May 11, 2013

"The Top 5 Underrated Sci-Fi Movie Masterpieces."

Come on. Let's watch "Primer." And "Dark City." And "Gattaca."


traditionalguy said...

The winner should be An Inconvenient Truth. That one is pure illusions.

Leeatmg said...

I've seen three of the five, and have to agree with Gattaca, Serenity, and Dark City. Guess I should see the other two.

Big Mike said...

Go Serenity! Go Summer Glau!!!

Pianoman said...

I've seen them all, and the only quibble is Gattaca. It has a great SF idea (genetic societal stratification), but the story itself isn't that interesting IMHO.

I don't disagree with the top picks at all. Primer is incredible, and Dark City is fantastic if you're a fan of the Matrix. Serenity is the perfect wrap-up to the Firefly TV series. The dude is right -- Silent Running is preachy, but the imagery is amazing. Very Kubrick.

I'd replace Gattaca with District 9.

LarsPorsena said...

Burn the earth,
Boil the sea,
Your can't take the sky from me.

rhhardin said...

Doberman SciFi created on a shoestring just an hour ago.

The creation of the universe and the destruction of cattle.

Ann Althouse said...

The only one I've seen is "Dark City" which I remember liking but I don't remember the revelations about what the hell was going on.

Time to watch it again!

Dante said...

I didn't care for Gattaca. It's on the wrong side of the "Omega Step," and tries to provide this lame excuse of human perseverance as the answer to why an obviously inferior person should be deemed worthy.

Luddites made this film.

Æthelflæd said...
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Æthelflæd said...

I loved Gattaca. It is one of the most memorable films I've ever seen. It made a huge impression on me.

Pianoman said...

For those who are interested in "Serenity", you really need to watch the Firefly TV series first. Otherwise you won't have any idea what the hell is going on.

@AA: If "Dark City" didn't make an impression on you, then maybe SF just isn't your thing.

Freeman Hunt said...

I've always liked Gattaca.

Freeman Hunt said...

Haven't seen Primer. Rented. Will watch soon.

Mark said...

A Boy and his Dog

Schorsch said...

An excellent list. Dark City left me cold on the first viewing, though, because the average shot duration is maybe 1 second. No time to appreciate the sci-noir world they created.

Firefly and Serenity are the best possible space opera. Rich characters, real emotion, and good stories that are improved by setting them in space. Not remotely "hard" sci-fi, but the philosophical question that intrigues me most about sci-fi is how human nature plays out in the oddest situations.

Big Mike said...

Pianoman is right. Recommend you go through the Althouse Amazon portal and get the Firefly DVD right away.

Bonus is that one of the episodes includes nude scenes by one of the characters. Downside is that it's Nathan Fillion.

St. George said...


Dir. John Frankenheimer.

Starring Rock Hudson and Will Geer.


Black & white.

Really darn scary.

Lem said...

Loved them.

bagoh20 said...
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damikesc said...

Yeah, Gattaca was decent, but given that the leads bore the shit out of me, it is hurt. Kinda bland, but good. I liked Dark City and Serenity was really good.

For those who are interested in "Serenity", you really need to watch the Firefly TV series first. Otherwise you won't have any idea what the hell is going on.

I've never seen "Firefly" and still liked it.

That is pretty high praise.

Jim Gust said...

Loved Gattaca. The scariest part, the Gattaca world is now just about visible on the horizon. The valid babies (genetically engineered) and the faith babies (let God do the choosing), we are rapidly approaching that possibility. The murder mystery was weak, but the world-as-character was great. "We're just taking the best of both of you, to make your baby." Who could say no?

Also loved District 9.

bagoh20 said...
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bagoh20 said...

I can't believe they ignored "Chupacabra vs. the Alamo" staring Erik Estrada.

John Lynch said...

I watched Serenity cold, and then watched Firefly. It was fine that way.

John Burgess said...

@St. George: At one time I would have agreed with you about "Seconds". I watched it again a couple of years ago and, sadly, it really doesn't hold up.

Of the list on offer, "Dark City" is certainly the best.

Synova said...

Silent Running is the most moronic piece of complete crap ever foisted upon a population that couldn't grow a tomato to save their lives. Oh. My. GAWD.

What's wrong with the plants? Oh, noes! They are dyyyyinggg!!!

