Friday, September 10, 2010

SciFiNow: The Greatest Sci-Fi Film Of All Time

SciFiNow Issue #44 explores The Greatest Sci-Fi Film of all time according to its readers. As a reader-generated list it suffers from the cumulative effect of number-crunching. I love lists and there is no better list than the quintessential sci-fi films of all time comprised of lists specific to the individual. Guardians Of The Genre kick started this chain of thought with a similar themed post. My personal favorites will be forthcoming and as these things are slightly dynamic they are always subject to change just a little for all of us. I look forward to your ten favorites. For now, to get you thinking, the SciFiNow list is:

10. Forbidden Planet [1956].
9. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial [1982].
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991].
7. Planet Of The Apes [1968].
6. The Matrix [1999].
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968].
4. Blade Runner [1982].
3. Alien [1979].
2. Star Wars: A New Hope [1977].
1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back [1980].

It's certainly a solid list to be sure and I think you'll find many may make your own list of favorites. Ridley Scott and George Lucas both have two in the Top 5 here. I find Ridley Scott to be a far superior director in general and might reverse their positions, but I thing whose influence has been greater is certainly debatable. Let's see if you can post a list and up the ante by placing them in order from 10-1. What are your top ten sci-fi classics?

11 comments:

Will said...

One quick picking of nits: George Lucas didn't direct or even write The Empire Strikes Back (probably why it is the best one)!

I think there are two ways to look at Top 10/All-Time lists. One is by PURE entertainment value and PERSONAL preference. Two is by IMPACT.

For example: I don't necessarily ENJOY watching 2001 (good film, just not the first thing I grab on a Saturday night). BUT, if I were compiling a list of IMPORTANT sci-fi films, then 2001 should definitely be on there.

In terms of the list you posted: I don't know how you can have Alien on there, which is primarily horror, and NOT have Aliens which is virtually tied with Heat as my all-time favorite movie. Aliens would make my list if looking at it from both of the perspectives above.

So, what the hell, I'll give you my lists in BOTH ways of thinking (made on the fly and at work so. . .I'm probably forgetting something and going off of the first thing that comes to mind).

Will's Top 10 Science-Fiction (Impact/Importance)

10 Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
9 Avatar
8 The Day the Earth Stood Still
7 Metropolis
6 Planet of the Apes (1968)
5 2001: A Space Odyssey
4 The Empire Strikes Back
3 Blade Runner
2 Aliens
1 Star Wars

*NOTE: I didn't put T2 or The Matrix on there because I feel the two are less sci-fi and more action AND were more game changers for film making as oppossed to sci-fi. I'm sure many will disagree.

Will's Personal Top 10 Science-Fiction

10 Pandorum
9 Serenity
8 Sunshine
7 The Fifth Element
6 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
5 The Terminator
4 The Chronicles of Riddick
3 Planet of the Apes (1968)
2 Blade Runner
1 Wing Commander

Okay, just seeing if you were paying attention. Ha.

1 Aliens

*note: I put the first Terminator on here because THAT, to me, feels more sci-fi then T2. I know, I know. . .I'm strange.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Okay Will.... if that is off the cuff from work, good contribution. Very entertaining.

And I was paying attention because I immediately said WING COMMANDER! WTF! The I saw Aliens. : )

Boy, something you said about debating whether something was action or sci-fi or horror not sci-fi or whatever. The debate about what qualifies as science fiction goes on Ad nauseum.

Because I definitely would include Alien and I would even include The Thing. While both have horror elements, they meet my criteria for perfect science fiction film.

You could call Pandorum horror. You could call Avatar fantasy. You know what I mean.

Anyway, love your lists! I also love your point about impact/importance versus the personal.

I give you extra credit for separating the two, but while 2001 may have been important, I just can't get into it and therefore it would never make my top ten [which is forthcoming]. You can rib me then.

Your comments about T2 and The Matrix are true, but I think you would have many argue in favor of either on a THE list.

