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The Classic Science-Fiction Thread

post #1 of 153
Thread Starter 

Hey, this is a pretty rich genre with much more to offer than just STAR WARS!

 

Here's a place to discuss the essentials, list your favorites, and recommend some deep cut gems.

 

I've been thinking how cool a Thread like this could be for a while now, but finally inspired to create it after rolling out to video store for both versions of SOLARIS.

post #2 of 153
So much of my favorite sci-fi is literature. Cinema is too limited to ever give us something with the scope of, say, the Iain M. Banks Culture novels.

But I do love me a good sci-fi flick, regardless. Viewing a properly-projected 70mm film print of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is the greatest cinematic experience I've ever had.
post #3 of 153
Not to put myself out there in this thread too quick but, am I wrong by thinking Children of Men is one of the greatest sci-fi works I've ever seen?

That scene where everybody stops shooting and just listens to the sound of the baby crying left me fucking dumb struck and I think it's one of the greatest scenes in any movie ever.

Star Wars by the way is NOT science fiction. It's fantasy. I love all of the ones (chronologically) after the prequels dearly but...they're about magic and knights and wizards and monsters. Sci-fi should be relegated to stories about ideas.

Just my two cents..
post #4 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

Not to put myself out there in this thread too quick but, am I wrong by thinking Children of Men is one of the greatest sci-fi works I've ever seen?

That scene where everybody stops shooting and just listens to the sound of the baby crying left me fucking dumb struck and I think it's one of the greatest scenes in any movie ever..
Many people adore it.

I didn't like it at the time, but I haven't seen it since then.
post #5 of 153

Korda and Menzies  Things To Come  (1936) is one that always springs to mind.

I was surprised I'd never heard of it when I saw it late one night.  I'd heard of all the other classics like Metropolis, Journey to the Moon and that sort of thing.  This one doesn't rate much of a mention in the text books.

 

Based on HG Wells unsettlingly precient work about world engulfing war that begins in the late 1930s, it jumps through time as humanity sinks low and raises itself back up again.

 

I don't know if it'll blow any minds really, but it's pretty interesting as an artifact of design and storytelling.  A special effects block buster of its day.

 

 

 

Weird Facts You Never Knew About H.G. Wells' Movie, Things to Come

post #6 of 153

A personal favorite: ROLLERBALL.  On the surface, it's just a futuristic sport movie.  Drilling down into it, the film explores a futuristic Roman society on the verge of collapse.  It's amazing to see how so many of the things that were predicted in the film have come to fruition in their own ways.

 

On top of all that, it's an entertaining movie.  It's a tad slow in parts, but the content is there to support the slower sections if you're willing to read the subtext of what is going on.

 

eta: I'm referring to the original version, not the remake.  I never saw the remake but I understand that it's horrible.

post #7 of 153
The remake is beyond horrible. It's, without an ounce of hyperbole, one of the worst films ever made..
post #8 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

Star Wars by the way is NOT science fiction. It's fantasy. I love all of the ones (chronologically) after the prequels dearly but...they're about magic and knights and wizards and monsters. Sci-fi should be relegated to stories about ideas.

Just my two cents..

 

It's space opera, which is in fact science fiction. It sounds like you're referring to soft science fiction, which tends to be more about the feels and the thinks and less about the guys with laser swords. 

 

As for my own pick, it's interesting that this topic should come up, as I was just mulling over a place to put this one: Blood of Heroes (aka Salute of the Jugger). A fun little post-apocalyptic sports film with some familiar faces (Rutger Hauer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Joan Chen) that REALLY impressed me with its world-building. It just packs in all these little details from the food to the sleeping arrangements to the actual sport itself that belies a HUGE amount of thought put into the world. Not that surprising I guess since it's written and directed by David Webb Peoples, one of the guys behind Blade Runner. The only real complaint I can level at the movie is a lack of a decent transfer. The version I saw was fullscreen HD, but didn't seem to be the uncut version that's apparently floating around on DVD. 

post #9 of 153

BLOOD OF HEROES is one of those 'better than it should have been' movies.

post #10 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 

BLOOD OF HEROES is one of those 'better than it should have been' movies.

 

To an almost shocking degree. I've been kind of on a B-movie binge recently so at first I was sort of just watching not expecting much, but it just kept building and building to the point where I found myself really engaged. I especially liked just how brutal and well choreographed the actual matches were. From a narrative perspective I wouldn't say it's amazing (it's too lean to create a ton of attachment) but from the characters to the action to the setting it just worked, and it's a refreshing reminder of what a talented creative team can do even with a limited budget. It's a damn shame it isn't better known.

post #11 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 

A personal favorite: ROLLERBALL.  On the surface, it's just a futuristic sport movie.  Drilling down into it, the film explores a futuristic Roman society on the verge of collapse.  It's amazing to see how so many of the things that were predicted in the film have come to fruition in their own ways.

