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Good Science fiction movies


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So, Il Dottore wrote elsewhere:

"Probably because it is so easy to make a bad Science Fiction film. Much of what the general public perceives as "Sci-Fi" is actually what cogniscenti call "Space Opera" and under this category come all the Star Wars films, 98%+ of the Star Trek films, Independence Day, and so on.

 

Furthermore, many of the basic "we've known about this for decades or more" science are ignored in bad SciFi films. Think hearing explosions in space (sound doesn't carry in a vacuum), consider the compatible biochemistry and anatomy seen in Star Trek (we have more in common with the common housefly than a human would have with a Romulan or other alien), imagine being able to see and dodge lasers (do the characters have eyeballs that work faster than light?) and so on...

 

And we haven't even gotten to the story...."

 

To the chase, what are your good science fiction movies - not space opera romps or apt to ignore known science - which offer a plot shaped by technologies and techniques not yet known/available/practical, and exploring where that might take us.

 

A couple of my faves, The Thirteenth Floor, and Serenity.

 

The Thirteenth Floor unfortunately came out almost simultaneously with The Matrix, and got buried. It too explores the 'what is reality' theme but with respect to a total immersion simulator 'game' and is somewhat more subtle, nuanced and coherent than The Mishmash (why do the sentient programmes have 'body death' when hit by bullets, they don't believe in the physical reality of the simulation so can mash Neo into pulp, instanter) and also offering rather calmer and better effects work as a bonus.

 

As for Serenity, a good plot masked by what appears to be a space opera transferring the wild frontier of post US civil war into the vasty void. Could we invent a drug that eliminates human naughtiness but has unexpected dire side effects? Would a paternalistic totalitarian government possibly try to conceal this awkward truth from its citizens? Could we fit up people with latent capabilities and programming that can be remotely triggered to make them into a devastating weapon? (I am going to excuse the 'bad science in space' of space ship propulsion plant vapour trails clearly drifting in a gaseous medium, because the auteur had all too little cash to make the movie, and I suspect this was an effect that just had to be lived with. Think of it as zeem particulates radiating in the ergon flux - or something. )

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Good call with Silent Running.

 

My choice:

 

2001 A Space Odyssey.

 

(Which prompted me to find a quote from the film via http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062622/quotes )

 

[on Dave's return to the ship, after HAL has killed the rest of the crew]

HAL: Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.

 

Which could be used on umpteen threads on RMw - obviously substituting "Dave" as required!

 

Cheers,

Mick

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Guest Moria

Bladerunner and Silent Running.

 

great calls on both of those.

 

Would also have to support Serenity

 

and to add something new.. AeonFlux

 

Regards

 

Graham

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I liked Westworld, but for some reason didn't like Jurasic Park very much. From the same era as Westworld does Rollerball count as science fiction? If so, it would get my vote.

Andy

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Real Science Fiction is not only about future technology (or the technology of the "day after tomorrow"), but also about future societies and how humans adapt (or don't - as the case may be)

 

Fahrenheit 451 is, I think, a very serious contender. Whilst the film (by Truffaut with Oskar Werner and Julie Christie) has a 60s feel, the premise behind the film (and the original novel) about how television and censorship together destroy reading, books, literature and the knowledge therein (in no particular order) is very relevant today. The Man Who Fell To Earth is an exploration of aliens amongst us.

 

Bladerunner, of course. The original Alien, whilst having a FTL drive in the background (definitely the day after the day after the day after tomorrow technology), was an interesting speculation on future corporate greed and human-xenomorph interaction.... (humanity is [can be] the nastiest, most destructive and aggressive species we know of, but what if there is worse out there???)

 

2001: A Space Oddysey was mentioned and I nominate Peter Hyam's 2010 as another decent Science Fiction film.

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John Carpenter's 'Starman' 1984, with Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen

 

Quote :-

 

Starman (JB), to Jenny Hayden (KA) "I watched you, very carefully... Red light,..Stop,... Green light,..Go,.... Yellow light,....Go very fast",

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Controversial as it may be, I'd like to mention Dune - both the film and Frank Herbert's series of novels at the base of it. I am finding it to be quite interesting in its premise of humanity having developed into a new kind of feudal society in the distant future, which I am finding to be a rather harsh deviation from democracy which we tend to see as an ideal in our time. Then again, I do not think there is any rule which says that this view must last forever.

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In my mind there are 3 kinds of Sc-Fi,

1) Straight forward sc-fi (Silent Running)

2) Science - Fantasy ( Star Wars)

3) Science-Horror ( Alien)

 

I dont care much for films the last 2. But I must admit I did enjoy the 'Babylon 5', 'Lexx', and 'Farscape' tv series, Lexx, and Farscape because they were ( to me) amusing, but dismayed with Farscape poor ending because of being axed.

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I saw 2001 at the old Cinerama cinema in Soho (Old Compton Street?) and was impressed by the effects (and the smell of grass in the auditorium) but didn't really enjoy it.

 

Recently I saw "The Time Traveller's Wife" on TV over here and did enjoy it (though not as much as the book) even though it was Sci Fi for Oprah! It made me think and was quite well filmed.

 

Best, Pete.

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Controversial as it may be, I'd like to mention Dune - both the film and Frank Herbert's series of novels at the base of it. I am finding it to be quite interesting in its premise of humanity having developed into a new kind of feudal society in the distant future, which I am finding to be a rather harsh deviation from democracy which we tend to see as an ideal in our time. Then again, I do not think there is any rule which says that this view must last forever.

