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 Post subject: A top 10 SF films?
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 3:34 pm 
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My all-time top ten of science fiction cinema...

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) director: Stanley Kubrick
– The Mona Lisa of motion pictures, this SF masterpiece is a perfect work of cinematic Art.
Blade Runner (1982) director: Ridley Scott
– Classic future noir, where the retro hi-tech trappings help to dramatise the all-too-human story.
Dune (1984) director: David Lynch
– Magnificently weird space opera that’s superior to all of the Star Wars movies put together.
The Thing (1982) director: John Carpenter
– The ultimate sci-fi horror monster-movie shocker, this showcases matchless grotesque effects.
Hulk (2003) director: Ang Lee
– Imaginative and exciting drama and comicbook superhero power fantasy about demonic rage.
Forbidden Planet (1956) director: Fred M. Wilcox
– Impressive pulp sci-fi about scientific ambition undone by human flaws, with a plot derived from Shakespeare.
Videodrome (1982) director: David Cronenberg
– Fascinating SF-horror psychodrama exploring morbid desires, media control and addiction.
Alien (1979) director: Ridley Scott
– Eerie and compelling SF horror about humanity’s first contact with an extraterrestrial lifeform.
Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977) director: Steven Spielberg
– Simply the best UFO movie ever, with magical visual effects and a memorable score.
RoboCop (1987) director: Paul Verhoeven
– Excellent futuristic action thriller with a great superhero character and some witty genre satire.

As I get older, I find it becomes increasingly difficult to compile any list of 'best' films! I found it hard to exclude Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), but it would have made one space adventure too many. Although I admired John Woo's Face/Off (1997), and the influential trilogy that started with The Matrix (1999), and have not quite tired of watching them yet, I'm still not sure if charges of 'style over content' are entirely unfounded. Altered States (1980) was on my list until recently but is now replaced by Hulk.

What are your favourites?

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 Post subject: 10 favourite SF films
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 10:12 pm 
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I've got a feeling that many lists will overlap on this one! The following aren't the ones I think are necessarily the best ever, just my current top ten favourites. But they shift and change according to mood. And century.


Videodrome
Blade Runner (dir cut)
Destroy all Monsters
Terminator 2 (dir cut)
Total Recall
Starship Troopers
Flying Island of Laputa
This Island Earth
The Omega Man
Quatermass 2

mm ... 2 Verhoevens and no Kubrick? am I mad? From this you can guess today I like 'em muscular and not cerebral lol .. Honourable mentions for Pitch Black, Bride of Frankenstein, The Time Machine (Rod Taylor), Aliens and Frankenstoin Vs The Space Monster, Things to Come.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 10:51 pm 
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I'd agree that Starship Troopers is better than Aliens, Richard.
8)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:53 pm 
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It's certainly better than Aliens, but not Alien in my opinion.

I'd put The Day The World Stood Still in there and maybe the original Solaris. Brazil too.

I'd also have Silent Running and Dark Star as honourable mentions because I like them in an easy-listening kind of way.

Dune was ruined by some lame lines for me, as was Serenity.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 1:41 pm 
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I'm probably in a minority of one here, but I've always found Kubrick's 2001 a little overrated. Undoubtedly it remains a great visionary film, with some breathtaking moments (that jump cut!), and represents a fantastic technical achievement. But today, the psychadelia seems a little dated and, by jettisoning Clarke's expository detail (i.e. the meaning of the black slabs, the exact significance of the final transformation etc) Kubrick's admirers IMHO often find profundity where there is simply absence of regular explanation. Unless one is familiar with the original short story, I'd argue much of the film is barely comprehensible, being more of an intellectual mood piece - if there is such a thing - than a cohesive narrative. HAL is undeniably a memorable creation, but seems peculiarly oblivious to Asimov's famous (and sensible) three laws of robotics, which have influenced a generation of computer nerds since they were formulated, and remain very influential. In short its frequently just a sciencey sound-and-light show, a cinematic sleight-of-hand the 70's acid generation found very sympathetic given the low aspirations of competing genre pieces. But for my money, the original Planet of the Apes has more interesting things to say about the human condition, as it at least puts Man's place back in the realm of society and nature and not upon the cosmic whims of a vague 'them' - a process which absolves us from any responsibility for our own advancement.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 3:37 pm 
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Hard to find anything better than '12 Monkeys' in SF films


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:13 pm 
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Hey Roy: I agree!

