Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (Full Version)

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Gimli The Dwarf -> Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (26/1/2012 8:08:20 AM)

At long last!

I was going to do a top 300 as Homer started, but there's enough variety I think a top 400 will be nice. Also, I want others to go "Never heard of that" at about 90% of these films [:D]

It will come as no surprise to hear that Rawlinson accounts for a lot of these obscure titles!

To make ths thread neat and today try and keep all discussion in the original thread - http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=3208959


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (26/1/2012 8:14:54 AM)

400. First Spaceship On Venus (1960, Kurt Maetzig)

399. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956, Fred F. Sears)

398. Planet Of The Apes (2001, Tim Burton)

397. Master of the World (1934, Harry Piel)

396. Children of the Damned (1963, Anton M. Leader)
The sequel to the adaptation of Wyndham's famous novel doesn't quite have the same impact as the original, but is a superior and seemingly underrated sci-fi film regardless. Six more children have been born across the world with vastly advanced knowledge, capabilities and powers for their age - the British government attempts to bring them together for scientific analysis, but unsurprisingly this turns out to be a bad idea as there is something malign and deeply alien inside each of the children. It lacks the immediate tension that the first film had of being set in a small village, but Leader compensates for this with some excellent location shooting of an eerie almost deserted London as the children link up and go on the run to form a base of operations and some vivid demonstrations of the childrens' power over others. The film intelligently explores the possibilities behind the children's existence and on that note it's a lot more ambiguous than the original, which is a good thing - even Paul, the leader of the children, calmly admits that they don't know the reason for their being on Earth. SPOILERS It winds itself up to a climax that is disturbing in its brave refusal to cop out or pull punches - the image of two of the children still holding hands despite being crushed beneath some rubble is an extremely sobering one.


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (26/1/2012 9:37:50 AM)

395. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983, Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, Steven Spielberg)

394. Les Maîtres du temps/Time Masters (1982, René Laloux)

393. Krakatit (1949, Otakar Vávra)

392. Alternative 3 (1977, David Ambrose)
In the 70s Anglia TV ran a serious show called Science Report, a kind of ITV version of Tomorrow's World, but more about what was going on in the world of science, rather than testing and playing with lots of gadgets. The show was cancelled in 1977 and they decided to go out with a bang. As their final show was due to run on April Fools Day, they created a show based on a conspiracy theory of their own concoction.

The show, with normal presenter (Tim Brinton) and normal structure, investigated a story of disappearing scientists (and some dead ones). Following up one death, of a scientist from Jodrell Bank, led the team to a mysterious video tape that wouldn't play on a normal VCR. The interviewees tell a tale of an Earth not much longer for this world – pollution will shortly destroy all life. A decision on the way forward has to be made between 3 possible, but equally extreme, "alternatives". The clues from these interviews finally lead the team to a special decoding machine that will play the tape – revealing not only that one of the alternatives has become all too real, but with a final shot that suggests it might not be quite as successful as hoped.

Alternative 3 was born of the increasingly silly conspiracy theories around the moon landing and the newly popular fears on climate change and greenhouse gases (this film predated Capricorn One, which also came out of some of those same fancies, by a year). Delayed because of strike action, Alternative 3 was finally broadcast several months later, although carrying the April 1 date. As it was a serious show and had the normal presenter, various rumours about how factual it actually was have sprung up over the years including claims the government forced them to state it was a hoax. It generated books and much discussion. For us seeing it now - with Colonel von Strohm as a serious scientist and Shane Rimmer of everything including Whoops Apocalypse - this might seem a little absurd. But a decade or so later the same hoo-ha happened with Ghostwatch.

From a long line including Welles's War of the Worlds broadcast (the writer had worked on Orson Welles's 'Great Mysteries' series a couple of years before) this is a fascinating little show, convincingly done, and one of the greatest and most successful pranks to be played on British TV (while remaining brilliantly watchable – it is actually quite a tight little thriller, too).


391. The Brood (1979, David Cronenberg)
Oliver Reed stars as Hal Raglan, a psychotherapist who has created a new technique where traumatic memories can cause changes to a patient's body, bringing repressed emotions into the physical world. One such patient is Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) a woman in the middle of a custody battle over her young daughter. But while other patients turmoil is manifested as skin outbreaks, Nola's trauma turns into deformed, child-like creatures who act out Nola's rage against the people who hurt her. Cronenberg had already made a number of films where internal repression was manifested through physical changes. Usually it was sexual repression changing to sexual liberation, here it's repressed rage and anger at abuse that is externalised. It's one of Cronenberg's most uncomfortable films, and if I'm honest I think this discomfort may be part of the reason I don't rate it higher. In some ways it feels too raw, too invasive. It's been accused of being misogynist, which is absolutely ludicrous. It's Cronenberg's familiar obsession with body horror, just because here his terrified gaze is turned on motherhood, it doesn't make it misogynist.


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (27/1/2012 7:20:24 AM)

390. Spontaneous Combustion (1990, Tobe Hooper)

389. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970, Joseph Sargent)

388. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979, Robert Wise)

387. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988, Vincent Ward)

386. The Invasion (2007, Oliver Hirschbiegel)
Umpteenth version of the classic science fiction tale by Jack Finney. It lacks the sense of paranoia or fear that previous versions captured and the ending could be considered a cop out, but this is a watchable affair with much to enjoy, not least a fine performance from Nicole Kidman. Still, when you consider the director was Downfall's Oliver Hirschbiegel, you can't help but think this was a missed opportunity.

Gimli The Dwarf

385. Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam/The Man Who Saves the World a.k.a. Turkish Star Wars (1982, Çetin Inanç)

384. Jigureul Jikyeora!/Save The Green Planet! (2003, Jang Jun-hwan)

383. Lilo and Stitch (2002, Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois)

382. Superman 2 (1980, Richard Lester)
Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to marry Lois, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth.

When I first saw this at the cinema, I was so excited I came flying out into the cinema foyer flew around the foyer before crashing and headbutting the cinema manager in the kneecaps. I am regularly reminded of this by my parents.
I know this isnt generally regarded as the best of the Superman films but it still remains my favourite. I love Stamp as the OTT Zod, the showdown in Metropolis and that it is not super serious.
My favourite superman movie.


381. The Boys From Brazil (1978, Franklin J. Schaffner)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (28/1/2012 1:50:12 AM)

380. Alligator (1980, Lewis Teague)

379. The Incredible Hulk (2008, Louis Leterrier)

378. The Puppet Masters (1994 Stuart Orme)

377. Slither (2006, James Gunn)

376. Heavy Metal (1981, Gerald Potterton)
I mean, just LOOK at that poster! If I had never seen it, I'd WANT to watch it just because of that EPIC poster! I seriously believe that the Ivan Reitman-produced cult classic is one of the most criminally underrated films ever - it MUST be 'rediscovered'! This film just encapsulates so much I love about film in general - Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction, Horror, Great score (one of Elmer Bernstein's finest)... and hot, nude (albeit animated) chicks! It is such a fantastic, psychadelic and unique experience that all lovers of animation should check out at least once - you will be surprised. Yeah, the animation may seem a bit dated but it has an old-school charm that resonates and continues to influence a whole new generation of fans. Plus, it has a ROCKING soundtrack!


375. The War Game (1965, Peter Watkins)
Peter Watkins' chilling depiction of life in Britain after a nuclear attack. The effect of the show was so horrifying that the BBC pulled the broadcast and didn't air it for 20 years. A confrontation between America and China leads to a war involving all the communist nations. When hostilities escalate a nuclear war erupts and Britain is hit. Filmed in documentary style, The War Game focuses on the after-effects of a nuclear war and what it would mean to the population of Britain. This film that the BBC were scared to show deservingly took home an Oscar.


374. The Island (2005, Michael Bay)
One that seems to divide action movie and Michael Bay fans alike.

I don't care what the naysayers say about this film, I loved it. For once, the storyline for a Michael Bay film was quite intelligent, but in the hands of the Master of Disaster, it becomes a fast-paced sci-fi actioner with some really rather good setpieces.

Ewan McGregor makes for a likeable anti-hero, and Scarlet Johansson has never looked better (and she does more than just look good in skintight clothing!). Again, Sean Bean is on bad guy duty here, and he plays it quite well as the well-meaning, yet quite sinister scientist developing clones for a giant "human spares" industry.

Good fun, if nothing else.


373. The Face Of Another (1966, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

372. Superman Returns (2006, Bryan Singer)
That's right I gave Superman Returns 5/5 it isn't a flawless film by any means but I loved it on my first viewing at the Cinema (I almost hyperventilated during the opening credits) and on the subsequent 4 viewings too. It was the film I watched the most of DVD last year (only 4 but…) and on my tenth viewing I still thoroughly enjoyed the film. In fact I'm so used to Kate Bosworth a Lois Lane now she hardly bugs me at all and I don't even care that the film hinges on the fact Peter Kenyon wants to develop million dollar real estate. I really hope that Superman: Man of Steel is developed and gets a green light because I think Routh alone deserves another go at Superman he was superb in Returns, admittedly a little weak as Clark Kent but as Supes he was brilliant. As for the lack of action, humour and ambition aimed at the film, well I thought Jimmy Olsen was amusing as were many of Clark Kent's goofy facial expression and awkward interactions with Lane. I loved the airplane incident at the beginning, the ripple through Metropolis ending at the Daily Planet and I really love the Diluted "Krypton Island” being hoisted into space, Christ pose included. To be honest I am not a massive fan of ACTION EXPLOSION! ACTION BOOM! ACTION ANOTHER BIGGER BOOM! I like a little substance too (even if it is flimsy) which I think Superman Returns has a lot more of than most comic book films.

Superman Returns has a beautiful look, a lot of heart and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside unlike any of the Spiderman films all of which I've disliked with the exception of any scene involving Doctor Octopus in Spiderman 2 which considering I was a bigger fan of Spidy as a youngster than Superman is something of a disappointment. Also compared to the likes of X Men 3: The Last IQ Point, Daredevil, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Blade III, Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider and the recently lukewarm releases of The Incredible Hulk and the rather colourless Iron Man for me Superman Returns remains a stunning success.



When the best sequence of the film is the opening credits and that's remarkable simply for the use of a theme tune that's almost 30 years old, you know you have a problem.

Gimli The Dwarf

371. Turkey Shoot (1982, Brian Trenchard-Smith)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (28/1/2012 6:05:55 AM)

370. Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924, Yakov Protazanov)

369. War Games (1983, John Badham)

368. The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005, Anthony Lucas)

367. The Man They Could Not Hang (1939, Nick Grinde)

366. The Invisible Man Returns (1940, Joe May)

365. Threads (1984, Mick Jackson)

364. Sora no Daikaijū Radon/Rodan (1956, Ishirō Honda)

363. The Ice Pirates (1984, Stewart Raffill)

362. The Hidden (1987, Jack Sholder)

361. Spacemaster X-7 (1958, Edward Bernds)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (29/1/2012 1:42:24 AM)

360. Phase IV (1974, Saul Bass)

359. Destination Moon (1950, Irving Pichel)
A more realistic science fiction film than many I've seen from the time, I found this fascinating from a historical viewpoint. Following the development and then the mission of the first lunar rocket, it's interesting to see the flights of fancy that occur on screen but also how much seemed to reflect accurately evens that would follow during the space race. Decent acting goes out the window, but still a great watch.

Gimli The Dwarf

358. The Man From Planet X (1951, Edgar G. Ulmer)

357. Mothra (1961, Ishirō Honda)
I was genuinely surprised when, halfway through the film, I realised that I was actually really enjoying this, the bastard moth daughter of Godzilla. Gone are the plodding patches of Godzilla where Takashi Shimura's family do very little at all; in its place we have wisecracking newspaper reporters, villainous Japanese-Americans and a plot involving the rescue of two singing fairies while avoiding the wrath of Mosura. The destruction of Tokyo and, later, 'New Kirk City' obviously count as the highlights of the film - the model work is really solid and Mothra is an excellent kaiju to have rampaging through the cities - but on top of all the cheesy monster destruction we've got legitimately interesting characters (Ten-chan, the 'snapping turtle' newspaper writer, is a hilarious and likable protagonist, Dr. Chujo is a far more interesting and active doctor-type than the eyepatch-sporting Dr. Serizawa from Godzilla, and Jerry Ito's Clark Nelson is a magnificent ham of a villain), a surprisingly dense thematic discourse (Mothra is essentially a feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-nuclear Catholic god) and some incredibly solid effects, far better than the man-in-a-suit of Godzilla. Mothra may be one of the forgotten kaiju films, but that's unfairly so, because it is excellent.

Pigeon Army

356. Hare-Way to The Stars (19567, Chuck Jones)
Bugs wakes up from a long night mixing radish and carrot juice and heads out of the rabbit hole, unknown to him a space rocket has been placed over his hole. Bugs manages to climb inside the rocket and before he knows it he's landed on Mars. While there he discovers Marvin the Martian is trying to destroy Earth with his Illudium q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. Bugs tries to stop Marvin and finds himself tangling with some dehydrated Martians. Any Marvin the Martian cartoon is an immediate classic in my eyes, and while this doesn't quite reach the brilliance of Marvin's tangles with Daffy, it's an always entertaining and often hilarious short.


355. Unearthly Stranger (1964, John Krish)

354. La Antena (2007, Esteban Sapir)

353. Gremlins (1984, Joe Dante)
It's a shame that Dante doesn't really get as much praise as his '80s contemporaries, as the best of his work is up there with anybody elses, really. In many ways, Gremlins best sums up his work - wildly anarchic, a shockingly black sense of humour at times, a deep love of cinema (specifically the b-movies of his youth) resonates throughout, and a perfectly-pitched narrative and feel for the characters. The Gremlins themselves haven't dated one bit and Dante's gleeful destruction of everything we hold dear about Christmas is as inventive and daring as ever.


352. The Toxic Avenger (1984, Lloyd Kaufman/Michael Herz)

351. Night Of The Comet (1984, Thom Eberhardt)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (29/1/2012 5:57:30 AM)

350. Event Horizon (1997, Paul W.S. Anderson)

349. The Flipside of Dominick Hide (1980, Alan Gibson)

348. Planeta Bur (1962, Pavel Klushantsev)

347. Plague Dogs (1982, Martin Rosen)

346. O-Bi, O-Ba: The End of Civilization (1985, Piotr Szulkin)

345. The Mechanical Monsters (1941, Dave Fleischer)
Obvious where Sky Captain got its inspiration from, but this is better.

Gimli The Dwarf

344. Young Frankenstein (1974, Mel Brooks)
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is a respected doctor and lecturer, he's happily engaged, he has a good life. The only slight problem is his family tree. His grandfather was a mad scientist, the infamous Frankenstein. Frederick has worked so hard to distance himself from the family legacy that it's understandable that he gets a little angry whenever people mention his family's dark past. Then one day, he's informed that he's inherited his family estate. When he travels to his Grandfather's castle, he meets his hunchbacked servant, his beautiful lab assistant and his sinister maid. He also discovers his grandfather's secret laboratory and his private journals. Once he's reads them, the same madness that took over his grandfather engulfs him and he decides to continue his work in re-animating the dead.