The brilliant amazing problem solving? Plants. Need. Light.


erictrimmer said...


TerriW said...

My browser is all goofballed right now so I can't see the link and/or clip, but I will say that if "Moon" is not on that list, it should be. Moon was fantastic and I can't believe how many people haven't seen it/even heard of it. I do love me some Sam Rockwell.

So much better than its very recent (I dare not mention by name because of major spoilers) rip-off.

chuck said...

I've only seen serenity and thought it rather silly. Fun, but ridiculous.

Synova said...

I hadn't seen Dark City or Primer.

I think that Serenity works if you come to it cold. No need to see the tv episodes first. There's some smart story changes made between the two so you may as well just go with the movie first.

Still, and as much as I'm a major fan, Serenity seems like a weird movie to have on the list.

erictrimmer said...

Moon was great. Kind of ignored by the public, but it got good reviews.

Source Code, by the same director, was also very good, but I avoided it for a long time because I thought it would be all fluff. Turned out to be very thought provoking.

Here's two more for the list: Sunshine and Star Trek The Motion Picture.

Skyler said...

Gattaca is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Synova said...

GATTACA is an excellent movie but it's sort of low-key. (No exploding helicopters.) Intellectual, you know.

I won't say its a great movie but if "under-rated" is a relative measure... I sort of liked Priest.

Does anyone remember how truly awful the reviews for the Matrix were when it came out?

Lem said...

When I said "Loved them", I meant the ones Althouse listed.

I'm watching the video now.

Astro said...

I've seen 4 of them; haven't seen Dark City. Nor have I seen The Fountain he mentions at the start, which is not one of the 5.
Serenity is the best, IMHO. Though I'm not sure it's 'underrated' but rather just unknown. The people who've seen it rate it very highly.
Silent Running is also amazing. I saw that when it first came out (Before Star Wars; its robots were the inspiration, I'm sure, for R2D2). Though, I saw it again a few years ago and it is a bit dated.
I fell asleep halfway through Gattaca, so I give it a thumbs down.
Primer was very good, but I'd forgotten that I'd seen it 'til I saw this clip, so I'd give it a thumb sideways.

My pick for most underrated SciFi movie (after Serenity) would be 'Pi', also by Aronofsky. I watch it a couple times per year and I have the soundtrack. Perfect gem of a movie. Though maybe it also would be better described as 'unknown' rather than underrated.

Lem said...

Gattaca is the kind of film Soderbergh says Hollywood doesn't want to make any more.

Too much ambiguity is not what the people want.

Terry said...

Gattaca is so good it almost isn't sci fi. What a great cast.
I saw "Iron Sky" a few weeks ago. Remnant Nazis on a secret moonbase invade the earth. wickedly funny.

Skyler said...

I think I'd add Aeon Flux to the list of underrated sci fi movies. It's visually gorgeous.

Skyler said...

Serenity, as much as I like it, seems an odd addition, simply because I don't feel it is an under-rated movie. It's quite popular.

Æthelflæd said...

I loved the Firefly series. Serenity was okay.

Lem said...

Solaris started out well... I liking the really slow pace and no soundtrack lending to the idea of being there, in the movie.

But then the ending left me thinking that the movie was more about the experience of it than anything else. It didn't have much of a plot nor dialog.

AprilApple said...

Dark City is fantastic.
Ending is a tad corny - but the whole concept is creepy and refreshing.

AprilApple said...

Plus- Rufus Sewell is smoking hot.

betamax3000 said...

I am circling the Earth eating Space Coconuts.

Astro said...

How about the flip side, most overrated?
My pick, far and away, would be 'Contact'. God, what a POS; maybe the only Jody Foster movie I ever really detested.
I wanted to reach into that time chamber thing when she kept whining 'I'm okay' and smack and and tell her to grow a pair and shut up. Lame meaningless ending too. I know I should not be surprised since it was written by the immensely overrated Carl Sagan.

Bender said...

Once again, someone has a different definition of something than what it usually means.

Four of these were not underrated at all (never heard of Primer). A couple were pretty highly rated -- maybe that's why they were such disappointments when actually seen, e.g. Silent Running, and Gattaca was rather meh.

Chip Ahoy said...

