Links
 

Excellent or Informative Sites

  • Wikipedia List of Science Fiction Films: A mega list, with award references in its "note" sections.

  • James O'Ehley's Sci-Fi Movie Reviews: Extensive list with reviews of SF and fantasy. Updated regularly. Includes editor picks, movies from the Online Film Critics Society Top 100 list, and award winners.

  • Tim Dirk's History of Science Fiction Films: Emphasizes diverse themes, with quick loading pictures over its 7 pages, a robots in film subsection, and lengthy must-read reviews on some of the best SF movies.

  • Technovelgy: Collection of inventions and scientific ideas from SF literature, but also with heavy doses of news and movie comparisons.

  • Starring the Computer: A list of computers in film (with many SF films of course), and three separate ratings for each film (importance of the computers in the film, visibility, and realism/accuracy).

  • The Promise of Science (2000): An older article with discussion of science and technology in selected movies.

 

Best SF Lists

 

Resources

 

Related TSA Articles

 

Source ratings and filmography data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database, Rotten Tomatoes, Netflix, Movie Review Query Engine, Metacritic, and Movie Review Intelligence.

Notes
 
  • This is a non-profit fan page maintained for the purpose of film commentary and criticism only.

  • Thanks to all contributors, supporters, and visitors, including Gizmo, AJNorth, Jon/jmaloney, Takatomon, Bob, GeezBlues, Wes, oblivion, Dave, Rick, Jerry DeN, MidnightCowboy, chris.p, and anonymous posters.

Tags: alien invaders, androids, artificial intelligence (AI), cloning, cyberpunk, dystopia, films, futuristic, high tech, intelligent sf, nanotechnology, progress, robots, science fiction (scifi, sci-fi, SF) movies, SETI, space exploration, time travel, quantum mechanics, utopia, virtual reality

 

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Comments

by AJNorth on 26. June 2011 - 4:12  (74343)

Greetings Fellow Earthlings,

It turns out that to cap their month-long Thursday sci-fi extravaganza, TCM will be showing "The Magnetic Monster" (1953) the last day of June (Thursday, the 30th) at 2300 ET (US), followed by "X The Unknown" (1956) at 0030, then the original (and my personal favorite) version of "The Thing (From Another World)" (1951) at 0200. (Earlier, they'll have the original "The Blob" (1958) at 2000, followed by an interesting Japanese offering, "The H-Man" (1958) at 2130 (which gave my brother nightmares for a week when we were kids). Make lots of popcorn.

Rizar & MC - if you are able to, try at least to catch "Magnetic Monster;" I'd be curious as to your takes. ("X" isn't too shabby, either.)

MC, I quite agree with you on "The King's Speech." Are you familiar with any of the pictures made by 'The Archers' - Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger? If not, in particular, try to get a hold of "A Matter of Life and Death" (1946, restored a few years ago), "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" (1943), "One of Our Aircraft Is Missing" (1942), "Black Narcissus" (1947) & "The Red Shoes" (1948); all have good transfers available. P & P were unlike any other film makers with whom I am familiar; their pictures are extraordinary. (I'll take the liberty of putting in a plug for two other favorites, "The Four Feathers" (1939) and "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940), every bit as good as "The Wizard of Oz" (1939); both were scored by the great Miklós Rózsa.) Highest ratings for all.

Regards,

AJ

by Rizar on 26. June 2011 - 21:55  (74376)

Thanks, I just set my DVR so I'll be able to fast forward through commercials. They have a SF documentary ("Watch the Skies") later on in the night, and I noticed "Wild Strawberries" and "The Big Sleep" earlier in the week.

I watched "X The Unknown" recently and liked some of the 50s SF dialog. I definitely see an influence on "The Blob" and it has more background SF elements than Blob movies. But I found myself siding with the conservative scientist against the plausibility of such a thing -- of ancient intelligent forces deep in the earth getting disturbed and coming after us! The central creature is more like a native myth than SF (the video game Final Fantasy VII came to mind for some reason).

