back to article Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

Zap guns, robots, lightspeed-smashing spaceships and bikini-busting princesses do not real science fiction make. Just ask George Lucas. Star Wars defined movie SF in the mind of many a mainstream viewer. But while the film and its sequels and, er, prequels certainly provide the sci-fi enthusiast with thrills a-plenty - guilty …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Silent Running

    You put Zardoz in there but missed Silent Running?

    Zardoz is terrible. Watched it a few months back and aside from some neat ideas and imagery its actually one of the worst films I have ever seen. A film so bad it actually hurts.

    It's essentially takes what would make a good Doctor Who or Blakes 7 story and turns it into the longest 100 or so minutes of your life.

    I wanted to like it, there of bits of it that I think are really quite good, but it's just a confused po-faced mess that gets worse as the movie progresses.

    That said, you can pick Zardoz up for pennies on Amazon so if you are interested in such things (as I am) at least you don't have to pay through the nose to get a copy. Think mine literally cost me a few pence + the postage!

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Re: Silent Running

      Ha ha ha, the unfortunate image of Connery in his thigh high boots and 70s underpants is burned onto many people's retinas.

      I can't watch Silent Running any more as Bruce Dern's murderour eco-tool character is such an idiot. Why are the flowers dying, Bruce?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why are the flowers dying, Bruce?

        I thought that was making a serious thematic point about how separated from nature humanity had become, not just suggesting that he was dumb.

        1. Smallbrainfield

          Re: Why are the flowers dying, Bruce?

          Hmm, I used to think he missed the obvious answer because he'd gone bonkers.

    2. FartingHippo

      Re: Silent Running

      FWIW, I always found Silent Running a bit mawkish. I do like the fact that the robots were so small they to use amputees to operate them, though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silent Running

      Fully agree. Silent Running is true sci-fi, reflecting upon the beginnings of environmental consciousness in the contemporary world through the medium of a futuristic story.

      Plus of course provided the template(s) from which R2-D2 was drawn in Huey, Dewey and Louie.

      1. BorkedAgain
        Thumb Up

        Re: Silent Running

        ...Although I did find the question of how his dickish shipmates ever landed a job, let alone a job in Space, something of an unanswered mystery...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Silent Running

        Huey, Dewey, and Louie now available in paper

    4. Efros

      Re: Silent Running

      There is always Charlotte Ramplings boobs!

      1. Nightkiller

        Re: Silent Running

        Er..Aren't you thinking of The Night Porter with Dirk Bogarde? She never did a nude scene after that one.

    5. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Silent Running

      Silent Running was on the shortlist, but was ultimately rejected for making the author blub like a gurlie when he was eight.

      Actually, it's not a bad film and would have made a longer list, if a tad mawkish.

      Mind you, I can forgive Doug Trumbull for this, his directorial debut, because of the bravura special effects work he would later do.

    6. Aldous

      Re: Silent Running

      With Eco being the latest trend watch for the remake:

      All male cast? nope lets get Miss blonde hair silicon stick insect in the main role

      Silent Droids? Hell no where would be the merchandising? one has to wise crack, one be clumsy and one romantically confused over miss silicon

      Corporate telling them to dump the gardens? Nope, make it the UN and the gardens are the last pieces of 'Murica that are not radioactive

      Then add in a few whizz bang special effects (maybe they can send some spitfires after the ship this time! and the droid-blonde love thing and we have a movie!

      Hollywood i await my cheque!


      Re: Silent Running

      Silent Running is overrated and painful to watch. It's also feels terribly dated and hokey based on when it was made and especially silly given the real horticultural preservation going on right now planet side.

      Zardoz is also a bit painful but it seems to be a valiant effort.

      What really seems out of place on the list is the first Star Trek film. It's basically one of the old original episodes dressed up with a lot of fluff to make it go on for a feature length run time. That makes it a failure as film making and not so interesting intellectually either.

      The first Star Trek film needs to be sterilized.

    8. NomNomNom

      Re: Silent Running

      "You put Zardoz in there but missed Silent Running?"

      What's a bobsleigh team got to do with Sci-Fi? am I missing something??

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zardoz is terrible.

      Maybe.... but there's boobs in it.

    10. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: Silent Running

      Agreed. Zardoz is as bad as Barbarella. Neither would be on anyone with a brain's list of top-10 Science Fiction movies. Many movies such as Silent Running, Moon, etc that didn't make the list are vastly better.

    11. Jnemo

      Re: Silent Running

      +1 on addition of silent running.

      Also, no Soylent Green?

      1. Neil 30
        Thumb Up

        Re: Silent Running

        +1 for Silent Running - it made me cry too

        +1 for Soylent Green - Soylent Green is people

        But what about Akira - or are we keeping away from Anime?

        1. Richard 120

          Re: Silent Running

          I read the list, I too immediately thought what about Silent Running? It always seems to be missed out on lists of this nature.

          It's the only sci-fi film I've known that can make people cry.

    12. sabba

      Re: Silent Running

      Damn, you beat me to it. I was going to mention Silent Running. Excellent film.

  2. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Up

    Wot, no Avatar?

    OK joking aside, great list.

    Forbidden Planet has always been a favourite of mine. Always amazes me how it doesn't look particularly dated considering its 1956 vintage.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Wot, no Avatar?

      I watched it last week. Again. Awesome.

      In addition, I have every film here, including the missing Silent running. And all the other Ape and Trek films. And Dark Star. And Ghost in the.

      All are watchable, but above all, Zardoz should be avoided at all costs.

      A thought occurs...I have too many Sci-fi movies.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Wot, no Avatar?

        "A thought occurs...I have too many Sci-fi movies."

        I don't have nearly enough. I have far to many horror films, though.

        Actually, I have far too many films.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Silverburn (Re: Wot, no Avatar?)

        Ah yes, Dark Star. I've never looked at beach balls quite the same way since.

        Let there be light.

        1. Richard 120

          Re: @Silverburn (Wot, no Avatar?)

          We were discussing Avatar the other day, and the technology behind it, most specifically how the "synch" is happening between the host and the controller.

          Ultimately we determined that it must be akin to SMS, but with some serious bandwidth.

          Or alternatively, tripe.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Tom 13

        Re: Zardoz should be avoided at all costs.

        I concur. It wasn't even bad enough to make the list for our college SF club's Top 10 Bad SF movies.

        Although I have since seen one that was even worse. Some soulless twit had transferred a video copy to commercially released DVD. And unfortunately for him, the previous soulless twit who transferred the film to video had the reels out of order. We knew it was transferred from video because at one point you could see the video tape scroll line roll up the screen. Yes, these were the memorable things about the plot. That, and that it somehow revolved around using guns that looked like 1970s hair dryers.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Wot, no Avatar?

      I remember seeing Leslie Neilsen interviewed about his career. One of the things touched on was Forbidden Planet. He said that he thought he had it made when he did that. He was the hero, he got the girl, the reviews were good and it sold well. Pretty much everything an actor could ask for to endorse their credentials as a box office draw in a lead role.

      He said he sat back and waited for the phone to ring. It never did and to this day he still wonders why it didn't.

      I'm with him. I thought he was bloody brilliant in it.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Wot, no Avatar?

        I couldn't believe it was him when I saw Forbidden Planet. first film I saw with Leslie Nielson in was Airplane, then all the comedy offerings he was in over time, Police Squad, Naked Gun etc. I thought comic roles was all he'd done, shame, Forbidden Planet is cool.

        And what's wrong with Zardoz? Granted it really doesn't fit in with the others on the list, you wouldn't sit down for a 'marathon' sci-fi film session and watch 2001, Close Encounters and then Zardoz. It would be like setting your musicplayer to play several classical music albums and then an album by Space Cat or Eat Static.

        Fantastic Planet is a good film too, a Surrealist story based on the Soviet Occupation of Czechoslovakia. It, I think, like Zardoz doesn't so much ask questions so much as answer them in a language we've yet to learn... (either that or pass me the bong!)

        Moon is another recent 'thoughtful' Sci-Fi movie, andd I too think Silent Running should have been on the list.

        Frankly, several lists would have been better, Dystopian Visions: 1984, Gattaca, Blade Runner, Soylent Green

        First Contact: Contact, 2001, Close Encounters

        IT gone mad: Colossus the Forbin Project, Android

        Mind Expanding: Fantastic Planet, Zardoz,

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Wot, no Avatar?

          "I couldn't believe it was him when I saw Forbidden Planet. first film I saw with Leslie Nielson in was Airplane, then all the comedy offerings he was in over time, Police Squad, Naked Gun etc. I thought comic roles was all he'd done, shame, Forbidden Planet is cool."

          He was also in the original version of the Mel Gibson film "Ransom."

          I think he plays the role taken by Gary Sinise.

          The first film I saw him in was a TV movie from the 70s as a disgraced US Army office planning a large military payroll robbery. For me all the comedy stuff came later.

      2. SteveCarr

        Re: Wot, no Avatar?

        Yes, no Avatar - a grossly over rated over hyped piece of twaddle! Seen through eyes other than those blinkered by American myopia, it is trite, sentimental codswallop!

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wot, no Avatar?

      Avatar - Dances with Aliens ...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Wot, no Avatar?

        And there's the issue: Avatar is *not* a science fiction film.

        That is: it's undoubtedly a film (even if you ignore the ridiculous and overhyped 3-D) and there is *some* science - but if you take the science away it's no more than a 'let's build an oil well/mine/factory/whatever over the objections of the locals'.

        A science fiction book|film can only be one in which the film fails if the science is removed - for example, Gattaca, The Day The Earth Stood Still, or Blade Runner... there's a lot more science fiction in print than we're ever likely to see in film, particularly when instead of science fiction we get extruded comic book product...

        And Avatar had such potential... consider: every animal shown in the film had six limbs, with the sole exception of the smurfs, who had only four. And yet the smurfs had the same tentacle thingies to do the mind control of the animals... Mr Average Science Fiction Fan thinks to himself... okay, given that there's no obvious evolutionary route, the smurfs are obviously an introduced species. The ability to communicate is obviously engineered... so who engineered it, and why? And then the film turns into a humans bad, aliens good spiel with not even a glimpse of this fascinating stuff... meh

        1. Philip Edwards

          Re: Wot, no Avatar?

          There's a pretty strong sic-fi element in the Avatars themselves. The ability to put your consciousness in to another body, cloned or otherwise, could be incredibly relevant in the near future. Would full-body replacements be available to the public if they could afford them? Would it be possible to transfer minds completely from body to body? Is immortality the next step for the super-rich?

