By Sean Gardner
Science fiction by definition is just beyond the reach of reality. It pushes the limits of science, but is still close enough to make us wonder. What if we could time travel? What if we could journey to the outer reaches of space? What if we could enter other dimensions? Is their life beyond Earth? Many science fiction films have themes of exploration and discovery. Some science fiction films are now deeply rooted in our pop culture consciousness. This is a list of my favorite science fiction films. As always, this list is in no particular order.
Directed by one of the best in the industry, Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity is probably the least fictitious of the list. It is not just a movie. It’s not just a film. It is a deeply visceral cinematic experience. It is the reason I still go to the theater to see movies. Never have I been so enveloped and drawn in to a story and cared so much about the characters. Cuarón has created a visual masterpiece the likes of which Hollywood has not produced since “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It is so much more than two people floating around just out of Earth’s gravitational reach. It is about the determination of the human spirit. It is about knowing when to let go in more ways than one. I felt a full range of emotion. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. I was anxious and afraid. It penetrated my very soul. Every man, woman and child needs to see this movie.
2001: A Space Odessey
This is a classic of the highest order directed by legend Stanley Kubrick. This film contains three separate stories with the same theme: the advancement of science. Whenever a mysterious black monolith appears, significant scientific achievements occur shortly thereafter. This film, like all of Kubrick’s work is full of symbolism and a much deeper meaning. The effects and depictions of space travel were unknowingly prophetic for the time. 2001 is definitely a film for all science fiction fans.
Back to the Future
Probably the most iconic of Robert Zemeckis’ films, Back to the Future has penetrated deep into pop culture lore. It is funny. It is heartfelt. It is action packed. It takes us to a time and place that no one can imagine existing: our parents in high school. No one thinks of their parents as rebellious teenagers with nothing to care about other than who they want to take to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. This movie could not have been made at a better time either. Two of the most unique and transitional time periods in US history (the 1980s and the 1950s) are encapsulated in one movie. It makes me wonder what this film would be like if it were made today. Doc Brown would make a time machine out of a Tesla, and Marty would have to trade his smartphone and tablet would for a WalkMan and puffy vest.
I grew up watching all the Star Wars movies. one of my earliest memories of going to the movies was seeing The Phantom Menace at the old movie palace in my hometown. Star Wars has been a big part of my love for film and film making. As I get older, the more I appreciate the depth and mythology of the entire saga. The reason I picked the original over any of the others is because without the success of the original, there wouldn’t be any of the others. This is a space opera of the grandest scale, but among the blasters and light sabers the characters take charge and really drive this movie.
Planet of the Apes
The recent reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise has created renewed interest in the originals. I recently watched every Apes film and the original is my favorite right next to the most recent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In the original, there are very deep philosophical themes of what it means to be a person, who deserves civil rights, science versus religion, nonviolence. It is one of the smartest science fiction films ever made. It’s twist ending is one of the most iconic and surprising in film history. I would highly encourage everyone to give this film a chance.