Gattaca is excellent. It is a deeply moving and foreboding film that depicts the classic struggle of man against man and triumph of human spirit over adversity and the persistence of will against all odds and the fight against injustices including ridicule and discouragement from those closest. (I just made that up)

And everybody is very good looking too.

But you know what? The Dark City sounds fantastic. I just now read about it all over the place to see if I can be surprised enough with the surprise ending and it turns out I can!

AprilApple said...

Gattaca was excellent. Gattaca and Dark City are the only two on the list that I've watched. I'm intrigued about the others.

Writ Small said...

The ones I've seen I find appropriately-rated.

Among the geeky, the Firefly series and Serenity are overrated. If you go into it expected 1960's TV Western plots redone as sci-fi, you'll be less disappointed.

Gattaca crawls along and takes itself far too seriously.

Primer dealt with invention and time travel in a way that felt authentic and fresh respectively, but the production values and acting reflected the film's low, low budget. You will not get your non-nerd significant other to sit through this one.

fivewheels said...

I always liked Gattaca because it was legit science fiction and not space opera. It's thoughtful, but it's not really a great movie.

I love Firefly; I don't find Serenity underrated. Dark City may be underappreciated these days, but underrated? Ebert made it his #1 movie of the year when it came out.

AprilApple said...

I like the nightmarish quality of Dark City. Not like a cliché Hollywood nightmare, but an actual nightmare. I like the architecture... growing and changing.

bagoh20 said...

OK, guess I'll have to rent Dark City. I saw it when it first came out, but I've forgotten more than I remember.

oleh said...

Lem... You're named Lem yet no comment on how Solaris matches up to the book? I think favorably. Lem the author shortchanged his book by staying it is abut the impossibility of communication with the Alien... The book, like the movie is about regret...of all sorts. Kind of like inception and memento. Primer was incredible. Pi a joy. Moon Kubrickian... In style anyway. Sunshine was two thirds of a great movie.

I think Gattaca is underrated. At the very least it is beautiful people in a darkly beatiful future. A man and his dog had a great punchline.

William said...

I think I saw all five of those movies and have forgotten every one. Very few movies lodge in one's consciousness......Many people don't know this but before he was Governor of California, Arnold Schwartzenegger was a big movie star. He made one movie, Total Recall, that was really great. The plot was a perfect mobius strip that turned in on itself. It's impossible to tell whether you're sharing his fantasy or his reality. The special effects were prety good for their time, but Colin Farrell's far inferior version had better special effects....Sometimes the special effects are so wow that they make plot points and character development irrelevant. Avatar and John Carter on Mars were weak films in terms of plot and star presence, but the special effects were so awesome that it didn't matter. In the first Matrix, the plot and special effects were entwined and enhanced each other. In the other Matrix movies, the theology got way too complicated and silly......The people who design special effects in general have way more imagination than screenwriters.

Broomhandle said...

Primer was great. Watch it, then watch it with the commentary on, then watch it again. Didn't care for the others on the list. THX-1138 and Blade Runner are probably my all time faves.

furious_a said...

Dark Star, when the crewman goes on a spacewalk to explain Phenomenology to the bomb.


A Boy and His Dog. Fo-shizzle.

BDNYC said...

Predator is my favorite popcorn flick. It's damn near flawless, for what it is. It's an action film, but it involved extraterrestrials. I like it much better than any sci-fi film, but I don't think it's great as a sci-fi film. It doesn't really make you think. You just relax your mind and let the violence and explosions wash over you.

bagoh20 said...

Now watching Dark City on Amazon - smart TV - 48 hour rental - $2.99

A brave new world.

Synova said...

My vote for *over* rated... Inception. The whole thing was far too self-aware of its own cleverness. Total Recall (the original) was better. And I can't remember the name of the other Phillip K. Dick one that was made about the same time, but the one that dealt with free will (and chase scenes right out of Scooby-doo.) That one was maybe not rated that high to start with.

I never did see the other Dick movie (and I forgot the name of that one too) where everyone was young and worked for time, and when you ran out of time you died. I had sort of wanted to see that one.

Tomorrow we're going to Iron Man for the youngest kid's birthday movie.

Astro said...

Along the lines of Serenity, a movie that I think IS actually underrated is Cowboys And Aliens.
The preview I saw made it look kinda shlocky, but it was actually pretty well plotted, had really good effects and some great acting. It had good tension at times and was overall a lot of fun to watch.

