1.) The original Star Wars Trilogy: (Okay so maybe this would be Number one if this list were in order?) This Sci-Fi western family fun franchise deserves to be in one spot all by themselves! They changed movies forever! There is a Star Wars day... I live much of my life by what Ben,Han, Luke or Chewy would do "in this situation."(yes I have contemplated ripping peoples arms out of their sockets when I lose.) I think the Visual Effects in Star Wars hold up to this day! The films were so rich w/ beautiful environments in a future that looks vintage! Put that together w/ a cast that fully committed to their characters enough to sell movies, that at the time, were not in fashion and you have the greatest Sci-Fi series ever made!!! Plus, these movies gave us the force, light sabers and Darth (greatest villain ever) Vader!!! Nuff Said!
2.) Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn: This film gave Star Trek a new beginning after Star Trek: The Motion Picture(dumbest title ever) almost killed the franchise. This movie has some cool effects as well... They are a bit dated at times, but I love practical effects and even early cgi... AND they are trying secure a weapon that gives life!!! Very Cool concept! I have said it before in my Best Sequels List( Leslie, my brothers wife, tells me she hates sequels like everyday... yawn) but Kirk to me becomes more of a human being to me... Before "Wrath" he was this incredible captain that always made the right calls and had more guts than brains sometimes... But in this story he finds out he has been an unwitting "dead beat dad," his best friends dies and then gets all the credit for saving the day! Throw in the fact that Kahn is one of the best villains ever and you have one of the best Sci-Fi films ever!!! In fact, it was so good that JJ Abrams decided to make the movie over again w/ a different twist and in a different time and it was still bad ass if you ask me!!!
3.) Terminator/T2: Both of these films are awesome and reinvented the Sci-Fi film in my humble opinion. I will start w/ Terminator... It is a cool idea plan and simple... Dude goes back in time to save the mother of the unborn savior of the human race, while being chased by the most ruthless, cold and unfeeling assassin he could ever face... Appropriately called... The Terminator!!! "Come w/ me if you want to live" is a Jewel of a line said FIRST by the very solid and not nearly used enough in Hollywood Michael Biehn! The first film set the stage for a bigger and more dangerous world in the Terminator universe! Great effects for the time that still look cool! T2 is so cool and bad ass that it was called T2 by everyone! I mean there are other movies that start w/ "T" in the world, but T2 is so cool it took "T" by the balls! It picks up year after the first film and Sarah Connor has become a huge bad ass and gone a little crazy too! The T-800 becomes good and protects John Connor and his mother in this film. Great simple change!!! I love stories about time because they always keep your brain sharp and engaged, while you are watching the film! By the time the T2 ends you are on the edge of tears while the lovable T-800 is lowered into the liquid metal in order to ensure the future! What a great contrast to the first film where all you wanted was for that damn machine to die already!!! Anyway, awesome villain as well! An ungraded T-1000! Old against new! Love it! What more do you need in a Sci-Fi film!!!
4.) Avengers: Yeah that's right it's a Sci-Fi movie and it is an incredible film too! Sure, call me a nerd boy or geek nose... loser bate or lame wad... BUT the bottom line is that The Avengers fight and stop a bunch of aliens that are trying to take over the world, man! If that isn't a classic Sci-Fi story I don't know what the hell you want? Plus, you have Loki a "god" who is really basically an alien, as an incredibly diverse and capable villain! He is charming and likable which makes him that much more of a perfect foil for the Avengers who don't even really like each other! The coolest part of this film is that it all happens right here on earth, but these alien are coming though this crazy wormhole/trans-dimensional portal that opens up right over New York! (my palms er sweating just thinking about it) It did like 3 billion bucks at the box office! It is and instant classic! It's a hero film in a Sci-Fi story! And the Avengers kick everyone's ass too! AAAMEN everyone!
5.) The Matrix: This is a completely unique film that takes a little from here and there to become one of the greatest Sci-Fi stories ever told! It starts w/ a normal guy w/ a job he hates like any other dude! but it takes this crazy turn and he waked up in a crazy H.G. Giger looking world where like in The Terminator machines are running things and we are there freaking energy supply! But it doesn't end there, man... we also find out that the characters in the film are just plugged into the something called the Matrix, which is the reality they "live" in... And it's a computer program, man! (now read everything I just said back but w/ Dennis Hoppers voice in your head) I think it's important to give a plot synopsis because it is such a wild concept for a film and it takes concepts we have seen in films like Star Wars, Terminator, and even Blade Runner to an extent w/ the agents effectively playing the roll of the Blade Runners! Neo is a reluctant hero like so many other great films and stories and he is called the "one" and becomes a Christ-like figure! So many great story elements and Sci-Fi concepts explored make this one of the game changing Sci- Fi films! People have tried to capture what the Matrix did, but always fall short and that even includes its sequels! It is somethings we will unlikely see again, Like the original Star Wars films or Blade Runner it is just in a class of its own! (not the sequels)
6.) Back to the Future: You knew this would be on this list so just smile and go with it! I love this film for so many reasons(See my Karate Brothers from the Future blog from a while back) BUT the bottom line is that it is just a great fun for all ages Sci-Fi film! There are no huge laser fights or sons and fathers at odds! It is about a kid who goes back in time on accident, gets stranded, messes stuff up and has to fix it, in order to exist! This is another great "take" on time travel and "what would happen if" and so on! There are little nods to other Sci-Fi films like Star Wars and Star Trek, which I always enjoy! The only real Sci-Fi element in this film is the "time traveling car," which as far as time machines go is one of the slickest if not the coolest ever on film! And that alone makes it one of the greatest Sci-Fi movies around!
