Thursday, May 12, 2016

100 Essential Science Fiction Films

In the past, The Essential Films has presented the 100 Essential Romances and the 100 Essential Horror Films. Our next entry in looking at essential genre pictures is the 100 Essential Science Fiction Films.  Now, science fiction and fantasy often get lumped together, but there is a distinction. Which isn't to say that some sci-fi films are not ALSO fantasy films, much like the Star Wars saga. I like the American Film Institute's definition of Science Fiction:

AFI defines “science fiction” as a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation. Whether it’s a flying saucer whirling through space or a gleaming city on a distant planet, at the core of all science fiction is the provocative question, “What if...?” Science fiction presents stories and situations that tap our brightest hopes and darkest fears about what might, one day, turn out to be true.

The list includes only narrative, feature-length films. Some spoilers ahead.


100. DUNE
1984 • David Lynch
Screenplay: David Lynch based on the novel by Frank Herbert
Principle Cast:  Francesca Annis, Brad Dourif, José Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Kenneth McMillan, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Smith, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Dean Stockwell, Max von Sydow, Alicia Roanne Witt, Sean Young
Genre: Epic Science Fiction, Space Travel

A WORLD BEYOND YOUR EXPERIENCE, BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION

A much-maligned production with a controversial final cut, Dune confused many viewers at the box office looking for another Star Wars clone. Despite it's box office failure and critical backlash, the film still remains mostly faithful to the source material and delivers fantastic, if over-achieving, visuals for the time. Bonus: Watch the documentary Jodorowski's Dune for a glimpse of what could have been.

Father! The sleeper has awakened!

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99. EUROPA REPORT
2013 • Sebastián Cordero
Screenplay: Philip Gelatt
Principle Cast:  Christian Camargo, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra, Sharlto Copley, Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler, Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
Genres: Space Travel, Exploration, Alien Life

FEAR. SACRIFICE. CONTACT

A found footage film, set in the future, of the first crewed mission to Europa, the sixth moon of Jupiter. The crew loses contact with Earth and a series of crises continue to set them back, but a mystery of potential life found on Europa keeps the crew moving forward.

Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known... what does your life actually matter?

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98. 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT
1984 • Peter Hyams
Screenplay: Peter Hyams based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke
Principle Cast:  Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban, Keir Dullea
Genres: Space Travel, Exploration, Alien Life

WE ARE NOT ALONE

Set 9 years following the events of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a combined team of American and Soviet astronauts venture out to Jupiter, the last known location of the Discovery which mysteriously disappeared in the previous film. Upon arrival, the crew detects signs of life coming from Europa...

My God! It's full of stars! 

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97. EVENT HORIZON
1997 • Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenplay: Philip Eisner
Principle Cast:  Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs
Genres: Space Travel, Horror, Black Holes

INFINITE SPACE. INFINITE TERROR

A rescue crew has been dispatched to answer the the distress call from the Event Horizon, a starship that disappeared into a black hole and has now mysteriously reappeared. But has it returned with someone, or something, on board?

Look, if what Doctor Weir tells us is true, this ship has been beyond the boundaries of our universe, of known scientific reality. Who knows where it's been, what it's seen. Or what it's brought back with it.

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96. INDEPENDENCE DAY
1996 • Roland Emmerich
Screenplay: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Principal Cast: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Vivica A. Fox
Genres: Alien Invasion

ON JULY 2ND, THEY ARRIVE. ON JULY 3RD, THEY STRIKE. ON JULY 4TH, WE FIGHT BACK.

The record-breaking blockbusters pleased audiences across not just the United States, but across the world.  When aliens invade Earth, destroying major cities (and iconic landmarks), it's up to the President of the United States, an air force pilot, a crop duster and a cable repair man to save the world. Twenty years later, it's still fun, even if the whole "virus" thing doesn't make sense.

Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

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95. AVATAR
2009 • James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron
Principal Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi
Genres: Exploration, Action, Alien Encounter

ENTER THE WORLD

Currently the biggest worldwide box office hit of all time, Avatar certainly has its share of critics. The film uses a familiar story and retreads some familiar ground with the story of a white explorer "gone native" amongst the new people he's discovered, those new people being the blue cat-like aliens of Pandora. Originally tasked to gather intel on the groan-worthily named "Unobtainium," paraplegic marine Jake Sully, under the guise of his avatar, becomes torn between his duty and his conscience. Mocked as "Dances with Smurfs" or "Space Pocahontas", Avatar must at least be recognized for breaking new ground in dazzling visual effects and motion capture imagery, and its cultural relevance as being the biggest film of all time can't be ignored.

Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream.

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94. THINGS TO COME
1936 • William Cameron Menzies
Screenplay: H. G. Wells Based on The Shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells
Principal Cast: Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle, Margaretta Scott
Genres: Dystopian futures

A HUNDRED YEARS AHEAD OF ITS TIME

An epic science fiction film, whose story spans 100 years, was written by HG Wells himself as a response to the film Metropolis. Written before World War II, the film "predicts" the future in which a second world war erupts and lasts, not just for years, but for decades. In the dust a rational and logical society eventually rises from the ashes and attempts manned space travel.

If we don't end war, war will end us.

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93. FANTASTIC VOYAGE
1966 • Richard Fleischer
Screenplay:  Harry Kleiner (screenplay), Jerome Bixby, Otto Klement (Story), David Duncan (Adaptation)
Principal Cast: Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence
Genres:  Exploration

JOURNEY INTO THE LIVING BODY OF A MAN

In order to save the life of an important man, a CIA Agent and a team of scientists is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into the man's body. Their mission? Destroy a blood clot in his brain. Featuring revolutionary Academy Award winning visual effects, this imaginative film was intended as a "Jules Verne"-esque style adventure.

The medieval philosophers were right. Man is the center of the universe. We stand in the middle of infinity between outer and inner space, and there's no limit to either.

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92. SILENT RUNNING
1972 • Douglas Trumbull
Screenplay: Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, Steven Bochco
Principal Cast: Bruce Dern
Genres: Space Travel, Post-Apocalyptic

EARTH'S LAST BATTLE WILL BE FOUGHT IN SPACE

All plant life on Earth is dead, and the remaining flora and fauna are on a large spacecraft, looked after by astronaut Freeman Lowell, played by Bruce Dern. The crew of the spacecraft gets orders to destroy all the plants and return home. Lowell refuses, killing his crew and takes the ship deeper into space to protect the plants. The film is an acting showcase for Dern, who only has three robots (Hewey, Dewey and Louie) to keep him company as his character enjoys the solitude of "nature." Soon, he gets word that a "rescue crew" is coming for him, and he only has one option left.

Look on the wall behind you. Look at that little girl's face. I know you've seen it. But you know what she's never going to be able to see? She's never going to be able to see the simple wonder of a leaf in her hand. Because theres not going to be any trees. Now you think about that.

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91. TRON
1982 • Steven Lisberger
Screenplay: Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird
Principal Cast: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes
Genres: Adventure

IN THE FUTURE VIDEO GAME BATTLES WILL BE A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

Kevin Flynn, computer hacker, arcade owner and former employee of ENCOM, is broken down into data by ENCOM's laser then reconstituted inside the video game world that is ruled by the villainous Master Control. Flynn teams up with the heroic security program, TRON, to overthrow Master Control and escape. The film features groundbreaking computer generated visual effects, which were, ironically, disqualified from Oscar contention at the time because using a computer was thought to be "cheating." 

That's Tron. He fights for the Users.

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90. SOYLENT GREEN
1973 • Richard Fleischer
Screenplay: Stanley R. Greenberg Based on Make Room! Make Room! (1966 novel) by Harry Harrison
Principal Cast: Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Edward G. Robinson
Genre: Dystopian Future

WHAT IS THE SECRET OF SOYLENT GREEN?

At this point, it's not a big secret to film fans as to what Soylent Green actually is. However that doesn't stop one from enjoying this pulpy early 70s sci-fi thriller where Charlton Heston tries to unravel the mystery of the mass produced green substance.  In this near-future set film, Soylent Industries provides an overpopulated planet with its product, Soylent Green, which supposedly contains all the nutrients one needs to consume. But what is the dark and sinister matter of which it is composed (Pssst. It's people.)

You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!

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89. THX 1138
1971 • George Lucas
Screenplay: George Lucas, Walter Murch
Principal Cast: Donald Pleasance, Maggie McOmie, Robert Duvall, James Wheaton
Genre: Dystopian Future

THE FUTURE IS HERE. STAY CALM.

George Lucas' first foray into science fiction was not Star Wars, but in fact, THX 1138, a feature based on his short film of the same name. The film takes place in an uncertain future, where the population is controlled and emotions are regulated by an oppressive government. Two mindless drones, THX 1138 and LUH 3147 stop taking their daily dosages and start feeling emotions again, especially towards each other. They plan an escape, but will they work. The 1984 influence is strong in this one, and it's a far cry from the space opera fantasy that Lucas would become known for 6 years later.

Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy.

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88. WESTWORLD
1973 • Michael Crichton
Screenplay: Michael Crichton
Principal Cast: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin
Genre: Dystopian Future, Western, Artificial Intelligence

WHERE NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG

In an undetermined future, The Delos Company offers the realization of the wildest fantasies of rich vacationers. Medivalworld, Romanworld and the titular Westworld provide realistic settings with lifelike robots to completely fulfill the fantasies. But when a gunslinger robot in Westworld malfunctions, it soon goes on a killing spree and wreaks havoc throughout the amusement park.  The Gunslinger, played by Yul Bryner in one of his final roles, is based on his role from The Magnificent Seven and even wears a similar costume.

We aren't dealing with ordinary machines here. These are highly complicated pieces of equipment. Almost as complicated as living organisms. In some cases, they have been designed by other computers. We don't know exactly how they work.

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87. A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
2001 • Steven Spielberg
Screenplay:  Steven Spielberg, Ian Watson based on the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss
Principal Cast: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, William Hurt
Genre: Artificial Intelligence

JOURNEY TO A WORLD WHERE ROBOTS DREAM AND DESIRE

The human race has become so advanced that they have created human, lifelike robots (mechas) to serve them in their everyday needs. When a young couple's son is stricken with a life-threatening disease, they adopt David, a mecha that is programmed to be a little boy and love his mother eternally. However, when the couple's son is cured, they quickly discard David, feeling he has served his purpose. What follows is a sci-fi fairy tale, in which David teams with Gigolo Joe, a sex mecha, to find the Blue Fairy to turn him into a real boy so his mother will love him again. Originally developed by Stanley Kubrick before he passed away, Kubrick handed over the reigns to Spielberg, feeling his sensibilities would be a better fit for the film.

You are neither flesh nor blood. You are not a dog a cat or a canary. You were designed and built specific like the rest of us... and you are alone now only because they tired of you... or replaced you with a younger model... or were displeased with something you said or broke. They made us too smart, too quick and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us.

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86. 1984
1984 • Michael Radford
Screenplay: Michael Radford based on the novel by George Orwell
Principal Cast: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack
Genre: Dystopian future

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

The world has been divided into three states following an atomic war. Oceania rules its citizens with extreme monitoring and has complete control.  Winston Smith is a mindless bureaucrat, whose main function is to rewrite history that is constantly in flux. But when he falls in love with Julia, he commits a major crime. Released in the same year as its title, Radford brings Orwell's vision of a dystopian society to fruition on the big screen in perhaps the best film adaptation of the classic novel. John Hurt and Richard Burton in particular put in fine performances.

This is our land. A land of peace and of plenty. A land of harmony and hope. This is our land. Oceania. These are our people. The workers, the strivers, the builders. These are our people. The builders of our world, struggling, fighting, bleeding, dying. On the streets of our cities and on the far-flung battlefields. Fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams. Who are they? 

