The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 Sci-Fi List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week’s topic…
5. TRANCERS – This low budget sci-fi flick stars the great Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth, a cop from the future who has to time travel via “the genetic bridge” to 1985 to protect the distant ancestors of the future ruling Council from being assassinated by Whistler, a weird beard psycho cult leader who wants to rule the future. What Trancers lacks in budget and production value it makes up for it with a great script, a great idea (I’m shocked that no one has tried to remake this with a bigger budget), and an absolutely fantastic star in Thomerson. He is so freaking good that his look and attitude are instantly iconic. Helen Hunt, Art LaFleur, Biff Manard, and Telma Hopkins also do great work in the movie, but Thomerson is the reason you keep watching. I mean, when you see him put on that trench coat and slick his hair with gel and then say “Dry hair’s for squids,” it’s just an amazing moment. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, track it down and check it out. And four of its sequels. Those are mostly excellent, too.
4. THEY LIVE – John Carpenter’s 1988 sci-fi action classic is known for making pro wrestler Roddy Piper a bonafide movie star, for a hellacious fist fight between Piper and co-star Keith David, and for making an enduring political statement about the 1980’s and, to a certain extent, now. Because the threat at the heart of They Live is an alien race that is all about business and making money. The aliens have teamed up with the human elite (rich people, politicians, etc.) and have slowly taken over everything while using subliminal messaging to keep the masses in line. And it all works swimmingly until Piper’s John Nada stumbles upon a group of humans who know about the alien set-up. Nada, through the group’s activities, finds out what’s really going on and decides to take serious action. If this movie was made now I’d imagine that the movie would try to keep the truth of the mystery behind the aliens’ secret until the very end and not make much of a political statement. Thankfully, Carpenter was able to make the movie he wanted to make, was able to say what he wanted to say, and its message has managed to stay with pop culture for almost three decades. The movie really is that important.
3. ROBOCOP – The great/weird thing about the future depicted in Paul Verhoeven’s classic Robocop is that it’s a future smothered by a kind of violent malaise. Regular society is slowly breaking down, there’s death and destruction everywhere you look, and big business is making money hand over fist as it’s involved in everything (think of that bank of monitors behind Dick Jones in OCP HQ. Omni Consumer Products is involved in weapons, health care, finance. Good business is really where you find it). Look at what it’s doing to Detroit. OCP wants to get rid of Detroit and build a new city, Delta City, a city where, presumably everything will work. As for Robocop the character, he’s a former cop, killed in the line of duty, brought back as a cyborg to fight crime. He’s part of “Security concepts,” an OCP division that wants to make money by replicating its products. What kind of future is that? It doesn’t seem like a good one, does it? Why aren’t people protesting? The only people protesting are the cops, and the public doesn’t support that at all. So for all of the technology on display, the future in Robocop is not a bright place. It isn’t an entirely sad place, though, either. It’s sort of like right now. Some of the details are new, but the basic reality is still the same. The future isn’t that great. It’s something we’re all going to have to get through somehow. Still an amazing classic to this very day.
2. STAR WARS – Over the years plenty of people have said that Star Wars really isn’t science fiction, that it’s more science fantasy and owes more to the world of the myth and of fairytales than sci-fi literature. The Force is basically a supernatural idea, and the supernatural has no place in science. I disagree with this line of thinking, mostly because it assumes that, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away some people couldn’t evolve and develop the ability to use Force powers, which is a bit close minded. The movie has space ships, robots, math (Han Solo has to make the calculations to jump to light speed, not to mention Luke Skywalker’s “targeting computer” in his X-wing), and an assortment of planets that you can’t get to unless you fly through space. So, yeah, Star Wars is science fiction. It’s also, obviously, an adventure movie as it’s more interested in space battles and rescuing the princess, and not so much interested in the great cosmic ideas like where everyone and everything came from, etc., and if humanity is alone in the universe. Humanity is clearly not alone in Star Wars and the story, in an overall sense, is about getting through each day alive. The Empire is out there. Vader is out there. Stay away from them.
