"Le voyage dans la Lune" (1902)
Also known as "A Trip to the Moon" and "The Astronomer's
Dream" in its American and British releases. This early
silent film by master artist and film pioneer Georges Melies
is considered a classic by many film buffs. Although it runs
for only 3 minutes this whimsical fantasy really focuses on
an astronomers dream. This is often erroneously considered the
first American Science Fiction film because of the multiple
international copyrights it holds.
This classic Science Fiction Silent film is one of my all time
favorites (for more information check out the review in the
silent films section of this site). Unparalleled in its scope
and ingenuity Fritz Lang's Herculean project took over 360 days
and 60 nights to film and at a cost of over 2 million dollars
remained the most expensive film in the history of the German
cinema until "Das
Boot" in 1980.
here for more information about "Metropolis".
here to take a test over early silent films, including "Metropolis."
"Flash Gordon" (1936)
The great Buster Crabbe stars in this enduring adaptation of
the 1930's comic strip. This thirteen part series is the best
of the Science Fiction serials of the thirties that purportedly
inspired both George
Lucas and Steven
Spielberg when they were crafting the original "Indiana
Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Ark".
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951)
The Day the Earth Stood Still may not be the best science fiction
film ever made, but it is important because of its atypical
message. Friendly aliens were rarities when this film was first
released during the height of the cold war scare. Klattu warns
humans to stop being stupid, or we will be destroyed.
for more information about "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
here to take the "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
"The Thing" (1951)
Author Michael Crichton once referred to this as the best Science
Fiction film ever made (high praise from the guy who gave us
"Andromeda Strain", "Jurrassic Park", "Sphere",
and "Eaters of the Dead"). Producer Howard
Hawks' adaptation of the John Campbell story of an arctic
expedition that runs afoul of a blood sucking alien is often
credited (or blamed - depending on who you talk to) with launching
the evil monster tries to destroy humanity films that were so
prevalent in the 1950's.
"War Of The Worlds" (1953)
Producer George Pal and director Byron Haskins' landmark adaptation
of the H. G. Wells classic novel War of The Worlds focuses
on the invasion of the earth by Martian war machines. Barre
Lyndon's screenplay is strong and the films climactic ending
which features ruined buildings amidst a deserted city is beautifully
done. If you enjoyed "Mars Attacks" or "ID4"
you should check out this film, it may not be as slick as these
contemporary films but at least you will know where they got
many of their ideas.
A classic 1950's film that does the unthinkable, holding science
responsible for the monsters it creates. How can you describe
this film without giving away too much - lets just say atomic
testing, and giant critters exact their revenge on mankind.
This features Edmund Gwenn, James Whitmore, James Arness and
a cameo by a very young Leonard Nimoy.
"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" (1954)
This film, which won Oscars for its special effects and art
direction, launched Disney's distribution arm Buena Vista. The
film features James Mason in a wonderfully measured performance
as the tortured genius Captain Nemo in this adaptation of the
Jules Verne novel. Love that Giant Squid!
"Plan 9 from Outer Space" (1958)
Unspeakable horrors from outer space paralyze the living and
resurrect the dead!
here for Twyman's review of "Plan 9"
Click here for Alaine Reschke's
review of "Plan 9"
Click here for the writing
assignment for "Plan 9"
"2001 A Space Odyssey ": (1968)
masterpiece was undoubtedly the most influential Science Fiction
film of the 60's. Certainly this film raised special effects
to a new level. This visual tour du force adaptation of Arthur
C. Clark novella is a landmark in the history of the cinema.
By combing classical music and the most dazzling and innovative
special effects since "Metropolis" Kubrick creates
an amazingly realistic portrait (according to both American
and Russian astronauts) of life in space. Ultimately this film
is not so much a narrative (a fact that will put off some viewers)
as the philosophical musings of two visionaries (Clark and Kubrick)
about man's place in the universe. If you need to have things
spelled out for you and you are looking for gruesome aliens
you should probably avoid this film. If you enjoy a film that
treats its audience as if they have an intellect and are capable
of using it, or if you simply enjoy a film that encourages quiet
contemplation and meditation you will love it. This film proves
once again that when it comes to visual composition nobody does
it better than Kubrick especially with help from Douglas Trumball.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and
of the Jedi (1983)
of a Nation'' and "Citizen
Wars'' was a technical watershed that influenced many of
the movies that came after. These films have little in common,
except for the way they came along at a crucial moment in cinema
history, when new methods were ripe for synthesis. ``Birth of
a Nation'' brought together the developing language of shots
and editing. ``Citizen Kane'' married special effects, advanced
sound, a new photographic style and a freedom from linear storytelling.
