View Full Version : Sci-fi movie recommendations

Exhaust Port
03-28-2004, 04:06 PM
I'm a sucker for great sci-fi movies so I'd like to see what other people would recommend. Here are a few of mine:

Logan's Run: I just watched this one last night for the first time in about 10 years and it was still great. The utopian society images are timeless as well as the older special effects. The acting is great and the plot is even better. It was filmed in 1976 so it's a bit campy in spots but I think it just adds to the film. The one detractor for the film is the futuristic music. There are a few scenes that are overrun with the annoying digital sounds but thankfully they are few and manyly near the beginning. There is also quite a bit of nudity for a non-rated movie so beware (or be interested :) )

Briefly the plot is about a utopian society where on your 30'th birthday you go to carrousel where you are "reborn." Some folks aren't too keen on being reborn so they run. Michael York is a Sandman who's job it is to track down and kill the Runners. But some runners apparently have escaped to a place called Sanctuary and Michael York becomes a Runner to find it.

War of the Worlds: This was one of the first sci-fi movies I remember watching as a kid. The alien space craft and even the brief images of the aliens are awesome (especially to a 10 year old). In some scenes you can see the wires but as with all old sci-fi movies I think it adds to the films character.

I don't think you need to know about the plot, I'm sure you're aware of this one. :)

Gattaca: Even though it's not very old it already seems timeless to me. My absolute favorite thing about this movie is the music. Michael Nyman does the score and it's used amazingly throughout the movie. At times I can't tell if the music is driving the images or the other way around. Great stuff.

The movie plot is a close second to the music. It tackles the issue of genetic manipulation of humans into improved/super humans. Uma Thurmans, Ethan Hawke and Jude Law give my favorite performances for each actor/actress in this movie. It's nice to come across a great sci-fi movie that doesn't include aliens or space battles.

Forbidden Planet: If it wasn't for the hair styles and the fact that Leslie Nelsen doesn't have gray hair this movie wouldn't appear to be made almost 50 years ago. The special effects are dated but not too bad in my opinion. In fact I think some of them coudn't be improved upon even with our CGI abilities. Robby the Robot has to be the best looking 1950's movie robot. He blows away that stupid looking Robby want-to-be from Lost in Space. Plus he can make whiskey. :)

The story revolves around the crew of a spaceship when they set down on a planet occupied by only a scientist and his daughter. The scientist has been studying the remains of a long gone advanced civilization that has powers well beyond even the understanding of this future human crew. He also warns that what killed the rest of the original colony will come after the crew of the spaceship if they don't leave. Before they can leave several of the crew are killed which makes the captain even more determined to stay and find out what monster did it.

Aliens: This is my absolute favorite movie. The cast of characters that Cameron created are the best. This one started my love for secondary roles played by Bill Paxton. Even though the Alien is more visible in this movie compared to the first movie, Alien, Cameron is still able to make it scare the *#$% out of you. And if the images weren't enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, the James Horner soundtrack would. Even after tons of viewings the open sequence with the eerie music still makes my skin crawl. On the flip side, the heart pumping sequence of Ripley racing in and out of the hive in the APV with the driving music is outstanding.

A brief plot for those of you under some rock is that the only survivor from the first encounter with this species, Ripley, is asked to return to the same planet as a technical supervisor. It turns out that a colony was established on the planet that had the aliens and they've lost contact with them. Ripley this time is going in with a platoon of soldiers to figure out what happened and wipe out the aliens if they should be responsible.

OK, now share a few of your favorites....

03-28-2004, 06:15 PM
Ah yes, classics one and all.

Today I was fortunate enough to catch The Martain Chronicles on the SciFi channel. Imagine that, a SciFi show on the SciFi channel...LOL. Anyway, it is still a wonderful miniseries. Speaking of which does anyone know when it is supposed to be released on DVD, or if they even plan to releases it on DVD?

Other greats include:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Village of the Damned


Mandalorian Candidat
03-29-2004, 09:52 AM
I probably could think of several great sci-fi flicks that I've enjoyed but now that you bring it up, EP, my mind has gone blank.

One that does come to mind is a great classic: Planet of the Apes (the original).

After the several sequels and the TV show many people might think that the original wasn't that great without having actually seen it. If you haven't taken the chance to see it, do yourself a favor and rent it or just go out and get it. It's such a great movie with a good nonpreachy message of tolerance and peace. While the whole scientific plausibility of the premise may be called into question, the actual plot is great. Switching the roles of "animal" and mankind between the apes and Charlton Heston and Co. is a good thought-provoking device to make you think about close-mindedness that exists in all cultures. Besides it's message, the actual storyline leads up to the great ending plot twist.