I love Twelve Monkeys, as well. Haven't seen Brazil, though.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:48 pm 
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Richard wrote:
..by jettisoning Clarke's expository detail (i.e. the meaning of the black slabs, the exact significance of the final transformation etc) Kubrick's admirers IMHO often find profundity where there is simply absence of regular explanation


Yes, Kubrick's film is left open to many interpretations, unlike typical Clarke SF, where just one is enough... but I found that inspired, whereas Clarke's trawls through discarded 2001 plots in his 'Lost Worlds...' book (while of interest to Space Odyssey fans) seemed rather mundane by comparison.

Does anyone here think sequel 2010 is better than 2001?
I've met a few people with that opinion.

Jetse wrote:
Haven't seen Brazil, though.


Ack! You should track it down asap, Jetse. It's classic SF, Gilliam style! Criterion's 3-disc edition is expensive but worth it!
8)

Icarus wrote:
Dune was ruined by some lame lines


I always found it helps to 'hear' the Fremen's dialogue as if it's spoken with something like religious reverence.
:wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 8:55 pm 
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I have to actually agree with Richard in nearly every point he made. There were two wonderful moments the film was worth watching for, but as for the rest if it, well . . . it felt like some art-school project I wasn't allowed to be part of. I don't know why an unmade bed is art, I don't know why a stack of crates is art, and I don't know what the point of 2001 was. Given the breadth and scope of its admirers, I'm willing to be converted and shown the error of my ways, but whenever I've met fans of it and I surmise it as, 'boring, boring, boring, boring BABY!', they agree and then tell me that I don't get it, but don't elaborate. I loved the mentality behind HAL and the fact it was breaking away from Asimov - in fact, I loved most of the ideas - but it didn't talk to me in any language I understand.

The Day the Earth Stood Still should definitely go on the list, as should Brazil. And I'm so happy you've put Robocop in there. Whenever I try to talk to people about it, they always say, 'oh, yeah, zombie-cyborg cop, big deal'. No matter how many ways I try to explain it, no one seems to see the biting, caustic social satire underpinning the entire plot (ignore anything past the first film, by the way).

The original Terminator was far superior to T2, despite what I thought at the time. T2 was just another example of Cameron fondling himself in public with the aid of amazing special effects.

And lastly, as for 80's remakes of horror classics, sorry Tony, but I'll take The Blob over The Thing. The Blob had me grinning like the fifteen-year-old I was, but The Thing just didn't seem anything special.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:36 pm 
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I was a member of the '70s acid generation (minus the drugs), and yes, I loved 2001. It is certainly slow-paced, but that didn't matter to me. I especially enjoyed the ambiguity--although at the time I didn't have any trouble deciding how I interpreted it: alien culture (never specified) brings obelisks to earth to either note or perhaps cause the beginnings of human intelligence. Another obelisk is buried on the moon, because the aliens know that's the first place humans will go when space technology develops. When unearthed (unmooned?), the obelisk beams a message out toward Jupiter, letting the alien culture know that man is now a spacefaring race. Man, out of curiosity, and perhaps less noble motives, follows the signal. There Bowman (and symbolically, the entire human race) is absorbed by an obelisk (symbolically, the alien culture), where humanity itself evolves to old age and then is reborn anew as something different. Anyway, that's how I saw it when I was but a teenager watching it for the first time at a drive-in theatre.

Would it make my top-ten SF movie list now? Yup, if for no other reason than that it went where no other SF film had ever gone before and few have gone since. Even as a kid I appreciated that it didn't need explosions and evil villains to work, and that it made the viewer--gasp!--think.

Not sure what other ones I'd put on the list. Blade Runner, probably. Maybe Close Encounters and The Empire Strikes Back. Other than that, who knows?

One that would absolutely not make the list for me is the big-screen version of Dune. In fact, I don't mean to ruffle anyone's feathers, but when it came out, I thought it was one of the very worst movies I'd ever seen. Ever. I was utterly astonished that Herbert had accepted that script after having turned down so many others.

Total Recall was enjoyable, but Schwarzenegger's acting is atrocious, and the film turned what was a fascinating premise into just another potboiler adventure movie.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:50 am 
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Twelve Monkeys
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Soylent Green
Aliens
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1954)
Back to the Future
Frankenstein ((1931)
Bride of Frankestein (1933)
Blade Runner
Brazil


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:24 pm 
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Foxie wrote:
I don't know what the point of 2001 was... 'boring, boring, boring, boring BABY!'... it didn't talk to me in any language I understand.