It sounds almost as if it could be an entry in the classic Universal series of Frankenstein films, doesn't it? And that's what makes Mel Brooks madcap comedy work so well. It could easily have been a silly parody, taking cheap shots at films far better than it. But Brooks at his best was not only a comedic genius, he was also a great director. Young Frankenstein is more of a comedy homage to the great Universal films rather than a parody of them. Brooks aimed for authentic all the way, it was film in black & white with period style music, style, credits, they even used props from the original Universal films.

The casting is incredible, Wilder does possibly his best work as Frederick, alternating between uptight repression and manic energy with ease. Madeline Kahn is divine as his fussy fiancee. Marty Feldman is a riot as Eye-Gor, the faithful, if not too intelligent, servant. Teri Garr has some great moments as his beautiful assistant. Cloris Leachman nearly steals the film as Frau Bleucher, the woman whose mere name strikes fear into animals. Kenneth Mars is great fun as the local police chief. Gene Hackman puts in a wonderful cameo as the blind hermit from Bride Of Frankenstein. And that just leaves the Monster himself played by the late great Peter Boyle. Boyle gives the performance of his career (yes, even better than Joe) and comes close to being a rival for Karloff as the greatest screen monster. He's touching, funny, and by all accounts he has a huge schwanstucker.

The film is packed with great scenes as well. The most famous scene is Wilder and Boyle's rendition of Putting On The Ritz (rightly so). That scene alone would make sure Young Frankenstein is remembered as a comedy classic, but add to that Freu Bleucher and the horses, Kenneth Mars playing darts, Marty Feldman and Abby Normal's brain, Madeline Kahn's transformation into the Bride or Gene Hackman nearly maiming the Monster while trying to be his friend.

Brooks later career decline was such a sad thing. His work in the 60s and 70s justify the use of the term comedic genius. His 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums would make sure his legacy was always remembered, but if you add into the mix films like Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety and The Twelve Chairs then you can see why he really was one of the greats. He was a much more subversive figure than people gave him credit for as well. He always had one eye on the future and another on the past. He celebrated the golden age of Hollywood (Musicals, Hitchcock, westerns, horror) while he tore down their conventions. Forget all the claims about being the Godfather of bad taste comedy, Brooks was funny in a way few people ever have been, and Young Frankenstein is, IMO, his finest work.


343. Muppets From Space (1999. Tim Hill)

342. Flight of the Navigator (1986, Randal Kleiser)

341. Crimes of the Future (1970, David Cronenberg)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (29/1/2012 9:39:16 AM)

340. Code 46 (2003, Michael Winterbottom)

339. The Last Starfighter (1984, Nick Castle)

338. The Earth Dies Screaming (1965, Terence Fisher)

337. Melancholia (2011, Lars von Trier)
Nothing in Melancholia tops its opening five minutes - a series of slow motion tableaux vivant set to the Prelude to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, von Trier's opening is breathtakingly cinematic, depicting the end of the world through surreal imagery (Charlotte Gainsbourg running through an overgrown green on a golf course) and a pervading sense of inevitability, inescapability. The rest of the film never measures up to this sequence - hell, von Trier's career doesn't measure up to this sequence - but Melancholia remains a captivating, stunningly-shot look at how we deal with the unknown and unavoidable, how we cope in the face of inevitable tragedy. The first act, 'Justine', follows the wedding night of young, beautiful, talented manic-depressive Justine (Kirsten Dunst), and while Dunst herself isn't amazing, she plumbs previously-unknown depths of emotion to get to the heart of a woman who just can't be satisfied with her life and sets out to ruin it as a result. The second act, 'Claire', takes place after the wedding and before the end of the world, and is a step up from 'Justine' - with two fantastic performances from Charlotte Gainsbourg and Keifer Sutherland anchoring the act and the threat of cosmic catastrophe looming, von Trier is on top form, capturing false hopes and self-deceptions in every word. Overall, Melancholia is probably von Trier's most cinematic work and also his most incredible - filled with stunning imagery, great performances and high emotions, it never lets up and rarely lets down.

Pigeon Army

336. Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970, Ted Post)
The first sequel to the classic science fiction film, which has much the same plot, with a different astronaut crash-landing in the future with the intention of searching for Taylor. Covering much the same topics (civil rights, mainly, but also animal testing in a much subtler manner), “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” is a little dull for the first hour, where it treads along the same path as the previous film did but with (obviously) none of the same originality. It comes to life in the final act, though, where it descends into the forbidden zone and becomes a very odd, very trippy experience with telekinetic humans and (often quite rubbish) hyperactive special effects. James Franciscus is probably a little better than Charlton Heston, and although he doesn’t have an iconic ‘THIS IS EARTH!’ moment, he delivers his own realization with much more emotion amongst the modesty of it. Its discussion of civil rights and race issues, much like the last film, is very in-your-face and unsubtle, but the animal testing discussions (hey, look! They’re doing to humans what humans do to animals!) are interesting enough, even if – again – it was all done just a year or so before in the Heston film. It’s enjoyable, though, and certainly worth it just for the final act.


335. Acción Mutante 91993, Álex de la Iglesia)

334. Jurassic Park III (2001, Joe Johnston)

333. Wizards (1977, Ralph Bakshi)

332. Journey To The Center Of The Earth (1959, Henry Levin)

331. Highlander (1986, Russell Mulcahy)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (29/1/2012 9:51:42 AM)

330. Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925, Scott Pembroke/Joe Rock)

329. Returner (2002, Takashi Yamazaki)

328. The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961, Coleman Francis)
I have a task for you all. If you will, create in your minds the most drivel-laden preposterous piece of modern Hollywood horror/thriller you can think of. Throw in half a dozen or so of the worst actors you've ever seen, add the most absurd narration possible and lavish it with an obtrusive score. Then remove about 95% of the budget and throw in the worlds most useless gunfight (one in which the sound effects don't add match the onscreen action) Lastly, imagine this concoction to be 20 times worse. You might, just might, be about halfway to reaching the sheer awfulness of this 60s horror.

It stars Tor Johnson as a scientists who turns into a lumbering killer following exposure to a nuclear blast (For those who have seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, or the Burton/Depp film Ed Wood, you have an idea of the "acting” on display here). As he wanders the desert killing folk he's pursued by two policeman. That's about it really. There is little dialogue, mainly told via narration, What dialogie there is is only spoken when the characters are off screen or have their faces obscured. It's indescribably awful. It's also a whole lot of fun. I don't know if it's a work of genius. It deserves 0.5 of a star, but I want to give it more for comic value. I'll be generous.

Gimli The Dwarf

327. Tekkonkinkreet (2006, Michael Arias)

326. Killer Clowns from Outer Space (1988, Stephen Chiodo)

325. Food of the Gods 91976, Bert I. Gordon)

324. The Asphyx (1972, Peter Newbrook)

323. Soldier (1998, Paul W.S. Anderson)

322. The Arrival (1996, David Twohy)

321. Spiderman 3 (2007, Saim Raimi)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (30/1/2012 2:10:16 AM)

320. Predator 2 (1990, Stephen Hopkins)

319. Screamers (1995, Christian Duguay)

318. 2046 (2004, Wong Kar-wai)
If there's one thing that can always be said about Wong Kar-Wai, it's that his aesthetic vocabulary is one of the most developed in modern cinema. No ordinary human could produce a work of such breathtaking visual beauty as 2046, but with the assistance of cinematographers Christopher Doyle and Kwan Pung-Leung, Wong Kar-Wai has done that. It's a masterpiece of imagery, every facet of his production design carefully realised and perfected. From the evocative use of widescreen to the startlingly good colour choices (the simultaneously garish and tasteful greens of the Oriental Hotel, the whites and browns of Singapore standing in contrast with the shadows encroaching on every corner, the multicoloured madness of Chow Mo-wan's fictional future-world), from the impeccable costume design by William Chang to the surprisingly excellent use of slow motion, everything about 2046 feels right and looks spectacular, and it is just as much a key to the film's success as the winding, jumping narrative. Wong's narrative plays to his strengths - storytelling in segments, emotionally-scrabbling protagonists, ruminations on love and the loss of it - but feels as fresh as it did when I first saw Chungking Express. His dialogue is top-notch, if occasionally repetitive, the score is one of the best I've ever heard, and the star-studded cast gives impeccable performances, in particular Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as the aforementioned pulp sci-fi writer and part-time womaniser Chow Mo-wan and Zhang Ziyi as call girl Bai Ling. However, what's most important is that, unlike Ashes of Time Redux or Chungking Express, 2046 doesn't get hurt by overloading on a good thing - where Ashes of Time's visuals ultimately engulf the plot and make it unnecessarily hard to follow, and while Chungking Express is hurt by the constant playing of that fucking California Dreaming song, 2046 has none of this. It does feel a bit scrappy occasionally, and Wong's episodic approach does mean some stories aren't as well fleshed out as they should be (namely the story involving the second Su Li-zhen), but Wong hits all the right notes here. It is an experience-and-a-half.

Pigeon Army

317. The 6th Day (2000, Roger Spottiswoode)

316. Humanoids from the Deep (1980, Barbara Peeters)

315. The Brother From Another Planet (1984, John Sayles)

314. I Come In Peace (1980, Craig R. Baxley)

=313. Escape from The Planet Of The Apes (1971, Don Taylor)
The third film from the original Planet of the Apes series and, outside the first which is a bona fide classic, probably my favorite. Here, Cornelius, Zira, and Dr Milo crash-land back on earth – this time back in the 70s – after witnessing the earth and everything on it perish two millennia into the future. Just as fun and just as dark as the previous two Apes film, this time we’re shown the story mainly from the apes’ point of view, and although there’s definitely a little too much going on here (it tries to tackle nuclear war, race issues, civil rights, animal experimentation, inequality of social status (pertaining to gender as well as race and species), whilst still attempting to take swipes at government control and misuse of authorities and also musing on the troubles with time travel and the perils of affecting destiny) it’s probably the most enjoyable of the sequels to watch. Its most interest talking point is the nature of celebrity, with Zira and Cornelius becoming adorable little public figures who go shopping, host parties, and talk at women’s meet, seemingly at the government’s behest with no concern for the well-being and general happiness of the apes. That said, it’s undeniably a mess, with far too many talking points for any one of them to be particularly well examined, and in the end it says far too little about far too much. Also, there’s a MASSIVE tonal gap between the first half (which is kind of like a fish-out-of-water comedy) and the second half (which is a dark and often quite disturbing manhunt), and although the two halves work pretty well individually there is no real bridge between them. It’s fun and dark in equal measures, but the two things seem mutually exclusive of one another and it can be quite jarring, but overall it’s still certainly watchable and more-often-than-not enjoyable


=313. Planet of the Vampires (1965, Mario Bava)

311. Hardware (1990, Richard Stanley)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (31/1/2012 6:07:44 AM)

310. Night Watch (2004, Timur Bekmambetov)

309. The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004, David Towhy)

308. Batman (1989, Tim Burton)
Y'know how most guys (and gals!) of our generation have those great childhood memories of watching the Star Wars trilogy whilst playing with their action figures and reading the Marvel Comics with the Artoo & Threepio poster on the bedroom wall? well, I have those memories in spades but just as important was the experience of BATMAN. Summer 1989, I was 13 years old and it was the perfect age to witness this perfect Summer Blockbuster. Nowadays, it is all just taken for granted when a new 'superhero'/comic book film is announced, made and then released but this film was a genuine phenomenon. Man, I cannot stress how excited I was those months and weeks leading up to when I first saw it at the cinema with my brother and I wasn't disappointed! The car, the 'batwing' and of course super-insane Nicholson as The Joker! Along with Darth Vader, The Terminator and Freddy Krueger, he still remains one of my all-time favourite screen villains - endlessly quotable and still makes me laugh. Danny Elfman's score is EPIC, the gothic production design is lush; There is so much to enjoy here and the funny thing is, except for this film, I'm not a Tim Burton fan.

Snake Eyes

307. Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea (1977, Jindřich Polák)

306. The Cube (1969, Jim Henson)

305. Day Watch (2006, Timur Bekmambetov)

304. Guyver: Dark Hero (1994, Steve Wang)

303. The Manchurian Candidate (1962, John Frankenheimer)

302. Demolition Man (1993, Marco Brambilla)

301. The One (2001, James Wong)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (1/2/2012 6:07:09 AM)

300. The Super Inframan (1975, Shan Hua)

299. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003, Stephen Norrington)

298. Barb Wire (1996, David Hogan)

297. Welt am Draht/World on A Wire (1973, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

296. The X Files (1998, Rob Bowman)

295. The Illustrated Man (1969, Jack Smight)

294. Miracle Mile (1998, Steve De Jarnatt)

293. Piranha (1978, Joe Dante)

292. Alraune (1928, Henrik Galeen)

291. Godzilla Final Wars (22044, Ryuhei Kitamura)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (1/2/2012 8:54:45 AM)

290. Transformers (2007, Michael Bay)

First things first. I love Michael Bay and I love Michael Bay films. Completely disposable slices of pure entertainment. Great fun. However, some things seemed to be lacking in this. It’s actually at it’s best when it doesn’t consist of giant robots beating the stuffing out of each other. The action and effects are poor. Choppy editing, and constant swirly camerawork make it very hard to actually follow the transformations and fight scenes, which is a great shame as I’m sure the effects bods have worked wonders, it’s just near impossible to tell. One of Bay’s weaker films.

Gimli The Dwarf

289. The Wild Blue Yonder (2005, Werner Herzog)

288. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967, Terence Fisher)

287. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2005, Tim Story)

286. Ultraviolet (2005, Kurt Wimmer)

285. The Happening (2008, M. Night Shyamalan)

This is hilariously rubbish


284. The Box (2009, Richard Kelly)

283. Star Trek Generations (1994, David Carson)

282. The Noah (1975, Daniel Bourla)

281. The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972, Lamont Johnson)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (1/2/2012 10:47:02 AM)

280. Cyber City Oedo 808 (1991, Yoshiaki Kawajiri)

279. Batman Returns (1992, Tim Burton)

278. The Omega Man (1971, Boris Sagal)

=277. Monsters (2010, Gareth Edwards)
This really could be exactly the same character as McNairey plays in In Search of a Midnight Kiss and I assumed, so close was it in mood etc that it was the same director but apparently not. It does try hard but the lead characters aren't really people you want to spend any time with and some of the imagined alien world just doesn't make a great deal of sense – it feels like they make it up as they go along, especially the tree spawning stuff. There is some exceptionally bad heavy handed stuff on immigration and although the CGI monsters at the end are well-presented they didn't feel particularly new and all the link between the opening scenes to the end of the film did was confirm that this was simply a much slower and marginally better version of the awful Cloverfield.


