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RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results!

 
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RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 6/2/2012 10:00:12 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
120. Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1952, Chuck Jones)

Bugs might be cooler, might always win at the end of his cartoons and might be the face of Warner Brothers, but the pay off to this is that Daffy Duck, the perennial loser, gets all the best cartoons. As a kid, certainly, I was more drawn to the lisping, down-on-his-luck duck than I was on the supersmart wabbit. And top of the pile was always Duck Dodgers, a masterpiece even among Chuck Jones considerable back catalogue of masterpieces. Duck Dodgers throws Daffy into a science fiction setting – hence the Buck Rodgers parodying title – in which he has to go to the mysterious Planet X to get some of the super rare Shaving Foam Atom. Unfortunatly, Mars is also running low at the same time and sends Marvin the Martian to do the same job, resulting in some classic Looney Tunes one-upmanship. This isn’t Marvin’s first appearance in a Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies film, he had previously starred alongside Bugs, but he is more suited to the hyper-one-upmanship of Daffy than he is with Bugs, and he is utilized absolutely brilliantly here. Unlike the usual LT bad guy, Marvin is quite quiet, not stupid, and genuinely a bit psychotic. He doesn’t just want to outsmart the wabbit, he wants to blow up the entire planet. Also here is Porky Pig, as Daffy’s sidekick. I’m not a great fan of Porky in general, but when he is paired with Daffy, he can be an brilliant creation. Certainly that is true here, where he is the smarter sidekick to Daffy’s brilliantly idiotic captain. I’m pretty sure that the writers of Futurama were big fans of this cartoon – there are shades of Kif’s relationship with Zapp all the way through the cartoon. I won’t say too much about the actual jokes, so as to spoil them, but I will say that I laugh out loud every single time I sit and watch this cartoon, something that has bought me great joy for such a long time in my life, and it is a mere seven minutes in length. Chuck Jones was an incredible genius, and deserves a film in the Hall of Fame.

Rhubarb


119. This Island Earth (1955, Joseph M. Newman)



118. Spiderman 2 (2004, Sam Raimi)



117. City Of Lost Children (1995, Jean-Pierre Jeunet/Marc Caro)



116. Cloverfield (2008, Matt Reeves)

It's almost remarkable, going into Cloverfield the third time, how my interpretation of it has changed - from incredibly awesome kaiju spectacle to perhaps the finest post-9/11 slasher made at this point, a film whose multiple monsters are both terrifyingly physical - the titular monster, a marvel of CGI - and rather more abstract - the selfishness of the douchebags we follow and the allure of technology both play a large part in the violence and death we see on screen. Indeed, it's remarkable how much of Cloverfield is played for laffs - the lone horse strolling through Manhattan, Hud's tactless word-vomit, the camera's attempts to find focus after Hud's death, Hud's reaction to the Japanese man babbling about a monster, Spongebob on the screen right next to the devastating images of Brooklyn Bridge being destroyed. Our empathy with these self-absorbed twenty-something yuppies isn't Reeves and Abrams' primary concern - their concern is making them absolve for their twenty-first century sins, and while we come to find solace in their company, a sort of easy Stockholm Syndrome thing going on, it's telling that the only one who survives is the most consistently selfless one - the one who doesn't rope her friends into doing dangerous shit, the one who doesn't complain when she had the chance to go back and refused to take it, the one who doesn't treat the protection of technology as if it was some kind of religious ritual. Cloverfield is a demented, entirely successful morality play for the Youtube generation, a heady, violent, aggressively entertaining piece of cinema that's always arresting and never preachy. It's the kind of film that balances major monster scares with the unnerving image of a neckbearded twenty-something wiping blood of the lens of his camera before seeing to the girl who saved his life, and goddamn it works.

Pigeon Army


115. The Blob (1958, Irvin Yeaworth)



114. The Man In The White Suit (1951, Alexander Mackendrick)



113. Seconds (1966, John Frankenheimer)

Arthur Hamilton's (John Randolph) life has lost purpose. He feels distanced from his job and his family. He is contacted by an old friend, one he thought had died years earlier, who informs him of 'The Company', a secret agency who offer people a second chance at life, provided they can afford it. The Company fakes his death, using a corpse disguised at him, and give him extensive surgery to turn him into an artist (now played by Rock Hudson) He moves to California and starts to live a bohemian lifestyle, only to find the pressure of his new life and a longing for his old one begin to take their toll.

The last film in Frankenheimer's paranoia trilogy (comprising Seven Days In May and The Manchurian Candidate) Seconds is the most offbeat, more of a science-fiction/horror movie than the political thrillers of the two. In all the films there is the sense that the individual has no real control of their life, the average person is there to be a puppet controlled by shadowy forces.

It's fair to say that Seconds is certainly the bleakest and most despairing film in Frankenheimer's trilogy. It's been described as Kafka-esque in the past, and with good reason. Frankenheimer appears cold and distanced from the subject to such an extent that it's also easy to see the film both as a companion to Kubrick's chilly sci-fi/horror outings and as an influence on the early films of David Cronenberg.

Seconds is two thirds of a masterpiece that sandwich a sagging middle. The early scenes focus on the isolation of middle-class Americans in a far more effective way than many later 'darkness in suburbia' films. The middle scenes, where Hudson learns to love and then hate his new lifestyle are slightly self-indulgent and overlong, but all is redeemed with the intense, terrifying final act.

There's much to recommend in the film. Rock Hudson gives the best acting performance of his life. Jerry Goldsmith provides a wonderful score, one of the finest of his notable career. Legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe created an experimental (for its day) and unique visual style, full of fish-eye lenses to emphasise the films theme of distortion. The theme of people being 'reborn' is also seen in the fact that several actors in the film had been blacklisted in the McCarthy witchhunts.

Of course, much of Seconds can be dismissed as nonsense, including the idea that surgery can transform someone into a new person. But at its heart I think that Seconds is really another retelling of Faust. It may lose the overt religious material, but 'The Company' are certainly a Satanic entity and the surgery that transforms the body can easily be read as the taking of a soul.

Over 40 years later, Seconds remains a profoundly depressing experience, one that is supposed to have affected Beach Boy Brian Wilson so badly that he didn't watch another movie for sixteen years.

Rawlinson


112. Island of Lost Souls (1933, Erle C, Kenton)

Edward Parker (Arlen) is shipwrecked in the South Seas and rescued by a freighter delivering supplies to an island owned by the mysterious Dr. Moreau. Parker finds himself stranded on the island and forced to turn to Moreau (Laughton) for shelter. Parker hears strange noises in the night, eventually running into the natives of the island, animal-men created by Moreau. Moreau rescues Parker from them and then orders the Sayer of the Law (Lugosi) to repeat the rule about violence. The Doctor has been creating animal-human hybrids in his "house of pain". Moreau's most successful experiment has been Lota, the panther-woman (Burke). She's so human that Moreau wants her and Parker to mate, when Parker's fiancee arrives on the island he knows he needs to find a way to escape.

The parallels with Frankenstein and the general theme of man playing God is obvious, as is the one of primitive sexuality vs repression. Just as interesting in this is the way Laughton's performance, especially his manner of dress, brings to mind colonial overtones. You could easily see Laughton's character as a slave-owner in a British colony as a mad scientist on a secluded island. Moreau is a brutal master and the horrific finale in the house of pain sees him getting fitting punishment from the creations he has tortured and abused. The fact that Moreau creates his hybrids through surgery rather than genetics, so you have some idea of the revenge being extracted, adds an even nastier edge. So nasty in fact that it was banned three time by the BBFC and took over 25 years before it was cleared for viewing.

It's a honestly creepy effort and despite Wells' own reported dislike of the film, it remains not only the finest Moreau film, but possibly the finest Wells adaptation for cinema.

Rawlinson


111. The Quatermass Xperiment (1955, Val Guest)

Something goes horribly wrong on the first manned space flight, when the sole surviving astronaut, Victor Caroon, returns to Earth, he's been infected by an alien being during the flight and the alien will destroy the world if Professor Quatermass can't stop him. The television series of The Quatermass Experiment had become a sensation in the 1950s and the big screen adaptation was at least partially responsible for the early success of Britain's greatest ever horror studio, when in 1955 Hammer decided to remake The Quatermass Experiment as a film. Even though only a few episodes still exist of the original series, the film is weaker. I have to point that out. Mostly because of the idiotic casting of Brian Donlevy as Quatermass, also because of the callous change to the end of the story. Donlevy's brash performance was in direct contrast to the thoughtful nature of the television version of the professor, and Kneale himself hated the adaptation. That said, on its own terms, it's a very good film, packed with tension, and it's incredibly important in terms of the development of British horror cinema. You just need to separate it from the original.

Rawlinson


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 7/2/2012 12:22:25 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 31
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 6/2/2012 10:14:23 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
110. The Host (2006, Bong Joon-ho)

In the Making Of that came with my DVD copy of The Host, Joon-ho Bong cites M. Night Shyamalan's Signs as an influence on his tale of a horribly dysfunctional family trying to rescue one of their own from a freaky giant mutant tadpole. Mentioning how original it was for Shyamalan's film to deal with a normal family fighting aliens, I guess we should just count our blessings that he didn't take too much from Shyamalan's decent but highly flawed alien pic, because otherwise we wouldn't have this superlative monster flick that is brilliantly layered and deep. On the face of it, The Host is a thrill-a-minute monster film with an impressive and grotesque beast at the centre and some brilliant setpieces built around it, but Bong also weaves in a very moving and heartfelt story of a family coming together through tragedy and hope, and a viciously biting social satire on US interventionism and South Korea's limp-wristed nature around the US (the events that give rise to our monster - an American morgue employee telling his Korean assistance to dump litres of formaldehyde into the Han River - are actually based on a highly volatile case that occurred in South Korea in 2000 and led to massive public outcry because the American in question could not be prosecuted due to the US' refusal to hand him over). It's subversive, it's exciting, it's highly emotional, and it's filled with great performances, fantastic cinematography and - something that really struck me on my third viewing - brilliant music. A perennial favourite of mine, and definitely one of the best films to come out of South Korea.

Pigeon Army


109. Strange Days (1995m Kathryn Bigelow)



108. Escape From L.A. (1996, John Carpenter)



107. The Incredibles (2004, Brad Bird)

Probably second tier Pixar for me. It was good, but not really up to the standards of the Toy Storys, Wall-E, UP and possibly Monsters Inc.

paul_ie86


106. A Scanner Darkly (2006, Richard Linklater)



105. Mad Max 2 (1981, George Miller)

Having lost his family in the first film, Max (Mel Gibson) is now a loner, travelling the highways in search of the fuel that's becoming all too rare. Society has fallen even further into decline and the world is now a wasteland. He meets someone who tells him about an outpost of settlers that has plenty of petrol. They find the settlers under attack by a group of bandits. Max offers the settlers a deal, he'll find a way to transport their fuel and get them away from the bandits, in return he'll get enough petrol to go on his way. The film helped popularise the look of much of the punk cinema of the 80s, but despite the sci-fi setting, it's basically a Western in disguise. It takes the familiar story of a small community that's barely able to defend themselves from outsiders enlisting the help of a mysterious travelling stranger and tweaks it to suit the post-apocalyptic genre. The film shouldn't really work, there's little character development, the plot is as bare bones as they come and Gibson was never a great actor, but it's one hell of an adrenaline rush and it actually creates a world that feels believable. Most impressive of all, the action scenes feel necessary rather than existing for the sake of a quick audience thrill. People are still crying out for a fourth entry in the Mad Max series, even now we're about a quarter century beyond Thunderdome. Given the absolute balls-up that was the third film, and the state of Gibson's career in the same period, why anyone would want another sequel is absolutely beyond me. I'd prefer to forget the third one existed and take this as the natural end for the character.

Rawlinson


104. Being John Malkovich (1999, Spike Jonze)



103. The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont)



102. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976, Nicolas Roeg)

Like everything else Roeg directed, it sucks

Gimli The Dwarf


101. Gattaca (1997, Andrew Niccol)



< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 6/2/2012 10:15:00 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 32
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 7/2/2012 1:49:45 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
100. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003, Johnathan Mostow)



99. Mad Max (1979, George Miller)



98. They Live (1988, John Carpenter)



97. Modern Times (1936, Charlie Chaplin)



96. Independence Day (1996, Roland Emmerich)



95. Back to the Future Part II (1989, Robert Zemeckis)



94. Alphaville (1965, Jean-Luc Godard)

Lemmy Caution (Constantine) arrives in Alphaville from the Outland, posing as journalist Ivan Johnson. He checks into the Alphaville hotel where he's provided with a bible (a dictionary) and a seductress who is willing to have sex with him. One rejected woman and one fight with a mysterious stranger later, Caution has begun his descent into the nightmarish, Orwellian world of Alphaville. Caution is really a secret agent from the Outland and he's entered Alphaville on a series of missions, he's to find missing agent Henry Dickson (Akim Tamiroff), track down Professor von Braun (Howard Vernon), the creator of Alpha 60, the super-computer that controls Alphaville, and destroy the city. Alpha 60 is ever present throughout the world, its distorted voice acting as narrator, voice of warning, and providing information to the people who live there. Alpha 60 has also tried to remove all emotion or individual thought from Alphaville, executing those who act in an illogical fashion and even removing words from the language, such as replacing 'why' with 'because'. As a guide through the world, he enlists the help of Natacha von Braun (Karina), daughter of the Professor.

For what is, on the surface of it, a detective story, Caution does very little detecting. Instead he engages more in a battle of wills with Alphaville, his emotions and unstable moods against its cold logic. It's the literal battle of humanity, and what keeps us human, against the machines. Despite the grander themes, it's one of Godard's most purely fun outings, as he crosses film noir with science-fiction twenty years before Scott did it with Blade Runner. And Godard does it better. One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the way that Godard and cinematographer Raoul Coutard turn 60s Paris into the totalitarian Alphaville without the use of special sets. Partly this is thanks to doing most of the filming indoors, something that also helps give the city a bleak and claustrophobic feel. Visually, it's one of the most overpoweringly visually cold films I've ever seen. The beating heart of the film is Constantine, turning Lemmy Caution into an iconic figure, with his noir hero clothing, craggy face, Ford Galaxy, Instamatic Camera and take no prisoners attitude. Anna Karina also does brilliant work as the film's femme fatale figure. Quite simply, it's one of the great noir films, it's one of the great sci-fi films, it's just one of the great films.

Alphaville


93. The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)



92. Starman (1984, John Carpenter)



91. The Wrong Trousers (1993, Nick Park)

The film begins on Gromit's birthday. But because of the huge pile of unpaid bills, Gromit's presents consist of a new collar and a pair of robotic trousers. The trousers are big robotic creations and they're intended to be used to take Gromit for walks. Wallace decides the only way to make money is to rent out a room. Their lodger is a sinister penguin. The penguin first takes over Gromit's bedroom and then Wallace's attention. Feeling pushed out, Gromit leaves home. When Gromit leaves, the mysterious penguin begins to make some alterations on the robotic trousers. While looking for a place to stay, Gromit stumbles across the penguin's true identity, Feathers McGraw - wanted criminal. Meanwhile Feathers has trapped Wallace in the
modified robotic trousers and has plans to steal a diamond. It's up to Gromit to save the day in a frantic and thrilling battle with Feathers that culminates in a hair-raising ride along a model train set.

The claymation animation is sharper than A Grand Day Out and the inventions seem more high-tech as well, from the trapdoor that drops Wallace out of his bed to the trousers themselves. The emotional depth of the characters is also improved from A Grand Day Out and the scene with Gromit leaving is actually quite moving. This was the short where Wallace and Gromit became national icons and it wasn't just the smoothing out of the rough edges that make this work so well, it's Park refining his characters and capturing the qualities and quirks that make them so beloved. It's difficult to imagine Wallace & Gromit being created in any other country because there's something about them that feels uniquely British. In many ways that eccentric Britishness makes them feel like refugees from an Ealing film and I think that's partly what's so appealing about them. They feel timeless, but not dated or antiquated. The Wrong Trousers is the peak of their glories, but that's not to say what came later was in any way bad. There's not a Wallace & Gromit outing that's anything less than a five star classic, but this is one of the most funny and exciting animations ever created.

Rawlinson



< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 7/2/2012 2:04:47 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 33
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 7/2/2012 2:03:42 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
90. Tremors (1990, Ron Underwood)

Tremors is my Back to the Future-film. It's a film which never fails to make me laugh and I never tire of. It perfectly nails comedy-horror; some scenes still make me jump (the car springs to mind), whilst others can make me laugh so much it hurts. The script is one long smorgasbord of fantastic lines. The lead performances are great; Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward have fantastic chemistry and perfect comic timing. The supporting cast is pretty good too - the survivalist couple are a favourite of mine. It's pure entertainment.

MovieAddict247


89. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984, Hayao Miyazaki)

There are some films that take cinema to new levels by embracing the fantastical and abandoning mundanity of any kind. These films understand that with the clever use of a camera or an artist, you can transport an audience to a whole new world, and can immerse the viewers in that world. Nausicaa does just that. Realism be damned, this is a brilliantly realised flight of fancy, and it showcases exactly why animation is so appealing, and as the first Miyazaki Ghibli film, why the director has such a good reputation. It’s one of the most inventive films I’ve ever seen, and achieves things that could never happen in a live action film. Well, not without the help of a greenscreen anyway. Quite simply, I was blown away.

It’s set in a world with various tribes and lands, including the titular peaceful valley, the vaguely Arabic Pegites, and the warmongering Tolmekians. It’s an intricately crafted world, with distinct landscapes and a well defined steam-punk aesthetic. There is clearly a huge amount of craftsmanship and dedication that goes into the birth of these worlds. It’s the type of devotion to quality that is often forgotten in modern animation, a principle that can be ignored due to the simplicity of CG animation. There are, obviously, some Monsters Inc. shaped exceptions to this, but more often than not, we don’t see the sheer love for quality that is shown in Nausicaa any more. The world of animation has just got a bit lazy.

Gratefully, though, not so here. What I was trying to say in a more structured way in the previous paragraph is that this film is absolutely stunning. Take, for example, the first scene after the credits, and Nausicaa is exploring the toxic jungle. Luminous spores line the walls, making it seem almost like an underwater world seen only in Planet Earth. It begins to snow spores, and the princess just sits underneath a kind of bubble like shell of an eye from an ‘Ohm’ and watches it rain. It’s a beautiful scene, as the princess rather irritatingly points out. The film is filled with loads of scenes like this, ranging from the sparse beauty of the world underneath the jungle to Valley of the Winds itself. Miyazaki keeps coming up with fresh ideas for places and ways to tell the story. There is a very moving flashback section that is almost in the style of Raymond Briggs. And the climatic revelations are absolutely beautiful. I won’t ruin it for those that haven’t seen it, but lets just say it adds a totally new ethereal element to the standard concept of fields of wheat.

The plot is as intricate and compelling as the animation, making sure this isn’t just a series of pretty pictures. Presciently dealing with pollution and the environment, it’s a fairly complex plot about living in harmony with nature (a frequent theme in Miyazaki’s work). It’s a foreboding message that nature has destroyed the world, after the world tried to do the opposite. This irony is as convincing an argument to try to save the planet as any Powerpoint presentation. Yet far from being preachy or boring, as the film races towards its exciting climax, it becomes a gripping, poetic action film, as Nausicaa attempts to stop two warring nations. It’s evident that this is so much more than a children’s film.

Sadly, however, this film just stops short of perfection. It’s got one or two huge flaws that hold it back from truly reaching that greatness that it is only within touching distance of. I saw a version with an English dub that was poor to say the least. Alison Lohman gives such a dry, slow voice performance as the princess that isn’t helped by awkward lines such as "My heart is pounding!" I mean, who actually says that to themselves? I mentioned earlier the scene with the spores snowing, and she keeps talking to herself. With such a lacklustre voiceover, it’s just a hindrance when you’d rather watch it in silence, and drink in its beauty. Shia LaBeouf also features on the 2004 dub, and fares OK, but his voice is too recognisable for the character he plays that he becomes distracting.

Which is all very well, as I could just as well watch the Japanese version. But sadly the Japanese version cannot remove the occasionally awful moments of scoring. During some of the faster action sequences, the usually light, airy score that accompanies most Miyazaki films is replaced with a jarring techno score that seems to have comes straight out of one of those terrible 1D computer games you got in the ‘80s. You can’t help but wonder why this ended up being on such a beautiful film, as it really does detract from the otherwise dynamic scenes. It just makes it seem a little silly. Still, this is a small gripe in the face of the rest of the film, which is almost unrivalled in its skilful creation of a fantasy world, and is, quite frankly, a remarkable film.

In Short: A poor lead vocal performance and inexplicable choice of techno music stop this from being Miyazaki’s finest so far. Yet the mind-blowing beauty of the world that the master creates, combined with a breathlessly exciting and complex plot, make this an unmissable cinematic experience.

swordsandsandals


=88. Ghostbusters (1984, Ivan Reitman)

‘Where do these stairs go?’ ‘They go up.’

New York. 1984. Ghosts are on the rise. A nice lady is threatened by one from the inside her fridge. A motley bunch of jobless scientists capture the ghosts until they are shut down. Chaos ensues. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man nearly destroys city. Ghostbusters save the day.

What a fantastic plot first of all. Written by two of its stars, Egon and Ray, or Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd as they are known in the real world, Ghostbusters is a brilliant mix of comedy (mainly) and science fiction (kind of), the kind of Summer blockbuster we could do with now – intelligent, witty, full of heart and most of all extremely funny. There are countless quotes from the film that could have headered this review, but amongst the many brilliant Bill Murray one liners and visual gags, Ghostbusters is littered with subtle jokes rendering almost every scene hilarious. The sense of fun cannot be underestimated, this is simply one of the most fun films ever made; the characters, story, set up, even when things get serious they are still fun. Every single character weighs in with more humour than most comedies can manage in an entire film. From Sigourney Weaver’s Dana wearily fighting off the attentions of several men, the wimpy Louis played by Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts’ sarcastic Janine to the Ghostbusters themselves, every character is enthused with life, purpose and some semblance of reality. Of the Ghostbusters Ray, Egon and Peter are exceptional characters, each one bringing something to the table. As described by Peter later in the film Ray is the heart of Ghostbusters, packed with enthusiasm for his vocation he is also believably naïve enough to warrant many great moments, not least the ‘get her!’ moment in the New York Public Library. Egon, as the brains of the outfit is fantastically geeky but never veers into characature, whilst Winston brings an outsider’s (sensible) perspective to the team despite seeming a bit tacked on at times. Of course the star of the show is Bill Murray as Peter Venkman, a role originally intended for John Belushi but now seeming like it could never be played by anybody else. Murray is brilliant, dispensing enough one liners to fill a ghost containment grid several times over, his sardonic, dead pan delivery helps create one of the great comedy characters of the last 30 years. And of course one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Rinc


=88. Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon)



86. Sleeper (1973, Woody Allen)



=85. Ghost In The Shell (1995, Mamoru Oshii)



=85. Pitch Black (2000, David Twohy)

Pitch Black is another of my favourite SciFi/Horrors. And a reminder yet again of how badly Twohy squandered the great character of Riddick in that high budget shenanigans sequel.