I noticed TMC also has "It! The Terror from Beyond Space" on that night too. I rented this B movie from my library last week after noticing that it was written by Jerome Bixby. The reviews say it influenced "Alien" a bit, but it reminded me of an early Star Trek episode (the first aired episode of TOS has a creature with a similar power to drain its nutrients from humans). It's a B movie for sure, but worth watching to see its influence on other SF.

by AJNorth on 27. June 2011 - 19:18  (74417)

No worries about commercials, Rizar - it's TCM (not AMC), but you might just want to keep "Magnetic Monster."

With respect to "X," I don't feel that actual intelligence of the whatsit is even required (nor in "The Blob"), merely a life form with mobility and the need to feed (and perhaps a primitive sentience to react to perceived threats). But these are minor quibbles; after all, fiction in general, science fiction in particular - and a science-fiction film especially - require at least some degree of the willing suspension of disbelief.

Yeah, as a kid, "It" seemed pretty good (as measured against how many nights my kid brother had nightmares), but it hasn't aged all that well...

A picture you might find worthwhile is "The Man from Planet X" (1951, Public Domain), which though a bit slow in exposition, is an interesting (and quite atmospheric) morality tale (like so many sci-fi films), and it has an interesting pedigree.

As previously mentioned, another I still like is "The Trollenberg Terror" (aka "The Crawling Eye," 1958), in large part because of the script (after all, the whatsits are on the cheesy side and then there's the matter of how creatures with only tentacles could effect space travel, but that just takes us back to the willing suspension...). Hey - as long as the popcorn holds out, it's all good.

BTW, have you had a chance to chase down any episodes of "Science Fiction Theatre" yet?

by Rizar on 27. June 2011 - 23:03  (74438)

I like Arthur C. Clarke's way of putting it that sometimes its important to go into areas of impossibility to better understand what's possible. I find the most compelling SF ideas to be the ones that seem the most plausible even when in some strange possible world.

A good historical example is Aristotle's argument against the existence of empty space; he thought it would be absurd for objects to move in a straight line course to infinity and never come back down to earth (or for common directions of 'up' and 'down' to be meaningless, as they would be if empty space existed). So he considered the idea of empty space to be so absurd that it couldn't exist. But it's not the kind of idea that is impossible, so it's a prime candidate for a SF element. However, I think a good SF writer would imagine a possible world with empty space by making the SF world believable: the writer should predict believable consequences resulting from the existence of empty space. Aristotle did some excellent thinking here because he correctly predicted the consequences of a world with empty space (despite his skepticism of its existence in our world) -- he would have been an excellent SF writer if the methods of modern science had existed during his time.

So even as we allow SF to create radical visions like time travel (which I'm not a fan of), we could still hold them accountable for good SF elements. I like to find subtle and convincing creators of SF. But sometimes the pure energy and density of minor SF elements is like a breath of fresh air, as in Star Wars and Star Trek. I noticed that Stephen King says something similar about a writer's believability goal (regarding fiction in general) throughout his book "Misery".

***

I'd like to watch "The Trollenberg Terror" again. I have it in my DVD collection somewhere and I walked into it on TV (perhaps on TMC last year) and only saw a few parts of it.

I hadn't heard of "Science Fiction Theatre", but I see some interesting episodes listed at Wikipedia. I'll have to check it out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Fiction_Theatre

Oh, and also note that TMC is showing one of the highest rated Quartermass movies ("5 Million Miles to Earth") later on in the night that we mentioned.

And the Science Channel has been playing "Journey into the Wormhole" recently with new episodes on Wednesdays or midweek I believe. I watched some wacky stuff on the immortality of the soul last night and fell asleep, but I've had philosophy classes on the topic and Morgan Freeman's narration was like a sleeping potion (of course I had just watched 6 or 8 episodes on DVD from my library).

by MidnightCowboy on 26. June 2011 - 5:03  (74345)

Thanks for the recommends. I've seen some of these, but not all. I'll definitely try to find time for the rest :)

by AJNorth on 27. June 2011 - 18:05  (74412)

M.C.,

If you haven't encountered it, there's a nicely-done documentary on Jack Cardiff, OBE, BSC (considered by many the greatest color cinematographer of all time), "Cameramen: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff;" there was a nice write-up in last Friday's Boston Globe: http://articles.boston.com/2011-06-24/ae/29699927_1_work-of-jack-cardiff... .

