October 25, 2005

Essential SF Movie Canon Meme

This meme started out at Jaquandor's, and is based on SF author John Scalzi's list of the 50 science fiction movies he considers to be the most significant in film history.

I've bolded the ones I've seen, italicized the ones I would like to see (or see again, where applicable), and placed a "Q" by the ones that are in my Netflix queue.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! (Q) (I need to see this again, as I was in a Shiner Bock-influenced state of mind the first time I saw it in college)
Akira (I plan to see this someday, just to try and figure out what so many people I respect see in anime. My exposure to anime is limited to Speed Racer, Star Blazers, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, so maybe I need to see the really good stuff to grok this bizarre sub-genre of SF).
Alien (A classic. I own it on DVD and enjoy watching it every now and then).
Aliens (The rare example of the sequel that is as good as its predecessor - the extended DVD cut is interesting, though not as tightly wound as the original theatrical cut).

Back to the Future
Blade Runner
Bride of Frankenstein (Q)
Brother From Another Planet

A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Damned
Destination Moon (Q)

The Day The Earth Stood Still
Escape From New York
ET: The Extraterrestrial
Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)

The Fly (1985 version)
Forbidden Planet (Q)
Ghost in the Shell (Q)
The Incredibles

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)
Jurassic Park
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior
The Matrix

On the Beach
Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
Solaris (1972 version)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Q)
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Stepford Wives (I've seen both. The original outshines the remake).

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The Thing From Another World
Things to Come
12 Monkeys

28 Days Later
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
2001: A Space Odyssey
La Voyage Dans la Lune
War of the Worlds (1953 version)

Man, 64%. That's not even a passing grade. I need to add some more of these to my queue.

Posted by JohnL at October 25, 2005 08:59 PM | TrackBack

I, quite simply, CAN NOT BELIEVE that "Silent Running" isn't on that list, nor can I fathom why the second Terminator was judged more significant than the first. The James Cameron/Gale Ann Hurd combo of the original was absolutely incredible (When they were still married), and the fact that it was Cameron's "warm up" for "Aliens" (He used virtually the same crew for both, and wanted to get them working together before they tackled "Aliens")... I am simply stunned (And yes, I'm a hopless sci-fi geekoid).

Posted by: Hucbald at October 26, 2005 12:47 AM

I own Silent Running. I would say it is significant primarily as an influence on the later-70s SF movies, including of course Star Wars. The sets, models, and drones were the high points of the movie. It hasn't aged well for me, though and I don't really miss it on this list (probably should be in the top 100, not top 50).

I totally agree with you on the absence of Terminator in favor of T2. T2 was decent, but not as groundbreaking as the original.

Posted by: JohnL at October 26, 2005 08:05 AM

Nice blog John! Beth here. This old lady would include Altered States, THX1138, Logan's Run, A Boy and His Dog, Andromeda Strain, and cheesy Charleton Heston classics like Planet of the Apes (1968), and Omega Man. Not forgetting Dark City, Gattaca, The Time Machine, and AI: Artificial Intelligence.

Worst List? Waterworld, Contact, Rollerball, Saturn 3 ....

Posted by: Beth Atkins at October 26, 2005 10:16 AM

If you want to get a taste of anime past the TV variey you mentioned, I would recommend 'Ghost in the Shell' over 'Akira'. Ghost has a more plausable story line, beautiful animation and music, and strikes me as something that could have been written by Gibson.

Posted by: T at October 26, 2005 12:47 PM

I second the recommendation of "Ghost in the Shell" over "Akira." The latter is spectacular toward the end, but the filmmakers tried to cram too much into it and it doesn't make much sense unless you've read the manga it's based on. GitS, on the other hand, is a well-made work of art.

If still interested in anime after that, check out any of Miyazaki's movies through "Spirited Away." "Nausicaa" and perhaps "Castle in the Sky" qualify as science fiction, though they're not my favorites.

Posted by: Don at October 26, 2005 03:25 PM

Hi Beth. Who you calling old? (That would make me old by association, so stop it!)

Good additions. I would note that some are already on the list, and many are in Scalzi's book - The Rough Guide to Sci Fi Movies. Check out his website (linked in my post) and read some of the comments where he addresses the perceived omissions and slights.

I have to argue about some of your "worst" selections, though. Not Waterworld, but the others. I remember Saturn 3 and have fond memories of Farrah Fawcett and a cool robot, but that's about all. Contact was actually quite good until the, you know, "contact." Then it devolved into a sort of "2001-lite."

I watched Rollerball recently, and quite liked the soundtrack, as well as the prescient bloodsport/reality TV angle on things. Pamela Hensley (aka Princess Ardala) also features prominently in my leniency toward that movie.

Thanks for commenting. You should do it more often!

Posted by: JohnL at October 26, 2005 05:57 PM

T and Don,

Thanks for the pointers. I have modified my list accordingly and will check out Ghost first.

Posted by: JohnL at October 26, 2005 05:57 PM

Actually, I wouldn't recommend Akira at all to a beginner in the world of anime. Miyazaki is a much better introduction, but what a lot of Americans fail to grasp is that "anime" is only slightly narrower in description than "movie." Seriously, you can find anything you want in anime, some good, some very bizarre, and some pornographic.

Check out Stephen Den Beste's Chizumatic site (http://denbeste.nu/Chizumatic/) for lots of reviews and descriptions of anime. Yes, USS Clueless' Den Beste.

Oh, and Delicatessan is a marvelous flick. Think Terry Gilliam-esque, but in French, with a hero who plays the saw in a post-apocalyptic world.

Posted by: B. Durbin at November 9, 2005 12:07 AM
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