=277. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006, Mamoru Hosoda)
A disclaimer: as I found out too late to avoid it, the version that I saw was a dub. It wasn't a particularly bad dub, but the voice actors were kind of generic in their effervescence and, like all dubs, you get the feeling that a lot of the lines were added for the dub in case any viewers are unable to work out what's going on on screen without the characters narrating their every move. Nevertheless, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time starts off as a funny and interesting slice of magical realism, with flighty, impulsive protagonist Makoto using her newfound ability to time travel to avoid making tough decisions and generally get what she wants. The narrative arc seems set up to have everyone learn important life lessons and come out of this richer for the experience - and honestly, after the bizarre and overblown third act, I would kind of preferred the more predictable, less melodramatic approach. Unfortunately, the good-natured humour, the endearing slapstick comedy, the subtle coming-of-age storytelling and the refreshingly undramatic approach to high school life is sidelined in order to give the science fiction elements of the story a massive place and to kick up to 11 a high school romance that had, up until then, been developing rather naturally (in the context of the story). Combined with animation that frequently flicks between sloppy and beautiful, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a film with oodles of promise that it mostly lives up to, which makes its slide into melodrama all the more disappointing.

Pigeon Army

275. Innerspace (1987, Joe Dante)
I remember this being better than it is.


274. A Cold Night's Death (1973, Jerrold Freedman)
A generally effective two-hander with Eli Wallach and Robert Culp (or 3 if you count the chimp Geronimo). Scientists arrive by helicopter at a desolate arctic base to find the occupant dead and the power off. One continues the experiments with the animals but the other prefers the investigation part of science, not the run of the mill testing, so he turns his interest to why their predecessor died.

Often effectively creepy and Wallach in particular is excellent but it does feel as if they've missed a few scenes in the middle when there is no progression from one part of their relationship to the next just a jump that isn't quite explained. The stuff with the monkeys also seemed more than a little harsh and I found it quite disturbing as they seemed genuinely upset. Anyone know when the Humane society started signing off on these things?


=273. The Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy (2005, Garth Jennings)

=273. When Worlds Collide (1951, Rudolph Maté)

271. Scanners (1981, David Cronenberg)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (2/2/2012 6:13:47 AM)

270. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964, Ishirō Honda)

269. X Men: The Last Stand (2006, Brett Ratner)
I used to find Gimli's bucking of all conceivable trends not only endearing but brave. Then he said The Last Stand was the best X-Men film and I felt like I'd never be happy again.


268. 964 Pinocchio (1991, Shozin Fukui)

267. Cocoon (1986, Ron Howard)

266. V For Vendetta (2005, James McTeigue)
I'm a sucker for a good 'Fight the System' film and they don't get better than this intriguing adaptation of Alan Moores' comic. Updating it to a future Britain where we under a totalitarian rule by John Hurt. It's reminiscent of Nazi Germany and the film has a number of interesting, complex issues covered including terrorism, homosexuality and religion. It's quite an achievement to fill all this into a comic-book adaptation.
Despite V's look, its not all superhero stuff. He's a troubled hero and we never see the man beneath the mask. This doesn't effect the performance of Hugo Weaving, who finally getting a lead role, performs the film with a cheeky gusto. He's ably supported by Natalie Portman whose performance really grows stronger as the film continues. Stephen Rea is also spot on as the agent trying to figure out what V's plans are.
There's some fantastic sequences in this film and it's a nice spin on the familiar Big Brother/1984 style film. A rousing score adds to the tension and the final half hour is very exciting. I also have to commend it for being such a pro-gay blockbuster.

Favourite Scene: An imprisoned Portman is told the story of the female prisoner in the cell beside her. Sad and quite scary because it isn't such an impossible notion.


265. The Butterfly Effect (2004, Eric Bress/J. Mackye Gruber)
One of the few films I've ever seen that I genuinely though was exploitative trash. I loathed it so much.


264. Logan's Run (1976, Michael Anderson)

263. Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965, Gordon Flemyng)

262. The Damned (1963, Joseph Losey)

261. Destroy All Monsters (1968, Ishirō Honda)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (2/2/2012 8:29:31 AM)

260. Black Sheep (2007, Johnathan King)

259. Mysterious Island (1961, Cy Endfield)

258. Sphere (1998, BarryLevinson)

257. The Quiet Earth (1985, Geoff Murphy)

256. Body Snatchers (1993, Abel Ferrara)
The third, and really rather good, adaptation of Jack Finney's classic sci-fi/horror novel sees Ferrara rather wittily place the action on an army base - with endless routines, drills and commands obeyed unquestionably, how can you tell who's human and who's a pod person? At 80 minutes it feels rather minor compared to the wider scale of the 50s and 70s version, but its tight running time lends itself well to a growing sense of tension, and it's stunningly shot at times. There are really excellent, chilling details throughout such as a creepy title sequence, random body parts found littering the army base and an entire daygroup of children all producing the same, meaningless scrawl of a picture - aside from one poor new arrival, bemused by the cold hive mind of his playmates. Gabrielle Anwar makes a fetching heroine - and it's a rare film where the teenage protagonist is not a shrieking irritant - but Meg Tilly steals the film away with as her terrifying step-mum from another planet. (4)


255. The Falls (1980, Peter Greenaway)
The Falls was Greenaway's first feature length film, following on from a series of shorts that, depending on your perspective, were either maddening or brilliant. The Falls has little in the way of plot, no lead characters, and is a mock documentary with a running time of over three hours. The Falls is possibly Greenaway's most bizarre work. It's certainly his greatest.

In the rush to dismiss Greenaway's films as being 'too weird', one thing that's often overlooked is his sense of humour. The Falls is an incredibly funny film. The basic idea is that sometime in the future there's a Violent Unknown Event (somehow connected to birds) which has killed many and left a lot of the survivors changed in some way. Some of them have learned bizarre new languages, some are even starting to change into birds. The absurdity of the material is undercut by the fact that it's played completely straight What could have been a rather dry, dull film (It's designed as an excerpt from a directory of VUE sufferers) instead plays as a whimsical, odd little film. The apocalypse as seen through the eyes of Christopher Guest.

Some of the biographies (All of people with surnames beginning FALL, to reflect the fall of the human race as we knew it) are just a few paragraphs of narration, others involve interviews with the sufferers. It would be doing the film an injustice to even try and provide summaries of a few of the biographies, the depth of wit and invention in the writing is incredible. Attention should also be paid to Michael Nyman's incredible score. This is not a film for everyone, and probably not the best place to start watching Greenaway, but for fans, and for those who have an open mind for the odder corners of cinema, it's a real treat.


254. Short Circuit (1984, John Badham)

253. Face/Off (1997, John Woo)
Snake-Eyes was never really a fan of Nicolas Cage. I mean I liked WILD AT HEART, that was a f**king crazy little 'Midnight Flick' wasn't it? But it wasn't til post-Oscar-winning Nic Cage teamed up with BAD BOYS director Michael Bay for that awesome surprise action-hit of 1996, THE ROCK that I started paying attention. Then of course came the film that I always like to describe as the Best Party you've attended with all your Best Mates - CON AIR. By this point I became a bit of a fan. I was already a follower of the films of John Woo - obviously A BETTER TOMORROW, BULLET IN THE HEAD, THE KILLER and HARD BOILED were seminal and I thoroughly enjoyed his U.S. debut HARD TARGET - good stuff! As for John Travolta? Ehh... He was alright I suppose; I enjoyed watching PULP FICTION the first time I saw it at the cinema in '94. BROKEN ARROW was a bit hit-and-miss but still a decent little actioner. And then in 1997, the three of 'em teamed up for a film that sounded absolutely in-frakkin'-sane on paper; "An FBI agent undergoes surgery to have his face swapped with that of an international terrorist to stop a bomb from exploding" - WHAT?! Ha Ha! I remember though, watching that first teaser trailer which begins with Travolta's narration explaining who Castor Troy was and what his mission was gonna be and then cuttting into tons of trademark 'Woo action' sequences. It worked for me! Seriously, what's not to love here? Not just two fantastic performances by the role-swapping leads but some brilliant support by the likes of Alessandro Nivola as Castor's weasley 'bro', Pollux and Cassavetes as 'Dietrich' who gets some of the best lines in the film - "Damn! My place is gettin' f**ked up!!" As I mentioned, there were a lotta trademark John Woo elements here - shades, twin pistols, cool long coat (two years BEFORE that overrated mess called The Matrix!) and even the doves - I LOVE the doves! It's a shame that this was Woo's last great American-produced film and I hope he revisits this sort of straight-up gunplay territory again someday.


252. Casshern (2004, Kazuaki Kiriya)

251. Timecop (1994, Peter Hyams)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (3/2/2012 5:52:27 AM)

250. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009, Terry Gilliam)
Contrary to what some quieter-than-last-year internet murmurings would imply, this will not yield post-humus Oscar number two for Heath Ledger. In fact, when you compare it with two of Ledger's defining performances, in Nolan's superhero adventure and in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain”, Parnassus is an underwhelming film. And that's not a word I thought I would be using in this review, because Gilliam's latest is an endearing, vibrant, and challenging film that makes an incredible impression. But, in truth, Ledger isn't the main reason for it being so. At times, the performance seems cluttered, and it's nowhere near the standard that you'd expect – or rather hope – to see in Ledger's last film. But, fortunately, Ledger isn't the main reason that you should see this film. Go for Gilliam, and for Christopher Plummer. Plummer, as the titular doctor, is outstanding. His Parnassus is an aging, bewildered man, too lost in his own thought to truly understand what is going on around him, and too concerned with the world to really look after himself. It's a very melancholy performance, and one that is hardly overflowing with smiles and positivity. I haven't seen enough of Plummer's work to call this his best role, but his unseen films will have a way to go to match the gravitas and reflective melancholy of Dr Parnassus. And then there are the three men who took over from Ledger in order to finish the film off. Their presence is probably one of the main reasons for Ledger's performance failing, because the film's supposed star – and the man who it is dedicated to – does not get to play a part in his three best scenes. It's Johnny Depp who really stands out amongst the three, perfectly made for a short but inspired turn as the first re-incarnation of Tony, channelling Captain Jack Sparrow and Isembard Crane to become a key part of perhaps the film's best sequence. Jude Law and Colin Farrell aren't quite as impressive, but you can just imagine what Ledger – letting his kooky and inventive side out – would have done with these small snippets of surrealist genius. And then there's Terry Gilliam. I'm a fan of the director, particularly because of his three previous masterworks. There's "Twelve Monkeys”, the Bruce Willis time travel sci-fi, "Brazil”, the dystopian satire, and "Monty Python's Flying Circus”, which pretty much speaks for itself. If I had to compare this, his latest film, to one of his previous ones, it wouldn't be a film at all. It would be the short animated sequences that link together the sketch comedy in Gilliam's big break. They host the same nonsensical, whimsical surrealism, just with a thousand times the budget. It's probably the first time that Gilliam has let himself loose and completely disappeared down the rabbit hole since he worked on Flying Circus, and although "Fear and Loathing” hosted some pretty messy scenes, none of them compare to what we get within the Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam, by way of Dr Parnassus.


249. Ikarie XB-1 (1963, Jindřich Polák)

248. Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966, Gordon Flemyng)

247. The Bed Sitting Room (1969, Richard Lester)
Based on a satirical play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus, The Bed Sitting Room takes place in a London destroyed by the third World War, which lasted less than three minutes. A cast that includes some of the most iconic names of British comedy try to make the best of life in this post-apocalyptic world. Among others, the cast includes Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Arthur Lowe and Michael Hordern.

Nuclear fallout is affecting the survivors and producing strange mutations, people transform into furniture, a parrot and the titular bed-sitting room. There's not much in the way of traditional plot, but what there is revolves around the first pregnancy of the post-war period, and the fate of the child after 17 months in the womb.

The Bed-Sitting Room has been compared to the works of Beckett in the past and it's easy to see why. Like Beckett it offers a combination of bleakness and absurdist black humour and it's possible to argue a place for The Bed-Sitting Room as part of the Theatre of the Absurd. The main focus of the satire, other than the absurdity of war itself, is the British idea of keeping things going in the face of destruction. The BBC still broadcast, only it involves a man in a ragged tuxedo wandering around carrying a broken television set. Two police men patrol by hot air balloon, ordering people to keep moving. The National Health Service is a single nurse. The London Underground is kept running, powered by a man on a bike. They even have a prime minister, before he turns into a parrot and the new national anthem pays tribute not to The Queen, but to the closest person to her who still survives, her charwoman. God Save Mrs. Ethel Shroake. Class and status still powers what remains of British society, and this remains one of the very best satires on the British way of life.


=246. Le Dernier Combat (1983, Luc Besson)

=246. Tron (1982, Steven Lisberger)

244. Van Helsing (2004, Stephen Sommers)
one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I fully acknowledge that this film isn't nearly as good as The Mummy or The Mummy Returns, but as an action adventure spectacle, it delivers in pretty much every way for me. Van Helsing is an almost non stop barrage of action and visual fx, so that pretty much makes it the perfect movie in my eyes. When i want to watch eye candy for the sake of it, it is high on my list. It has a lot of flaws but they're all ones i can overlook. The movie succeeds in its production design, action sequences, costumes, cinematography and visual FX (IMO). It's just a crazy ride from start to finish. I guess this is the movie where the general consensus was that Sommers had just gone too far, been given too much freedom and too many toys to play with, but what the hell, i love it!

Donovan Kurtwood







243. The Time Traveller's Wife (2009, Robert Schwentke)

242. The Science Of Sleep (2006, Michel Gondry)
tops the overrated Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (from the same director), with affecting characterisations from Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, great 'homemade' production design and hilarious support from Alain Chabat as the most ridiculous boss on film. The scene where he picks up one of his underlings and puts them in the bin is hysterically funny. Bernal is a graphic artist whose shyness sees him continually retreat into a fantasy world. His vivid dreams start to affect his real life, particularly when he imagines that he's written a confessional letter to neighbour Gainsbourg and must deliver it in the nude. A lovely, uncategorisable film whose emotional intensity and off-kilter sensibility should appeal most acutely to adolescents.


241. Je t'aime, je t'aime (1968 Alain Resnais)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (3/2/2012 6:10:29 AM)

240. Frau im Mond/Woman In the Moon (1929, Fritz Lang)

239. Monsters vs. Aliens (2009, Conrad Vernon/Rob Letterman)
It's typical fare really. Completley devoid of personality, originality, thought and interest. Every character is a reuse of a reused stereotype, and it's so predictable and free of anything even vaguely new that it's something of an insult to any kid over the age of 3 or so. But a better question is, what leads to the mass promotion and release of a film like this? Do producers believe that they have dumbed us down to the level of toddlers, who thrive on recognition and can't really take anything else? Bob? Seen him before in 50 other films, so he must be funny! The other monsters! They're so much like those guys in that other film, what was it called? That other CGI one with phoned-in voice performances based on star personas already established by a vast and faceless Hollywood machine that cares more about profit than any kind of artistry or even it's own audience! You know the one! Oh, it's for kids, of course- but even my kid brother was bored, and the two other kids in the screening watched about twenty minutes before deciding instead to play videogames. I'm being elitist, but I think with good reason. This- as Iggy Pop once shouted into a microphone, is just No Fun. Not anymore, anyway. As Francois Truffaut once said about one of his detested Tradition-of-Quality films, I waved goodbye to this sort of cinema a long time ago. Brainless, banal and offering nothing that hasn't been taken directly and entirely from another film. So bad I can't even be bothered to look up the director's name.


