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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Anonymous Coward

I refuse to be drawn into this thread!.... No, No, no...I can't resist....arrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghh!

Emotional and Intellectual:

Contact (1997)

Gattaca (1997)

Brainstorm (1983)

Comic Entertainment:

Total Recall (1989)

Fifth Element, The (1997)

Stargate (1994)

Starship Troopers (1997)

Flawed Epics:

Dune (1984)

Matrix, The (1999)

Cloud Atlas (2012)

GUILTY PLEASURES:

Logan's Run (1976)

The Thing (1982)

Andromeda Strain, The (1970)

Event Horizon (1997)

Rollerball (1975)

Soylent Green (1973)

Outland (1981)

THX1138 (1971)

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Re: I refuse to be drawn...

+1 for Soylent Green

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Re: I refuse to be drawn into this thread!

Fifth Element is fantasy dressed up as science fiction.

Starship Troopers is an illogical, inconsistent mess. Is there a genre called 'botched movies'?

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Logan's run

At last. I was thinking I was the only person who thought it a worthy contender to replace Zardoz.

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Re: I refuse to be drawn into this thread!....

Bump Stargate up to E&I. The TV show moved to CE, but the original was a quite a bit darker.

Move Logan's run to E&I as well. It has serious themes despite the eye candy.

Ditto Rollerball (for which, like Highlander, there can be only one). Granted the pacing is a bit slow for the modern audience, but then so is the first Christopher Reeves Superman if you go back and watch it.

Not on my list, but I know people who'd put Videodrome on the GP list. Mine would include Flash Gordon (Queen music one).

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Forgot to say....

...apart from Brainstorm

Children Of Men

War Games ? Sci Fi ? - Not sure.

Tron

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Re: Forgot to say....

Ah, Children Of Men - a good one, don't know how I forgot about it...

Basically, an unlicensed Half-Life 2 movie, too...

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Great list - have to agree about Silent Running and Twelve Monkeys though ... certainly worthy of making this list.

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Any love...

...for "2010: The Year We Made Contact"?

I found it a quite enjoyable watch.

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Re: Any love...

Really? I steered clear of it. By that point I'd learned that anything with Kubrick's name attached to it was most likely artsy-fartsy to the point of tediously missing its own point. I reached that conclusion with 2001 actually, it being the third tediously-missing-its-own-point Kubrick movie I saw.

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Re: Any love...

2010 has nothing to do with Kubrick, unfortunately. However it is based on the Athur C Clarke book of the same name and so like everything else he wrote is crap.

The film isn't even a very good version of the book.

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Re: Any love...

>is based on the Athur C Clarke book of the same name and so like everything else he wrote is crap.

So geostationary satellites are of no use to you, then, Irongut?

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Re: Any love... @sisk

You should actually see it. It sheds of the artsy-fartsy stuff from 2001 and is actually watchable by non-artsy types. Arthur C Clarke did two more books on that series: 2061 and 3001. While 2061 was still fairly good, 3001 seems to have been more of an ass-pull though.

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Re: Any love...

I'm afraid that Harlan Ellison summed up 2001 (and Kubrick) for me:

"If you haven't read the book, you won't understand the movie and if you have read the book, you'll hate it."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any love...

"If you haven't read the book, you won't understand the movie "

To make matters worse, if you haven't read his earlier short story, The Sentinel, you may well struggle to understand the book!

As an aside, I do believe it's the only Arthur C. Clarke book I've read where a named character is actually killed before the bad guy (well, "misguided and slightly less well qualified clever people / person / machine", with motivations usually explained in a previous chapter of exposition to make sure you don't get the wrong idea about them) is stopped non-violently by a of <deep voice>"men of science"</deep voice> (these tend to save the day a lot in his books, at least the one where there's a day that even needs saving), and I've read a fair few of them.

I'd disagree about hating the film though, it only starts being good after you've read the book and actually understand what's going on (a bonus point being that the book doesn't go all weird and psychedelic at the end).

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Re: Any love...

I'm not a big fan of Ellison, but he sure nailed that one!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any love...

I, on the other hand, am.

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Boffin

I think Contact has to be in there.

That was a film which dealt with big issues:

Who represents the human race?

What is the role of religion when presenting the human race to aliens?

How does belief coexist with science?

How much faith should we put into grasp of reality and our own technology?

Who pays for space exploration?

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Contact?

Contact felt curiously nebulous and insubstantial. I managed to watch the whole thing, but really wondered why, afterwards. I would generally re-watch a classic SF film (like Blade Runner) but have never felt the urge to see Contact again.

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On The Beach

Is it Sci Fi? Not really sure, but luckily still set in a future that hasn't happened (yet).

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Alien

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

Say what you like about the Star Trek movies, but 'Wrath of Khan' is a classic - much better than The Motion Picture, IMO. Also, another nod for 'First Contact'.

As others have pointed out, "Rollerball" (the 1976 version, not the godawful remake) definitely should be in there. I'd also add "A Clockwork Orange" as well, although admittedly that's probably a borderline case. Oh, and 'Stargate' - even though watching Kurt Russell gives me splinters it's still one of my favourite films.

Other than that, I must be one of the few people who thought 'Dark Star' was utter shit and that 2001 was horribly, horribly overrated.

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Re: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

Right on about A Clockwork Orange. While not necessarily a "sci-fi" as such, there are a tasty fistful of futuristic and dystopian elements. I'm surprised it didn't make the list as well as THX 1138.