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85. MEN IN BLACK
1997 • Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenplay: Ed Solomon Based on The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham
Principal Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rip Torn
Genre: Aliens, Secret Government Agencies, Action, Comedy

PROTECTING THE EARTH FROM THE SCUM OF THE UNIVERSE

A shadowy organization of men in black suits has been secretly keeping the world safe from alien menaces for decades. Now, after his partner was "retired", Agent K is on the lookout for his replacement and finds it in a tough New York City cop. The newly christened Agent J is taken on an on-the-job training exercise as he and his new partner track down a rogue alien threatening the world's safety.  After the success of Independence Day, Will Smith dove headfirst back into the sci-fi action genre, and ramped up the comedy as well. Still a fun movie, despite its terrible sequels, the film succeeds based on its fish-out-of-water story and the undeniable chemistry between Smith and Jones.

You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look GOOD.

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84. FAHRENHEIT 451
1966 • François Truffaut
Screenplay: Jean-Louis Richard, François Truffaut Based on Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Principal Cast: Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack
Genre: Dystopian Future

WHAT IF YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO READ?

In the future, firemen do not come to your home as saviours to protect you and your loved ones. On the contrary, firemen come to your home to destroy books on sight. Guy Montag, the hero of our story, begins to question his duties as he destroys ideas that could lead to an independent, free-thinking society. Montag falls in love with a rebel book-hoarder, Clarisse, and begins to read the banned material, setting his mind free. Montag must now decide if he will run, knowing full well the consequences if his government ever finds him. Based on the 1951 masterpiece by Ray Bradbury, this was Truffaut's first color film and the only film he ever made in English.

Behind each of these books, there's a man. That's what interests me.

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83. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
1976 • Nicholas Roeg
Screenplay: Paul Mayersberg Based on The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
Principal Cast: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark, Buck Henry, Bernie Casey
Genre: Alien Contact

YOU'RE ONLY WELCOME IT'S BENEFICIAL TO US

In the film where he most closely resembles Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona, Bowie is Thomas Jerome Newton, a humanoid alien creature that has come to Earth to collect water for his home planet.  With his advanced knowledge, he becomes very wealthy by patenting alien technology on Earth. The fortune he's amassed will help him build the spaceship he needs to return home, but will he ever get there?

Well I'm not a scientist. But I know all things begin and end in eternity.

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82. THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN
1971 • Robert Wise
Screenplay: Nelson Gidding Based on The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Principal Cast: Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid, David Wayne, Paula Kelly, George Mitchell
Genre: Alien "Invasion", First Contact, Science Procedural

THE PICTURE RUNS 130 MINUTES. THE STORY COVERS 96 OF THE MOST CRITICAL HOURS IN MAN'S HISTORY. THE SUSPENSE WILL LAST THROUGH YOUR LIFETIME!

Hours after a satellite returns to Earth, the residents of a small town in New Mexico are all found dead. The US government declares a state of emergency as it sends a team of top scientists to investigate. Deducing that it was an alien virus, the scientists take samples to a highly secure quarantined laboratory to see if they can find any answers. Additionally an old drunk and a baby have survived the new deadly plague, which mystifies our protagonists. But they soon realize that the virus has already mutated and could be even deadlier than previously imagined.

Fools! They refuse to believe life exists in meteorites. I showed them at the astrophysics conference what I just showed you. But no! Even with a microscope they are blind! But what do I have to do? Hit them over the head?

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81. STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT
1996 • Jonathan Frakes
Screenplay: Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore
Principal Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, Alice Krige
Genre: Space Travel, Time Travel, Action/Adventure

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Enterprise, is ordered by his superiors to not interfere in a battle between the Borg and other Federation starships. However, realizing the Federation is going to lose, he breaks protocol and successfully defends his Federation allies from the Borg. However a small portion of the Borg survives and escapes to the 21st Century, where Picard and crew follow it. Now, the only way to prevent the Borg from completely assimilating the Earth and changing history is to assist a crazy scientist in becoming the first man to travel at light speed.

We are not going to lose the Enterprise. Not to the Borg. Not while I'm in command.

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80. THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD
1951 • Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks 
Screenplay: Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks, Ben Hecht based on Who Goes There? (1938 novella) by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Principal Cast: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer, Robert O. Cornthwaite, James Arness
Genre: First Contact, Horror

WHERE DID IT COME FROM? HOW DID IT GET HERE? WHAT IS IT?

Scientists and Air Force officials in a remote arctic base discover a spaceship and its pilot frozen in ice. They take the frozen alien back to the base, where he thaws and begins a murderous rampage throughout its corridors.  The alien is depicted as 7 foot tall "man" with a Frankenstein-like face.  The filmmakers didn't believe the make up looked effective in close-ups, so they shot the creature in wide angles, which gave the film the added effect of making him seem more inhuman.  Truly one of the best science fiction creature features of the era.

Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!

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79. QUATERMASS AND THE PIT 
(also known as FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH)
1967 • Roy Ward Baker
Screenplay: Nigel Kneale
Principal Cast: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover
Genre: Horror, Aliens

FORCE MORE POWERFUL THAN 1,000 H-BOMBS UNLEASHED TO DEVASTATE EARTH! WORLD IN PANIC! CITIES IN FLAMES!

While digging for a new subway line in London, a construction uncovers a mysterious skeleton and a missile of unknown origin.  When Professor Quatermass is consulted on the mystery, he posits a theory that the skeleton and missile are of extra-terrestrial origin. He deduces the missile is actually a spacecraft, and further exploration of it unleashes a strange and immense power. The film is the third in the theatrical Quatermass series, and thought by many enthusiasts to be the best in the Hammer franchise.

You realise what you're implying? That we owe our human condition here to the intervention of insects?

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78. CONTACT
1997 • Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: James V. Hart, Michael Goldenberg; Story by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan; based on Contact by Carl Sagan
Principal Cast: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Angela Bassett
Genre: First Contact

TAKE A JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSE

Astronomer Ellie Arroway does not believe we are alone in the universe, and her passion and her work is to monitor for all signs of extra-terrestrial life. She is finally vindicated when she hears chatter coming from Vega, but it's not long before politicians, the military and even religious institutions try to take over her work. Intercepting and decoding the signal, it is revealed that "they" have sent designs for some sort of machine that could enable travel to Vega. But can Ellie convince her superiors she is the right person to take the trip?

You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.

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77. STARSHIP TROOPERS
1997 • Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay: Edward Neumeier; based on Starship Troopers (1959 novel) by Robert A. Heinlein
Principal Cast: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Muldoon, Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside
Genre: Adventure, Interplanetary War

A NEW KIND OF ENEMY. A NEW KIND OF WAR.

Robert Heinlein probably rolled over in his grave at the adaptation of his 1959 sci-fi classic novel of the same name. But Paul Verhoeven was not interested in literal adaptations. He was instead interested in making a satire about the perceived fascism of Heinlein's book. And the film certainly plays like a Nazi wartime propaganda film. That said, the film is also a great deal of visceral fun, as Johnny Rico leads his troops against the evil invading "bugs" bent on the annihilation of the human race. Critically panned on its initial release, the film has since gained a cult following.  Do you want to know more?

This is for all you new people. I have only one rule. Everybody fights, no one quits. If you don't do your job, I'll kill you myself! Welcome to the Roughnecks!

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76. THE TIME MACHINE
1960 • George Pal
Screenplay: David Duncan; Based on The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
Principal Cast: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot, Whit Bissell
Genres: Time Travel

YOU WILL ORBIT INTO A FANTASTIC FUTURE

Based on the classic HG Welles novel, Wells himself appears as a character in this film. Rod Taylor plays Wells, who at the beginning of the film, arrives late and dissheveled to his own party. He recounts to his guests about his adventures in self-made time machine, much to their disbelief. He is downtrodden at the lack of a utopian society he had hoped would have evolved in the future. The film then follows Wells adventures in the time machine as he goes further and further into the future, discovering the ultimate fate of humankind.

When I speak of time, I'm speaking of the fourth dimension.

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75. THE ABYSS
1989 • James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron
Principal Cast: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn
Genres: First Contact, Adventure

DEEP BELOW THE BLUE SURFACE, THERE LIES A PLACE NO ONE HAS EVER DREAMED OF...

An American nuclear submarine malfunctions and crashes into an underwater cliff, believing the Russians to be responsible, the US government sends a team of Navy SEALs and underwater drill workers on a rescue mission.  Increasingly suspicious of strange occurrences happening below the surface, the SEALs are certain it is the work of Russian agents. However, the rest of the crew soon realize that they may not be alone.

We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.

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1978 • Richard Donner
Screenplay: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton; Story by Mario Puzo; Based on Superman by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
Principal Cast:  Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York
Genre: Superhero, Adventure, Alien

YOU'LL BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY

Sent to Earth by his birth parents on a rocket ship to safety from the exploding doomed planet Krypton, Kal-El is found and adopted by the human couple the Kents. Raising him on midwest American values, Kal-El, or Clark Kent, seeks the truth of his origins after the death of adopted father. He learns that his superhuman powers are a gift and becomes mankind's savior, by stopping criminals, saving lives and even getting kittens out of trees. Things come to a head when he must stop Lex Luthor, a criminal madmen bent on blowing California into the ocean.

Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. But always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son.

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73. GALAXY QUEST
1999 • Dean Parisot
Screenplay: David Howard, Robert Gordon
Principal Cast: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell
Genre: Space Exploration, Comedy, Action/Adventure

A COMEDY OF GALACTIC PROPORTIONS

In this spoof of the "Star Trek" series, mostly out-of-work actors that once appeared on the television show "Galaxy Quest" are down on their luck and sick of the fanboy adulation that follows them around, especially when they feel they have more to offer.  An alien race, believing that the Galaxy Quest adventures they've seen are real-life documents, travel to Earth and recruit the cast to actually save the universe from a large-scale intergalactic crisis. The cast is amazing, but especially Alan Rickman.  Rickman plays Alexander Dane, a classically trained Shakespearean actor who gained fame for an old science fiction show, "Galaxy Quest."  Dane has complete disdain for his much-beloved Spock-like alien character, and resents the show and its fan base. Rickman's comedy chops aren't quite often mentioned, but this is his funniest role in his wonderful filmography.

By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged.

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72. SUNSHINE
2007 • Danny Boyle
Screenplay: Alex Garland
Principal Cast: Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh
Genre: Space Travel, End of the World

IF IT DIES, SO DO WE

In the future, the sun is dying, which as a result is also killing the Earth. A team of scientists on the Icarus I has failed in trying to re-ignite the sun. Seven years later, the Icarus II is headed with the same mission: detonate a nuclear superbomb in the sun to reignite it. They are mankind's last hope. But as the mission progresses, a series of disasters kills the crew members one by one. Will the mission be succesful? Or is the Earth doomed? Two thirds of an excellent science fiction film, it loses some points for the awkward horror movie storyline that is tacked on in the third act. That said, the visuals are amazing and the music is emotionally moving. Chris Evans' best pre-Captain America performance.

At the end of time, a moment will come when just one man remains. Then the moment will pass. Man will be gone. There will be nothing to show that we were ever here... but stardust.

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71. THE FIFTH ELEMENT
1997 • Luc Besson
Screenplay: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Principal Cast: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Milla Jovovich
Genre: Action/Adventure

TIME IS NOT IMPORTANT, ONLY LIFE IS IMPORTANT

In the 23rd Century, Earth is threatened by evil. It is foretold that every 5,000 years, the Fifth Element emerges to save mankind. It unites the other elements, Earth, Fire, Air, Water to protect all humans. The Fifth Element is destroyed, but is recreated in human form in the woman Leelo, who escapes and in a twist of fate runs into cab driver Korben Dallas. Leelo and Korben search for the remaining Element stones while the villainous Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg is on their trail with his crew of mercenaries.  A goofy, off-the-wall, popcorn sci-fi film with scenery chewing hilarity with Gary Oldman.