In 1994, I saw the partial restoration of "A Matter of Life and Death" that Martin Scorsese bankrolled in an art house in San Diego; life took on new meaning, and I became a devoted admirer of the films of Powell & Pressburger - and Jack Cardiff.

by MidnightCowboy on 28. June 2011 - 5:30  (74449)

Thanks for this too - I'll check it out. Talking about colors and definition, reminds me of the old days when I used to shoot much of my own stuff using a tripod and Kodachrome 25 :)

by Rizar on 22. June 2011 - 2:47  (74135)

One of my favorite directors, Mamoru Oshii, did a film called "The Sky Crawlers" (2008). It has a few SF elements in the dialog, but most of the visuals are dystopian-emotional scenes and a few action sequences of old style aircraft dog fights.

My first impression was that the interesting SF parts were out of context and implausible (it seems that a more advanced society would be required to produce 'Kildren' -- immortals who don't age and stay children).

However, I just listened to the entire movie a second time for the soundtrack alone, which is one of the best I've heard in awhile. The only other film I listened to like this was Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon".

In case you find ratings interesting "The Sky Crawlers" had high reviews on sites with low numbers of users (IMDb - 6.8/10, RT - 3.4/5) and average ratings on Netflix (3.1/5 with over 30 times the number of user votes).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1056437/

by Remah on 22. June 2011 - 8:20  (74152)

Definitely SF.

I really enjoyed it - nearly got it out again last week - and would rate it well above average while noting it has significant weaknesses. I liked the characters, didn't find it hard to follow, and enjoyed the mystery: Why are people so distant? Why are their relationships so strained and estranged? Who is the enemy? etc.

I think that it is difficult to discuss without revealing the central storyline and thereby the ending. And I'm not prepared to be a spoiler because this movie loses a lot of emotional impact if you know the relatively simple story.

by MidnightCowboy on 10. June 2011 - 16:00  (73601)

I have to admit to not being "in deep" with this genre or any other for that matter. My sole aim when I press "start" is to be entertained. This can be for the acting alone ("The King's Speech"), the cinematography ("The Way"), the soundtrack ("Once") or any one of a number of things, even if the plot or story is not exactly riveting.

For this genre though (and apologies if these are already listed) I very much enjoyed "Soldier" (1998) and "The Mist" (2007)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120157/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884328/

by Rizar on 10. June 2011 - 22:47  (73616)

The films I like the most tend to be creative and imaginative and give me the feeling that an artist did well playing god, sort of like the feeling programmers probably get in creation. Many of my re-watchable favorites have well designed ambiance ("The Shining", "Blade Runner", "The Godfather", "Groundhog Day", "Harry Potter 3", "Inception", "Die Hard" and, yes, sometimes the most boring films have the best ambiance!), and ambiance is probably one of the critical parts of a movie for me nowadays.

But great ambiance is very rare. I've started to get tired of comfortable films that are merely easy to watch; now when I watch the newest Harry Potter (which has gone dead and lazy since the third movie) or simple blockbuster, I tend to drift off to sleep, ignore all the special features, and wish it would just hurry up and get done.

SF tends to be more imaginative because it allows me a greater chance to follow its ideas to other possibilities, so that even if the film turns into a car chase bore, I can think about the world or scenario it creates. Related genres are very good at this too, such as many mystery or suspense classics. But they tend to be more limited than the tools SF films have.

by Mr Kurtz (not verified) on 11. June 2011 - 8:35  (73631)

Boring films having the best ambience? Don't like to mention any names here, but 'Eraserhead' sort of springs to mind... EEK!

by mcmccz on 7. June 2011 - 23:41  (73462)

Have you kept track/score of which writers have contributed the most to these lists?