7.)Blade Runner: What an awesome movie!!! This future is a place I personally wouldn't want to live... It looks too crowded and overly commercialized and there are these messed Replicants running around all over the place. And they all have these specialized skills they use to kill you. But even cooler is that there is a conflict w/ in Deckard the Blade Runner and Replicants he is hunting. I mean, from the Replicants point of view they got screwed.... their life spans are super short and they are created to do mans dirty work off world or "pleasure them".... But they have had incredible experiences that man could only dream of, and now they are being hunted by some human for wanting to kill there "creator?" I have to empathize with them on this one. And by the end it becomes clear that our "hero" Blade Runner doesn't have the passion or conviction he once did about his job! The film is dark and gritty and it marries Sci- Fi elements with film Noir! To me it takes what Star Wars did in there future a step further w/ the the vintage look. Everything looks new and futuristic, but run down and dirty. Nothing feels clean in this future and neither does the work that Rick Deckard is doing!
8.) Close Encounters of the Third Kind: There is one thing that hopefully we can all agree on and that is, Spielberg can make a movie about aliens! What I love so much about this film is that there are people who believe in this stuff ( maybe I am one of them... maybe I'm not) and that something similar may have really happened on "'merican soil." It sounds fantastical to think about some aliens coming down and playing music and whatnot, but is it anymore crazy than praying and talking to an entity that lives on a clouds in a place called heaven and rarely talks to you back? I am not here to answer these questions, unfortunately, but I can tell you w/ confidence that Close Encounters Is one of the greatest Sci-Fi films ever... It shines light on the Idea of alien abduction and visitation, which is something that many people have experiences in one way or another for years! The effects aren't great all the time in this film... It is clear that when we meet the aliens they are little people dressed up in alien outfits. And the stop motion/ puppets aren't that great either. But keep in mind that this film was really kind of a passion project for Spielberg so I am sure he was just trying to get the story out there more than anything else! Plus, the space ships are cool and it is damn awesome they use music to communicate! This truly is one of the great Sci-Fi films!
9.) The Day the Earth Stood Still(original): Okay this is a very cool film from a long time ago. It was recently remade not that long ago... I didn't see it but I heard it wasn't very good. I love the idea of this film... The fact that there are billions of stars out there makes it very likely that someday an alien will land on our planet, if that haven't already? So the idea of this happening is cool both now and when it was made. Klaatu is an alien and he comes to earth to tell 'us" to live in peace or be destroyed. This is still relevant today, man! he has this big robot that can lay waist to whatever it chooses and a cool space craft too. But the best Sci-Fi stroies to me are the ones that we can relate to the world we live in, and that's what you get w/ this film and it's timeless! And that is why this is one of the best ever!
10.) The Planet of the Apes (original): This is yet another great concept for a film... In fact Hollywood is rebooting it all again now! The idea is still fresh because any day we may destroy ourselves or invent somethings that will! I mean we are supposed to be the smartest beings on this planet, but we aren't the most physically gifted or the strongest! If damn near any Animal species "got organized" we would be in trouble! The film is muli-layered as well... Humans become slaves much like humans have made other humans and animals their slaves in the past and TODAY if you can believe it still happens. The idea of what it means to be human is an interesting element to the this story too. The Apes basically live the way we humans do... AS ANIMALS!! Different apes have different jobs, much like our society, and they have trouble getting along and will probably destroy themselves too by making all the same stupid mistakes we make!!! (brain melting too much think think) Classic Sci-Fi that deserves respect!
11.) Guardians of the Galaxy: If I ever have a need inside my soul to rewatch any film over and over again then it is an incredible and timeless film!!! So the fact that I am planning time in my schedule, which is growing increasingly more busy everyday to see this film AGAIN in theaters, means that this is very special film! I couldn't even believe how great it is, seriously... it is funny, well paced, has a great story and the cherry on time of the Sunday is that it has an 80's film feel, which I love so much! There are nods to when I was growing up all of the film. ( Which just means I am also getting old, but I'm fine w/ that) I think everyone in the world has pretty much seen this movie, but I don't want to give away the plot... All I can say is that it has cool tech, great effects and awesome environments that have a Star Wars type of feel... In fact I read a review that said "Guardians of the Galaxy is like a Star Wars movie with all Han Solos." Star Lord was flying around looking like Boba Fett, man... Rockett Raccoon translates his "tall tree" best friend! They took some of the best elements of Star Wars and updated them and in some ways even reinventing them. If you haven't seen this film it is incredible and has many surprises, twists and turns!
The key in my opinion to a great Sci-Fi film like any other film, is that is has to have an incredible story that anyone can relate to! I know that sounds like an obvious thing to say... But some films of this genre fail to deliver this element. I could name a few, but this is long enough and I have to do Honorable mentions at the bottom. All of the films you have read through share one element great stories that all can relate to!!!
Honorable Mentions: Some of these almost made this list!
Dark Star (This film definitely inspired some of Star Wars)
2001: Space Odessey (only mentioning it out of respect... I feel about this film similar to how I feel about Watchmen)
The recent Star Trek Films By JJ Abrams