          As for the difference between the Na'vi and the other creatures in the area, just look at the huge difference between humans and other various animal and insect species on Earth. It's unlikely that the Na'vi are related to the animals of Pandora for the reasons you list. However, it's not impossible.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wot, no Avatar?

            Avatar = Pocahontas = Not SciFi.

            In 1607 (2194), a ship carrying John Smith (Jake Sully) arrives in the lush new land of North America (Pandora). The Settlers are mining for gold (uranianium) under the supervision of Govenor Ratcliffe (col john quarty). John Smith (jake sully) begins exploring new territory, and encounters Pocahontas (Neytari). Initially she is distrustful of him, but a message from

            Grandmother Willow (the Tree of Souls) helps her overcome her trepidation.

            The two begin spending time together. Pocahontas (Neytari) helps John (Jake) understand that all life is valuable and how all nature is connected at a circle of life

            Furthermore she teaches him how to grow crops (tame dragons) and of her culture. We find that her father is Chier Powhatan (eytucan) and that she is set to be married to a Kocoum (Tsu Tey), a powerful warrior, but whom Pocahontas (Neytari) does not desire.

            Over time John (Jake) and Pocohontas (Neytari) find that they have a love for one another. Back at the settlement, the men who believe that the natives are savages plan to attack them for thier gold (uranium). Kocoum (Tsu Tey) tries to kill John (Jake) out of jealousy but he is later killed by the settlers. As the settlers prepare thier attack, Jake is blamed by the Indians (Navi)

            and is sentenced to death. Just before they kill him, the settlers arrive.

            Chief Powhatan (eytucan) is killed and John (Jake) sustains injuries from Govenor Radcliffe ( col quaritas) who is then brought to justice (shot with arrows) Pocohontas (Neytari) risks her life to save John (Jake).

            John (Jake) and Pocahontas (Neytari) finally have each other and the two cultures resolve thier differences. The End! (stolen from the web)

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Wot, no Avatar?

        "Avatar - Dances with Aliens ..."

        I think the less kind version was "Dances with smurfs"

  3. Smallbrainfield

    Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.

    I've never watched it all in one sitting.

    Have to agree about Star Trek, it's my favourite Trek film (providing you fast forward through the 'look at the cool spaceship' scenes).

    What about 'Moon'? That's a corking modern science fiction film.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.

      Moon is very good, but was nudged out of the final list. Would definitely be in a Top 15 or Top 20.

    2. VinceH
      Thumb Up

      Re: Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.

      "What about 'Moon'? That's a corking modern science fiction film."

      Yes. I saw that for the first time a month or so back, and promptly kicked myself for not having seen it sooner! A definite corker.

    3. Andrew Moore

      Re: Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.

      I loved Moon, it had the faint touch of Solyaris about it...

    4. Graham Marsden

      Re: Moon

      Whilst Moon was interesting to begin with and had excellent visuals (apart from people moving like they were in 1g when they were on the moon in 1/6th of a g!), IMO it explained itself too quickly and then ended in a fairly commonplace manner after a potentially good start.

      [Possible spoilers in the next couple of paragraphs...]

      I felt there could have been a lot more done with the "paranoia" aspect of "is this real or not" scenario and GERTY being helpful by giving Bell the password struck me as a convenient plot device which, given that it wouldn't answer his questions previously, didn't seem credible.

      Also one thing that I didn't follow was that (presumably) the girl he hallucinates at the start is supposed to be the one who is now 15, but how did he know what she looked like as he wouldn't have had memories of her?

      A nice idea, but flawed execution.

    5. Blastodon
      Thumb Up

      Re: Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.

      yeah moon was awesome. I was going to comment about it but you mentioned it first. Sunshine is another good one.

      1. The Indomitable Gall


        Sunshine was an excellent spectacle, and a great attempt to revive the "endeavour sci-fi" genre, but two problems:

        A) it was fairly light on the "human nature" side of things -- the baddie in Sunshine wasn't much of a clear analogy of anything. To be fair, a lot of endeavour sci-fi is lacking in this respect, and often they do descended into chase movies in a metal box.

        B) the only reason we left the cinema impressed with it was the sheer scale and spectacle of it. I loved it. I said to a friend how much I loved it. He criticised the ending. I realised he was right. The film was really well crafted, and it perfectly generated willful suspension of disbelief, which excuses a really nonsensical ending only as far as "good entertainment", but not to the point where it can be considered "excellent sci-fi"....

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Sunshine...?

          "and it perfectly generated willful suspension of disbelief, "

          Sorry but a space the size of a soccer stadium depressurising through a door sized hole won't evacuate in 8 hours. WTF

          Like the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves (who sounds like an alien anyway), great imagery but not enough plot.

    6. Tom 13

      Re: Have to agree about Star Trek, it's my favourite Trek film

      Are you and the author DAFT?!?!?!?

      There's a reason Trekkies call it "The Motion Sickness." It was 110 long, boring minutes. The original show did better with less money and less time. Vger was an obvious Nomad ripoff even when the movie was released. Some damn fool making another "what would Ed Wood have done if only he'd had a budget' movie. Yes after 20 years we all went to see it because we were starved for something new and birthed the series again. But if you're picking an original crew Trek movie it's obviously Wrath of Khan.

  4. FartingHippo

    Missed one

    Plan 9 From Outer Space. A masterpiece of futurology.

  5. oddie

    came into the comments just to lament the lack of 'moon', and then saw it had already been lamented :) if anyone reading this has never seen it then do so; then wait a week and watch it again... its a different movie the second time around, and surprisingly just as enjoyable.

  6. joeW

    Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

    What, no Akira or Ghost In The Shell?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

      Oh, definately "Ghost in the Shell". Required watching that.

      Original DVD version played on a decent upscaling player is the way to go. Downside is that you don't get the sumptuous soundtrack of the HD remaster, upside is you get to see all the artwork rather than most of it and some CGI.

      This is one that must be watched in Japanese with subtitles. Whoever did the Motoko free-diving soliloquy in the English dub should go back to flipping burgers for a living.

      If you like that, the two "Standlone Complex" spinoff TV series' are also well worth watching. As it happens I've just finished watching the whole lot.

      1. Rob
        Thumb Up

        Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

        Ditto. Took me awhile but I found all the original soundtrack albums as well to add to my collection, particularly fond of the 2 SC soundtracks.

      2. Oninoshiko

        Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

        GitS, is one of those that I kinda hate my self for not liking, but I don't. It comes down to it's main character. She's just too flat. I can't can't bring my self to care about her at all. I understand why she was written that way for the narrative, but that doesn't make it any better. I think she could have been written to fill the part, but still be an engaging character.

        As someone who didn't like GitS, I can say that even if you don't like it, GitS:SAC may be worth watching. I enjoyed it much more.

        1. Flawless101
          Thumb Up

          Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

          Hmm, I think she filled the role well and I was interested in her as a character. SAC is a great series though, think it really expanded the universe in a good way.

          1. TeeCee Gold badge

            Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

            I'm with you. I reckon the only way you could think of Motoko as two-dimensional is by watching the dub. The English language Motoko sounds like she's bored and reading from cue cards.

            The Motoko back-story in SAC: 2nd gig is where it's at though.

    2. Flawless101

      Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

      2 down votes! I am shocked.

      I'm not an anime fan, but Akira is a movie I believe any sci-fi fan could watch and perhaps even enjoy, the music and visuals are top-notch. Ghost in the Shell is also great, but I also find the pacing a tad odd, a lot happens in a small time frame but I don't think it's really reflected in the movie. I'd avoid 2nd GIG but the series, Stand Alone Complex, is pretty enjoyable with a good story.

      Not a movie, well maybe you could argue the remake movies or EoE, but Neon Genesis Evangelion is another series I urge people to watch, I was gobsmacked to how much I got into it... and that's all the Anime I've seen.

    3. reno79

      Re: Obligatory "What, no...?" comment

      Two of my absolute favourite films (three, if you include Ghost In the Shell 2.0 which is almost as good as the first).

      I may just have to have an anime marathon tonight now.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This Island Earth" (1955) or "Demon Seed" (1977) anyone?

    1. joeW

      Not unless it's the version of "This Island Earth" with three little silhouettes in the corner of the screen.

    2. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      I watched This Island Earth. Half the movie is spent flying to Metalluna, gawping at the effects, then flying straight back. Good 50s hokum, not great serious sci-fi.

  8. Thomas 4

    Another missed one

    A very old one but would Metropolis fall under this category?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another missed one

      I think so. Serious issues about human relations in the face of mechanisation and industrial society cast in the form of a sci-fi love story. That qualifies it for me.

      1. sgtrock

        Re: Another missed one

        Yes! Watch the latest restoration to get the whole story. It turns it from just a dark, brooding, menacing picture to a much more hopeful and inspiring one.

  9. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Thumb Up

    Missing option...

    Start trek first contact - excellent film.

    Also, just added 'Forbidden Planet' to my love film rental list.

    1. John 62

      Re: Missing option...

      Oh dear. You really should watch the review of First Contact by the guy who did the crazy Star Wars Ep 1 review. Generations and First Contact were so bad I haven't bothered with Insurrection and Nemesis yet. I would definitely watch them, but I wouldn't go out of my way for them. The Original Series crew films were far better than the series, though.

  10. Mr Atoz

    What, no Alien?

    How could you leave off that chest popping classic?

    1. Andy Miller

      Re: What, no Alien?

      I thought that initially, but on reflection I think it's the right call.

      Alien is a cracking film, one of my all time favourites, but is it about big ideas that explore the human condition? I don't think so. Given the spec for this list, I accept it's absence.

    2. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: What, no Alien?

      Superior space horror, yes, but not superior sci-fi. Aliens - on the subject of the franchise - was rejected because it's an action flick. Ditto - on the subject of Cameron movies - Terminator and Terminator 2.

      Prometheus might have made the list but for that 'boffins mutate, lose humanity, gain amazing strength' bit in the middle.

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: Prometheus

        Prometheus - what a piece of junk! Muddled, implausible and dull.

        Why are the space ships in so many sci-fi films crewed by be men who would be more at home in a stoke-hole? I know space travel is in abeyance at the moment, but when we did it there was no evidence that the crews were drawn from such a population.

  11. mad_dr

    Blade Runner

    Have I missed something or did the author spectacularly fumble the Tyrell quote from Blade Runner?

    "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy." is how I recall it from the script which I sadly know almost by heart having seen BR more times than my wife cares to remember!

    1. Derezed
      Thumb Up

      Re: Blade Runner

      I want more life...fucker.

    2. jai

      Re: Blade Runner

      I sadly know almost by heart having seen BR more times than my wife cares to remember!

      and soon, all those memories, will be gone, like tears




  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    a couple more

    I saw Butterfly Effect in the cinema not really having any idea about it as hadn't seen any trailers, and it's actually rather good. One of the best time-travel/alternate reality movies I have seen.