``Star Wars'' melded a new generation of special effects with
the high-energy action picture; it linked space opera and soap
opera, tales and legend, and packaged them as a wild visual
ride." (-Roger Ebert, the Chicago-Sun Times)
here for more information about "Star Wars"
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a classic
motion picture that manages to capture that sense of wonder
that is cinema at its best. Indeed the film manages to capture
a dreamlike emotional quality better than virtually any other
Science Fiction film - with the possible exception of the Spielberg
Much of the credit for this films effectiveness goes to Richard
Dreyfuss performance as a classic Spielberg character, whose
obsession leads him to become more than the sum of his parts.
Watch for a cameo appearance by Dr. J. Allen Hynek as the pipe-smoking
observer at the dramatic meeting with the aliens. Hynek a noted
author (The UFO Experience) served as a technical advisor on
the film. Also watch for noted French director Francois Truffaut
in his final film appearance as a scientist who is sympathetic
to Melinda Dillon and Richard Dreyfus' plight.
Riddley Scotts "gut wrenching" saga of a group of interstellar
miners who encounter a vicious alien creature that is intent
on using them as an incubator is nothing short of mesmerizing.
for more information about Alien.
Futuristic film noir adaptation of the Philip K. Dick
novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?".Riddly
Scott ("Alien"), directs a suitably enigmatic
cast that includes Harrison
Ford (as a trench-coated futuristic Sam Spade), Rutgar Hauer,
James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young and Joanna Cassidy.
"ET The Extra Terrestrial" (1981)
Variety described this as "the best Disney film Disney
never made" and truer words may never have been spoken.
One of the most financially successful films of all time ET
is this generations "Wizard of Oz " a timeless classic
that appeals to adults and children. The story is deceptively
simple; a fatherless boy finds and befriends an bandoned alien
who heals as he is healed. Spielberg's achingly optimistic counterpoint
to "Poltergeist", Spielberg said that if "Poltergeist"
was a representation of his nightmares then "ET" was
a representation of his childhood dreams. In this film Spielberg
manages to convince all of us that those we love will always
be "right here."
"Star Trek: First Contact" (1996)
You didn't really think that I wasn't going to mention the most
successful (putting aside the Star Wars Trilogy) Science Fiction
franchises around did you? The usual rule with Star Trek films
is the even numbered films are always pretty darn good! This
one is no exception to that rule. Like its even numbered predecessor
"The Wrath of Kahn" (featuring the original Enterprise
crew and deliciously villainous Ricardo Montaban) this features
a great villain (the Borg - any similarities to Robert Bork
are purely coincidental) and the best comedy in a Star Trek
film since "The Voyage Home"(you remember - "save
the whales"). Jonathan Frakkes (who also plays Will Ryker
in the film) shows a deft hand as the director of this movie
managing to capture the essence of what makes Star Trek effective
on the small screen - strongly developed characters with well
defined relationships who unite to save the universe from the
bad guys. The film also features strong performances from Patrick
Stewart (Captain Picard), Brent Spiner (Data),Alice Krige (the
Borg Queen), Alfre Woodard (Lilly), and James Cromwell (Zeffram
Cochran) and spectacular special effects.
"Men In Black" (1997)
Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith and Rip Torn - it doesn't get any
better than this! Aside from one of the keenest opening sequences
on film, this delightful screenplay focuses on the men in black
who supposedly show up following the appearances of UFO's and
other unexplained phenomenon. Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith are dazzling
in this buddy film that explains all of that lost time that
Mulder and Sculley seem to be so concerned about.
This film was so financialy and criticaly successful
that they are currently planning a sequel. The working title
for the film is (remarkably enough) "Men
In Black 2", never let it be said that Hollywood is
even remotely original!
for more information about "Men In Black".