I'm sorry about my badly worded question. What I meant to ask was about the Science Fiction writers whose films have appeared most often and with highest rankings. For example, Philip K. Dick, George Lucas, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

Maybe they don't appear all over these lists, but the metascore/metric of their total body of work might rank them higher.

Have you heard of a score like that - that's specifically based on production of science fiction films from their writings. Weren't almost all of Dick's huge movies produced after his death (and from short stories not longer works).

by mcmccz on 7. June 2011 - 23:35  (73461)

As a collection of "thought provoking science fiction" movies I think "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" has some merit, but to be honest, I haven't seen it for two decades so maybe it's too dated (1984).

Another film I would consider is "Pi"

If these have been discussed in this board I'm sorry.

by garth on 7. June 2011 - 10:47  (73431)

Hi Rizar.
I was wondering if you have any plans to ever do a rating list of sci-fi TV series?

by Rizar on 7. June 2011 - 13:37  (73437)

That would be interesting. I wouldn't be able get four sources, but even an IMDB, Netflix, MRQE, Metacritic source list might be worth doing. MRQE has critic ratings for older TV shows and Metacritic has ratings for newer ones, so it wouldn't have to be based purely on user ratings. And some TV shows are really inspiring and influential, especially Star Trek for me. I'll check it out and maybe add a page later.

by garth on 7. June 2011 - 15:32  (73446)

I much prefer Star Trek next gen to the original Trek, but the original does have its moments for sure. I find the original series to be quite comical yet i'm never entirely sure if that was Roddenberry's intent. That said, as far as Star Trek characters go there can be only one king, and that would be Spock:D
I think new Battlestar Galactica comprehensively wipes the floor with the original series but i much prefer the older Doctor Who series to the modern version, although it's good to see the Daleks have finally overcome their inability to negotiate stairs. My personal all time favourite SF TV series is Babylon 5 with the X Files second, but possibly would be the other way round had the X Files not had such a cop out disappointing conclusion.
Anyway, if you do have the time and inclination to add a page for TV series i will look forward to reading it:)

by Rizar on 7. June 2011 - 22:56  (73460)

I agree about Spock, but the Borg are close! Probably my favorite is TNG when they aren't Q infested or dwelling on metaphysical consciousness.

I'm already dissatisfied with the TV Show list. I'm not sure it would be much of a list with this few critic ratings to use. Maybe I'll put together a top 10 list for the main page instead. If "Firefly" can't get three sources, then it doesn't bode well for lesser known shows.

The top user pick so far is "Firefly" (90/users only), but it doesn't have critic ratings anywhere I can find. Battlestar Galactica (2004, 82) does very well (as the initial #1), and the Star Trek: TOS (79.5) beat TNG (75.5), but Deep Space Nine (78.5) has the highest critic rating so far over at MRQE.

by Remah on 7. June 2011 - 7:12  (73424)

Really, Akira and The Iron Giant aren't SF!? :D

Rizar, is that because the major sites got it wrong or you don't see them as science fiction?

Even the Truman Show should get a look in. A dome that big is the central technological feature. Even if people don't notice it, it is clearly science fiction whereas other technological features are not, ie reality TV, 24 hour surveillance, and 24 hour TV.

by Rizar on 7. June 2011 - 22:09  (73457)

I think The Truman Show is a good exception to include. I re-wrote the exclusion/inclusion part to make sure to exclude something like Groundhog Day or Ghostbusters, but I never intended to exclude films with unique thought experiments.

Akira is a close call since it has supernatural powers in it, and I believe emphasizes them. The question would be whether it has enough of a Mad Max/Blade Runner (etc.) vibe to make the list.