 

 

You just know that there are a significant number of people in this country right now that would have "blowing up trees" parties if they could.  

post #12 of 153

Christ, most of my favourite films are sci-fi. 2001, Alien, Aliens, Predator, Terminator, The Thing. All movies I've seen a fucking ton of times and they just never seem to lose their luster for me.  It's a genre I'll always make time for. 

 

But you know what subset of sci-fi I really haven't seen much of in film form and would love to? Cyberpunk. 

 

It's fucking criminal that the only actual Cyberpunk movie we have is Johnny fucking Mnemonic. I have long maintained that Neuromancer would make a fucking great movie. And it's a genre in general that I feel could have a lot to say about modern technological dependence (especially social media) and put a mirror(shade) up to us and where we are as a society.
 

At least Joe Cornish is currently working on a Snow Crash adaptation so that's something.

post #13 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Codename View Post

At least Joe Cornish is currently working on a Snow Crash adaptation so that's something.
I do hope that doesn't die in development hell. Such a rad-ass book.

And yeah, I'd kill for a good adaptation of Neuromancer.
post #14 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Codename View Post
 

Christ, most of my favourite films are sci-fi. 2001, Alien, Aliens, Predator, Terminator, The Thing. All movies I've seen a fucking ton of times and they just never seem to lose their luster for me.  It's a genre I'll always make time for. 

 

But you know what subset of sci-fi I really haven't seen much of in film form and would love to? Cyberpunk. 

 

It's fucking criminal that the only actual Cyberpunk movie we have is Johnny fucking Mnemonic. I have long maintained that Neuromancer would make a fucking great movie. And it's a genre in general that I feel could have a lot to say about modern technological dependence (especially social media) and put a mirror(shade) up to us and where we are as a society.
 

At least Joe Cornish is currently working on a Snow Crash adaptation so that's something.

There's a lot of inspired by and in the vein of cyberpunk. The Matrix, Hardware, Death Machine, Existenz, The 13th Floor. I'd argue Hackers is gentrified cyberpunk, and would deserve the label if it was set in "the near future" rather than 1995. And I've always felt Inception is very much cyberpunk, from its cynicism and fear of big corporations to entering dreams basically being "jacking in".

 

I believe Altered Carbon is getting a TV adaptation. I want my Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom! 

 

But yeah, very few legit adaptations yet. And the funny thing is none of them, from Neuromancer to Snow Crash, feel outdated and could easily be updated with little details like cellphones. 

post #15 of 153
The Terminator and its follow-ups kinda qualify as Cyberpunk don't they? Or are they more just dystopian, doomsday movies?
post #16 of 153

More the latter I'd say. It's not as anti-corporate and focused on the tech to qualify as Cyberpunk. Still fucking stellar sci-fi and one of the better time travelling movies (provided you ignore all the sequels except Judgement Day...which I do)

Bart makes a great point about Inception though. Carries a lot of the themes of Cyberpunk while not necessarily the stylistic aspects. Actually never thought about that and it's making me want to watch Inception again.  But yeah, most of it is close but not proper.

post #17 of 153
I only half ignore Genisys. I don't hold it up to the first two by any means. But I also DO have fun with it....in a "hey, it may be silly but it feels like a real Arnold movie" kinda way.

And Salvation has some definite strong points. It's look. The FX. The action. Yelchin and Bale I thought were good. It's all very muddled and contradictory to the groundwork laid in the first two in a whole lotta ways. That's it's big downfall.

Nothing but contempt for T3 though. It's just a lame T2 rehash that looks like a Sy-Fy channel movie..
post #18 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

Not to put myself out there in this thread too quick but, am I wrong by thinking Children of Men is one of the greatest sci-fi works I've ever seen?

I love Children of Men, but for me that has as much to do with Cuaron's interesting direction than the story. I go back and forth on if the form is distracting to the story, but I find it riveting.

In terms of obscure recent flicks, last year's Air wasn't bad. It's a post-apocalyptic tale starring Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou as two workers living in an underground bunker waiting for Earth's surface to be inhabitable again. Nothing earth-shattering, but better than I expected.

post #19 of 153

Here's an interesting one: SILENT RUNNING.  I saw it a long, long time ago and enjoyed it for its acting (I recall Bruce Dern being really good in it) and for the robots, which were clever and visually interesting.  The story itself is a tad too on the nose with its message of nature conservation, but its heart is in the right place.  I wouldn't call it a favorite but I would say that it's worth a viewing.