Although it did spawn numerous cheesy sequels, each in its own right tried to propagate the message put forth in the original movie.

03-30-2004, 01:03 AM
Forbidden Planet really is great, and it's such a beautiful film too.

A word of warning, I'm a bit mainstream with my sci-fi choices, so most of these you'll already know. Just off the top of my head:
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture (slow, plodding, almost no action, but I love the very science-fictiony themes and storyline)
- Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (unbeatable storytelling set in the best part of the Trek era, and tons of cool battles too)
- Star Trek: First Contact (The Next Generation's stab at the previous is just a great film, heavy on the dark action to the point it's almost on par with "Aliens")
- Blade Runner (possibly the most well-developed, complete sci-fi action film ever, Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford really go above and beyond in this dark tale of rogue replicants trying to survive amidst a futuristic Los Angeles, the story does a great job of questioning humanity without forcing message down your throat, and the film should have been better recognized as such a great piece of cinema)
- The Fifth Element (nearly as lush as the previous, but with more color and style, less depth to the story, and just a brighter flavor overall)
- George Pal's "The Time Machine" (from 1960, it has a weak 3rd act, but the film really does capture the ideas of sci-fi very nicely, presenting them from an earlier era's point of view with great ideas within and a unique look and feel)
- Dark City (a title lost in the shadows of "The Matrix", which shares some themes and sets from this little sleeper gem. A "film noir sci-fi film" is the best description I can come up with right now, but it's not the noir you get with Blade Runner or Minority Report, it feels like a true'50s noir setting, only with a deeply creative and inventive story that cross expectations and boundries)
- Tron (a fantastically creative film that was years ahead of its time and still doesn't get the respect it deserves, Tron takes the ideas of cyberspace and humanizes them. Although simple by today's standards, this film is pretty much the innovator of cinematic uses of CGI, and uses that to tell a wonderful story)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (heavy on visuals and visual metaphors to tell the story while intentionally light on dialogue, this has become one of the definitive sci-fi films of all time because it makes the audience fill in many of the blanks with their own interpetations)
- 2010 (this is everything the previous is not, this film fills in all the blanks for us and tells a compelling science-fiction story that has a very strong message for the era it was made in and still rings somewhat true today even without the USSR)
- Back to the Future (great time-travel film, especially for those not that into sci-fi, entertaining comedy/adventure that has 2 fun sequels)
- Stargate (one of the only few really solid sci-fi flicks to come out of Hollywood in the '90s, this film has an interesting and unique premise in the ideas of interstellar travel. Perhaps a little popcorny, but good stuff and spawned a great TV series)
- Minority Report (I didn't think I'd like this one, but Spielberg really makes an incredibly-detailed environment to tell what is boils down to a film noir detective story set in the future)
- Akira (possibly the most famous anime film in the west, but even after multiple viewings, I don't really know how to describe this one. Richly detailed look at the dirty future where psychic powers are trying to secretly be harnassed by government types who shouldn't be creating and manipulating such things)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Don't even think about the book while watching this, it can't compare storywise, but Disney made a Victorian masterpiece in this one with a palatable story and incredible production values)
- Robocop (despite being seen as cheesy '80s action, this is a highly entertaining tongue-in-cheek look at the not-so-distant future where police officer Alex Murphy's humanity is taken from him as he's turned into the perfect law-enforcement robot)
- Soylent Green (heavy-handed writing and badly dated production values aside - not unlike the above-mentioned Logan's Run - Chuck Heston's take on a possible future where overpopulation has destroyed humanity is an interesting crime drama and smart science fiction. Also is the last film of Edward G. Robinson's career, who died only a few weeks after filming; Eddie G was supposed to play Dr Zaius in Heston's previous sci-fi film, "Planet of the Apes", but had to bow out due to his failing health)

Exhaust Port
03-31-2004, 08:42 PM
- Blade Runner
- The Fifth Element
- Dark City
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
It's amazing how one's mind can blank out. I consider all these movies to be top favorites in the sci-fi genre but I didn't even think about them until I saw you list them JT. I even own them on DVD wish makes in even more sad. :)

Actually the only one I don't have on DVD now that I think about it is 20,000 Leagues but it's out now. Has anyone purchased that disc yet? I scanned the box a few weeks ago and it looked like there was some great stuff on there.

03-31-2004, 09:55 PM
- Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (unbeatable storytelling set in the best part of the Trek era, and tons of cool battles too)


I also like ST4: The voyage home. ALmost similar to the episode where they went back tothe thirties.

