back to article Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

Zap guns, robots, lightspeed-smashing spaceships and bikini-busting princesses do not real science fiction make. Just ask George Lucas. Star Wars defined movie SF in the mind of many a mainstream viewer. But while the film and its sequels and, er, prequels certainly provide the sci-fi enthusiast with thrills a-plenty - guilty …

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Primer, of course...

...in fact, I would argue that it''s better than any of the ten apart from 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of the downright cleverest films ever made.

What's missing?

Cube

The Fountain

Seconds

A Boy And His Dog

Alphaville

and a bunch of others that I'll remember as soon as I hit "Submit".

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Re: Primer, of course...

Alphaville....A single WTF moment that lasts 99 minutes.

Other than that...+1.

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Re: Primer, of course...

By "Cube" do you mean the episode of "NBC Experement in Television" from 1969 Feb. 23 Titled "The Cube" (starring Jim Henson), or Cube (1997)?

Of the two, I think the 1969 one gave me more food for thought, although I don't think I would consider either hardcore science fiction. 1969 Surrealist fiction, 1997 Slasher-horror.

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Alien

Re: Primer, of course...

For the really obscure - "Welcome To Blood City". It's even got Keir Dullea in it.

Phil.

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Re: Primer, of course...

- I'll throw in a vote for Cube. Brilliant idea and can I just say - IMHO Australia consistently makes brilliant Sci-Fi - think Pitch Black, Mad Max, Dark City hmm? Hmm?

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Re: Primer, of course...

Ah yes, Pitch Black.

A really good movie with Vin Diesel in it and thus the filmmaking equivalent of alchemy.

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Re: Primer, of course...

No, by Cube, he means the ITV programme starring Philip Schofield and the body (in there for the dads)

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2001 still does it for me

By far the best of the bunch. Though when someone (so long as it isn't Spielberg) gets round to filming Neuromancer or possibly The Shockwave Rider they could give it a run for its money.

Good call leaving out The Matrix IMHO. Far too many self-indulgent SFX getting in the way of the story.

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Re: 2001 still does it for me

I'll give you an upvote for hating Steven Spielberg as much as I do!

Phil

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Re: 2001 still does it for me

The Matrix Reloaded actually had really interesting themes, far more so than the Matrix. Sadly Reloaded was nowhere near as well made and overstretched the graphical effects abilities of the time just a tad too far (and the temple orgy? why? Was that supposed to be the missing Seitch orgy scene from Dune?). Revolutions sits unwatched on my shelf.

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Alien

How about a new one?

Given the type of list we are considering I would have thought that Cloud Atlas may be up for a mention? (Only watched it once, will have to see it again before I can make a final decision).

And I would like to agree with the shout out for DARK STAR. How could you leave out a film about teaching a bomb philosophy.

Mind you... going to line these up on the NAS and run through them all start to finish one weekend...

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Cloud Atlas!

I'm guessing that Cloud Atlas hasn't been out for long, and thus isn't yet being considered as worthy of a top ten list yet. It's pretty good, though.

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Still a great film

There should be room on the list for a time travelling paradox film, can I vote for La Jetée ?

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Re: Still a great film

Tom 38 already listed 12 Monkeys, which is Terry Gilliam's feature-length remake of the half-hour La Jetee.

Amusingly, Bruce Willis has done the time-travel paradox twice: 12 Monkeys and Looper. Compare and contrast...

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Anonymous Coward

>"Bruce Willis has done the time-travel paradox twice"

No he hasn't - there is no paradox in 12 Monkeys, just a stable closed time-loop.

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OK, so maybe not a classic but...

Brainstorm has a few things to think about.

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Re: OK, so maybe not a classic but...

- I really enjoyed Brainstorm - thanks for the memory jogger. I should have recorded it instead!

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Zardoz? Seriously? Oh dear......

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Boffin

2001 at number 3 .

If i point out the shadows of the helicopter on the colour synthesised wormhole transit sequence would this move it up or down ?

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Black Helicopters

I choose not to see the helicopters.

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Happy

You utter shit, Graham. I'm now going to have to go home, dig out my DVD of 2001, and try to find the bloody helicopter blades.

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well you get a pat on the back from me....

for being awake at that point.

seen the first 10 mins and last 10 mins prolly about 20 times

the 7 1/2 hours in between are a total mystery.

As with books there are some that you 'should' see that are simply not worth the effort.

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Anonymous Coward

As the order was release year, you could point out things until you were blue in the face but it wouldn't shift it either way.

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Re: well you get a pat on the back from me....

On the bright side, you got some rest out of it. I was awake through the whole thing and it's still a mystery to me.

But it certainly makes the lists every time.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: well you get a pat on the back from me....

