10 Favorite Sci-Fi Films

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Postby MarylandManson » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:16 am

Thanks, PohlSE, the following is exactly the kind of answer I hoped for:

PohlSE wrote:In the Star Wars Saga, faster than light travel is used by everyone, not just the Jedi. FTL travel is a legitimate "sci-fi trapping," is it not?

The Force was explained in Ep 1 as being generated by "midichlorians" that reside in the cells of all living creatures. This is a variation and extrapolation of the Endosymbiotic theory which is a legitimate scientific theory.

The saga also contains robots, androids, cyborgs, artificial limbs, advanced submarines, cloning, portable missile launchers, and all matter of other technologies both real and speculative.


I'm curious to know if other folks see it this way, and also, assuming George Lucas really did think of his work as fantasy, not sci-fi, how folks reconcile that with their own viewpoints. Honestly, I'm not especially familiar with the Star Wars series. I saw the first three and lost interest after Revenge of the Jedi. Too many Ewoks.

I didn't see Live Free or Die Hard. How is the cautionary message realized? It may be that it's sci-fi. Other examples of near-future or present-day sci-fi would be Testament (1983) and The Handmaid's Tale (1990). Oh, and Looker (1981). It might be fun to make a case for Red Dawn (1984) as well.

As for Star Trek, I see it as sci-fi edging into fantasy because of warp drive and the transporter. The latter was especially badly used when the aging Dr. Pulaski was reconstituted from her "younger" DNA. Foul play! Not only does it draw attention to the wonky technobabble, it would open up such a can of worms, I think, that it ignores human character, even in the supposedly evolved future of Star Trek--and that's not good sci-fi, IMO. But for the most part, Trek predicts a utopian Earth and just expands the arena of human conflict--yes, we've solved our petty human squabbles, but now we're at war with the Klingons, the Romulans, The Dominion, etc. We're still human with flaws to watch out for. So it's largely sci-fi, IMO.

Buck Rogers is a little trickier, but I never read the original strips or stories. Of course the 70s series is sci-fi because it both speculates and cautions about the effect upon adolescent males of seeing Erin Gray poured into Lycra. On a related note...the 1980 Flash Gordon movie...a little bit sci-fi but mostly fantasy, I think.

Fun! MM

Edited to add:

Whoops, looks like I should have just gone to the source (assuming starwars.com is it):

http://forums.starwars.com/thread.jspa? ... 40&start=0

There are some excellent responses to the question in there, as well as a reference to a Lucas quote in Starlog. Next time, I will let the source be with me.
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Postby Slade » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:30 pm

This is a good, rollicking discussion. Slade's Rule: "If it involves people in spaceships, it's science fiction." It may be other things, too. There's no doubt ALIEN is horror, and OUTLAND is a space Western (a neat remake of HIGH NOON: instead of waiting for the train to bring the Bad Guy, you wait for the shuttle to dock).

Question: Is a Slade novel a whodunit, horror, or a police procedural?

INSPECTOR LEWIS is now back on PBS MYSTERY! What a good series it's turning out to be. The motives! Damn, but it's fun to see someone coming up with stuff that's original. Heresy though it is, I think the series works even better than INSPECTOR MORSE, and would love to see INSPECTOR HATHAWAY launch when it's over.

So what does that have to do with the ongoing discussion?

Lewis is a plod. An egg-and-chips cop trapped in the fantasy realm that's Oxford, "the City of Dreaming Spires."

http://www.richardpettinger.com/Interes ... rd_skyline

http://www.oxford-panoramas.co.uk/index.htm

Potential killers getting lost in the fantasy realms of video games, violent music, etc., is a hot-button issue. But Oxford takes that motive to a much higher level, for it was the academic home of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis

Tolkien and Lewis were founding members of the Inklings, a literary group to which they would read their most recent work. It took Tolkien ten years to write THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

http://www.mythsoc.org/inklings/

In last week's episode of INSPECTOR LEWIS, the killer is spawned by that realm of literary fantasy. At the end of the warped tragedy, Lewis shakes his head when Hathaway tells him that he'll enjoy an anecdote about the Inklings. Thus the show's final lines...

Above, MM mentions Tolkien, and later says: "Honestly, I'm not especially familiar with the Star Wars series. I saw the first three and lost interest after Revenge of the Jedi. Too many Ewoks."

The story goes that when Tolkien stood up to read his latest opus from Middle Earth to the Inklings, Hugo Dyson fell back on the couch, lolling and shouting, "Oh God! Not more fucking elves!"

MM, substitute Ewoks? Funny?

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Postby MarylandManson » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:54 pm

Slade,

Ewoks for elves? Definitely a hoot! Glad you mentioned Outland, aka "High Moon" as several reviewers dubbed it at the time. I was thinking of it in cross-genre terms.

As for the Slade novels...all of the above, but perhaps they're what you say they are. Certainly they are genre-bendres.