Also, am I the only one here who considers 2001 and Clockwork Orange to be companion pieces of a sort? There's 2001 with the big sweeping grandeur of interplanetary adventure and finding God, and then there Clockwork Orange with "meanwhile, back on Earth..."

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Vic
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Joke

Re: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

> 'Wrath of Khan' is a classic

The original version, or the one edited for goats?

Vic.

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Tron...

surely has to be in there as a very early consideration of artificial intelligence and what is awareness.

I was always more into SF novels than movies and I spent too much of my youth reading about dystopian futures (which have not come to pass). As an adult working in molecular genetics, Gattaca is probably the best example of an uplifting message nicely hidden in such a way that it is not cloying. My (economist) wife was very worried about watching this with my (genetics researcher) friends as we mercilessly slagged off the ropey science in other movies, but we all left the cinema talking about the concepts not the holes in the technology.

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"Star Trek: TMP" but no "THX 1138"?

Bah! It's a fix!

I'm shocked -- shocked -- that you'd include the 1979 franchise cash-in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and leave out THX 1138 -- or, as I like to call it, The Only George Lucas Film That Matters.

Still, you did see fit to include 2001 and Blade Runner -- although too far down the list, imho -- so I've got to give you some credit.

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What about The Abyss?

and I agree, Contact should be on the list.

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Coat

Re: What about The Abyss?

THE ABYSS is effectively already represented on the list ... by 2001, given that THE ABYSS is little more than a re-make of 2010.

That hack Cameron doesn't need any more encouragement to believe he is anything more than a hack who made a pile of cash from a couple of at best very ordinary but surprisingly popular movies. One dreary, sentimental pap-fest in particular. Looking at you, TITANIC.

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@Jolyon Smith: Re: What about The Abyss?

Thank you - I thought that I was the only one who considered Cameron a mediocrity. I thought that "The Abyss" was perhaps the worst movie that I have ever seen - and I've seen movies by Ed Wood. I thought that 2010 was watchable, if nothing more; but I hated everyone in "The Abyss"... except the SEALs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Jolyon Smith: What about The Abyss?

I only hated that semi-bald fucker from David Letterman.

Of course if the ending had been done more in the manner of "Noah's ark", well, I just think that would have been better.

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Would have been nice to see Stalker on there, possibly we need a top 20?

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Pandorum

I'd add Pandorum to the list.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pandorum

Pandorum == Zombies versus the Spacemen ..

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Re: Pandorum

Oh yes. Though this movie is best watched without knowing what it is actually about, other than "spaceship going to colonize Earth-like planet".

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Anonymous Coward

Source code

Surprised no one mentioned this film in 3 pages of comments, brilliant serious hard scifi.

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Re: Source code

I watched that and Looper back to back and was most impressed by it.

Less by Loopers, but both managed to do time travel better than most other Hollywood flicks.

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Re: Source code

Aye, source code was very well done I thought. I was pleasantly surprised by it.

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Re: Source code

You're trollin' right?

Tomato Source Code = Final Approach + Ground Hog Day

Only an 11 yr old with no knowledge of what has come before would find this original.

The ONLY thing that would have improved it is if the movie had ended when the Army gal hit the big red "off" button at the end... instead we are insulted further with a Hollywood shmaltzy we all live happily ever after ending.

Barff!

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+1 for Rollerball

I'd put Rollerball in there. Not just for it's depiction of escalating violence for entertainment but also it's vision of a future dominated by large corporations.

Logan's Run is another with a very big idea at it's core, a post-apocalyptic society

where euthanasia is enforced in order to preserve limited resources. Bleak, but certainly

makes you think.

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Anonymous Coward

TV

Please now write the feature of ten serious sci-fi TV shows. Unfortunately I'm struggling to come up with suggestions of shows that really make you think, perhaps The Prisoner and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV

Easy:

Battlestar Gallactica (the new one).

Firefly

Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles

Star Trek: DS9

The Prisoner

Stargate SG1

Bablon 5

Space 1999

Sliders

Farscape

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Re: TV

I would add the "Falling Skies" too and the new "V" was not bad at all, shame they treated it the same ways as the T:SCC...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV

If we're going to stoop to TV, then categorically actor JT Walsh's last work, a top-drawer alien conspiracy, must be in there too:-

Dark Skies (1996)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV

Oh, The Event is pretty good re: TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV

The problem is that you ask most people what their idea of serious sci-fi is and they'll say Dr. Who. At least that's the only way that I can explain that anything good keeps getting cancelled after a brutally short run (still bitter about Firefly).

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Sadly, I misread it...

This is what I thought it said:

Boffins and spacemen - they're all as cold as the airless lunar surface under which they discover alien bacon awaiting the arrival of a species sufficiently evolved to uncover it."

: ((

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I can't believe

over 100 posts and no-one has mentioned enemy mine (1985)

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What about...

... Soylent Green?

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Right so... Zardoz?

I know SF author Gary Gibson says its reputation needs rehabilitated but... Zardoz... over Silent Running...

More egregiously... No STALKER?

And you have Close Encounters on there... Whut?

I thought this was a hardcore list?

Other than that it's not a bad list.

I'd also chip in Strange Days.

If you like Gattaca then check out Code 46. It's great.

Also if you haven't seen it yet Robot and Frank is *brilliant*. Funny, moving AND thought provoking. Seriously this film packs a lot in on zero budget and a short running time.

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Stop

Ermm...

You seem to have forgotten 'Logan's Run'... I'll fill out the 'send corrections' form now.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Ermm...

Ahem... paragraph 6...

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