Saturday, November 29, 2014

Top 15 Must-Watch Sci-Fi Films

Robert Picardo as "Johnny Cab" robot cab driver in the iconic 1990 film, Total Recall.

  There's been a "hulla-balloo" of new recruits in the Space Command community, most of which are woefully unprepared.  Honestly, I don't see how these guys even function.  Today's Gen Zero'ers can only watch 90 seconds of any film before resorting to their YouTube videos on their portable devices (to which point they'll only watch 30 to 90 seconds of each vid before getting "bored").  Indeed, these kids were brought-up on "good for you" veggies, pre-seasoned heavily with pesticides, chicken impregnated with extreme estrogen from leftover "Yaz" pills, and fish from the Gulf of Mexico riddled with Xylene from the BP Oil spill a few years ago that sunk to the bottom.  Your kids are screwed, people, and you're feeding your kids poison (and have been) and it shows in their developmental failures with oh-so-innocent inoculation batches with "XX" markings on various pallets that will seem similar to operation MK Ultra from the 1960's or how a particular and familiar military branch in 1996 told every female coming in she had ovarian cancer and had to have one ovary removed (yep, happened).

  Because of all these things, young 20-somethings are now twitchy.  I see various off-signs of Tourette's Syndrome and twitchiness in a lot of 'em.  Can't focus.  Can't sit still.  Can't listen to an inner-peace.  Gotta fill that void!  Gotta fill it!  Most of them don't even remember their childhood.  Ah, America!  Yay, we won!

  Well, there's probably 15 or so must-watch science-fiction films that are both iconic and important to even understand Space Command in my opinion.  I meet these kids who barely have seen any sci-fi except they might remember "Jar-Jar" when they were a kid.  God help us.

Feeding new space kid with nutritious sci-fi goodness.  Eat, monkey, eat.

  This list will get you a leg-up and a start.  A lot of sci-fi films (like Interstellar (2014) is simply a rehash of Disney's 1979 classic, The Black Hole mixed-in with a little Silent Running (1972)).  The Matrix was just a remake of several re-hashed films, including the comic The Invisibles, and Ghost in the Shell.  Everything Tarantino does is a direct, frame-for-frame ripoff (such as Kill Bill with Lady Snowblood and Kill Bill II with Bruce Lee vs. the Ninja, Reservoir Dogs with City on Fire, Inglorious Basterds with Inglorious Bastards, The Last Metro, and Dirty Dozen, Natural Born Killers from Badlands and Kalifornia, and Foxy Brown from Rum I could go on all day).  I get annoyed with a remake comes out and people don't know the original, though I myself am to blame on rare occasion, and get mad at myself too!  I immediately watch the original, Repo Men the only one I avoid, because I know it will ruin the newer one utterly, and I kinda liked it.

  So, watch these 15 movies at all costs (some are trilogies) in the order presented.  Do so.  Now.  Then get back to me.  Until then, you are not human enough to talk to me and must lower-case your name.  When you watch these films, there are to be no distractions.  No phones.  No going to pee.  No pausing.  You watch them and you memorize them until it becomes part of your soul.  There is no excuse otherwise.  Quote lines from it like you're being hazed in a college fraternity and have to recite off-the-wall factoids and minutia.  Do it.
1.  Star Wars / Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi (original 1977 -1983 Trilogy)

     Iconic.  Immortal.  Perfect.  Mobs of people fought to get into the first one, not just politely "wait in line".  This first movie was sold-out for a full year, then for 4 years it was still in the theaters making sales.  There's a reason for that.  No other movie did that except Gone with the Wind (almost).  ET lasted 3 years.  I still remember seeing the entire trilogy at the "dollar" theaters in 1986 for the price of one.  It's a big deal.  Watch each one twice, then move on to the next.  Memorize these 3.
2.  Blade Runner (1982)

    Some say this is the best movie ever made.  It's a slow detective film akin to Humphrey Bogart's best work, but it's also an excellent drama based on the best science-fiction writer of all time, Phillip K. Dick's story, Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep.  This is the grandfather of all dystopian-future films and has an all-star cast.  The acting is all brilliant.  The details are amazing.  Way ahead of its time.  It's interesting Ridley Scott equates water with "danger" about a detective hunting down rogue human-like robots in this paranoia-infused man-hunt.  Get the US Theatrical Release with the narration by Harrison Ford if you can find it to keep the pace up and the backstory evolved.  Fabulous, expensive sets and matt-boards.  Detail everywhere!
3.  Escape from New York (1981)

    This film is one of John Carpenter's best "shadow play" works.  Another dystopian future film where Manhattan Island has been converted into a no-rules prison.  Air Force One crashing by hijack near the Twin Towers make it poignant, the actors brought the film up several notches.  Analog keyboards set the mood.  This is the king of all B-movies, but it works.  Consider watching, putting yourself in the main-character's point-of-view. 