238. It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958, Edward L. Cahn)

237. Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century (1980, Chuck Jones)

236. Privilege (1967, Peter Watkins)

235. Quasi at the Quackadero (1975, Sally Cruikshank)
Quasi is a lazy duck-like creature who likes to spend his days watching videotapes of people working. His girlfriend, Anita, arrives along with her robot, Rollo to take Quasi to The Quackadero, a futuristic funfair. Unknown to Quasi, Anita is fed up of him and she and Rollo have come up with a plan to get rid of him.

That's pretty much the closest you can get to a plot for this astonishing short film. It reminds me in many ways of some of the Fleischers early animations, especially some of the Betty Boop cartoons that feature Betty as more of a bystander exploring the visual delights in a strange world. The highlights of Quasi are the bizarre attractions at the funfair, such as a dream machine, a time-travelling device and a hall of mirrors that shows you at different stages of your life.

Basically the short is an excuse to produce one of the most surreal, headfuck pieces of animation you could ever hope to see. A psychedelic short that won itself a place in the heart of all good Midnight Movie fans back in the 70s. The animation may not be the cleanest and any real attempts to break the short down are destined to end in failure, but any fans of weird cinema and subterranean anarchy should love Quasi


234. Godzilla (1998, Roland Emmerich)
Don't care, I love it. Jean Reno is wonderful, the big guy/gal is very sweet too. It was the loudest thing I'd ever seen at the cinema and when it burst through the building I nearly cheered


233. Baron Prášil (1961, Karel Zeman)
Munchausen is a story that's had many adaptations, the most famous is probably Terry Gilliam's visually magnificent but somewhat lacking 1980s offering. The most notorious is the admittedly entertaining one produced by the Nazis in the 40s. Zeman's is possibly the best. The Czech animator is responsible for some of the most visually beautiful and innovative fantasy films in the history of the medium, which makes his unknown status even more of a disappointment.

An astronaut lands on the moon only to discover Baron Munchausen is already there, the Baron thinks he's met a moon man and takes him to Earth to introduce him to the planet and to show him the wonders the life. Together they travel the world, having various adventures ranging from battles to a visit to the bottom of the ocean, and rescuing a Princess who both men fall in love with. The film is basically a series of bizarre adventures, each one told with tongue firmly in cheek.

It's fitting that Gilliam would later make his own version of Munchausen as Zeman was obviously a huge influence on his early work. Zeman was a director who delighted in special effects and actually knew how to use them to serve his story, here he takes Gustave Dore's classic illustrations and uses them as backdrops, with the actors superimposed against them, to create a visual wonderland and a one-of-a-kind fantasy. Anchored by a delightful performance from Milos Kopecky as the Baron, Prasil is a funny and charming adventure and a film that deserves to be more widely acclaimed.


232. Barbarella (1968, Roger Vadim)

231. Year of the Sex Olympics (1968, Michael Elliot)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (3/2/2012 9:24:22 AM)

230. On The Beach (1959, Stanley Kramer)

229. Tarantula (1955, Jack Arnold)

228. Space Is The Place (1974, John Coney)
Ok, where to begin with this one. It's a conceptual fictional biography. Sun Ra, the real Sun Ra, that is, is a deeply influential jazz musician. In the film he plays Sun Ra, a jazz legend/intergalactic God from Saturn who just happens to be the most influential musician in 30 million galaxies. He comes to earth to fight the devil, in the form of The Overseer (A sort of superpimp) for the soul of the black race. He uses his music powered spaceship to land in Chicago in the 40s where he challenges the overseer to a cartomancy duel. They both have different visions for the future of the black race. Ra believes in social progress, The Overseer believes in quick money and easy sex. The duel determines the winner. Ra travels to the 70s where he tries to spread the word about a new planet he's discovered. He opens an 'employment agency' to try and recruit young people to his cause and convince them to move to the planet with him. He also uses The Overseer's minion, Jimmy Fey, to arrange interviews, an album and to put together a jazz concert to help him spread his message. All the while the battle with The Overseer rages on, as does the pursuit of Ra by FBI agents.

That's as close to a plot as you're going to get with this deeply warped film. Sun Ra wanted a cinematic vehicle to help spread his own philosophies and a straight documentary wasn't going to do it. So here we're treated to a mixture of blaxploitation, sci-fi, 60s radical politics, Egyptian mythology and live jazz to create a film that really is a one of a kind. As such it becomes difficult to slot into any real category and a film that's always going to have limited appeal. On a technical level the film isn't what you'd call accomplished either.

The film works if you're a jazz fan, the music from Sun Ra & his Arkestra is incredible. The film also works if you come at from the point of view of an exploration of Ra's Marcus Garvey-esque political philosophy. It also serves as an attack by Ra on the blaxploitation sterotypes of pimps by showing them as degenerate characters. For most people who appreciate the film I think it's going to probably work best as an example of cinema at it's most personal and outrageous. Space Is The Place became an underground sensation for a reason, but that reason is probably best understood by seeing the film for yourself.


227. Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001, Sogo Ishii)

226. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954, Jack Arnold)

225. Conquest Of The Planet Of the Apes (1972, J. lee Thompson)
This film, the fourth of the original Planet of the Apes series, wins points because it’s the most different visually of all of the original films. Set on earth where humans are using apes as trained, unpaid, and mistreated servants, the film shows Caesar plotting and then leading a revolution against their oppressors. It also includes a theme generally new to the series, slavery, and tells us well it’s, erm, wrong and stuff. Again, it’s not subtle in the slightest, with the characters often giving the audience a sly nod and reminded us what the film’s about, but the series is hardly noted for its subtlety so I guess I should expect that. Caesar is a well-drawn character, played by Roddy McDowall, who also (obviously) played Cornelius in the previous films. What’s important, though, is that he makes Caesar feel almost wholly different and quite fresh, and it’s easy to see why he is often regarded as one of the best things about the franchise. What’s disappointing is that the finale was altered beyond recognition and, as a result neutered, which was probably to appeal to its (very) young audience who, I’m sure, wouldn’t have liked seeing groups of bloody humans lying dead in piles. So, another one that is enjoyable, but undoubtedly flawed.


224. Spiderman (2002, Sam Raimi)
Two hours of the cartoon theme song would have been more fun. All together now. Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can!"

Gimli The Dwarf

223. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009, Phil Lord/Christopher Miller)
There's nothing better than going into a film knowing very little about it and being pleasantly surprised by it. Other than one forum member's ecstatic recommendation, the basic synopsis, and one painfully ugly screenshot, I went into Cloudy knowing nothing about it - and was pleasantly surprised by just how fantastic it was. Written and directed by Clone High creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Cloudy shares that superlative television show's sense of humour and (oddly, given Clone High was a 2D show) artistic style. While the art style looks unpleasant in stills, in motion the film is a visual feast (forgive the pun), with Lord and Miller's characteristically crazily-proportioned characters and peculiar production designs rendered in striking colours and given a kind of elastic life that is oddly endearing. But great animation is a dime a dozen these days, and Up's animation was far more striking - which comes to what sets this film apart from that other big animated release of 2009. Where Up balanced the comedy and the drama and the uplifting moments with aplomb, Cloudy's first and foremost concern is that the film is funny, and everything falls in place as a result of that. The characters, excellently realised by a bizarre array of voice actors that includes Neil Patrick Harris, Mr. T, Bruce Campbell and James Caan, are naturally hilarious beings, their traits and neuroses fueling a large number of the gags and proving characters that can be invested in and enjoyed very easily. Even aside from that, Lord's and Miller's writing and direction is superlative, providing a hilarious script with a hit-rate that would put most professional shooters to shame, and growing from the jokes and the characters a natural heart and appealing warmth. On top of that, it's a script that deals with a lot of themes, most of them well (though the criticism of Western isolationism I'm reading into it may not necessarily be intended, and the "eating healthy" theme isn't especially well-realised). In a sense, Cloudy is nearly on a par with Up as the animated film of the year, and is definitely a delicious treat that deserves to be savoured by all consumers (sorry).

And to think I went into it with virtually no expectation of how good it would be - why, it's almost like what a revered critic once said, I put my expectations aside, let the film play out, and was rewarded. What a concept!

Pigeon Army

222. Enemy Mine (1985, Wolfgang Petersen)

221. Alien³ (1992, David Fincher)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (4/2/2012 6:00:27 AM)

220. Naked Lunch (1991, David Cronenberg)

219. Brand Upon The Brain! (2006, Guy Maddin)

Synopsis: In an orphanage on a remote island, several of the orphans are discovered to have strange marks on their neck that could be related to mysterious experiments.

Guy Maddin's last three features have been part of a themed 'Me Trilogy'. All the films are fictional autobiographical ones. Brand... is the middle film in the trilogy and this one takes Maddin back to his childhood. Or at least to the childhood of his fictional counterpart, in this film Maddin's parents run an orphanage, in a disused lighthouse, on Black Noch Island, a small island somewhere near Canada. An adult Guy returns home for the first time in 30 years, and recalls strange events from his childhood. Several orphans are discovered to have mysterious holes in the back of their necks, all as a result of his mad scientist father's experiments to harvest 'orphan nectar'. Teen detectives Wendy & Chance Hale arrive on the island to investigate, and Guy and his sister find themselves attracted to them.

Brand... uses Maddin's familiar visual style, an experimental homage to silent movies, especially early German expressionist horror films, to create this phantasmagorical environment. Maddin also uses this exaggarated style to investigate deeper emotions. Certainly Maddin's portrayal of his parents, his father is a mad scientist while his mother is puritanical and overbearing, is deeply telling. So is the sexual development of Guy and his sister, both in love with the female half of the teen detectives.

Brand... is a tribute to gothic horrors, with the most obvious points of reference being mad scientist and vampire movies, and could easily appeal to fans of early horror. In fact, much of the film would sit easily in Universal's back catalogue. It would have made a nice companion piece to the 1932 Murders In The Rue Morgue, especially as much of the mood of the film evokes classic Poe.

Like all Maddin films, Brand Upon The Brain! certainly won't appeal to everyone, but it contains great rewards for anyone willing to experiment.


218. Zardoz (1974, John Borrman)

217. The Thirteenth Floor (1999, Josef Rusnak)

216. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931, Rouben Mamoulian)

215. Punishment Park (1971, Peter Watkins)
Peter Watkins is one of Britain’s greatest filmmakers, and one who continues to be ignored by mainstream cinema. Perhaps best known for The War Game – the drama commissioned by the BBC in the 1960s which portrayed a stark and disturbing look at what would happen in the UK both during and after a nuclear war. The film was deemed so strong that it was banned by the Government on account of it creating panic. In the days of “Duck and Cover”, The War Game showed the utter pointlessness of rescue plans under the shadow of thermo-nuclear destruction.

His other BBC film, Culloden, remains one of the most realistic portrays of what warfare in the 18th Century was like. Made with a handful of extras it still packs a powerful punch and shows the battle for what it was – a human waste, spurred on by semi-slave owners.

What made these two pieces striking was that they were presented as news reports, or documentaries. Watkins himself narrates the films with a dispassionate voice. As people burn, or are shot by cannon, he keeps his distance, the typical BBC news man, looking into the face of madness.

Watkins can be said to be one of the first to create the so-called “found footage” genre, and indeed, people like Eli Roth (producer of The Last Exorcism) have name checked him. With his next three films he could also be seen as a big influence on the naturalistic science fiction movement currently coming to the fore (District 9, Monsters, Another Earth etc)

Privilege, is a film set in the future and which looked at how the Government manufactured a pop sensation to control the young masses, is Watkins at his most playful. As before he provides narration at points, but more often than not, took a step back.

He followed this up with the Gladiators, another science fiction film where the nations of the Earth stop fighting each other, and instead settle their differences with small scale combat teams in a tournament.

Punishment Park is without a doubt Watkins’s masterpiece, and his only film set in America. We are thrown into an alternative universe where President Nixon has passed a law allowing the arrest and execution of people deemed to be anti-establishment. The method of execution is through the “Punishment Park” – a vast desert area where large groups of the undesirables are herded by soldiers who are tasked with hunting them down. At the other end of the Park an American flat stands. If the prisoners can survive and get to the flag they will be freed.

Watkins intercuts the struggle of the hippies and other members of 60s and 70s subculture through the desert with others who are still at the camp standing trial. There is no judge, but rather a committee of what could be best described as Middle America.

Unlike his other films, Watkins does not speak as a dispassionate narrator, but as a (unseen) character whose news team is in America to make a documentary on the Park. He engages with characters, and actually has moments of emotion that are a stark contrast to his previous work.

It is not a subtle film, but it is a powerful one. The actors, all from amateur backgrounds embed the film with a realism that complements the camera work.

In this age of Occupy movements and uprisings, the message of Punishment Park is perhaps even stronger today than when it was made.

Rgirvan 44

214. Stargate (1994, Roland Emmerich)

213. God Told Me To (1976, Larry Cohen)
Larry Cohen is one of cinema's great lost talents. Always with an imagination bigger than his budgets, he created some of the most original and thought-provoking films of the 70s. The fact that he's too often dismissed as making little more than trash cinema is one of the great tragedies of modern cinema, it also shows how easily people can be swayed by slick visuals over ideas. His movies are as absurd as they are dark and in a just world he would have a handful of films that would be rightly acclaimed among the finest offerings of American cinema of the 70s and 80s. His films are fractured and to many may seem amateurish. Continuity problems, low budget effects, even poor pacing at times show this to be a real poverty row production, but what major studio can you imagine bankrolling this film? Even in the 70s.

For anyone interested in American independent cinema, films like Bone, Q The Winged Serpent and It's Alive should be key films, but God Told Me To is both his greatest work and his most controversial. Set in New York, that city that provided us with so many cinematic nightmares, it stars Tony LoBianco as Detective Peter Nicholas, a Catholic cop investigating a series of murders by random people, all of whom claim God told them to kill. The religious implications of the murder distress Nicholas and he finds himself fixated by the case. Despite the film's low budget, Cohen is able to provide us with some startling scenes. The opening sequence with a sniper randomly picking off pedestrians is tense and horrifying. The crimes get more and more bizarre, a man murders his family and a cop (Andy Kaufman) fires on the crowd during a parade. In the course of his investigations Nicholas discovers that a cult leader, Bernard Phillips (Lynch) has been having an influence on the murders, and that Phillips himself may be more than he appears. Phillips appears to each of the killers and orders them to kill. When the detective visits Phillip's mother, she attacks him before mysteriously dying. An autopsy reveals she's a virgin and an old tabloid story claims she was kidnapped and impregnated by aliens. Is this just fanciful nonsense? Or could the truth have greater implications not just on the murders, but on the nature of religion and on Nicholas's own heritage.