Lewis again! I'll have to look for him. I enjoy his exploits very much.

Cheers! MM
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Postby dreab trawets » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:49 pm

A WHODUNNIT, in my view, is one that leads you to the murderer before they are actually announced by the author. In some of you books, we have everything, but we also have nothing, as there is no central character that gives off the tell tale signs.

Wiki says

A whodunit or whodunnit (for "Who done it?") is a complex, plot-driven variety of the detective story in which the puzzle is the main feature of interest. The reader is provided with clues from which the identity of the perpetrator of the crime may be deduced before the solution is revealed in the final pages of the book. The investigation is usually conducted by an eccentric amateur or semi-professional detective.


You forgot to add Locked room mystery to the above list, as, i think that your later books have all four styles, each different, but meshing together to form one glorious whole.

So you have created a new genre called Detective Horror Mystery near fact Fiction.

Oh and as i mentioned elsewhere, a new series called MURDERLAND starts soon, starring Robbie 'Cracker' Coltrane

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPADrAvMAuo
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Postby PohlSE » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:59 pm

MarylandManson wrote:assuming George Lucas really did think of his work as fantasy, not sci-fi, how folks reconcile that with their own viewpoints.


That's easy; I don't give a flying fuck what he thought of it as.

He could have called it a 'nickle and dime, sock puppet ballet' and I still wouldn't give a shit.

What he created was science fiction, so what he called it is irrelevant.

Also remember that Lucas based the original movie (Star Wars Ep 4 A New Hope) on Akira Kurosawa's film The Hidden Fortress and Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

MarylandManson wrote:Honestly, I'm not especially familiar with the Star Wars series. I saw the first three and lost interest after Revenge of the Jedi. Too many Ewoks.


Then you are denying yourself a great story arc. Taken individually the films are alright, but the saga as a whole is a great epic. The story of Luke told in the original trilogy mirrors the story of Anakin told in the second and the rise, fall, and ultimate redemption of Anakin is fascinating. As is the emperor's wonderfully Machiavellian take over of the republic.

I grant you that there are low points in the series; Jar Jar Binks was, almost, universally hated. But he is only a large character in Ep 1 The Phantom Menace, in the other two he is seen only in passing. Some people also bitched about Anakin being a whiny teenager, and to that I have to ask; "what else would he be?" This is a character who is self centered and arrogant enough to turn to the dark side and terrorize the galaxy. Would he be some happy, wise-cracking, lovable hero? No, he'd be an arrogant, angry, emo teen whose gotten too much power too fast and chafes against the structure the Jedi imposed on him.

I didn't see Live Free or Die Hard. How is the cautionary message realized?


Live Free or Die Hard (the best of the Die Hard sequels) is based on the concept of a "Fire Sale" which is a three-stage coordinated cyber-terrorist attack on the country's transportation, telecommunications, financial, and utilities infrastructure systems.

We are so dependent on computers to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks that when the attack takes place it effectively reduces us to anarchy.

But it isn't sci-fi, it's action/adventure.



Slade wrote:Question: Is a Slade novel a whodunit, horror, or a police procedural?


I consider them murder mysteries/psychological thrillers.
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Postby raasnio » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:18 am

PohlSE wrote:Then you are denying yourself a great story arc. Taken individually the films are alright, but the saga as a whole is a great epic. The story of Luke told in the original trilogy mirrors the story of Anakin told in the second and the rise, fall, and ultimate redemption of Anakin is fascinating. As is the emperor's wonderfully Machiavellian take over of the republic.

I grant you that there are low points in the series; Jar Jar Binks was, almost, universally hated. But he is only a large character in Ep 1 The Phantom Menace, in the other two he is seen only in passing. Some people also bitched about Anakin being a whiny teenager, and to that I have to ask; "what else would he be?" This is a character who is self centered and arrogant enough to turn to the dark side and terrorize the galaxy. Would he be some happy, wise-cracking, lovable hero? No, he'd be an arrogant, angry, emo teen whose gotten too much power too fast and chafes against the structure the Jedi imposed on him.


Agreed. In fact, I'd say that Return of the Jedi was the weakest film in the series. I do love Star Wars, though. I own all six films on DVD.
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Postby Vcela » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:11 am

I'm with Slade, if you're on a space ship, you're in a sci-fi movie. Films really blend the genres though, for example Serenity is a western sci-fi and Alien is a horror/action/suspense/thriller/sci-fi flick.

And I thought Slade wrote Splatterpunk novels. Well, at least the first few were anyway.
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Postby MarylandManson » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:52 pm

PohlSE wrote:Jar Jar Binks was, almost, universally hated. But he is only a large character in Ep 1 The Phantom Menace, in the other two he is seen only in passing.