 

Anyone here remember SATURN 3?  I saw it once a long time ago and I don't recall if it was any good.  I remember liking elements of it but I can't recall the overall level of 'quality' in the film.

post #20 of 153

I liked CHILDREN OF MEN a lot more when it was called AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK.

post #21 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 

Here's an interesting one: SILENT RUNNING.  I saw it a long, long time ago and enjoyed it for its acting (I recall Bruce Dern being really good in it) and for the robots, which were clever and visually interesting.  The story itself is a tad too on the nose with its message of nature conservation, but its heart is in the right place.  I wouldn't call it a favorite but I would say that it's worth a viewing.

 

Anyone here remember SATURN 3?  I saw it once a long time ago and I don't recall if it was any good.  I remember liking elements of it but I can't recall the overall level of 'quality' in the film.

I just saw Saturn 3 was available on YouTube. My main knowledge of it is Kirk Douglas looking wayyyyyyy too old to be with Farrah Fawcett, even by Hollywood age standards.

I need to go back and watch Silent Running. I think I was more interested in the production design than the film itself, but I'd like to give it another shot.

There are three classics (or at least well known films) I've been eager to see:

Lifeforce (haven't been able to find that on streaming anywhere)
Woman in the Moon (Fritz Lang's influential opus; I think it's available on Netflix but it's also 3+ hours long)
Logan's Run (I've had a heck of a time finding this as well)

post #22 of 153

Forbidden Planet for me is one of the gold standards.  It's definitely the pinnacle of '50s sci-fi.  It's influential as hell (Robby pretty much setting the template for personable robots for decades, the ship and crew being a clear precursor to Trek's dynamics, etc), it looks fantastic even today, it's got that literary sheen by adapting Shakespeare (and doing it well), and the Monster from the Id is an all-timer.

 

For the '60s, how can you beat that miracle year of 1968 that not only saw me born, but that also gave us both Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey?  And released within a week of each other, no less.  They're really two ends of the sci-fi spectrum, with Apes going for the social allegory and 2001 going the hard sci-fi route.

 

And yes, like it or not, space opera is a sub0genre of sci-fi, so Star Wars definitely counts!

post #23 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangy View Post


Logan's Run (I've had a heck of a time finding this as well)

 

Logan's Run just recently aired on TCM, and is available to stream on the Watch TCM app.  It's actually a lot better than I remember it being, particularly those final moments when the citizens see Peter Ustinov for the first time. His genuinely overwhelmed reaction to being around so many people again is really touching.

post #24 of 153

LOGAN'S RUN gets a lot right, but it also has some severe pacing issues when York and Agutter actually start their 'run'.  It especially drags when they leave the city of domes itself and becomes exposition city.

 

If they do a remake, I hope that they follow the book a lot more and show that it's a worldwide situation, not merely a city of domes/shopping mall situation.  It'd also be good if they lowered the age back to 21 (which it was in the book) instead of 30.  The fact that the citizens are literally JUST starting to live and discover themselves when they have to die makes for a much more interesting dynamic.

post #25 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangy View Post
 

Lifeforce (haven't been able to find that on streaming anywhere)
 

 

I watched this one a lot back in the 80s.  More specifically, I fast forwarded and paused my way through this one a lot back in the 80s.  It's one of those rare 'terrible' and 'awesome' films.

post #26 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 

LOGAN'S RUN gets a lot right, but it also has some severe pacing issues when York and Agutter actually start their 'run'.  It especially drags when they leave the city of domes itself and becomes exposition city.

 

If they do a remake, I hope that they follow the book a lot more and show that it's a worldwide situation, not merely a city of domes/shopping mall situation.  It'd also be good if they lowered the age back to 21 (which it was in the book) instead of 30.  The fact that the citizens are literally JUST starting to live and discover themselves when they have to die makes for a much more interesting dynamic.

 

I imagine increasing the age had to do with the realities of casting at the time.  You probably weren't going to find a name actor of the right age who could carry the film.  Not one a studio would entrust a major release to anyway.

post #27 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
 

 

I imagine increasing the age had to do with the realities of casting at the time.  You probably weren't going to find a name actor of the right age who could carry the film.  Not one a studio would entrust a major release to anyway.

 

Pretty sure that's why they increased the age to 30, yeah.  Bigger pool of talent to draw from.

 

The book itself is not great.  Indeed, I found it to be pretty amateurish, and the ending is one of those 'get the fuck outta here' kind of endings.  In many respects, the original LOGAN'S RUN mined the best stuff out of the book and made a better film in terms of plotting and thematic cohesion.  