I don't know love. I was built to protect not to love, so there is no use for me other than this.

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70. LOOPER
2012 • Rian Johnson
Screenplay: Rian Johnson
Principal Cast: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels
Genre: Time Travel, Action

FACE YOUR FUTURE. FIGHT YOUR PAST.

In the future, time travel is banned. So of course, gangsters have gotten ahold of the technology. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send them back in time where a hired gun is waiting to kill them. When you've outlived your usefulness, the mob sends your future self back for you to close your own loop. When Joe's future self is sent back, not all goes as planned as his younger version fails to close the loop. But Future Joe is back to correct a wrong that has serious ramifications for the future of humanity. One of the best sci-fi films of the last decade.

I don't want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we're going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.

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69. STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
1991 • Nicholas Meyer
Screenplay: Nicholas Meyer, Denny Martin Flinn
Principal Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Kim Cattrall, George Takei, Kurtwood Smith
Genre: Space Exploration, Adventure

THE BATTLE FOR PEACE HAS BEGUN

After the Klingons decide they need the Federation's help to ensure the survival of their race, they agree to seek peace with the Federation with which they have been at war with for nearly a century. Captain Kirk is sent broker the peace treaty, due to his extensive experience with the Klingons. However, the Klingon High Chancellor has been assassinated and Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy have been framed for the murder. They are sent to a hard labor prison planet for their punishment. Can they escape before peace negotiations completely breakdown? Look out for a cameo by Worf from "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Kirk: They're animals.
Spock: Jim, there is an historic opportunity here.
Kirk: Don't believe them. Don't trust them.
Spock: They're dying.
Kirk: Let them die!

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68. PRIMER
2004 • Shane Carruth
Screenplay: Shane Carruth
Principal Cast: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan
Genre: Time Travel, Thriller

WHAT HAPPENS IF IT ACTUALLY WORKS?

Two entrepreneurial engineers, while working on a technology that could reduce the weight of an object, they accidentally stumble into creating a functional time machine. They expand upon the idea and create a larger version, called "The Box", to hold a human and begin experiments in time travel. Abe and Aaron soon start using the machine for financial gain, playing the stock market with future knowledge, and as their understanding of the machine evolves, the more wreckless they become with the technology. When someone close to them comes back in time, despite neither Abe nor Aaron telling him about the discovery, Abe decides the technology is too dangerous and travels back in time to destroy the machine before it was ever used. But Aaron is aware of the "failsafe" box and went back to use it before Abe could. What follows is each engineer trying to outthink the other in this bewildering time travel thriller.

If you ditch work this afternoon, and promise to do the few small things I ask you; I will in return show you the most important thing that any living organism has ever witnessed.

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67. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
1981 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Nick Castle
Principal Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Ox Baker
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Future, Action

1997. NEW YORK CITY IS NOW A MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON. BREAKING OUT IS IMPOSSIBLE. BREAKING IN IS INSANE.

Like the tagline says, New York is a prison for the worst scum in the country. The President of the United States is flying over NYC when his plane is shot down by convicts, who hold him hostage.  The warden of the prison cuts a deal with dangerous inmate Snake Plisken: Rescue the President and the highly classified tape he has in his possession, and he'll be awarded a full pardon. But there's a catch, in order to ensure full cooperation, Snake is injected with a lethal poison that will kill him in 24 hours unless he brings back the President before that deadline. Without a choice, Snake breaks into the NYC prison on his mission to rescue the President and save his own life.

 In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple: once you go in, you don't come out.

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66. SNOWPIERCER
2013 • Bong Joon-Ho
Screenplay: Bong Joon-ho, Kelly Masterson; Story by Bong Joon-ho; Based on Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, Jean-Marc Rochette
Principal Cast: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Ko Asung, John Hurt, Ed Harris
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Future, Action

FIGHT YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT

In Bong Joon-Ho's metaphor for class warfare, the future is a cold and miserable place where the Earth has frozen over because of global climate change. The Snowpiercer is a trans-global train where the remaining members of humanity live.  The closer you are to the front of the train, the wealthier you are, the closer to the back, the poorer you are. A group of the back train passengers revolt in violence, wanting the wealth, food and resources spread more evenly amongst the passengers. Curtis (Chris Evans) leads the revolt and must fight his way to the front of the train, with each new train car holding different surprises and deadly traps.

Would you wear a shoe on your head? Of course you wouldn't wear a shoe on your head. A shoe doesn't belong on your head. A shoe belongs on your foot. A hat belongs on your head. I am a hat. You are a shoe. I belong on the head. You belong on the foot. Yes? So it is. In the beginning, order was proscribed by your ticket: First Class, Economy, and freeloaders like you. Eternal order is prescribed by the sacred engine: all things flow from the sacred engine, all things in their place, all passengers in their section, all water flowing. all heat rising, pays homage to the sacred engine, in its own particular preordained position. So it is. Now, as in the beginning, I belong to the front. You belong to the tail. When the foot seeks the place of the head, the sacred line is crossed. Know your place. Keep your place. Be a shoe.

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65. MINORITY REPORT
2002 • Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Scott Frank, Jon Cohen; Based on The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick
Principal Cast: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow
Genre: Action, Dystopian Future, Tech-Noir

EVERYBODY RUNS

in 2054, crime is non-existent thanks to a revolutionary new crime-fighting force known as "PreCrime." Using a group of "PreCogs" who can see the future, the PreCrime unit knows when to stop a murder before it even happens. Tom Cruise is Anderton, the top cop in the division, but one day the PreCogs predict he will commit murder in the next 24 hours.  Anderton runs and tries to clear his name before he actually commits the murder of a person he doesn't even know. In a state-of-the-art city, Anderton goes under the radar to avoid detection and even kidnaps one of the PreCogs. He'll stop at nothing to get to the "minority report", which is the prediction that might just tell a different prediction...

But it didn't fall. You caught it. The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn't change the fact that it was *going* to happen.

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64. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
2014 • Bryan Singer
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg; Story by Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn; Based on Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont, John Byrne
Principal Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
Genre: Superhero, Action, Apocalyptic Future, Time Travel

HIS PAST. OUR FUTURE.

The X-Men has always lent itself to science fiction, what with the existence of super-powered humans that are the next step in the evolutionary ladder fighting for survival? But Days of Future Past is the most sci-fi film of the popular franchise.  The future is dark, with the remaining mutants fighting against extinction from the robot sentinels that are wiping them from existence. Kitty Pryde discovers a method to send Wolverine's brain back in time, into his body in the 1960s. In the 60s, Wolverine has to team with the younger versions of Professor Xavier, Beast and Magneto to try and stop Mystique's assassination attempt of Boliver Trask, the genius mind behind the Sentinels, believing this to be the turning point in the mutants' dark future. But all does not go as planned...

The past: a new and uncertain world. A world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. Countless choices define our fate: each choice, each moment, a moment in the ripple of time. Enough ripple, and you change the tide... for the future is never truly set.

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63. STAR TREK
2009 • J.J. Abrams
Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman; Based on the "Star Trek" series created by by Gene Roddenberry
Principal Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy
Genre: Space Travel, Action, Adventure

THE FUTURE BEGINS

The reboot of the popular franchise is controversial among "Star Trek" fans, with many not liking the more action-oriented direction the series has taken. That said, the new films remain popular with non-Trekkies and on its own merits, this film is a phenomenal sci-fi feature. It serves as an "origin story" of the original Enterprise crew that first introduced the world to "Star Trek": Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Bones.  It also splits from the original timeline and creating a separate alternate timeline that I will not spoil here. Pine and Quinto are especially good here, not just doing Shatner and Nimoy impression, but fully bringing the characters to life. Sorry Trekkies, it might not be a great Trek movie, but it's still a good sci-fi movie.

If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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62. TOTAL RECALL
1990 • Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay: Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman; Story by: Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill; Based on We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick
Principal Cast:  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox
Genre: Sci-Fi Action

THEY STOLE HIS MIND, NOW HE WANTS IT BACK

Right in the middle of his epic 1980s-mid 1990s blockbuster run, Schwarzenegger dropped this bad boy on the general public.  In the future, Rekall Inc. can create virtual vacations for you by implanting memories into your head instead of you actually experiencing them yourself. Arnie plays Douglas Quaid, a man haunted by memories of Mars. He goes to Rekall in hopes of getting answers, but during the implantation process, something goes wrong and he wakes up with memories of being a secret agent fighting the corrupt Martian government. But are these memories even real? Featuring great Arnold action and fun, if goofy, special effects, this is a fun sci fi popcorn flick.

Now, this is the plan. Get your ass to Mars.

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61. DARK CITY
1998 • Alex Proyas
Screenplay: Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs, David S. Goyer
Principal Cast:  Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O'Brien, Ian Richardson, William Hurt
Genre: Mystery, Aliens, Neo Noir

A WORLD WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS. WHERE MAN HAS NO PAST. AND HUMANITY HAS NO FUTURE.

John Murdoch wakes up in a strange apartment with no memory, a broken hypodermic needle and a dead body. He's wanted for murder, but he instinctively feels he is innocent. Murdoch evades capture throughout a nameless city that is always cast in darkness. Murdoch soon realizes that it is never daytime and discovers he is being hunted by a sinister group of leather-clad beings. These beings, it turns out, are in control of everything, from the constantly changing shape of the city to the very memories of its inhabitants. Murdoch carries this secret, and a greater power than he knows, and is the city's, and possibly mankind's, only hope for a future. A criminally underseen film, it has gained a cult following among sci-fi enthusiasts since its initial release and was Roger Ebert's favorite film of 1998.

First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology. The ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability "Tuning". But they were dying. Their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world seeking a cure for their own mortality. Their endless journey brought them to a small, blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy. Our world. Here they thought they had finally found what they had been searching for.

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60. REPO MAN
1984 • Alex Cox
Screenplay: Alex Cox
Principal Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez
Genre: Cyberpunk

IT'S 4 A.M. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CAR IS?

One of the wackiest films on the countdown, this film, in addition to being one of Emilio Estevez's first film roles, has garnered a huge cult following.  Estevez plays loser punk rocker, Otto, who has just been fired from his super market job and dumped by his girlfriend.  His parents also give away all his college fund to a sleazy televangelist. Without any prospects he joins The Helping Hands Acceptance Corporation as a repo man, and soon finds that the job suits him.  He stumbles into a world of off-beat weirdness and wackiness when a mysterious 1964 Chevy Malibu enters his life with top-secret government cargo. If this movie wasn't written for Harry Dean Stanton, no movie is.

The life of a Repo Man is always intense.

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2008 • Jon Favreau
Screenplay: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway; Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby
Principal Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow
Genre: Superhero, Action/Adventure

HEROES AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE BUILT.

Tony Stark is the genius billionaire CEO of Stark Industries, a corporate tech giant largely focused on weapons manufacturing. He's brash, arrogant and irresponsible, but also quite possibly one of the most intellectually gifted in the world. While on a tour of Afghanistan, selling weapons to the US military, his convoy is attacked and he is near-fatally wounded by one of his own weapons, sold illegally to a terrorist organization. The terrorists take Stark hostage, forcing him to build them a new weapon, but instead Stark builds an imposing iron suit of destruction to secure his freedom. Back in the United States, Stark vows not to build weapons of destruction anymore, instead focusing his efforts on protecting humanity. The Iron Man suit is the first step in that direction, but he meets resistance from inside his own organization.  This film jump-started, in a big way, Marvel Films' emergence as the market leader in big tentpole summer releases.