1. STARSHIP TROOPERS- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Starship Troopers is the greatest movie ever made. It has everything: it’s a war movie, it’s an anti-war movie, it’s a satire on fascism, it’s an adventure story, a love story, it has space ships and giant monster bugs and is chock full of gore and nasty action set pieces. Plenty of people are still upset that Verhoeven and screenwriter Ed Neumeier didn’t directly adapt Robert Heinlein’s novel, but I’m glad that they didn’t. That movie probably wouldn’t have been all that exciting, especially if it featured endless discussion on the meaning of being a soldier. That movie also wouldn’t have been very funny. Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is, at times, hilarious. I implore everyone to watch this movie again in order to see what I’m talking about here. The movie just wouldn’t work if it were more serious minded through and through. It’s chock full of ideas and social commentary but it’s also meant to be fun. Science fiction, even when dealing with a harsh future where humanity is all about colonizing the universe and killing everything in sight, doesn’t have to be so dang dour. “Come on, you apes, you want to live forever?” I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.
5. THE FIFTH ELEMENT A movie only Luc Besson could come up with, a fantastic mix of wild sci-fi, sexy action and amazing visuals to create a terrific film. Mila Jovovich had her breakout role as the alien Leeloo who hooks up with an ex-special forces soldier turned cabbie (Bruce Willis) on a quest to stop a huge evil planet from wrecking Earth. The future New York is wild with multiple flying car lanes and Gary Oldman steals every scene as the bad guy. Yeah, Chris Tucker is annoying as hell as the comic relief but we still have great sequences like the space opera and more to win you over. Taken together, a truly original and fantastic treat that may be the sexiest sci-fi summer movie ever.
4. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL This 1951 groundbreaker really helped bring home how the sci-fi boom of the 1950’s was a direct parallel to the Cold War. When a flying saucer lands in Washington D.C., the public is panicked before its human pilot is shot by a soldier. At first wishing to address the world, the alien (Klaatu) eventually goes undercover to try and understand humans more. From the “world blackout” to the imposing robot Gort, the movie mixes in various themes (including resurrection) to deliver its message of how “learn to live together or die” that reminds you of the power of science fiction to give informative life lessons.
3. BLADE RUNNER Unjustly ignored in its initial release, Ridley Scott’s terrific 1982 movie is a fantastic mix of sci-fi and noir. Harrison Ford is an operative out to hunt down a bunch of renegade replicants in a future Los Angeles but the movie is so much better than its synopsis. It asks the question of “what is humanity” and such and who judges it? Rutger Hauer is amazing as the Replicant who’s far more human than he seems and the looks at this future Earth are amazing as it’s far closer to reality than Scott intended. The ending is up in the air to give the film even more power and add to its status as a classic of the genre to enjoy.
2. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY Pretty much the obvious pick for something like this. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece has influenced countless filmmakers ever since from its opening of cavemen cutting to spaceships to its realistic take on space travel and the infamous HAL. It tackles the questions of life and the universe, a movie with so many layers that multiple viewings are needed to take it all in. It still stands the test of time as a classic and iconic part of the sci-fi genre and must-see to enjoy how it all works today.
1. METROPOLIS Really the only top choice, this 1927 film basically created movie science fiction. Fritz Lang offered moviegoers a stunning look at an urban dystopia populated by robots, something folks in that time could barely even conceive. His robotic forms have influenced practically every movie robot since as well as its visual design to the future cities. It remains a stunning work, especially in recently restored editions on Blu-Ray and the groundbreaker every sci-fi movie since has followed. So many imitators but very few have duplicated the skill and power of this masterpiece that continues to stand the test of time.