 

With a bigger budget, better production values, and modern day special effects, the costlier elements of the book could be brought to life and incorporated into a direct remake of the 70s film and make something quite special.

post #28 of 153
I think that a 70s Logan's Run adaptation works better with 30. What with the whole movie being some kind of backwards anti-counter culture/Hippie allegory...."don't trust anyone over 30" and all that. It's a bit on the nose but it works for the era it was released..
post #29 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

I think that a 70s Logan's Run adaptation works better with 30. What with the whole movie being some kind backwards of anti-counter culture/Hippie allegory...."don't trust anyone over 30" and all that. It's a bit on the nose but it works for the era it was released..

 

Agreed, but lowering it back to 21 gives it that YA feel to it that worked for the HUNGER GAMES movies.  You can get away with having younger protagonists now, and having EVERYONE in it (even those in 'power') be under 21 would make for an interesting dynamic.

post #30 of 153
On the literary front, I've been thinking of late that it'd be great to see an adaptation of E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops." Everything about the setting and premise is so eerily prescient that it'd be fascinating to see what a modern audience's reaction to the conclusion would be.
post #31 of 153

Escape from New York is my go-to clunky sic-fi fix.

 

Yeah, it's pretty bog-standard story and production-wise - there are a load of faux-computer graphics that looked great and futuristic enough in the 80s (and still hold up today with the world they help to build) but compared to my at-the-time standard sic-fi safe-haven Star Wars, it was all pretty cobbled together and kind of cheap.

 

But as a kid it was this one voice over that set the whole thing apart and gave it such a cold and unfeeling edge that made the thing so hostile and alien:

 

"The next scheduled departure to the prison is in two hours.

You now have the option to terminate and be cremated on the premises.

If you elect this option, notify the duty sergeant in your processing area."

 

Life is no longer sacred. You can save yourself and us some time and money by just switching yours off.

 

As a 12 year old that line was so creepy and so unthinkable and it still works for me.

post #32 of 153

RE: Lifeforce

 

Saw it as part of the last October Horror Movie Challenge (mark your calendars!) and dug it, but then I'm a sucker for a posh British accent.

 

Since we seem to have tacitly turned this into the "______ Sci-Fi" thread, just watched 2015's Infini and...tentative thumbs up? It's one of those movies that I enjoyed and I'm glad I watched, but wouldn't recommend it as essential viewing for anyone. It's decently atmospheric and well-acted, but suffers from a one-two punch of clearly being budget constrained (there's a lot of implied gore and some wonky CG) and about as cliched as they come. That said, without getting into spoilers, I really appreciated where the ending goes and it did a lot to elevate the film in my mind. Also it was apparently an Australian production, always good to see them back in the genre game. 

post #33 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stale Elvis View Post

Escape from New York is my go-to clunky sic-fi fix.

Yeah, it's pretty bog-standard story and production-wise - there are a load of faux-computer graphics that looked great and futuristic enough in the 80s (and still hold up today with the world they help to build) but compared to my at-the-time standard sic-fi safe-haven Star Wars, it was all pretty cobbled together and kind of cheap.

But as a kid it was this one voice over that set the whole thing apart and gave it such a cold and unfeeling edge that made the thing so hostile and alien:

"The next scheduled departure to the prison is in two hours.
You now have the option to terminate and be cremated on the premises.
If you elect this option, notify the duty sergeant in your processing area."

Life is no longer sacred. You can save yourself and us some time and money by just switching yours off.

As a 12 year old that line was so creepy and so unthinkable and it still works for me.
I knew I liked you.

Escape from NY is the shit.

Pretty timeless too. I was in NY a few years ago and ALL I wanted to do was escape..
post #34 of 153
That first hour of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK works like gangbusters.
post #35 of 153

When I'm three to four drinks in and a Chinese person asks me where I'm from, I inevitably reply with "I'm the Duke of New York, A#1!" This has yet to produce anything besides a confused stare. One day though...

post #36 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

The Terminator and its follow-ups kinda qualify as Cyberpunk don't they? Or are they more just dystopian, doomsday movies?

 

"I didn't build the fucking thing" is one of the greatest sci-fi handwaves in history.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangy View Post
 

Lifeforce (haven't been able to find that on streaming anywhere)
 

 

I watched this one a lot back in the 80s.  More specifically, I fast forwarded and paused my way through this one a lot back in the 80s.  It's one of those rare 'terrible' and 'awesome' films.