04-01-2004, 08:26 AM
Great list of films, I would just liek to add ne of my favorites:

The Day the Earth Stood Still

04-01-2004, 10:40 AM
One of my all-time favorites: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Also not mentioned was the enjoyable, The Last Starfighter. A fun romp through space giving hope to all white trash that they too could be like Luke Skywalker and save the galaxy from evil.

And I don't know if this technically counts, but The Iron Giant ranks very high on the list of just all 'round fantastic storytelling.

James Boba Fettfield
04-01-2004, 03:41 PM
Speaking of which does anyone know when it is supposed to be released on DVD, or if they even plan to releases it on DVD?

Today in the Digital Bit's rumor mill update they mention the Martian Chronicles dvd of the mini-series coming this fall.

04-01-2004, 06:06 PM
EP, I think with this genre there's so many different angles that it's easy to blank stuff. I'm sure I've forgotten stuff too.

I'd also like to know how the 20,000 Leagues DVD set is, I have been eyeing it lately.

KH, I was on the fence with ST4, I've always been of 2 minds about it, it works and it kinda doesn't work for this Trekkie and so I usually keep it off my lists. Almost everybody I know loves it though, so it's definitely a don't-miss for most people new to sci-fi.

The Last Starfighter, I'd add that to mine (most of the ones mentioned before my post are already ones I'd have on my list, it just felt redundant to say that).

Dune, the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, I'd add that to my list as well. It's well-detailed and does a lot of storytelling on a TV budget.

04-01-2004, 08:40 PM
enemy mine
terminator 2
ghost in the shell
galaxy quest :D
mystery science theater 3000: the movie :D :D

04-04-2004, 05:28 PM
I meant to put Enemy Mine in my last post, but got distracted.

As for Galaxy Quest, excellent call! I love that film!

Exhaust Port
04-04-2004, 05:44 PM
Dark City
Fifth Element

also Galaxy Quest is a good one too. :)

04-04-2004, 07:21 PM
Willow is a fantasy film, IMO that's a different animal. If we're including that genre here as well, I've got a LOT moRe films to add. ;)

04-04-2004, 07:33 PM
Willow is a fantasy film, IMO that's a different animal. If we're including that genre here as well, I've got a LOT moRe films to add. ;)

Subliminal messages? :beard:

Exhaust Port
04-04-2004, 11:22 PM
Willow is a fantasy film, IMO that's a different animal. If we're including that genre here as well, I've got a LOT moRe films to add. ;)
Oops, I even started the darn thread and I drifted. :)

Ok, I'll swap out Willow for It Came from Outer Space. That was the first and only 3D movie I've ever seen in the theater and it was for my 10th birthday I believe. Even the wires holding up the space ship were in 3D. :D

04-05-2004, 12:52 AM
All great recoms except for two forgotten classics... Barbarella (psychadella); 1968 with the fabulous Jane Fonda and Saturn 3; 1980 with Farrah Fawcet and Kirk Douglas.

I love that Jedi Tricks mentioned 2001 and 2010, especially 2010, what a great movie, in fact I just watched the other night!


Exhaust Port
05-03-2004, 04:58 PM
I'd also like to know how the 20,000 Leagues DVD set is, I have been eyeing it lately.
I finally caved and bought 20,000 Leagues on DVD last night. I've watch most but no all of the extras and I'm completely thrilled with them. The documentaries are very thorough and lengthy. Tons of behind the scenes footage and commentary as well. They include discussions with the director and other lead personnel in making the film.

I really liked that they included some audio files as well, one of them being Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (the organ piece played by Capt. Nemo). I'm glad the included this outtake (it's a longer piece but not complete) as it's a bit different from how I've heard it played elsewhere. They have a nice photo collage that plays along with the music but they don't give any further information regarding the music or organist which is the only regret.

I say buy it before it's gone JT.

05-03-2004, 07:12 PM
Sweet, thanks for the review!

05-04-2004, 09:38 PM
A lot of the movies people are putting up are ones everyone knows about, and who wouldn't reccomend them! :p Aliens, Blade Runner- great movies, and not just great sci-fi, all around classics. But lets see some recommendations on movies that are not hugely popular, or others might have missed out on. I'm a Sci-Fi buff too, and am always looking for a cool Sci-Fi movie I might have missed. Like Equlibrium. That is a cool Sci-Fi show that I some how never heard of until I saw it out on the rntal shelves. Then I heard some others talking about how good it was (when discussing christian Balle and the new Batman), so I picked it up and it is great. So that's my reccomendation for now... I'l try and think of some other obsure little known gems.