It was a pity that the film realisation wasn't better. Done to Peter Jackson LOTR quality it could be stunning. The book plot fully lives up to the 'societal impact of new scientific method and the resulting technologies' requirement. And it is very satisfactory in also developing the usually ignored 'religion' aspect (notably also present in Serenity) something which most sci-fi authors and auteurs tend to presume is left behind, should we get off this ball of rock.

 

Personally I think that a wildly erroneous premise, along with the 'democracy inevitably prevails' trope. What limited evidence we have suggests a cyclic movement between autocratic and more democratic forms of government; we just happen to be lucky living in the developed world that democracy is near the peak point of the cycle at present.

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I saw 2001 at the old Cinerama cinema in Soho (Old Compton Street?) and was impressed by the effects (and the smell of grass in the auditorium) but didn't really enjoy it.

 

Best, Pete.

 

I saw it at the Odeon in Neasden, I was eleven at the time and thought it quite the most wonderful thing I had ever seen, my dad had taken me to see it, and thought it a waste of time, I remember sitting in the Wimpey bar next door hearing him complain about "10 minutes of nothing but colours"

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In my mind there are 3 kinds of Sc-Fi,

1) Straight forward sc-fi (Silent Running)

2) Science - Fantasy ( Star Wars)

3) Science-Horror ( Alien)

Whilst this is a neat classification, the original premise of the thread is that there ought to be a modicum of science (or no flouting of scientific laws) in Science Fiction and your second category (usually) has neither a modicum of science or adherence to scientifc law...

 

Another point, which I didn't make in my original post (quoted above) is that the story should make sense. Returning to Star Wars, why send human clones (who - presumably have the same human characteristics [and emotions and feelings???] as the original human template) against the battle droids? Rather like sending waves of BEF Tommies against dug-in machine gun nests, a waste of life. As for Star Trek's Mr Spock - a Human-Vulcan hybrid, biologically a human-simian hybrid is much more feasible and likely given the shared amount DNA between us humans and the great apes. Of course, there is the Science Fiction premise (which I don't ever recall being referred to in Star Trek) that all humanoid races in the Galaxy derive from a humanoid diaspora from one original home planet (Larry Niven has some interesting riffs on this theme).

 

Mind you, with the obligatory "wham, blam, zap, kapow" demanded by Hollywood nowadays (or so it seems), Space Opera does make for entertaining camera fodder, But It Ain't Real Sci-Fi (if I may be so dogmatic)

 

F

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Gattaca

Code 46

Sunshine

Moon

Another big yes for "Moon". A nicely low-key story, which builds nicely, whilst sticking reasonably well to realistic developments in science. I won't say just which branch of science, because that might spoil the story!

 

Controversial as it may be, I'd like to mention Dune - both the film and Frank Herbert's series of novels at the base of it. I am finding it to be quite interesting in its premise of humanity having developed into a new kind of feudal society in the distant future, which I am finding to be a rather harsh deviation from democracy which we tend to see as an ideal in our time. Then again, I do not think there is any rule which says that this view must last forever.

Now, sorry to say, I found the "Dune" books to be the most pretentious load of twaddle I'd read in a long time. I forced myself to read all 6, to see if anything important happened, but as far as I could tell, nothing did. I felt so cheated by the whole thing that I gave the books away as soon as I could after that. However, since this thread is focussed on movies, I'll shut up!

 

I enjoyed "Serenity", although it was pretty far-fetched, but that's mainly because I loved "Firefly" so much, and wanted just one last fix of that under-rated TV show.

 

"Capricorn One" is a film I always enjoy rewatching. I guess you might not call it Sci-Fi, but I would, even though it's about a lack of science putting the Mars mission in jeopardy.

 

For sheer bangs-to-buck ration, I'd have to say that my favourite Sci-Fi movie of recent years is "Primer". What do you mean, you've never heard of it? Actually, don't worry, virtually no-one has. Allegedly made for a few thousand dollars, this is a film that makes you think more than than you usually have to. I defy anyone to understand everything first time around, but it's short enough that you can give it 2 or 3 goes.

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Of course, there is the Science Fiction premise (which I don't ever recall being referred to in Star Trek) that all humanoid races in the Galaxy derive from a humanoid diaspora from one original home planet .

 

It was initially alluded to in the Classic Series episode Return to Tomorrow, and formed premise of the Next Generation Season 6 episode 'The Chase'.

 

I've more than one anorak in my closet...

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Total Recall is a bit OTT I will admit but has some interesting ideas in amongest all the whizz bangs (Based on a short story 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale' from the same author as 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sleep' that inspired BladeRunner)

 

One that seems to have slipped through the net and become regarded as a box office bomb or just never heard of beyond the fact it was one of the most expensive straight to DVD releases in the UK is a little known Kurt Russell film called 'Soldier' which is apparently set in the same paralell time line and universe as Blade Runner, okay it's not perfect but it does work for me.

 

One Arnie film that is quasi sci-fi and was way ahead of its time as far as I was concerned was The Running Man, far fetched back in the day with its story of meglamaniacal super media empires with the Government in their pockets producing world wide game shows based on violence and potential death whilst manipulating the news in the Governmen's favour. These days it would almost class as a documentary...

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