    And Primer is definitely worth checking out - cost 7000 bucks or so to make, and you'll need to watch it several times to figure out what is going on. And even then, it's hard to get your head around. But it's quite brilliant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a couple more

      I think Time Crimes is much better than Primer.

      1. Super Fast Jellyfish

        Re: a couple more

        Saw Time Crimes (Los Chronocrímenes) last night, excellent on the exploration of time loops. Just added Primer to my to watch list

    2. Super Fast Jellyfish

      Re: a couple more

      Butterfly Effect? You may as well include The Time Travellers Wife...

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch

        Re: a couple more

        Butterfly Effect? You may as well include The Time Travellers Wife...

        Or "The Jacket".

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Mostly OK

    You're always going to get dissenters on a topic like this so it's quite a feat to come up with a list that is fairly acceptable.

    I especially approve of The Forbidden Planet - still more scary than Alien, to me.

    As others have said - Silent Running should have been in the list. And I would junk the Star Trek film to make room for it : nothing new or thought-provoking in it, really - just a revamp of an episode from the original series.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Mostly OK

      Forbidden Planet - still more scary than Alien

      I couldn't sleep for a week when I first saw it as a kid. That two-tone electronic noise accompanied by the invisible monster is one of the most knicker-wettingly terrifying things ever done on screen.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Sunshine vs Solaris

    I favor Danny Boyle's Sunshine over Solaris without blinking :-)

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

      Surely you mean without thinking. As far as I could see it was an attempt to appear to have the substance of Solaris yet actually have the intellectual rigour of Star Wars.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

        Sunshine looks pretty, but it's an hour and a half of boredom (crew, viewer) with a 20-minute slasher movie stuck on the end.

        1. Captain Hogwash

          Re: Re: Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

          Quite so.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

          Sunshine also has the most unbelievably stupid spacecraft crew ever to screw up on screen.


          I still chike that they really expected us to swallow the idea of flooding a compartment with oxygen to blow out a fire, when they could just vent it to space...

          You know, try a technique that might actually work instead of one that would definitely kill everyone on board and probably destroy the craft as well.

          The worst part is that the writers could have got exactly the same "oh hell" result of the aftermath by using an actual firefighting technique, instead of something that made no sense whatsoever and must have sent the scientific advisors screaming for the hills and demanding to be removed from the credits...

        3. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

          Guess that the use of the wrong icon led to a misinterpretation of my comment...anyway, in my opinion the sci-fi theme was an excuse on Sunshine for a few moments of thriller or something like that. I tend to appreciate movies for their FX and photografy also. But, what do I know? Many of my friends disliked the last incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, which had the most real science lately.

    2. DF118

      Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

      Came out of the cinema after Sunshine and said to my brother: "well that was a real one star movie".

      A trifle harsh (I'd give it maybe three out of five) but worth it for the gag.

      Solaris would have to be pretty poor sci-fi to be any worse than Sunshine. It's basically Event Horizon without the suspense, and EH itself is basically a haunted house movie set in space (albeit a fairly good one).

      1. fajensen

        Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

        I lost it at the "Lets just risk the missjun, the ship aaand the planet Earth - just to take an unessecary, complicated and risky detour to look over The Sppoky Derelict where *any number of human/technical failures* probably have already killed the crew and is waiting for more victims"-decision point.

  15. VaalDonkie


    no Transformers?

    1. Silverburn

      Re: What,

      Chewing gum for the eyes. Pre-teen eyes at that - forgot the plot, just watch the effects and the explosions, and have a sock ready for the Megan Fox scenes!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: What,

      Sod Transformers! Why isn't Barbarella on the list?

      Intelligence, thought-provokingness, quality acting, that film's got them all...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What, ... Barbarella?

        I usually get my haircuts at a place called "Barber Eile". "Eile" being the Irish word for "another" (and pronounced like "Ella").

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: What, ... Barbarella?

          Do you get to sit in an Orgasmatron while they blow dry you?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is Deckard a human or an Android?

    Android, of course. How else could Gaff know what was in his dreams if they weren't artificial implanted memories? And to ask is not missing the point, it IS the point. That's why it's revealed right at the end.

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Re: Is Deckard a human or an Android?

      I once read a weird article that suggested Deckard's memories are actually Gaff's. He was Gaff's replacement and that Deckard is 'activated' only at the start of the film as Gaff is injured (hence the walking stick).

    2. Flawless101
      Thumb Down

      Re: Is Deckard a human or an Android?

      I wish that scene remained out of the Final Cut, sorta ruins the whole experience (read arguing in pubs about it).

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Is Deckard a human or an Android?

      Human, but you'd have to read the original Philip K. Dick (Do Amdroids Dream of electric Sheep) to know that and why. Let's just say the ending is quite a bit different from the movie. And obviously wouldn't have made it past the test audiences. Sort of like they had to change the ending of We Can Remember It For You Wholesale when they made it into the Arnie flick Total Recall. Of course both short stories explore Dick's fascination with the question of how do we know what it real.

  17. Tom 38

    For your consideration:

    Dark City

    Twelve Monkeys

    They Live

    Almost everything by David Cronenberg

    In particular from DC, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, The Fly, eXistenZ

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime

      Dark City? noooooooooo!

      Dark City is the only film which at the end I wanted the last two hours of my life back.

      It would have got you a downvote but you also mentioned They Live which is definitely worth a countering upvote.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Does Brazil (aka. the Home Office's Amazon wishlist) count as Science Fiction?

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Totally agree with those, and add Phase IV too.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge


        I time travel movie that I can't get my head around, even with the help of a flow chart. The depiction of working scientists and garage start-ups has the ring of truth about it, though.

        1. Thomas 4

          Re: "Primer"

          DC's stuff gives me the frigging creeps.

  18. Amorous Cowherder
    Thumb Up

    Swiss film "The Cargo"!

    Absolutely brilliant! A nice little horror edge, a little though provolking and a little bit of gentle romance. German language with English subs, nobody I'd heard of and for once not wrecked by big named, short-arsed, short-tempered Hollywood B-listers with wooden acting skills that could be bettered by a broom handle!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, and one other thing: Dark Star

    Dark Star was the first movie to show the non-utopian(*) version of the Sci-Fi space travel future: bored, lonely people in a cramped uncomfortable dirty spaceship with everything breaking down and going wrong and a disinterested planet Earth back home cutting off their funding.

    (*) - Yes, I mean non-utopian as opposed to dystopian. I'm treating topianity as (at least) three-valued, and I don't think it's really about a dystopia

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Oh, and one other thing: Dark Star

      Dark Star is superb. But a comedy, not a serious sci-fi fillum.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh, and one other thing: Dark Star

        Wrong. it IS serious sci-fi, but a comedy film, unlike Star Trek which is mostly a serious film but comedy sci-fi.

  20. Mr Hubris


    <i>Solaris</i>, absolutely. But my God, not the remake. Tarkovsky is <b>way</b> better. And while we're thinking of the genius of the man, <i>Stalker</i> should also be in this list. In fact, remove everything from the list as it is, and just slot all of his films in there, 'Sci-Fi' or not. That's all that sentient fans need.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Tarkovsky

      I couldn't agree more.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tarkovsky

      I thought the remake (I didn't see the original) was '2001' set in a different plane (...the jogging track). And unless my dvd didn't include the audio track, I don't think there was any dialogue in the movie....

  21. marrok


    Can't believe Primer is not on this list, surely one of the the most intelligent, intriguing and frightening films of the last 10 years?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Primer

      Damned right - more serious than half the films in the article, fully realises its premise (and then some) and delivered in a realist style that reminds me of the real-life young scientists and engineers I've seen in their places of work. Confusing as hell though, but by necessity.

      A scandalous omission for the Reg, especially as the first act resembles a documentary about a silicon valley start-up.

      The creators of Primer have a new film out this year- 'Upstream Color"... IMDB can help you out.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As well as some mentioned above...

    Can I suggest:

    5th Element


    Primer (yeah - a SciFi film not about space)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As well as some mentioned above...

      Oh, and I forgot about The Time Machine (original) and best of all DARK STAR:-)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Things to come?

    Some pretty big ideas in there too.

    Also agree that Metropolis should be in there. . But only the 2010 rekease.

    Zardoz is completely pants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Things to come?

      "Things to Come" is in the public domain now. Check it out on It's a site worth checking out for a lot of older stuff like "The Brain that Wouldn't Die", "Metropolis", "Plan 9", "Night of the Living Dead" (sci-fi due to the McGuffin "radiation from Venus" explanation for the "ghouls"), "The Lost World", "Virus" and "Le Voyage dans la lune". Lots of B-Movie junk, but some good or historically interesting stuff there.

  24. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Stack overflow

    A difficult list to fault. I peronally would have dropped Zardoz and Star Trek, but I would have been left trying to fit Silent Running, Dark Star and Moon into those two slots.

  25. Locky

    Missing a few...


    Back to the Future


    The Matrix

    The Fly



  26. Soruk

    Iron Sky!

    1. Tim Parker

      "Iron Sky!"

      They have the sky running on .NET ? *shudder*

      1. Ben Holmes

        I'd err, think about finding the exit Tim. Here, take your coat. You'll need it.

  27. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Wot no Matrix?

    Shame they never made any sequels, though...

    1. Andrew Moore

      Re: Wot no Matrix?

      Well, apart from the excellent Animatrix...

  28. Mondo the Magnificent

    Good choice..

    ..but the ElReg readers and Forumites have also added some classics that need mentioning:

    Silent Running, without a doubt a grear classic, although it was a 70's eco awareness type message. I loved the three little tape driven drones, Hewie, Louie and Dewie... I was young when I saw it and it sowed the seeds that made me an eternal SciFi fan..

    Sunshine: Visually stunning and also real scifi in the fact that mankind would dontate his nuclear arsenal to rekindle the sun... but it was the little things like how a slight alteration in course almost led to disaster and even with all the technology in place, man is the weakness that made the maiden mission fail..

    Black Hole, sure I am going to hell for digging this Disney "classic" out, but it was entertaining and also visually brilliant for its era too.

    Event Horizon: Love it or hate it, it was believable SciFi with some scares in the plot. Quite enjoyable and one of LFJr's better roles as a stern faced, no nonsense salvage crew commander

    1. Tom 38
      Thumb Up

      Re: Good choice..

      Event Horizon scared me shitless.

      1. Neil 30

        Re: Good choice..

        - me too "Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse."

        1. Super Fast Jellyfish

          Re: Good choice..