And I might as well add that I liked John Carter. I think the movie was quite a bit better than most of the reviews said. I think the big budget prejudiced their expectations; the money was spent on well-done, complicated effects rather than on an endless stream of pyrotechnics. (Not enough bang for their bucks, so to speak.)

Astro said...

Synova - Blade Runner was a P K Dick novel/movie 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'.

Synova said...

Adjustment Bureau...

Okay, I have no idea why I thought Inception was Philip K. Dick. Maybe because I paired it up with Total Recall in my head.

And the time one wasn't his either. I just can't remember what the title of it was so I can't look it up.

Synova said...

Cowboys and Aliens was definitely underrated. It was a terrific movie.

It had a flaw, though... while watching it the movie was compelling, riveting even, every moment. But when it got over it was all... meh.

What I think happened was... they never figured out whose story it was and on account of that the end really didn't have any of the punch it should have had.

But it was a far far better movie than the reviews and everything.

Synova said...

I feel like I should say it again... there was A LOT to the movie Cowboys and Aliens. It's a shame so many people seem to have been put off by the "Cowboys and Aliens" part of it.

gadfly said...

Nathan Fillion became a folk hero with his role as Captain Mal Reynolds of the spaceship Serenity. And if you remember, his popularity just about did in a Professor at UW-Stout who hung a Fillion poster on his office door which quoted a line from "Firefly."

"You don't know me son, so let me explain this to you once; If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You will be facing me. You will be armed."

The entire "Firefly" TV series is available to watch for free by Amazon Prime members

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saint Croix said...

My Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies

Star Wars
Minority Report
La Jetee
Ghost in the Shell
The Empire Strikes Back
Men in Black
The 10th Victim
2001: A Space Odyssey
Blade Runner

The Time Traveler’s Wife
Galaxy Quest
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jurassic Park
Donnie Darko
The Thing
Alien Nation

Star Trek IV
The Thirteenth Floor
Star Trek VI
Out There
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
The Matrix
Being John Malkovich

The Road Warrior
12 Monkeys
Cube 2: Hypercube
THX 1138
Invaders From Mars
Dark City
The Thing From Another World

Return of the Jedi
Demolition Man
Source Code
The City of Lost Children
Back to the Future
War of the Worlds

Vampire Hunter D
The Andromeda Strain
Bio Hunter
Vanilla Sky
Revenge of the Sith
The Final Cut
Logan’s Run
Terminator II
The Truman Show

Cowboys and Aliens
The Hunger Games
John Carter
The Attack of the Clones
Star Trek II
Independence Day
Star Trek
Pitch Black

The Terminator
Fahrenheit 451
Planet of the Apes
Final Fantasy
The Animatrix

I, Robot
Robot and Frank
Time After Time
Fantastic Planet
Total Recall
Starship Troopers
Escape From New York

Alien Resurrection
Quatermass and the Pit
The Fly

Jeff Teal said...

Synova are you talking about that JT "masterpiece" "In Time"?I've seen four of the five and can't agree about Gattaca(great concept badly done)I loved Dark City and Serenity but I've watched Silent Running too many times and it wears on me.

Chip Ahoy said...

Thank you for having Stargate on your comprehensive list. I notice you do not have Dune. Hang on *checks* nope.

My favorite part where he jabs the shovel-hook into the worm's scale and cranks it open causing discomfort which enacts an autonomic-worm-response to rotate away from the discomfort thus dragging up the guy who stabbed it with the shovel-tool so that he arrives on top and steers the worm in the desired direction. That was cool

And the other part where he goes to his other worm-riding freemen soldiers, "There's a storm coming."


Dramatically, "Our storm."

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the shouts are drowned out by the storm.

And before that his new freeman girlfriend goes, "Tell me about your homeworld Usul." And he was all silently thinking, "Aaaah MAN, I KNEW she was going to say that!!!1!1111" In his strange inner thinking combined bene gesserit training and Maud'Dib prescience.

Chip Ahoy said...

One of my sites gets traffic by the unusual search "Dune cat rat device," "cat rat taped together Harkonnen," or some such, some odd such. It's a page about a veggie burger fail. The page gets traffic specifically for that too, not much, but it is an odd page, and an odd subject that I wrote about. That bit was in the movie not in the book, that's what I wrote about here, sort of a rant at the bottom of a veggie burger fail page.