An accident puts a ship down on an unknown planet – on the trip down pilot Caroline (Mitchell) nearly sacrifices the passenger section, something that deeply affects her and helps dictate her future actions. On board are the usual ragtag bunch but given a lot more character than might be the norm, particularly Keith David, legend in the field, as an Imam leading 3 young students. Also on board are guard and prisoner – drugged up Johns (Hauser) and a violent apparently sociopathic escaped prisoner Riddick (Diesel), with surgically altered eyes to fit the lightless prison he was incarcerated in. They've unfortunately landed just as the planet heads into the dark at the end of a 22 year cycle – and when it gets dark, a whole different breed of predator comes out.

The most compelling creation is that of Riddick, unusually well-played by gravelly voiced Vin Diesel, someone you wouldn't really normally link to good performances. There are some nice touches and contrasts – his initial reaction of 'beautiful' watching the killing machines rise in the dark reminded me of Ash's reaction to the Alien in the film of the same name – while that robot admires the efficiency of the killing ability, are we taking the same for Riddick? Or recognition of a compatriot? But Riddick's background isn't quite so cut and dried, and his reaction to Jack's hero-worshipping and Caroline's 'sacrifice' suggest there is a lot more going on. Radha Mitchell got herself a career out of the strong performance she gave as the 'captain' of the group – no flashy hysterics, but grounded and considered.

Pitch Black is both thrilling and unusually well-characterised for a low budget SF/Horror – both factors that turned it into a well-received sleeper hit on release. The creatures are well-realised and genuinely terrifying and the direction keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat even at the nth viewing. The let-down of the sequel was keenly felt although, if you can find it, the animated 'sequel' Dark Fury wasn't nearly as bad (and was one of the first to take a film into animated territory influenced, I think, by the Animatrix stuff shortly before).

elab49


83. 28 Days Later (2002, Danny Boyle)

One of the most enjoyable horror films of recent years, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later harks back to the classic Day of the Triffids as Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes from a coma to a deserted hospital and, in some of the film's most stunning scenes, an apparently deserted London. Encountering 2 other survivors just in time after he runs into the reason for the desolation – an infection spread almost instantaneously through blood that has resulted in the quarantining of the whole of Great Britain by the outside world. Joining up with a father and daughter, who had been holed up in a tower block, they head off to find the source of a military transmission seeming to promise a cure.

The key to the scares in the film is the speed of the infected, brilliantly shot by Dod Mantle as if they were some rabid, surging, unstoppable tide (oddly a description of the speed of cholera), seen to particular effect in the tunnel on the way out of London. That and the vicious (and sometimes dreamlike) scenes in the mansion as Jim goes all primitive simply look stunning. With the scenes of the deserted city mentioned earlier, it's arguable that 28 Days Later is one of the best shot of all horror films.

And for a horror the film features some impressive acting talent. Naomie Harris spent quite some time as the 'next big thing' and is solid as the tough survivor Jim encounters first. Across town taxi driver Brendan Gleeson is living to protect his daughter and the supposed military saviours are led by Christopher Eccleston, with Murphy strong in the lead.

It's not a zombie movie though.

elab49


82. The Fifth Element (1997, Luc Besson)



81. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005, George Lucas)

There's a great story here - locked to a glorious evocation of nauseating, mounting dread - but it's let down by cartoonish visuals (Yoda is terrible), interminable, banal action sequences and dialogue that's utter sith. The acting is erratic - the best performance coming from R2D2 - but while Hayden Christensen's gimmickry is easy to mock, it's often quite effective

rick_7




< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 7/2/2012 10:45:48 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 34
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 7/2/2012 6:05:53 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
80. Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)

Lets make it clear, this IS more Sci-Fi, but when Videodrome dips its toes into the horror genre, then its totally wonderful, a surreal trip that not even the mind of Lynch could come up with. Its a shame that David Cronenberg has not made a horror for many of years has when Cronenberg is in the mood, he can deliver among all the horror icons, and he really is one of the most underrated directors in that field.

Videodrome is a cult movie that should not be, as it as more acclaim to it, than most cult films should have. Ahead of its time and that reason alone why it flopped on release, its one of the most original films of the 80's, a trip into and imagination that needs to be seen to be believed. What other film has a scene where James Wood with a hole in chest and in it, inserts a video tape????????? yes really???????...only from Cronenberg!

The story, well I try to explain the best I can......Max (Woods) loves porn, and soon finds his need to go further to satisfy not only his needs but also his TV company whose "soft-core" output is not enough and he wants something to really hit the audience hard with. He comes across Videodrome, a station that embarks on brutal torture images and this enlightens Max who demands that the show is "pirated" in what he believes is the future of TV!

Only he does not realise what Videodrome is, a signal that somehow causes damage to the brain, causing freakish hallucinations and as Max tries to unravel the secret behind the station, he is soon sucked into a gruesome world of sadomasochistic sex, where bodily transformations are the norm, and a conspiracy that is still not quite answered to this day!

You can read from that, Videodrome is not a typical movie and the truth is while this flopped big time, its only really now, where the likes of Porn and everything Facebook is so easy to get on the easy available Net that this feels so reliant, that the films premise is only now in such fashion. What seemed unbelievable way back 27 years ago, is totally possible now, and its too Cronenberg's credit that he delivered a film so far ahead of its time.

There are quite stunning visual effects that still look up to scratch in this day an age, and it has such a dense mystery that it not once leaves you baffled, just an eager to know what is going on, even though that could take up to many views to actually fathom what the heck is going on.

Woods is simply on the money as the troubled Max, and Cronenberg delivers on all accounts, it is a required taste, but for anyone who wants something different for their horror tastes, then Videodrome delivers in spades, its simply fascinating and totally gripping, a surreal trip that is unappreciated simply because it was a style not ready yet for a cinema audience!

Hughes Ross


79. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991, Nicolas Meyer)



78. Flash Gordon (1980, Mike Hodges)

Producer Dino De Laurentiis was never a man to ignore a movie trend. When Jaws became a big hit, he commissioned the 1970s remake of King Kong, believing that monster movies were back in vogue. When Star Wars hit, and hit bigger than anything which had come before, De Laurentiis saw dollar signs in his eyes, and went after the space opera genre with gusto.

One of his attempts was the David Lynch directed Dune, which is both really surreal and boring at the same time. It was a dour, up itself sci-fi movie, which flopped big time at the box office, but has gained a cult reputation. While as a fan of the book I can watch it, I don't think I will ever go as far to say that it is good. It is a failure only a filmmaker as brilliant as Lynch could create.

The other space opera he funded was returned to the source of the materials that influenced the creation of Star Wars. It was big and loud and a reminder of what space operas were before Lucas's film. The 1980 movie Flash Gordon had many years in the wilderness because it wasn't Star Wars. Well I say it is time for a reassessment of this film, one of the most fun blockbusters ever created, and in retrospect quite a unique creature.

The plot is fantastic. Ming the Merciless (played with gusto by Max von Sydow) is bored and decides to screw around with the planet Earth. Why? No real reason. He just likes messing about with planets. He is a galactic troll.

On Earth, American football star, Flash Gordon (Sam Jones), along with journalist Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol) manage to collide into each other's lives and get sent out into space where they land on Mongo, the planet ruled by Ming. The rest of the film involves Flash uniting the peoples of universe to attack Ming, and save Dale from becoming his bride. All to the sweet, sweet soundtrack of Queen.

Mike Hodges, perhaps best known for directing Get Carter, treats the film as the pulp it is. The sets are big, and bright. The skies look like ink in water, and the spaceships are at times rather rude looking.

Complementing this is a great, great cast of British supporting actors. Everyone of course remembers Brian Blessed. Has there ever been an actor in a major blockbuster who has looked like he has had more fun, than Blessed. He knows the material he is in, and just runs with it. Some say that it is overacting, but I say that it is performance which fits right in with the world.

We cannot forget Timothy Dalton either. He cuts the ham thick, and in comparison to Blessed, reads the role in a super serious manner. Both takes work, and both work in conflict with each other.

The films secret weapon is Peter Wyngarde, who plays the Golden masked head of security Klytus. The actor already has one of the best voices in the business, but linked into a campy, but sinister character such as Klytus he becomes a delight. Listen to the way he snarls the word "Earth” in the opening scene of the movie. It is a shame he is taken out before the big finale.

Of course the weak spot of the film is Sam Jones, as Flash himself. He doesn't have much of a character, playing it totally straight laced. But I kind of enjoy the cheese he brings. A Chris Evans in Captain America type performance still couldn't have competed with the force of all these character actors having a grand old time. And that soundtrack!

Yes the effects were dated even when the film was released. Yes, the film isn't for everyone. Yes, the film is camp overload at times. But I cannot deny that I love this film, and sadly reflect that its failure, coupled with the success of Empire Strikes Back, meant that fun space opera was thrown to the kerb for the next thirty years.

Rgirvan44
.....

I think there's a good argument to be made that Flash Gordon is still the best comic strip adaptation, because it's the one that best gets how a comic strip on the screen should work. Loud, colourful, a cliffhanger every ten to fifteen minutes and only the most cursory of dialogue (that somehow has become utterly quotable anyway). Even the fact that with Sam Jones Jr dialogue being dubbed it occasionally has the feel of some curio from eastern Europe with a huge budget only adds to the charm. Hodges directs it at a clip, safe in the knowledge there's going to be some fighting/execution/daring escape around the corner and Queen's music, usually unsuffereable, is actually perfect for the glitz and disco colours of Flash's adventures on Mongo. It's just really, really fun with great model work, trippy visuals that are still stunning (and as an aside, the scene where Topol's Dr Zarkov has his mind emptied by Ming's secret police is very, very creepy), superb characters, spectacular design and awesome villains. Needless to say Max von Sydow's Ming the Merciless and Peter Wyngarde's Klytus are both having an absolute ball and both get great death scenes. Oh, and Brian Blessed as King of the Hawkmen, obviously. Needless to say, I'd watch this over any Star Wars film any day of the week.

matty_b
.....

The soundtrack rocks my world

Rawlinson


77. La Planète Sauvage/Fantastic Planet (1973, René Laloux)

The planet Ygam is inhabited by the Draags, a race of giant humanoid creatures. They take mastery over a smaller, wilder race called Oms. The treat the Oms as pets, domesticating some, but exterminating the wild ones as vermin. One of the Oms, Terr, is given to a young Draag, Tiwa, as a pet. He listens to Tiwa's information headset, a device used for learning, and gains knowledge of the Draags plan for 'De-Omisation', a plan to exterminate all Oms. He escapes to join his wild Oms and help them form a rebellion against the Draags.

Laloux created this film alongside one of his fellow Panic Movement artists, the writer Roland Topor. They turned to a sci-fi novel by Stefan Wul for the basis of their film. Oms is of course a wordplay on the French term hommes. And the film puts man in the subjugated position we often put other races in. We decide what animals to keep as pets, which ones to eat, which ones are vermin. The theme of the Draags thoughtlessly killing Oms thoughtlessly is established in the opening scenes of the film. The treatment of the Oms has been used to draw all kinds of political allegories, but I think the strongest allegory is the Nazi parallels. The Draags believe themselves to be superior to the Oms and have no problem in creating a final solution to exterminate them by the use of gas.

Visually the film is astonishing, every bit as surrealist and mindbending as you'd expect from members of the Panic Movement. Both Topor and Laloux allowing their imagination to run wild to create the bizarre world and life forms in the film. In fact, as much as I've talked about the plot, Fantastic Planet would be just as enjoyable if it was watched without dialogue and just appreciated for the savage but beautiful world that Topor and Laloux have created.

Rawlinson


76. Battle Royale (2000, Kinji Fukasaku)

"Battle Royale", Kinji Fukasaku's 2001 adaptation of Koushun Takami's equally controversial 1999 novel, has at its heart possibly the finest concept of the decade – a class full of unruly schoolkids kidnapped and forced to kill each other, by any means possible. There are no rules: except if there’s any more than one person left at the end, their explosive tracking collars go off, messily. It's such a simple but effective conceit; if this were a lesser film then it might be able to coast by on the idea alone. Fortunately though, the film more than matches it.

Perhaps BR's greatest achievement is that it made a film about schoolchildren murdering each other such bloody good fun (pun not intended... well, kind of). The film is suitably brutal and unsettling throughout - this viewer winced more than once - but "Battle Royale" is tempered by a strong dose of pitch-black satirical humour that gives an extra dimension to proceedings, and serves to highlight the absurdity of what is a disturbingly plausible scenario. One particular early sequence involving a child-like TV presenter explaining to the class how to "fight right and with gusto", interrupted by teacher Kitano (Beat Takeshi) throwing a knife into an unfortunate student’s forehead, is unforgettable.

Asking valid, thought-provoking questions about academic competition, violence’s role in society and "blame culture" (perhaps more relevant today than on its release), "Battle Royale" offers plenty beyond the gloriously OTT violence; and of course it always asks the same question to any viewer – given a gun (or a pot lid, as the case may be), a timebomb round your neck and only one way out... what would you do?
Olaf.

In an alternate future, Japan is a society on the edge of collapse.The young are particularly effected by the chaos in the country and start acting out in school, either not attending or attacking their teachers. The government introduce an act that enters all schools into a lottery, randomly choosing one class to enter the Battle Royale. To take part in the Battle Royale, the class are taken to a deserted island, given a weapon, fitted with an electronic collar, and told to fight to the death until only one survives. Part satire on the way the educational system pressures children to succeed, part black comedy, part over-the-top horror-actioner, Battle Royale is a wickedly funny little film from one of cinema's great rebel directors. It's not up to the standard of some of Fukasaku's earlier work, but as an edgy piece of exploitation it's pretty special and it has more to say about teen politics and interaction than a hundred John Hughes films.

Rawlinson



75. THX-1138 (1971, George Lucas)



74. Westworld (1973, Michael Crichton)



73. Primer (2004, Shane Carruth)

While Back To The Future is the acceptable face of time-travel films, Primer is the back-alley illicit hit of pure, uncut mindfuckery. At just 77 mins long, it is potentially slight, but the steadily layered plot means that you may very well want to watch it more than once. Certainly if you have a hope of understanding it. (Hint: I don't yet.)

Ostensibly, the film is about a group of young men who, in their spare time, tinker around in garages making things they don't teach you about on "Blue Peter". Hell, I don't think they even teach you this stuff in Physics degrees. One of them creates a time machine, at which point reality slowly bleeds away like an untended wound, and your grasp of just what exactly is going on slips away.

There are timeline charts and graphs around online that attempt to explain exactly what happens in the film, but part of me thinks that that detracts from the film. Part of me wants to let it wash over me, another part needs to understand everything. Either way, you cannot deny that this film is a fascinating study of just how friendships fritter away when power is concerned; of the tenuousness of interpersonal relationships; of how distrust grows; and of just how absolutely fucked we'd all be if time travel really and truly were possible.

Primer was a micro-budgeted film that was so far below the radar, it might have tunnelled by. A film doesn't need to have big budgets, or even big names - it needs to have heart and it needs to have quality. Primer has both of these things and the combination of all these various and wondrous factors make it an unlikely, but supremely worthy, candidate for the Hall of Fame.

homersimpson_esq


72. Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964, Bryon Haskin)



71. Things To Come (1936, William Cameron Menzies)




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 35
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 7/2/2012 6:19:23 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
70. Star Trek: First Contact (1998, Jonathan Frakes)

I don’t think Star Trek films make it onto enough lists. Granted, you have to be a Star Trek fan (I’ve never called myself a Trekkie or a Trekker, but I like the program) to fully enjoy them, but even aside from the fact that they’re Star Trek films, First Contact is a superlative science-fiction film. If you like Star Trek, the Borg are one of the best ‘aliens’ they’ve written, and the film plays nicely against one of the best two-parter episodes in The Next Generation, “The Best Of Both Worlds” in which Captain Jean Luc Picard is assimilated and becomes Locutus of Borg. I also love time-travel stories, so this and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (possibly in my top 200) are my favourites of the series. There are plenty of temporal anomalies, but as with any time travel film, a too-detailed look reveals plenty of plot-holes that even the worst Vulcan would call illogical.

What makes this film particularly enjoyable isn’t just that this is the first solo-mission for the Next Generation crew as far as the films go, but that it is steeped in Star Trek ‘future-history’, dealing with the birth of the Warp Drive, that allows faster-than-light-speed travel by Zephram Cochran (an excellent James Cromwell as the unlikely hero), which in turn allowed a passing Vulcan ship to note that maybe humans have what it takes to be an inter-planetary species, leading to the titular first contact with aliens. The sense of mythos is palpable, and adds depth to the fun of the rest of the film. Frakes, who directed many of the TV episodes does a sterling directing job which may, possibly, have been a one-off. Still, I am reviewing the film not the director, and as far as this film is concerned, Frakes gets it right.

If you’re not a Star Trek fan, because you’ve just never been interested, I still recommend checking this film out. Certainly there will be inter-character banter that may be missed, but it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the film as a whole. It’s a cracking thriller, the music is excellent, and it’s Star Trek at its very best! What’s not to love?

homersimpson_esq


69. The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961, Val Guest)



68. Minority Report (2002, Steven Spielberg)

Yeah, I like Minority Report.

matty_b
.....

I pretty much hated it

Rawlinson


67. The Time Machine (1960, George Pal)



66. A Grand Day Out (1989, Nick Park)

A Grand Day Out introduced the world to the legendary pairing of Wallace and Gromit. Wallace is an eccentric Yorkshire inventor who lives with his far more intelligent dog, Gromit. Both master and dog love cheese and when they discover they've run out one night they do the only logical thing. They build a rocket to spend a day trip at the Moon, because everyone knows the moon is made of cheese. When setting up their picnic on the moon they discover a strange robotic creature who looks like a vending machine. They put a coin in the machine but nothing happens, but when they leave it springs to life. It gets agitated by the mess left by Wallace & Gromit, but displays longing when it discovers a skiing magazine. The machine then hatches a plan to get to earth to learn how to ski.

While it may seem slightly amateurish compared to later Wallace & Gromit efforts, A Grand Day Out is an effortlessly charming introduction to our beloved heroes. It may lack a little something by having a more sympathetic villain than later outings (you can't even call him a villain really, Wallace & Gromit do mess up his home, and all he really wants is to learn to ski) but it has the same laid-back dry wit and superb observation of details (such as the design of their rocket, complete with arm chairs) and it uses the same warped but understandable logic as the likes of Tex Avery. Top it all off with voice work from the excellent as ever Peter Sallis and you have a classic cartoon that started the greatest animation series ever to come from Britain.

Rawlinson
.....

Cracking!

Wallace


65. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer)



64. Mars Attacks! (1996, Tim Burton)


Ack Ack Ack Ack!

Martian


63. Back To The Future 3 (1990, Robert Zemeckis)



62. X-Men 2 (2003, Bryan Singer)

Judging by everyone’s reaction, it seemed in 2008 that the notion of a serious superhero film-as perfected by The Dark Knight-was a radical thing that had never been done before. X-Men 2 is the perfect rebuke to such a statement, as it presents a film that, while not quite reaching the standards of The Dark Knight, is one of the best superhero films, and a lot better than that other hyped up sequel that came out at the same time. The reason it’s so good is that it actually has something to say. X-Men has been used as an allegory for gay rights, the Civil Rights movements of the 60s, and a whole swathe of other interpretations, and X-Men 2 wisely doesn’t pick a side. Iceman’s “coming out” to his parents suggests the gay issue, but the governmental crackdown on mutants leans more towards Civil Rights.

Despite the maturely handled subtext, X2 does remember that it is primarily an action movie, and provides in spades what the first film only hinted at. With the characters already established, the film can jump straight into the action, and does so with the now classic sequence where Nightcrawler attacks the President. That sequence marks a high point of the action, but all the other set pieces trump anything the first film had to offer and, even after two more X-Men films, mark the high point for the franchise as a whole.

If there is a complaint to be levelled against the film, and it deserves to be, it’s that the massive ensemble of mutants result in some underdeveloped characters. While this is true, and it would have been nice of a mutant other than Wolverine to have been a focal point, every character gets some kind of defining character moment and generate enough emotional attachment that we care about them (With the notable exception of Cyclops, who got a lousy deal out of the trilogy, didn’t he?). Iceman’s aforementioned “coming out” is the most hard-hitting, but Nightcrawler’s small speech about life in the circus is another high point. The problem is that despite attempts to make the story seem more epic-the X-Men team up with Magneto! And try to stop every mutant from being killed!-the overall arc belongs to Wolverine and pretty much nobody else.

This doesn’t stop the film from being great, though, and the high point of one of the best trilogies of the last decade (I even kinda liked the third one. Not Origins though, that sucked). The new First Class makes me hopeful for another great X-Men film, but if it isn’t, one’s still good enough.

BEST SCENE: Nightcrawler’s attack on the President. Nightcrawler damn near ran away with the film, and this sequence shows off his powers beautifully, providing more suspense over 3 minutes than most films manage over an entire running time.

Rebel Scum


61. Donnie Darko (2001, Richard Kelly)

Sometimes, the more you explain, the less impact you have. That is what Richard Kelly found when his director's cut of his wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey cult classic failed to engage with anyone on the level that his debut had done on its initial release. It seems that the more ambiguous Donnie's story was, the more there was to see and to explore and there's a lesson to be learnt there, I think. On the surface, the film is about Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the therapy he's undergoing to understand why he's having hallucinations about a man in a rabbit suit that tells him the end of the world is coming in a matter of weeks. But on the other hand, it might really be about wormholes in time and pre-destination. Or maybe it's really about faith versus science. Or maybe it's about education in school being under threat from personal ideology rather than the exploration of ideas. Or maybe it's a David Lynch-esque look at 80s America and how under the veneer of idyllic small-town life that we see here, there's a seething mix of personal jealousies, political hatred and sexual perversion boiling away. Maybe it's all those things, and the most astounding thing about Kelly's film is that it takes all these various strands, and where other, lesser, films would simply collapse into a mess (hell, other films don't try to do half as much as Donnie Darko and are still a mess), it instead ties them together into a glorious, looping, chaotic-yet-strangely logical tale of time travel, exploding jet engines and giant rabbits that somehow makes perfect sense at the end of it. And it does this in such a way that though you're sure you've understand what you've just seen, you want to see it again as soon as possible just to confirm your own thoughts on it. And it does all this with a brilliant soundtrack, too. Gyllenhall is excellent as the troubled teen at the centre of it, with great support from Mary McDonnell as his mother, sister Maggie as his, er, sister, Noah Wyle as a teacher sympathetic to his problems but scared of how they'll impact upon the school, Beth Grant as a hysterical parent at his school and Patrick Swayze as Jim Cunningham, lifestyle guru making inroads at the school and, as it turns out, pervert with a rather nasty secret stash of kiddie porn. What this points to is that despite the fact that this is a film named after the titular character, it's not actually about him at all. Sure, there are numerous, teen-savvy scenes about him and his girlfriend, Gretchen, but the film has the uncanny ability to make every scene a mini-movie all by themselves. An antagonistic school teachers and parents meeting that descends into anarchy could be the heart of the film. The Sparkle Motion dance contest could be. The fire that destroy's Jim's house could be. All these things and more add up to a bewitching, enticing, head-spinning whole that, much like Donnie in the superbly eerie opening soundtracked by Echo and the Bunnymen's The Killing Moon, is likely to leave you flat on back wondering just what the hell happened?