5. TOTAL RECALL – It was a struggle to decide between this and Star Wars, but at the end of the day, Arnold will always beat out his contenders. This is him in his prime, as he stars in the gloriously violent, over-the-top, action filled romp to Mars. As the movie gets going, you get pulled into the idea of Total Recall just as Arnold’s character does, and wonder what you would do, where you’d go, who you’d be, and whether or not your girl would be a slut or not. And just as that happens, BOOM! The movie kicks off as Arnold’s memories come rushing back. Right from the jump he heads down the rabbit hole of discovering just what the hell happened to him, who he really is, who the hell is after him, and that’s one of the most fun aspects of the film, because as Arnold learns, you learn. Along with this, you get the classic Verhoven violence & adventure that carries you all the way to the end in one of Arnold’s all time greatest. I also have to mention the effects, where just as he did with Robocop, Verhoven brought the top-notch goods, bringing some of the most memorable special effects of all time. Of course, there’s always the discussion about whether or not what he experienced was real or just the implants. For me, I like thinking he was the real deal, and that his trip to Mars was much longer than two weeks. Two weeks. Tweras weaaaaakss….
4. STARSHIP TROOPERS – Man, what a film. One thing I absolutely love about this movie is that despite the fact that we were right at the beginning of ‘Let’s all do CGI! And EVERYTHING will look as good as T2! [but never was]”, they used a lot of animantronics & puppets on the close ups, and kept the CGI where it belonged. Most directors then would have used the CGI as the tool bench, instead of just a tool. Beyond the fantastic effects, you have a great cast, dialogue, comedy, and of course, action. This film is absolutely packed with glorious action, as man takes on hordes of bugs with a various amount of weapons, as all different colors of blood splash on soldiers & scenery. It’s just a great fucking movie that any genre fan needs to see.
3. BACK TO THE FUTURE – I know some may question about whether or not this is Sci-Fi, but I say it is without question. It’s time travel, baby. As for the movie itself, it’s one of the greatest of all time. There had been plenty of time travel films before, and after, but none have the all around package of sci-fi, comedy, drama, and action. Back To The Future is one of those movies that gives you more than your money’s worth. The plot of him being stuck back in 1955 is enough, but to throw in the whole mom angel, and working with his father was brilliant, and all carried bout by some incredible casting choices. Everyone from Christopher Lloyd, to Crispin Glover, Michael J, Thomas Wilson and Lea Thompson absolutely brought their A game, creating some of the most memorable characters of all time. I could dedicate an entire article to the glory of Back to the Future, but I’m afraid it’d just be too darn loud.
2. ROBOCOP – There is just so much right about this film. From Robo’s look, to ED-209, the hyper-violence, the music, Peter Weller’s voice, the commercials, and the classic gang of bad guys. Peter Weller was the perfect choice for Alex Murphy, as his lower jaw was chiseled and complimented the look of the suit perfectly, and his voice is one of the most classic of all time. Everything he said was repeated on school grounds the world over. The villains were fantastic, as Clarence Boddicker is still one of the scariest bad guys of all time, taking sheer delight in the torture, dismemberment, and murder of police officers. He’s a guy you absolutely can’t wait to see get it. Peppered in through out the movie are news clips & commercials that mock the way society was headed at the time and do a fantastic job of inserting comedy into the film without it being at the expense of Robo, or any of the serious characters. You’ll never hear Murphy say “I need a vacation”. On the other end of the spectrum is the hyper-violence, where we see people shredded to bits by machine guns, arms blown off, blood spurting from puncture wounds, the whole 9 yards. Something that became a trademark of this film. Finally, I couldn’t talk about this film without mention of ED-209, one of the coolest robots of all time. Useless when it comes to stairs, but absolutely show stopping in any other capacity. Arguably the last great use of stop-motions & miniatures.
1. PREDATOR – In my mind, this is the greatest action film of all time, and arguably the best movie to have on when hanging out with a group of guys. We have Arnold in his prime, surrounded by a cast of characters so burly that I’m sure their lines on the actual script pages needed to be shaved. We have mid-air arm wrestling, chewing tobacco that turns men into sexual T-Rexes, guys not having time to bleed, massive explosions, one-liners, jungle traps, a Gatling gun, and one of the most bad-ass movie monsters of all time. He systematically takes out each guy one at a time, until we get the ultimate battle; survival style Arnold vs The Predator. They go from trading blows with explosive weapons to a good ol’ fist fight. It’s Arnold at his absolute best, and one of those films you just can’t hate. Pop-corn film making at it’s finest.
Via: 411 Mania