I'm imagining young teenage boys looking for it. I don't know. It's perverse.

Joan said...

Loved John Carter, great popcorn flick, a throwback almost, considering the plot, but it's just so gorgeous. Definitely underrated.

I'm with the Professor on Dark City -- I know I saw it, but I don't remember anything about it. I do not think Serenity is underrated -- I loved it -- but it's too popular to be underrated.

I believe that District 9 was a well-deserved critical hit, so it isn't underrated, either.

Funny how some people love Gattaca and others not -- I finally say it (and Priest...) just recently and enjoyed them both for what they were.

Why do people waste their time criticizicing movies for being the type of movie they are? For example, do not go to a Baz Luhrman movie and be upset about his anachronistic use of music. It's what he does. (My daughter saw Gatsby already and loved it, I'm looking forward to it, in spite of negative reviews.)

Joan said...

Chip: it is not possible to love Dune the movie. If it is, I don't want to know about it. If I had to pick a favorite book? That would be pretty near the top of the list, still.

Christy said...

Is The Fifth Element underrated?

I was surprised by how much I liked John Carter, what with the lousy reviews and my being bored with the books.

Dark City didn't do much for me, in spite of my serious Rufus Sewel crush.

I've never understood the problem people have with cowboys in space. Strikes me that the economics of colonizing the stars would initially favor horses and farmers over manufacturing equipment needed to set up an industrial society.

Can one love GATTACCA and still find it incredibly slow?

I do love Buckaroo Bonsai.

stlcdr said...

These movies aren't 'underrated'. They are simply not movies that can be comprehended by the unwashed masses ;)

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm with the Professor on Dark City -- I know I saw it, but I don't remember anything about it."

I remember some thing about it, just not the solution to the mystery.

I remember the city constantly changing.

Nomennovum said...

I agree with Elthelfled. Firefly was a great series, watchable over and over. Serenity tried too hard to stretch an hour episode into a feature-length movie. I enjoyed it but it didn't have the same feel.

Dark City was great. The ending was powerful,. I really enjoyed Gattaca, as well. It's just the sort of oppressive and statified society I could see ours turning into.

Nomennovum said...

Re: Gattaca

"Stratified" society isn't exactly the right term, when aI society is engineered into perfect humans, with the imperfect, non-engineered ones left on the absolute bottom rung, I suppose. It's stratified with only two layers.

sinz52 said...

One interesting movie that few in America have heard of is "Ikarie XB-1."

Years before Gene Roddenberry thought up Star Trek, some folks in Czechoslovakia (!!) had the same idea.

The movie is basically Czech Trek.

Skyler said...

Okay, I watched Primer last night. Brilliant. I'll need to watch that several more times to understand it.

But this morning I'm half way into Silent Running and about to turn it off. Bruce Dern's acting is painfully bad. The plot is so stupid. I'm not sure how anyone can possibly like this.

Astro said...

@ Saint Croix

--Sorry, but a list that includes Independence Day and doesn't include 2 of the greatest sci fi flicks ever made, Forbidden Planet and The Day The Earth Stood Still, is a fatally flawed list.

Forbidden Planet is a brilliant sci fi version of the Shakespeare play The Tempest. The Day The Earth Stood Still (the original, of course) is a morality play about 'the bomb' where a Jesus-like figure meets Einstein.

Widmerpool said...

Here are some overlooked ones:

After Life

Never Let Me Go

The Bothersome Man

THX 1138

Sorry- thought Primer hugely overrated.

gerry said...

I've only seen The Fountain. It's not Sci-Fi. It's fantasy. It's also boring postmodern, new-age, pop-same-old.

Astro said...

THX 1138. One of Lucas' 3 best movies. The other two, American Graffiti and Star Wars, both make reference to it. (A license plate number, and the 'name' of one of the imperial storm troopers.)

creeley23 said...

I dislike watching a five-minute video for info I could have read in less than five seconds. Apparently this list is:

Dark City
Silent Running

Being a Firefly fan, I enjoyed Serenity but it felt like what it was -- an effort to tie off a long arc TV show in 90 minutes. They had to develop River far too quickly.

Silent Running wasn't much of a joy even when I was stoned in the seventies. If we're going this route, I'll take Dark Star.