Key moment - the montage of characters in one night set to Gary Jules' cover of Mad World is probably the best use of music this decade.

matty_b


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 7/2/2012 6:20:30 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 36
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 7/2/2012 7:14:02 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
60. Men In Black (1997, Barry Sonnenfeld)



59. The Abyss (1989, James Cameron)



58. Avatar (2009, James Cameron)

When his twin brother is killed, disabled ex-Marine Jake Sully is recruited to aid a mining expedition on the distant jungle moon of Pandora as only his DNA will bond with the alien hybrid body, known as an Avatar, that allows humans to breathe the toxic air. With orders to infiltrate the Na’vi, Jake finds himself falling in love with native girl, Neytiri, and complications soon ensue…

This film has its detractors on these boards, often for its simple retold storyline that we have seen similarly told in other movies. This doesnt impact my enjoyment of the film at all. I saw this twice at the cinema, both times in glorious 3D.

Sam Worthington as a lead was sufficient, but it was Zoe Saldana's turn as Neytiri that stole the movie as an amazonian warrior princess. This along with creating a spectacle of a new world.

I like this movie alot.

Shool
.....

And so, it's here. "Avatar”, the film that – at least according to director James Cameron – is about to 'change the game', has finally hit our shores. And, somewhat surprisingly, it hasn't been quite as critically reviled as one might expect. It currently holds an 83 per cent fresh rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, is the twenty fifth best film of all time according to IMDB, and has scored a series of Golden Globe nominations – including for Best Picture. I had a few reservations going in, but this critical acclaim kind of soothed that, but – unfortunately – "Avatar” is one of the most overhyped, pointless, and empty films to be released this year. And "New Moon”, "Transformers 2”, and "the Hangover” were released this year.

Let's start off with the one, solitary positive; it looks amazing. And, shock horror, this has nothing to do with the 3D. Sure, for about twenty minutes the three dimensional trickery is impressive, but in the long run it turns into nothing more than a gimmick. I actually found myself watching some of the later scenes with the glasses off, and found the imagery much more vibrant and involving, until the 'ooohs' and 'awwws' of the audience around me persuaded me to don the glasses again. Past this, though, "Avatar” does indeed have some beautiful images; the Hallelujah Mountains have been acclaimed quite correctly. The Na'vi themselves are quite wonderfully structured, and the world which they inhabit actually feels like a natural habitat. Howevever, whilst it may be wonderful to look at, like most aspects of the film it seems ultimately empty and unrewarding. Put it this way; which image will live with you the longest, the swirl of colour in Avatar's climax, or John Wayne standing outside of the Edwards household, quite literally (and metaphorically) unable to enter the family's life? Both are visually beautiful, one actually has a point, and one cost about forty million dollars more.

And now onto the negatives, which are pretty much overwhelming. For a kick off, "Avatar” does not change the game. It makes me laugh to think that Lars von Trier – earlier this year at the Cannes film festival press conference following the screening of "Antichrist” – was so reviled and mocked for claiming that he was the best director in the world, whilst Cameron was somewhat believed when he said that "Avatar” would change cinema as we know it. Both are filled with each director's trademark hyperbole, but whilst you could easily make a case for von Trier being correct, Cameron's claims are unfounded and just plain wrong. Sure, a film can look revolutionary if you throw enough money at it, but "Avatar” is soulless and pointless regardless of the special effects and three-dimensional trickery. The quota of Hollywood films dedicated to spectacle may indeed feel the influence of Cameron's film, but how will the cinema that matters – the type of cinema which von Trier produces – progress any further thanks to digital 3D or CGI on anything further than an elementary, obligatory level? I mean, would "Antichrist”'s finale be any more devastating if Charlotte Gainsbourg's clitoris flew out at the audience?

The characters are another problem. Wafer thin and one dimensional, not one of them manages to defy caricature and actually become anything further than a tool in Cameron's (rather lacklustre) story. None of them are worth identifying with, and as a result the film feels so unengaging, un-involving, and impersonal. Sam Worthington's Jake Sullivan is the worst, with Worthington seeming to forget how to produce the charisma that he undoubtedly had in "Terminator: Salvations”, and instead deciding to pout, shout, and wisecrack his way through a dreadful performance, devoid of any discernable emotion. The support is unable to do much better, with only Sigourney Weaver coming out with any shred of credibility. All of the rest of them are either missing in action (Joel David Moore has basically nothing to do, whilst Wes Studi is embarrassingly underused) or painfully miscast (Giovanni Ribisi has immense likeability, so why cast him as a complete arse?).

The themes that almost seem obligatory for a Hollywood blockbuster nowadays are all here. Cameron seemingly wants us all to care about our surroundings, and – of course – this kind of message is undoubtedly important, if a little tiresome. The humans are put across as dumb hicks who punch plants for the sake of it, whilst the Na'vi are lovers of trees and all things nature, and are obviously supported for it. But, this preaching of pro-environment subtext begs the question as to why Cameron made his film 3D, where thousands of plastic spectacles will undoubtedly go missing from cinemas? The stupidity of the themes, and the lack of true thought behind them, doesn't stop here. The cause for the war, which is ruthless capitalism in the face of beauty, is mainly brushed under the carpet in favour of action (which can flit between swift, assured sequences akin to "the Matrix” and intellectually offensive slow-mo and cheese akin to "Transformers”), and the anti-war sentiments are actually quite clumsy. At some points, Cameron seems to be telling us that all war is bad, whilst at others he sees it as a necessary evil, and never does he let any condemning of battle come in the way of making it look cool on screen.

So here it is, another "event film” come and gone. Unfortunately, though, it wasn't quite as special as the last one. Whilst "the Dark Knight” pulled in viewers thanks to a superb original in "Batman Begins” and a sublime marketing scheme, "Avatar” got bums in seats simply by throwing huge amounts of money at the project. Both strategies were indeed successful, but the sad fact about this film still remains; whilst Nolan's film certainly earned its success, "Avatar” has simply paid for its plaudits. 1/5.

Piles


57. Dark City (1998, Alex Proyas)



56. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, Jack Arnold)

The special effects still stand up pretty well and the film benefits from a short, snappy pace, a good lead performance and a brilliant ending

Beetlejuice!


55. Solaris (1972, Andrei Tarkovsky)

Are you watching an existential, Russian science fiction film? Click below to find out.
http://img697.imageshack.us/img697/1309/solaris.gif


54. Source Code (2011, Duncan Jones)

It's certainly no Moon (and it really should have ended on that final freeze), but Source Code is a solid, very enjoyable take on the Groundhog Day formula. Gyllenhaal and Farmiga play their roles exceptionally well; Wright, while incredibly entertaining, belongs in another film, given that he's halfway between Vincent Price and Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle. It also paints an interesting picture of the US ten years on from 9/11 - the ingrained racism, the hypocrisy in its approach to the military, the uber-patriotism that's spawned its own brand of crazy.

Pigeon Army


53. War of the Worlds (1953, Bryon Haskin)



52. Godzilla (1954, Ishirō Honda)

Like most special effects films of its time, Godzilla is very much a dated film. One can't help but suppress a giggle as a man in a plastic suit rampages around a miniature village, his suit's crazy googly-eyes and the oft-unconvincing superimposition of images onto live action shots looking cheesy this day in age. But where others of its kind had little to back up the spectacle and came across as hindered by an inherent cheesiness that was hard to shake (the original King Kong comes to mind), Godzilla doesn't fall prey to the kind of campy pulp those films did. Ishiro Honda's film may not be impeccably paced, brilliantly acted, superlatively written or beautifully shot, but everything about it works. The decent dialogue is delivered with an honest and sincere conviction by the capable cast (anchored by Takashi Shimura, a man who can do quiet melancholy in his sleep and does very good work here), and the film goes to great lengths to make Godzilla a genuine threat. He's not some sort of fuzzy, unconvincing teddy bear like King Kong is; aside from a few jarring moments, Godzilla is a genuinely imposing, menacing presence. Dimly lit and often shot from a distance or from below, his cacophonous roar and furiously destructive nature make him far more effective a monster than a man in a plastic suit should be. Indeed, when he rampages through Tokyo, it's riveting despite moments of cheesiness, because Godzilla is such a magnificently imposing beast. He also comes coupled with a well-meaning, well-conceived anti-nuclear message, being as he is awoken by nuclear bomb tests in his areas. Godzilla is a monster of the atom, and the aftermath of his rampage through Tokyo calls to mind the images of post-bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, children suffering radiation sickness and massive areas levelled. Godzilla is a chilling reminder of just how devastating nuclear war can be, and manages to be so despite being couched in an often-cheesy monster movie, and it's because of the sincerity of its convictions, the strength of its convictions, that it works better than it ever should.

Pigeon Army


51. Cube (1997, Vincenzo Natali)

This is one of those vastly underrated little sci-fi films that I just love. It’s a simple concept, told with minimal back-story (read, none), that drops you right into the conceit of the film. This is a film that was probably sold on a two line synopsis. The small rooms, approximately 6m per side, are connected by doors on all sides – including the floor and ceiling of each. In each room might be a potential booby trap waiting for the entrant to activate it. It is the captives’ job to work together to get out.

What makes this so brilliant (and frustrating for those who like answers to everything) is that there really is no explanation given for why the six strangers are there. None of them remembers being abducted, only waking in one of the rooms. The rooms are demarcated by different colours (which may or may not have significance) and a series of numbers etched onto the door. Through the mystery of where they are, to the discussions between who the people exactly are, and whether or not they have any connections to each other, we discover the joy of the film. Where your entire film rests on how people react within a situation, the people have to be interesting, and each captive person has a story.

Firstly, the names have significance. Each of the characters’ surnames is that of a prison – Worth, Leaven, Quentin, Holloway, Kazan, Rennes, and Alderson (the first short-lived captive). I’ll take the next bit direct from imdb trivia, simply because it puts it more succinctly than I could.

“Not only are the characters named after prisons but they reflect the prisons themselves. Example: Kazan (the mentally challenged character), in Russia is a disorganized prison. Rennes (the "mentor") was a jail that pioneered many of today's prison policies. Quentin (the detective) is known for its brutality. Holloway is a women's prison, and Alderson is a prison where isolation is a common punishment. Leavenworth runs to a rigid set of rules (Leaven's mathematics), and the new prison is corporately owned and built (Worth, hired as an architect).”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0123755/trivia

I love such ‘extracurricular significance’ because of the rewards you reap from that knowledge. It doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the film, but it enhances it knowing it. I also love the simplicity of the film – the entire larger cube was shot on a fully constructed cube, attached to half a cube. They simply changed the colour filters and patterns on the walls between scenes. That’s by the by, and secondary to the simply marvellous little film we see. This may be one of those films that either people missed, or saw at the time and have forgotten. Either way, it deserves to be seen. (For the record, I have seen none of the sequels. I feel any expansion would ruin the unknown of this first, much in the same way that any sequel to Cloverfield would achieve the same end.)

homersimpson_esq



< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 7/2/2012 2:46:44 PM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 37
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 8/2/2012 10:23:55 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
50. Bride Of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)

Bride of Frankenstein was a sequel to James Whale's classic with Whale, Karloff and Colin Clive returning to the production. For once the sequel was an undeniable improvement upon a classic original. This time there was a nasty streak of black comedy added in the form of Ernest Thesiger's Dr. Pretorius. Pretorius convinces Frankenstein to create a mate for the monster, memorably portrayed by Elsa Lanchester. Bride actually has a good claim to the title of the greatest sequel ever made. Bride mocks religion, heterosexuality and pretty much everything that was serious about the first film and it still manages to be every bit as atmospheric and unsettling as the original.

Rawlinson


49. Forbidden Planet (1956, Fred M. Wilcox)

Forbidden Planet is a must watch for all Star Trek fans. It informs much of what made Star Trek great; the exploration of new worlds, the playful interaction between the crew and the high stake peril of the unknown. It also showcases technology later made synonymous with Trek - the phaser, the communicator and expendable red shirts. The film itself is a wonderful sci-fi adventure, filmed in glorious CinemaScope and featuring an absorbing plot allowing for equal parts discovery, action and philosophy that rips along at a tight 90 minutes. Also for fans of later siege movies like Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13. Leslie Nielsen sounds like Cary Grant. And it has Robby the Robot (not to be confused with Nintendo's Rob the Robot).

directorscut


48. Serenity (2005, Joss Whedon)

Mal Reynolds is captain of the space craft Serenity, home to a nomadic crew of mercenaries whose relative tranquillity has been disturbed by their taking on Dr. Simon Tam and his troubled sister, River. River is caught up in a conspiracy involving galactic superpower The Alliance, and they’ll stop at nothing to get her back

My love of this film stems from my love of the original TV series Firefly which was criminally cancelled after only one season. An immensely likeable cast headed by the ever charismatic Nathan Fillion raises this Sci Fi western as a great movie.
I particularly love the Firefly's descent to the planet surface as we approach the climax of the movie. "I am a leaf on the wind - watch how I soar."

Shool


47. Them! (1954, Gordon Douglas)

Brilliant! Why can't more films be this good? I love 50s science fiction films and this must be the best one so far. Admittedly the DVD covers a bit misleading, giving the impression that the giant ants overrun cities and terrorise screaming crowds, but who cares? From a seemingly innocuous start in the desert to a battle in the drains of LA, this is wonderful. Not too cheesy, not too po-faced. Superb.


Gimli The Dwarf


46. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001, Steven Spielberg)

Has some excellent moments (the Teddy is awesome), but it never really holds together for me.

Rawlinson


45. Iron Man (2008, Jon Favreau)



Pigeon Army


44. Silent Running (1972, Douglas Trumbull)



43. Total Recall (1990, Paul Verhoeven)



42. The Iron Giant (1999, Brad Bird)



41. Galaxy Quest (1999, Dean Parisot)

The plot: the washed up cast of the hit sci-fi TV show of yester-year "Galaxy Quest" are stuck doing endless conventions, and their careers are going nowhere. Then, an alien race asks the cast for help, mistaking the show to be real life historical documents, and causing the cast to be dragged into an intergalatic war.

Its a shame Galaxy Quest didn't make the recent comedy poll, as its a fantastically funny film. It pokes fun at but still embraces the fandom that surrounds shows like Star Trek, and its this self-awareness that makes the film so good. For example, science fiction icon Sigourney Weaver plays the actress who played the show's only female character - a blonde, quite dim love interest, whose only role was to repeat what the ship computer said, a huge contrast to her famous kickass Ripley.

All the performances are great, from Alan Rickman as the established British actor who loathes his role on the show to Tony Shalhoub's slightly stoned character actor who embraces every situation they get thrown into.

Favourite moment: the beryllium miners scene.

MovieAddict247



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 38
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 9/2/2012 1:48:22 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
40. Sunshine (2007, Danny Boyle)

Really effective sci-fi let down by most of the third act.

paul_ie86


39. Quatermass And The Pit (1967, Roy Ward Baker)



38. Frankenstein (1931, James Whale)

Frankenstein is a film where all of the elements work. The performances, the direction, the set, the make-up, everything is perfect. The word 'iconic' could have been invented for this film. Mention Frankenstein to anyone and the first image in the minds of most people will be that of the monster rather than the doctor, but it's a safe bet most of them will think of Karloff in Jack Pierce's make-up. The film is about Henry Frankenstein, a scientist who becomes obsessed with reanimating dead tissue and creating new life. Henry and his assistant Fritz steal body parts and piece together a human, but an error occurs where the wrong brain is placed in the body. The monster seems innocent until his frightened reaction to fire scares the humans. Thinking the Monster is dangerous, they lock it up and Fritz takes pleasure in taunting it. The Monster strangles him in retaliation and escapes to the outside world. The Monster's innocence of the world leads to tragedy when a game he plays with a young girl goes horribly wrong. Feeling lost in a hostile world, the Monster decides to look for revenge on the creator who abandoned him. The success of Frankenstein helped Universal launch their legendary horror series, and helped Karloff become a legend and Universal's number one star. His Monster was filled with a mixture childlike innocence and spurned rage. Karloff's pantomime of rage, fear and innocence was wonderful

Rawlinson


37. Dark Star (1974, John Carpenter)

When it comes to the films of John Carpenter, the same 5 or 6 get listed all the time as being his best. Halloween, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13, Escape From New York, The Fog and sometimes Starman. Hardly anyone ever mentions his debut film, which is a shame, because it's his best by far. After all, how can you not love a film in which the alien is a beachball with feet?

Gimli The Dwarf


36. Akira (1988, Katsuhiro Otomo)

If Akira has one thing going against it, it's the pacing. For a film that's two hours long, it certainly seems to drag at points, particularly in the final half, with Tetsuo's rampage through Neo-Tokyo a little stop-start and drawn out a little too much. That said, Akira is a nevertheless thrilling and deep piece of sci-fi excellence, with excellent character work, great setpieces and an unpredictable, twisty-turny storyline that, while oddly paced as mentioned before, is still gripping. However, the film's biggest asset is its art, with possibly the most satisfyingly well-realised dystopic environment I've seen put to film. It's a cliche to say it, but Neo-Tokyo feels like another character in the film, this dark, ugly presence whose malignant fingers loom over every frame, encroaching on every character moment and seemingly driving the story to the conclusion where it dies. It's an absolutely stunning-looking film, and it doesn't hurt that everything else is pretty excellent in it as well.

Pigeon Army


35. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)

The Plot: Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) meet on a train - drawn to each other despite being complete opposites. What the two don't realise is that they have just been in a two year relationship with each other, and that after a fight, Clementine erased all her memories of Joel. When Joel discovered this, he decided to do the same. However, halfway through the procedure he changeds his mind.

It was always going to be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There has never been a film I've loved as much as this, a film so clever, so romantic and so beautifully made. The very premise is heartbreaking - wanting to forget a failed relationship so badly you get it erased, then realising that you want to keep the memories...that alone can make me cry. And the way Lacuna, Inc is portrayed makes is sadder - it's not over sentimental or science-fictionesque. Instead, it's just a company like any other, making the film more realistic.

The script is clever and imaginative. The majoiry of the film is set in Joel's mind, and whilst Joel tries to hold onto his memories, we see Joel and Clementine's relationship, and soon delve into older memories as Joel tries to hid Clementine wherever he can. Their relationship is written wonderfully - the non-linear storyline helps this as we can slowly piece together what made them fall in love and what made it end. It's heartbreaking to watch. The subplot with the Lacuna employees is also beautifully written. Mary's crush on Howard (the doctor who invented the process) is awkward to watch, and the revelation that they had an affair and then she had it erased is so sad but wonderfully done - it doesn't intrude on the main story at all, instead it compliments it.

Gondry's direction is fantastic, his style suits the script perfectly. The film's visuals are wonderful - it's simple, but that makes it beautiful (the scene in which Joel and Clementine are in the Barnes & Noble as all the book covers turn white is wonderful). The music is beautiful too.

The performances are perfect, the casting is wonderful. All the supporting cast are great. Elijah Wood is creepy and pathetic as Patrick - the Lacuna employee who uses his knowlege of Clementine's case to manipulate her into a relationship with him. It's unsettling to watch - he uses Joel's words to make Clementine love him. Mark Ruffalo is fantastic as Stan - his last lines to Mary are desperately sad. Kirsten Dunst is brilliant as Mary - she's sweet, sad and vulnerable - whilst Tom Wilkinson is great as Howard.

The film depends on the two leads though, and they are exceptional. Jim Carrey is fantastic as Joel (once again overlooked for an Oscar nomination). Kate Winslet, my favourite actress, is brilliant. She's full of life, childish, dysfunctional but so charasmatic. She's never been better and it's unbelievable that she didn't win an Oscar. The two of them have wonderful chemistry, without which the film would not have worked at all.

One of the greatest films of all time and my favourite by a long, long way, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is just beautiful.

MovieAddict247


34. Star Trek (2006, J. J. Abrams)

Abrams can't write a straight plot that makes internal sense is what it comes down to – he hopes that rapid fire editing and annoying camerawork will make us forget how ridiculously bad both his script and story are (and did he miss the complaints about the camerawork in Cloverfield – Star Trek's is often just as bad – or didn't he care?). Off the top of my head

- so the black hole shows on one side only?
- so they hang around for 25 years doing what? Playing backgammon?
- just before they hit Vulcan they decide to go hit Klingon first? Again?
- the fast car scene. Why establish character twice – you did it in the bar scene. Inept.
- why kick Kirk off the ship rather than put him in the brig?
- Old Spock's motivations didn't make a blind bit of sense – history had changed. The Kirk growing up without a father isn't the same as the one growing up with. Withholding information – illogical and bloody dumb.
- why didn't anyone else just blow the drill from earth? It was only the bloody drill from a mining ship even if it was 100 years from the future
- the suits weren't actually theirs on the Enterprise. How useful they apparently come with add on fencing foils.
- a bright red animal on an ice planet?
- did the really bright Vulcans somehow not notice their planet was in trouble and have transport of their own?
- isn't bitching at the half human kid as emotive as his response?
- doesn't the wee thingy from Wrath of Khan go in the ear?
- with the jamming gone, why wasn't warning Starfleet the first priority?
- why did people keep wandering off as if they have all the time in the world?
- with earth about to go bye bye why did they have to wait ages for yet another tedious smooch on the transporter pad?
- good of them to leave the red matter ship unguarded, especially when they knew they had been boarded and were presumably just about to use it
- why carry all that red matter in the first place?
- do the writers know the difference between a black hole and a wormhole? The first one being at the end of the film and the second apparently being at the start?
- was it Alan Cumming doing Glaswegian that Pegg was trying, not unsuccessfully it has to be said, to get?
- ooooo cool shot – farmland to ubertech world. Except it just made the latter look cartoonish.
- anything Kirk do at any point make the blindest bit of coherent sense?

Since they clearly were trying to replicate the original characters it is only fair to judge them on that,

Bones – nice eyebrows, occasionally OK but the lines just weren't good enough.
Sulu – they remembered the friction with Spock but not much to do
Scotty – not bad although slightly hyper
Chekov – easily the best of the lot. Bang on the over-eager kid that started the series even if they took the accent joke too far.
Quinto – not bad but the character didn't match the Uhuru thing. If dad had said the love thing earlier, maybe, Otherwise there just to have the smoochies,.
Uhuru – not much going on there except embarrassing all females everywhere
Kirk. They really didn't get it, did they? Yes he is an annoying arrogant SOB but you do actually also like him. Pine's lead was just AN Other action guy with nothing to distinguish himself except an unlikeability quotient that made us root for the red lobster thing.

And the point was the attempt to pace it to make me miss all of this just…didn't…work.
Personally I don't see the issue with changing 'no man' to 'no-one'. If there are unreconstructed macho men out there they can still content themselves with the fact the 3 female characters exist only to (or 4 if you include the green slut)

- give birth (Kirk's mother and Spock's)
- fall decorously off a cliff to give a reason for being pissed off
- oh Spock's upset, run to him. Oh Spock's upset, run to him. Oh Spock's heading off to be killed – run to him. Oh he's back – I'm happy it is my entire world and I have no other thoughts because I left them in the skirt that ended below my crotch.

Terrible film.

elab49
.....


I really enjoyed this even if it is 'action/destiny movie' cliche upon cliche. Pine seems fine as Kirk but he's a bit irritating because of his painting by numbers character whilst Quinto is the quintessential younger Spock. Pegg is a bit annoying though, no need for his 'comedy' act.