By the way, I also agree that The Terminator feels more like a proper science fiction film than T2. I agree completely. But then again more arguments of hair splitting would be forthcoming.

This is all in good fun and that's about all I get out of these lists, but they are fun to talk about. Cheers Will. Thank you.

PS. I still think Alien trumps Aliens for impact/importance. Any reconsideration there?

Enjoying those lists though, but I really do thing Wing Commander should have held on to that top spot.

Will said...

Haha. I love, love, love, love Alien and if I were to include it on a sci-fi list, it would be #3 or #4 but Aliens, to me, is almost the perfect MOVIE, not just sci-fi/horror/action, etc.

You made a great point about Pandorum. I basically credited it as sci-fi and left Alien off when they are basically the same thing, theme wise, except for the monster count. Hmmm. . .I may have to rethink this.

Interesting you feel The Thing is sci-fi. See, there are films like The Thing or, and this is bizarre but it's all I can think of, Vanilla Sky, that end up being sci-fi by one or two aspects but remain terrestrial in story/place/etc.

I'm not saying staying on Earth means it ISN'T sci-fi but. . .hmmm. . .like to me The X-Files movie (the first one) doesn't qualify as science-fiction even though at the end a flying saucer comes out of the ground and flies away. To me it's a thriller-mystery with sci-fi elements. Space itself, obviously, helps but there have been sci-fi shows, like Avatar, that hardly take place in space. Twister has a scene in space! I'm not calling that sci-fi!

So you have a great point that splitting hairs just causes great films to be left off lists. This may need both further examination and further discussion!

As for 2001. . .it is SLOW and plodding but definitely important for the genre. 2010 actually isn't a bad little film either if you haven't seen it.

And Wing Commander will go through the review process again but I can't make any promises!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

ha! Yes, you're right.... you are violating your own rule book. It's hard to stay within those guidelines you were setting for yourself.

Aliens is a perfect movie. I do love it myself.

Why would The Thing be that far off from face-huggers and body takeovers? We have a spaceship. We have a parasitic creature and loads of terrific science fiction, with a bit of blood and gore. What's not to love about The Thing? : ) Vanilla Sky, enh, not so much. Lost, enh, not really, pseudo sci-fi elements. I do know what you mean about The X-Files film too. That was a brilliant series with a lot going on. There were elements of science fiction, investigation, mystery, horror. It was casting a pretty wide net I would agree.

But I can't see Fight The Future comparing to the science fiction terror of The Thing. Yes! Definitely The Thing in the top ten. No question. : )

Besides, to qualify, the spaceship has to crashland on Earth at the beginning like in The Thing, not leave Earth at the end. Completely different. : ) But seriously, they are different, because the ship in the Thing carries a lifeform that is the thread throughout The Thing. The X-Files isn't built on anything like that. But again we are splitting here because they are incomparable in approach.

My head hurts. It's like a Chinese puzzle.

I haven't seen Wing Commander and never will. This is safe to say Will. : ) Thanks again my friend.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

From Doc Freak Freakenstein!
*******************************
You just knew I had to throw in my two-cents worth on this subject, didn't you Sci-Fi Fanatic? Anyone who cares, can read my top ten SF film list at the link that Mr. Fanatic was so kind to provide in his post. As you mentioned at the top of your blog, this was a top ten SF film list based on a magazine poll, so I'm not surprised that the results are skewed to more popular SF film franchises. That doesn't mean I have to agree with them! I comment on them from bottom to top:

10. Forbidden Planet [1956] While this is a good film that holds up well to contemporary tastes, it has aged enough not to make it a top ten pick. Still, it is important to its era and deserves a place on a top 50 list.

9. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial [1982] This must be a sentimental pick by adults who watched this as a child, because as an adult viewer I find it to be bad SF and only moderately entertaining as a fantasy-adventure.

8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991] This is a definite impact movie, in the way Cameron's Avatar is now, but it's not very good SF. The time travel devise is better exploited in Terminator, but I still wouldn't put either of them on my top ten list, despite the fact that I like both films.