Dark City had a great look but I don't remember anything beyond that and my reaction that it was somewhat unpleasant.

Primer I just remember finding disappointing.

Gattaca had great ideas and an important subject, and it was well-done. I'll watch that again.

creeley23 said...

Science fiction is a surprisingly fragile film genre. Not many really work and we seem to be in a trough for good sci-fi. Too many of them, like Abrams' "Super 8," just recycle and repackage bits of old movies. Then there's "Prometheus" which is on my list of most-botched movies of all time.

I'd agree with those above that "John Carter" and "Cowboys and Aliens" were better than the reviews.

Phil 3:14 said...

Love Dark City, especially the asthmatic Dr. Schreber.

jr565 said...

Gattaca! Gattaca!
Oh, wait, wrong movie.

Attica! Attica!
but that wasn't sci fi.

Skyler said...

I've never been able to make it all the way through THX.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...


A slight movie (i.e. looks low budget and cheesy) , but with some laugh out loud moments that were literally laugh out loud and not just chuckle inducing.

Brawndo. It's what plants crave. It's got electrolytes.

Idiocracy - Brawndo

jr565 said...

The hero from Idiocracy visiting a doctor:
Idiocracy - Doctors visit

The doctors diagnosis - "it says on your chart you're f*cked up. You talk like a fag and your sh*ts all retarded"
I just love the idea that in the future that "your shits all retarded" would be an actual diagnosis from a doctor.

Skyler said...

Someone mentioned "Moon."

I'll add my vote for that one too.

jr565 said...

Welcome to Costco. I love you.

jr565 said...

Noone mentioned Clockwork Orange in their Best Sci Fi list?

jr565 said...

Synova wrote:
What's wrong with the plants? Oh, noes! They are dyyyyinggg!!!

The brilliant amazing problem solving? Plants. Need. Light.


No, plants need Brawndo. Its' got electrolytes.

Synova said...

"... plants need Brawndo."

Heh. ;)

The truly funny thing was that Idiocracy was being funny on purpose and Silent Running was trying to be *deep*.

Skyler said...

Jr, it's a lit of under rated sci if. A Clockwork Orange is not under rated, it's a well recognized classic.

Saint Croix said...

I left off E.T.! Oops. It's #13.

Sayyid said...

"How about the flip side, most overrated?"

Gattaca. I'll save everyone the slog through that pile of crap: imagine your stereotypical heart-strings-pulling-but-nothing-actually-there "handicapped hero overcomes adversity and achieves his dream" plot line. Twist it so that the hero's "handicap" is that he's not a genetically engineered superhuman -- he's just a non-engineered genius scientist whose "normal dream" isn't to buy a house or run a marathon or whatever, it's to pilot a rocket mission to Saturn.

In the end, he achieves his dream, just like every archetypal movie in this overdone genre.

There. There's no reason for you to watch the movie now. It's 106 minutes of goes-nowhere drama bludgeoning you with the question "what if you couldn't live up to society's arbitrary standards, wouldn't you want to be able to succeed, too?"

The only pseudo-original idea in the movie is that its pretentious self-loving audience will identify even more with the protagonist than Forrest Gump, because the protagonist is even more similar to them than Forrest Gump. After all, he's a smart, rich, liberal white.

Ann Althouse said... "I remember some thing about it, just not the solution to the mystery. I remember the city constantly changing."

You remember the good part. Cue the "history channel Aliens guy" meme picture.

Saint Croix said...

My 100 Worst Sci-Fi Movies

The Star Wars Holiday Special
Until the End of the World
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone
The Last Starfighter
The Fly II

Making Mr. Right
Meet the Applegates
The Lawnmower Man
Invaders From Mars
Johnny Mnemonic
My Stepmother is an Alien
Enemy Mine

Dark Star
Plan 9 From Outer Space
The Omega Man
Star Trek V

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Slaughterhouse Five
Silent Running
Village of the Damned
The Time Machine (remake)
Fiend Without a Face
Mad Max
Back to the Future, Part II
Alien 3

Space Jam
Mission to Mars
Men in Black II
Star Trek: Generations
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Bed Sitting Room
Capricorn One

Planet of the Vampires
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The Time Machine
A Clockwork Orange
Mars Attacks!
The Butterfly Effect
The Postman

The Black Hole
The Stepford Wives
Cool World
Star Trek: First Contact
Deep Impact
Eyes of Laura Mars
They Live

Time Bandits
The Phantom Menace
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Who Wants to Kill Jessie?
Time Cop

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Tron: Legacy
Short Circuit
Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Heavy Metal
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
Twilight Zone: The Movie
Open Your Eyes
The Cell
Fantastic Voyage

Saint Croix said...