Rinc


33. Thing From Another World (1951, Howard Hawks)



32. A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)

Kubrick’s classic 1971 futuristic thriller about identity and social conformity is as powerful and poignant now as it was almost forty years ago. What’s more, it’s still relevant, with droves and droves of similarly dressed groups of kid with one, conformist mentality and ideology still existing today. Plot-wise, it’s the story of Alex de Large (Malcom MacDowell), a naughty young man who spends his days sleeping and his nights breaking the law. A fan of Beethoven, ultra-violence and a bit of the old in-out-in-out, Alex has become one of the cinema’s most iconic characters. Decked out completely in white apart from a bowler hat, the lead character and his droogies all contribute to Kubrick’s distinct visual style. This could be Kubrick’s best effort in the director’s chair, utilizing every technique he has in his arsenal to create an imposing, claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of his, and "A Clockwork Orange" is one of the films that got me into him. It’s flamboyant, yes, but it’s grounded in a dark, sinister envisioning of our future, and this context amplifies the fright ten-fold. Malcom MacDowell, as our narrator and tour guide around the nightmarish future Britain, is wonderful, but it’s the script that is most impressive. Adapted from Anthony Burgess’ incredibly lyrical novel of the same name, Kubrick’s script maintains the spirit of the book whilst at the same time making it more cinematic and, in some ways, better. The horribly tagged on ending, where Alex finally sees the error of his ways, is cut off, leading to a much more powerful, haunting, and ambiguous ending. The employment of "nadsat", Burgess’ own dialect of English that incorporates hints of Russian and cochne rhyming slang, is a brave choice, but one that has paid off. The film was banned for years and years by Kubrick himself because off the copy cat murders that followed, but for anybody with even half a brain cell, this is a poignant study on social conformity and a totalitarian society.

Piles


31. Children Of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuarón)

Children of Men opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to film adaptations of literary works, simply by existing. The book (which I have not had the pleasure of reading) deals with male infertility, has a 50-something Oxford don as the hero, and the 'villain' is a self-confident, wealthy dictator named Xan. The film deals with female infertility, has a 30-something low-level bureaucrat as the hero, and the villain is not just one character, but everything. And what the film loses in, as the New York Times states in the article 'Children of Differing Visions: Contrasting a P.D. James Novel and the Movie It Inspired', "an astute exploration of how certain kinds of tyrants come to exist”, it gains in an intricate observation of the nature of hope and what it can drive normally rational people to do – and really, that's not a bad trade-off, even if it's a slap in the face of those who subscribe to the "STAY FAITHFUL OR DIE” school of literary adaptation theory.

The MacGuffin in Children of Men is a pregnant 'fugee' named Kee, played well by newcomer Ashitey. Theo, the disillusioned bureaucrat captured brilliantly by Owen's subdued performance, is first made to help by his 'activist' ex-wife, Julian (Moore on fine form), a combination of two characters from the novel. It's these activists that first give us an idea of what hope can do to a people. We're shown, not told (except by Caine's laid-back retiree, Jaspar, the one shining beacon of fun in the entire film), that the current government is oppressive, xenophobic and feeds off the fear of the people, blowing up a coffee shop in the first scene of the film and blaming it on the 'Fishes', Julian's organisation. The depressing, bleak visuals Cuaron places on display throughout the film – the tall, dark buildings of London with the fugee cages lining the streets; the smashed-up, ominous school Theo, Clare and Ferris' hippie midwife Miriam stop off at; the crumbling grey fugee camp – only reinforce this idea that what we're viewing is a dystopia in the truest sense of the word. It's one of the most visually striking dystopias since Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and that's high praise given the visually astounding nature of Scott's film. Cuaron's use of hand-held camera and long takes only contribute to the violent, oppressive atmosphere of the landscape, the truly magnificent cinematography (developed by excellent Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) infusing the film with a further sense of dread and imminent disaster.

Cuaron's film doesn't paint the invisible powers-that-be as the definitive villains of the piece, though. The 'Fishes' are just as malicious, acting in morally reprehensible ways through some misguided attempt at overthrowing the government and making a point, using Kee as a figurehead. Ejiofor and his fellow 'Fishes' play with skill these extremists driven to furious anger by the small inkling of hope that Kee presents, and their actions – much like those of the government, shipping off all the fugees in the hope that they can steer their shipwreck of a country to safe shores – are not evil, just motivated by an intangible concept that refuses to work in their favour. While Cuaron's film is bleak – and how! – it's undoubtedly one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, well-written, and well-shot science fiction thrillers of recent times (despite what the New York Times may assert is Children of Men's genre).

Pigeon Army


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 9/2/2012 1:49:38 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 39
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 9/2/2012 2:08:27 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
30. The Truman Show (1998, Peter Weir)

The Plot: Truman Burbank is initally unaware that his life is a reality television show, broadcast 24-hours-a-day to billions of people across the world. However, he soon becomes suspicious of his surroundings.

When I was younger, I was convinced that I was the only real person in the world, and everyone else was acting around me (once I left the room, they would drop character etc). Whether this belief was down to paranoia or just extreme narcissism (I was an arrogant kid), I don't know, but it creeped me out a fair bit. The Truman Show reminds me of that.

Truman's home town of Seahaven is a 1950s style utopia - white picket fences, smiling neighbours and no reason to leave whatsoever. The script is brilliant. The obsession with reality TV is written brilliantly (but it's made even better by people just switching over at the end - they don't care what they're watching, as long as the TV is on). The humour in it is wonderful (the product placement in the show always makes me laugh). It's also desperately sad - the scene that always gets to me is Truman asking his friend for advice, but we can see that his "friend" is being told what to say by the director. And the scene with his dad is wonderfully done - we know that he's not Truman's real father, but he's the only father he's known.

The performances are wonderful. Jim Carrey is perfect as Truman; he's an actor who rarely picks roles that show how good he can be, and I'd love to see him do more of this type of film. Ed Harris as Christoff, the show's director and creator, is great and Laura Linney is fantastic as Hannah Gill, the actress who plays Truman's wife.

The music is beautiful too.

Best Scene: When he reaches the edge of the world and crashes into the wall.

MovieAddict247


29. The Invisible Man (1933, James Whale)

A mysterious man, who has dark glasses and a head completely covered in bandages, arrives at a pub in the English village of Ipping and takes a room. The bad tempered stranger never leaves his room, which he fills with beakers, test tubes and the like, andhe pushes both the innkeeper and his wife out the door. Tired of his rudeness, they call the police and, in front of lots of people, the stranger removes first his bandages, then his clothes, revealing him to be invisible. Meanwhile, Flora Cranley appeals to her father to do something about the mysterious disappearance of Dr. Griffin, who was both his assistant and her sweetheart. Griffin was experimenting with a new drug called monocane, which made him invisible. Unfortunately, it also had the side effect of making him insane……….

The Invisable Man is a sheer delight from beginning to end, a fast paced, humorous piece of science fiction that some might say isn’t really much of a horror film at all, but remains wonderfully entertaining, and should be shown as a corrective to those fools who claim old movies are stuffy and boring. Even technically the film holds up, it was one of the pioneering special effects movies, though it makes me wonder why there hasn’t been a recent direct adaptation of the story [there was, of course, Hollow Man, which was kind of a variation] employing all the computer wizardry you can get nowadays, though at the time of writing one is finally in pre-production. The film is exciting and tense, yet often very funny too, yet these elements do not jar at all. Although The Old Dark House was in its way a remarkable film, perhaps it was just a little too personal, a little too private, to work one hundred percent, at least for this critic. The Invisable Man though sees Whale back at the very top of his form with a fantastic movie that is in some ways a variation on Frankenstein, being another tale of a scientist who Goes Too Far, and some situations are very similar, such as the female lead pining for her missing beau who is lusted after by her friend. This isn’t really a partial remake like The Mummy was of Dracula though, and of course the handling is quite different too, being far lighter and deliberately avoiding the Gothic.

As you have probably noticed, these films tended to be made fairly quickly and in the manner of a production line. When one film was almost completed, another one had normally already started production. It’s a wonder that the films were often of such a high quality. The idea of adapting the Wells book The Invisable Man occurred to Universal not long after the release of Frankenstein, and a total of fourteen treatments were hammered out, one involving invisible plague-carrying rats, one relocating the story to Tsarist Russia and one setting it on…….Mars. Playwright R.C. Sheriff, who would go on to become a prolific and very good screenwriter in movies, had been brought to Universal to adapt his play Journey’s End for James Whale, and worked on The Old Dark House whilst writing The Invisable Man. Sheriff had the bright idea of returning to the novel and his script, though it added a love interest, stuck quite closely to it. Boris Karloff, unsurprisingly, was originally going to star but soon left the project. It’s not clear why; either it was because he was unhappy at not being seen until the end, or because he was in dispute with Universal about his salary. Karloff’s voice would have added some melancholy to the character, which would have made him more sympathetic – still, it wasn’t to be and silent actor Claude Rains was cast when Whale heard his voice in the next room. The film was another bit hit and even Wells liked it, though he had issues with the movie making Griffin mad. Whale replied that the film was made for rational people and “in the minds of rational people, only a lunatic would want to make himself invisible anyway”.

The opening is fantastic, with the bandaged Griffin trudging through the snow past a sign showing ‘Ipping Village’, the sense being of tragedy rather than menace, with Griffin perhaps being a sad, sympathetic character like the Frankenstein Monster. This soon changes though, with Griffin turning out to be a rude, obnoxious person, though the scenes of him dealing with the nosy innkeeper and his wife are done more for potential humour than anything else. Much like Frankenstein, the film appears to have started part of the way through the story, though in this case even more so. There’s no build up to Griffin becoming the Invisable Man, he just already is. I’m surprised that Wells’ structure was followed here, but it works, creating mystery even though anyone watching the movie, even in 1933, would of course know who Griffin was! Then we come to the scene which would have totally startled audiences of the time, and is still hugely impressive, especially considering how special effects in old movies can be laughable to modern eyes. Griffin turns to confront the group in his room and first of all rips off his fake nose, saying “here’s a souvenir for you”. Then, as we cut to behind Griffin so we can see the reaction of the onlookers, he unwraps the bandages round his face and removes a wig, revealing nothing underneath. A later sequence is even more impressive, showing Griffin doing the same thing in front of a mirror; this required four different elements of film to be then put together, but the matting is really very good indeed.

This Invisable Man seems at first to be more of a prankster than anything else, stealing a bicycle, pinching people’s noses, and the like. The funniest scene sees a pair of trousers ambling along singing “Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May”. Whale’s eccentric humour and Wells’ sense of an outcast trying to shake things up merge really well in these scenes. It’s not long though, before Griffin’s megalomania takes more and more hold of him, and in scenes Wells obviously did not think of, he robs a bank and causes a train crash, killing two hundred people! This Invisable Man becomes a vicious, brutal menace, seemingly devoid of humanity, sending one guy down a hill in his car with the brakes on. There is a real sense of what an invisible person may have the power to do, this guy can get in anywhere and do anything, though one thing that is perhaps missing is the expected sympathy. Until the very final scene, where we briefly see Claude Rains for the first time, Griffin’s madness precludes us from ever really liking him, so when you see the police trying to catch him and laying traps, you actually desperately want them to succeed for once. Despite being something of a travesty of Wells’ original conception, the title character in this movie is one of the great cinema villains of all time, aided immensely by Rains’ menacing voice which has a real fiendish quality here [he would normally be much softer when he spoke], and his chilling, evil laugh.

The special effects, as I’ve previously said, are remarkable, with other stunning scenes showing Griffin smoking and his footprints appearing in the snow, though the latter is actually a major goof, since Griffin is naked yet it’s shoe prints that are appearing! Never mind. The constantly innovative effects genius John P.Fulton [he parted the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments] would photograph Rains in black velvet against a black velvet background for the scenes where he was to show himself as invisible, while much of the other effects were done with good old wirework. My favourite wire effect has Griffin smoke a cigarette; it really looks very convincing indeed. Supposedly you can see the wires in HD, though on normal DVD playback you can’t; it’s not like for instance the 1953 The War Of The Worlds, where the wires lifting up those Martian machines are extremely obvious in whatever format you see the film in. The model train and car that Griffin destroy look far better than your average film models and blow up real good too. Sadly though it sometimes looks like there are two invisable men, as Rains’ stunt double is rather taller than him and has a far more prominent nose!

Rains’ voice was recorded after shooting and actually adds to his character’s power and uncannyness. Gloria Stuart, who was so good in The Old Dark House, falters somewhat in this movie, she’s a little stilted, though admittedly it’s a far less interesting part. Una O’Connor as the innkeeper’s wife pulls faces and shrieks; most people it seems can’t stand her but I think she’s hilarious. Many of the minor characters are colourful and have their moments such as the police inspector who chases Griffin round a room saying “how can I handcuff a blooming shirt?”, and unlike the dreadful John Bowles in Frankenstein, William Harrigan as the Dr Arthur Kemp the ‘other guy’, the rival for the heroine’s affections, is given a strong character to get his teeth into, a jealous, scheming coward who you can’t wait to get killed off. Typically though, some of the people sound slightly Australian, as American actors pretending to be English often did around then. The Invisable Man doesn’t have a full music score but does have a virtually continuous piece in the last ten or so minutes by a Heinz Roemheld which is suitably dramatic and slightly tragic. Though made in 1933, this is one of those movies that hardly seems to have dated at all. Instead, it’s almost as fresh, vibrant, clever and downright fun as it must have been upon its initial release. Rating:9/10

Dr. Lenera

28. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Steven Spielberg)

Two Line Synopsis: Alien gets stranded on earth. Obtains help to phone home from young boy.

“The magic of the movies” isn’t a phrase you hear very often these days without the bitter bite of cynicism chewing its way through the sentence. It’s often with a sense of nostalgia that it’s used, and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is an unabashed slice of magic that makes Spielberg so loved. Certainly, he has done adventure better than this, and he has done aliens better than this (a hint that this isn’t the last Spielberg in this list) but as far as magical childhood films that translate superbly into adulthood go, these is up there with the best.

If asked what version I prefer, the purist in me says the original, un-tampered-with one: The one where the government men carry guns, not flashlights. But, if I’m perfectly honest, the cleaning up of the anniversary edition is astonishing, and the film looks like it was made yesterday. It’s the sort of tinkering (gun/flashlight combo aside) that is beneficial to a film, altering its impact without changing its content. The Spielbergian fractured family is in place here, the significant male role model missing from the family, creating that sense of absence that enhances Elliott’s social isolation. This in turn increases the bond he ultimately has with E.T., an odd father-figure/friend. The film itself has entered the general film consciousness with imagery that abides. The picture I chose for the title bar is so iconic it couldn’t not be used. The Michelangelo-esque shot of E.T.’s finger touching Elliott’s; the flowers coming back to life; the house entirely covered in some sort of material housing with faceless men in suits coming and going; these are images that have lasted. Save for a few significant references that place this specifically in the 80s (Elliott’s bedroom is a treasure-trove of knowing winks to other Spielberg/Lucas films, the contents of which would no doubt fetch a pretty penny on eBay today) the film is fairly anonymously-set, and works as well today as it did 26 years ago. I introduced it to my son at Christmas-time (it always seemed a festive sort of film, despite not taking place in Christmas, or mentioning it at all – maybe it’s the magical aspect of the film) and he was entranced from beginning to end.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is a film that transcends – it’s a film you can watch as adult or child, and so long as you can take off those cynical specs and just revel in the magic, maybe just maybe, you can recapture a part of your childhood you thought you had lost, and enjoy the moment for what it is – pure, spectacular, magic-making.

homersimpson_esq


27. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983, Richard Marquand)

Ewoks aside this is fantastic. Mark Hamill demonstrates to Hayden Christiansen how conflict should be done.

Rinc


26. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951, Robert Wise)

I haven’t seen this in years and I wasn’t that impressed when I first watched it. Loved it a lot more this time, certainly one of the very best science-fiction films to come out of the Cold War and atomic age paranoia. Great score from Bernard Hermann.


Gimli The Dwarf


25. Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers (1956, Don Siegel)



24. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)

Contains spoilers that you'll probably already have heard. To wipe the horrible memory of "Surrogates” from my mind, I decided to sit down to a viewing of the good Bruce Willis sci-fi film today, "Twelve Monkeys”. The story is of Willis' James Cole, who is sent back from the future to 1996 to gather information regarding the plague that has wiped out humanity. Whilst there, though, he's arrested, thrown into a mental asylum, and, uh, shot in the leg in a World War I trench battle. I think most things that could be said about "Twelve Monkeys” have already been said. Yes, the performances are all very good, and yes, Bruce Willis is probably stuck in a time loop. That particular interpretation is pretty much universally accepted now, so going on about it would be redundant and futile. Besides, I think the most interesting conversation that you can have about "Twelve Monkeys” is when comparing it to Chris Marker's short film "La Jetee”, on which Gilliam's film is based. I'm unsure as to which film I prefer, because they are so different it's untrue, despite the fact that they are based around the same basic plot. Whilst "La Jetee” is about ideas and philosophy, "Twelve Monkeys” is about entertainment. That is by no means to say that "La Jetee” isn't entertaining and "Twelve Monkeys” isn't intelligent, because they both have their fair share of both attributes. However, Gilliam has indeed shifted the main focus of Marker's film, and has translated what is a philosophical exercise in cinema into a Hollywood blockbuster, but a very good one at that. Gilliam fleshes out Marker's (genius) framework into a full two hour narrative film. New characters, new plot points, and new action sequences are introduced, all of which contribute to what is one of the most entertaining films of the 1990s. And then there's Gilliam himself, who has created here his second best film. Indeed, it's similar to his best, "Brazil”, in its dystopian aesthetics, but rather than a savage attack on beurocracy "Twelve Monkeys” is an epic meditation on time, insanity, and man's insignificance. Yes, they may be second hand ideas, but Gilliam has successfully brought them to a wider audience.

Piles


23. Robocop (1987, Paul Verhoeven)

Intelligent, witty, scathing, over-the-top, Verhoeven's dystopian action extravaganza not only boasts fine action setpieces and some clever dialogue ("Attempted murder? It's not like he killed someone!"), but also tears shreads out of big corporations, privatisation of public services, and the consumerism and materialism of today's society. It's a thoughtful actioner, a rare breed these days, and despite moments of cheesiness, Verhoeven nails it.

Pigeon Army

22. Planet Of The Apes (1968, Franklin J. Schaffner)

A lot has been written about this film, especially in light of the release, and critical success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Based on the novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, and adapted to the screen by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, the film has entered in the hall of classic science fiction cinema.

Everyone knows the plot, and the twist. Even if you haven't seen the film, I bet you can sing the musical version as seen on The Simpsons.

But what strikes me after all these years is that for all of its reputation as a forerunner to the action franchises of the 1980s, how little action there is in it. In fact all the action is based on chase scenes, with Heston trying to escape and getting caught.

For most of the runtime the film is pretty much a debate about evolution, with Heston playing the liberal scientist, and Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, playing a scientist who knowingly uses dogma to control society.

The other thing I really enjoy about the film is Heston. He is a straight up cynic about mankind. Looking at the dead female shipmate, he laments that she was supposed to be the mother of a new human race, rather than mourning a lost comrade. The film is about this man, who so despises his own kind, rediscovering what mankind, for all of its flaws, represents. By the end of the film, he is proud to be a member of that race, and goes off into the sunset.

That is, of course until he sees "it”, and at that moment, his feelings about mankind are as destroyed as the landscape in front of him.

This is compelling science fiction, and very well made. From the desert landscapes of the Forbidden Zone, to the tall grass where the mute humans live, to the earthy colours of Ape City, each location has a character.

The Apes may look a little bit dated now, but the performances, especially in the shape of Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowell, elevate the makeup.

The series would go onto make four more films, each of which has something worthwhile to say (well, maybe not Battle…).

The film was remade in 2001 by Tim Burton (who to be fair, was brought in at the last minute to avoid a writers strike). The film, which did make money, was a critical flop, and one which Burton does not like to talk about. It is clear that the mistake that Burton and the producers made, was to turn Apes into an action franchise, when in the past it has been a franchise about ideas.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the other hand, followed on from the 1968 film, to great success and reinvigorating the franchise.
Chances are you have seen this film. If you haven't, do so immediately. It is not just a great science fiction film. It is a great film period.

Rgirvan44



21. Moon (2009, Duncan Jones)

The Plot: As Sam Bell nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the moon, he discovers things are not as they seem.

I didn't expect much from Moon, but was completely blown away by it. One of the best "small films" of the past decade, it's a science fiction story about being human. Sam Rockwell's performance is phenomenal - it's hard to explain how good it is, without spoiling. How he was overlooked during award season, I'll never know - it's just a fantastic performance. And that's what makes the film so good - it relies on the performance (the Kevin Spacey robot is pretty cool too). The script is intelligent, the score is wonderful. The set is simple but suits the film - it has an old school science fiction style about it. Moon shows just how talented Sam Rockwell is, and it's a fantastic debut from Duncan Jones

MovieAddict247


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 9/2/2012 2:10:51 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 40
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 9/2/2012 5:42:36 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
20. Starship Troopers (1997, Paul Verhoeven)

A vicious, scathing satire on American uber-patriotism and military jingoism, from the military intelligence uniforms that echo Nazi Germany's Gestapo to the bold marching band score to the lines that obviously point at a criticism of these people, from the one-track mind of Johnny Rico while the television host speculates as to why the bugs are attacking ("I'm from Buenos Aires, and I say kill them all!") to the psychiatrist offended by the idea of a thinking bug. The fact that it also works as a balls-out action flick is testament to Verhoeven's ability as a filmmaker, even if he can't get great performances out of Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer and Patrick Muldoon (Neil Patrick Harris and Michael Ironside kick arse, though).

Pigeon Army


19. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991, James Cameron)

Sequel to the suprise hit film 'The Terminator'. This time the film has a twist, John Connor has managed to capture a T100 (Schwarzenegger) and sent it back to the present day to protect his adolescent self. The machines have developed a new seemingly indestructible killing machine (the T1000) that can change shape into anyone it comes into contact. John's mother has been committed to a mental asylum due to her ramblings on about the killer cyborg from the first film. Once John comes into contact with the T100 he decides to bust his mother out of the asylum and try and escape the clutches of the T1000.
Superior sequel to the first, with ground breaking special effects, Cameron has made an on the 'edge of your seat' thrill of a ride from start to finish. With fanatastic set pieces scattered throughout the film and a career best performance from Linda Hamilton this film has to be seen by all SCI-FI addicts.