Cohen often managed to surround himself with strong casts, he even got an Oscar winner in the support cast here. He often cast the underrated Michael Moriarty as his lead, and here he gives us another of the 'should have been huge' crowd with Tony Lo Biano. With the right roles, Lo Bianco could have become one of the greatest performers of his generation, but he seldom got parts as strong as Nicholas here or Raymond Fernandez in The Honey Moon Killers. Lo Bianco's existential hero should have been sharing a place on the nomination list alongside Travis Bickle at 76's Oscar ceremony.

God Told Me To is a disturbing mix of sci-fi, occult rituals, police procedural and religious horror. It's a truly subversive film and even if a plot that involves aliens and Jesus seems too outlandish to be taken seriously, it still manages to remains thought-provoking in questioning exactly where and why we place our beliefs where we do. A genuine original, and one that would make a great double bill with Taxi Driver.


212. Last Night (1998, Don McKellar)

211. Superman (1978, Richard Donner)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (4/2/2012 6:24:40 AM)

210. Burn-E (2008, Angus Maclane)
While it's not necessarily Rosencrantz & Guildenstern meets Wall-E (though there are moments, such as Burn-E's experiments with the welder, that do call to mind Stoppard's Shakespearean adaptation), Burn-E is a relentlessly funny, stunning little short. Burn-E is just as sympathetic and comic as Wall-E himself, and his constant attempts to get that bloody port light on are endearing and hilarious. It also has a killer ending, and is definitely one of Pixar's best shorts, up there with One Man Band and Presto.
Pigeon Army

Unlike PA, I think this is very much Pixar using the concept of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and applying it to Wall-E. During the film we see one small repair bot apparently locked out when Eve and Wall-E return to the Axiom – the short created to be released with the DVD of the film tells the story of that robot – Burn-E and is, for my money, easily the superior of Presto, released theatrically with the film. Repeatedly trying to fix a lamp and get back into the ship after the unseen action in Wall-E, or the Captain, thwarts his repair attempts as well as his trying to get back inside to an increasingly disapproving Supply bot. Each fail is linked specifically back to action we recall from the film including the final hopeful try back on Earth itself.

A delightful short and for my money almost up there with my favourite Pixar For the Birds.


209. Happy Accidents (2000, Brad Anderson)

Happy Accidents is probably the reason I found Session 9 so disappointing – this intriguing science-fiction romance had given me fairly high expectations for Anderson's next effort.

Unlucky in love Ruby, who has more ex photos in the communal box than her friends, runs into sweet and slightly odd Sam in the park one day. They progress to living together quite quickly but when Ruby finds evidence that seems to suggest Sam's interests lie with another woman, she finds it difficult to deal with the story he actually tells her.

I can see a lot of influences in this – the arguments trying to outwit him could have come straight out of KPax, published a few years before. There's a touch of Terminator, a hint of Dominick Hyde (and the whole was clearly, IMO, on Nifenegger's reading list before she wrote her awful little book – back in time to meet someone, pills, a physical condition? Apart from adding the Quantum Leap theory of your own timeline pretty much all she added was the dodgy grooming of the 6yo).

Tomei and D'Onofrio play it completely straight as Ruby takes up therapy and constantly challenges his story, even when she finds herself answering her friends queries as if she's taken it all on board as fact - Ruby's decision to accept his frustrating 'fantasy' is written absolutely credibly into their relationship. Sam isn't quite the whole Starman – he comes from the future after all – but D'Onofrio certainly convinces you that Ruby wouldn't just kick Sam into the street, while often coming across as downright odd. I should add here that the audience is given just a little less doubt than Ruby – Anderson uses camera tricks to suggest time moving about from the very first shot. He also uses a story technique using stills that reminds me very much of something I can't recall – maybe Groundstar Conspiracy? The accompanying music certainly feels very 70s.

Anyhoo – this is a lovely little film and, IMO, not well enough known.


208. The Heart Of The World (2000, Guy Maddin)
This remarkable short was Maddin's finest accomplishment until he made My Winnipeg. Commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Toronto film festival. It's a parody of Soviet propaganda films. The story is about Anna, a state scientist trapped in a love triangle with two brothers, Nikolai and Osip. Osip represents the body and sexuality, Nikolai represents the spirit, and Anna has to choose between the body and the spirit. Somewhere in the middle of this, Anna discovers that the Earth is dying due to heart failure. A tribute to everything from Russian silent cinema (especially through its use of rapid-fire montage) to KoKo's Earth Control with a lot of silent-movie melodrama thrown in. This is an amazing technical achievement, and Maddin's great love-letter to the early days of film.


207. Terminator Salvation (2009, McG)
If you have to give something to McG, it's that he hasn't really played it safe and re-hashed James Cameron's so-called action classics. Gone are the time-travelling man hunts that riddled "the Terminator” and "T2: Judgement Day”, replaced with a post-apocalyptic battle where the remaining humans – scattered and desperate – eek out an existence and hope that, one day, they'll be strong enough to oppose the machines once more. After the under whelming and, to be blunt, outright awful third instalment of the franchise, hopes could hardly be high that McG would create a film as good as – or even reminiscent of – Cameron's robotic one-two punch. I mean, it's McG for Christ's sake, the man behind the god awful Charlie's Angels films. The man who managed to make three hot girls wearing an array of skimpy outfits a bad thing. The man with the most ridiculous name on a credits list that includes 'Common' and 'Moon Goodblood'. And, if I'm completely honest, it's not exactly a masterpiece, and it's certainly not as good as 'T2' (my favourite of the series, incidentally). But, given the fact that it's the latest in a long line of franchise re-visits, and given the fact that it's from a franchise that I don't think is particularly amazing in the first place, and given that it's directed by Mc-fuckin'-G, it's actually not that bad.

The plot sees John Connor (Christian Bale) grow into a warrior. He's now the symbol of the resistance… a man that all the hopes and dreams of humanity as a whole can rest upon. Tapes from his mother, Sarah Connor, reveal that his father is Kyle Reese (played, rather brilliantly, by Star Trek's Anton Yelchin), and the death of him would result in the death of John, and perhaps the extinction of humanity as a whole. The film rests upon this dynamic, really, and for the most part it's simply a rescue mission, but there's a couple of subplots thrown in for good measure. Sam Worthington plays Marcus Wright, an ex-convict who gives his body up to a research facility that turns him into the robotic infiltration machine that he's become, but he believes that he is a man, asking us what it actually is to be human?

The film finds its feet, action wise, after about half an hour, when things really begin to get going. And that moment, when everything does finally snap into place, is during the scenes when Worthington's Wright meets Yelchin's Reese. This could be down to Yelchin, who – as I've said – is nothing short of superb as Kyle Reese. No, he may not have the strong physical presence of Michael Beihn, but that's exactly the point. Through the natural progression of the character, you can see that Yelchin's Reese is on his way to becoming Beihn, and it's a brave move by both McG and Yelchin to play the character this way. It would be so easy to mirror Beihn's mannerisms, and make the character a carbon copy of the first Terminator film's best feature, but they don't. It could also be down to the action, which definitely improves around half way into the film. I've always thought that action films should have the action revolving around the plot rather than the other way around, and for the last hour and a bit of this film, it actually does.

But it's not all good. In fact, it's mostly bad, but those small, actually rather remarkable positives do take you by surprise and make 'Terminator Salvation' a more enjoyable experience than it should actually be. But those negatives are disappointingly unavoidable. The first half hour is an absolute joke. Things start slowly with a pretty pointless segment involving Marcus Wright and Helena Bonham Carter's cancer-ridden Doctor, which doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than to avoid ambiguity and spoil what would have been a nice surprise moment. I mentioned earlier that the action should revolve around the plot, but here – at the outset – it doesn't. Action seems to be thrown in, as if the audience wouldn't be able to sit still for forty-five minutes, waiting for the war to begin, without having a fit of boredom. And I haven't even mentioned the horrible amount of cheese (particularly the ending), and the fact that most of the charm of the first two films was how much back story and history there was without ever having to look into it – it was just a part of the bigger picture.

The biggest disappointment, though, is Christian Bale. I've had many, many arguments with people from university when I claim that he's the greatest actor of his generation. Here, he goes against everything that I've ever said about him. This is not a film that pushes the boundaries of cinema, or one that strives to go against convention, or even a good one. Yes, I know it's just a blockbuster, but Bale has proved before – with "the Dark Knight”, "Batman Begins”, and even "Equilibrium” – that he can turn a bog standard blockbuster into something more. It doesn't have to be big, satirical, and clever, just so long as it's memorable. "Terminator Salvation” is not memorable. It's typical blockbuster fare, and although I don't necessarily think that typical blockbuster fare shouldn't exist, I do think that Christian Bale's calling is – and I'm sorry to be quite elitist here – quite a lot higher than stuff like this. For me, "Terminator Salvation” has dirtied a streak of eleven good to great films, including "Harsh Times” and "Equilibrium”.

But what do you expect from "Terminator Salvation”? Nobody will go into a screening expecting to see "Citizen Kane”. Hell, nobody will even go into a screening expecting to see a film as good as James Cameron's. What you expect is robots and guns, and this film will make a lot of money because large groups of men will flock to see it and get exactly what they expect. There are even some good bits, but it's nothing we haven't seen before, and nothing that we won't see again even this summer. Only go and see it if you know what you're letting yourself in for.



Can be described in three words: boring, terrible script


206. Invaders From Mars (1953, William Cameron Menzies)

205. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999, George Lucas)

Anakin Skywalker

204. The Day After Tomorrow (2004, Roland Emmerich)

203. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park. Steve Box)

202. Masters Of The Universe (1987, Gary Goddard)

=201. A Close Shave (1995, Nick Park)
In the third outing for the dynamic duo, Wallace and Gromit have started a window cleaning business. One of their clients is a wool shop owned by Wendolene Ramsbottom. Wallace finds himself attracted to Wendolene but he's unaware that her wool comes from a sheep-rustling ring that's led by her malevolent dog, Preston. The short opens with one of the kidnapped sheep escaping from Preston's lorry into Wallace & Gromit's house. The sheep causes havoc in the house but is adopted and named Shaun. Wallace and Wendolene get closer and he finds out that her father was also an inventor. Preston, who is actually a robot invented by Wendolene's father frames Gromit for the sheep thefts, but with the aid of Wallace and the sheep, Gromit makes a jailbreak and sets out to stop Preston before he turns the stolen sheep into dog food.

With A Close Shave, Aardman expanded the world of Wallace & Gromit even further. They feel more integrated into their environment than in previous shorts, they introduced a more deadly villain and Wendolene became only the second speaking character in the series, with vocal duty going to Anne Reid. Of course the greatest addition to the W & G universe was little Shaun, he stole the show here and he would go on to his own hilarious television series. What's so wonderful about Nick Park's creations is that every second of the films feel like they're made with absolute love and respect both of the characters and of the audience.


=201. The Fountain (2006, Darren Aronofsky)
An absolute frakking masterpiece.


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (4/2/2012 7:10:37 AM)

199. The Fly (1958, Kurt Neumann)
A scientist gains the head of a fly, while somewhere out there there's a small fly with a man's head. Fly-style capers to be expected. Bit silly, but with some iconic moments. And Vincent Price is in it. So that is awesome. Would have been more awesome if he was the fly-man, or flan, as he liked to be called.


198.It Came From Outer Space (1953, Jack Arnold)

197. A Boy and His Dog (1975, L.Q. Jones)

196. The Transformers: The Movie (1986, Nelson Shin)

195. 2010 (1985, Peter Hyams)

194. Quatermass 2 (1957, Val Guest)

193. Christmas On Mars (2008, Wayne Coyne)

=192. Le Voyage dans la lune/A Voyage To The Moon (1902, Georges Méliès)
In Voyage to the Moon (or a Trip to the Moon), a group of astronomers hold a meeting, which ends with their agreement in attempting to go to the moon. In order to do this, they build a large contraption which enacts the the firing of a bullet from a gun/cannon. Once there, they discover life in the form of The Selenites.

As the first widely-known science fiction film, A Trip to the Moon's influence lingers large over most films of that genre made since. It also has strong elements of surrealism in its imagery, particularly the iconic shot of the bullet-shaped capsule landing in the 'eye' of the moon (although I always thought it was a telescope).

The film was created by magician George Melies - who not only directed it, but designed the sets, produced it etc - and this is easily his most famous and acclaimed of his films, of which there are over 500. Its special effects is/are rightly revered - the use of models in particular is superb. It may be a mere 12-14 minutes (depending on how/where you watch it), but A Trip to the Moon is an enjoyable short with plenty to offer.


=192. Alien Nation 91988, Graham baker)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (4/2/2012 7:22:49 AM)

190. Matango (1963, Ishirō Honda)
From a dark cell, a man narrates his tragic life story. He was one of a group of passengers on a luxury yacht sailing out of Tokyo, a storm kicks up that damages the boat and leaves it adrift in the ocean. The yacht soon finds itself drifting close to a deserted island, they find a shipwrecked vessel nearby that once housed a team of scientists engaged in radiation research and they set up home there. The former crew have vanished and there's mysterious fungus covering the ship. A lack of food soon forces the passengers to eat some of the mushrooms that cover the island, despite the captain's log leaving a warning not to touch them. Soon the passengers notice odd things about the ship, there are no mirrors, they've all been shattered and scattered on the far corners of the islands and a mysterious figure starts visiting them at night. We soon discover that the fungus is damaging to human nerve tissue and slowly mutated the scientists but it's too late for the passengers as the mushrooms have already kickstarted their descent into paranoia and psychosis.

Based on a short story, The Voice In The Night, by one of my favourite writers, William Hope Hodgson, Matango is an odd but extremely dark horror film. The fact that it's directed by Ishiro Honda is probably going to make most people think it's going to be along similar lines to Gojira, but as much as I love that big lizard, Matango is completely removed from that legendary series. Matango is a far more doom laden film, and it's also far more interested in its characters, even though the creature designs are fantastic. Sadly most people seem to judge it simply by the silly title or by the atrocious English dub. As if it's the fault of the original film that some American company gave it a bad dub.

Of course it's difficult to miss the drug metaphor of this film, a 1960s film featuring strange mushrooms that alter the people who eat them, of course that's going to be drug related. Although the intent of the original story wasn't a drug metaphor, but the trippy imagery that Honda put into the film means there's few other reasonable interpretations. All of this is probably making the film sound dated, but it isn't. It's far more than a simple horror movie as well. What makes the film really special is the tone, pessimistic, apocalyptic, utterly despairing and incredibly unsettling. It's a film with aspirations far beyond its b-movie trappings, and it deserves to be given a chance.


189. X (1963, Roger Corman)

188. Escape From New York (1981, John Carpenter)
Set in the heady future of 1997, crime in America has got so bad that the authorities (represented by Lee Van Cleef's, Hauk) have turned the island of Manhattan into a prison, where the prisoners are kept on the inside and left to set their own rules and left to their own devices. That is until the president's plane crash and the president, bizarrely, but happily for his fans, played by Donald Pleasance, is taken hostage. Hauk calls on the only man who could possibly save the president, ex-soldier "Snake" Plissken (Kurt Russell), who has 24 hours to bring the president (and his secret tape) back to Hauk and stop his own head exploding.

