The 10 Best Science Fiction Movies EVER

Feb 17, 2006

The Bottom Line What makes these great is their human elements. These movies have heart.

I love science fiction movies, especially because the good ones are few and far between. I know that the sci-fi genre really blossomed in the 1950’s with all the alien movies, and some of those films are considered classics, but I don’t know enough about them to choose one. Most of the films on this list were made in the last couple of decades, but I firmly believe they are all something special.

To me, science fiction is what the title describes; a fictional story that makes creative use of scientific knowledge. Good sci-fi should introduce technology that nobody has seen before or never thought to be possible. The common thread in all of these films is that they have a strong human element that is more important that all the technology. From starfighters to alien visitors to robots to time travel, these movies are the best of the best.

10. Serenity - Joss Whedon created a brilliant vision of the future with his Firefly television series, and that vision carried over to this movie. It is set in a future where the two world superpowers of the United States and China have combined into one culture that mixes martial arts with wild west gunslinging. This movie is so cleverly written that it deserves to be seen along with the short-lived series upon which it was based.

9. Equilibrium - This Christian Bale film has grown to become a cult classic. It's from Kurt Wimmer, whose new film Ultraviolet is due in theaters very soon. This movie puts a wonderful twist on George Orwell's 1984 and also has a higher body count than any non-war movie. It is set in the near future where the governments have outlawed human emotion. Wimmer even created a new martial arts style, called gunkata, for this film. I prefer this film over The Matrix any day.

8. Dark City - This wonderful sci-fi film involves aliens trying to find the human soul. The story is so twisted and original that it's hard to resist. It is from the director of The Crow and has some nice dark visuals. The story also has a great ending, which makes this movie worth seeing more than once.

7. Gattaca - This is one of my favorite non-action sci-fi films. It stars Ethan Hawke and Jude Law in a story about the triumph of the human spirit. It is set in the future where companies use DNA testing as a means of discrimination, and Hawke stars as a young man who desperately wants to get into a futuristic version of the space program, but must fake his identity to get in. Very good movie.

6. Starman - Jeff Bridges, in an Oscar-nominated performance, stars in this movie about an alien that comes down to earth and uses the DNA of a dead man to clone himself and learn about the world from a human’s perspective. The dead man’s wife, played by Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark), is torn between this childlike man who looks like her husband and the idea of who or what he really is. When he asks her what love is, get ready for a very different kind of sci-fi movie. This is truly a great film from John Carpenter.

5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day - It is rare with science fiction movies that the sequel is ever as good as the original. This film is one of those exceptions. Writer/director James Cameron waited nearly ten years before doing this sequel, but it was worth it. This wildly explosive film has some of the greatest action sequences ever filmed, and in a brilliant twist he made Arnold a good guy for this one. The special edition DVDs of this film are definitely worth owning.

4. The Terminator - Both James Cameron and Arnold Swarzenegger were relatively new to the movie scene when this low budget action sci-fi film was released. I think it was this film that really set off both their careers. Not only was it a huge hit, but it had a great story and lots of innovation to go along with it. Who could forget the great ending and the haunting imagery of that robot crawling after Linda Hamilton?

3. Predator - This may be one of the greatest action movies ever made, and it’s one that I can watch over and over again. It starts out like a Commando-type action movie, then turns into this alien showdown with an interstellar trophy hunter. An interesting side note about this movie is nearly all of its stars, including Arnold Swarzenegger and Jesse Ventura, later got into politics.

2. Back to the Future - Who could resist the boyish charm of Michael J. Fox in this great sci-fi time travel film? Robert Zemeckis wrote and directed this story which puts a twist on the classic American Graffiti movie by showcasing the 1950’s through the eyes of a scared 1980’s teenager whose mom develops a crush on him. This is another film that can be seen over and over. The sequels were pretty good, but nothing compares to the original.

1. Star Wars IV-VI - I know these movies may be getting a little dated now, but they still stand the test of time, at least for me. I can still watch these films over and over again, and I still think the special effects are better than all the CGI stuff you see in new films. There is nothing wrong with using actual make-up and rubber masks instead of entirely CGI cartoon characters. There's also nothing wrong with use real miniatures instead of digital models. George Lucas, inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa, made a samurai movie set in space. Beat that!

Honorable mention:

Star Wars Episode III - Episodes I and II weren't that great, but this one made up for a lot of it. I think an episode 3.5 is in order to help bridge the gap between the two trilogies.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - A true sci-fi classic, but a little too long to watch again and again.

E.T. the Extra Terrestial - This was a great film until they had to get all PC and edit the guns out of it. The special effects enhancements in the remake did really help, though. Kudos for showing the kids playing Atari 2600 and Dungeons & Dragons.

Stargate - Egyptian pyramids were really landing pads for aliens? Brilliant!

Planet of the Apes (the original) - Although I love Tim Burton's work, forget his mistake of a remake and watch the original.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence - Spielberg and Kubrick worked on this one, and while it does have some parts that should have been edited out, I thought it was a great movie.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Who would have ever thought the guy from Fantasy Island would have made such a great villain?

I would have mentioned The Matrix if it were not for the sequels. That trilogy started out with so much promise but went downhill fast. The third film was truly a disappointment.

That’s it! Enjoy!

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