MuckyMuckMan


18. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977, George Lucas)

Lucas arguably brings us the finest Sci-Fi series of all time with this, the first (or 4th depending on how you look at it) of six films.
The film tells the tale of orphaned young man, Luke Skywalker who yearns to become a fighter pilot for the rebel alliance against the tyrannous Empire. When his uncle purchases two escaped droids from the Jawas, things go awry when R2-D2 reveals a hidden message for Obi Wan Kenobi (Guiness) from a beautiful Princess (Fisher). R2-D2 goes missing and Luke goes in search of him and happens upon an old hermit who turns out to be the man the princess is looking for.
When Luke gets home he discovers his Uncle and Aunt have been murdered by Empire soldiers who are hot on the tale of the two droids. Skywalker and Obi Wan take the droids to the space port of Tatooine to try and find safe passage to the rebel alliance, and come across the charasmatic rogue trader Han Solo (Harrison) and his companion Chewbacca. After a heated escape, again from the clutches of the Empire, they are drawn further into the clutches of Lord Vader & the evil empire until a perilious space battle between the rebel alliances pitiful fleet and the seemingly indestructable Death Star.
Still my favourite of the saga, even though Empire Strikes Back is undoubtedly a better made film. The film was like no other when it appeared on our screens in 1977. With a rich variety of characters and superb performances from all involved, the film spawned many imitators but was never bettered as far as Sci-Fi soap opera is concerned.
The Score from John Williams is yet another example of the greatness of the man. Ask anyone and they will easily hum the tune to you, just as with the Jaws score.
The special effects are also of the highest order, and blew me away at the age of 4. From the opening scene where the Star Destroyer pursues and engulfs the tiny Rebel Spacecraft (still one of the most memorable scenes ever) to the grandstand finale.
If the film had never been made, cinema would not be the same today. A Sci-Fi classic.

MuckyMuckMan


17. Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan)

The Blockbuster Event Of The Year(TM) is finally upon us, and as an unabashed Christopher Nolan fan, one can't help but be disappointed when it isn't the Hollywood film to end all Hollywood films. Inception is by all means a rollicking action movie - the hallway fight, the zero-gravity 'kick' sequence and the chase sequence in Mombasa are all excellent action sequences, and there's no doubt that Nolan's staging, shooting and editing of action sequences has improved ten-fold since The Dark Knight - and an interesting thematic piece, exploring as it is the origin and proliferation of ideas, the way grief manifests itself in us and how we deal with it, and the physiological and psychological effects of dreams and the external stimuli affecting them. Indeed, the film isn't so much about dreams as it is about ideas and memories, and Nolan manages those last two carefully and excellently - Cobb (DiCaprio) may be a fairly typical tortured action hero, but Nolan's negotiation of his relationship with his deceased wife (Cotillard) elevates his character above the typical genre trappings and brings to it a far more fundamental questioning of grief, guilt and forgiveness by going literal with the cause that spurs off so many regrettable decisions - the planting of an idea. However, the film suffers from two flaws that stop it becoming a full-on brilliant piece of work. The first is Ellen Page's character - while Page does a competent job, it's with the unwieldy and overbearing role of Ariadne, the 'dream architect' who doubles as a thematic exposition machine, and her dialogue feels clunky and her character more a plot device than a person. Second of all is Nolan's vision - as seen in the likes of The Dark Knight, Memento and The Prestige, Nolan is a literal director with a mechanic's mind; and while that is applied well to films relying on psychological conditions and their manifestations or complex, multi-faceted plots, the inherent nature of the dreamscape is something that suffers under this mechanic's mind. To paraphrase Tom Hardy's forger Eames, Nolan's afraid to dream a little bigger, and makes everything watertight and unimpeachable, when dreams are meant to be loose and impeachable. All power to Nolan for tackling the mundanities of a good proportion of dreams, but they're not really that visually interesting nor really entertaining to watch. As if to prove that, it's the moments when Nolan unlocks his mind that are the best - the aforementioned gag about dreaming a little bigger, the interlocking Parisian streets, the stairwell fight between Arthur and a projection. That said, though, Nolan's film is visually crisp, incredibly tightly-plotted (and riveting as a result), and well-performed by all the cast (special mentions to Hardy, JGL and Ken Watanabe, and a note that Leo is excellent, but really needs to learn how to deliver big NOOOOOOOOOs - after this and Shutter Island, he may want to look into it). Definitely a great, highly enjoyable film, but one that would be even more so if Nolan just stopped being so stuffy and clinical.

Pigeon Army


16. The Matrix (1999, Wachowski Brothers)

The Wachowski Brothers deliver a film like no other (up to that point anyway) with the revolutionary film The Matrix.
When computer hack Neo (Reeves) learns from mysterious rebels that all is not what it seems in 'the real world' he is given a choice to either join them or continue with wool over his eyes. He decides to join their cause and bring down the tyrany of the machines who are harvesting human beings for energy. Tutored by Morpheus (Fishburne) who believes Neo is 'The One', Neo and his new found friends are put in peril. Pursued by Agent Smith (Weaving) and his two cohorts, Neo must dig deep to realise his hidden powers otherwise all will be lost.
For originality and innovative use in special effects, The Warchowski Bros. have given the Sci-Fi genre a much needed kick up the backside. Introducing us to 'bullet time', I was left with my jaw on the floor as I witnessed something truely special in terms of visuals. From the opening scene with Trinity to the lobby scene (to name but two), I was left literally breathless. But it was not only the visuals that made me awe struck, it was the story too. The premise seemed simple and not too dissimilar to T2, but the character development and interaction between human and machine just drew me into this futurist world.
As well as the visuals and storyline, a worthy mention must go to the Fight Choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. The fight scenes and wire work are some of the best I have ever seen.
The casting is spot on, with a great ensemble cast and arguably a career best performance (can't be that hard) from Keanu Reeves. Hugo Weaving is superb as Agent Smith, as is Laurence Fishburne and Carrie Anne Moss as Morpheus and Trinity respectively.
A great rock soundtrack accompanies the visuals, making this one of the finest and original sci-fi films of all time.

MuckyMuckMan


15. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977, Steven Spielberg)

Every science-fiction film, almost by definition, contains elements that can be, or were at the time, considered to be extraordinary. Even with films that display fewer science-fiction visual ephemera, such as Tarkovsky’s Stalker, that element of the extraordinary is present, vital and central. The extent to which the extraordinary affects the ordinary (and indeed what that very term ‘ordinary’ refers to) is very much debatable in many science-fiction films. Alien for instance, coming two years after Close Encounters of the Third Kind, concerns a highly extraordinary event – the discovery of alien life. The situation itself is extraordinary – a space-going mining ship. However, the crew are very ordinary within their given surroundings. They are not presented as fantastical and innovating, but plain, ordinary workers. Is this the extraordinary happening to the ordinary? To help answer this I will split the question into two discrete halves, exploring first the ordinary aspects of the film, and then the extraordinary aspects. I will also look at how Spielberg’s viewpoint at the time explicitly affected the film’s final tone.

From the very start of the film there is already a balancing act of the two opposing elements. With no explanatory prologue (for what would there be to explain?) we are presented with a scene in New Mexico in which World War II planes are discovered in pristine condition. We cut between these scenes of a series of mysterious discoveries, the concept of which has since been used in Spielberg’s own “Taken” television series and “The 4400”, Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) and his fractious familial life, and Jillian (Melinda Dillon). The ordinariness of the families is pronounced. Roy has a wife, two sons, a daughter and a job. He bickers with his wife, gets frustrated by his children, and a believably imperfect family unit is built up. Much is made of the Spielberg family unit, with its absent fathers, and perhaps in Close Encounters is the most explicit, yet least condemning example of this. Indeed, Roy’s familial shortcomings are glossed over for the sake of the obsession within. His relationship with the children is very natural, veering between understanding, parental anger, joking-around, and exasperation. Jillian also has a very ordinary life. She is a single mother. Sadly this lifestyle has grown in the 31 years since the film’s release, but for the purposes of this essay it only serves to further accentuate the ordinariness of the scenario.

Even after the titular encounter, the families involved continue their lives of ordinariness, albeit disrupted by the inclusion of the encounter-inspired sculpting, half-sunburn, and generally increasingly bizarre behaviour of Roy. Interestingly Roy’s behaviour is only seen as strange as reflected by his ordinary family. His life does not allow for fits of passion or unexpected fervent activity. Jillian on the other hand is freer to explore her inspiration through paintings, while her young son taps out the famous five-note signal on his baby xylophone. Is Roy behaving oddly, or is it only as seen through the eyes of his dissolving family? What is clear is that regardless of the events happening, the people involved are perceived to be ordinary and as such create a more identifiable bond between the events and the viewers. Even the shadowy government men are seen as dealing with these events in a calm, orderly manner as if it were ordinary. (There is one notable exception as one squint runs to the nearest toilet cubicle in a scenario Spielberg would repeat 16 years later with a more grisly fate for the toilet-bound man in question.)

John Williams’ majestic original score (this writer’s personal favourite score) is slow to pick up. To contrast with his score for that other 1977 science-fiction film, he had the following to say in an interview with Laurent Bouzereau in 1998:

“In Close Encounters it’s the opposite experience [to Star Wars]. We are on Earth, where we’ve always been. We see houses, we see people, but the music, and the experience we have, is from someplace else. They are two very different genre pieces musically. In a certain sense, one is very realistic and mundane and the other is abstract and impressionistic and otherworldly.”

This, rather neatly, fits the assertion this essay proposes perfectly. To paraphrase, Close Encounters is about extraordinary things happening to ordinary people, where Star Wars is about ordinary things happening to extraordinary people. (I believe that is a mis-quote I have half remembered, but cannot recall exactly where I heard or read it.) The music reflects this absolutely. Close Encounters is nearly devoid of music at the start of the film, only appearing for strange ethereal rumblings. Star Wars, by contrast, is as startling an entrance as you can get. Indeed, who can hear the 20th Century Fox logo without ‘hearing’ Williams’ famous tune following it? Spielberg and Williams let the ordinariness of Close Encounters speak for itself as much as possible near the start of the film and that five-note sequence is first heard on screen, not as part of the score. A wonderful scene which plays on our perceptions of the ordinary and extraordinary comes in a scene in India, where hundreds of people are singing, in unison, what appears to be some ethnic song. The altered length of notes, the change in stresses, and having us join the scene midway through the recognisable theme means that it is some way into the scene before we realise we are hearing the five-tone sequence, and we are astonished we didn’t realise earlier. It’s a masterpiece in musical manipulation, and what is more changes our perception from the ordinary (the tribal/ethnic tune or song) to the extraordinary (a sequence previously heard on a young boy’s xylophone in North America. It’s the musical equivalent of seeing two faces looking at each other, then refocusing and seeing a vase.

So let us refocus to the extraordinary. Those early scenes of discovered planes from 1945, or a visually ironic literal ship in the desert, they serve to provide an undercurrent of intrigue to complement the disharmonious familial scenes. They are, if you will, Hitchcock’s bomb-under-the-table gambit. However they also introduce us to the other major players in the film, notably Claude Lacombe (the legendary François Truffaut) and David Laughlan. Their positions are never solidified, nor for whom they work. Indeed, much of this strand of the film is shrouded in mystery. In much the same way as the more recent science-fiction efforts Signs (2004) and Cloverfield (2008), what the government is specifically doing is not our concern – our story lies with the ordinary people caught up in this event, and how their world is affected by the extraordinary. The events leading to the final meeting behind Devil’s Tower are of an increasingly extraordinary nature yet continue to be told in an ordinary manner. For instance, the cover story that ensures the immediate locale is cleared of all residents results in an extended yet loosely controlled panic, replete with opportunistic gas mask vendors and early-warning bird sellers. The decision to continue to the Tower is, I like to believe, not entirely Roy and Jillian’s own, but more through the utterly compelling need that has so affected their lives. Where Roy’s family abandoned him in the face of his obsession, so Jillian found solace in her drawings after the abduction of her son. This contrast is not accidental, but leads to the natural resolution: Jillian’s place is on Earth, to protect her son upon his return. Roy’s is to be chosen to go with the aliens. With this in mind one has to wonder if the collapse of Roy’s family was a pre-realised side-effect of his obsession by the aliens, and was a way of lessening the impact of his ‘voluntary abduction’. As they draw nearer to the Tower, so the tension increases, and so the music increases too. By the time the mothership arrives, the score has swelled to bursting point and is alive with multi-layered thematic intricacies that are more than could be imagined from a five-note sequence. What is remarkable is that with the exception of the tannoy announcement, the final scene is almost devoid of dialogue, relying solely on the visual and aural effectiveness. At this point any semblance of ordinariness has dissipated, leaving only innocent wonder at the marvel of first contact.

The word ‘innocent’ is one that comes loaded with meaning when discussing. Spielberg is often quoted as saying that Close Encounters is one film made at a very different place in his life to where he is now. His more recent science-fiction films have been far more cynically-based. Minority Report doubts the system and has an innocent man framed. AI has androids used, abused, discarded, and forgotten by mankind. And War of the World somewhat speaks for itself in its condemnation of alien contact. But in a contemporaneous interview with Mitch Tuchman (1978), Spielberg says, “There have been so many people that have come forward with stunning encounter experiences that I just can’t brush them aside”. This innocent fascination for the possibilities of alien contact is what created the wonderfully innocent world of Close Encounters. Certainly there are government conspiracies, but the main proponents of such still understand the compelling reasons that Roy, Jillian and others have for being there – “they were invited”, as Lacombe himself says. However, I believe it is the naïve portrayal of the familial aspect of Roy’s life that perhaps Spielberg would do differently. The lead protagonist, the character with whom we are to identify most closely, effectively abandons a wife and three young children to indulge in an obsession that will result in him travelling most probably light-years away. The irresponsibility involved is indicative of the childlike handling of the plot – by this point in the film that aspect of the film is not relevant to the story, and so it is cast aside. It is also, perhaps, a reflection of that ordinariness once more – families break up, things are not always resolved in a neat little package. As Spielberg himself said, “I don’t think in any of my films the end answers all the questions” (Tuchman, 1978). What we get is an ending which answers a lot of questions, but leaves us with our own thoughts to ponder on the wisdom of Roy’s choice, and whether in a similar situation we would do the same. Can that ever be answered without knowing the weight of compulsion that rested on Roy? Certainly Jillian shared this compulsion but the focus of her efforts was her son – Roy’s experience was entirely separate to his family, and as such the two issues became divided. What is certain is that throughout, people in all their many and various guises are consistently portrayed as decidedly ordinary (although do not confuse that with mundane, or boring) and the events to which they are party are increasingly extraordinary, ultimately wonderfully so.

homersinpson_esq


14. Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang)

Without this film, there would be no Blade Runner, and this might have been enough to raise it in my estimation, were it not also a fascinating film in its own right. In the version I watched, the score was written in the late 90s, and is clearly influenced (in a fit of post-modernisn) both by the then recently re-released Blade Runner Vangelis score, and Paul Buckmaster's score for 12 Monkeys. Despite the influences, it comes off poorly, sadly. Either way, I head to adjust knowing that the sound post-dated the image by some way. The relative paucity of the music, however hard it tried, could not detract from the revolutionary images and techniques. The wonder of film is lost today through that double-edged sword 'the DVD extras'. As wonderful as the Lord of the Rings DVDs are, we are in no doubt as to how that magic is created. The 'how do they do that?!' exclamation of the past is curtly answered with, 'it's CGI'. So, with Metropolis, I truly was left wondering how some of the effects were done, as I'm not aware of what was possible in 1927. A scene where this is particularly notable is the transformation of the Robot into Maria. The encircling rings mesmerise and tantalise; we are drawn into looking at this thing as it becomes a woman, rich with expectancy, and filled with false life.

Whether the lighting was intentional, or whether age has worn the reels, the faces were often pure white, almost faceless, etching an inhumanity onto the humans themselves. I suspect it has always been this way, as the actors and actresses are heavily made up to emphasise their lips and in particular their eyes. Indeed, eyes are often a theme within artificial intelligence-rooted films, as it is the eyes that most often betray inhumanity. They are 'the windows to the soul', and without a soul they look onto darkness. So it is that the humans, in particular Freder, are often shown with vivid or memorable eyes. Frederson's are narrow and piercing; his son's are wide and curious; Maria's are paradoxically innocent yet wise; Robot Maria's are empty. Interestingly, Robot Maria distinctly winks as her first action post-transformation.

The scenes of the workers going to and from work, like robots themselves, are infamous and those are the few scenes I had seen of Metropolis. They contrast wonderfully with the later chaotic riot scenes. The underground city has those cityscapes, inspired by the Manhattan skyline, referenced in Blade Runner by Ridley Scott who also has an obsession with the Manhattan skyline (see Someone To Watch Over Me. If there can be any criticism, it is that the necessity of the dialogue cards delay the urgency of some scenes. This, however, is more than compensated by the depth and gravity implied by the pregnant pauses as the camera lingers on a person or an object a little longer than expected until we see it as meaningful rather than arbitrary. (Scorsese would employ this device some 49 years later in Taxi Driver as the camera zooms lazily into the fizzing glass of paracetamol.)

As a work of science-fiction, it is fascinating. It even has a video-phone! As a study of the roots of film, it is equally fascinating. As a film experience in its own right, it's a masterpiece. Seek it out, it is well deserving.

homersinpson_esq
.....

Sucks

Gimli The Dwarf


13. The Terminator (1984, James Cameron)

Forget the overly smooth and stylish sequel, with its overly complicated back-story (especially in the Director’s Cut), the gritty, dirty, and so-much-cooler tech noir of this first one makes it so much more of a masterpiece. (I’m not even going to mention the third, or mooted fourth films.) The Terminator is a film with such a simple story that, as majestic as the sequel is (I do actually like T2 quite a lot), it stands alone perfectly well. An android sent back to kill Sarah Connor does so with relentless force. It will not stop, and so forth. The terror Sarah experiences is real and we share in it. The fact that Kyle Reese is specifically a man does not just have added conceptual necessity during the course of the film but makes him very much the lesser of the two protagonists, physically. Schwarzenegger (who interestingly originally auditioned for the part Lance Henriksen who in turn was meant to play the part of the Terminator) has never been more perfectly cast as this. He quite simply is the embodiment of the physically superior T800, and the rigidity of his acting through his accent works in favour of the character so that even once the exterior has been literally removed, you still feel that it is Schwarzenegger playing the role.

While I enjoy films with vast complexities that on multiple viewings reveal more and more about the characters/themes/concepts within said films, one can’t deny the pleasure experienced in a simple good vs. evil story with an excellent script, a superb concept and a dodgy sex scene. Well, maybe that last one is expendable. As our esteemed fellow forumite has realised by choosing it as his user name, the film coined the phrase tech noir, not least by having it as the name of the nightclub. It is, in a sense, a very real precursor to the world found in Blade Runner, that film already showing its influence just two years after it was released. One could analyse many aspects of The Terminator and how they relate to the world then, and how people saw the world of the future. But, I feel that to do so overly would detract from the fact that it’s a bloody fun film, albeit one with a cold, metallic heart.

homersimpson_esq


12. Jurassic Park (1993, Steven Spielberg)

Any problems with Jurassic Park (And on this latest rewatch I've noticed a few) are rendered insignificant by the sheer amount of pure, unashamed joy that is the rest of the film. How did the T-Rex turn up at the end? Shut up, it's awesome. How did Tim recover so quickly from 10,000 volts? Shut up, if you thought the kid in a Spielberg blockbuster film was going to die, you are provably an idiot (See also: War of the Worlds). Put simply, this is probably the most blatantly enjoyable film I've ever seen, the characters fleshed out just enough so you care once shit hits the fan (Which happens almost exactly halfway in, which shows admirable restraint). The buildup is fun, with genius touches like the DNA science bullshit explained by a cartoon video which fits perfectly with the theme park aesthetic, and once things go south it's just brilliant set-piece after brilliant set-piece. The T-Rex rampage is still the highlight, but every single one works-even ones where the dinos aren't present, such as the car chasing Alan and Tim down a tree, or Sarah turning the park's systems back on as the trio scale an electric fence. The CGI still holds up admirably too, even when compared to films that came out a decade later. Put simply, this is a masterpiece, this is what every blockbuster should strive to be-pure, naked entertainment that refuses to treat the audience with contempt and still has some interesting things to say without becoming a message movie. There has not been a blockbuster before or since that matches Jurassic Park.

Rebel Scum


11. Predator (1987, John Mc Tiernan)

For me John McTienan put together three very tidy films in three years, and this is his first of those, which culminates with The Hunt for the Red October, though I'm no fan of his later work.

What Predator does well is it takes the balls out silliness of Schwarzenegger staples like Commando and sticks an even more out-their plot around it so he actually looks in place for once. I also love the director for is that he manage's to limit his star's oh so witty one-liners, which weren't actually necessary to make a good film. But where this film excels is the clever use of the camera to give us the first person view through the Predator's eyes, enabling the beast to be kept out of view until the film is ready to show it.

I think we all know that a team of Commando's lead by Arnie and accompanied by Carl Weathers' CIA operative go into the jungle on a rescue mission, which quickly turns into them being hunted by an invisible pelt-hunting alien. And the ending might be the most stupid thing this side of when a certain archeologist went to get some milk from his fridge, but the film doesn't care, its hang your brain up and watch some action scenes fodder. Having said that I think it does raise itself slightly above the norm with Mac, a native American tracker who knows something is very very wrong. And it is some of the sense of this being a fight between man and the natural world, which somehow elevates the film. Also having seen the rise of Schwarzenegger to almost unkillable levels through Commando and Raw Deal, its good to see him up against an opponent that seems a worthy one.

As Jesse Ventura's Blain might say, this one's a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus. Not seen any of the sequels for some reason.

Professor Moriarty



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 41
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 9/2/2012 11:20:01 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
10. Radio Ga Ga music video(1984, David Mallet)


Just one of the best things ever created. How I wish I could have a moustache as fantastic as Mercury's in this video.

matty_b



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 42
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 10/2/2012 6:27:27 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
10. District 9 (2009, Neill Blonkamp)

SPOILERS Recently, Empire has been trailing Matthew Vaughan's Kick-Ass as "your new favourite film." I've yet to see it to verify that claim, but I know exactly what they mean because that is what my feeling was about District 9, Neil Blomkamp's superior sci-flick. Clearly, it's not my favourite film as there are 32 other films this decade that I feel are better, yet as soon as I walked out of the cinema after seeing it, I knew I wanted to watch it again, right there and then, and tell everyone I knew about it, such was its kinetic charge and hugely addictive energy. That is the feeling I think Empire are getting at. Taking the form of a documentary, District 9 is set a couple of decades in the future when a spaceship full of peaceable aliens - nicknamed "Prawns" - have crashlanded in South Africa and are interred in a ghetto. The company in charge of the ghetto send in Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) to start the removal of the Prawns to another district - a move complicated by the fact that Wikus soon becomes infected by Prawn technology and starts to slowly, but surely, change into one of them. The documentary aspect of District 9 is quickly dropped, so it's best not to get too hung up about that aspect. Instead, you should just revel in a film that pulls off the canny trick of throwing a great deal of tones and plot turns into one film, only for all of them to work with marvellous results. There's a thick streak of black humour running through the film, from Wikus gleefully laughing at the sound of alien baby pods bursting in a fire, to his later attempts at tempting Prawn children out of their sheds to be relocated (Wikus calling himself "the sweetie man" only to be hit in the eye with a lollipop was possibly the comic highlight of last year) and right through to an exploding pig being used as a weapon. There's also a strong streak of emotion throughout as the changing Wikus unexpectedly bonds with a Prawn named Christopher and his son, in their bid to escape back to their ship. But what's most impressive is that the final 50 minutes or so of the film transform into one of the most primally thrilling experiences of the decade as Wikus leads the fightback against the human military, now intent on just wiping the Prawns out. From Wikus and Christopher sneaking in and battling their way out of the company's laboratory, to Wikus strapping himself into a Robocop-esque suit and taking on tanks, soldiers and rocket launchers it's utterly crazy and demented, but brilliantly done. And Blomkamp has done this on a budget of around £30m, a figure that James Cameron probably allocates to hairdressing. This makes his achievement all the more impressive, as District 9 looks superb, has a terrific central performance from Copley and moves like a bullet to its pulverising end. Critics liked to stroke their chins at it and mention its not-so-subtle allegories about apartheid, but they were missing the point somewhat. The point of District 9 is an amazing scene when Wikus swats a rocket out of mid-air before it blows up the ship carrying his alien friends, it's about a scene where Christopher is about to be killed as his son pleads for Wikus to help that is so tense I was gnawing my knuckles and muttering at the screen that Wikus had damn well better do something, and it's about an absolute beauty of a final shot. It's a jaw-dropping experience and while James Cameron's Avatar may well be "the game changer" it frankly doesn't hold a candle to Blomkamp's debut which just gets everything so, so right.

