Science Fiction – Top Ten List

As this is the end of the year, it seems the time for Top 10 lists. I’ll be doing Top 10 lists of films currently available on instant Netflix. I’ve disqualified all the films that show as expiring on or before 1/1/10. Today is my list of Top 10 Science Fiction films – these are in no particular order.

Wall-E

WATCH: Wall-E (2008) – Rated G

Pixar has a can’t miss record so far. Even so this is a particularly haunting film. There is almost no dialogue in the first act and it’s still riveting. The film is absolutely gorgeous in so many ways.

Time After Time

WATCH: Time After Time (1979) – Rated PG

Malcolm McDowell and David Warner give the performances of their careers as H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper respectively. Jack the Ripper steals the Time Machine and travels to the future to escape justice. This is a superb blending of science fiction, action and romance.

Silent Running

WATCH: Silent Running (1971) – Rated G

Silent Running is a precursor to Wall-E’s environmental premise. Bruce Dern always plays people who are off or crazy but here he fits perfectly as an off-kilter botanist trying to protect the last forest. Also like Wall-E, Director Douglas Trumbull imbues three androids with almost human personalities.

Body Snatchers

WATCH: Body Snatchers (1993) – Rated R

While this is the third and third-best of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers adaptations, it is still highly entertaining. It is also the only one available on instant Netflix.

Terminator 2

WATCH: Terminator 2 Judgment Day (1991) – Rated R

This is the film where James Cameron raised the bar for special effects (and budgets). Like Pixar, all of James Cameron’s movies are good and some are classics. This one is a classic with some of the most fantastic action set pieces ever made.

Starship Troopers

WATCH: Starship Troopers (1997) – Rated R for graphic science-fiction violence and gore and for some language and nudity.

This is my guilty pleasure of the list. Starship Troopers is not an especially good film but it has very well designed creatures, lots of ironic humor and ample gore. The battle scenes are grand and frantic. This is a great check-your-brain at the door thrill ride. Whatever you do, don’t expect the complexities of Heinlein’s novel.

Men in Black

WATCH: Men in Black (1997) – Rated PG-13 for language and science fiction violence.

Is Will Smith ever not likable? The key to a good buddy comedy is having opposites that are both fun and have chemistry. Crotchety Tommy Lee Jones + good-natured Will Smith + science fiction = box office gold. Look for an early scene-stealing role from Monk’s Tony Shalhoub.

Planet of the Apes

WATCH: Planet of the Apes (1968) – Rated G.

This is the most classic film on the list. The climactic scene is one of the greatest reveals in cinema history. Sadly it has become so iconic that it isn’t really a surprise even if you haven’t seen the film (heck just look at the photo). If you are under 40, try watching this film while remembering that it was filmed in the 60s and is about race relations (among other things).

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

WATCH: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) – Rated PG for sequences of stylized science fiction violence and brief mild language.

The special effects on this film are incredible. One of the first films to replace everything with green screen, this is a wonderful throwback to the Flash Gordon serials of yore. Not everything makes logical sense and the acting ranges from good down to what you would expect from the old serials. The real reason to watch this is the cinematography and Deco art design.

Serenity

WATCH: Serenity (2005) – Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action and some sexual references.

While I did not order the list in any way, this one is my personal favorite. It is amazing that a TV series (Firefly) that was canceled after only 14 episodes (only 11 of which aired) was so popular on DVD that a theatrical release sequel was made. Joss Whedon is a wonderful wordsmith and the dialogue in this movie is crisp and wonderful as are the relationships between the characters. All of the cast are excellent as always but Chiwetel Ejiofor is absolutely amazing as a government operative on their trail.