I suppose other films on previous lists could be regarded as such, but I think Escape from New York is the first cult film I can safely refer to here. Its camper than Christmas really and its action sequences all have their tongue's firmly pushed in their cheeks, but its endearing in many ways. From Ernest Borgnine and his "Snake Plissken! I thought you were dead", through Plissken's eye-patch through to Harry Dean Stanton's Brain. What it does it does well and with more natural charm than many other 80s action movies and to its credit it doesn't try to rise above its B movie status. The idea is bravely cynical and the ending is memorable. For those who clamour for a sequel to Carpenter's other great movie of the 80s, take just a very quick look at Carpenter's own sequel for this film, which just didn't manage to create the same magic again.

Professor Moriarty

187. Rollerball (1975, Norman Jewison)

186. Re-Animator (1986, Stuart Gordon)
Young med student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) West arrives at Miskatonic University and sets about trying to conquer death. Using his own formula, he starts out by resurrecting his roommates dead cat. He gets his roommate Dan involved when he begins stealing corpses from the morgue to experiment on. Unfortunately his experiments lead to violent zombie resurrection rather than intelligent humans. When a rival at the university, Dr Hill, tries to stop the experiments, he's decapitated and reanimated as two separate body parts. Dan's girlfriend Megan is sexually abused by the zombified Hill (The notorious head giving head scene) as Hill and West enter a final battle. Combs owns the movie and gives an iconic performance that brought a new element to the archetype - the mad scientist as super-geek. You can't really call Re-Animator faithful to H.P. Lovecraft's disturbing original story, instead this is Frankenstein filtered through the mindset of a gross-out comedy, but it's still one of the best Lovecraft adaptations in that it captures the brilliance and insanity of West.


185. Pleasantville (1998, Gary Ross)
Ross' comic fantasy of two contemporary teens who somehow end up in the world of a 1950s family sitcom works best at its lightest and when it is contrasting the two worlds' various moral attitudes. As Reese Witherspoon's self-admitted slutty teen introduces sex to the teens of Pleasantville, the undefeated basketball team suddenly discover not one of them can score a basket, rock and roll takes over the jokebox and colour starts sprouting out in the monochrome world they live in. It's also the elder residents that find their world turned upside down in a highly amusing fashion - clothes get burnt whilst being unironed and William H Macy's vexed cry of "Where's my dinner?" is hilarious as is the men's sanctuary of refuge in Pleasantville being the local bowling alley. It loses its way somewhat when it becomes an allegory for racism and persecution (the use of the term "coloureds" as the town heaves into unrest is both a little too on the nose and also a little tacky), but for the main part retains its charm, visual splendour and has great performances throughout with Joan Allen's 50s housewife probably taking the honours.


184. The Day Of The Triffids (1962, Steve Sekely)

183. X The Unknown (1956, Leslie Norman)

182. Death Race 2000 (1975, Paul Bartel)

181. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002, George Lucas)
Attack of the Clones is the worst one.

Unless you were moved by such riveting dialogue as "I love the water" and "I hate sand."

Rebel Scum

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (5/2/2012 1:42:45 AM)

180. Liquid Sky (1982, Slava Tsukerman)

179. Capricorn One (1977, Peter Hyams)

178. Edward Scissorhands (1990, Tim Burton)
After the success of Beetlejuice and Batman, Tim Burton was given free reign to come up with this haunting, atmospheric and rather sad tale of a very odd outsider. Despite it's tinges of melancholy this is also a very funny film. The pointed satire of American suburbia and its pastel colours are spot on as are the characterisations of the nosy neighbours.
Dianne Wiest is adorable as the Avon lady who visits the big, dark house that looms over the cheery neighbourhood. She meets the innocent, abandoned project Edward, played by Johnny Depp in an iconic performance. Depp has qualities of silent movie stars of old and his physicality of the shy, confused stranger is done perfectly. However although the town takes to Edward well they soon change their minds about the 'freak'.
Winona Ryder is the love interest as Wiest's daughter who is caught up with a bad group of friends who ultimately bring Ed's downfall. It's such a heartbreaking moment when Ed realises that he can't hold the girl he loves. Alan Arkin is also great fun as the father who seems to be living in a world of his own and Vincent Price gets a lovely swansong in his last role.
Danny Elfman's score is still one of the greatest and most recognisable scores of the past century.
A beautiful, funny, romantic tale that will please all age groups. Burton at his best.


177. Soylent Green (1973, Richard Fleischer)

176. Equilibrium (2002, Kurt Wimmer)

175. Altered States (1980, Ken Russell)

=174. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954, Richard Fleischer)

=174. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1984, Leonard Nimoy)

172. Time after Time (1979, Nicholas Meyer)

171. War of the Worlds (2005, Steven Spielberg)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (5/2/2012 1:57:51 AM)

170. Fahrenheit 451 (1966, François Truffaut)
There's some nice stuff going on in Truffaut's adaptation of the Bradbury book, notably his kitset sets (the firehouse looks like a Duplo model and is awesome because of that), striking colours and interesting (Bradbury-built) themes about the necessity of literature and the necessity of emotion, even ones that seem 'harmful'. However, Fahrenheit 451 is continuously sabotaged by its two lead actors - Oskar Werner and Julie Christie make Keanu Reeves' performance in The Matrix seem like a masterpiece of performance (relevant because Oskar justified his performance by saying a sci-fi film should have a robotic one - good call, Oskar, because if there's one thing a guy discovering new emotions should be, it's robotic). Furthermore, the dialogue is insanely stilted, there are moments where you're just wondering how Truffaut signed off on what he was seeing (the scene in the school corridor and the jetpacks the most obvious examples) and the film just feels so small - it lacks any sense of scope and feels like it's taking place on one of those miniature train sets with the warehouses and the trucks parked at crossings and shit.

Pigeon Army

169. When The Wind Blows (1986, Jimmy Murakami)
In 1982 people were getting nervous about the possibility of nuclear war. As well as Dimbleby documentaries, Young Ones episodes, the TV series Whoops Apocalypse, we had multiple nuclear themed dramas - Threads, the British one, had events coming to head in the Middle East and the world fell apart in only a month. In the real world? Events seemed to be coming to a head in the Middle East.

It was also the year that Raymond Briggs, known only for his books aimed at children, produced this, his first real adult themed work. Instead of going for the worthy soap of dramas like Threads, he went the other way and produced a damning view of the impact of nuclear escalation that bears better comparison to Peter Watkins's deservedly lauded The War Game.

Voiced by the wonderful John Mills (a regular in the type of war film that typified the world the Bloggs were used to) and Peggy Ashcroft, Jim and Hilda Bloggs are a retired couple who live out in the country. Worrying about the 'international situation' Jim tries to follow the official and conflicting advice from the government and the county council on how to protect his family. I still have HMSO booklets from the time - Domestic Nuclear Shelters and the one Jim has in the film - Protect and Survive. Simultaneously frightening and hilariously useless they were too.

Keeping relatively close to the source, the characters work on multiple levels. At face value they represent a generation whose experience of war and hardship was fundamentally different to those living through the Thatcher years. Facing a situation they are not prepared for and don't understand they fall back on the values they've grown old by and their reliance that right will prevail. The culture of deference hadn't disappeared at that point. Even for us it was a different world. Although the original has them as simpler (but, importantly, not stupid), the screenplay is tweaked to also emphasise the generational differences. The humour is also very very black - e.g. the Sunday lunch comment!

But this is also a story of the betrayal of trust and innocence (the characters have this odd look of being both old people but also looking a little like children) by the great and the good, the corruption of the values we were all supposed to live by. The ridiculous suggestion that anyone 'survived' an all-out nuclear war and the absurd contradictions in the advice given at all levels of government were just as bad as Watkins had highlighted 2 decades earlier. Fundamentally it demonstrated that no-one wins a nuclear war demonstrating that MAD was indeed mad.

The film came out of George Dunning's TVA studio, and the interest in different animation techniques comes though. Director Murakami et al hark back to Fleischer, developing processes to film cells in front of 3-D backgrounds to create a convincing environment for the Bloggs to live in (just watch the camera moving through the house), enhancing the picture presented to us of this little house being cannibalised to protect its occupants. Live action and dream sequences were mixed and matched throughout the film as well as news footage. The red/green of the original work is strengthened here and perhaps deliberately reminiscent, again, of the old 2 colour Technicolor. The most memorable addition to the original source is the representation of the bomb and its effects. Where Briggs only leaves blank pages, Murakami can use the advantage of the different media to show us the devastating impact, the world falling apart as mother earth weeps.

This is an important and heartbreaking film - yet here, in its home country, it often seems sadly forgotten. Unlike other, lesser, films it stands as a triumph not only of animation technique but also a convincing and infuriating political statement. I commend When the Wind Blows to the Hall of Fame. (And don't you want to vote for the man who made Battle Beyond the Stars?!).


168. Shivers (1975, David Cronenberg)

167. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953, Eugène Lourié)

166. Repo Man (1984, Alex Cox)

165. Battle Beyond The Stars (1980, Jimmy T. Murakami)

164. The Running Man (1987, Paul Michael Glaser)
My favourite 'room full of men crossing legs' scene was when Schwarzenegger does the up between the legs thing with a chainsaw (?) in Running Man. [:)]


163. The Road (2009, John Hillcoat)

162. Armageddon (1998, Michael Bay)


161. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989, Stephen Herek)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (6/2/2012 1:50:57 AM)

160. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, Jim Sharman)

159. Dune (1984, David Lynch)

158. 28 Weeks Later (2007, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)

156. Weird Science (1985, John Hughes)

155. The Matrix Revolutions (2003, Wachowski Brothers)

154. It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955, Robert Gordon)

153. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010, Edgar Wright)
I first got into the Pilgrim comic books thanks to the constant touting on a certain instant messaging client by quite a lot of members and frequenters of this particular subforum. I was, quite disappointingly actually, aware of many of the best quotes before I had even read any of the comic books. However, this didn't hamper my enjoyment of said books at all, because they are zany, quirky, and different almost as a rule, but most of all they are heartfelt, charming, warm, and quite hilarious. One of my major fears before beginning to read these books was that it would be too directly aimed at a hipster audience, which I don't think I'm really a part of, but of course it isn't; Scott (played in this film by Michael Cera) is simply a confident geek like a lot of us, and although the love of his life, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who happens to have seven evil exes that Scott must fight and defeat before he can date her, is at times quite pretentious, the book – and the film adaptation – is never afraid to commit some general mockery of such an attitude. It is, quite honestly, a great work of fiction, and the film adaptation remains true to it for the most part. Obviously, it could not recreate the fullness of a six volume comic scenes in 110 minutes, with certain characters feeling a little short-changed (the Twins, of course) as well as the third act being far too accelerated, but for the most part it's a film that you can laugh with and live with. Edgar Wright is clearly a fan of the comics, taking all of the best bits (except for, unfortunately, the casual sex line) and translating them lovingly into celluloid, and staying true to Bryan Lee O'Malley's vision for the most part. "Scott Pilgrim Vs The World” isn't, for the most part, the deepest film, but it is still quite a smart study of getting over lost loves and finding new ones, as well as of the transition from childhood into adulthood, and most other modern rom-coms would do well to be as heartfelt, intelligent, and original as this. Edgar Wright's direction is hyperactive, different, fresh, and stylish, often moving at breakneck speeds through video game worlds and surrealist segments, at others relaxing for a stroll through a snowy park. It is at these points when Cera, somewhat still living off his "Arrested Development” characterization, really shines, delivering a depth previously unheard of from him. The rest of the cast are, generally, great too, with the highlights being Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman (to be honest, this isn't the best of his performances, but he's one of my favourite current comedic actors and I can watch him in anything) and – particularly – Brandon Routh. A great effort from Wright, then, even if it's a little flawed, but it's still great to see him return to the visual and comedic sensibilities of "Spaced”, to which this cuts closer to than both "Hot Fuzz” and "Shaun of the Dead”


152. Signs (2002, M. Might Shyamalan)
Good lord, I liked some shit when I was a kid. Shyamalan's clearly a talented director, and his direction of the horror sequences in this alien invasion tale is quite good, throwing you into the position of the beleaguered Mel Gibson and his family, restricting you to their light sources and eyelines and playing on the illusion of security owning and knowing your own property affords you. He does a really solid job of evoking the dread of someone getting up in your personal space and refusing to leave, and he offsets it with some decent comedy that makes me wonder why so many of his films are unintentionally funny when he has bits in them like Mel Gibson running around a house, yelling "I'm literally losing my mind!" (or, for that matter, the dinner table sequence, which perfectly captures how absurd some family arguments can be and the way they reach fever pitch quickly). However, so much of the film is bland and worth of a million eye-rolls - the dialogue is often painfully obvious and violates every 'show, don't tell' rule in the book; the performances are much of a muchness, with Rory Culkin delivering a particularly painful portrait of a dryly paranoid kid; the CGI is pathetic; and the themes about faith and hope in the face of adversity are delivered without a hint of nuance or subtlety. It's really, really disappointing all round.

Pigeon Army

151. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011, Rupert Wyatt)

I'm not the biggest fan of the films anyway, so this was always going to have a more difficult time with me, but I can't join in the general love parade that's met the film. Yes, there are some superb action sequences, yes, the ape scenes are magnificent and every time Caesar is on screen he gives the film an almighty kick up the arse. At times it even feels like a five star film, but that script is fairly abysmal. The dialogue in some scenes, especially the one where Franco takes Caesar back to see the lab, feels like the first take of some improv. Franco, who I usually like, never seems that interested in anything around him. Lithgow is over the top, and the humans in general do really badly. A better script and performances from the humans to equal the apes would have made this a gem, as it is, it's merely decent.

Edit - Oh, and that Harry Potter kid, fuck me, who told him he could act? He's as bad here as he was a decade ago in the first Potter film. Surely he could have picked up some acting tips from the likes of Rickman?