Key moment - Wikus finally chooses to side with the Prawns against the humans. All hell breaks loose.

matty_b
.....
All I'd really seen about this was an old trailer which looked very Alien Nation and a comment somewhere about it not overdoing the apartheid analogy. I was wrong with the first part – the writer was talking bollocks with the second.

After an initial landing the film jumps about 30 years into the future where the alien prescence on earth is managed by a large corporation in South Africa, where the landing took place. The aliens are ghettoised and about to be evicted to a more remote area as they are not particularly popular with the locals, and a range of crimes are laid at their door.

The film initially follows one of the chief administrators during this eviction process, documentary style. (And then it isn't doc style. And then it is. And then it isn't. So it is often pretty inconsistent). Just to make clear we get the point – the aliens are in the ghetto but the main admin person seems to be of Indian extraction (and is certainly looked down on by his white Aryan type father-in-law) and his new assistant is black. And to help ALL the corporate bad guys are white – oh yes, it doesn't hammer home the race message at all.

And for quite a while – if you ignore the ill-judged and rather worrying Nigerian sub-plot – it's a pretty damn good film. The aliens are interesting creations even if, again coming back to this rather hammered home message –they are all presented as rather dim drones who couldn't work out how to work their ship. The effects are convincingly natural. And parts of the film as it goes on are quite tense, and exciting –the robosuit is far better than anything Michael Bay can come up with. The raid is well done, the transformation convincing and very well acted by Sharlto Copley.

But the minute it becomes an unconvincing buddy movie – which it does – you realise that while they started with some interesting ideas the writers can't help but degenerate into one of the most cliched storylines going – the male buddy movie with the buds initially at odds with each other. Do I buy they hooked up for a raid? No. Why would it take 3 years? If he's going to save his people why does it involve leaving? Do they set it up adequately for us to believe that either would be willing to genuinely sacrifice for the other? No – too rushed, too ill-thought it. We're supposed to be carried along with the excellent pace and not consider this is now tending to unoriginal trite poppycock that takes place in every bad buddy movie out there – just with better cinematography, editing and effects. I wonder if they've seen Enemy Mine?

And this is not helped by the bog standard bad guys – the corporate experimenters leading to the big white-man boss and the absolutely ludicrous mercenary badguys who are badly performed and ridiculous from the minute they turn up to help the evictions.

So an at times exciting film. A good lead performance and a director who knows who to use his effects properly and clearly has some ideas. But who unfortunately took too much off the buddy movie cliché shelf and didn't think clearly through his belaboured apartheid analogy and reconsider his use of Nigerians in the camp itself. And the idea that this is no. 44 on the IMDB all time charts shows

elab49
.....

Neil Blomkamp's Alive in Joburg is an excellent short film, and this feature-film extension of that film's conceit - that is, aliens stuck in Johannesburg are treated like second-class citizens by an exasperated and uncaring government and public - manages to live up to the potential of its source, for a number of reasons. This mockumentary does operate, on the surface level at least, as an interesting and original sci-fi action film, and Blomkamp doesn't skimp on the explosions and the action - from the mass eviction that makes up the majority of the first half, guns are going off, things are exploding, and people are getting kicked by aliens, and that's only the tip of the action iceberg, with a raid on the headquarters of the callous and dodgy corporation at the centre of the film, MNU, being the highlight. However, in a summer that's filled with mindless action that don't mean a thing, it's refreshing to have something more thoughtful and meaty to consume, and District 9 offers in making the plight of the aliens an intriguing analogy for Apartheid-era South African blacks, and generally pointing out how far we, as a society, have to go before we can call ourselves selfless. The treatment of the 'prawns', and the way the people talk about them, actually disgusts, and Blomkamp succeeds in whipping up sympathy for these outnumbered, outgunned, maligned aliens. The treatment of them by the protagonist, nebbish bureaucrat Wikus van der Merwe (portrayed well by Sharlto Copley) is the best indicator of how far we, as a worldwide community, have to go, as not even the circumstances he finds himself in can push him to complete tolerance and selflessness. District 9 has problems - it doesn't follow through on its documentary conceit nearly as well as it should, and the grand finale is often distractingly conventional - but it's a thought-provoking and interesting blockbuster that also manages to push visceral buttons without losing sight of its heart and its mind.

Pigeon Army
.....

Well this was a tad disappointing.

Deviation



9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)


Kubrick's greatest film is a mysterious puzzle, possessing great beauty and still enigmatic over three decades after it was made. In an African desert, it is the dawn of man, a tribe of apes discover that a mysterious black monolith has appeared in front of their shelter. After the apes approach the monolith, they seem to have an evolutionary breakthrough as they learn to use a bone as a tool and a weapon. They use this knowledge to learn how to fight and to kill. The ape leader throws the bone into the air and we cut to a shot of an orbiting nuclear weapon. From there we join life on a space station. There's talk of an epidemic on the base but it's a cover story for a mission to dig up an unidentified artefact discovered there. The artefact turns out to be a monolith identical to the ones the apemen encountered. We then cut to a spaceship bound for Jupiter, we're introduced to the astronauts and the ship's computer, HAL, who runs most of the operations of the craft. HAL informs one of the astronauts, Dave, that a piece of equipment is going to fail. When examined, the equipment is working fine. They decide that if HAL is malfunctioning he'll have to be deactivated, but HAL discovers their plan leading to a life and death conflict between HAL and Dave. And a final encounter with the monolith still awaits the survivor.

2001 is often wrongly dismissed as being a cold film, one where Kubrick puts the technology before the actors. I think if you look at Kubrick's career he often takes a somewhat distant view of the proceedings, but he's never cold. His concern is always the actions taken by people and what makes us what we are. He's examined what makes human courage and cowardice, what insanity drives us to war, the nature of inappropriate sexual attraction, the desire for money and is someone really good if they have no choice in the matter, among others. Kubrick looks at very human emotions and tries to understand them by distancing himself from them.

In 2001 he's mostly concerned with evolution. Not just from ape to man, but evolution as a process where we constantly learn and grow, be it ape-men adapting to tools or modern man adapting to space. 2001 charts the progress of civilisation from neanderthals to the future and poses questions about us, who we are, what our history gave us and where the future will take us. Kubrick is also interested in technology and the relationship mankind has with that technology, both the conflicts and the benefits. As is only fitting, 2001 can also be praised for its pioneering special effects, and it's one of the increasingly rare cases where the effects aid the film rather than simply overwhelming the film.

The downside for many is that 2001's questioning nature comes at the expense of the traditional narrative form, but even if the pacing is measured, there's still great dramatic tension in the face-off between HAL and Dave. I'm not sure why a film has to be plot driven rather than ideas driven anyway. If a piece of writing doesn't have to be bound to narrative, why does cinema?

2001 is one of those films that's gone beyond cinema to the point of legendary status. That's not always a good thing, one of the easiest ways to stifle critical debate is to proclaim something a classic enough times. In 2001's case, I think it is deserved, as long as we don't start taking the film for granted and remember to keep thinking about the questions that Kubrick and Clarke were posing.

Rawlinson
.....

The cradle of life and not too much is happening, an extraterrestrial monolith appears and kick starts an evolutionary process of tools and death, survival of the fittest. In the distant future another monolith is discovered emitting a signal, eighteen months later Discovery One is heading for Jupiter and the next step for mankind.

Many claim that 2001 is a cold film, inaccessible, high minded, indulgent, a preposterous piece of hokum and that the exploration of man's evolution from ape to Jupiter is far too abstract for it's own good and worst of all it's dull. Dull? It's got a psychotic, iconic computer intelligence battling against what it perceives as an unfair termination of it's own evolution. Outside of the dramatics of one man and his HAL-9000 we have a simply sublime film, a science fiction film that explores all avenues of life; past, present, future, beyond. It presents ideas about technology (crude instruments of bashing to space stations), history, evolution, philosophy and religion and there's less than an hour of dialogue. The film also has revolutionary special effects and an aesthetically superior design, significantly sixties in setting and yet it works. Aiding these ideas and the look is some of the most spectacular classical music you'll hear and it's not just thrown in, the use of music is innovative and vital. The importance and significance of music should never be underestimated, it can impact people far more than any other stimuli, in 2001 it is evocative and powerful.

If ever there was film of ideas, 2001 A Space Odyssey is it, for a film initially set out to be a good, as you like it science fiction piece Kubrick and Clarke produced one of the greatest films of all time, a film open to innumerable interpretations, a film driven by ideas and one that constantly questions whilst also giving the viewer a mind-blowing extravaganza.

Cold, dull? I think not.

Impqueen
.....

When I first watched this, I knew of the infamous wordless opening segment. My father (the same who had so vocally recommended Dr Strangelove) was baffled by the film and dislikes it, so my initial childhood apprehension was (it transpires) entirely parentally-forced. Indeed, I got halfway through the film, (to the discovery of the lunar monolith), had to stop it for some reason and never restarted it. When I did finally rewatch it, I was so utterly baffled myself that I got frustrated and angry. A friend who was a big Clarke fan lent me the book helpfully saying, “It explains everything!” He was lying. I was even more puzzled, and considering I had been expecting answers, even angrier. I spent a long time denouncing the film, stating it was the one Kubrick film that I really didn’t get, that I hated, and that was the one blot on his otherwise near-faultless résumé. Clearly my opinion has changed, not only since this first flawed consideration, but also in rewatches since. Indeed, it was rewatching the film this year, during compiling this list, that I made the one change to the list that I couldn’t delay. Some other films have changed place, but I left them where they were until they finished. But I fell so utterly in love with this film that I couldn’t wait – and it rocketed right up to take the crown from Scott’s masterpiece. As a science-fiction fan, these are quite simply the twin pinnacles of science-fiction achievement. They are worlds away on the stylistic spectrum – one grungy, dirty, real; one clean, sterile, fragile even, yet equally as real – but both project a future that is at once possible, and about which we might be apprehensive. Of course, 2001 goes that much further by making the story universal, about us all, and about our own far past.

The film begins with an overture of choir-based atonal music over blackness. The discordant noise can be taken at face value, or a meaning can be attributed to it. Given the themes which follow, it is fitting to consider, on repeat viewings, that perhaps it is representative of the chaos that preceded the universe. The music, while constantly changing, never resolves itself. (P.T.Anderson, 40 years later, would use the same dissonance in the first of several Kubrickian homages in his masterpiece There Will Be Blood.) We are left with a noise that, through all the dissonance is inherently beautiful – whether this is because of, or despite its chaos is up to your own interpretation, like much of the film. We then follow an unspecified amount of time following two tribes of prehistoric man, as they fight over a drinking hole. This 20 or so minute segment entitled “The Dawn of Man” sets out most clearly (despite the lack of dialogue) the meaning of the rest of the film. After being chased from the water by the other tribe, one tribe discovers a mysterious black monolith. After cautiously approaching it, there appears to be some communication between it and one of the ape-men. Looking at it, as if receiving instructions (although none are seen nor heard), he picks up a bone and, as Strauss’ music reoccurs from the opening shot, he begins to destroy the rest of the skeleton. A weapon is made, and man is on the next stage of his evolutionary development. The match cut of which everyone speaks is made more significant by the realisation (noted in a documentary) that the satellite to which we cut from the bone is actually a space-based weapon itself. We cut from a primitive weapon, to a futuristic one. The meaning then is clear – our progress is marked, and will always be marked by violence. Survival of the fittest was never so apt.

The space station/lunar segment is the more prosaic. The amazing is seen as commonplace. Indeed, Floyd sleeps during these balletic scenes; to him, it is unspectacular. Dialogue, when it appears, is muted and similarly commonplace. Hushed whisperings of a mysterious virus on the moon while on board the space station are the most we get in terms of moving on the ‘plot’. We find a second monolith, buried not just millennia ago, but millions of years ago, awaiting humanity to reach such a level that we might notice it. It emits a signal that we later discover is directed at Jupiter, the destination for the next segment. Here we accompany David Bowman (Keir Dullea), his crew-mate, and the ship-board intelligent computer HAL-9000. Their mission to Jupiter some 18 months after the lunar event is a mystery, to be revealed once they reach Jupiter. However, with his own evolutionary development of his own, HAL malfunctions, forcing Bowman to deactivate him and continue on alone. Once the film reaches Jupiter, Bowman (and us, the audience) go to infinity and beyond, and the most baffling, personally multi-interpretative stage of the film begins. Bowman discovers a third monolith orbiting Jupiter which sends him travelling through time/space/dimensions [delete as appropriate] until he reaches… Well, the final scenes are so open to interpretation that to pin them down with any one viewpoint would be reductive, counterproductive, and insulting to both your intelligence and my own. Suffice to say that one of the enduring joys of the film is this ability to take away from it that which you bring to the film yourself.

One of the significant factors in the film is the design. Kubrick’s microscopic approach to the macroscopic brings a huge amount of satisfaction to the simple act of seeing the film. From the beautiful contrast of the arid, dusty terrain and the hard, black monolith, to the bleach-white space station against the insect-black vastness of space, we have a beauty of design unequalled. Certainly much of the design aesthetic is distinctly drawn from 60s ideas, but as a whole, as a single entity, they work absolutely. The cleanliness of the space station is a direct counterpoint to the dirty, aged future we have come to see as more “authentic” (Blade Runner springs unbidden to my mind…). Nevertheless, that sparkling future meets Kubrick’s aesthetic perfectly. The visual impact of the film, however, is not down to design alone, but by sheer mind-blowing effects work. In today’s CGI-rich film world, we have become complacent about seemingly impossible scenarios or situations. In 1968, everything on the film was created on film. This only goes to make the film more remarkable still. Factor in that sequence as Bowman travels beyond infinity (as amazing today as it was 40 years ago, and I don’t even do drugs), and the Special Effects Oscar is hugely deserved, even if the film was notable absent from winning any other Oscars.

Complementing the visual impact of the film is the astonishing use of classical music. It is evocative and emotional, and thematically significant as far as this reviewer is concerned. Consider: Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra plays three times in the film. Firstly it plays at the start of the film, when the moon, Earth, and the sun are in alignment. This solar event arguably alerted the unseen ‘aliens’ to the existence of sentient life, acting like a beacon to them. It could also symbolise the birth of the universe, or the creation of such: The planets may well have begun in alignment before starting their rotation, according to this fictional account of the start of the universe. Secondly, the music plays as the ape discovers how a bone can be a weapon. This is arguably the first leap in our evolutionary development. Thirdly it plays as the star child returns to earth at the very end of the film. This is the start of another evolutionary development – one which we have yet to experience. The discordant choral music is thematically significant in that it accompanies the discovery of each monolith. The music crescendos to a climax as each monolith is first sighted. Johann Strauss’ (no relation to R.Strauss) Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz brings with it associations of all that is good about humanity; it is distinguished, advanced, precise, beautiful both aurally and to one’s sensibilities, and it is music that brings us together. For it to accompany the presumably actually dry, clinical event of a ship docking in a station brings all those previous associations and applies them to this event making it a beautiful thing to behold. This is the power of music, and that is not lost on Kubrick once throughout this film.

Over the years many ideas have been applied to the film, thematically speaking. The evolutionary theory holds strong for me. There is a great deal of religious resonance to the film as well. The proactive involvement of these unseen ‘aliens’ in advancing humanity brings with it suggestions of whether or not they are representative of some sort of deity. When tied to the significance outlined above of Strauss’ Zarathustra we could argue that these beings created our universe, and thus have a vested interested in advancing its inhabitants, evolutionarily speaking. However, this contrasts with the events that invariably accompany that development – violence. On both occasions of evolutionary development, violence is the event that sparks that development. That violence however shows an ability to succeed against a potentially rival force. Just as the one tribe of ape-men succeeds against the other through its use of a weapon, so man succeeds against the potential rival of artificial intelligence as represented by HAL, through using man’s own weapon – his mind – to outwit HAL, and become the stronger species. Once that strength has been asserted, and HAL vanquished, only then do we proceed to the next evolutionary stage.

Naturally these thoughts are my own, and someone else can, and will, have entirely differing ideas of what 2001 is all about. This is much of the film’s attraction. Next time I watch it, I will bring something else from the experience – for that is what this film is, an experience – and find new avenues of thought to go down. Considering the evolutionary journey I have travelled with regards to my thoughts on this film, I can only say that if anyone has seen the film and been ambivalent, or contrary towards it, then please, give it another chance.

homersimpson_esq


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 10/2/2012 8:45:39 AM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 43
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 10/2/2012 10:18:47 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
8. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)

For some reason, I always find Star Wars: A New Hope the weakest in the original trilogy. It was a start, an introduction to the Star Wars universe and characters. It was a very good one and a very original and imaginative one, but it seemed just entertainment, nothing to really sink our teeth into, nothing to become really part of. Then came The Empire Strikes Back. It opened the universe to us even more, it became epic, it became even more iconic, it gave four excellent new characters, and also became threatening.

Empire is the bleakest in the original trilogy, and the most mature and flawless of the entire saga of six films. They are no Ewoks here, no Jar Jar Binks, no crap romance, no "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!", no spectacular final shoot-out or battle, it is the least conventional of the six as well. The big, huge battle comes in the middle of the film, the heroes lose at the end, and there is little hope(only done again in Episode 3), at the end all the lead characters can do is escape, failing also to rescue a friend. It also has the most memorable moments; the spectacular Hoth invasion, the Millennium falcon escaping from inside a giant space worm, before that the Falcon escaping the TIE fighters, THAT TWIST, Han Solo's carbon freezing, those two lines between him and Princess Leia, Vader killing Admiral Ozzel while promoting his successor, so much is here. We also have the inclusion of new great characters. The most obvious, Yoda(voiced by Frank Oz), the frog looking master who will train Luke(Mark Hamill) into becoming a Jedi, Lando Carlissian(Billy Dee Williams), an old friend of Han Solo(Harrison Ford), the very cool, but slightly useless Boba Fett(Jeremy Bulloch) and the a villian worthy to stand above Darth Vader, the Emperor himself.

The film opens on Hoth, where the Empire has finally caught up with the Rebels responsible of blowing up the first Death Star. The ground assault occurs on the rebels base, the rebels lose and escape. Luke goes to receive training by Yoda on Dagobah, Han, Liea and the others go to Cloud City to meet Han's old friend Lando. The rest is now cinema history.

The Hoth battle is stunning; the huge AT-ATs stomping their way to the rebel base, killing and destroying anything in their way, the very creative way of the fighter pilots to destroy the AT-ATs(in fact, every time an AT-AT falls, it is joyous), the planes burning down behind the attack, the ground soldiers desperately trying to hold them off while the Rebels escape, it is a great thrilling scene with stays in the mind. It is one of the greatest action sequences ever made. The training scenes between Yoda and Luke are never boring, and the carbon freezing moment is the most touching moment in the entire saga, even if it is done this way through one of the most wonderfully cheesy lines in the entire trilogy. The twist still has some effect, but not as a twist, but as a scene where Luke discovers the truth about his father. The settings are just as good. Cloud City looks beautiful, and Dagobah really lush and Hoth is another desolate and even more threatening desert.

The sound of Star Wars was always fantastic; the John Williams soundtrack, the sound effects and the sound of the technology still are effective, and this is no exception. The script is the best one in any Star Wars. The characters are all great, and, we care about them. This is something missing in the prequels, characters we care about and love. It is well directed by Irvin Kershner, with Lucas leaving the director's chair after all the stress on Episode 4. The dialogue is quite good here, and the possible plot-holes do nothing to ruin the experience. Also The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best sequels ever made, and also THE best middle-film ever made. While the very good The Two Towers and the absolutely dreadful and soul-destroying Dead Man's Chest went nowhere, this made the story the story and had important things actually happening in it.

It works as a stand-alone film as well, This was my first Star Wars experience and I still understood everything, thanks to those openings. Episode V is a great achievement. And it still is amazing how this saga combines both fantasy and science-fiction. -- Deviation.


Being a Norwegian has its advantages (none of of which I would dare mention here) but the truth is: living on the western shores of Scandinavia is mostly equal to being an outsider. With that in mind, it is always amusing when the rest of the world acknowledge our existence (no, Norway is not the capital of Sweden), like that part in Die Hard With A Vengeance where a terrorist phone call is traced back to our capital city, Oslo (just a false lead), or that episode in The Sopranos when Paulie Walnuts can be seen watching a TV special on folk music from our country (bless him). But few acts warm my patriotic heart as much as the fact that George Lucas decided that the snowy hills of Finse should be the most fitting location for the cold planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. This is not the chief reason why this film has snuck on this respective position, but I am positive it doesn't work against it either. I feel it should be wise to admit that this is the only film in the series that will make its appearance on this list, mostly because my opinion of the films has decreased as the number of years in my life-time have increased. The irony is of course that Empire was the film in the series I enjoyed the least as a kid.

Was it a brave move for George Lucas to make this film? Well, the courage laid not in his decision to make it (it would take more courage not to make it), but in his choice to lessen the film's more fantastical elements and provide the audience with a more downbeat tone. It lacks what most kids want to see: action, tons of striking color and a comforting happy ending, a bold choice that made the critics finally give in to the excellence of the trilogy. As in the original film, the rebel alliance are still just hunted prey for the Empire, but this time, Obi-Wan Kenobi won't step up to save the day. Whether this is because of Alec Guinnes' dislike of the series or (more likely) because his character was killed in the first chapter, remains a mystery not even Sherlock Holmes could find in his ability to solve. Mr. Holmes should of course not be confused with the famous detective going by the same name.

One of the things that previously escaped my attention when watching this film was of how well the various locations mirrored the emotional state of the characters. At no time does that theory prove to be as true as when Luke (Mark Hamill) makes his journey to Daggobah (I can't believe I still remember the names), where he meets the mighty Yoda (Frank Oz) for the first time. With Luke torn between his desire to help his friends and his wish to complete his Jedi-training, the Star Wars-series managed with this film to play notes that had previously had seemed so far out reach.

But then again, Taxi Driver this ain't, and one need not be an adult to enjoy it. In fact, I wonder how many adults would like this film if they hadn't first seen it as a youngling (pun very much intended). The action sequences lack the flash and comedy of the other entries, but many of them deserve a mention here. The opening battle on Hoth is an obvious mention (and not just because of its respective shooting location), but for me, the real sell is every moment transpired in Sky City, where our heroes find themselves to be in short supply for help as the bad guys prove to be too mighty. Anyone who watches the light saber-duel and find their face to be one of shock at the end may very well have lived under a stone for the last 30 years, but the lack of surprise does not reduce the power of Vader's reveal one bit. One could actually argue that it's more orgasmic as everyone is anticipating it anyways. Like the binary sunset in the original film, I don't think I will hear many protests as I declare this the "grandest moment in the series". A solid proof that kids are worthy to play with the big boys.