Well, if nothing else you have to admire the prophetic quality of Kubrick's film (made before Armstrong walked on the Moon), which dared to show that space travel in the 21st century would become routine, if not boring, for passengers...

You also have to remember that Kubrick intended 2001 to be a "non-verbal experience", hence the mundane quality of nearly all the dialogue.
:wink:

Foxie wrote:
The Thing just didn't seem anything special.


OK, the remake of BLOB was indeed good fun, but it's simply not a patch on Carpenter's classic, which served up many shades of horror, allusion, and sheer paranoia, in contrast to the first THING. The 1980s' BLOB was little more than a slick updating if the same 1950s' sci-fi B-movie plot.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 12:33 pm 
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I always struggle with these sorts of lists as I have a tendency to forget things that seem forehead slappingly obvious when reminded of them. So I may have actually missed off some of my favourite SF films, here (and I am aiming for my favourites rather than "best" or "most influential" as I'm not remotely qualified to know of such things :)).

The Thing: I force myself to 'ration' this film and only watch it with 2/3 year gaps between. The greatest asset this film has is the fantastic employment of paranoia, and the fear and tension of not knowing who has been infected. The special effects are still potent to this day.

Terminator 2: Whilst it doesn't have the creepsome tension of its predecessor, I just plain like this one more. Plus, this was my first encounter with terminators (aged 15), and probably the first genuinely scary movie I ever saw (not counting the bit in Transformers on planet Sharkticon, of course).

Twelve Monkeys: This is absolutely brilliant. End of. Possibly responsible for redeeming old dirty-vest himself.

Videodrome: My first encounter with Cronenbourg. Now that's going to stick in your mind.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence: Easily the best cyberpunk film ever made. Contains what is possibly the only cinematic representation of someone being trapped in a recursive programming loop. Has any film/TV series put as much effort into envisioning a near-future cyberpunk society that is so simultaneously familiar and strange as GITS? Scholars of the uncanny will have a field day with this.

Primer: Clever.

Pi: Strange.

Serenity: Fun. Also: funny. Not the best SF film ever but is a well-written and plotted space opera, with characters that I like more and care more about than any of the other listed films. Single-handedly proves that SF need not be dour and humourless.

Tetsuo: Fabulously strange. Visually repulsive and engrossing. Metal fetishism. Extremely creepy. Features enormous drill-penis.

Blade Runner: Requires no introduction.

No Dune for me. I'm a huge fan of the book but don't think much of the movie. It's aged very badly, has missed out some fabulous scenes in preference to some silly ones, and worst of all it bloody rains at the end, instantly ruining the carefully constructed fictional ecology of Arrakis in favour of some old toss about Muad'dib actually being a messiah with magic powers, rather than a clever, manipulative and prophetic human being. /rant

There are others I regret having to miss off, like Contact (which lots of people hate but I think is rather good), Doctor Strangelove (which is a /bit/ SF, though to describe this claim as tenuous would be an understatement), Repo Man (okay, it doesn't belong on a top ten list, but it is a unique and fun film), Solaris (Tarkovsky!), and Escape From New York (just kidding - what a pile of old boots that movie was).

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 Post subject: I am Legend - remake
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:55 pm 
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Any news or whispers about the coming remake, this time by name, of Matheson's I AM LEGEND? - a book which has already been made into the more mundanely titled LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) starring Vincent Price and then more colourfully starring Charlton Heston as THE OMEGA MAN in 1971. Neither of these versions is negligible by any means. The new one stars Will Smith in a project apparently turned down by Guillermo del Toro. Instead Francis Lawrence, the director of the variable CONSTANTINE is in charge of a film which allegedly follows the OMEGA script more closely than the original text. A reading of the original appeared on BBC7 last year. After the unexpected pleasures of I, ROBOT, I secretly hope for something interesting at least although there has been some doubts over the casting of Smith as a character envisaged in the book as a 40-something, unfit, grouchy, heavy smoking white male. Personally I see him as being a bit like UK's John Prescott..

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:05 pm 
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I'd probably put 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' in my SF top 10. 'Blade Runner' would go top. Tarkovski's 'Solaris' would rank pretty high. I'd also have to save a place for the much-better-than-expected 'Pitch Black'. 'Impostor' might sneak in (a much better PKD adaptation IMO than 'Total Recall' or 'Minority Report' - though I liked the latter). How about Kathryn Bigelow/James Cameron's 'Strange Days'? - that was pretty good; though the whole Y2K thing dates it somewhat.

I also have a lot of affection for 'Logan's Run', but that probably has more to do with Jenny Agutter in that dress!

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