My rant on A Clockwork Orange...

Stanley Kubrick sees Singin' in the Rain and he thinks, "rape!" What an idiot. Clockwork Orange makes me vomit. I don't know if Kubrick at this point in his career is a deranged feminist or a misogynist or just hates humanity in general. The rape scene is probably the single most offensive scene I have seen from a major artist. Part of what makes Kubrick a great artist is his OCD and part of what makes him an awful artist is his OCD. This film is like a paranoid's nightmare. "They're going to take my free will from me!" Wrap some tin foil around your head, Stanley. And don't watch movies with scotch tape on your eyelids, cause that's how they control your thoughts.

Saint Croix said...

Close Encounters...

I'm a huge Spielberg fan but this movie, which I finally saw 30 years after everyone else, kinda underwhelmed me. I've read that Spielberg keeps re-editing it, so maybe he's unhappy with it too. Dreyfuss gets really mentally ill in the middle of the picture, and it's played for laughs which is kind of creepy and doesn't work. Kind of reminded me of A Beautiful Mind. Except Dreyfuss doesn't have a beautiful mind, he's more like Moron With a Big Mound of Dirt in His Living Room. And what's up with the aliens, who are supposed to be good guys, kidnapping a little kid?

Alien #1: "Captain, look what I found. Can I keep him?"

Alien Captain: "Damn it, we're supposed to be on a mission of peace, and you're kidnapping small boys."

Alien #1: "I thought maybe you'd want to probe him."

Alien Captain: "No! Mission of peace!"

Meanwhile the kid's mom is insanely happy whenever she sees the UFO. I personally think she should have armed herself with an Uzi and gone after the bug-eyed monsters who stole her son.

The other interesting aspect is how completely annoying Spielberg imagines suburban life to be. Dreyfuss' kids aren't cute or fun. They're evil and loud. And they have no interest in movies from the 1940s. Dreyfuss has a completely annoying family, and he retreats into his fantasy obsession about UFOs to avoid them. And then he gets to leave on a UFO and abandon his family altogether. It's supposed to be a happy ending. I guess because his kids are obnoxious we're just supposed to forget about them? I half-expected the mom to run up to the starship yelling, "What about child support?!"

Some of the strongest moments in Spielberg's cinema comes from fathers worried about their children. Roy Scheider worried about his kid in the ocean, Craig T. Nelson worried about his kid in the television. Maybe that's why I was so shocked by the deadbeat dad in Close Encounters. Worst parent ever. I wonder how much of Spielberg's pro-child cinema in the early 80's is a reaction to the selfish and really crappy dad in this movie?

Saint Croix said...

The Day the Earth Stood Still...

I don’t like him. I don’t like him at all. The only alien I really like is E.T. He’s got big eyes. And a big heart that glows. If you want me to like you, alien, you got to be likable. You’re a damn white humanoid. You never smile. Why should I like you? “I just came here to save you from yourselves.” Gee, thanks, Mr. Authoritarian.

I swear, if Kirk and Spock went around to distant planets with the express purpose of telling all the aliens what to do, they would get the crap kicked out of them on a daily basis. And I would applaud! Why don’t you mind your own damn business? And take your robot with you. I don’t like your robot, either. Damn didactic alien.

Balfegor said...

Coming a bit late, but apart from the recommendations already in thread, I'd recommmend Wings of Honneamise. It's an old anime, but it has a weird charm. It's an alternate-universe story of the development of spaceflight.

Revenant said...

Stanley Kubrick sees Singin' in the Rain and he thinks, "rape!" What an idiot.

Um, no. Kubrick asked Malcolm McDowell (who played Alex) to sing something during the rape scene, to emphasize how the character of Alex considered rape to be light-hearted fun. *McDowell* picked "Singing in the Rain" not because he identified it with rape but because it was the only song he could remember all the lyrics to offhand.

"They're going to take my free will from me!" Wrap some tin foil around your head, Stanley.