          So more of a horror film than SF? But agree well scary!

          1. jai

            Re: Good choice..

            i'm a big sci-fi fan, but not a fan of horror

            somehow, i only saw sci-fi in the trailers for Event Horizon and figured any film with Sam Neil has to be good right?

            so completely came as a surprise when the horror begins in the movie.

            still, damn good film, despite the lack of sleep i endured afterwards. wish i could bring myself to watch it again

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No love for Dune?

    Yes, faults galore (please don't mention the sandworms!), but for all that a film I can watch again and again, not least for the brilliant styling and costume design.

    Missing Silent Running is surprising, but missing Dark Star is actually unforgivable.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: No love for Dune?

      I quite like Dune, but it's space opera, not sci-fi

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: No love for Dune?

        And based upon a book written as an ecological parable- the same criticism levelled at Silent Running.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: No love for Dune?

          Dune is too choppy, especially if you read the book. It needs to be a mini-series, unless you have 5 hous to watch a $500 million movie.

          Other than that, a great and thought provoking possibility.

          1. jai

            Re: No love for Dune?


            you know it was also a mini-series recently:

            Dune (2000):


            Children of Dune (2003):


            1. WillGalen

              Re: No love for Dune?

              Mini-series was much better than the movie.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: No love for Dune?

        Definitely not space opera. I love space opera. I hate Dune. Still, I would be amiss if I didn't recognize it's impact on the SF world.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: No love for Dune?

      I suppose someone had to mention it.....and there goes my "pet hate" button.

      If only they hadn't reworked the thing to "bring it up to date". What's wrong with leaving it as personal shields 'n swords (the "slow knife" sequence would have actually made some bloody sense then), pointy-nosed rockets, artillery and the family atomics? No, they had to give it a "ray gun" makeover and remove all references to anything "nooculuh" to keep the plebs in the audience on-message.

      It all made little sense after they'd butchered the plotline. The implementation and visualisation is fantastic, but the script is unfortunately utter crap.

      I hate it for promising so much and yet delivering so little.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: No love for Dune?

        Ah, Dune, my favourite book of all time...

        I doubt they'll ever make a movie to do it justice. I do like David Lynchs' version and I also like the Sci-Fi mini-series interpretation, but both are flawed. The David Lynch version had wonderful sets and good costumes but the plot could not be covered sufficiently to make sense in one movie. The book is all about dialog and the monologue of various characters and does not carry over well into an 'action movie' . The subject matter is related to mysticism, ecology, politics and statecraft., again not easily meshed with the obvious succcessful template of the 'action movie'. Despite the plot changes to give the Atriedies advantage a physical aspect 'the sound gun' and the heretical conclusion that Muad dib is a God and not just a man playing God, I've always felt that the 1984 film would be good if only the missing scenes could be returned (I know they don't exist, but an extra hour to the movie would make the story soo much clearer).

        Although the Sci-fi channel version had more time to cover more of the book, it makes several mistakes in characterisation. The costumes (what were they thinking?). Paul starts out an arrogant jerk (Re: the opening scene in his bedroom on the ship to Arrakis) and ends the series and arrogant jerk (in a really non-fremen white loincloth, over Feyd's body) but at least the film didn't declare him an actual god, although the water scene in the Sietch does. He was a man playing god only. As for what the mini-series does to Gurney Halleck, I tend to try my best to ignore scenes with him in, as his character was obviously lobotomised and brainwashed by the evil Atriedies... He should be a poet-warrior not a nightwatchman.

        1. John 62

          Re: No love for Dune?

          I've read the book at least 3 times now and I really do love it, but last time I noticed the death of Paul's first son largely because Herbert skipped over the whole thing so quickly. Herbert himself must have realised he'd bitten off more than he could chew and must have had to cut stuff out or rush it. The Harkonnen takeover and subsequent Fremen rebellion seem glossed over. If the book needs to be interpreted for the screen as a mini-series, then I submit that the book itself should also have been split up so the second half could have been expanded. The only other book I've read from the series is the sequel, Dune Messiah, and Herbert must have thought the first book was too long, since Messiah was so short in comparison and I don't know whether it was a bit poor because it was too short, or just because it wasn't that good.

          /if you reverse the colours of the icon you get blue eyes.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange Days

    Bit of an underappreciated classic methinks. Directed by Katherine Bigelow who got the rights as part of her divorce settlement with James Cameron who wrote the script. It has dated a bit because they chose to set it in 2000 and the technology seems to involve MiniDiscs; but the idea of people recording their experiences seems somewhat prescient in the era of Google Glass.

    The opening POV robbery is a work of genius and it has the amazing Angela Bassett as one of Cameron's strong female roles. There are a couple of incredibly violent scenes, including a rape, which some people might find too much.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Strange Days

      That's a good call.

    2. Greg J Preece

      Re: Strange Days

      While I thought the allegories for the '90s L.A. riots in that film got a bit paper-thin at times, it's still an excellent sci-fi, and I agree that it's massively underrated/underexposed.

    3. PhilBuk
      Thumb Up

      Re: Strange Days

      Gets my vote. Nice bit of Juliette Lewis on show too!


    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Remove Star Trek and Close encounters

      Replace with Dark Star and Silent Running and you have the perfect top ten.

    5. Oliver 7

      Re: Strange Days

      Strange Days started brilliantly with a great concept but it's trawling the depths by the end with the most ridiculous conspiracy theory dénouement.

      Gattaca is a great shout. You could have mentioned Forbidden Planet had the first entirely electronic soundtrack (which wasn't released as 'music') and, what's more, was composed by a woman, Bebe Barron.

      Dark Star, Silent Running (flawed), Dune (seriously, but again flawed) and Alien might have been candidates for me. I think Alien in particular, although being as much horror as SF, raises some serious themes (genetic adaptation/dystopian future/corporate exploitation/human flaws/woman as heroine) and spectacular plot twists/shocks (chest burst scene/Ash as a robot) that were so new and influential at the time that they have coloured everything since and detracted from its radicalism today.

      Guilty pleasures - Them, Rollerball, Robocop.

  31. a pressbutton


    Everyone who can be bothered to post will want to add the one you left out

    Mine :

    Dark Star

    West World

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: s/10/20/

      Westworld almost made the cut. Top 20 material for sure.

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: s/10/20/

      Westworld. The movie where you get Yul Brynner to make a Terminator impression ... at least a decade before Terminator came out!

  32. hamsterjam

    Primer, of course... fact, I would argue that it''s better than any of the ten apart from 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of the downright cleverest films ever made.

    What's missing?


    The Fountain


    A Boy And His Dog


    and a bunch of others that I'll remember as soon as I hit "Submit".

    1. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Re: Primer, of course...

      Alphaville....A single WTF moment that lasts 99 minutes.

      Other than that...+1.

    2. Oninoshiko

      Re: Primer, of course...

      By "Cube" do you mean the episode of "NBC Experement in Television" from 1969 Feb. 23 Titled "The Cube" (starring Jim Henson), or Cube (1997)?

      Of the two, I think the 1969 one gave me more food for thought, although I don't think I would consider either hardcore science fiction. 1969 Surrealist fiction, 1997 Slasher-horror.

      1. John 62

        Re: Primer, of course...

        No, by Cube, he means the ITV programme starring Philip Schofield and the body (in there for the dads)

    3. PhilBuk

      Re: Primer, of course...

      For the really obscure - "Welcome To Blood City". It's even got Keir Dullea in it.


    4. Neil 30
      Thumb Up

      Re: Primer, of course...

      - I'll throw in a vote for Cube. Brilliant idea and can I just say - IMHO Australia consistently makes brilliant Sci-Fi - think Pitch Black, Mad Max, Dark City hmm? Hmm?

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Primer, of course...

        Ah yes, Pitch Black.

        A really good movie with Vin Diesel in it and thus the filmmaking equivalent of alchemy.

  33. Pete 2 Silver badge

    2001 still does it for me

    By far the best of the bunch. Though when someone (so long as it isn't Spielberg) gets round to filming Neuromancer or possibly The Shockwave Rider they could give it a run for its money.

    Good call leaving out The Matrix IMHO. Far too many self-indulgent SFX getting in the way of the story.

    1. PhilBuk
      Thumb Up

      Re: 2001 still does it for me

      I'll give you an upvote for hating Steven Spielberg as much as I do!


    2. John 62

      Re: 2001 still does it for me

      The Matrix Reloaded actually had really interesting themes, far more so than the Matrix. Sadly Reloaded was nowhere near as well made and overstretched the graphical effects abilities of the time just a tad too far (and the temple orgy? why? Was that supposed to be the missing Seitch orgy scene from Dune?). Revolutions sits unwatched on my shelf.

  34. Warren Sealey

    How about a new one?

    Given the type of list we are considering I would have thought that Cloud Atlas may be up for a mention? (Only watched it once, will have to see it again before I can make a final decision).

    And I would like to agree with the shout out for DARK STAR. How could you leave out a film about teaching a bomb philosophy.

    Mind you... going to line these up on the NAS and run through them all start to finish one weekend...

    1. Daniel B.

      Cloud Atlas!

      I'm guessing that Cloud Atlas hasn't been out for long, and thus isn't yet being considered as worthy of a top ten list yet. It's pretty good, though.

  35. Andy Miller

    Still a great film

    There should be room on the list for a time travelling paradox film, can I vote for La Jetée ?

    1. hamsterjam

      Re: Still a great film

      Tom 38 already listed 12 Monkeys, which is Terry Gilliam's feature-length remake of the half-hour La Jetee.

      Amusingly, Bruce Willis has done the time-travel paradox twice: 12 Monkeys and Looper. Compare and contrast...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >"Bruce Willis has done the time-travel paradox twice"

        No he hasn't - there is no paradox in 12 Monkeys, just a stable closed time-loop.

  36. Captain Hogwash

    OK, so maybe not a classic but...

    Brainstorm has a few things to think about.

    1. Neil 30

      Re: OK, so maybe not a classic but...

      - I really enjoyed Brainstorm - thanks for the memory jogger. I should have recorded it instead!

  37. KierO

    Zardoz? Seriously? Oh dear......

  38. Graham Longmire

    2001 at number 3 .

    If i point out the shadows of the helicopter on the colour synthesised wormhole transit sequence would this move it up or down ?

    1. Silverburn
      Black Helicopters

      I choose not to see the helicopters.

    2. Ben Holmes

      You utter shit, Graham. I'm now going to have to go home, dig out my DVD of 2001, and try to find the bloody helicopter blades.