The truth is... I am Iron Man.

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58. EDGE OF TOMORROW
2014 • Doug Liman
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth; Based on All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Principal Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
Genre: Sci-Fi Action, Alien Invasion

LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.

Earth is under a full-scale alien invasion. Major William Cage is a military officer in charge of public relations, but more importantly a bit of a coward. He's had no combat experience, and heavily objects when he's assigned to cover the siege on the alien attackers, wearing one of the mech attack suits that he has so confidently selling to the public. The reason the aliens have so far been succesful in their efforts is a technology that allows them to reset the future, learn from their mistakes and attack again.  Through sheer dumb luck, Cage is enabled with the same power and everytime he is killed in action, he resets back 24 hours, learning from his mistakes each time. With each reset, he also becomes that much less of a coward, which helps when he teams up with Special Forces veteran Rita Vrataski to try and win the war.  Phenomenal action and unusual role for Cruise, as he does not start the film in his typical heroic fashion. In fact his cowardice makes him so unlikeable that his ultimate redemption is that much more rewarding.

- What do we do now?
- I don't know. We've never gotten this far.

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57. STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME
1986 • Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay: Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer, Harve Bennett
Principal Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Jane Wyatt, Catherine Hicks, Mark Lenard, Robin Curtis
Genre: Time Travel

THE KEY TO SAVING THE FUTURE, CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE PAST

Yes, this is "the one with the whales." In the 23rd Century timeline of Star Trek, a mysterious alien force is destroying the oceans. It is soon discovered that sounds of the aliens are actually the song of a humpback whale, but there are no humpback whales left in the 23rd century, having been extinct for some time. The crew of Starship Enterprise must now travel back in time to present day (or, 1986 anyway), find a pair of humpback whales and bring them back to their time in an effort to communicate with the alien race. Nimoy directed this installment in the franchise, and it proves to be a memorable one. Shatner and Nimoy are especially good in the film, reacting to the 20th century with on-point comedic timing. ("Double dumb ass on you!")  While the previous three films were very earnest, this light-hearted adventure was a nice change of pace with a solid environmental message.

- Don't tell me! You're from outer space.
- No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space.

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56. THE AVENGERS
2012 • Joss Whedon
Screenplay: Joss Whedon; Story by Zak Penn, Joss Whedon; Based on The Avengers comic book created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Principal Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson
Genre: Superhero, Action/Adventure, Alien Invasion

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

When an alien invasion led by Loki, a rogue god bent on ruling the Earth, threatens humanity, top secret agent Nick Fury assembles a group of special people to avenge it: A billionaire playboy with a high tech iron armor suit; a rage monster; a thunder god; a super soldier in an era he doesn't belong and two lethal assassins. This was Marvel's crowning achievement of their "Phase 1" plan to bring all of their franchises into the same universe. The result is a fun, action-packed superhero roller coaster ride that was perfect summer blockbuster entertainment for the masses. 

You're missing the point! There's no throne, there is no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it's too much for us but it's all on you. Because if we can't protect the Earth, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge it!

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55. SERENITY
2005 • Joss Whedon
Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Principal Cast: Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Genre: Space Western

THEY AIM TO MISBEHAVE

Two years after "Firefly," the beloved space western/sci-fi, was cancelled after a short-lived season, creator Joss Whedon released Serenity as a final goodbye to the series. The series follows Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew of smugglers on the "Firefly-class" ship named Serenity and their many adventures. The film takes place after the events of the final episode. The Serenity crew are still harboring two fugitives from the justice of an oppressive government: Dr. Simon Tam and his sister River, a telepath. The crew actively avoids capture from the corrupt Alliance, escape assassins and deal with the dangerous threat of the monstrous cannibals known as Reavers. The film offers some closure for fans of the series, but in typical Joss Whedon style, leaves some questions unanswered.

Y'all got on this boat for different reasons, but y'all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave.

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54. PREDATOR
1987 • John McTiernan
Screenplay: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
Principal Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura
Genre: Alien Invader, Horror

NOTHING LIKE IT HAS EVER BEEN ON EARTH BEFORE

One of the great monster movies. Another sci-fi/action/horror classic from the 80s.  Only this time Arnold isn't the hunter, he's the hunted.  Arnold and a squadron of tough guy commandos  navigate through an unforgiving jungle as an unseen threat takes them out one-by-one.  Finally only Arnold is left standing to defend himself from this stalker from the stars.

There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man. We're all gonna die.

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53. THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN
1957 • Jack Arnold
Screenplay: Richard Matheson, Richard Alan Simmons; Based on The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson
Principal Cast: Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Billy Curtis
Genre: Cult, Miniaturization

ALMOST BEYOND IMAGINATION... A STRANGE ADVENTURE INTO THE UNKNOWN

On a bright sunny day at sea, Scott Carey has a strange encounter with a glittery mist that has lasting effects. Slowly over time his body starts to get smaller. At first, it's negligible, his close fit a little looser... but as the days and weeks pass, his condition worsens and becomes alarming. Each passing day brings new dangers, whether it's the family cat or a common household spider. Typical in the 1950s were this kind of science fiction film (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Amazing Colossal Man), but where others were exploitative, tacky and silly, this film has real heart. The final confrontation with the spider, despite its primitive special effects, is fraught with danger. Scott Carey's final narration as he continues to shrink out of existence is existential and even moving.

I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close - the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet - like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends in man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!

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52. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
1956 • Don Siegel
Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring; Based on The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
Principal Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones
Genre: Alien Invasion, 50s Paranoia

THEY CAME FROM ANOTHER WORLD!

A small town doctor suddenly has an influx of patients that he believes are suffering paranoid delusions. The delusions are all the same: their friends and family members have been replaced with imposters. Initially dismissive, Dr. Miles Bennell slowly starts to realize that perhaps his patients aren't paranoid at all, and something more sinister may be afoot.  A classic sci-fi/horror mash-up, the film is often seen as an allegory to the anti-Communist scare that plagued Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s.

They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next...!

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51. DISTRICT 9
2009 • Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Principal Cast: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Vanessa Haywood, Mandla Gaduka, Kenneth Nkosi, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, Louis Minnaar, William Allen Young
Genre: Alien Encounter, Mutation, Social Commentary

YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE

30 years ago, an alien race arrived to Earth and settled in South Africa. Initially welcomed, the country has now taken to restricting the "prawns" to their own heavily regulated section of Johannesburg, with very limited freedom. Once a refugee camp, it has turned into a ghetto under the gun of South African police. A weapons contractor is hired by the government to evict the alien residents, but when the officer in charge is blasted by an alien chemical, he starts to slowly mutate into something inhuman. No longer wanted by his family, friends or coworkers, Wikus must rely on the prawns he once oppressed for help. The film, which a very obvious metaphor for South African apartheid, drew high praise from critics and was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

When dealing with aliens, try to be polite, but firm. And always remember that a smile is cheaper than a bullet.

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1989 • Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: Bob Gale; Story by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
Principal Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Elizabeth Shue
Genre: Comedy, Time Travel

GETTING BACK WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING

Set immediately following the events of its predecessor (with Elizabeth Shue replacing Claudia Wells as Jennifer Parker), Marty McFly is taken to the future in a flying DeLorean by Doc Brown to save his son from evil bully, Griff Tannen. While visiting his future, Marty buys a sports almanac and inadvertently kicks off a series of events that have huge consequences, including creating a dark alternate 1985 timeline where Biff Tannen runs Hill Valley and has married his mother. Now Doc and Marty must travel back to 1955 again to correct their futures.  The better of the two BTTF sequels, this film may not have the heart of the original, but it captures the fun and has a lot of fun with the time travel element.

- Oh, this is heavy, Doc. I mean, it's like I was just here yesterday.
- You were here yesterday, Marty.

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49. THE MARTIAN
2015 • Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Drew Goddard; Based on The Martian by Andy Weir
Principal Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Genre: Rescue Mission, Survival

BRING HIM HOME

During a manned expedition to Mars, the crew Ares III is forced to evacuate in an emergency during an unusually strong dust storm. Astronaut Mark Watney, believed to have died in the storm, is left behind. Watney wakes up after the storm has cleared, with no crew and no way of communicating back to his crew or to Earth. With a limited supply of food and no hope of rescue, Watney must use his scientific knowledge to learn how to survive in the harsh Martian environment and find some way of communicating with Earth. When NASA eventually realizes Watney survived, an international rescue mission is mounted, but will it be too late? The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture

They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially colonized it. So, technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!

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48. WAR OF THE WORLDS
1953 • Byron Haskin
Screenplay:  Barré Lyndon; Based on The War of the Worlds (1898 novel) by H. G. Wells
Principal Cast: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson
Genre: Alien Invasion

THEY CAME TO CONQUER THE EARTH!

Perhaps HG Wells' most famous work was finally adapted to the big screen in 1953. It was first adapted infamously as a radio play by Orson Welles, and caused widespread, in fact. So much so that studios wanted capitlize on the publicity and have Orson adapt it as his first feature film... Welles decided to make Citizen Kane instead. Fast forward to 1953 when this sci-fi classic was released in theaters. Martians land on Earth and launch an unprovoked attack on Earth. Nothing seems to be able to stop the invaders, not guns, not tanks, not even atomic bombs. How will Earth survive? While it may seem dated today, the film did win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

No one would have believed in the middle of the 20th Century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than Man's. Yet, across the gulf of space on the planet Mars, intellects vast and cool and unsypathetic regarded our Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely joined their plans against us. Mars is more than 140 million miles from the sun, and for centuries has been in the last status of exhaustion. At night, temperatures drop far below zero even at its equator. Inhabitants of this dying planet looked across space with instruments and intelligences that which we have scarcely dreamed, searching for another world to which they could migrate.

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47. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
1978 • Philip Kaufman
Screenplay:  W. D. Richter; Based on The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
Principal Cast: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright
Genre: Alien Invasion

FROM DEEP SPACE....

The 1978 remake of the 1950s classic gets a little higher placement on the list. The film trades the small town of the original to San Francisco.  Matthew Bennell notices that some of his friends claim that their loved ones are acting different and cold. But then Bennell sees that later they have also changed in some way that he cannot articulate.  Eventually Bennell sees a "replacement" in process and becomes alarmed at the rate at which the "pod people" are multiplying, escpecially after falling asleep. It's Bennell vs the city as he attempts to escape the city. Both the original film and this remake are excellent adaptations, though some hold this remake in higher regard overall.

We came here from a dying world. We drift through the universe, from planet to planet, pushed on by the solar winds. We adapt and we survive. The function of life is survival.

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46. GRAVITY
2013 • Alfonso Cuaron
Screenplay: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Principal Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Genre: Space, Survival

DON'T LET GO

Astronauts Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalksi are on a routine spacewalk,  servicing a Hubble satellite. Stone is a first-time astronaut while this is Kowalksi's final mission. When high-speed debris from a downed Russian satellite hits Stone and Kowalski, all Hell breaks loose. The other astronauts are killed immediately, while Stone gets sent hurtling through space. Now Stone and Kowalski must try and survive the vacuum of space, low on oxygen, and safely return home. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and won seven: Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Visual Effects, Music, Sound Editing & Mixing. It also won 8 Essential Film Awards including: Best Film of the Year, Best Actress for Sandra Bullock, Best Director, Best Visual Effects and Best Music.

Listen, do you wanna go back, or do you wanna stay here? I get it. It's nice up here. You can just shut down all the systems, turn out all the lights, and just close your eyes and tune out everyone. There's nobody up here that can hurt you. It's safe. I mean, what's the point of going on? What's the point of living? Your kid died. Doesn't get any rougher than that. But still, it's a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go, then you gotta just get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride. You gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start livin' life. Hey, Ryan? It's time to go home.