7. Planet Of The Apes [1968] Sorry, S-F F, because I know you're a fan, but even though this is a very well executed film and holds up fairly well to the test of time, I could never get over the silly premise of the parallel Earth dominated by intelligent apes. Still, it does deserve a mention on an all time list; just not a very high one.

6. The Matrix [1999] This is a new one on my list, so of course I think it deserves a place on the top ten list. Many people focus on the action of The Matrix an overlook the many SF themes it explores.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] I'll agree that this film doesn't hold up well to contemporary viewers, who grew up on the MTV of pacing and editing. Still, it is one of the best SF films at creating the illusion of space travel. It also has more SF ideas in it than any ten contemporary SF films. It is number two on my list and has been as high as number one in the not-so-recent past.

4. Blade Runner [1982] This is my number one film and I do wonder how anyone could rate it below any of the Star Wars films. It is amazing how well this film holds up even twenty-eight years later!

3. Alien [1979] Call me a Ridley Scott suck up, but I too have this as my number three film. No one has humanized space the way this film has and it set the standard for all realistic alien species.

2. Star Wars: A New Hope [1977] I will always overlook Star Wars' many flaws, because it convinced the morons in the film industry that SF films could not only make money, but become blockbuster hits. Star Wars is not good SF, but absolutely entertaining science fantasy; which is what Lucas set out to make.

1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back [1980] Serious Fanboys (is that an oxymoron or what?) always pick Empire over the original Star Wars, because it is more serious in tone; and will always point out is is better because Lucas didn't write it (is is his story that the script was written from) and he didn't direct it (I find Irvin Kershner's direction somewhat pedestrian myself). As the middle film, it suffers greatly from a lack of climax and though it is a better technical achievement, it has less heart; which sadly continued with every SW film that followed.

Those are my humble opinions of the Sci-Fi Now poll list. Are you going to share with us your list, S-F F? I'm curious to see if it is the same one that you posted on my blog, or if you've revised it somewhat. I don't blame you if you do: I've revised my list so many times over the years that some might say I suffer from disambiguation! Freak, out!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

The previous comment was from Doc Freak Freakenstein, but as is often the case Blogger is being a pain in the ass to everyone this Sunday. His comments arrived to my e-mail box about 8 times but never appeared on Blogger so I have posted them above as they are alot of fun to read.

le0pard13 said...

Hmm... I need to think about this one, SFF ;-).

J.D. said...

Wow, this is a tough task - picking my top SF films of all-time. With these kinds of lists I'm always wrestling with do I pick the film based on importance or on personal preference and figured I'll just go for a mix of both. In no particular order:

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
ALIENS
BLADE RUNNER
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
SERENITY
PLANET OF THE APES ('68)
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
TRON
THE MATRIX

Wow, that was tougher than I thought and there were a few that I figured were too much hybrid-type film in terms of genre (like BUCKAROO BANZAI) that I really couldn't count.

John Kenneth Muir said...

Hi Sci-Fi Fanatic - another fascinating post.

I realize I'm in a minority here, but I always put Planet of the Apes (1968) at the number one spot.

It's a perfect combination of intellect and action; spectacle and satire. I love that movie.

At number two, I put 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I realize many would reverse the order (or put POTA down the list a ways.)

I think it's kind of lame to put both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in the top ten, though. One or other -- definitely --...but both?

Anyway, excellent fodder for discussion!

best,
JKM

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

L13- I have to assemble my own post for my top ten. I'll see you then if not sooner my friend.

JD- I've never seen Buckaroo Banzai. I guess, coming from you, it's another one to add to my queue. I enjoyed your list and I think there are several there that would make my own.

JKM-
Planet Of The Apes is right there for me John. I agree with you on your point about Star Wars if for the fact I need one extra spot for all my other favorites. : )

Thank you for the kind words my friend.

le0pard13 said...

Okay, I finally got this together here. Sorry I took so long, Gordon. Thanks so much for bringing this up, my friend.