01 September 2008

5 Movies Every Science Fiction Fan Should See

Exploring a variety of sub-genres, including noir, horror, adventure, and romance, each of these films are firmly rooted in science fiction. But what they have in common, and what makes each one worth seeing is their ability to transcend genre. These films have timeless themes, beautiful visuals, and they all evoke powerful emotion.


Intriguing, terrifying, mysterious, bizarre, innovative and beautiful are only a handful of words that could be used to describe Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece. Based on Aurthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” chronicles the entire span of human evolution.

The film was not only technically innovative, it also pushed the boundaries of narrative structure and thematic content. Inspiring countless films and filmmakers, “2001” is considered a cinematic classic.


Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic follows the mission of a mining ship’s crew that investigates an unusual transmission coming from a dark, barren planet. They encounter an alien species on the surface which violently attaches itself to the face of a crew member. What ensues is a desperate struggle for survival, and one of the most infamous scenes in contemporary film history.

“Alien” is a classic because it delivers thrilling suspense and terror in a thoughtful and well executed way. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.” This film uses both the bang and its anticipation to engender a terrifying cinematic experience.


One could spend hours looking at “Blade Runner” without any sound or dialogue. The art direction, set design, costumes, and lighting are visionary, meticulously detailed and absolutely stunning. That’s not to say the visuals are the film’s only strength. On the contrary, “Blade Runner” tells a stylish and intriguing future-noir adventure rife with subtle depth; something lacking in most action based science fiction.


Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem, “Solaris” is a beautiful and thoughtful romantic vision from director Steven Soderbergh.

Psychologist Christ Kelvin is sent to a space station orbiting a mysterious planet called Solaris. Upon arrival, he learns that a crew member has died and that others are experiencing some kind of unknown psychological trauma. As he begins to have anomalous experiences of his own, the unique and mysterious power of “Solaris” is revealed, and Kelvin’s life will never be the same.

“Solaris” has many qualities inherent to great science fiction; intriguing mystery, beautiful visuals, and a uniquely singular power. Even if stripped of its sci-fi elements, this film would remain a stunning achievement. At its core “Solaris” is an endearing and heartfelt romance that transcends genre.


It is fifty years into the future and the crew of the Icarus II is carrying a huge nuclear payload towards the Sun in a desperate attempt to re-ignite the dying star. Now the survival of humanity hinges on their success.

In making his science fiction debut, Director Danny Boyle wisely borrows from several classics of the genre. “Sunshine” pays homage to “2001” and “Alien.” by contemplating the significance of absolute power and mystery, as well as utilizing a serenely slow, yet tantalizingly suspenseful pace.

Beautiful to look at and intriguing to think about “Sunshine” should be considered a classic of its genre.