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45. GHOST IN THE SHELL
1995 • Mamoru Oshii
Screenplay: Kazunori Itō; Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow
Principal Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi
Genre: Anime, Cyborgs

IT FOUND A VOICE, NOW IT NEEDS A BODY

In the year 2029, the world is interconnected via the network and its citizens are directly patched into the information age. Hacking is a major problem and a significant crime, therefore, Section 9 was created to police it. Cyborgs are created to access all info on any network to catch hackers. Major Motoko Kusanagi is one such agent, and she is on the trail of a mysterious hacker known as The Puppet Master.  20 years later, Ghost in the Shell that it was way ahead of its time.

There are countless ingredients that make up the human body and mind, like all the components that make up me as an individual with my own personality. Sure I have a face and voice to distinguish myself from others, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me, and I carry a sense of my own destiny. Each of those things are just a small part of it. I collect information to use in my own way. All of that blends to create a mixture that forms me and gives rise to my conscience. I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries.

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44. TWELVE MONKEYS
1995 • Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: David Peoples, Janet Peoples; Based on La jetée by Chris Marker
Principal Cast: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer
Genre: Time Travel

THE FUTURE IS HISTORY

Taking a concept from Chris Marker's La Jetée, Terry Gilliam delivers a powerful, spell-binding time travel feature.  In the year 2035, only 1% has survived after a deadly viral outbreak in 1996. The mysterious powers that be send James Cole back in time in order to find the virus and bring it back for study. The only clue the world has is that it was released by an army of "twelve monkeys."  Cole, upon entering 1996, is sentenced to a mental hospital for his time travel claims, and escapes with patient Jeffrey Gaines, a virus expert. While in the past he also falls for Dr. Kathryn Rally, a psyciatrist, whom he kidnaps, using her to help him find the Twelve Monkeys. A great, trippy time travel movie that was nominated for two Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt.

There's the television. It's all right there - all right there. Look, listen, kneel, pray. Commercials! We're not productive anymore. We don't make things anymore. It's all automated. What are we *for* then? We're consumers, Jim. Yeah. Okay, okay. Buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, if you don't, what are you then, I ask you? What? Mentally *ill*. Fact, Jim, fact - if you don't buy things - toilet paper, new cars, computerized yo-yos, electrically-operated sexual devices, stereo systems with brain-implanted headphones, screwdrivers with miniature built-in radar devices, voice-activated computers...

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43. FRANKENSTEIN
1931 • James Whale
Screenplay: Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, Robert Florey, John Russell; Peggy Webling (Play); John L. Balderston (Adaptation); Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Principal Cast: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff
Genre: Horror, Monsters, Playing God

THE MAN WHO MADE A MONSTER

The most well-known adaptation of Mary Shelley's immortal work.  Dr. Henry Frankenstein believes he can give life to dead flesh and creates a man to prove his theory, instead he gives birth to a monster. One of the first books and films to really start blending genres. Whale (through Shelly's work) used elements of science fiction and horror to create the monster, and his "birth" scene is still one of the most memorable in film history. The movie spawned dozens of sequels, interpretations and imitators, but the original remains the standard classic.

Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!  Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!

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42. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
2014 • James Gunn
Screenplay: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman; Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Principal Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro
Genre: Action, Adventure, Space Opera

WHEN THINGS GO BAD, THEY'LL DO THEIR WORST

Peter Quill was abducted by space pirates from Earth at a very young age and raised as a smuggler. Often on the run from intergalactic law, he finally lands in prison with the worst scum of the universe. He plots an escape with the assistance of Gamora, an alien assassin; Drax, a literal-minded brute; Groot, a walking tree with a limited vocabulary; and Rocket, a raccoon with a machine gun. These mismatched misfits agree to sell Quill's previous bounty, an all-powerful "Infinity Stone" to an unscrupulous collector. When the villainous Ronan The Accuser finds the stone and steals it for his own plans of domination, it's up to these outlaws to save the universe. Uh oh.

Aww, what the hell, I don't got that long a lifespan anyway...

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41. FORBIDDEN PLANET
1956 • Fred M. Wilcox
Screenplay: Cyril Hume; Story by  Irving Block, Allen Adler
Principal Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Robby the Robot
Genre: Alien Civilization, Exploration, Robots

IT'S OUT OF THIS WORLD!

At first glance, this is a cheesy 50s Science Fiction B-Movie. In many ways it is, of course. But its influence can not be understated.  Gene Roddenberry has been quoted as saying this film was a major influence in creating the "Star Trek" series.  Neilsen plays a straight man, the commander of a starship marooned with his crew on a strange planet.  It might be odd for many viewers more familiar with Nielsen's comedic work to see him playing a dramatic role, but all the more reason to watch it.  Nielsen had a dramatic as well as a comedic range. His comedic roles were the most financially successful, but one should seek out films like Forbidden Planet to fully appreciate all he contributed to cinema.

Another one of them new worlds. No beer, no women, no pool parlors, nothin'. Nothin' to do but throw rocks at tin cans, and we gotta bring our own tin cans.

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40. MAD MAX: THE ROAD WARRIOR
1981 • George Miller
Screenplay: Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant
Principal Cast: Mel Gibson
Genres: Post-Apocalypse Society, Action

RUTHLESS... SAVAGE... SPECTACULAR

It's the post-Apocalypse.  It's the Australian Outback.  Gasoline is scarce.  There's a roving band of marauders terrorizing survivors.  Only one man can stop them. Before Mel Gibson ran into all of his publicity problems in recent years, he was in this star-making film that was balls-to-wall crazy with explosions and action. A must watch if you enjoyed this year's Mad Max: Fury Road which may or not be a sequel to the original series. This is the best film of the original Mad Max trilogy.

My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos... ruined dreams... this wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called "Max." To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time... when the world was powered by the black fuel... and the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now... swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war, and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel they were nothing. They'd built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed... men like Max... the warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything... and became a shell of a man... a burnt-out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again.

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39. ROBOCOP
1987 • Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Principal Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer
Genre: Action, Cyborgs, Dystopias

THE FUTURE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

In the future, the city of Detroit is in massive disrepair, with crime running rampant. Mega corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) creates a massive crime-fighting robot, which develops a lethal glitch and leaves the company with a tarnished public image. Trying to improve their image, they implement their new cyborg technology on recently killed-in-action hero cop Alex Murphy, turning him into a one-man crime fighting machine: ROBOCOP. He's part man. Part machine. All cop.

Dead or alive, you're coming with me.

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38. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
1982 • Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison
Principal Cast: Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore
Genre: Family, Alien Encounter, Friendly Aliens

HE IS AFRAID. HE IS TOTALLY ALONE. HE IS 3 MILLION LIGHTYEARS FROM HOME.

A young suburban kid longing for more encounters a stranded friendly alien that he names "E.T." The two share a close bond, develop a friendship and when the government comes looking for E.T., the boy must race to get him back on his way home. One of the most enduring family films of all time. E.T. remains a favorite in the hearts of everyone who has ever seen it.  More than just an overly-sentimental children's film, as some have criticized, it brings compassion, warmth and heart not found in many modern films.  This blog also challenges you to NOT cry at the end of this film.

E.T.... phone home...

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37. DONNIE DARKO
2001 • Richard Kelly
Screenplay: Richard Kelly
Principal Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, Katharine Ross, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle
Genre: Thriller, Time Travel, Parallel Universe

WHY ARE YOU WEARING THAT STUPID MAN SUIT?

Donnie is a troubled high school kid, who doesn't get along with anyone. Not his family, or fellow students or the teachers. But he does have friends: Gretchen, a compassionate loner that agrees to become his girlfriend and a psychiatrist that specializes in hypnosis. But Donnie has another friend... a friend only he can see: Frank, a large man-sized bunny. One day, a large airplane engine falls out of the sky and destroys Donnie's bedroom, but Donnie manages to avoid the lethal fate.  How does Donnie escape? And does it have anything to do with Frank's mysterious warnings that the world is coming to an end?

I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.

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36. INTERSTELLAR
2014 • Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Principal Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine
Genres: Space Exploration, Black Holes, Space Travel, Saving The World

MANKIND WAS BORN ON EARTH. IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO DIE HERE.

Drought, famine and dying crops are plaguing the earth. Food is scarce and the climate is changing drastically. Humanity does not have much time left before extinction. Scientists discover a rip in the time/space continuum... a wormhole in space. It is theorized that perhaps through the wormhole lies a habitable world that could save humanity. A group of explorers must now travel through the wormhole, beyond our solar system, beyond where man has ever traveled in history, into the great unknown. Interstellar was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and brought home the statue for Visual Effects.

We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt.

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35. THE FLY
1986 • David Cronenberg
Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg
Principal Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
Genres: Horror, Playing God, Teleportation, Science Gone Wrong

BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID.

While experimenting with a teleportation machine he invented, a scientist starts undergoing a disgusting transformation thanks to an insect that inadvertently sabotages the equipment.  David Cronenberg's body horror masterpiece. This is a perfect example of the "science gone wrong" subgenre of science fiction films, when the arrogant scientist does not account for all factors, causing havoc in the outcome.  As scary as it is gross, this science fiction was, at the time, a modern re-telling of the 1950s era creature features, including the film it remade, the original Fly.

Whaddaya think? A fly. Am I becoming a hundred-and-eighty-five-pound fly? No, I'm becoming something that never existed before. I'm becoming... Brundlefly. Don't you think that's worth a Nobel Prize or two?

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34. GHOSTBUSTERS
1984 • Ivan Reitman
Screenplay: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Principal Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts
Genres: Comedy, Paranormal

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? GHOSTBUSTERS

More laughs than scares, the classic 80s film depicts a group of PHDs in paranormal research who get kicked out of their university and start a lucrative business where they track down can and capture the evil spirits that are haunting New York City. Upon first examination, what seems like a comedy/horror film, has many elements of science fiction, albeit very far-fetched ones. After all, our heroes ARE scientists, and everything from the containment units to the proton packs are fantastic sci-fi ideas.

Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.

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33. MOON
2009 • Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones
Principal Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
Genres: Artificial Life

250,000 MILES FROM HOME, THE HARDEST THING TO FACE IS YOURSELF

Sam Bell is the sole contractor working on the moon for Lunar Industries, a manufacturing plant that processes and mines for Helium-3, a new compound that is the new wonder-fuel for Earth. He has three weeks left on his three week contract, and anxious to return home, he's busily getting everything ready for his replacement. With only the base' A.I. assisant, GERTY, to keep him company, this kind of work, while lucrative is very lonely.  While on a routine run, Sam gets into an accident, waking up back at the base where he realizes he is not alone...

I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be.

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32. EX MACHINA
2015 • Alex Garland
Screenplay: Alex Garland
Principal Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
Genres: Artificial Intelligence, Robots

WHAT HAPPENS TO ME IF I FAIL YOUR TEST?

Shy and reserved, Caleb is a young programmer at a Google-like company, Blue Book. He wins a contest to spend a week with the Blue Book's founder and CEO, Nathan Bateman, in his isolated mountain facility.  When he arrives, Nathan reveals the true nature of his visit, he needs someone to interact and interview a robot he has built and he believes it to be the world's first, true and legitimate artificial intelligence. The robot/AI is named Ava, and Caleb must administer the Turing test to see if she can pass as a "real" human. As the week progresses, Caleb becomes increasingly uneasy at the moral quandaries of his situation. The film beat out major Hollywood releases like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian to win the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.

