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When it comes to great science fiction movies there aren't a huge amount to choose from. Some have already been mentioned but some appear to have been forgotten as well. Its hard to believe that stinkers like Event Horizon and Wall-E have been mentioned but great movies like Close Encounters and Blade Runner haven't. If you want to go back further then one that has to be included would be The Forbidden Planet. Yes its older but it was also a ground breaking movie not to mention the fact that it also introduced Robby the Robot to the world. Another one worthy of mention would be Logans Run. For the time it was considered a special effects tour de force. The story was alright as well being loosely based on Arthur C. Clarke's The City and The Stars, a really great book.

Perhaps an interesting topic for a thread would be peoples opinions on what science fiction books would make good movies. For myself, off the top of my head, I'd have to say just about anything by Larry Niven.

I think Forbidden Plant was a remake of The Tempest with Robbie the Robot as Iago or Ariel (I may be mixing Shakespeare characters).

Although I know people who admire such, I never much liked Star Trek or Star Wars. One of my friends recommended Larry Niven's Ringworld which I read (and thought foolish compared to, say, Madame Bovary or Germinal) but I imagine that it would make a good movie.

For me, two good "science fiction" movies are Apollo 13 and "2001: A Space Odyssey". Kubrick's 2001 is remarkable in two regards: 1. He imagined earth/space before anyone had left earth orbit, 2. He (and Arthur Clarke) used science and film to raise fundamental questions.

Both versions of Solaris are awful. I liked Contact, with Jodie Foster. Among more recent movies, I liked Interstellar.

I fear that science fiction (books/movies), like music and food, are often stamps/imprints for some young people. To ask them what science fiction movie they like is to ask most people: "What do you like for breakfast?" Their answer will define their culture, age.

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Science fiction movie?

Akiva Goldman and Ron Howard, while getting it wrong, made an honest attempt to show game theory in "A Beautiful Mind". So, I'm waiting for a good writer to figure out a way to incoporate specific relativity into a good screenplay and then a good director/production designer to figure out a way to show it.

Notes: Interstellar got the concept of specific relativity right but it didn't show why it is so. (BTW: Your GPS uses general relativity to adjust for both speed and gravity. Surely there's a better plot than Interstellar and even better, how to portray it?):

Edited by August1991
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2001: A Space Odyssey

Terminator 2

The Matrix

Star Wars (Ep. IV-VI)

Alien

Aliens

Interstellar

Contact

Logan's Run

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Jurassic Park

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hunger Games series

District 9

Highly rated ones I've yet to see: Fifth Element, 12 Monkeys, Minority Report, Ex-Machina etc.

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Easily my favourite genre, these are ones that haven't been mentioned and which I would watch again.

Most cerebral:

Primer- made on a budget of $7000, it's a unique look at the conundrums of time travel. With that budget you should expect no special effects and little cheese but it will warp your brain by the end of it as you try to figure what just happened. Not a light film, it will require a rewatch. The two writers/directors also play the main characters in this, their first film. 9/10

Upstream Color(sic)- By the same directors as Primer but they now have a budget. Absolutely engrossing film with barely any dialogue as the directors are content with letting the imagery tell the story. You could call this a minimalist film as you are the narrator connecting seemingly disparate events. At the end I was left in awe of their achievement. There's not much that is 'new' these days in filmmaking as far as storytelling goes but this one does something completely original, it lets you think for yourself and in that way is incredibly satisfying. Slow to start, it's tension builds in a way that would make Hitchcock proud. 10/10

Most fun:

Brazil- one of my all time faves; Terry Gilliam (Python alum) directs in this dystopian film about a clerk (Jonathon Pryce) who is the victim of a typo that sends his life spiralling out of control. Gilliam is a master of old school film effects and after the success of his 'Time Bandits' (also fun) was allowed a budget that would meet his vision for this story that he had wanted to tell for decades but couldn't afford it. DeNiro cameos briefly and brilliantly. 10/10

John Carter of Mars- Disney poorly marketed this one. While it is definitely a 'Hollywood' movie, predictable and formulaic with a rather pat ending, it is a lot of fun and gets you rooting for the hero despite his pedestrian acting abilities. Bryan Cranston cameos. 7.5/10

Pitch Black- predecessor to "Chronicles of Riddick" (tres fromage), it's suspenseful and dark and Vin Deisel is not so annoying in this one. 7/10

City of Lost Children- from the directors of 'Delicatessan', Marc and Caro made this dystopian movie as a kind of adult fairy tale wherein the main protagonist is an old man living on a modified oil derrick who can no longer dream so he sends his henchmen into town to capture children to extract their dreams for his consumption. Everything about this work is so well done it's amazing to me that this film goes mostly unnoticed. Ron Perlman is great as the hero/strongman and the opening scenes are some of the most frightening you'll ever see involving Santa Claus. 9/10 with trained fleas.