Whoops, I forgot that I saw this movie in the theater. All I can remember is the annoying Jar Jar swimming into an underwater complex, Natalie Portman solemnly gliding about in a robe, and a very exciting fight sequence with Darth Maul. Much more intriguing than the Star Wars story arc, PohlSE and raasnio, are your respective recommendations of Farscape and the remade Battlestar Galactica, if memory serves. If either series is half as good as Firefly/Serenity, it's worth a sampling.

Cheers! MM
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Postby PohlSE » Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:28 pm

raasnio wrote:Agreed. In fact, I'd say that Return of the Jedi was the weakest film in the series. I do love Star Wars, though. I own all six films on DVD.


Jedi is definitely the weakest link. But I appreciate it more now when looking at the saga as a whole.

My favorite of the Saga is still Empire, but Revenge of the Sith is a close second.

If this was just a Star Wars ranking mine would be:

1) The Empire Strikes Back
2) Revenge of the Sith
3) Attack of the Clones
4) A New Hope
5) The Phantom Menace
6) Return of the Jedi

...And Jar Jar didn't bother me too much. He was annoying, yes, but the movie was still good.
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Postby EZ Rhino » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:01 pm

1. Star Wars: Episodes I-VI
2. Aliens (1986)
3. Terminator 2 (1991)
4. Starship Troopers (1997)
5. The Fifth Element (1997)
6. Predator (1987)
7. Deep Impact (1998)
8. Robocop (1987)
9. Back to the Future (1985)
10. The Matrix (1999)
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Postby PohlSE » Mon May 31, 2010 1:58 pm

MarylandManson wrote:Whoops, I forgot that I saw this movie in the theater. All I can remember is the annoying Jar Jar swimming into an underwater complex, Natalie Portman solemnly gliding about in a robe, and a very exciting fight sequence with Darth Maul. Much more intriguing than the Star Wars story arc, PohlSE and raasnio, are your respective recommendations of Farscape and the remade Battlestar Galactica, if memory serves. If either series is half as good as Firefly/Serenity, it's worth a sampling.
Cheers! MM


I was re-reading some of these topics (it never ceases to amaze me how much of an obstinate, jerk I turn into when I decide to dig in my heals) and I realized that I never even saw this reply...

Farscape is the one sci-fi tv series that came closest to unseating the Original Star Trek series as my favorite sci-fi television ever. And it's still really, really close.

IMO, Farscape does beat all the other STs and every other sci-fi show on air (even today).

It was a crime that the sci-fi channel yanked the rug out from under Farscape (and all the fans), particularly on a cliffhanger! To this day I haven't forgiven the sci-fi channel and only keep it on my channel guide so I can watch for a ST marathon. (They also canceled MST3k so that just magnifies my animosity.)

Sorry for not responding SEVEN FREAKIN' MONTHS ago!! :oops: :oops:
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Postby dreab trawets » Mon May 31, 2010 3:18 pm

Saw Farscape and loved it too.
The latest one was Defying Gravity. they had the story arc, and they cancelled it... Nobody in tv has the testicular fortitude to stick with stuff that is edgy, out there, unique..
Lets bring out another csi spin off...

What did you think of Babylon 5?
The story arc was for four seasons... the studio badger him for a fifth, which really finished it off.
But the first four seasons were brilliant. Shadows and Vorlons....
Battlestar Galactica remake was pretty good as well, liked it...
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Postby Mbwun » Mon May 31, 2010 4:07 pm

When did this thread become a Sci-Fi tv series thread?

I saw a Sci-Fi flick the other day, that I'd put into the underrated but probably destined to become a cult classic category. BABYLON AD, with Vin Diesel as its star - the unrated version. It's definitely a hard core Sci-Fi movie. Really liked it a lot.

And the brief performance in it by Lambert Wilson further cements my belief that he would make for a great Robert DeClercq.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364970/
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Postby PohlSE » Mon May 31, 2010 5:52 pm

Mbwun wrote:When did this thread become a Sci-Fi tv series thread?


Ummm... If I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally stretch the definitions I could call the Farscape: Peacekeepers Wars three t.v. movies instead of a miniseries.

Will you buy that? :wink:

@dreab:

I never saw Babylon 5 but I've heard a lot of good things about it. I watched a few of the new Battlestar Galactias but I never got into it. I think it was because I loved watching the cheesy seventies series when I was a kid and I didn't want to spoil the memories.
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Postby dreab trawets » Mon May 31, 2010 7:43 pm

The new Battlestar is a sequel, the cylons have returned...
Not a redo of the old one really....
Character names kept for some reminders, but watch the mini series, and enjoy..
And try for Babylon 5, the first graphics were done on four ataris running in a chain, i believe.. don't see the films, watch the full five seasons first

Thankfully, Heroes, and Flashforward, and V have been pulled.
As someone said on a forum, when you change a bad guy into a good guy, then it starts to ebb.
Keep bad guys bad, make them worse.
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