    3. Naughtyhorse

      well you get a pat on the back from me....

      for being awake at that point.

      seen the first 10 mins and last 10 mins prolly about 20 times

      the 7 1/2 hours in between are a total mystery.

      As with books there are some that you 'should' see that are simply not worth the effort.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: well you get a pat on the back from me....

        On the bright side, you got some rest out of it. I was awake through the whole thing and it's still a mystery to me.

        But it certainly makes the lists every time.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: well you get a pat on the back from me....

        How could you sleep through the Intermission.

        I'm sorry, Dave, I can't let you do that.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As the order was release year, you could point out things until you were blue in the face but it wouldn't shift it either way.

  39. IHateWearingATie

    No commentard love for Gattaca?

    Possibly my favourite SiFi film, not least thanks to the gorgeous score - the soundtrack CD is worth listening to, even if you hate scifi films.

    1. MrT
      Thumb Up

      Re: No commentard love for Gattaca?

      Excellent movie - DNA glyph name. Love the reuse of old Rover P6 as 'the car of the future' too. Retro-stylish, and something that may have happened if Rover had stuck with developing micro-turbine power units - makes the movie more of a parallel fork from 1955 or so. Citroen DS19 and Studebaker Avanti too, but the Rovers stick in my memory most.

  40. Hairy Spod

    I've always thought Pitch Black was underrated as a serious film and as a reflection on society. (Possibly because of it's lead actor)

    I also like Starship Troopers and Robocop, even though they might be accused of visually catering for the lowest common denominators they have some clever themes and relections on the direction of society and the media too.

    Am I on my own?

    1. VinceH

      I enjoyed Pitch Black, but I don't think I'd put it on this list.

      (The only thing that ruined it for me was what happened next: They made Chronicles of Riddick.)

      1. jai

        I liked Chronicles because it didn't try to imitate Pitch Black. They're both very enjoyable in different ways, so neither detracts from the other, in my opinion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, Robocop is a brilliant movie, the sequels were rubbish.

    3. Steven Roper

      Chronicles of Riddick?

      You mean they made a sequel to Pitch Black? Whatever next - you'll be wanting me to believe they made a sequel to Highlander as well? Yeah, right.

      1. Richard 120

        Re: sequel to Highlander

        There can be only one.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: underrated as a serious film

      Pitch Black - maybe

      Starship Troopers - no. It's one of Heinlein's juveniles, and therefore space opera. I'm not a big Heinlein fan and I'm not sure the movie made it up to even the standards of his juveniles.

      Robocop - yes, but not the sequels.

  41. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Bicentennial Man

    Unassuming, almost to the point of being tame but, nevertheless, rather good.

    1. Neil 30

      Re: Bicentennial Man

      - such a touching film. I always thought it would be a difficult transition from the book. I was wrong.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contact (1997)....?

    ...The thinking man's emotional sci-fi-er! With an all-star cast including:

    Jodie Foster,

    Matthew McConaughey,

    James Woods,

    Tom Skerritt,

    John Hurt,

    William Fichtner.

    I like Clooney flicks, but Solaris in that particular list is the odd one out IMHO!

  43. Walmo

    You cant beat the cynicacism of the 70's for a good bit of dystopian Syfy so i'm nominating Rollerball and The Man who fell to earth for the list

    1. Fogcat
      Thumb Up

      Had to give you an upvote for those two. how did they slip my memory?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I love Rollerball. Is that not yet another film to get butchered with a sequel?

      1. John G Imrie

        It got butchered with a remake.

        The opening scenes on the origanal are brilliant.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: another film to get butchered with a sequel?

        When I saw who they picked for the lead, I didn't even watch the previews. So I'm guessing yes, but don't know.

  44. Mike Peachey

    Harrison Bergeron

    Dear All,

    1. I know it was made-for-TV.

    2. I don't care.

    Harrison Bergeron is 1984 in colour, with sci-fi.

    Watch it. Love it. Put it in every top 10 it can fit.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Harrison Bergeron

      There is a more recent 20 minute version that is rather good:

  45. Fogcat

    Veering off topic a bit

    In my youth (which is too fat ago now) I remember reading something that said a book labels Sci-Fi was likely to be a Cowboys & Indians in space type space opera but if you wanted something a bit more intellectually challenging you needed to look for the label SF. At the time I found this to be a very good guide which is why I still wince a bit at the term SciFi (we'll say nothing about SyFy).

    having said that -

    Dark Star should be there, as stated I think it was the first "non-shiny" SF film I'd seen, and it's funnay as well.

    And Primer, still makes my brain hurt, still no idea of exactly what happened but is a brilliant example of the principle of taking one "let's assume this is possible" idea and seeing where that leads to. (I like Bob Shaw's exploration of Slow Glass over many stories as a literary example of this.)

  46. Busby
    Thumb Up

    Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

    Agree with most of the list but it's missing two I think are modern classics in the Genre. Moon and District 9. Bit strange as you can go years without a good true sci-fi film and these two both came out around the same time.

    Very different films but I think they both fall into the big ideas category.

    1. IHateWearingATie

      Re: Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

      District 9 - good call that man.

      1. Neil 30
        Thumb Up

        Re: Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

        - "Focking prawn"

    2. John 62

      Re: Two I consider modern Sci-Fi classics

      I was never much of a fan of eating prawns and District 9 confirmed my belief that prawns should not be eaten.

  47. Magister

    another couple

    "Destination Moon" - considering when it was produced, it got an awful lot right.

    "Moon" (with Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey) - an example of just how good an intelligent script can be in the right hands.

    Alien Nation" was pretty good - simple story with some solid acting

    (I'd also promote "October Sky" - OK technically it's not SF, but it does show how it was possible for younger people to get into rocket science back in the 50s.)

  48. Silverburn

    Also missing

    The Andromeda Strain.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Also missing

      Just for the bit where the hero remarks on the sexiness of the installation's recorded voice, and his host responds:

      "Oh, you want to meet her? The lady we got to do the voice lives about five miles away, but she's sixty-five"

  49. Ancient Oracle funkie
    IT Angle

    Great list! One or two there that I haven't seen (makes mental note to look out for them). Rather than add a "what about ..." I thought I'd mention that in the 1969 Oscars, Planet Of The Apes was nominated (but didn't win) in the Costume Design category but John Chambers, the creative makeup designer, did win an honorary Oscar for "outstanding make-up achievement in the movie"; for making actors look a bit like apes. One can only assume that everyone assumed that the apes in 2001 were real!

    1. Locky

      Oscar winners

      If you want an oscar winner, how about Argo. I hear the remake is better than the original

      1. nichomach


        ...&%#@ yourself!"

  50. BenR
    Thumb Up

    Forgetting some of the other things he's done since, but...

    'Donnie Darko'.

    Although the super-duper "we've got some money now it's already a classic" Director's Cut Special Edition should be given a miss.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the others suggested though... especially 'eXistenZ' and '12 Monkeys'. Both great great great films. And to whoever suggested 'Event Horizon' - good shout!

  51. xeroks

    re Veering off topic a bit

    I have the same thing re SF/SciFi.

    It was probably a foreword by someone like Harlan Ellison to a book of (SF!) short stories that did it.

    Probably the one that's missing from the list for me (and hasn't been mentioned) is "Never Let Me Go." And not a special effect in sight.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's so true about Star Trek the Motion Picture - it is the most 'sci-fi' of the lot and yes, for some reason the Trekkers didn't seem to like it.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      It's not generally known as "Star Trek the Slow-Motion Picture" for no reason. Yes, you can pad out a single episode's plot into a two-hour movie, but why would you want to?

      That aside, I reckon it's biggest problem was in trying to live up to itself. It was the first one, had been eagerly awaited for many years and was unmercifully hyped throughout production. To stand a chance of living up to its own reputation it needed to be the SF equivalent of Citizen Kane........and it wasn't.

  53. FuzzyTheBear

    Good Sci-Fi forgotten by film makers

    In their "break record weekend or you wont make another film" mentality , the filmmakers forgot the best of the best science fiction. The Foundation series by Asimov. for example. Try to make just one movie of it. It would take at least 48 hours of film to even make a condensed version. The story of R Daneel through times itself would be amazing. Schwart's adventure in Pebble in the Sky . I mean , the best of the best is not in films and will probably never be . Sit , take a book and read. Our imaginations and the authors's gifts to us are beyond what any film can ever render.

    1. reno79

      Re: Good Sci-Fi forgotten by film makers

      I would happily camp in a cinema for a weekend to watch that. Dear *DEITY* I hope it happens one day and is faithful to the author's wishes and dreams.

      Never going to happen but I can hope

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Good Sci-Fi forgotten by film makers

        Good shout. Id love to see sone iain banks culture stuff done right

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good Sci-Fi forgotten by film makers

      With Adrien Brody as the Mule. A schnozz like that has got to be good for something.

  54. Lallabalalla

    Dark Star - a serious comedy...

    Don't tell me a comedy can't have a serious point to make!

    Also agree with Total Recall, and actually, any Philip K. Dick should qualify - A Scanner Darkly?

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Dark Star - a serious comedy...

      Also, Impostor and Paycheck...

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Dark Star - a serious comedy...

      I need to watch 'A Scanner Darkly' again. I think it's the best of his books, and I really liked it. But I've only seen the film once, and I was a bit drunk (which sort of goes with it). I did enjoy the film, but I remember wondering at the time if it was a bit too close to the book, and therefore hard to understand if you hadn't read it. My mate (who hadn't) was certainly struggling, but then he was also under the influence of quite a lot of lovely booze.

  55. Rob Quinn

    Not sure if it's classed as sci-fi but how about Thirteenth Floor or I Robot or A.I.?

    1. jai

      Thirteenth Floor is great. like all great sci-fi films, you should get to the end and go "oh? what?"

    2. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      AI almost made the cut but was dropped because it can't make up its mind whether it would really rather be a special effects movie. But it's not bad, and based on a Brian Aldiss book, so points for that.

      I, Robot was an action movie. And rubbish.

  56. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    pun failure but otherwise great article

    "Only the man who created The Twilight Zone's dark view of inner space could have worked Pierre Boulle's bizarre allegory into a sci-fi classic with a true twist in its (prehensile) tale."

    er... one of the DEFINING characteristics of apes is the LACK of a tail - prehensile or otherwise. Pun fail.

    Also agree with those lamenting the lack of Silent Running on this list. If ever there was a film commenting/warning on the human condition, that's surely it. Wholeheartedly agree with MOST of the films included on this list, but really would have liked to see Silent Running in the mix.

  57. CatoTheCat

    1984? (any version)

    1. Silverburn

      More of a dystopia, rather than Sci-fi IMO. See also: Soylent Green.