The Prestige- star packed and directed by Christopher Nolan, this is a great story about the conflict between two competing magicians around the turn of last century. David Bowie plays Nicola Tesla. That alone is reason enough to see it. 9/10

Oh, I could go on but these should keep you busy for a while.

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I feel like there's two separate questions in August's post. First off, what are some good science fiction movies? And second, are there any movies that present real science in an accurate way that's important to the plot?

To the first question: For me, the best science fiction movies I have seen in a long time are "Edge of Tomorrow" and "Guardians of the Galaxy".

Guardians is just an action adventure that happens to be set in a futuristic space setting; what I really liked about it is that it just embraced the medium by presenting a series of incredible locations and characters and creatures and weapons and technologies. They didn't feel any need to explain any of it, they just say "this is a big universe full of mind-blowing things, just sit back and let it happen." To me, that's one of the things that made the original Star Wars movies really cool, is that the amazing variety of settings and characters and creatures and gave the feeling of a huge universe full of infinite possibilities, and to me Guardians evoked the same kind of sense.

As for Edge of Tomorrow, I think what made it really work is that they started off with a plot device (the protagonist, through unlikely circumstances, gains the ability to relive a day over and over-- like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day) and they explored this ability in a really rational way-- thinking through how the characters would make use of it to fight against the dire circumstances they're in, as well as thoughtfully considering the emotional effects it would have on the people involved. The evolution of the Tom Cruise character, and especially the relationship between him and Emily Blunt's character, is what really makes this film exceptional. He spends hundreds of days with her, and yet each time he meets her, he's a complete stranger to her. During his time with her, he becomes more and more in love with her. And he watches her die over and over again. To me, what made this a great movie is that they took this video-game gimmick (he's essentially playing Halo with an unlimited number of lives) and put a lot of thought into how it would be to actually experience that.

As for movies that make effective use of real science... uh ... I'm kind of at a loss. The laws of physics are usually more of an obstacle to science fiction stories, and I'm usually just happy when a movie gets something right. (the Alien movies made an effort to represent how ridiculously slow space travel is, with the cryogenic chambers and people arriving decades after they left and discovering everything changed in the decades they'd been in transit...)

-k

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Everyone has ignored the second part of Angus' original query.

Perhaps an interesting topic for a thread would be peoples opinions on what science fiction books would make good movies.

So I thought I'd have a go.

Sometimes it's hard to imagine how a good science fiction book (are we talking fantasy as well?) could be made into a movie. Some of them simply can't be, particularly those where first person narrative is an important aspect. One of my favorite SF series, the Honor Harrington military SF set in he far future, by David Weber, is in the process of being developed into a movie now. I eagerly look forward to it. The series has an endless number of stories and themes which would make great SF.

Another series I've enjoyed immensely of late would be S. M. Stirling's Emberverse. It suggests that God or the Gods, who actually do exist, twist the universe to change the basic laws of science in response to an upheaval amongst them. That makes gunpowder, electricity, steam power and the internal combustion engine no longer workable. The surviving remnants have to pick up the pieces and start over with new rules, form new societies, and fight against the minions of 'the other side'. Love to see this made into a TV series.

Lois Mcmaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga would be terrific in SF. Miles Vorkosigan, wealthy and brilliant son of a high military official in a far future militaristic society where brawn is the most cherished of virtues, happens to be a stunted dwarf. Despite this, through sheer raw personality and manic brilliance manages to manipulate those around him and go on to become an interstellar spy and top level fixer for his government. I'm fairly sure he was the inspiration behind Tyrian Stark in Game of Thrones.

Oh, and while it might be more fantasy than science fiction, it would be great if someone ever made Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes of Amber into a movie.

