When it comes to movies, I’m always amazed at which movies get top rating, and where some of my favorites fall in lists of hundreds. Some lists don’t even mention some of my favorites. I’m often thinking that the critics don’t know what they are talking about, or someone is shoving money in their pocket.
My own science fiction doesn’t exactly run in the mainstream. It’s far from hardcore, but I don’t find that most sci-fi movies fall into the hardcore category. Movies after all are made to make money, which means they aren’t made to appeal to a small group of people.
I find it difficult to rank my favorites, because much of watching a movie has to do with the mood I’m in. Science fiction movies aren’t noted for their romance or humor, so I find it refreshing when one comes along and interjects either. These elements certainly have influenced my ranking.
1. Avatar: I’m simply astounded when I see Avatar ranked at number 50 or worse. This movie isn’t just technically amazing, it almost belongs in a class of its own. Of course, I’m very much concerned that men would go to an alien planet and be the bozo’s that had to have their unobtainium at any cost. After all, we have no qualms about destroying Earth.
2. Jurassic Park: I was inspired to start writing because of Michael Crichton’s novel, so perhaps I rank this movie higher than I should. Still, this movie was so believable that I haven’t been tempted to go hiking in any tropical rainforests since. I also got way more connected to the characters in the movie than in the novel. Also, all really good science fiction imparts some wisdom that is worth deliberation.
3. Star Wars (the original): So, this is kind of a silly movie, and I’m certainly not fond of war, but this was such a groundbreaker that it left an indelible impression. The other fun thing is the humor and romance, which didn’t play as big a part in the last installments. I’ve often wondered what the series would have been like if they had been told in order.
4. Abyss: So, to say I’m a James Cameron fan is an understatement. The Abyss was another groundbreaker as far as I’m concerned, and probably one of the best movies ever because of the characters. It also had more drama than the average sci-fi movie, and once again showed how irrational men can act when they confront an unknown.
5. Alien (the original): I’m usually not particularly fond of horror, and this movie certainly skirted on the edge of horror. The thing is, it really seemed plausible even though there is probably no chance that anything ever could or ever will exist in the cosmos like the diabolical monster that terrorizes the Nostromo.
6. Contact: Carl Sagan was a brave man who influenced several generations of open minded people. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough Carl Sagan’s in the world. His concept of SETI finding intelligence and then deciphering a message from space on how to build a teleportation machine is somewhat iffy, but it made for good science fiction because he was actually willing to deal with religion and politics. Few sci-fi writers are so bold.
7. Terminator 2: Terminator was good, but when I first saw a machine that transmogrified from solid to liquid metal, I knew man’s future was bleak if we ever allow machines to get that intelligent. Intelligent machines are a fun subject since whoever programs the first will have a tremendous influence on how that intelligence evolves.
8. Star Trek (2009): I’ve always been a Star Trek fan. Spock is my hero. I haven’t revisited the older versions of Star Trek for some time, but I must say this remake made me a fan all over again. Was it the best story of the series? No. Was it the best acting? Probably not. In general, remakes are seldom fresh and exciting, yet somehow this remake was. Chris Pine certainly brings new life to James T. Kirk, and yes, the special effects were really quite special. Of course, that’s what we’ve come to expect. Still, it wasn’t quite on the calibre of Avatar.
9. Bicentennial Man or I Robot: Both adaptations are from Isaac Asimov’s great work, so it’s hard to believe how dissimilar the two movies are. Robin Williams performance in Bicentennial Man is one of his best, and I must add that Robin Williams isn’t always my favorite actor since he can be so weird. Will Smith on the other hand is so likeable that it’s hard to not to root for his movies. This is a tossup for me and picking one over the other would depend if I were in a sentimental mood or not.
10. Planet of the Apes (original): Okay, I’m not into time travel. I hate bad science, although I sometimes have problems with scientists saying this is the way it is, and it’s impossible to beat physical science. Given time, I think some of the things we believe will be disproven, so I try and be open-minded. Still, there is an awful lot of bad time travel. To me, Planet of the Apes is the best.
I confess when I look at lists there are movies I’ve missed. Some I miss because they just don’t appeal to me, and some I’m sure I should check out. The thing is, some movies I see, like Social Network for instance, wasn’t an Academy Awards contender in my book, and thank god The King’s Speech won.
So, I hope you enjoy a Sci-fi writers perspective of Hollywood’s best. They make more trash than they do good movies, and they certainly could use some fresh material. I wish they’d check my stories out.