30 Personally Enjoyed Sci-Fi Movies

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Peter Bradshaw’s list has three biases: toward the modern, toward the big budget Hollywood movie, and toward movies that critics feel safe in crowding around.

As a sci-fi fan, I can’t say I’d have chosen his entries as favorites, apart from Blade Runner, The Terminator and Metropolis. Best movie lists are really something of an impossibility because objective artistic standards are hard to come by and they collide with evanescent personal tastes and standards.

Allow me to mention some sci-fi movies that I return to again and again. These 30 movies are ones that I can look at any time, and they still give pleasure. This is a personal list, not a critic’s kind of list.

1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
3. Forbidden Planet (1956)
4. Quatermass and the Pit (1968)
5. Planet of the Apes (1968)
6. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
7. Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956)
8. Soylent Green (1973)
9. 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
10. The Final Countdown (1980)
11. The Andromeda Strain (1971)
12. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
13. This Island Earth (1954)
14. Westworld (1973)
15. Invaders from Mars (1953)

And 15 more, many of which are more monster or alien creature oriented:

1. Flash Gordon Space Soldiers (1936)
2. War of the Worlds (1953)
3. Robocop (1987)
4. It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
5. The Monolith Monsters (1957)
6. Kronos (1957)
7. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
8. Donovan’s Brain (1953)
9. I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)
10. Tarantula (1955)
11. Them! (1954)
12. The Thing from Another World (1951)
13. The Time Machine (1960)
14. Total Recall (1990)
15. Village of the Damned (1960)

I had in mind a few others too:

1. It Came from Outer Space (1953)
2. Colossus of New York (1958)
3. 4D Man (1959)
4. The 27th Day (1957)
5. 1984 (1956)
6. On the Beach (1959)
7. It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

Here will be the ones I neglected in my haste but which others have reminded me of or will be that I happen to like a lot too. Certainly Ricardo Montalban is excellent as Khan.

8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Now, a few words about the choices of those critics. I have not seen The Matrix yet. The Terminator is excellent. So is Predator, which might be more in the horror vein. Arnold is perfect for a number of his movies. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. are both Spielberg monstrosities, ucky, yucky, childish, foolishness with lights, exploitative. Forget them as anything “best”. Star Wars is not bad, but it doesn’t wear particularly well. The Empire Strikes Back has something to recommend it, but these movies tend to fall into the childish vein too, which means they cannot engage adult minds. I watched Solaris once. I might try it again, but it’s slow. Alien is horrid stuff, but the movie it took from which is It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) is quite good. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a crashing bore, cold too, and impossible to decypher at the end. However, it has good set design. We have to cut some slack for and be patient with great directors like Kubrick, but we don’t have to applaud their misfires. Not all risks pay off.

7:15 am on November 12, 2013