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31. RETURN OF THE JEDI
(Later Retitled as STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - RETURN OF THE JEDI)
1983 • Richard Marquand
Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas; Story by George Lucas
Principal Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, James Earl Jones
Genres: Space Opera, Science Fantasy, Adventure

THE SAGA CONTINUES

Originally titled Revenge of the Jedi, this is the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. Following the events of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker, almost completing his training as a Jedi Knight, launches a rescue mission with Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO and Lando Calrisian to save the frozen Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. Meanwhile, the Empire has build a second Death Star, that dwarves the original with more destructive power than ever before. Can the reunited rebels destroy the second Death Star, and with it the evil Emperor? Or will the Emperor's sinister manipulation of Luke and his father, Darth Vader, prove to be the downfall for the Rebel Alliance?

Remember, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Luke... Luke... do not... do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor or suffer your father's fate you will. Luke, when gone am I... the last of the Jedi will you be. Luke, the Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned, Luke. There is... another... Sky... walker.

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30. THEY LIVE
1988 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: John Carpenter (as Frank Armitage); Based on "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" by Ray Nelson
Principal Cast: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster
Genres: Alien Invasion, Paranoia, Horror

YOU SEE THEM ON THE STREET. YOU WATCH THEM ON TV. YOU MIGHT EVEN VOTE FOR ONE THIS FALL. YOU THINK THEY'RE PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU. YOU'RE WRONG. DEAD WRONG.

John Carpenter's brilliant satire about American consumerism and politics. Roddy Piper stars as a nameless drifter, just looking for a job in the recession-filled 1980s, when he stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses allow him to see the world from a new perspective. With the glasses on he can see alien conquerors in disguise as humans and subliminal commands hidden in advertisements and products. His quest is simple: destroy as many aliens as he can and expose the truth to the world.

I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

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29. SECONDS
1966 • John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: Lewis John Carlino; Based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely
Principal Cast: Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph
Genres: New Identity, Thriller

WHAT ARE SECONDS?

An unhappy middle-aged banker is offered a second chance. A second chance at life. A second chance at love. A second chance at success. A mysterious organization offers rich people the chance to "Die" and be "reborn" as whatever they want. Through a faked accident that "kills" him, dumpy Arthur Hamilton is reborn as the chiseled Rock Hudson, through extensive plastic surgery.  He's also given a new house on the beach and has become a respected artist. But this new life comes with rules, but will Hamilton follow them?

I couldn't help it, Charlie. I had to find out where I went wrong. The years I've spent trying to get all the things I was told were important - that I was supposed to want! Things! Not people... or meaning. Just things. And California was the same. They made the decisions for me all over again and they were the same things, really. It's going to be different from now on. A new face and a name. I'll do the rest. I know it's going to be different. I suppose you do too.

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28. HER
2013 • Spike Jonze
Screenplay: Spike Jonze
Principal Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt
Genre: Romance, Artificial Intelligence

Theodore, a lonely "letter writer" (where a company writes letters for you to your loved ones) is going through a heartbreaking divorce. He decides to by OS1, a new operating system that controls all of your connected devices, boasting the most advanced A.I. to date. In fact their advertising states: "It's not just an operating system, it's a consciousness." His OS calls herself Samantha and as he continues to rely on her for his daily tasks, he also gets to know this quickly developing "person." It's not long before Theodore and Samantha fall in love, but how will they ever make it work? Her was nominated for five Academy Awards and picked up the trophy for Best  Screenplay.

It's like I'm reading a book... and it's a book I deeply love. But I'm reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you... and the words of our story... but it's in this endless space between the words that I'm finding myself now. It's a place that's not of the physical world. It's where everything else is that I didn't even know existed. I love you so much. But this is where I am now. And this is who I am now. And I need you to let me go. As much as I want to, I can't live in your book any more.

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27. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
1977 • Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Steven Spielberg
Principal Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, François Truffaut
Genre: Alien Encounter

CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE FIRST KIND: SIGHTING A UFO. CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE SECOND KIND: PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE THIRD KIND: CONTACT. WE ARE NOT ALONE.

Roy Neary, an ordinary cable repair man is investigating a recent string of power outages when he is bathed in white light from a passing UFO. Neary is then haunted by strange visions and a series of the same five musical notes, which torments and confuses his family Meanwhile, the government is investigating strange occurrences such as planes that disappeared in the 40s suddenly appearing out of nowhere.  And a single mother from Indiana is grief stricken as her little boy is suddenly taken in the middle of the night when he walks into the blinding light of a UFO. All three storylines intersect at Devils Tower in Utah where it seems that extra-terrestrial visitors are planning something... but what? Released the same year as Star Wars, the film has become one of the lasting iconic films of Spielberg's epic run from the early 70s through the mid 1980s.

I know this sounds crazy, but ever since yesterday on the road, I've been seeing this shape. Shaving cream, pillows... Dammit! I know this. I know what this is! This means something. This is important.

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26. STALKER
1979 • Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Arkadi Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky; Based on Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
Principal Cast: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko
Genres: Art Film, Post Apocalypse, Science vs Religion, Telekinetic Powers

Next to a dark, miserable unnamed city lies "The Zone," a forbidden area protected by barbed wire. A man known as a stalker, a mentally gifted guide, takes a job leading two men through the Zone to get to the mysterious Room, which can supposedly grant one's wishes. They cannot take a straight path to the Room, and the path is dangerous as the laws of reality no longer apply in the Zone. When they finally reach their destination, they must wrestle with the idea of whether The Room will grant your conscious wish or your true, unconscious desire. A difficult film to comprehend at first, but much like Tarkovsky's work, it rewards multiple viewings.

The Zone wants to be respected. Otherwise it will punish.

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25. AKIRA
1988 • Katsuhiro Otomo
Screenplay: Katsuhiro Otomo, Izo Hashimoto; Based on Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo
Principal Cast: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Taro Ishida, Mizuho Suzuki, Tetsusho Genda
Genres: Anime, Dystopia, Cyberpunk

THE END OF THE WORLD WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING

In 1988, Tokyo was destroyed at the onset of World War 3, and Neo Tokyo eventually rose in its ashes. Kaneda is tough guy leader of a bike gang on his way to save his best friend Tetsuo, who has been taken by the government for a top secret project known only as "Akira." Kaneda encounters everything from anti-government activists and corrupt politicians and mad scientists. Tetsuo, meanwhile, has developed extraordinarily dangerous superhuman powers, which threatens the city of Neo Tokyo.  All of this chaos stems from the "Akira" project, and the secrets are about to come exploding out like Pandora's box. One of the most beautifully animated films of all time, there have been repeated attempts by Hollywood to remake the film, and thankfully, non have succeeded... yet.

The future is not a straight line. It is filled with many crossroads. There must be a future that we can choose for ourselves.

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24.  BRAZIL
1985 • Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, Charles McKeown
Principal Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughan, Kim Greist
Genres: Dystopian Future

IT'S ONLY A STATE OF MIND

Terry Gilliam's brilliant satire of bureaucracy tells the story of Sam Lowry, who fantasizes about escaping his inefficient and convoluted world by flying away from it all on golden wings and being with the woman of his dreams. When a man named Buttle is wrongfully arrested for being confused with a terrorist known as Tuttle, Sam is sent to investigate the clerical error, which is when he discovers the woman of his fantasies is real. However, the government soon blames Lowry for the terrorist attacks and now he's on the run from the authorities. Almost mimicking the film itself, Universal, the film's distributor, thought the film tested poorly and refused to release Gilliam's cut and instead wanted to heavily re-edit the film to make it "consumer friendly." At odds with each other, the film's release was delayed. Gilliam screened his own version of the film, without permission, to critics and students. After critics named it the Best Picture of the year, the studio finally relented and released Gilliam's version.

I assure you, Mrs. Buttle, the Ministry is very scrupulous about following up and eradicating any error. If you have any complaints which you'd like to make, I'd be more than happy to send you the appropriate forms.

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23. GATTACA
1997 • Andrew Niccol
Screenplay: Andrew Niccol
Principal Cast: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law
Genres: Eugenics, Biopunk

ONLY THE STRONG SUCCEED

In a world where life-expectancy, disease and genetic defects are ascertained at birth, Vincent is one of the last few "natural" babies. He has a heart condition and no chance in a society that discriminates against "inferior" genes. In this society, your genetic material is consistently tested as a means of identification. Vincent hires Jerome, an ex athelete, to use his hair, urine, skin and blood samples so that he can ascend ranks in the Gattaca Corporation, to fulfill his dream of going to Saturn's moon, Titan, on a manned space flight. But when a murder in the office casts suspicion on him, who can he trust? The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, but ironically enough, many of the "futuristic" buildings used in the film were actually built in the 1930s and 40s.

You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.

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22. JURASSIC PARK
1993 • Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Michael Crichton, David Koepp; Based on Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Principal Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, B.D. Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards
Genres: Adventure, Playing God, Genetic Manipulation

LIFE FINDS A WAY

It may seem strange to include a film about dinosaurs in a list of science fiction films, but when the film is about a billionaire entrepreneur that creates an amusement park by bringing dinosaurs back from extinction through genetic experimentation... well it fits.  Based on the best-selling book by Michael Crichton, it's almost impossible to find someone who has not seen this record-breaking blockbuster film. While the science may be flawed in this science fiction film, it does spend a significant portion of the film explaining how the dinosaurs have been brought back to life. It's in this explanation that the fuels the consequences later in the film.  Besides being a great sci-fi film, Jurassic Park is one of the most beloved adventure popcorn movies of all time, spawning three sequels including last year's record-shattering Jurassic World .

If I may... Um, I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here, it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you're selling it, you wanna sell it.

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21. PLANET OF THE APES
1968 • Franklin J. Schaffner
Screenplay: Michael Wilson, Rod Serling; Based on Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
Principal Cast: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, Kim Hunter, James Whitmore, James Daly, Linda Harrison
Genres: Adventure, New Worlds, Social Commentary, Time Travel

SOMEWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE THERE MUST BE SOMETHING BETTER THAN MAN

Commander Taylor and his crew of astronauts leave the Earth in 1972, but they slip into a wormhole which causes them to travel far into the distant future. The ship lands on a strange and alien planet that they soon realize is completely dominated by walking, talking ape men. Hunted down and captured like animals, Commander Taylor soon learns that human beings are not the dominant species on the planet. Incredibly successful at the box office, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Music and Costume Design, and won a special award for John Chambers' groundbreaking special make-up effects. It also spawned multiple sequels throughout the 70s, an ill-fated Tim Burton remake in 2001, and a reboot of the series with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011.

Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

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2010 • Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
Principal Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
Genres: Heist, Action, Espionage

YOUR MIND IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

Cobb is a thief. But not just any thief. He's specifically hired to, through special technology, enter the minds and dreams of his targets to commit corporate espionage and steal highly guarded secrets. But when one mission goes wrong, his target becomes his client... promising through his political connections to get outstanding criminal charges in the United States dropped against him, if he can do one more job. The job? Instead of steal information from a corporate rival, he wants Cobb to PLANT an idea, or "inception." What follows is a high-tech, sci-fi heist film as Cobb assembles his crew of bandits to pull off something that's never been attempted before. Or has it? Inception became famous for confusing some viewers with its ambiguous ending and its dream within a dream within a dream scenarios. It won 4 Academy Awards of its nominated 8 and remains Christopher Nolan's most financially successful non-Batman film to date.

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere.