  58. Sandpit


    Not a bad list for the brief. Angreed with many, Start trek is a wtf.

    Agree with Contact, that is a seriously good film imo. But a nice little quirky one I remember is Android, rather dated now, covers similar things to Blade Runner (in a different/lighter way)

  59. William Boyle
    Thumb Up

    All but

    I would agree with this list entirely, except that I have not yet seen the last two - Gattaca and Solaris - an omission I plan on rectifying soon. Great list!

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: All but

      Watch both versions of Solaris. They are very different in both cinematic presentation and philosophical depth.

    2. Mike Flugennock

      Don't bother with "Gattaca"

      I saw Gattaca about ten years ago on cable -- or, should I say, tried to see it but couldn't get through it as it was dull as a beige room and so goddamn' depressing that I just couldn't take it. Don't waste your time.

  60. John Deeb

    SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

    "Good science fiction, you see, is about big ideas. It's about exploring the human condition of the times in which it's written or filmed."

    No it's not, really really not as you can find in almost every well researched description of the topic. What is given here is just one narrow interpretation of what SF "should be". It's suffering from the same compulsion to order the world as those people trying to describe "literature". Every story is naturally about "the human condition" and there's no way to be sure what is "entertainment" and what is "exploration" here.

    And how does something like a "cowboys and Indians in space" become real SF then? Simply, the key to SF lies closer to changing suddenly the *context* of some human condition. To let a drama of some kind (a fiction, a novel, a story, a philosophy) play out in an unusual environment or containing one or more very out-of-ordinary elements. Related are here "supernatural" stories and "magical-realism". Normally SF was reserved for the presence of technological or futuristic elements but the definition broadened over time simply because authors started exploring more and more unusual story elements, time travel, dimensions, religion, historical enigma's and so on. And it turned often more psychological, sometimes also emotional, political and so on.

    Star Wars therefore is penultimate science fiction when seen from this perspective. A classical narrative told with a very detailed backdrop of technological strangeness, alien species and mysterious forces. A narrative which goes way beyond cowboys and Indians since in this case it's about freedom, suppression, authority, desire for immortality and fame and so on. Many classic themes and certainly "human condition. The "big idea" here was the way it was filmed: big and detailed. With movies we need to take into account form just as much as content. Otherwise keep reading books.

    Please next time ask a bit more sentient fan to write this stuff, someone whose ideas are a tad bigger :-)

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

      "Related are here "supernatural" stories and "magical-realism"."

      <joke>Maybe you're confusing Science Fiction with Pseudoscience Fiction</joke>

      "A narrative which goes way beyond cowboys and Indians since in this case it's about freedom, suppression, authority, desire for immortality and fame and so on."

      So, like a film about General Custer's run in with the guys at Little Big Horn then.

      1. Tom 38

        Re: SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

        Yep, I went skitzo when the ending of BSG (The Remake) revealed everything that I thought would be Sci Fi with Sky Fairy. Fucking numpties, I'm still raging about it - 50k humans spend 4 years hurtling through space, hunted by killer robots, they get somewhere nice - extremely low tech, one guy says "We'll destroy all our technology", and the rest of them just nod and go "mmm, yes". There's not one guy going "Wait, you want to do WHAT with my mining ship?"

        1. Tel Starr

          Re: SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

          Given that by the time they reach the place, that mining ship owner is living in a totalitarian dictatorship, one lead by people who space anyone who dare offer dissent, then I think I might go along with the Adama cultural revolution as well.

          (Plus on the planet there is always the hope of running into the more intelligent and technologically advanced Golgafrinchans.)

        2. Super Fast Jellyfish

          Re: SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

          So say we all... Though I think BSG was backing itself into a corner as during the final season.

    2. Toxteth O'Gravy

      Re: SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

      If Star Wars is the "penultimate science fiction" movie, what's the ultimate science fiction movie?

      Please next time ask a bit more sentient fan to write this stuff, someone whose knows what words mean :-)

    3. Tom 13

      Re: SF is not just about "big ideas", it only looks that way...

      Yep, your post pretty much sums up why SF writing has gone to shit these days. The tent got so fracking big they have no way to get back to the real thing.

      Science Fiction is about improbable, but possible futures or alternate realities. Fantasy is about impossible ones, but ones which once the impossible is accepted are plausible.

      I'd put quotes around that but I've mangled it badly from a book I read back about 20 years ago on the history of science fiction. SF always has at it's heart possible technology changes, sometimes rising almost to the level of the technology itself being a character. And it looks at how humans react in such a changed environment. The rest is Fantasy, Horror, or some other genre or subgenre, related, but not the same.

  61. Psyx


    That is all.

    1. sgtrock
      Thumb Up

      Another great film! High Noon in space, but a space western done right. If you've never seen this gem starring Sean Connery as the Sheriff and Peter Boyle as the cynical corporate manager of the mine on Io, you're missing a real treat. :-)

    2. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      A Western in space, not serious sci-fi, and not on the list for that reason (Even though I quite like it, and Peter Hyams' other films; Capricorn One especially)

      1. nichomach


        That is a daft reason; it suggests that a Western cannot be serious, for a start, and that's just bloody ridiculous. The Searchers, Cheyenne Autumn, yes, High Noon, The Shootist, ANYTHING by Peckinpah, you seriously think they don't say anything about the human condition? Hell's teeth, the fact that High Noon translates so well to a different planet at hundreds of years remove indicates that its themes are universal. Suggesting that a sci-fi movie that deals with those same themes can't be serious is bizarre to say the least.

        1. MrT


          Sci-fi with western themes... Though it might need a run through the Firefly boxset to introduce a few bits of back-story, the movie is good stand-alone.

        2. Daniel 18

          Re: @Tony

          Firefly, and Serenity, are science fiction with a western flavour.

          Outland is a classic western with an SF setting.

          Entirely different.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: A Western in space, not serious sci-fi,

        Best you not watch Cowboys and Aliens then. Your brain will shutdown in a logic loop like Mudd's computer in the Star Trek episode.

  62. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    More films...

    In addition to those already mentioned in the Article or by other posters:

    Colossus: The Forbin Project

    Per Aspera Ad Astra - the original Soviet version or 2001 restoration - not the US version!

    The Andromeda Nebula (part 1 only, part 2 was never made, unfortunately)



    La Decima Vittima


    Les maîtres du temps

    Sky Blue

    Flying Phantom Ship

    1. PM.

      Re: More films...

      +1 for ExistenZ , brilliant movie ..

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: More films...

        Avalon - a live action Polish Japanese production from the director of Ghost in the Shell...

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: More films...

        I'm struggling to understand all the eXistenZ love. It was weak, by Cronenberg's own standards.

        1. Richard 26

          Re: More films...

          The thing I loved about eXistenZ was that it made a virtue out of its own weaknesses. They were very sparing of CGI because the game world looks almost exactly like the real one. Most of the time, the plot was a bit rubbish, and the acting poor but that was OK because they were in a video game.

  63. sisk

    Ah yes, Blade Runner

    I love Blade Runner. I haven't seen it in years though. Something about a particular scene, about 15 minutes in, throws my epileptic wife into a seizure. The first time I thought nothing of it, the second time I thought it was an odd coincidence, but the third time she tried to watch it with me only to have a seizure during the exact same scene I learned my lesson. This great movie is now sadly banned from my house. The things we sacrifice for the sake of love.... :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah yes, Blade Runner

      Can't you watch it when she's out, or something?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah yes, Blade Runner

        Can't you take her back to Tyrell Corp and get her fixed or replaced with a newer model?

  64. Bee Keeping Is Much More Fun

    No mention of

    Brainstorm - [ 1983 ]

    This was a film that got me into Sci-Fi back when I was around 9 or 10

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: No mention of

      I mentioned it earlier. Seems quite interesting in the light of social networking, Google Glass etc.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I refuse to be drawn into this thread!.... No, No, no...I can't resist....arrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghh!

    Emotional and Intellectual:

    Contact (1997)

    Gattaca (1997)

    Brainstorm (1983)

    Comic Entertainment:

    Total Recall (1989)

    Fifth Element, The (1997)

    Stargate (1994)

    Starship Troopers (1997)

    Flawed Epics:

    Dune (1984)

    Matrix, The (1999)

    Cloud Atlas (2012)


    Logan's Run (1976)

    The Thing (1982)

    Andromeda Strain, The (1970)

    Event Horizon (1997)

    Rollerball (1975)

    Soylent Green (1973)

    Outland (1981)

    THX1138 (1971)

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: I refuse to be drawn...

      +1 for Soylent Green

    2. Daniel 18

      Re: I refuse to be drawn into this thread!

      Fifth Element is fantasy dressed up as science fiction.

      Starship Troopers is an illogical, inconsistent mess. Is there a genre called 'botched movies'?

    3. Nigel 11
      Thumb Up

      Logan's run

      At last. I was thinking I was the only person who thought it a worthy contender to replace Zardoz.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: I refuse to be drawn into this thread!....

      Bump Stargate up to E&I. The TV show moved to CE, but the original was a quite a bit darker.

      Move Logan's run to E&I as well. It has serious themes despite the eye candy.

      Ditto Rollerball (for which, like Highlander, there can be only one). Granted the pacing is a bit slow for the modern audience, but then so is the first Christopher Reeves Superman if you go back and watch it.

      Not on my list, but I know people who'd put Videodrome on the GP list. Mine would include Flash Gordon (Queen music one).

  66. Bee Keeping Is Much More Fun

    Forgot to say....

    ...apart from Brainstorm

    Children Of Men

    War Games ? Sci Fi ? - Not sure.


    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Forgot to say....

      Ah, Children Of Men - a good one, don't know how I forgot about it...

      Basically, an unlicensed Half-Life 2 movie, too...

  67. Darran Clements

    Great list - have to agree about Silent Running and Twelve Monkeys though ... certainly worthy of making this list.

  68. Ben Holmes
    Thumb Up

    Any love...

    ...for "2010: The Year We Made Contact"?

    I found it a quite enjoyable watch.

    1. sisk

      Re: Any love...

      Really? I steered clear of it. By that point I'd learned that anything with Kubrick's name attached to it was most likely artsy-fartsy to the point of tediously missing its own point. I reached that conclusion with 2001 actually, it being the third tediously-missing-its-own-point Kubrick movie I saw.

      1. Irongut

        Re: Any love...

        2010 has nothing to do with Kubrick, unfortunately. However it is based on the Athur C Clarke book of the same name and so like everything else he wrote is crap.

        The film isn't even a very good version of the book.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Any love...

          >is based on the Athur C Clarke book of the same name and so like everything else he wrote is crap.