 

I bet I know where you paused, too. If I ever buy a boat I'm naming her the Mathilda May.

post #37 of 153

In addition to Apes and 2001, 1968 also gave us Barbarella, Charly, and Night of the Living Dead.

post #38 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post

That first hour of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK works like gangbusters.

 

Yeah, it's weird how the film has gained this reputation for being this terse, tonally controlled film, but it gets really goofy into the back-half of the film where it becomes more action-heavy. Lots of janky, awkward film-making that wouldn't be out of place in one of Sergio Martino's ripoffs. 

post #39 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post
 

In addition to Apes and 2001, 1968 also gave us Barbarella, Charly, and Night of the Living Dead.

 

... and YELLOW SUBMARINE.

post #40 of 153
Battle Beyond the Stars.

Cheap Magnificent Seven Samurai ripoff? Sure!

But LAZERS! And I felt the film had enough smarts to make each character distinct and give everyone a grace note. Basically what I wanted from Suicide Squad.
post #41 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightning Slim View Post

Battle Beyond the Stars.

Cheap Magnificent Seven Samurai ripoff? Sure!

But LAZERS! And I felt the film had enough smarts to make each character distinct and give everyone a grace note. Basically what I wanted from Suicide Squad.

 

That film works because everyone on that film played their roles with a certain degree of camp.  They knew what they were making and rolled with it.  The main ship in it had breasts for God's sake.

 

STARCRASH is another one in that vein.  SPACE HUNTER too.

post #42 of 153

Have you seen Strange Days, Codename? That's the ultimate Cyberpunk movie for me. It has all the hallmarks of the genre: Noir detective lead character (Ralph Fiennes' fabulous hair, and the rest of his body), mind/memory recorders as the main Macguffin, etc. It doesn't quite have all the cosmetic Cyberpunk elements, but there is a key scene in a nighclub where people are dressed up in weird shit, and Juliette Lewis is singing PJ Harvey songs for bonus mid-90s achievement points. It's like Johnny Menomenanicknolte, except with great filmmaking by Kathryn Bigelow and script by James Cameron.

post #43 of 153

On the DVD commentary, John Sayles talks about how he wrote Battle Beyond the Stars so that each alien culture represented a different way of dealing with or relating to death.

post #44 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightning Slim View Post

Battle Beyond the Stars.

Cheap Magnificent Seven Samurai ripoff? Sure!

But LAZERS! And I felt the film had enough smarts to make each character distinct and give everyone a grace note. Basically what I wanted from Suicide Squad.

Battle Beyond the Stars changed me as a kid. Not the movie itself, rather the amazing score by James Horner just awakened a love and desire for sweeping romantic adventure. Obviously as a ten year old sweeping romantic adventure was in short supply but I used to draw and draw and draw adventure, spaceships, heroes, damsels, villains etc. Pretty certain Horner's theme had as much impact on me creatively but in a different way as Star Wars did.
post #45 of 153
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post
 

On the DVD commentary, John Sayles talks about how he wrote Battle Beyond the Stars so that each alien culture represented a different way of dealing with or relating to death.

Wow, I knew it was a Seven Samurai riff but didn't realize that. 

I also liked it a LOT better than Starcrash. Cameron's usage of egg crates in BBtS is unparalleled. My main memory of Starcrash is that damn robot from Texas. That stuck with me more than Hasslehoff.

post #46 of 153
I've never seen Battle Beyond the Stars and I have the dang thing sitting in my living room. I've owned for a while and just...keep putting off watching it. Guess I need to fix that.

Had no idea it was a Seven Samurai remake (loose I'm sure...but hey, sounds fun!)..
post #47 of 153

Battle Beyond the Stars is easily the best of the Star Wars knock-offs.  What it lacks in originality and budget it more than makes up for in charm.  And James Cameron did a ton of effects work on this, including a lot of the model building.

 

It could also be argued it's the one score James Horner ever wrote... (ba-DUMP)

post #48 of 153
Fraid, get on that. Robert Vaughn rips himself off from Magnificent Seven!
post #49 of 153

John Saxon as the big bad guy in BBtS is a hoot.

 

Wanna watch something really bizarre?  Look for MESSAGE FROM SPACE.  I can't believe that I saw that one theatrically but yeah...back then, we went to anything space related, regardless of quality.

post #50 of 153
James Horner wrote three scores I think.

The one in Commando and 48 Hrs.

The one in Aliens.

...and the one in Mask of Zorro.

And even THOSE sound similar at times. But at least they're good. At least it's not Elliot fucking Goldenthal and his "hey I should put the exact same score from Demolition Man into TWO Batman movies! Easy street!" routine..
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