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19. ALIENS
1986 • James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron; Story by James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill; Based on characters created by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Principal Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Bill Paxton
Genres: Alien Encounter, Horror, Action

THIS TIME IT'S WAR

Taking place 57 years after the event of the first film, Ripley wakes up to find out that an entire generation has passed her by. She is questioned by her former employer, the Weyland Corporation as to what exactly happened all those years ago, because now they have lost contact with the planet LV-426, which was being terraformed and colonized by the company. Ripley accompanies company representative Carter Burke and a squadron of Space Marines back to LV-426 as an expert guide, only to find the planet deserted save for one lone survivor, a little girl named Newt. The planet is now swarming with beasts like the one Ripley encountered before, and now she must protect Newt at all costs while the Space Marines hold the monsters at bay.  The film was Cameron's follow-up to The Terminator, and he continued to deliver on the action/monster movie elements with a strong female protagonist in the lead. Weaver's second time performing Ripley earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

They mostly come out at night... mostly.

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18. WALL•E
2008 • Andrew Stanton
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon; Story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter
Principal Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver, MacInTalk
Genres: Animation, Post Apocalyptic, Humans Destroy Earth

AFTER 700 YEARS OF DOING WHAT HE WAS BUILT FOR, HE'LL DISCOVER WHAT HE WAS MEANT FOR

1000 years in the future, the Earth has been abandoned. Becoming a waste dump because society's continuous consumption and production of waste, mankind takes a trip to space on a corporate starship bought-and-paid for by the Buy & Large corporation. The idea being that once the Earth has been cleaned up, mankind will one day return. On Earth is a lonely robot named WALL•E, the last remaining clean-up droid that gathers garbage and compacts them into easily stackable cubes. WALL•E is a quirky little robot that shows an interest in human trinkets from Rubik's Cubes to jewelry boxes. He also is a romantic at heart as he watches an old VHS of Hello Dolly and longs for companionship. One day, a futuristic robot named EVE arrives on Earth, and WALL•E may just get his wish. Winning an Academy Award for Best Animated film, WALL•E has become a modern classic, even being listed among the best films of the decade by Time Magazine.

Well, good morning, everybody, and welcome to day 255,642 aboard the Axiom. As always, the weather is a balmy 72 degrees and sunny, and, uh... Oh, I see the ship's log is showing that today is the 700th anniversary of our five year cruise. Well, I'm sure our forefathers would be proud to know that 700 years later we'd be... doing the exact same thing they were doing. So, be sure next mealtime to ask for your free sep-tua-centennial cupcake in a cup. Wow, look at that.

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17. CHILDREN OF MEN
2006 • Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby; Based on The Children of Men by P. D. James
Principal Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam
Genres: Dystopian Future, Thriller, Social Commentary

NO CHILDREN. NO FUTURE. NO HOPE.

It's 2027 and no children have been born in the last 18 years. The youngest person on the planet has just died at the age of 18 and humanity is losing hope. The world is collapsing and nations are at war. A former peace activist and his ex-wife must now join forces to protect a miracle... a woman who has mysteriously gotten pregnant. Children of Men is one of the greatest films of the last 20 years, even though it was not really a big hit at the time of its release despite strong critical reviews. One of the film's great feats is a spectacular one-take shot right at the film's climax as Theo maneuvers the pregnant through a war zone.

As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children's voices.

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16. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
1991 • James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron, William Wisher
Principal Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong
Genres: Action, Time Travel, Butterfly Effect, Cyborgs

THIS TIME THERE ARE TWO

Set about a decade after the events of the first film, Sarah Connor's rantings about the end of the world and terminators have landed her in a prison for the mentally ill, where she is abused and molested on a daily basis. Her son, John Connor, the future savior of mankind, is a punk kid living with uninterested foster parents. A terminator has returned to the past, the T-1000, a new model that can transform his body into practically anything, including weapons. The T-1000 is on a mission to kill John Connor. Sent back in time to protect John? Another terminator... the same make and model as the original terminator that tormented Sarah in all those years ago. Now Sarah must team up with the monster from her past to protect her son and save the future. The groundbreaking visual effects not only won the film many awards, including an Oscar, but still hold up today. Terminator 2 remains as not only a great sci-fi film, but one of the greatest action films of all time.

Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

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15. SOLARIS
1972 • Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Fridrikh Gorenshtein, Andrei Tarkovsky; Based on Solaris by Stanisław Lem
Principal Cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Nikolai Grinko, Anatoly Solonitsyn
Genre: Alien Encounter, Art Film, Trapped in Space

Psychologist Kim Kelvin is sent by his government to a space station orbiting a distant planet called Solaris to find out why the crew has started to go insane. When Kelvin arrives, the station is disrepair, with the surviving crew cold and distant. He believes that the crew is suffering from delusions and hallucinations. However, when he sees his wife... who has been dead for ten years, he begins to understand the true power of an alien presence. The film plays out like a psychological ghost story, as there is an intelligent life form that seems to be manipulating the emotions and minds of everyone on board.  The film, much like Stalker, is a film that reward multiple viewings, but is an existential examination on depression, grief and humanity deep in the heart of space. The film was later remade in 2002 by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney. While not as unforgettable as the original, it is still worth watching if you enjoy Tarkovsky's version.

Science? Nonsense! In this situation mediocrity and genius are equally useless! I must tell you that we really have no desire to conquer any cosmos. We want to extend the Earth up to its borders. We don't know what to do with other worlds. We don't need other worlds. We need a mirror. We struggle to make contact, but we'll never achieve it. We are in a ridiculous predicament of man pursuing a goal that he fears and that he really does not need. Man needs man!

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14. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
1951 • Robert Wise
Screenplay: Edmund H. North; Based on Farewell to the Master (1940 novel) by Harry Bates
Principal Cast: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe
Genres: Alien Encounter, End of the World, Social Commentary

FROM OUTER SPACE... A WARNING AND AN ULTIMATUM

A flying saucer lands in Washington DC, in the middle of the Mall, to much speculation, interest, fear and fascination from the American public. The US military is on hand to "greet" the new visitor, and when it's sole occupant walks out, a over-enthusiastic soldier shoots him, prompting a large robot to emerge and melt the tank with a laser beam. The alien is taken to a hospital after he orders the robot monster's rampage to stop, and we learn that his name is Klaatu and he has come with a warning: Earth must stop its destructive ways, especially if they enter the stars, or the full power of Gort, from a race of super robots, will be unleashed upon the world.  Bernard Herrman used Theramins to create the score, making it one of the first filmed to be scored electronically. While it has become one of the all-time American classics, actress Patricia Neal did not think much of the film while she was working on it, assuming it to be one of the many trashy flying saucer movies of the era.

I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more... profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.

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13. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
1971 • Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick; Based on A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Principal Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Miriam Karlin
Genre: Dystopian Future, Crime, Social Commentary

BEING THE ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN WHOSE PRINCIPAL INTERESTS ARE RAPE, ULTRA-VIOLENCE AND BEETHOVEN

Juvenile delinquent, Alex DeLarge, leads a gang of white-clad, make-up wearing misfits he calls his droogs. They commit acts of ultra-violence and rape, with seemingly no humanity. Alex is unrepentant and almost soulless, if not for his deep love for the music of Beethoven. But when one attempted rape/robbery goes awry, Alex is arrested and sent to prison.  When the government comes looking for a volunteer for some scientific experimentation, Alex quickly joins up as a means to leave his incarceration.  It turns out to be an extreme rehabilitation therapy that is designed to physically torture an individual if they have violent or sexual inclinations. Adapted from Anthony Burgess's classic novel of the same name, the film was extremely controversial in its day due to its extremely graphic depiction of Alex's heinous crimes. The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director for Kubrick and Best Adapted Screenplay.

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

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12. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
2004 • Michel Gondry
Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman; Story by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth
Principal Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Genres: Romance

I ALREADY FORGET HOW I USED TO FEEL ABOUT YOU

Joel and Clementine have broken up. Joel, who is already depressed and miserable, finds out that Clementine has had every trace of his memory erased from her mind through an experimental process developed by a psychiatrist. Already at his wit's end over the break up, and unable to cope with knowing that Clementine no longer remembers him, he decides to also undergo the memory elimination process.  The film takes place, for the most part, in Joel's head and memories, and early on in the process, he realizes he'd rather have painful memories of Clementine than none at all. The film is a race of him retreating into his subconscious and trying to save every last memory he has of his onetime love. As surreal as it is fantastic, the pain felt by Joel (and Clementine) is universally human. The film picked up a Best Writing Oscar at the Academy Awards in 2005.

- I can't remember anything without you.
- Aw, that's... very sweet, but try.

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11. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
1982 • Nicholas Meyer
Screenplay: Jack B. Sowards, Nicholas Meyer; Story by Harve Bennett, Jack B. Sowards, Nicholas Meyer, Samuel A. Peeples; Based on "Star Trek" created by Gene Roddenberry
Principal Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Kirstie Alley
Genres: Space Exploration, Action, Adventure

AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE LIES THE BEGINNING OF VENGEANCE

(SPOILERS)
The Star Trek film in which all other Star Trek films are judged. By far the best film of the franchise, including original cast, Next Generation or reboot.  The film reaches back to its television roots and brings back the villain Khan Noonien Singh, who first appeared in the 1967 episode "Space Seed."  Khan returns from exile with a band of killers to steal the top secret Project Genesis and get his revenge on Captain Kirk.  Echoing Melville's Moby Dick, of all things, Wrath of Khan is the most thrilling chapter in the Trek series and counted as the favorite amongst most Trekkies (or Trekkers.)  What's fascinating about the film is that even though the hatred between Kirk and Khan drives the film, Shatner and Montalban never actually appear on-screen together... communicating through viewscreens the entire time. This was done, humorously enough, because Montalban filmed his scenes separately to accommodate filming "Fantasy Island," his hit TV show at the time. The film also features Spock's defining heroic moment that, to this day, will bring a tear to your eye.  

We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human.

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1984 • James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd
Principal Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield
Genres: Time Travel, Cyborgs, Action

IN THE YEAR OF DARKNESS, 2029, THE RULERS OF THIS PLANET DEVISED THE ULTIMATE PLAN. THEY WOULD RESHAPE THE FUTURE BY CHANGING THE PAST. THE PLAN REQUIRED SOMETHING THAT FELT NO PITY. NO PAIN. NO FEAR. SOMETHING UNSTOPPABLE. THEY CREATED... THE TERMINATOR.

In the future, a great war wages between mankind and the machines. A cyborg, or Terminator, is sent back in time to present day to eliminate Sarah Connor, the mother of John Connor, who leads the human resistance against the machines. The humans send back a guardian for Sarah… a man named Kyle Reese who must help Sarah escape and outrun the deadly killing machine who will stop at nothing to change the future.  Unlike Avatar and Titanic, where Cameron relies heavily on his incredible visuals and sees the story as an after thought, The Terminator story is classic. He took an old science fiction concept (man vs machine) and put a spin on it that still keeps your imagination alive. Both T1 and T2 take the concept of fate and the concept of time travel and had a lot of fun with it. Can you change the future for the better or for the worse? Or will the inevitable always happen? It’s phenomenal story-telling.
 

You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll find her! That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him! He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her fucking heart out!

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9. STAR WARS
(Later Retitled as STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE)
1977 • George Lucas
Screenplay: George Lucas
Principal Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, James Earl Jones
Genres: Space Opera, Space Fantasy, Action, Adventure

SOMEWHERE IN SPACE, THIS COULD ALL BE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW

The film that started, pardon the pun, an empire. George Lucas was the ultimate underdog when making this cinematic classic. While he did have major box office success with American Graffiti, his previous venture into science fiction, already mentioned on this list, THX 1138 was considered a failure. Lucas' story of a young farm boy getting caught up with a Jedi knight, two robot droids, a space pirate and his 7 foot tall furry companion to save a princess from an evil galactic empire is the stuff of fairy tales and Flash Gordon serials. However as "simple" as the story was, the execution of it on film was far from it. Plagued with production problems and having a special effects that basically had to invent a new language of visual effects, it's a miracle the movie was released, let alone becoming one of the biggest movies in history. Not only did it spawn two direct sequels in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, a (much maligned) prequel trilogy, a new trilogy with The Force Awakens, and a spin-off with the upcoming Rogue One, but also an entire entertainment empire (there's that word again) that includes toys, video games, t-shirts, tv shows, cartoons, lunch boxes... if there's anything you can stamp a Star Wars logo on, then it exists. Not to mention that Industrial Light and Magic was born right alongside Star Wars, which has become the go-to visual effects house for major Hollywood productions. Some science fiction purists would argue that the saga's fantasy elements disqualify from consideration, to that I say: go back to your hive of scum and villainy.