Edited by Argus
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Lois Mcmaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga would be terrific in SF. Miles Vorkosigan, wealthy and brilliant son of a high military official in a far future militaristic society where brawn is the most cherished of virtues, happens to be a stunted dwarf. Despite this, through sheer raw personality and manic brilliance manages to manipulate those around him and go on to become an interstellar spy and top level fixer for his government. I'm fairly sure he was the inspiration behind Tyrian Stark in Game of Thrones.

err... that's Tyrion Lannister, not Stark. :P

-k

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err... that's Tyrion Lannister, not Stark. :P

-k

Er... I knew that! I did! :ph34r:

Although... he was almost a Stark by marriage!

Edited by Argus
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.. the Andromeda Strain (1971)...

To answer Kimmy indirectly, The Andromeda Strain is both "science fiction" and uses accurate science to good effect. In fact, The Andromeda Strain is a dramatic example of the scientific method.

Queenmandy85, good call.

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This reminds me of "The Fantastic Voyage". I recently watched both movies (and aside from their leading ladies: Raquel Welch in a skin-tight suit and Beryl Reid in a onesy), both movies accurately portrayed science. But Fantastic Voyage seemed dated while Andromeda Strain, like a Dickens or Zola novel, seemed to have something universal to say.

Andromeda Strain stands the test of time. It may become a classic among science types.

Edited by August1991
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... The Matrix....

The Matrix fundamentally misunderstands mathematics and the universe. It's not even fantasy. I think that it is a cartoon, or what is now known as CGI.

====

IMHO, Hollywood should use CGI to respect mathematics, portray known science accurately and delve into fantasy. It's possible and the results would be far more weird than Marvel comics.

Edited by August1991
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I just did a bit of reading about Michael Crichton, and found that he studied medicine at Harvard and earned his MD there, but never practiced medicine professionally, as by the time he graduated he had become quite successful as an author. His medical training was apparently quite influential in writing "The Andromeda Strain". Unrelated factoid: Crichton was 6'9.

The Wiki article about him includes this snippet from a New York Times obituary written when he passed away in 2008:

All the Crichton books depend to a certain extent on a little frisson of fear and suspense: that's what kept you turning the pages. But a deeper source of their appeal was the author's extravagant care in working out the clockwork mechanics of his experiments — the DNA replication in Jurassic Park, the time travel in Timeline, the submarine technology in Sphere. The novels have embedded in them little lectures or mini-seminars on, say, the Bernoulli principle, voice-recognition software or medieval jousting etiquette ... The best of the Crichton novels have about them a boys' adventure quality. They owe something to the Saturday-afternoon movie serials that Mr. Crichton watched as a boy and to the adventure novels of Arthur Conan Doyle (from whom Mr. Crichton borrowed the title The Lost World and whose example showed that a novel could never have too many dinosaurs). These books thrive on yarn spinning, but they also take immense delight in the inner workings of things (as opposed to people, women especially), and they make the world — or the made-up world, anyway — seem boundlessly interesting. Readers come away entertained and also with the belief, not entirely illusory, that they have actually learned something"

I recall feeling as if I actually learned something about cloning after watching Jurassic Park. I recall the movie went to some amount of detail on the cloning technology (they even had a little animated movie-within-a-movie explaining the process!) whereas the chaos theory portion was considerably less well presented (I recall something about Jeff Goldblum putting drops of water on Laura Dern's hand, and saying "life ... uh, finds a way.")

Crichton seems like a good example of an author using real science in his story telling.

-k

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Kimmy, you might be interested to know what Crichton, before his death, had to say about "Global Warming" or "Climate Change".

He wrote State of Fear. While a novel written for CGI, like Jurassic Park, neither Speilberg nor any screenwriter (such as Aaron Sorkin) has chosen to adapt it.

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With that said, The Andromeda Strain is a detailed Perry Mason episode with DNA evidence where Mason and Burger are both wrong because the truth is something else.

Edited by August1991
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Fahrenheit 451, the Andromeda Strain (1971), 2001: a Space Odyssey, Soylent Green, and Blade Runner.

Star Trek the Original Series, the Next Generation, and, best of all, Deep Space Nine seasons one through five.

Thinking more about your choices, I thought about Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. It was both a good novel and a good movie. And while it's fiction, it's also science.

Edited by August1991
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