Dantes Inferno
.....

Two Line Synopsis: After the destruction of the planet-destroying Death Star, Luke Skywalker is in Jedi training, while the rebels prepare their next attack. Then the Empire strikes back.

I’ll say this first: The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite Star Wars film. For those paying attention that means that yes, it is the only Star Wars film in this list. While I enjoyed the first one, and the third one is good fun, (I’ll ignore the prequels), this is the one that has everything a great film should have. It has the best villain, a nascent hero, a gruff anti-hero, the love interest, the big surprise, great effects, awesome settings, superb battles, and other superlatives for other aspects of the film!

So, why the lone entry for this landmark trilogy? Well, some of it may be because I didn’t grow up with Star Wars. I was I was two when Return of the Jedi was released, and although my brothers (eight and ten years older than me) were the Star Wars generation, I never really got into it until I was a lot older – I missed the re-released special editions at the cinema in 1997, so ambivalent was I about it. In fact, I always preferred “Star Trek” to Star Wars. Nevertheless, despite the obvious pilfering from other films that abound in the Star Wars saga, the films have grown in my estimation, and I thoroughly enjoy them. The Empire Strikes Back is the paragon example of that, and one of the finest space-epics made. It’s become fashionable to badmouth the saga since the prequel trilogy came out, but the original (and I have the DVDs with the original theatrical versions) film holds up more than ably. It is escapism at its best. There is a distinct thrill when you see the silent “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” knowing that great John Williams crash of music is about to assault your eardrums as the Star Wars logo comes from behind you. With The Empire Strikes Back Williams’ music is at its finest, with some excellent additions to the Wagner-esque thematic score. “Yoda’s Theme” is a beautifully delicate theme, that is scored with a yearning for something lost and great. “Leia’s Theme” excels melodically, while we have the full awesome power of “The Imperial March”, showing the glory of the Empire in its dark beauty.

As a stand-alone film, I find it the most satisfying, despite its obvious placing within the larger scheme of things. Of course, there are many unresolved plot details – Luke knows that Vader is his father, Han is out of action, and so forth – but that irresolute darkness is a wonderful precursor to the finale of the trilogy (which is much better than people make out). One must have the despair before one can experience joy. As a SciFi nut, I can’t not love Star Wars despite its myriad faults, for at heart it is a fine, epic adventure that is pure escapism. They also have one of the coolest weapons ever invented.

homersimpson_esq



7. Aliens (1986, James Cameron)

In 1979 Ridley Scott created a classic of the horror genre – the claustrophobic Alien. Seven years later James Cameron decided not to give us a generic horror sequel but a lightning-paced action thriller.

Paying respectful homage to Giger's groundbreaking artwork, Stan Winston takes things much further providing us with the entire hive up to, and including, the queen. The Oscar winning team's organic habitat fully camouflages its inhabitants, only seen as they break away from the walls to attack, and the external visuals clearly show the influence of another of Scott's works, Blade Runner.

The fully conceived environment is one of the things that make Aliens different. I love that Cameron remembers the social/working class ideology from the original – in place of Brett and Parker's bitching for their share we have a believable working colonial outpost and Ripley herself spends time on the docks (experience key to her initial integration with the group and to the final maternal showdown).

But technology isn't enough to save them. In the actual fighting the fetishised military hardware lauded by Hudson and fondled by Drake and Vasquez has its butt kicked by the biological weapons Weyland-Yutani drool over. Only the more solid mechanics are of use – the reassuringly solid APC and the loading equipment that adds to the realist feel, coloured a familiar Caterpillar yellow.

Oscar nominated for the role, Weaver's physically imposing Ripley retains the credibility from the original – resourceful, intelligent, a leader – in a nuanced performance that enhances the central mother-daughter relationship. The film also benefits from excellent supporting performances from Lance Henricksen's ambivalent turn as Bishop, as impressed by the Alien as his predecessor Ash, and the marines whose interplay gives us a convincing military unit led believably by Al Matthews (an actual former marine sergeant).

Hugely influential in film and video games (Doom and Halo being obvious examples) the film leaves us wondering who the real threat is. An alien race evolved into efficient killing machines who still try to protect their young – or the corporate ethos so willing to fuck others over "for a goddamn percentage!" And, seriously, never get between a mother and her child.

Aliens is an adrenaline-fuelled Sci-Fi actioner par excellence. It is the best film of its kind; the only sequel made that almost matches a classic original, and features the greatest female action character of all time, Ellen Ripley.

elab49
.....

Alien>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Aliens


Gimli The Dwarf



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 44
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 11/2/2012 6:08:53 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
6. Back To The Future (1985, Robert Zemeckis)

The 1980s was the decade of the blockbuster and there was a difference between many of the blockbusters then and the ones now, the blockbusters then had good scripts and they had heart. Like fellow 80s blockbusters Ghostbusters and Gremlins, Back to the Future isn't remembered so fondly because of mere nostalgia, it's because it's a damn good film. Michael J. Fox gives a career best performance as Marty McFly, a 1980s teenager with school problems, family problems and bully problems, whose friendship with eccentric scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) sees McFly travelling back in time to the 1950s after Doc converts a Delorean into a time machine. Marty has to find a way back to his own time period, save the Doc's life, and make sure his parents still meet and fall in love. The script is beautifully observed, with even the minor characters getting a chance to shine. Michael J. Fox is the perfect identifiable everyman lead, Christopher Lloyd is suitably odd as Doc and Thomas Wilson has the right air of menace as bully Biff Tannen. The acting honours are stolen by Crispin Glover's portrayal of Fox's geeky father and Lea Thompson as his mother whose teenage self develops a disturbing crush on Marty.

Rawlinson
.....

Two Line Synopsis: A teenager occasionally uses the electronic equipment in the garage of a eccentric old scientist. But then he gets involved in an adventure involving a DeLorean, a flux capacitor, and an oddly Oedipal subtext.

I'd like to think that this top 25 is a diverse list (as much of this list is) of undisputed classics and absolutely guilty pleasures whose quality is not disputed, but may not usually figure so highly. All of them have had a mighty impact on me, but possibly this film's impact goes back the furthest - to childhood. I'll freely own that much of my love of Back To The Future is down to this childhood association, but this does not, nor should not, detract from the quality of the film itself, and it is the two aspects combined that create this high ranking. It'd be higher, but I just can't place any of the following films below it! Anyway, to the film itself.

From the opening largely-silent scene, there is a sense of something great coming. The technique of not showing the star's face until an iconic moment (think James Bond in Dr No) is used to wonderful effect (even allowing time for a sneaky Kubrick reference for eagle-eyed fans) as we see Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) poised ready before the fully-primed amp shortly before being blasted backwards in a mini-explosion as the "slight chance" of it blowing becomes a reality. It's a highly efficient way to introduce the two main characters as well as key plot points for future reference. The skateboard, the Nike-trainers-advert, The gadget-infested workroom, the dog's bowl, the Plutonium, the news report. It's all there from the beginning.

Many 80s films have dated badly. They're clearly 80s films, and one can't help wincing when watching them. Back To The Future is also very specifically 80s, but it revels in it, eking out specific 80s references to ground it in 1985. This works so well because, it being a time travel movie (and this is definitely more a "movie" than a "film") we need grounding before we move to another time period. So, rather than finding the 80s cringeworthy, we see positive elements. Of course, this film is as much an idealistic portrayal of 1950s America, (one which would be seen again in the sweetly-satirical Pleasantville) so the 1955-set scenes show a more innocent past that is unlikely to have existed, but which for the purposes of this film work perfectly well.

It's harder to review this film than I expected, because my experience with this film is so different to many, many others. It's a film that I can quote almost backwards, that I put on whenever I and my brother meet up (he loves it equally, if not more than I) and that regardless of how many times I watch it (and that's probably more than any other film) it always puts a smile on my face. Whether it's the recitation of "when this baby hits 88mph...", or sharing Doc's joy in finally making time travel, or Marty's revelatory walk around Hill Valley, or the family scenes at the Baines household ("better get used to those bars, kid") or the slightly suspect Oedipal subplot, or the Chuck Berry reference, or the guitar solo ("I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet"), or the first kiss, that punch, the race to the clock tower, or the final twist ending where life is so much better for Marty now (perhaps the only positive thing that comes from all the time travelling that isn't reversed by the end). People wonder at why Marty has this friendship with an strange old man, but the assumption is that the friendship as we see it pre-existed before the opening scenes of the film. Sure, Marty helps Doc with his experiments, and in turn gets to use the equipment for his music. But it is in the 1955-set scenes of this film that the real friendship burgeons and by the end, 1985-Doc remembers that friendship from the 50s. (Remarkably, Marty's mother doesn't remember Marty quite so well, other than to name her son after him...)

I could wax lyrical for a long time about the multitudinous joys of this film (and it's superb sequel Part II, and the pretty good threequel Part III, passable if only for the Hill Valley reveal that mimics Once Upon A Time In the West's town reveal) but will draw this review to a close. Suffice it to say that while many would see this as little more than a populist piece of light entertainment, I see it as epitomising a certain type of cinema - it is a magical, escapist film, that is truly, ironically, timeless.

homersimpson_esq
.....

Okay, so I finally saw this movie and I have to ask - who was it aimed at? I ask because the language is a bit too strong for really young kids and yet no-one over the age of 10 could ignore how intensely dumb this movie is. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy it - I did - but it was just so incredibly lazy and stupid at the same time. Half the dialogue could be whittled down to "Gosh, aren't the 50s different from the 80s?" and the other half consists of Marty being like "Oh yeah...I'm pretty sure we'll see each other again. Wink!". Yeah, we get it. He's gone back in time. These people are his parents. Thanks, movie.

Frankly, I just don't think me and the 80s are meant to be. All the hit movies I've seen from the decade are just insultingly childish in a way that not even modern multiplex garbage would dare. It was truly the golden age of mindless Hollywood crap. The way some of my friends feel about the movies I like from the 30s - ie. they're clunky, the acting is wooden, they're too simplistic, they're cheesy - is how I feel about every big movie of the 80s. Everyone in this movie acts like they're suffering from a brain aneurysm. Every single character, action and line of dialogue is painted in ridiculously broad strokes. Everyone is an archetype. McFly senior is a nerd, Biff is the school bully, Doc Brown is the wacky professor, there are about a hundred 'hardass authority figures'. Marty McFly is Ferris Bueller, or something. Everything Marty says sounds like it came from hours of focus group sessions about what teenagers would find appealing. After what is less a plot and more a string of set-pieces painstakingly-crafted to look as mid-80s cool as possible, we sputter to a close.

And yet, I did enjoy it. It's bright and inoffensive and occasionally the plot does do something unexpected. All the actors seem to be enjoying themselves. It's just that it looks and sounds like it's meant for 8 year olds, when I don't think that was the intention. I liked watching it but I don't think I'd be overly interested in seeing it again. It pretty much smacks you over the head with everything it has to offer, so I don't think a rewatch is likely to offer reams of new discoveries.

Also, he reacts way too slowly when his mum kisses him.

The DudeAbides



5. Brazil (1985, Terry Gilliam)

Ah, what a film. Currently sitting comfortably amongst both my twenty favourite films and my list of twenty greatest films, Brazilis a dystopian nightmare akin to 1984 or Alphaville in its portrayal of an ever-watching, totalitarian state. The observations may be rather obvious (receipts for receipts and laws on government plumbers only point at beurocracy as a crime), but there's no denying that this is a very entertaining film along the way and that it's messages - although telegraphed and punched home with a little too much veracity - are correct in their intentions. Gilliam, director of so many near-classics, has made his one true masterpiece here; a film about human control and beurocracy that centres around Sam Lowry (Jonathan Price in surely his greatest ever screen role), a records clerk who is only allowed to be free in his dreams. Brazil, despite being an infinitely clever and poignant film, is one that is very hard to write about, even more so when you are trying to write a spoiler-free appraisal, because the best moments come at the end. Particularly, the conclusion itself, which is a poignant, powerful and ultimately heartbreaking moment that both satirizes Hollywood convention and continues its trend of dreams being the only place where one can be free in a world plagued by oppression and control.

Piles
......

Two Line Synopsis: In the undisclosed future a bureaucrat attempts to correct an administrative error. It is not as easy as it sounds.

From one 80s fantasy, to a very different 80s fantasy. Where The Princess Bride was a straight story in an castle and magic type world, Brazil is anything but a straight story, in a very realistically portrayed alternative retro-future. It has imagination coming out of its very pores, and is one of the most visually inventive films I've ever seen. This is Terry Gilliam at the very top of a career that spans superb examples of film from the likes of Time Bandits, Twelve Monkeys and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The inspired mix of fantasy, science fiction, topical commentary, and Gilliam's own unique brand of weird allow for this, his masterpiece, to come into being.

Of course, as with the best films, there was a troubled production. Originally released in a very different edit, an hour cut from it, and a happy ending tagged on (I think there was some other SciFi film from the 80s that had a happy ending tagged on...) audiences were initially denied the true vision. I still haven't brought myself to watch this version, despite owning the Criterion Collection of the film, simply because it would be so radically different from the film I love so much. Brazil is Gilliam channeling Orwell. 1984, released the previous year was the film of Orwell's classic novel that spawned such phrases as Room 101, Big Brother, and so forth (such a shame those associations are now utterly different). But it was Brazil that made the more effective commentary on future society, with its authoritarian state, and endless bureaucracy. The Ministry of Information is a morally empty place where rules are rules, and there is no deviation from them. Enter Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) as our protagonist, an employee of Ian Holm's, who dreams of flying free of the oppression of the state. However, when a fly lands on a sheet of paper in a typewriter, and makes "Tuttle" read as "Buttle", it starts a chain of events that spiral out of control, and include a host of high quality British acting talent, and a cameo turn by Robert De Niro (it would appear that British Fantasy films are always good for a De Niro cameo, as Stardust proved!).

As far as Dystopian visions of the future go, I can only think of one film that beats Brazil. Brazil however, is a constantly inventive, entertaining, frightening, funny, prophetic, depressing, wonderful film.

homsersimpson_esq




4. The Thing (1982, John Carpenter)

Often classed as a remake of The Thing From Another World, this is actually another adaption of the John W. Campbell short story, 'Who Goes There?'. If anything, Carpenter's film has much more in common with its source text than the original ever did. Both are fine films, but The Thing is the one that works best for me. Like so many of Carpenter's early films, so much of it is a homage to Howard Hawks, which is especially fitting as Hawks is often stated to be the uncredited director of the 51 film. But the references to Hawks' Rio Bravo, a film Carpenter had already turned to many times, are still strong in The Thing.

The film focuses on a research group in the Antarctic. The team encounter a dog being chased by a helicopter. The pilot is shooting at the dog and hits one of the crew. The pilot is Norwegian and unable to explain his actions to the team, and he is dead before he's even able to try. When the team decide to check out the Norwegian's camp, they find it in ruins. They also find the burnt remains of a mutant and an ice block that once contained something sinister. Meanwhile, the dog settles into his new home. The dog is placed with the rest of the camp dogs where it transforms into a spider-like monster and attacks them. Soon the team realise that the dog was some sort of alien shape-shifter, and now it could be any one of them.

I think this is Carpenter's most accomplished film. It lacks the ragged charm of his earlier work, but this is where it really all came together for this talented man. The pacing is often slow, but deliberate, and it adds to the tense and claustrophobic feel of the material. Many claim that the special effects overwhelm the drama. Rubbish. Carpenter looks at a group of people under pressure rather than focus on the effects. The characters are unpleasant and unsympathetic. But they're real and they're honest. And that makes it easy to identify with them. Just think of it as a sci-fi/horror take on Glengarry Glen Ross. Both films give us a very male world where people are thrown together by work rather than by choice, and any form of respect goes out of the window the moment suspicion falls upon them. The cast are incredibly effective, working together to make it more of an ensemble piece. The special effects are incredible, but the truth is you could still have made this a superb film without the effects. Who Goes There? made a wonderful radio drama, and I've often wondered how this material could work as a play. Strip down all of the outside effects and focus solely on the descent into paranoia. Those who focus in on the effects miss seeing that this is is one of cinema's best studies of paranoia, using its isolated Arctic setting to add to that feeling of unease, and the film is never more chilling than when that paranoia and isolation kicks in.

The bottom line is that The Thing, for all of its genre trappings, is a creepy and nihilistic ensemble drama about how quickly people can turn against each other. Read the alien as a metaphor for communism, aids, anything you please. It's the reaction of humanity that's most important, and by the standards of this film, humanity is doomed.

Rawlinson
.....


In 1982, John Carpenter delivered a film so mind-blowingly awesome that it's a wonder the world still exists today. That movie was The Thing, a remake of Howard Hawk's 1951 original, which again was based on a short story called "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell. Starring Kurt Russell, it sees a group of scientists on the South Pole encounter a creature that has the ability to imitate any living organism. As it turns out, the creature has already wiped out a camp of Norwegian scientists, which can't be good news, as a creature wiping out a camp of Norwegians must immediately be assumed to be incredibly dangerous if one considers the awesomeness of Norwegians.

While its initial release saw it bomb (it played next door to E.T., a creature far less awesome), The Thing has later become a cult classic. No wonder, as it's an incredibly thrilling and riveting movie, the kind that Jerry Bruckheimer thinks he is making every time he opens up his seven-story wallet. The scene where the scientists try to out the creature by drawing each other's blood is one of the best of its kind, and was even homaged in South Park when Cartman wanted to find out which of the boys had lice. You owe it to yourself to see The Thing. You really do. -- Dantes Inferno.


Carpenter's slow-burning horror sci-fi is one of the best horror films I've seen, and I generally don't go in for that genre. However, the main reason for this appreciation is that it's not like other, more conventional horror films - every character has a distinct, interesting personality, and the film doesn't go for cheap boo-scare-chord-made-ya-jump scares, instead offering up a slow-burning, distinctly unnerving atmosphere and some grotesque alien horror setpieces to top it off. The blood test scene has to be one of my favourite scenes from any film I've seen this year, and Kurt Russell and Keith David are just plain awesome. Generally an excellent genre film.

Pigeon Army


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 45
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 11/2/2012 8:50:16 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
3. Wall-E 92008, Andrew Stanton)

This was easily my most anticipated film of the year. More than batman, Indy, There Will Be Blood, anything. I doubt I've anticipated a film so much since Return Of The King. Thankfully, it didn't disappoint, as it's pure joy in every single aspect. Wall-E himself is a spectacular creation. Impossible not to love and with more vibrancy and heart to him than most real-life characters. The opening scenes, just him and the cockroach, are both beautiful and strangely depressing. And the magnificent desolation on show betters anything similar I've seen in live action films. The introduction of EVE is well handled, and their blossoming romance is lovely. For two near silent characters who express pretty much with their eyes only, it's amazing and I honestly do think that this couple makes for one of the most charming and lovely romances I've ever seen. Once the story changes tack, it never lets up, and the ending actually had me on the edge of my seat, the noise and bustle of the cinema blacked out completely. Beautiful, charming, funny, thoughtful, exciting, inspiring. The kind of film that makes me happy to be alive. Just brilliant.

Gimli The Dwarf
.....


In the future Earth has been overtaken by consumerism. Something that leads to the entire planet being covered in rubbish and the earth itself becoming too toxic to support life. The population is sent to live on spaceships, while an army of robots are set to work cleaning up the planet. The planet however has become far too toxic and humanity has become doomed to remain in space indefinitely. Hundreds of years later, only one of the robots, a Wall-E, still functions. This Wall-E has gone a little odd. He's developed sentience and emotions, he's a fan of showtunes, he has a pet cockroach and he collects items he likes from the rubbish he cleans. One day a spaceship lands, deploying a probe robot named EVE to search for life on the planet, and the lonely Wall-E immediately falls in love with the newcomer.

There's two important plot strands to Wall-E. Most reviews seem to focus on the ecological story and the attack on consumer culture in the film. The Earth is run by a corporation whose relentless desire for profit has destroyed the planet. The human race have become so reliant on technology that they're no longer able to take care of the most menial of tasks for themselves, they've even lost so much bone mass that they're unable to walk. Wall-E is a film with a message, do something now or this is how humanity could turn out. One of the criticisms often aimed at Wall-E is that the sections that focus more on the human characters is too broad. But I think it's being overlooked that this is a film aimed mainly at children and I think it does a good job at walking the line between delivering slapstick laughs to younger children and hopefully getting a message across to them at the same time. If the film had turned into a didactic lecture whenever the humans came on screen then it would have lost its core audience. I think it actually speaks volumes about the intelligent nature of this film that so many people expect something more serious from it in those sections. But as relevant as the ecological message is, I think the central love story is by far the most important plotline and it's the one that makes the film as heartfelt and as wonderful as it is.

Wall-E is one of cinema's great innocents and his love for EVE is pure and untainted. Wall-E is the hero of the day when he presents EVE with a plant he's found growing on the planet, something that fulfills her mission, but he's an unwitting hero. He saves the day over and over again, but his only desire is to be with EVE and most of his heroics come as a result of that. Wall-E's need for love defeats his programming and EVE's reciprocation of that love defeats hers. The film's ecological message is an incredibly important one, but I think that it's second to the film's message of hope. The hope that we can repair the damage to the environment, the hope that love does indeed conquer all. The film is romantic, touching and funny in the way that the vast majority of modern romantic comedies aren't. Wall-E learns about love from films, from a videotape he's found in the rubbish and watched over and over. and it's fitting that his love is a great, selfless, cinematic love. He protects EVE when she's shut down and waiting for her ship, they take an enchanting spacewalk together, and they fight against all the odds to save each other. It may be formulaic at times but that's because so much great romantic cinema is. And despite the fact that this is a film about two robots, it is great romantic cinema. There were some great films made in 2008, but none of them can touch Wall-E for me, and none of them has a lead character more human than Wall-E.

Rawlinson
.....