The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

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8. METROPOLIS
1927 • Fritz Lang
Screenplay: Thea von Harbou, Fritz Lang; Based on Metropolis by Thea von Harbou
Principal Cast: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Genre: Epic, Neo Noir, Robots, Dystopian Future

In the future, Metropolis shines as a pillar of a Utopian society for the wealthy. Freder, one of Metropolis' wealthy and favored sons, falls in love with a beautiful woman he sees on the street who mysteriously disappears. Following her to an underground world, he is disgusted to discover that his beautiful Metropolis is operated by the disenfranchised working class, working long, slavish hours. Freder, moved by the plight of the working man, joins the mysterious woman, Maria, to rebel against the upper class slave drivers. Freder's father is one of the city's founders and he enlists the mad scientist Rotwang to squash the uprising. With all the political forces at play, if one part of the system fails there will be total anarchy.  Arguably the most influential science fiction in history, with films like Star Wars, Akira and Blade Runner drawing inspiration from Metropolis even though for decades, the film was only partially complete. But as recently as a few years ago, the lost reels were discovered and the film is now restored to as close as possible to Lang's original spectacular vision.

"We shall build a tower that will reach to the stars!" Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they had thousands to build it for them. But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned. And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many - BABEL! BABEL! BABEL! - Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.

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7. THE THING
1982 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: Bill Lancaster; Based on Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Principal Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Genre: Alien Encounter, Horror, Paranoia

THE ULTIMATE IN ALIEN TERROR

Another John Carpenter classic. This remake of the 1950s classic, The Thing from Another World (mentioned earlier in this list), keeps the action in a frozen landscape, but changes the monster to ramp up the gore and scares. The alien in this film can take the shape of anything it comes into contact with, leading to a "who can you trust" atmosphere to the blood and guts.  The film was ahead of its time as far as practical special effects... remember CGI did not exist in 1982, which makes this film even more impressive.  The Thing features one of the great horror movie endings that keeps you guessing even after the credits roll.  Not only was the film NOT nominated for special visual effects at the Academy Awards, but it was actually nominated for a Razzie. Just goes to show how the public's perception of a film can change over time. This may be Carpenter's ultimate masterpiece.

I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won.

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1985 • Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
Principal Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
Genre: Time Travel, Comedy, Butterfly Effect

HE'S THE ONLY KID EVER TO GET INTO TROUBLE BEFORE HE WAS BORN.

It's 1985 and Marty McFly is a slacker high school student whose parents are losers, still under the thumb of their old high school bully. Marty is summoned by his nuclear physicist, Dr. Emmett Brown, to a mall parking lot at 1 in the morning to test out his new invention... a time traveling DeLorean. When the Libyan terrorists from which Doc Brown stole the plutonium that powers the machine attack and kill him, Marty escapes in the DeLorean and escapes back to 1955. While stuck in the past, Marty accidentally interferes in the moment where his parents met, putting his entire existence in jeopardy. Now Marty must find the Doc Brown of 1955 to get him... back to the future. Back to the Future is one of the most wacky and defining films of the 1980s. It still resonates today with the recent Back to the Future Day celebrated last October nationwide. Much beloved by everyone who sees it, BTTF is a classic film for the past, present and future.

If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit.

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1999 • The Wachowski Brothers
Screenplay: The Wachowski Brothers
Principal Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano
Genre: Neo Noir, Simulated Reality, Action, Dystopian Future, Post-Apocalyptic Society, Man vs Machine

WHAT IS THE MATRIX?

A computer hacker learns that his reality isn’t real, it’s just a computer program designed to keep him docile while machines feed on his energy. He “wakes up” and the revolution begins. Everything about this movie works. It takes the man VS machine aspect of sci-fi and improves it. Its special effects and CGI STILL hold up all these years later. In fact, I dare say most current CG doesn’t even hold a candle to The Matrix. If that wasn’t enough, the Wachowski brothers were so revolutionary in their filmmaking, that when they realized they couldn’t get some of the shots they wanted with the technology of the time: THEY INVENTED NEW TECHNOLOGY. On top of the that, you have probably the greatest fight scenes ever recorded on film. Go out of your way to re-watch this sci-fi action classic. Just pretend the story ends here and never watch those sequels again.

I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

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4. ALIEN
1979 • Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon; Story by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Principal Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto
Genre: Alien Encounter, Horror

IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

What Ridley Scott accomplished with Alien, was to blend science-fiction and horror in a way no one had ever done before.  To this day, this film continues to be one of the scariest horror films of all time as well as being a fantastic science-fiction epic. Not only did it win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, it also is currently in the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress and has appeared in various American Film Institute countdown lists. This film proves that genre films can also be as engaging, provocative and influential as the heaviest dramas. Originally called “Star Beast” before it went to production, the film follows a team of space miners who respond to an S.O.S. signal right before they are about to head home after a long several months on the job.  When they go to investigate the seemingly deserted planet, an alien life form attacks and attaches itself to one of the crew's face, putting him in a comatose state.  The alien is eventually separated from Kane's (John Hurt) face... but not before laying eggs in his belly.  In what has to be one of the most disturbing scenes in film history, an alien bursts out Kane's chest, and quickly grows to monstrous size as it picks off the crew one by one.  Alien spawned a "Quadrilogy" of sequels (Aliens, Alien3 and Alien Resurrection), spin-offs (Alien VS Predator) and most recently a prequel in Prometheus (sort of.) In space, no one can hear you scream.  

You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility... I admire its purity. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality... I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies.

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3. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
(Later re-titled as STAR WARS: EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK)
1980 • Irvin Kershner
Screenplay: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan; Story by George Lucas
Principal Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, James Earl Jones
Genres: Space Fantasy, Space Opera, Adventure

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES...

(SPOILERS)
The crown jewel of the Star Wars saga, and the darkest of the entire series. Empire sees all your old friends, Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, R2 and C3PO in the midst of the rebellion against the Empire. The film kicks off on the ice planet Hoth, where the rebels are under heavy attack by Darth Vader and his evil forces. Luke has been injured by a snow beast, but escapes with help from what appears to the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Meanwhile, Han is trying to leave to pay off what he owes to the villainous Jabba the Hutt. Vader disrupts their plans and Han and Leia are constantly on the run, while Luke lands in the Degobah system seeking guidance from an old Jedi warrior named Yoda.  While Luke trains to become a Jedi knight, Han and Leia are captured by Vader in Cloud City after they are betrayed by Han's old friend Lando Calrissian.  While the film ends with Leia escaping with a redemptive Lando, it features the darkest ending of all seven films. Luke confronts Vader, only to have his hand chopped off and the truth revealed to him:  Vader is his father. Meanwhile, the bounty hunter Boba Fett is taking the frozen body of Han Solo back to Jabba as a trophy. The film ends in uncertainty and was a bold, unprecedented move for a major franchise to pull at this point in time. Empire is the favorite film of most Star Wars fanboys as it is the most poignant, despite not having a "feel-good" ending. It's always darkest before dawn, and in an age where there was no internet to fuel fan speculation, audiences had to wait three years before Return of the Jedi answered so many of their burning questions. As stated before... a bold move.

- There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
- I'll never join you!
- If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
- He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
- No. I am your father.
- No. No. That's not true. That's impossible!
- Search your feelings, you *know* it to be true!

______________________________

2. BLADE RUNNER
1982 • Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Hampton Fancher, David Peoples; Based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Principal Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah
Genre: Neo-Noir, Mystery, Thriller, Dystopain Future, Androids

MAN HAS MADE HIS MATCH... NOW IT'S HIS PROBLEM

In 2019, in a futuristic Los Angeles that is decaying from the ground up, Rick Deckard is a "Blade Runner," a person assigned to hunt down and kill renegade "replicants." Replicants are life-like androids created to do the worst jobs that humans will not do on the off-world colonies. When a replicant goes AWOL to try and pass off as a human for the rest of its life, Blade Runners are called in to eliminated the problem. He comes across Rachel, a woman he believes to be a replicant, despite displaying human emotions. But now Deckard has been tasked eliminating Roy Batty, a dangerous replicant rebel who has been creating all sorts of chaos. Much like the previously mentioned Brazil, Blade Runner was bogged down in much studio interference by Warner Bros. who thought the film was uncommercial and would be unprofitable. A heavily edited version was released with a voiceover by Harrison Ford to "explain" the film to viewers. The film was heavily panned and failed at the box office. Years later, a "Director's Cut" was released and this is the film that has become a classic amongst critics and audiences, while raising new questions the original release did not. Blade Runner's influence can not be understated on modern science fiction, and it's visuals will ensure it forever lives on as one of the greatest pieces of cinematic art.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

______________________________

1. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
1968 • Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke; based on 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Principal Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Douglas Rains
Genres: Space Exploration, Alien Encounter, Epic, Message from Outer Space, Man VS Machine

AN EPIC DRAMA OF ADVENTURE AND EXPLORATION

How can it NOT be 2001? Of course it's 2001. It is the story of evolution from man discovering the first "technology" in using tools to man discovering the great beyond. The film's first act starts in prehistorical times when man was still developing from knuckle draggers. A mysterious monolith appears before the man-apes, and soon afterward one of the primitives discovers how to use a tool... to kill for survival. We flash jump to 2001... man has developed consumer space flights with hotels in space stations. A monolith has appeared on the moon, which has mystified the US government by its very existence. The point of origin is determined as Jupiter, and 18 months later a team of astronauts is sent to investigate, along with the on-board artificial intelligence HAL 9000. HAL prides himself on being "foolproof and incapable of error", but when astronauts Bowman and Poole feel HAL has made a critical mistake in calculations, they agree to disconnect him. HAL learns of this by reading their lips, and soon kills Poole by cutting his life support line during a space walk. Is HAL's programming faulty? Or his he fulfilling his primary objective? The film asks (and doesn't answer) many questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? How did we get here? Is there a God? What is happening to Bowman in the final minutes of the film? What are the monoliths? The film was nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Director and Best Visual Effects (which it won.) It has gained notoriety among most critics lists of top films of all time, appeared in several American Film Institute lists, and was a box office success, especially with roadside engagements and re-releases. It is a film in which you pick up new things with each subsequent viewing. It has influenced science fiction directors like Spielberg, Lucas and Scott and has had profound impact on the development of technology. There never has and never will be another film like 2001: A Space Odyssey which is why it is the #1 Essential Science Fiction film.

I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.

Thanks for reading.

Honorable Mentions:

THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI (1984)
ALPHAVILLE (1965)
ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)
CLOVERFIELD (2008)
DARK STAR (1974)
FLASH GORDON (1980)
THE FOUNTAIN (2006)
THE INCREDIBLES (2004)
THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)
THE IRON GIANT (1999)
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953)
LOGAN'S RUN (1976)
MAD MAX (1979)
THE MAN FROM EARTH (2007)
OUTLAND (1981)
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)
THE ROAD (2009)
SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (1972)
SLEEPER (1972)
SOLARIS (2002)
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)
STARGATE (1994)
STARMAN (1984)
SUPERMAN II (1980)
THEM! (1954)
TIMECRIMES (2007)
VIDEODROME (1983)