How could you sleep through the Intermission.

I'm sorry, Dave, I can't let you do that.

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Megaphone

No commentard love for Gattaca?

Possibly my favourite SiFi film, not least thanks to the gorgeous score - the soundtrack CD is worth listening to, even if you hate scifi films.

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MrT
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Re: No commentard love for Gattaca?

Excellent movie - DNA glyph name. Love the reuse of old Rover P6 as 'the car of the future' too. Retro-stylish, and something that may have happened if Rover had stuck with developing micro-turbine power units - makes the movie more of a parallel fork from 1955 or so. Citroen DS19 and Studebaker Avanti too, but the Rovers stick in my memory most.

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Coat

I've always thought Pitch Black was underrated as a serious film and as a reflection on society. (Possibly because of it's lead actor)

I also like Starship Troopers and Robocop, even though they might be accused of visually catering for the lowest common denominators they have some clever themes and relections on the direction of society and the media too.

Am I on my own?

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I enjoyed Pitch Black, but I don't think I'd put it on this list.

(The only thing that ruined it for me was what happened next: They made Chronicles of Riddick.)

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Anonymous Coward

Agreed, Robocop is a brilliant movie, the sequels were rubbish.

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jai

I liked Chronicles because it didn't try to imitate Pitch Black. They're both very enjoyable in different ways, so neither detracts from the other, in my opinion.

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Chronicles of Riddick?

You mean they made a sequel to Pitch Black? Whatever next - you'll be wanting me to believe they made a sequel to Highlander as well? Yeah, right.

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Re: sequel to Highlander

There can be only one.

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Re: underrated as a serious film

Pitch Black - maybe

Starship Troopers - no. It's one of Heinlein's juveniles, and therefore space opera. I'm not a big Heinlein fan and I'm not sure the movie made it up to even the standards of his juveniles.

Robocop - yes, but not the sequels.

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Bicentennial Man

Unassuming, almost to the point of being tame but, nevertheless, rather good.

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Re: Bicentennial Man

- such a touching film. I always thought it would be a difficult transition from the book. I was wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Contact (1997)....?

...The thinking man's emotional sci-fi-er! With an all-star cast including:

Jodie Foster,

Matthew McConaughey,

James Woods,

Tom Skerritt,

John Hurt,

William Fichtner.

I like Clooney flicks, but Solaris in that particular list is the odd one out IMHO!

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Mushroom

You cant beat the cynicacism of the 70's for a good bit of dystopian Syfy so i'm nominating Rollerball and The Man who fell to earth for the list

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Had to give you an upvote for those two. how did they slip my memory?

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I love Rollerball. Is that not yet another film to get butchered with a sequel?

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It got butchered with a remake.

The opening scenes on the origanal are brilliant.

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Re: another film to get butchered with a sequel?

When I saw who they picked for the lead, I didn't even watch the previews. So I'm guessing yes, but don't know.

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Go

Harrison Bergeron

Dear All,

1. I know it was made-for-TV.

2. I don't care.

Harrison Bergeron is 1984 in colour, with sci-fi.

Watch it. Love it. Put it in every top 10 it can fit.

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Re: Harrison Bergeron

There is a more recent 20 minute version that is rather good:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2081_(film)

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Boffin

Veering off topic a bit

In my youth (which is too fat ago now) I remember reading something that said a book labels Sci-Fi was likely to be a Cowboys & Indians in space type space opera but if you wanted something a bit more intellectually challenging you needed to look for the label SF. At the time I found this to be a very good guide which is why I still wince a bit at the term SciFi (we'll say nothing about SyFy).

having said that -

Dark Star should be there, as stated I think it was the first "non-shiny" SF film I'd seen, and it's funnay as well.

And Primer, still makes my brain hurt, still no idea of exactly what happened but is a brilliant example of the principle of taking one "let's assume this is possible" idea and seeing where that leads to. (I like Bob Shaw's exploration of Slow Glass over many stories as a literary example of this.)

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Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

Agree with most of the list but it's missing two I think are modern classics in the Genre. Moon and District 9. Bit strange as you can go years without a good true sci-fi film and these two both came out around the same time.

Very different films but I think they both fall into the big ideas category.

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Re: Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

District 9 - good call that man.

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Re: Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

- "Focking prawn"

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Re: Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

I was never much of a fan of eating prawns and District 9 confirmed my belief that prawns should not be eaten.

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another couple

"Destination Moon" - considering when it was produced, it got an awful lot right.

"Moon" (with Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey) - an example of just how good an intelligent script can be in the right hands.

Alien Nation" was pretty good - simple story with some solid acting

(I'd also promote "October Sky" - OK technically it's not SF, but it does show how it was possible for younger people to get into rocket science back in the 50s.)

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