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (6/2/2012 2:05:00 AM)

150. The Matrix Reloaded (2003, Wachowski Brothers)

149. Contact (1997, Robert Zemeckis)

148. Village of the Damned (1960, Wolf Rilla)
The name of the director is not the most interesting thing about this superb adaptation of Wyndham's classic sci-fi novel. A sleepy English village in the 60s is at the centre of a mystery when the entire population is knocked unconscious for a few hours for no apparent reason. Futhermore, weeks after the event, a group of women in the village all find they are pregnant at the same time - and the children they eventually give birth to are all blonde and far more advanced than they should be for their years. It's a creepy concept as it is and Rilla renders it on screen superbly. It's arguable that the film is at its best in the first half, before the children even make their first real appearance. The scenes of the village asleep with crashed cars, irons smouldering through clothes and overflowing sinks is extremely eerie and Rilla amusingly picks up an interesting subtext in the story - that the alien influence first manifests itself by destroying the traditions and rules of a small English village. For example, the elderly scientist George Sanders is delighted by his wife's sudden pregnancy, but is contrasted with the 17-year-old virgin weeping as she can't explain how she is pregnant and now faces public humiliation in the village, as does a housewife also pregnant but whose husband has been away at sea for a year. This leads to the darkly comic scene of the expectant fathers in a bar, as all their wives are in labour at the same time - but every one of them sour-faced and bitter. Once the children arrive, the film loses a little focus - we really don't need to see the flashing-eye effect - but their mental control over others leads to some pretty shocking events and there's ultimately a very disturbing underbelly to the film - there's not many films that talk about the slaughter of children so casually. The children themselves look freaky with their blonde wigs fitting their other-worldly nature and their stilted acting actually suits them for what they are, too - they really do feel like adults in a child's body. An eerie and thought-provoking gem


147. The Andromeda Strain (1971, Robert Wise)

146. Never Let Me Go (2010, Mark Romanek)
This starts off as a sort of mannered Grange Hill about a pre-ordained crush that was in place before we the viewer turned up and whose continuity is preserved for the rest of the movie without explanation or exploration. A pithy second chapter sleepwalks us and the protagonists into some gubbins about death which puts everyone on a mild downer (except for Andrew Garfield who is given this subtle behavioural device for showing how ticked off he is). Then it's a wistful epilogue about mortality. Only it's about mortality in the same way that small talk between strangers at a funeral essays the weighty topic. "We never know how long we have. The best we can do is just to make the most of it.” "Aye, I remember reading that somewhere myself. I think it was in one of the Metaphysics...you're quite the philosopher Ted”.

Scripted by my old arch enemy Alex Garland, a man possessed of all the warmth and wisdom of an ASBO gold-fish this story has quite the pathological commitment to waylay any interest generating from the concept before it gets to us. The ethics would be the principal thing of fascination to explore here. It would have been FAS-CINATING. The dynamic of awareness, creating curiosity? Defiance even? Despair? No. Awareness just hangs there in the balance on it's own. Idle, good for nothing, bloody awareness. How about the life force of these kids not ready to die yet? Well they don't really have a life force do they? A survival instinct? A deferral instinct is not quite the same. We could ask that the story itself be framed in such a way to show the sickly inevitability of it all. A count-down to the move to "Completion” ? They could let us know the average time between donations. The prescription of deadlines creates its own defacto drama, and this was never once considered. Instead, time elapses in lazy 10 year jumps, which, to my mind, shows an unintentional contempt for the time allotted to these characters in the first place. But, that would mean contempt for the entire plight? Yup, pretty much. Writer and Director just want you looking at its big puppy dog eyes and no further.


Significantly better than Michael Bay's The Island.


=145. Eight Legged Freaks (2002, Ellory Elkayem)
I don’t expect this one to show up on any other lists on the forum, but this is a serious guilty pleasure. It’s an unashamedly fun B-movie that takes a simple premise (Giant spiders go apeshit on a small town) and has fun with it. This film doesn’t take anything seriously, the spiders themselves work as a threat, but also get involved in slapstick involving a cat, which dances across the line between dark comedy and horror wonderfully. The cast all know they’re in a big dumb horror film and act accordingly, playing their stock characters with such carefreeness we actually end up caring. The small bit-parts are obviously having a ball-especially the obligatory conspiracy theorist and the dumbass deputy. The script gives them some great lines as well-even if it is all B-movie cliché, it still finds time to be clever, such as the kid despairing that nobody will believe him because in horror films nobody ever believes the kid.

The set-pieces are where the film really excels though, with the numerous different types of spiders being put to great use-jumping spiders go after teens on motorbikes, trapdoor spiders grab emus in a surprisingly tense night-time scene-in fact, the film is pretty ruthless when it comes to showing people getting killed by spiders-a lot of quirky support characters wind up dead.

There’s not much else to say about it, other than that it’s the most unashamedly fun horror film of the last decade, or maybe ever, and it’s an absolute blast even if you are an arachnophobe.

BEST SCENE: The kids of motorbikes vs. Jumping spiders. A lot of the teens actually get killed, which is pretty brave, and it keeps up the tension with the spiders constantly getting closer to the leader. It also features a guy kicking a giant spider in the face in mid-air.

Rebel Scum

=144. Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986, Hayao Miyazaki)
Sometimes a film takes more than one viewing to stick with you. Sometimes it takes the course of a film to be taken into its world. And then sometimes when you watch a film it’ll blow you away from start to finish. For me Laputa sits in that last category. When I videoed Laputa on the spur of the moment, on channel four one morning, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d seen Spirited Away when I was a bit younger, and so I had a little knowledge of the Miyazaki guy who made it. But as I watched it, I was totally sucked in to the world. It was incredible, I was totally enraptured. Gripped from start to finish, it immediately jumped into my favourite films list, and remained there after a second viewing. I remember thinking about it hours after it finished. To use a really silly cliché, it was magical.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what is so good about it, which is a bit of a struggle when you are trying to write a review. Perhaps it’s down to the score. For those familiar with Miyazaki’s work, they’ll notice a very similar music style running throughout his films. It’s a kind of light, airy style that floats alongside the story, complimenting it perfectly. The main motif that dominates the score in Laputa is a beautiful, haunting theme that is mesmerising and memorable. At the films climax, and the music reaches a crescendo, it’s a moment of cinematic brilliance. In fact, a lot of the great moments in the film are down to the music – one of my favourite moments in cinema is when Pazu climbs onto his roof, and plays a trumpet while the camera follows some doves sweeping around the valley. I’m starting to run out of superlatives to use in this thread, so all I can really say is that you should watch the film, if anything, for just this moment.

But there must be more than that. A film cannot be magnificent on the strength of a score alone. So maybe it’s the animation. And it is gorgeous. Once again opting for a steam punk aesthetic, Miyazaki and his team of animators come up with a dazzling inventive world in which there are sky pirates (always cool), floating castles and factory towns that are all brilliantly rendered. As with a lot of Japanese animation the characters are less detailed than the landscapes, but seeing Sheeta’s eyes glisten with an onset of tears, you can really feel the emotions breaking through – an achievement considering the somewhat limited facial expressions of the characters.

But animation and score still need a story, and it’s perhaps here where, on repeated viewings, Laputa falters. It’s a brilliant, if simplistic concept, yet Laputa suffers from pacing problems. The first act is the best. A breathtaking chase on a railway, a twist of perceptions and a beautiful section in some mines make for an excellent opening to a film. Once a robot starts blowing up a castle, however, the film starts to flag. There are still some great moments, such as a period when Sheeta and Pazu become sky pirates, and help out on the ship, but the climax feels a little bloated as it just gets bigger and bigger. The film works better in the smaller, character-driven moments, something which Miyazaki misses as the action inflates beyond his capacity. Only as things begin to fall apart does it regain some composure, and makes way for a moving final sequence as nature fights back. And come the credits sequence, it’s difficult not to be moved in some way.

In Short: It’s a bit of a shame that on third viewing I can’t help but concede that this should now drop out of my Top 10 favourite films. Yet it will still hold a special place in my heart, and for all the right reasons. This is a beautifully animated, memorably scored flight of fantasy that will remain with you after for a long time after it's finished.


143. The Last Man On Earth (1963, Ubaldo Ragona/Sidney Salkow)

142. Cypher (2002, Vincenzo Natali)

141. Pi (1998, Darran Aronofsky)
A man looks for patterns in the stock exchange numbers. He is approached simultaneously by Wall Street suits and Kabbalah members.

Since I first watched this two years ago, this film has absolutely fascinated me. Each time I watch it, I notice little things I missed on previous viewings. I also appreciate the soundtrack more and more. The score is excellent, and the track selection, while utterly unknown to me, is outstanding. When I reviewed Requiem for a Dream, somebody mentioned that yes, they enjoyed it, but that they preferred Pi. Well, I agreed, but obviously didn't want to say anything at that point! For all the complex plots in the film world, time and again I come back to the simple, or the simply told tales. Which is not to say that they are trite or shallow, but more that in the telling one can comprehend the film, while still peel away layers on subsequent viewings. The best films can be enjoyed and loved on the first viewing, and reveal more on subsequent ones - the best of both worlds, if you will. Pi is one such film. We follow the hermit-like Max Cohen, a private man who lives in his own world of numbers and routine. He keeps a diary of events in which he reveals a childhood misdemeanour of looking into the sun that temporarily damaged his sight, but also irrevocably changed something inside his head. Whether that event caused the mathematical insight is debatable, as is much of the film. (Which in itself is one of the joys of the film.)

Contrasting with his own quietitude, we have the two characters of Lenny and Marcy. Both are relentless in their pursuit of Max's genius, but in different ways. Lenny is the brash, loud Kabbalah member who befriends Max 'accidentally on purpose', while Marcy is the insistent, unlistening Wall Street rep who trades Max's knowledge for a rare pre-release microchip. The irritation at these characters is palpable, only heightened by Max's search for an effective cure for the headaches he gets. The other significant character is Mark Margolis' Sol Robeson, a similarly quiet mentor with whom Max exchanges theories and plays Go. It is the combination of Robeson's own search for a pattern within Pi that throws up a 216-digit number as error, and Lenny's search for a similar length number within the Torah that send Max on his search for that number - the name of God.

The mix of religious assertion with mathematical hard fact may not be to everyone's tastes but as one who has had a great interest in both fields, I find it fascinating. of course, the idea that a hidden code could be in any significant text has been done before and since. Here however it is done with such directness that conspiracy theories do not surface. Indeed, Max's own worsening condition takes precedence over any possible conspiracy, and we are left with a vibrant, compelling story told in a way that Aronofsky would refine, even if not improve upon, in Requiem for a Dream. The black and white cinematography - one assumes it is for budgetary requirements rather than solely artistic purposes - gives the film a dirtier, grittier feel, which allows the penultimate shocking scene to be far more effective (just as Hitchcock found in Psycho with the infamous shower scene). Pi is a fascinating ride through a man's subconscious and how he relates to the world, and how the world relates to him. It looks great and is accompanied by a sterling soundtrack. If you've missed it, then I highly, highly recommend it.


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (6/2/2012 5:55:18 AM)

140. Outland (1981, Peter Hyams)

139. Lifted (2006, Gary Rydstrom)
Although at first sight a Close Encounters set-up (with a lovely first shot descending to the now traditional isolated farmhouse) might not seem a great match to Ratatouille, here we have, again, Linguini being controlled by an external force – first a rat, now a spaceship. This hits a problem as a novice takes to the helm in order to learn the principles of abduction. The chaos that ensues is a little reminiscent of earlier short Mike's New Car – which is no bad thing. Actually, the aliens – particularly the stoic examiner clicking his pen – wouldn't look out of place in Monsters Inc generally. The delight in the short is the increasing frustration on the learners face as he desperately tries to hit the right button and, of course, the final fail.

Rydstrom's main work till then had been as a sound editor and console comprising a mass of knobs and buttons and levers that the hapless trainee is trying desperately to master is based on a sound mixing console.


=138. 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957, Nathan H. Juran)

=137. Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979, Terry Jones)
Until Monty Python made this film, everything they’d done had been a series of loosely connected sketches-even Holy Grail is a bunch of named characters ferried from sketch to sketch. But here, they’ve gone beyond their comfort zone, making a film with an actual plot-a silly plot, with plenty of random elements and non-sequiturs, but a plot just the same. While there are some scenes that could have been put in the sketch show unchanged (The “What have the Romans done for us” scene springs to mind, and probably the Biggus Dickus one too), the unification of them to an actual story does help make them funnier. Indeed, there’s only one moment in the film that is just Pythonesque nonsense (The aliens), with every other scene happening at least consistent with the others.

Really, it’s hard writing in too much detail about a comedy like this, as there’s not much to say other than “It’s really funny” before rolling off a list of examples. Suffice it to say that if the Pythons are your kind of humour, then it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. If not, you won’t laugh at all. And there’s really not much else to say.

BEST SCENE: The stoning, building on levels of ridiculous and incredibly quotable lines, building up to a perfect ending.

Rebel Scum

136. I, Robot (2004, Alex Proyas)

135. Super 8 (2011, J.J. Abrams)
With Super 8, JJ Abrams poses an interesting question - in a world where Steven Spielberg is actively making Steven Spielberg movies, do we really need a film that spends its entire running time cribbing from Steven Spielberg movies in the name of 'homage'? The answer, it seems, is yes and no - yes, because Super 8 is an entertaining action-adventure film with a heartwarming message and a sense of awe and mystery that's missing from most mainstream blockbusters today; no, because despite all that, it still brings nothing new or (dare I say it) original to the cinematic landscape. Whether he's lifting set-pieces, music and themes from Spielberg's heyday (not only can you cop a faceful of family relationships under pressure, but the final sequence echoes Close Encounters and ET so loudly that it feels like a bit of a cheat) or offering up 'variations' on his Cloverfield monster design (seriously JJ we get it you like lizard-gorillas with four legs), Abrams doesn't do a lot that suggests he has any concerns outside of paying Spielberg back for his influence, which is a nice sentiment but not exactly a good reason for making a film. While it's unfair to say I didn't have fun - it's certainly a thrillride with some fantastic setpieces and good performances from Joel Courtney and Kyle Chandler - it's hard to be emotionally invested in a story and characters that are designed as derivative of better things. Indeed, it's telling that Michael Giacchino's score, an excellent riff on John Williams, does a lot of the emotional heavy-lifting where the story and the characters won't.

Pigeon Army

134. Delicatessen (1991, Marc Caro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
A quirky, unconventional piece of brilliance. Impeccable sound design and cinematography, and an almost unparallelled attention to detail, elevate the already excellent narrative into hallowed territory.

Pigeon Army

133. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(1964, Stanley Kubrick)

The last of Kubrick's feature length films that I had seen (excluding Fear and Desire), Dr. Strangelove came at the height of the cold war. The threat of nuclear war put fear (and desire) into the souls of denizens throughout the western world. With this film, Kubrick attempted to show the ridiculous situation that the USA and Russia had got themselves in. Coming after the relative failure of Lolita, Dr Strangelove cemented Kubrick's position as one of the most talented directors in the US. Originally intended to be a serious adaptation of the novel Code Red, Kubrick realised that the script was gradually becoming more and more comical, though not through intent, and thus decided to make the film a satirical comedy. Replacing those in power with slightly mad versions, the film very much retained its sense of reality. Apparently extremely reminiscent of the room where John F Kennedy held meetings, the War Room is the location where much of the action takes place.

Peter Sellers, who received 55% of the films total budget, played three different roles - the President, Dr Strangelove himself and Captain Mandrake.
It is through the eyes of Mandrake (not literally) that we see that major folk involved in the military are just as mad as those who are at a position to control those around them - General Jack D. Ripper for example, who constantly talks of the Communists stealing and meddling with their "precious bodily fluids." This leads me to explore the general theme of male heterosexuality through Dr Strangelove. The notorious opening shot, the plan for safety underground, the bodily fluids...all this leads to the pointing out of the belief that the men in charge of the Cold War are going by their animilistic instincts in their attempts to resolve the situation rather than taking their time to think things through.