Princess Aura and Emperor Ming approve of my choice.. following my public execution.
3.  Flash Gordon (1980)
    Pure, syrupy, delicious camp.  Gaudy Italian director Dino De Laurentiis make the first comic-book-to-film adaptation that actually works with a stunning, electrically-charged, and powerful soundtrack by the rock band Queen takes the film above and beyond.  Max von Sydow (soon to be in Star Wars VII (2015)) plays the perfect villain.  The movie teases on dead-pan one-liner comedy and oozy sexuality Barbarella couldn't pull-off.  It's a jaunty adventure that's bigger than itself, and probably the second best opening intro to any movie next to Star Wars (original, uncut version). 

5.  Logan's Run (1976)

   Dreary 1970's post-apocalyptical dystopian, George Orwellian, hopeless and thick.  There's quite a few films that are similar to this level of misery and tension, such as Westworld, Omega Man, and A Boy and His Dog but this one has a great cast and a moody vibe that combines all of the 1970's into one flick that everyone talks about.

6.  Aliens (1986)

    You shoud watch the prequel, Alien but that's more of a horror-flick-sci-fi than a sci-fi-horror-flick.  Both are quite good in their own wake.  Watching the original will get you up an in the mood for a better understanding, but the sequel is full-on military-versus-aliens that Starship Troopers sort of botched.  This one is the least "campy" of the genre-bunch and has you interested throughout.  You could pass on Alien and go right to Aliens if you like.  I recommend you don't.

7.  Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (1982)

    Star Trek is it's own religion.  There's a reason for that.  You should investigate that fully, starting in-order with the original series (by order of episode, not release-date as Season 1 was mixed-around in the same way Firefly was).  You can go to Wikipedia and find out the correct watching-sequence pretty easily and jump on Netflix and the series had a upgrade/refresh in 7.1 surround HD and special-effects modernization making it great.  This film can be watched with no prior background of the franchise, as well as the 4th one (yeah, the one with the whales).  It comes-off like Run Silent Run Deep as a submarine World War II submarine film with military overtones throughout. 

8.  Forbidden Planet (1956)

    So you have to watch some older sci-fi and this one with a very young Leslie Nielson does the trick.  Special effects for the 1950's was stunning at-the-time; even unheard-of!  Story is tight and the robot is iconic and used and seen everywhere since.  This is your best choice (aside from Metropolis and The Day the Earth Stood Still (original 1951 version)) that will get you a good taste for what sci-fi history was all about, and why it's a big deal now.  Great acting and work here.

9.  Terminator (1984) & Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

    Arnold Schwarzenegger's best-known (arguably) work as a time-travel-paradox adventure.  Skip all the others.  I & II are excellent and still are cool and hold-up today.  Pure action and killer robots sent from the future to destroy key personnel to stop the revolution and suspicious yarns that at the time were traditional and iconic pickup-lines for chicks back in the early '80s, "Come with me if you want to live!  I'm from the future!"  Then.. bumping bunnies.  Uh-huh.  This time, is it for real?


10. Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-1990)

    The Delorean Motor Company would have been completely forgotten if not for this film.  Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd have to fix the timeline in a time-machine-fitted car.  There's a crossover fan-fiction film here.  (only watch this crossover if you've seen all 5 above films of #9 and #10).  Akin to the TV series Voyagers and the basis for the cartoon show Rick and Morty, this series spawned the notion for Hoverboards and Nike "Air McFly" shoes as well as the phrase, "Do you remember the future?"

11. The Thing (1982)

    John Carpenter's other good film with heavy use on shadow-play and a shape-shifting alien in Antarctica on an isolated US research base cause extreme paranoia amongst the inhabitants.  Special effects are bone-chilling and stand-up even to this day.  A prequel came out recently.  Analog keyboards again set the mood and though a bit slow, it's intense, and still scary today.

12. Soylent Green (1973)

    Dystopian future again, this time humanity is treated like pests.  Food sources are questionable, and the government doesn't want you to know the source in this worst-case scenario North Korea is currently going through today!  Like this one?  Watch the original Death Race 2000 too.

13. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

    Reminiscent of the Chernobyl Incident, one Starfleet Captain is used as a chess piece to fail a peace-treaty due to his obvious prejudice in this political action/thriller.

14. Rollerball (1975)

    Gory future that inspired current roller-derby games and the film Whip It (2009) but far more horrific as sport and death go hand-in-hand and is expected by the community with no rules (oh, and fire, and motorcycles.)   Like this one?  Watch Running Man as well.  Not for the squeamish (if you can get the Rated-X version).


15. Total Recall (1990)

    A bit of a fun film with a serious angle from the book, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale about a guy who wants to buy a vacation without going by having memories of it implanted into his brain, then things go wrong... or do they?  This film leaves you guessing.  Campy at times (with Schwarzenegger again) but futuristic and interesting and very quotable parts.  If you can find the unrated version, get that.  It was the last film to be Rated-X in the US!
Ice cream can be sooooo messy.

  So, that's it.  Did I leave your favorite one out?  Post below for more goodness!

It sure can be, eh, Mabel?!


Oh, and one for the ladies!

No comments:

Post a Comment