          So geostationary satellites are of no use to you, then, Irongut?

      2. Daniel B.

        Re: Any love... @sisk

        You should actually see it. It sheds of the artsy-fartsy stuff from 2001 and is actually watchable by non-artsy types. Arthur C Clarke did two more books on that series: 2061 and 3001. While 2061 was still fairly good, 3001 seems to have been more of an ass-pull though.

      3. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Any love...

        I'm afraid that Harlan Ellison summed up 2001 (and Kubrick) for me:

        "If you haven't read the book, you won't understand the movie and if you have read the book, you'll hate it."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Any love...

          "If you haven't read the book, you won't understand the movie "

          To make matters worse, if you haven't read his earlier short story, The Sentinel, you may well struggle to understand the book!

          As an aside, I do believe it's the only Arthur C. Clarke book I've read where a named character is actually killed before the bad guy (well, "misguided and slightly less well qualified clever people / person / machine", with motivations usually explained in a previous chapter of exposition to make sure you don't get the wrong idea about them) is stopped non-violently by a of <deep voice>"men of science"</deep voice> (these tend to save the day a lot in his books, at least the one where there's a day that even needs saving), and I've read a fair few of them.

          I'd disagree about hating the film though, it only starts being good after you've read the book and actually understand what's going on (a bonus point being that the book doesn't go all weird and psychedelic at the end).

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Any love...

          I'm not a big fan of Ellison, but he sure nailed that one!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Any love...

            I, on the other hand, am.

  69. Scott Pedigo

    I think Contact has to be in there.

    That was a film which dealt with big issues:

    Who represents the human race?

    What is the role of religion when presenting the human race to aliens?

    How does belief coexist with science?

    How much faith should we put into grasp of reality and our own technology?

    Who pays for space exploration?

    1. Daniel 18


      Contact felt curiously nebulous and insubstantial. I managed to watch the whole thing, but really wondered why, afterwards. I would generally re-watch a classic SF film (like Blade Runner) but have never felt the urge to see Contact again.

  70. Slartybardfast

    On The Beach

    Is it Sci Fi? Not really sure, but luckily still set in a future that hasn't happened (yet).

  71. Anonymous Coward


    Say what you like about the Star Trek movies, but 'Wrath of Khan' is a classic - much better than The Motion Picture, IMO. Also, another nod for 'First Contact'.

    As others have pointed out, "Rollerball" (the 1976 version, not the godawful remake) definitely should be in there. I'd also add "A Clockwork Orange" as well, although admittedly that's probably a borderline case. Oh, and 'Stargate' - even though watching Kurt Russell gives me splinters it's still one of my favourite films.

    Other than that, I must be one of the few people who thought 'Dark Star' was utter shit and that 2001 was horribly, horribly overrated.

    1. Mike Flugennock


      Right on about A Clockwork Orange. While not necessarily a "sci-fi" as such, there are a tasty fistful of futuristic and dystopian elements. I'm surprised it didn't make the list as well as THX 1138.

      Also, am I the only one here who considers 2001 and Clockwork Orange to be companion pieces of a sort? There's 2001 with the big sweeping grandeur of interplanetary adventure and finding God, and then there Clockwork Orange with "meanwhile, back on Earth..."

    2. Vic


      > 'Wrath of Khan' is a classic

      The original version, or the one edited for goats?


  72. 100113.1537


    surely has to be in there as a very early consideration of artificial intelligence and what is awareness.

    I was always more into SF novels than movies and I spent too much of my youth reading about dystopian futures (which have not come to pass). As an adult working in molecular genetics, Gattaca is probably the best example of an uplifting message nicely hidden in such a way that it is not cloying. My (economist) wife was very worried about watching this with my (genetics researcher) friends as we mercilessly slagged off the ropey science in other movies, but we all left the cinema talking about the concepts not the holes in the technology.

  73. Mike Flugennock

    "Star Trek: TMP" but no "THX 1138"?

    Bah! It's a fix!

    I'm shocked -- shocked -- that you'd include the 1979 franchise cash-in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and leave out THX 1138 -- or, as I like to call it, The Only George Lucas Film That Matters.

    Still, you did see fit to include 2001 and Blade Runner -- although too far down the list, imho -- so I've got to give you some credit.

  74. Alister

    What about The Abyss?

    and I agree, Contact should be on the list.

    1. Jolyon Smith

      Re: What about The Abyss?

      THE ABYSS is effectively already represented on the list ... by 2001, given that THE ABYSS is little more than a re-make of 2010.

      That hack Cameron doesn't need any more encouragement to believe he is anything more than a hack who made a pile of cash from a couple of at best very ordinary but surprisingly popular movies. One dreary, sentimental pap-fest in particular. Looking at you, TITANIC.

      1. Turtle

        @Jolyon Smith: Re: What about The Abyss?

        Thank you - I thought that I was the only one who considered Cameron a mediocrity. I thought that "The Abyss" was perhaps the worst movie that I have ever seen - and I've seen movies by Ed Wood. I thought that 2010 was watchable, if nothing more; but I hated everyone in "The Abyss"... except the SEALs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Jolyon Smith: What about The Abyss?

          I only hated that semi-bald fucker from David Letterman.

          Of course if the ending had been done more in the manner of "Noah's ark", well, I just think that would have been better.

  75. 1Rafayal

    Would have been nice to see Stalker on there, possibly we need a top 20?

  76. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


    I'd add Pandorum to the list.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pandorum

      Pandorum == Zombies versus the Spacemen ..

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: Pandorum

      Oh yes. Though this movie is best watched without knowing what it is actually about, other than "spaceship going to colonize Earth-like planet".

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Source code

    Surprised no one mentioned this film in 3 pages of comments, brilliant serious hard scifi.

    1. kyza

      Re: Source code

      I watched that and Looper back to back and was most impressed by it.

      Less by Loopers, but both managed to do time travel better than most other Hollywood flicks.

    2. reno79

      Re: Source code

      Aye, source code was very well done I thought. I was pleasantly surprised by it.

    3. OrsonX
      Thumb Down

      Re: Source code

      You're trollin' right?

      Tomato Source Code = Final Approach + Ground Hog Day

      Only an 11 yr old with no knowledge of what has come before would find this original.

      The ONLY thing that would have improved it is if the movie had ended when the Army gal hit the big red "off" button at the end... instead we are insulted further with a Hollywood shmaltzy we all live happily ever after ending.


  78. Ironclad

    +1 for Rollerball

    I'd put Rollerball in there. Not just for it's depiction of escalating violence for entertainment but also it's vision of a future dominated by large corporations.

    Logan's Run is another with a very big idea at it's core, a post-apocalyptic society

    where euthanasia is enforced in order to preserve limited resources. Bleak, but certainly

    makes you think.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Please now write the feature of ten serious sci-fi TV shows. Unfortunately I'm struggling to come up with suggestions of shows that really make you think, perhaps The Prisoner and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TV


      Battlestar Gallactica (the new one).


      Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles

      Star Trek: DS9

      The Prisoner

      Stargate SG1

      Bablon 5

      Space 1999



      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: TV

        I would add the "Falling Skies" too and the new "V" was not bad at all, shame they treated it the same ways as the T:SCC...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TV

          The problem is that you ask most people what their idea of serious sci-fi is and they'll say Dr. Who. At least that's the only way that I can explain that anything good keeps getting cancelled after a brutally short run (still bitter about Firefly).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TV

        If we're going to stoop to TV, then categorically actor JT Walsh's last work, a top-drawer alien conspiracy, must be in there too:-

        Dark Skies (1996)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TV

          Oh, The Event is pretty good re: TV.

  80. Turtle

    Sadly, I misread it...

    This is what I thought it said:

    Boffins and spacemen - they're all as cold as the airless lunar surface under which they discover alien bacon awaiting the arrival of a species sufficiently evolved to uncover it."

    : ((

  81. The Sod Particle

    I can't believe

    over 100 posts and no-one has mentioned enemy mine (1985)

  82. spindizzy

    What about...

    ... Soylent Green?

  83. Gavin McMenemy

    Right so... Zardoz?

    I know SF author Gary Gibson says its reputation needs rehabilitated but... Zardoz... over Silent Running...

    More egregiously... No STALKER?

    And you have Close Encounters on there... Whut?

    I thought this was a hardcore list?

    Other than that it's not a bad list.

    I'd also chip in Strange Days.

    If you like Gattaca then check out Code 46. It's great.

    Also if you haven't seen it yet Robot and Frank is *brilliant*. Funny, moving AND thought provoking. Seriously this film packs a lot in on zero budget and a short running time.

  84. not_equal_to_null


    You seem to have forgotten 'Logan's Run'... I'll fill out the 'send corrections' form now.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Ermm...

      Ahem... paragraph 6...

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow - serious lack of geek cred here

    Not a single mention of "The Stepford Wives". What geek wouldn't want one??

  86. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Just to start a shitstorm

    What *is* sci-fi ? As opposed to "set in the future" ? It's all very well for Mr. Smith to say that "Terminator" was dismissed as being "an action film" but it wasn't a dire sci-fi film (IMHO).

    How come no mention of Avatar ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Troll attempt: denied.

      What *is* sci-fi ?

      Perhaps you should read the article, since it begins with four paragraphs answering exactly that question.

    2. Jolyon Smith

      Re: Just to start a shitstorm

      That's not how you start a shit storm. THIS is how to start a shitstorm:

      TERMINATOR has no grounding or basis in science fiction.

      It has a fantastical, superficially sci-fi premise - a time travelling robot and good guy - but that exists only as a device to kick-start the narrative which is a simple chase-and-flight action piece. Even the "fate is what we make it" theme is secondary to the main narrative, to the extent that you can utterly ignore it without any material impact on the movie as a whole.

      Add to that a "sequel" which was in practice merely a re-make/re-tread with updated CGI FX, further revealing that any intelligent theme was so shallow that no more than wading in up to the ankles was possible before something else had to be done to create and maintain the entertainment and interest levels required to support the movie (T1 is an action/gore piece, bordering on tech-horror, whilst T2 is a CGI FX show-reel - in both cases the implications or exploration of "fate", is a tacked on footnote).

      And I say that as someone who actually loves both movies. But it's like STAR WARS : a great movie and a great story (so great they made it twice), but TERMINATOR isn't "hard sci-fi".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just to start a shitstorm

        Could someone help me understand why it's so popular to be down on Terminator 2?? It's in my personal top 10 of best films and I always thought it was a astonishing movie on multiple levels, both watching it as a child and as an adult. Just because the effects are brilliant (and they're actually better than a lot of the stuff produced today) and it's popular, doesn't make the movie bad.