I've avoided adding Altered States in the past since it seems mystical, but it was difficult for me to understand much of anything going on in it, so I'll include it for now just to see what others think.

by Remah on 7. June 2011 - 7:29  (73428)

Anyway, it's a great list now I've read it through. Well done everyone.

by Rizar on 7. June 2011 - 10:14  (73429)

Thanks! I've been tweaking it for years now and it feels like it's just starting.

The website, Starringthecomputer.com, handles this problem by rating films on how visible or important computers are to a film. I thought about rating the movies on the intensity/uniqueness and importance of SF in them. I may start doing so on the decade pages when I begin to update their format to look more like the Top 40.

We can't let artistic people deprive us of SF elements and still get the full blast badge of honor. We deserve more pure SF!

by davidg65 (not verified) on 5. June 2011 - 22:32  (73320)

The problem is that SF itself has too many styles and different movies target different audiences. You cannot compare: Waal-E, Starwars and Minority report for example. It is like comparing apples and beef as the best meal. In any case it would be fun to see a list of "SF B movies from the fifties". That could be actually comparable!

by AJNorth on 4. June 2011 - 0:38  (73192)

A brief note on the passing of James Arness (1923-2011), an actor who, though best known for one of television's longest-running series ("Gunsmoke," 1955-75), also made two classic sci-fi pictures, "The Thing (from Another World)" (1951) and "Them" (1954). (It is worth noting that no less than Michael Crighton described "The Thing" as "the best Science Fiction film ever made.")

by Rizar on 4. June 2011 - 14:48  (73216)

That's sad to hear. I was debating over which "The Thing" to emphasize on the front page. The 50s version has an interesting plant zombie Thing that seems very unlikely -- I'm not sure how mindless plant behaviors could progress to a high and flexible sentience, but maybe if the plant was like one big brain it could. Of course, Daniel Dennett describes human minds such that he doesn't think we can be as certain about many aspects of our consciousness that we think we experience.

Crichton's book "The Andromeda Strain" was one of my personal favorite sf books to read; it's just packed with little intelligent thought experiments about life.

by AJNorth on 5. June 2011 - 9:54  (73257)

Hard to say. Though Carpenter's film is much truer to Campbell's original story, my own personal favorite is the Hawks-Nyby picture; I especially like the elements of screwball comedy that Hawks injected and his trademark snappy dialogue (I also did not miss the gore of Carpenter's film...). As to the question of how a plant organism could evolve to become a large-scale being with sentience, much less intelligence (and manual dexterity), I chalk that up in the 1951 film to the plot being more on the order of 'what,' rather than 'how' or 'why' (also a plot element of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," 1951 and, though to a much lesser scale, "The Day of the Triffids," 1962). Which is where "the willing suspension of disbelief" comes in.

The nature of consciousness raise age-old questions. Somewhere in the backwaters of memory, I recall a discussion in which the assertion was made that a system of arbitrary complexity, (n), could not understand itself; that required a higher-order system, one of complexity at least (n+1). In other words, we humans may self-reflect, but we cannot figure ourselves out (a conjecture about which I am not convinced).

Crichton wrote some terrific fiction (he should have steered clear of climate change...). I've always liked Robert Wise's film of "Andromeda Strain," and feel it deserved a higher rating than it got; too cerebral, perhaps.

by Susan Jones (not verified) on 3. June 2011 - 22:30  (73185)

How about a list of great SF movies that have not been made?

I propose (for starters)

Alfred Bester's "The Stars my Destination" aka "Tiger! Tiger!"

Why Should Philip K Dick get all the attention?

by Remah on 7. June 2011 - 7:23  (73425)

Philip K Dick gets a lot of attention because he wrote about today as if it really were tomorrow.

by Holgar (not verified) on 3. June 2011 - 12:59  (73160)

Avatar higher on the list than 'A Clockwork Orange'? Actually, Avatar on the list?

It may have been a technically tour de force, but the story has been told more than once. And I think FernGully did a better job of it.

by garth on 2. June 2011 - 11:09  (73102)

Am surprised Solaris didn't make it on the top 100 list.

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