The president is the solitary character in the War Room scenes who seems to have any sense at all. Whether this is Kubrick's thought on JFK himself is debatable. The president seems to act as a father figure telling off the others for their misdemeanours and unruly behaviour - the famous "You can't fight in here, this is the War Room" quote points to this. He also has a memorable conversation with a Russian on the telephone, all improvised by Sellers himself.
Perhaps the greatest character is Dr Strangelove himself. A German scientist during the Nazi-regime, the US government sought his help and expertise in the field of nuclear weapon - something which actually happened constantly in the real world. Again through Sellers' inprovisations, we are shown outburts of hilarity, especially during the speech near the end.

Many scenes occur without Sellers' impact which linger long in the memory. The apocalyptic ending montage with the ironic song playing on top, the scene with Slim Pickens waving his hat as he falls to the ground riding the bomb, the accessories which a young James Earl Jones and pals receive for their safety. An often overlooked aspect of the film is George C. Scott's performance as General Turgidson. Told to do a completey over the top turn, he almost steals the show from the star himself, Sellers.

The penultimate film before Kubrick's completely pessimistic and cold outlook on the authorities and the governments, Dr. Strangelove shows us that Kubrick's humanity during his early career was something to revel in. Dr Strangelove remains a film classic 45 years after release, not just a highpoint in satirical cinema as it is often hailed. Kubrick would go on to top this film on a certain amount of occasions, yet this shows us he could create a comedy classic in his very first effort. Woody Allen, for example, has indirectly expressed his jealously of the film, critisizing its greatest aspects - the script and the performances throughout. This goes to show that Kubrick could outclass even the most seasoned professional in their own specified field.


132. Slaughterhouse-Five (1972, George Roy Hill)

131. X-Men (2000, Bryan Singer)

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! (6/2/2012 6:20:01 AM)

130. Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky)
My first Tarkovsky film and...well, he takes no prisoners, does he? Action (in the loosest form of the word) that moves at a glacial pace, camera movements that are seemingly attached to a snail as it crawls towards the actors and long scenes of philosophical rumination and profound mutterings from characters that may or may not have something to do with what's actually happening on screen as they traverse their way through the Zone, a mysterious area deep in Russia, cordoned off by military guards where danger but also great power lurks. Having said all that, it is a brilliant, mind-boggling experience for the non-sleepy. SPOILERS Having not much of an idea of what was going to happen, the change in visual style from outside the Zone to inside caught me completely off-guard and is a brilliant touch. Outside the Zone, the film itself looks infected by rust, perfectly capturing a world that seems to be rotting and decaying to nothing; while the colourful Zone immediately brings up memories of Oz. That's only first impressions, however, as Tarkovsky makes it an eerie, desolate place where nothing malign seems to actually happen, yet you can't shake the feeling of encroaching dread amongst the ruins of previous civilisation (the location shooting is just amazing). The three men travelling through debate their reasons for visiting the Zone, clash philosophically and succumb to various fears and paranoia and while there are certainly patience-testing sequences of the film it's rarely less than totally engrossing. I can't pretend to fully understand the ambiguity of the Zone and of the film (rather hilariously, to my eyes the final scene seems to be setting up a sequel that's going to be an X-Men prequel) but that's not the point. It's an unsettling and immersive experience like few others.


129. La jetée (1962, Chris Marker)
It's pretty obvious about five minutes in how the film is going to end, and it's not exactly the least pretentious work ever devised, but somehow, none of this matters when Marker's twenty-five minute dystopic time-travel slideshow is on screen. The black and white photography, the seamless-but-not-too-seamless editing, the lighting design, the music and the disjointed, G-Man-meets-David-Attenborough voiceover all contribute to the film's overarching sense of unease. The tale it weaves is simultaneously uplifting and depressing, with our hero - who is both self-serving and courageous in his using of the time-travel machine crafted by his captors to connect with a distant memory of what he perceives to be purity - being exploited because he has a poignant memory from his childhood. Also, the images of a bombed-out Paris are very chilling.

Pigeon Army

128. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959, Ed Wood)
Worst film of all time? Not a chance. It's not even the worst b-movie science fiction film from 1959. Can't deny how shonky the whole thing is but it's a whole lot more enjoyable than many other, much lauded, sci-fi offerings, and not even in a "so bad it's good" way either. Criswell is my new hero. 5/5

Gimli The Dwarf

127. Skeletons (2010, Nick Whitfield)
A machine that enters people's dreams. That can reengage users with lost family. A maverick team with a chance to make it big. And lots and lots of walking across the fields of rural England and travelling on small railways down branch lines. So not quite Inception – but so much better.

Stand-up comedians Andrew Buckley and Ed Gaugham play a team who travel the country to deal with domestic cases – couples who want to make sure they have no secrets before they are married sign up to have their minds delved into and delivered to them with brutal honesty (hence an anally retentive approach to form filling beforehand to ensure the clients know what they are getting into before the skeletons in their closets are exorcised). But one half of the duo, Davis, is surfing the stones in his own time, leaving his odd empty life behind to sit out his downtime in the nostalgia of his family home. Given a chance at a bigger case by the Colonel and the chance to became a major league team, dealing with politicians and the big hitters, the pair get caught up in the half-lived lives of a family whose father disappeared years before, where the mother spends her time digging up the woods bit by bit and the elder daughter has stopped talking and become a kleptomaniac of sorts.

A wonderfully creative low budget film, Skeletons rejoices in some wonderful dialogue (which often reminded me of some the non-sequitor conversations in the likes of Homicide), between the lead odd couple as well as some very good performances, including from those inexperienced leads whose personas gel so well with the oddball team they play. Jason Isaacs is distinctly odd as the flat cap wearing Colonel (pristinely on his head even in his sleep), who seems overly fond of Davis in a curiously fatherly way given the apparent age difference, but with a determination to ensure someone he seems to see as a successor stays on the right course. The Danish Paprika Steen is accent free as the distracted Jane, an almost unique character, whose life has been knocked so far off-balance she seems to have developed an almost autistic confusion over personal interractions.

Whifield makes a wonderful debut here – the film skilfully keeps the central conceit sufficiently vague to avoid absurdity, while giving it sufficient of a construct for the technical discussion to seem natural. There are lovely quirky touches like the directions/maps the teams are given. It handles the often poignant emotional moments as well as it does the humour. Very much looking forward to what he does next.


126. Invasion of the Bodysnatcher (1978, Philip Kaufman)
It tends not to be the first film that comes to mind when talking of superior remakes which is a great shame as Kaufman's updating of Don Siegel's 1950s sci-fi classic is not just an improvement on an already great film, it's one of the scariest films ever made. Kaufman relocates the pod people invasion to 1970s San Francisco, and while that runs the risk of losing the claustrophobia of the small sleepy town of the original, Kaufman twists it into something much more terrifying - how can you fight back when an entire city is in on the conspiracy? It's got a great cast with Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy(!) as the humans slowly realising there's an invasion happening right under their noses, but it's Kaufman's brilliant direction that really lingers in the memory. His control of mise-en-scene to unsettle and unnerve is incredible, with distorted angles, hugely creepy use of sound and light and shadow all creating a tense, queasy atmosphere reminiscent of a nightmare you're aching to wake out of. He packs the film full of incidental details that are easy to miss out on as they tend to happen in the background, but once glimpsed, all add up to the twitchy, paranoid feel of the film - there's the obvious ones like Robert Duvall's silent cameo of a priest on a swing, but there moments like people pressed up against glass doors for no good or logical reason, others seemingly following our heroes or people running away in panic in the background that let the film's encroaching sense of fear really crawl under your skin. And while the ending is inevitably lessened once you know what's coming, it's still one of the most bleakly brilliant ever


125. Watchmen (2009, Zach Snyder)
Ah, the Watchmen. Possibly the greatest graphic novel of all time. A book considered to be the masterpiece of Alan Moore, one of the most instantly recognisable names in comics (he wrote Batman's most famous and best outing, "the Killing Joke”, as well as 1984-style dystopian opus "V for Vendetta). A book that finally put graphic novels on an equal playing field as "real” books. One of Time Magazine's one hundred best novels of any kind. It's easy to spew out hyperbole because this is a book that's had its fair share of it lumped upon its shoulders. What's even more impressive, and perhaps daunting, is that "Watchmen” – the novel – lives up to all of this grandeur that the critics have placed upon it. "Watchmen” isn't just another comic, where all of the action happens on 8 panels a page and authors spoon feed their audience lessons on good and evil, it's a multi layered masterpiece with stories within the story, chapters dedicated wholly to character development, and pages of seemingly unimportant information presented between the chapters from different sources. But that's just the point; the stuff that seems unimportant is actually just as important as who the bad guy is or what the good guys are fighting for. Moore hasn't just crafted a story, he's crafted a world.

Obviously, director Zack Snyder couldn't compress what is an uncompressible book of 200 pages or so into a 2 and a half hour film, and so the essence of the "Watchmen” novel gets lost in the translation. Snyder takes what he perceives to be important and translates it, sometimes even panel for panel and word for word, to celluloid. But what he leaves out, really, is what makes the graphic novel one of the best of all time. Nobody loves "Watchmen” because of the story, which is very good but by no means mind-blowing; they love it because each of its characters are made in to three dimensional human beings with motives, emotion, and realism. Here, many of the Watchmen are reduced to mere caricatures of their former selves, and although they have snazzy new costumes that by no means makes them any more interesting. Adrian 'Ozymandias' Veidt (Matthew Goode), a highly intelligent and wealthy businessman who used to be a crime fighter himself, is merely a bad, camp, Bond villain, whilst Laurie 'Silk Spectre II' Jupiter (Malin Akerman) is just paid to look pretty for two hours and forty minutes. Dan 'Night Owl' Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson) is a dull sap, and Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) isn't anywhere near as badass or as uncompromising. The film's attempts to personify him, adding emotion to the final scene of the film, only detract from what the book tried to put across. The final few pages, in which Rorschach gets new purpose in life and shows just how determined and compromising he actually is, are changed in such a fashion that he ends up looking like a suicidal moper who chooses melodrama over strong will.

The only characters that do make the jump from page to screen well are the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Dr Manhattan (Billy Cruddup). The former, sociopathic and almost clinically insane, is brought to screen well thanks to his keen sense of humour and ironic views on the world and its inhabitants. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a refreshing presence, taking his direction from the book rather than wherever it is that the rest of the cast got theirs. He's unforgiving, hardcore, and almost happy to kill, leading to more and more questions about his morality and whether the good guys are actually the good guys. And that's another one of the things that everybody loves about the book; the heroes aren't exactly heroes, more people either forced into the profession or drawn to it because of its violence or sexual deviancy. Dr Manhattan, the second successful character of the film, goes along with the same logic. He's a normal guy who is given powers that he never really wanted, and he's forced in to a military position by men he no longer understands. His growing detachment from human life lead to an interesting philosophical quandary; whether humanity is worth or worthy of saving? Cruddup, blank-faced and silkily-voiced, is the star of the show, delivering an assured performance that is just about worthy of the words Moore has fed him.

However, it's again the fault of people behind the camera that this small success is insignificant in the greater scheme of things. And that's for two reasons. Firstly, Dr Manhattan has his best scene – and perhaps the best scene of the entire novel – raped into a shortened form. When the Doc goes to Mars, he's supposed to recall all of his life in a disjointed form and to tell us about the reality of time itself, and how events occur simultaneously in spite of time instead of consecutively because of it. In the film, we are treated to the bare minimum; a story of his origin that has no meaning if not supported by the events that surround it, as well as brief segments of the other happenings we are treated to in the book. The second reason is that he is only one piece on this chess board, and the fact that he is a false hero (yes, the one man with superpowers is still a false hero) is devoid because it is not followed up with other cases. In the book, the world is officiated by heroes who are physically, mentally, and emotionally battered by the role that they were given. This is a world where Batman can't get it up and Superman gives everyone cancer, but Snyder reduces them into one of two camps; good or bad. And, anybody who has read it will agree, Watchmen is not a book where everything is so black and white.

The set pieces are a mixed bag, with some working and some not. I hate to keep going on about the source material, but those set pieces that stick closely to it are the ones that work. The ones that fail, for instance the Mars sequence (laughable and comic in the film, profound and poignant in the book) and the ridiculous love scene between Laurie and Dreiberg (this is an intensely important pivotal point in the book – where Nite Owl gets his sense of identity and confidence back, but is turned in to a joke in the film and played for laughs), fail hard. It's these moments, brimming with corniness that shows Snyder's insecurities and inexperience as a filmmaker, which really put you off the adaptation as a whole. The successful scenes, particularly the whole prison sequence (Rorschach's delivery of the line "I'm not locked up here with you... you are locked up in here with ME!” is just about perfect) and the subsequence break out, can be quite entertaining as individual set pieces, but the lack of any depth whatsoever makes you feel like Snyder has remade "Citizen Kane” and edited it as if it was "300”.

In truth, "Watchmen” is probably an okay comic book film. It's probably on the level of "the Fantastic 4” or its sequel. It is, maybe, a film that teens will love thanks to its pseudo-intelligence and dark, admittedly brutal violence. But the book which is based on is not just an okay comic book or on the heinously low level of "the Fantastic 4”, and its intelligence is anything but forced. That's why this review has been so unashamedly negative, and why I've rambled rather than formulated, because my disdain for this film stems completely from my admiration for the book and my shock and disappointment at this adaptation. Maybe it doesn't deserve to be attacked in such a manner, because Snyder obviously loves the source material and didn't want to make the abomination that he has, but there's no denying that he has. Better directors (Gilliam, Aranofsky, even Greengrass) have tried to bring Watchmen to the stage and failed, citing it unfilmable – or at least in such a manner that is appreciable for diehard fans. Snyder should have taken wind of this trend, and left what is one of the smartest, most impressive, and plain best pieces of fiction that has ever been created alone on its pedestal.

Usually, I would end a review on a positive, and the only positive here is that Snyder will probably cause a few people to go out and purchase Moore's masterpiece. But again, our positive is overshadowed by a negative, and that is that for every one person who will read the book, five more will believe that Snyder's film is the definitive version. 1/5


124. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984, Michael Radford)

123. Time Bandits (1981, Terry Gilliam)

122. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (189, Shinya Tsukamoto)

121. X-Men: First Class (2011, Matthew Vaughn)
While not up there with the best superhero films, a really fun entry into the X-men series


X-Men was good and X2 was phenomenal, but after the vile prank that was The Last Stand, I didn't even bother with 19th century-set prequel Wolverine. Now we've landed further forward in history, courtesy of the writer and director of Kick-Ass and original series director Bryan Singer, for a Cold War-era creation myth dealing with the formative experiences of Professor Xavier (James MacAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). The former is an Oxford graduate, doing a dissertation on mutation and heading for the CIA. The latter is touring the globe in search of the Nazi (now something of a Commie-Nazi, to use the McBain parlance) who shot his mum and unleashed his true potential. It's a superb set-up and the film benefits from two excellent central characterisations - backed by Jennifer Lawrence as Raven offering a Rogue-type subplot - but the second half is less impressive and interesting, culminating in an overlong, slightly boring action climax and several false endings. The principal henchman, Azazel, reminds me a little too much of the prankster Devil from Big Train.


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