First of all that should be "Anthony", not "Stanley", since Kubrick was just adopting Burgess' novel.

Secondly, you missed the point of the story rather badly. It is simply an illustrative example of the philosophical/theological "problem of evil" and the most widely accepted solution to it: that God allows evil to exist because allowing people to have free will is too important. This theological argument holds that eliminating free will would worse than eliminating evil.

So the story posits a world where people can be prevented from doing evil by eliminating the capacity to choose evil, and shows a decidedly evil man before the treatment, after it, and last of all after it is reversed. Draw your own conclusions from it.

It has NOTHING to do with "paranoia". That's a really weird misinterpretation of a great story. :)

Revenant said...

Glad to see "Silent Running", "Serenity", and "Dark City" get some added recognition.

EMD said...

Tetsuo: The Iron Man


EMD said...

The Hunger Games

I'm one of the few who thought THG was dreadful.

Cheap and rushed looking, with awful camera work and botched CGI and a premise stolen from the superior Battle Royale.

Pianoman said...

@Rev: Thanks for the St. Croix takedown. I agree 100% with your assessment of Clockwork Orange.

Serenity has a quote in it that I think applies to Clockwork Orange really well:

"A year from now, or ten, they'll [the Alliance] swing back to the belief that that they can make people ... *better*. (pause) And I do not hold to that."

The question is: Can an organization (like a government) change people? Eliminate free will? In both movies (Serenity and Clockwork Orange), the answer is "yes, BUT ... at an incredible cost."

Saint Croix said...

This theological argument holds that eliminating free will would (be) worse than eliminating evil.

The whole movie is silly because it assumes that free will is something that can be taken away.

Kubrick was just adopting Burgess' novel.

Kubrick was obsessed with the military, indoctrination, and turning men into machines. One of the sillier aspects of A Clockwork Orange was the idea that we are controlled by art. Thus the man was "brainwashed" by showing him images. The idea is that the state controls our thoughts by controlling the media. And of course there is a kernel of truth in that observation. But Kubrick's movie takes that kernel and pops it into a silly, absurd, and misanthropic fantasy.

I haven't read Burgess' book, so I can't comment on it. But to say that Kubrick was "just adopting" Burgess' novel, as if he was not engaged with his own art? Bah. The movie is Kubrick's, and he is responsible for it.

It has NOTHING to do with "paranoia".

Worries that the government is taking our freedoms away = normal.

Worries that the government is taking our free will away = abnormal.

It's abnormal because it can't happen.

I'm not accusing Kubrick of being paranoid (although he might have been--he was terrified of flying, for example). But this particular work of art requires us to accept a paranoid vision of the universe. And not just paranoid, but really ugly and vile, too. Humanity is reduced to little more than dogs.

Saint Croix said...


It's definitely a freaky movie. All his art is freaky and visually interesting. That one left me cold, though.

Have you seen A Snake of June? I love that movie!

Revenant said...

The whole movie is silly because it assumes that free will is something that can be taken away.

You're a boring person, Croix.

Coleman Nee said...

Underrated by whom? I don't know if they are underrated, but two movies that invariably inspire strong opinions pro and con are Starship Troopers and 12 Monkeys. I seem to recall that critics disliked Starship Troopers but audiences enjoyed it. On the other hand, critics loved 12 Monkeys and audiences were lukewarm. I thought both movies were brilliant.

Chip said...

Surprised there aren't more mentions of La Jetee. And no one has brought up Charley, so I just did.

I think Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is underrated and will probably gain fans when it finds it's way into the cable rotation.

I need to see A Boy and His Dog again. It's been, ugh, decades.

Isaiah Wilson said...

What! No "flight of the navigator!?!? Lol. I personally think "the fountain" is highly underrated as well

David Reynolds said...

An excellent science fiction movie that almost nobody's ever heard of is "The Hidden," a film made back in the '80s about a psychopathic, parasitic, two-foot-long blackish squid-like thing that loves hard rock 'n' roll and going fast in Ferraris. It doesn't insult my intelligence with extraterrestrials that just happen to look like humans.

Unknown said...

@traditionalguy (below) - Oh look, the CEO of Exxon weighs in. Derp.

Leave the Faux News political crap at home, okay sparky? It's an article about science-fiction films, not your Al Gore-hatred.