SPOILERS I often wonder what Steven Spielberg makes of Wall-E. Because they share a similar concern - Can a robot feel love? - but whereas Spielberg's attempt to answer that question, AI: Artificial Intelligence, was an ambitious mess; Stanton's attempt is a sublimely sculpted paen to love, humanity and cinema. Oh, sometimes Pixar are just so good it's hard to comprehend. Wall-E takes place in a future when mankind has left the Earth to find it's home in the stars, leaving Earth a stagnant mess, overrun by rubbish, which is disposed of by robots daily trying to reduce the amount. One such robot, seemingly the last of his kind, is Wall-E, a dutiful little robot whose only company in his daily routine of destroying rubbish is a cockroach and an old VHS copy of Hello, Dolly; a film that fascinates Wall-E with its colour, music and tale of love. Suddenly, he gets company one day in the shape of Eve, another robot, a sleek iPod to his boxy countenance. Wall-E is fascinated with Eve and her mission on Earth to the extent that he follows up to her ship above the atmosphere, where humanity has become a bloated and lazy race and inadvertendly starts a revolution, uncovers the truth about humanity's future and, yes, falls in love. As well as all this, Stanton has concoted what is still Pixar's most visually ravishing film. The rubbish-strewn Earth is a truly mindboggling creation, an utter feast for the eyes - and all the while festooned with rubbish. There's a wonderful stillness to these early scenes as Wall-E scoots about, and a slightly eerie calm to this deserted planet - but it teems with detail and colour and I could happily pause the film, frame by frame, just to take in what the animators have achieved and to appreciate just how high the bar of animation has now been set. Wall-E himself is a magnificent creation. A box-like contraption on wheels, he does not have the luxury (perhaps the lazy way out) of speaking dialogue to win over our sympathies. Indeed, it's worth remembering just how much the first half of the film plays out as a silent. Yet, the detail to him, the ability of the animators to elicit a human-like response from him, whether it be awe, confusion or concern, all comes together to make him one of the most wonderful, and yes, human, creations animation has ever seen. Like two other silent creations, Dumbo and Gromit, Wall-E wins you over in minutes. He can make you laugh, such as deliberately dirtying up the human ship out of curiousity to infuriate a small cleaning robot (Wall-E snatching back his track/foot in surprise at this is just wonderful). When he watches Hello Dolly, you can feel the questions forming in his mind, even though common sense tells you that is not how circuitry works. When he tentatively touches hands with Eve, you can feel the spark of chemistry between them, even though it's just metal touching metal. That is the extent of Pixar's genius encapsulated in one moment. And it's done alongside a wonderfully exciting tale as Wall-E accidentally starts a revolution amongst aboard the human ship he ends up on, while trying to evade capture and destruction from those that don't want to see Earth repopulated. It's a film that takes potshots at commercialism as humans laze about amongst branded goods having lost all sense of purpose and of the ultimate pointlessness of consumer items, as Wall-E throws away a beautiful diamond ring at the beginning of the film, as he finds the box of more worth. There are those that criticse Wall-E for this approach as a film, being as it comes from Disney, one of the most branded companies of all time. Personally, I don't buy this criticism - there's a difference between the company and the artist and I personally don't find the inevitable Wall-E merchandising spoils my enjoyment of the film or my appreciation of its message. Instead, it's a hopeful, genuinely optimistic tale of courage and humanity finding its worth again and all because of a little robot. With Wall-E's love of Hello Dolly, it pays homage to the Hollywood of the past, connecting once again to a simpler, happier time and gives the film a wonderful glow and warmth. And of course it does this with a huge emotional punch that will leave even the most cynical with a tear in their eye. As humanity returns to Earth, having discovered that vegetation is regrowing and it is rehabitable, Wall-E has been damaged in the struggle and during Eve's repair of him, has seemingly lost all memory of himself and knowledge of his feelings for Eve - until, slowly, his eyes move up in slow recognition and he says one of the only words he knows - "Eve?" It's so emotional, we even get worried that he's accidentally killed his cockroach. Thankfully, it's a happy ending and as the film ends with the music of Hello Dolly playing out over Wall-E's and Eve's reunion and humanity's first step back onto their home planet, we can only watch with awe, like Wall-E, as to what has been accomplished.

Key moment - during their adventures on the ship, Wall-E and Eve end up being blasted into space at one point and as they waltz around together in the empty void, only fascinated with each other, it's more clear than ever that we are watching a love story unlike any other.

matty_b


2. Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)

Ridley Scott’s best film is undoubtedly his 1982 science fiction classic, "Blade Runner". It tells the story of Deckard (Harrison Ford), a ‘blade runner’ who is charged to kill four ‘replicant’ robots who have revolted against humanity in the most violent of ways. It’s a common misconception that "2001: A Space Odyssey" is easily the most philosophic science fiction of all-time, and one of the major examples of why the genre should be taken seriously, but Ridley Scott’s 1982 film is certainly tough competition as the intellectual height of the genre (before you jump down my throat, I haven’t seen Tarkovsky’s "Solaris"). Scott’s film is a meditation on everything from man’s mortality to accepting what you are, and is certainly an entertaining thrill ride along the way. Perhaps the most interesting element of the film is the discussion as to whether Deckard is himself a replicant, and although this particular reviewer believes that he is, Scott manages to (brilliantly) sculpt a film where either answer is as acceptable as the other. It struggles with certain moments of cheese (I don’t like the way Zhora is killed in a fit of cliché, for instance), and doesn’t have the dark, atmospheric grittiness of Scott’s other sci-fi classic, "Alien" (1977), but there’s a whole host of other aesthetic virtues to excuse this one flaw. The set design and special effects are sublime, and Scott is able to contrast the tragic (yet somehow beautiful) grand shots of the city’s night skyline with the claustrophobic, dystopian shots of it from street level. Scott has made one floundering, average film after another since 2000’s "Gladiator", but there’s no denying that he’s produced one classic for the previous four decades. And "Blade Runner" may just top that list.

Piles
.....

Blade Runner is the definitive vision of future noir which has cast a collolus shadow over the sci-fi genre for the past twenty-five years. The dense, detailed plot and world plays host to wonderful thematic issues on life, humanity, morality, memory and technology. The script is rich with terse, hard-boiled dialogue taken straight from the annuls of film noir. Harrison Ford's world-weary, jaded performance as Rick Deckard is a fine addition to the famous line of noir detectives. Jordan Cronenweth's cinematography contains some of the most striking uses of shadows and light in American cinema this side of Citizen Kane. The art direction and special effects are peerless; its vision of a futuristic industrial Los Angeles landscape is one of the most iconic of all science fiction. Rutger Hauer's final monologue is one of the best meditations on life, the beauty in minuteness and the insignificance of it all ever put to the screen. Largely dismissed on initial release it is now an influence on pretty much every sci-fi film made since. Blade Runner is one of the rare sci-fi films that has defeated the passing of time like fine wine.

The 5-Disc DVD edition contains five different versions of the film. The final cut is the best, but the workprint is an essential watch as it has excellent versions of scenes not in any other version. The theatrical version is now a mere curiousity as it is hamstrung by the awfully written and delivered narration. But which ever way you watch Blade Runner, it’s an unforgettable experience.

Directorscut
.....


Cinema can very loosely be divided into two camps – films that are there for escapism, and films that are there for realism. The former provide a scenario or style that is at odds with our experiences or with reality in general. The latter provide a scenario or style that, while it may be unfamiliar, is an attempt at a depiction of reality. Of course in movies there is no such thing as reality – everything is a lie told 24 times a second (I believe that’s a paraphrase so I’m not taking credit for that). The former will allow us to stop thinking about our everyday lives, our thoughts and emotions. This is not to say that they are lower quality, but cut from a different cloth to the realism-based films. Those realism-based films allow us to delve deeper into thought about our own lives, even if it is by comparison and contrast with something alien to ourselves. Every now and again a film comes along that has a leg in both camps – a finger in both pies if you will. For me, Blade Runner is the epitome of that sort of film. And so, taking those two disparate aspects of films, I’ll also look at that BR-fan favourite of whether or not Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a replicant, and indeed, whether it matters.

First of all, Blade Runner is a science-fiction action movie, albeit with less action than is traditional. Indeed, Deckard only kills two replicants, both women, one shot in the back, and one after nearly being physically bested. Hero he is not, and this much is clear from the offset. Anyone expecting anything different is not watching the same film. Deckard is a retired cop, specialising in retiring replicants – a blade runner. He has had his day and is a husk of his former self, wallowing in self-pity, keeping himself to himself. Dragged from this far-from-idyllic life by his boss, Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) to retire a group of escaped “skin jobs”, Deckard does what he has to, no more, no less. He communicates with others only as far as is necessary to elicit what information he needs, and even then grudgingly. On the surface, Deckard is not a particularly warm character. Ford imbues him with a gruff likeability that is unspoken, but nevertheless present – a laconic aura that permeates the whole film. It is argued that Deckard doesn’t do much detecting for a detective; his is the breed of detective that is found by circumstance – he doesn’t find people, they find him. If you’re already at the bottom of the sewer, sooner or later everything passes you by.

What this portrayal of Deckard serves, is to create a character that, for all his history – best in his field, respected until his retirement – it is difficult to like him. This provides a stark contrast with Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), the lead replicant who has questionable methods of communication and immoral actions, but whose purpose and comport are more approachable. Batty has a veneer of respectability, under which flows a current of hate and confusion – Deckard has the confusion and exhaustion on the surface, but a vein of humanity below the surface. Of course, this brings into play the question of humanity, and what makes us human that is at the very core of this film. Deckard displays few humane characteristics in this film: he reacts little to other people, he has no social life, he does not know how to interact when presented with a replicant female to whom he is attracted (possibly the hardest scene to watch is where he almost rapes Rachel), and he shows little remorse in “retiring” (one hell of a euphemism) the replicants. Indeed, what makes a replicant sub-human in the first place? Clearly there are no “working parts” of an electronic kind, else a simple x-ray would discover them, nullifying the need for the complicated Voigt-Kampff test. (The argument that all replicants’ eyes “glow”, which should also remove the need for the VK test is weak, because the glow is a specific camera-based effect and is, as far as I can see, just for the viewers and not actually a glow in the eyes itself.) So, that means that all replicants are 100% organic. Indeed the Tyrell Corporation, which creates replicants, has as its logo “More Human Than Human”. If that is so, then on what basis, moral or otherwise, are the replicants destroyed so callously, without thought to their existence? Batty is, when considered, a child in a man’s body who simply wants (as he says) “more life”. There is nothing “evil” about that desire – it’s his methods that are questionable, and that stems from the childlike mentality he has interwoven with this adult mind. He can simultaneously appreciate irony and beauty while not seeing the morally objectionable behaviour of murder. But then, with humans as mentors, as “parents” if you will, then it is arguable that he does as he sees, at a fundamental level. In a small moment of humanity, as Deckard hangs over the parapet at the end, Batty is offering a hand to pull him up. Deckard refuses to give in to what he sees as beneath him and spits in Batty’s face, just before letting go, effectively committing suicide. Batty catches him anyway – what human would make that choice? If Batty and Deckard are opposing and symmetrical ends of the spectrum, then perhaps Rachel is the happy medium: a replicant with humane characteristics, sensibilities, and a history. Deckard’s relationship with her, how he reacts, the dynamic between him and Batty – none of it would have this added layer of significance and symbolism if Deckard were also a replicant. Ford says he isn’t – Scott says he is. I’m inclined to agree with Ford. However, there is much in the film to support Scott’s assertion, as well you might imagine.

Having read the book (with which there are many similarities and even more differences) much is made of animals, or the distinct lack thereof in this dystopian future. The “electric sheep” of the novel’s title refers to the “pet” one can purchase, along with other electric animals. These replicant animals only make two appearances in the film – the owl in Tyrell’s skyscraper, and Zhora’s snake. Each replicant in the film can be associated with an animal in some (admittedly tentative in some cases) way, shape or form. Zhora is associated with a snake; Rachel with an owl; Pris with a raccoon by way of her face make-up choice; Leon with a turtle, from the interview at the start; and Roy with a wolf, as he howls towards the end. Deckard is associated with a unicorn, that of his dreams – it is ironic then that Deckard’s animal is the only one that does not exist, or ever has. Building on this associative idea is Gaff’s (Edward James Olmos) habit of leaving small origami creations or matchstick men behind at places. He leaves a unicorn for Deckard at the end. Does he know Deckard’s dream because it is his dreams placed in the Deckard replicant (as Tyrell’s niece’s were put in Rachel)? Is it coincidence? Deckard’s eyes also flash, but that’s a blatant reference as mentioned specifically put in for the camera. If Deckard is a replicant, then it explains the confusion of numbers and makes him most likely to be the “one that got fried” that Bryant refers to.

Bringing up the question of numbers gives me an opportunity to briefly mention the different versions as quite often Blade Runner gets a bad rap in a similar vein to Star Wars. Unlike the versions of Star Wars (Theatrical, original VHS, Special Edition 1997, Special Edition 2005-ish) which were made to take into account changes that Lucas wanted to make, Blade Runner’s original versions were more studio-enforced due to poor testing at test audiences. The Theatrical Cut and International Cut are effectively identical, with the IC having more violence because of American limitations for the TC. Both have the voiceover and the nonsense “happy ending”. The Director’s Cut was closer to Scott’s vision, with the voiceover and happy ending removed. However, even then he didn’t have full control over what was done. Skip forward to 2007, and finally a digital remastering later, a few clean ups of effects, and a re-shot stunt scene that looking awful (lithe woman transforms to bulky male and back again) and the Final Cut is what Scott wanted some 25 years beforehand. The only other version available and on the new set is the Workprint Cut, the one test audiences saw. Most films have a workprint cut, but none have bothered to include it on the DVD as it often bears little resemblance to the finished product. Here it’s included for curiosity and completion. What this means is that, rather than being overly confusing, it’s overly comprehensive. The overriding opinion is that the only true version is the Final Cut. Certainly it’s my preferred version, having all the aspects in place that should be there.

I can’t talk about Blade Runner and not mention Vangelis’ score. While some may say it’s typically 80s, I see it as representative of a future we can’t quite see. It’s at once haunting, ethereal, and unsettling, yet undeniably beautiful. It can be relaxing one moment and get your heart pounding the next. Much of the cinematic landscape of Blade Runner is formed by the aural aspect, and Vangelis is largely responsible for that, almost single-handedly, thanks to his performance style. Of course, accompanying the music is Scott’s legendary (see what I did there?) visual prowess. In a sense, getting everything right with your third film is possibly not the best move, even if it does take you a further 25 years before you get the opportunity to get it right. And of course for a long time, Blade Runner was never recognised for what it is. Nevertheless, Scott’s grounding in adverts (the Hovis/Dvorak advert everyone remembers was one of his) provided a smart visual shorthand and this was perfectly developed here. From the belching, ominous, night-engulfing fire-breathing towers of the “Hades” shot at the film’s opening, through the visually-noisy streets of LA, to the crisp, clean angles of Tyrell’s tower, through the faded decadence of JF Sebastian’s hotel-home, to the rain-strewn, abandoned setting for the finale, Blade Runner creates a visual palette that is constantly enriching and endlessly satisfying.

For the longest time, Blade Runner has sat atop my favourite films, and it’s not been knocked down through any fault of its own. It gives a visceral experience and a wonderfully satisfying viewing that engages the escapist and realist elements of film-viewing. I can step back and escape into this dystopian world, while simultaneously having a reflection cast on my own views of what constitutes humanity, and how that is informed. Any film that can entertain on this many levels is not just a great film, it’s a bonafide eternal classic.

homersimpson_esq


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 46
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 11/2/2012 8:50:57 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77709
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
1. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)

Ridley Scott takes the horror film into space with his masterpiece. When the crew of the mining vessel Nostromo are awaken early from deep freeze, they discover an SOS signal emitting from a nearby planet. With orders to investigate the signal, the crew go down to the planets surface. Upon landing they soon discover a crash landed alien spacecraft, and three of the crew decide to enter the craft and find out whereabouts the signal is coming from.
They come across a valley within the spacecraft full of egg like objects and send Kane (Hurt) down on a rope to check these mysterious objects out. From here on in, all hell breaks loose as Kane is attacked by a living organism from the egg. Breaking quarantine procedures the remaining crew and the incapacitated Kane are let back onto the ship by Ash (Holm), the ship medic.
After a short time the organism releases its vice like grip and Kane seems to be OK. Back at the dining quarters all seems to be back to normal until Kane starts convulsing uncontrollably. Held down by his friends, suddenly his chest explodes in a colour of crimson and emerging from his chest is the new born Alien which promptly scurries off into the ship. After the shocking event the crew decide to hunt the alien down but soon discover they have on their hands more than they bargained for!
Scott has seriously redefined two genres here, horror and sci-fi! If it hadn't been for this film I seriously doubt there had been other cheap imitators out there! Scott's visionary skill is all on show, from the set design to lighting to special effects.
Ably supported by relative unknowns (for the time), a haunting score from Jerry Goldsmith and a truely terrifying alien, this is the epitome of two hours of pulsating and nerve shredding fun. Which sets up one of the finest series of films ever (apart from the 4th) and makes Sigourney Weaver a star.

MuckyMuckMan
.....

The crew of the commercial towing ship the Nostromo is unexpectedly awakened long before arrival back on earth. Detecting a signal from a nearby planet a team head down to find the source. Kane gets a little too close to the cause of the problem and, with the science officer's help, gets it back on the ship.

Where its sequel Aliens is one of the greatest SF actioners ever made, Alien is a horror-thriller that presents a living, breathing blue collar working environment and one of the tensest, most atmospheric, most amazingly designed horrors ever made. The brilliance of the film is anchored by a pretty eclectic cast – how often do you see a slasher where there is no dead weight on the screen? In Alien we have the heavyweight presence of two of Britain's best actors – Ian Holm and John Hurt. Cult superstar Harry Dean Stanton and the wonderful Yaphet Kotto. And Sigourney Weaver, soon to pave the way for award credibility for women in action roles.

Alien created the world that Aliens later expanded parts of – here we have the hint of the dystopian earth back home, controlled by corporations, as the company sends them down to the signal and Ash acts solely in their interests, irrespective of the safety of the crew. The opportunity for new product is more important than that. And this future is not the utopian leisure ideal – Brett and Parker are clearly at the bottom of the pile on the ship and their sole interest is getting their deserved share from anything that's found on the planet below, while bitching about their contractual terms for the current load.

Any review of Alien has to comment on Giger's stunning and oft-referenced and imitated design work. The director's cut gave us more of the alien ship and the 'gothic cathedrals' the aliens crafted to host and breed their young, but the alien design, so winningly expanded upon by Winston in the sequel, is a masterpiece in the monster genre. Both inside and out, Giger gave Scott the ultimate killing machine. And Scott, always great with visuals, took full advantage of that. We, the audience, knew it had changed from the chest buster (bits and pieces of sloughed off skin) but were as much in the dark of what it was becoming as the characters were and Scott, filming it in shadow and avoiding what is often the full on money-shot, used that to heighten the audience's adrenaline levels sky high (if you don't get a jolt when Dallas goes after it in the air ducts, you're dead!). He was also handed, rather unusually for him, a great script – O'Bannon acknowledged a wide range of sources for the ideas they brought together but the dialogue should also get a nod, particularly the interactions with Brett and Parker and the general and very authentic work/group chat.

The greatest anecdote from Alien is that they didn't tell the other actors what was going to happen to Kane during the meal, with several consistent reports that Cartwright's rather hysterical reaction as she got the full blunt of the exploding blood was genuine.

Alien scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. I still remember hiding behind a paper the first time I saw the chest bursting scene and even with years of ever gorier horrors since then the film has the same impact now because the world it creates – that claustrophobic ship and those quarrelling co-workers – gives a more convincing and terrifying depth to the story being told than any other film in the genre made since. Alien is a masterpiece of visceral excitement (that still finds time to worry about the ship cat).

elab49
.....

Two Line Synopsis: Woken early to investigate a desolate planet, the crew of the mining ship Nostromo meet an unwelcome guest. Soon it is loose on board.

Back in 1989, at the tender age of 8 my parents went out for the evening, leaving my with my eldest brother, ten years my senior. He had recently purchased a film on VHS, and he said I could watch it if I promised not to tell mum and dad. That film was Alien. I was understandably frightened, but not soul-destroyingly so. I was, fortunately, able to separate fact from fiction, and be frightened in the 'right way', as opposed to scarred for life.

Nineteen years later, and Alien remains one of my all time favourite films. It also introduced me to one of my favourite directors. Almost every aspect of this film reeks of perfection. From those stark and yet entrancing opening titles, to Jerry Goldsmith's brilliant score, to the set and prop design, to the simple yet oh-so-effective story, to the note-perfect acting, and finally to the iconic, yet-to-be-equalled alien design of H.R.Giger's. Here is a film that creates an entire world – that at which Scott reigns supreme amongst his peers – and spawned a legacy of admittedly diminishing returns. Nevertheless, taken on its own merits, one cannot dispute the raw power that Alien exudes from every frame.

At its core, Alien is little more than a slasher. One by one, the seven crew members – Kane, Brett, Dallas, Ash, Parker, Lambert, and Ripley – are picked off one by one, until only Ripley remains. (OK, Ash is 'killed' by Parker, but the alien does the rest.) However, over this simplistic framework, Scott weaves a believable future, a workable crew relationship, and a world so complete, suspension of disbelief is barely necessary. In the opening scenes, after the titles, and after the shot of the ship that beats Star Wars at its own game just two years after A New Hope was released, the computer flickers to life as Mother begins to wake the crew. The only movement is a perpetual motion drinking bird toy, and a flutter of paper in a non-specific breeze. Yet Scott manages to convey a sense of communication by flicking between the screen, and the reflection of the screen on the emergency helmet. There is an eerie sense of artificial communication, in which humans have no part. Indeed, it is an odd prolepsis of Ash and Mother's communication, as they are both artificially intelligent.

The crew speak and act as a crew would – their talk is of mundane matters such as bonus payments, idle banter and chit chat. There are clearly closer friendships and divides drawn early on. Parker clearly dislikes Ripley, for instance. Nevertheless, faced with a greater danger, these divides are cast down in a bid to work together. By simply drawing these allegiances and distances, we get a better sense of the unity against the alien in the latter scenes.

Perhaps the most purely visual film (Blade Runner has a great deal more story to it) Alien owes most of this to Giger. The gunner, the interior of the alien ship, and of course the alien itself are of such an intricate design, they are all totally believable. The organic nature of the ship extends the complex life cycle of the alien itself into an almost symbolically symbiotic-like relationship – a symbol of the actuality of the relationship between the face-hugger and the host body. It creates a fully-realised alien existence, and the entire visual feast goes towards maintaining believability within an unbelievable environment. The solidity with which we can view these events aids our emotional investment of the film, and thus increases our reaction to the brutal horror of the alien on those occasions where we snatch a glimpse of it. This is Scott's other significant decision. Where, say Jaws, four years previously showed little of the shark for aesthetic reasons, Scott's (while being partly for that reason also) main reason was to ratchet up the tension. By not seeing the alien fully, we fill in what we don't see with our worst nightmares, and as such, we create a monster more horrific than can be conceived on screen.

The acting is note perfect. From Holm's android Ash, to Weaver's increasingly desparate Ripley, through Kotto and Stanton's repartee as co-workers Parker and Brett, and good friends, there is barely a foot put wrong. Goldsmith's score serves both as emotional underline, and shock-inducing dischords, last heard in films such as Planet of the Apes. Scott's visual finesse, seen raw yet with such promise in The Duellists here is almost at its peak. An astonishingly beautiful film, its savage beauty sums up the alien itself. This is one of the finest science-fiction films ever made, and certainly the greatest horror.

homersimpson_esq



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 47
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 5/5/2012 5:30:33 AM   
Cokk

 

Posts: 6
Joined: 3/5/2012
Wou a big chart.But all in all i like your signature Gimli.
Thanks


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Catch me if you can

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 48
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 2/7/2012 1:58:52 PM   
Spectator of Suicide


Posts: 619
Joined: 16/7/2007
Some great movies. But no Impostor?!

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http://letterboxd.com/nwarde/

(in reply to Cokk)
Post #: 49
RE: Empire Forum's Top Science Fiction Films - Results! - 7/10/2012 10:34:24 AM   
Razors

 

Posts: 9
Joined: 9/5/2011
From: Auckland
I don't know, Black Sheep was a terrible movie, not top 250 stuff for sure

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 50
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