        The 3rd and 4th ones were fairly forgettable and the 1st suffered from a somewhat limited budget, but T2 is simply a very very good film.

        1. Jolyon Smith

          Re: Just to start a shitstorm

          I for one am not "down" on T2, but just because I can enjoy it as a piece of entertainment doesn't mean I have to elevate it to genre-defining greatness or ignore those aspects of it which reveal it's weaknesses.

          It's a great film, but it's not intelligent sci-fi, no matter how much it might appear to pass itself off as such at a superficial level. Don't mistake a sense of self-importance with actual importance. ;)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just to start a shitstorm

            Hmm, I don't agree with you, but good answer.

            1. Jolyon Smith

              Re: Just to start a shitstorm

              Uh-oh - I think we broke the internet !! Polite and respectful agreement to disagree should not have made it through the firewall !!! :D

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Just to start a shitstorm

                "Polite and respectful agreement to disagree should not have made it through the firewall"

                I'd be more worried about there being 7 pages of comments and the Nazis not having been mentioned yet. Godwin's law is looming.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: be down on Terminator 2?

          Because Terminator was a perfect time travel loop story. T2 broke the loop. As a standalone story it would have been good, but it was a sequel. And once you have one sequel, even a decent one, there's sure to be crap after it. And my oh my what crap we got after it.

          1. Vic

            Re: be down on Terminator 2?

            > And my oh my what crap we got after it

            In fairness, though, we did get Kristanna Loken in leather...


    3. Tom 13

      Re: Just to start a shitstorm

      You've got a good point on Terminator. If it hadn't starred Arnie as the killer robot I think it would get the serious film cred. And even though Arnie did a couple of his famous lines, I'd say he did work as a serious actor on the film. If it had been his first film instead in the middle of his career, we'd classify him as a serious actor.

      Mind you, I still prefer Arnie as an action film star, but then I've got odd tastes. Flash Gordon and Last Dragon are two of my favorite movies.

  87. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    What? Ths far down and no mention of...

    Logan's Run?

  88. Anonymous Coward

    C'mon Yoda...

    "bikini-busting princesses do not real science fiction make."

    You're just jealous that Lucas replaced you with a computer imagine in the first 3 movies.

  89. jonathan keith

    Replace Zardoz...

    with Logan's Run and you're nearly there.

  90. Joey

    Plan 9 from Outer Space

    I married a Monster from Outer Space

    The Blob

    Abbott and Coustello go to Mars

    From the Earth to The Moon

    The Angry Red Planet

    Flesh Gordon

    The return of the sons of the Devil Women from Venus rides again - meets Old Mother Riley, VIII, The sequel

    1. LesC

      Wot, no Roger Corman?

      Attack of The Crab Monsters.


      Battle Beyond The Stars.

      That is all.

    2. 2FishInATank
      Paris Hilton

      > Flesh Gordon

      Err, are you sure about that?

      I had *ahem* heard from a friend, that Flesh Gordon was the grumble flick version of Flash Gordon...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I don't know about Joey

        But I think Flesh Gordon is the better of the two films.

  91. Irongut
    Thumb Down

    Close Encounters of the Turd Kind

    You included Close Encounters, Star Trek (at least it wasn't the god awful remake) and Zardoz but left out Silent Running and The Final Programme?!?! Shame on you.

  92. Stevie


    Easy to second guess of course, but seriously, your idea of a "serious sci-fi movie" about immortality being a Bad Idea is *Zardoz*?

    I'm guessing you haven't seen the infinitely better in every dimension "Seconds" then.

    Please reword headline to read "Ten Sci-Fi Movies Without Star Wars In The Title That I Can Name Off The Top Of Me Head".

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Star Trek: TMP is unwatchable

    They took the first episode of what was meant to be a new series and added enough filler to turn it into a 20 hour feature film (at least that's how long it feels if you try to sit through it in one go - an activity which should carry a health warning).

    There's a reason they fired the director and got in someone for the second, absolutely amazing, film that had nothing to do with Star Trek.

    Just because it's long, people wear funny clothing, the chick has a bald head, and nothing much happens does not make it a good sci-fi film! Only 2001 ever managed to pull that one off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Star Trek: TMP is unwatchable

      Several thumbs down, but nobody's actually replying to say why they disagree with me. I'd love to hear someone actually try to explain what's meant to be good about this film, beyond "it's got vision" or some variation thereof.

  94. Joey

    Seriously though...

    2001 is one of very few films with no sense of UP and DOWN.

    Earth vs The Flying Saucers because they wouldn't let me into the cinema to see it!

    The original War of the Worlds, an absolute classic

    Superman and the Mole Men, scared me way back then.

    The original Day of The Triffids was brilliant!

  95. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    +1 for Twelve Monkeys

    C'mon, you cannot NOT have12 Monkeys!!! With Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis forced into totally atypical roles by Gilliam. And... sigh.... deep, deep sigh... Madeleine Stowe.

    Or go for La Jetee for beard-stroking points.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: +1 for Twelve Monkeys

      It's a brilliant movie and has an SFnal framing device, but does it really count as an SF movie? If it does, what about the even more brilliant "Brazil"?

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too many to mention

    Code 46 is awesome - and has two of my favourite actors in it (Tim Robins and Smanatha Morton). Definitely worth a visit

    People have already mentioned Soylent Green and THX-1138... both would be on my list.

    One no-one's mentioned yet: Beyond the Black Rainbow. Definitely a thinking-man's sci-fi, with stunning visuals and a mind-blowing soundtrack.

  97. fung0


    The article does hit the high points, but some of the choices are impossible to justify. Close Encounters??? It's barely SF at all, and surely one of the dumbest, most tedious, insipid films of all time, in any genre. Star Trek?? A great franchise, to be sure, and a fairly noble intent in this first big-screen adaptation. But NOT a good movie. Planet of the Apes? Allegory, yes. Fun, yes. Science...? Hardly!

    Meanwhile, lots of truly important films are omitted, that offer much more in the way of both SF ideas and cinematic merits. Here are a few suggestions: Metropolis, Island of Lost Souls, Destination Moon, Timecrimes, The Andromeda Strain, The Man in the White Suit, The Man from Earth, Colossus: The Forbin Project, 2010, Things to Come...

    A few others have been mentioned in previous posts, but I'm sticking to 'hard' SF that works well as film. I do have a high regard for Primer, but it seems more surreal than scientific, to me. Frankenstein Unbound, at the opposite extreme, is another close call... a very under-rated film, but a bit more allegorical than scientific. A better case could be made for Alien, which has a strong SF basis, despite its horror trappings...

  98. Gronk

    "The Man from Earth", written by Jerome Bixby.

  99. Fábio Rabelo de Deus

    The crap Solaris from Soderbergh ?!?

    Please, you put that crap "Solaris" from Mister Soderbergh instead the REAL one from Tarkovsky ?? And call it a list of real Science Fiction movies ?!?

    Think again !

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The crap Solaris from Soderbergh ?!?

      I'm going to say I liked the remake better. The first Solaris was a bit deeper, but it made a common mistake of "message scifi"--it droned on too long. Soderbergh's version was very focused on the relationship between the doctor and his former wife, and that helped greatly. Also, it was the first movie I saw where I thought George Clooney was a really significant actor as opposed to a charismatic leading man. Watching the early interaction of the jokey, knowing Clooney with his wife counterposed with the later haunted and guilt-ridden characterization was a really nice job of acting. Natasha McElhone was very good and well-cast too, its a shame that her career seemed to stall out after Solaris.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The crap Solaris from Soderbergh ?!?

        I never managed to watch Solaris past the half hour spent in a car driving driving to work through Moscow at the start, does it actually become watchable after that?

        1. SteveCarr

          Re: The crap Solaris from Soderbergh ?!?

          Yes, it does! The original rendition is a far more powerful and moving film, IM(NS)HO!

  100. Anonymous Coward

    Add "Dark City" or maybe "Silent Running"

    Remove Zardoz, which had a great idea but a horrible script, gratuitous violence, ridiculous effects and one of cinema's most laughable costumes. About the only good part of the movie is when Sean Connery realizes he's been duped while reading "The Wizard of Oz". Star Trek: the Motion Picture is kind of borderline too.

  101. Chavdar Ivanov


    Any such list/discussion not mentioning is pointless in my view.

  102. Anonymous Coward

    OK, I want to add

    Remove "Star Trek: TMP", add "A.I."

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: OK, I want to add

      Read the book; In the forward to a collection of related short stories (collectively 'A.I' but the short story the film was based on is 'Super Toys Play All Summer Long") Brian Aldiss was concerned that Kubrick doubted his own ability, and was overly in awe of the Spielberg's commercial success- which is why Kubrick wanted Spielberg's input on the A.I project. Aldiss was pretty dark, but had the ring of truth... if man succeeded in making truly realistic androids, then the sex industry would be at the front of the waiting list.

    2. Fogcat

      Re: OK, I want to add

      Arrggh no .. not A.I. I think a kubrick solo project would have been much better, the heavy hand of Spielberg saccharine schmaltz ruined it for me.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: OK, I want to add

        >Arrggh no .. not A.I. I think a kubrick solo project would have been much better, the heavy hand of Spielberg saccharine schmaltz ruined it for me.

        That was Aldiss's view of the final result, but Kubrick, who was in awe of the success of E.T, wanted to 'do a Spielberg'.

  103. Naughtyhorse


    no city of the lost children?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perdue?

      Delicatessen was pretty good too, although I'm not sure it strictly counts as sci-fi. Both are in that weird territory somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy in my mind.

  104. This post has been deleted by its author

  105. Martin Gregorie

    Wot no Fahrenheit 541

    Its a fairly faithful version of the Ray Bradbury book bar the obligatory happy ending.

    Granted, replacing the Mechanical Hound with a red helicopter for the chase scene was a disappointment. I *really* wanted to see that hound on screen, but OTOH having absolutely no text on screen apart from numbers was a very clever touch: even the title and credits were spoken.

  106. Jolyon Smith

    Nothing Solaris'y about MOON

    Solaris is about loss and communication.

    Moon is about identity.

    The only thing they have in common is that they each favour intelligent contemplation of their respective themes through their characters and situations, rather than distract the audience with ... oooh, that's shiny ... now, where was I ?

  107. Stoneshop

    orbiting the titular planet

    EPONYMOUS planet, you ignorant oaf. Look up both words and use them correctly from now on.

  108. Madboater
    Thumb Down

    "Star Wars defined movie SF"

    Sorry to say Star Wars is the one movie I always use to explain the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy. Sci Fi is a fictional story based upon elements of science, humans going out into space, self aware robots take over the world and travel in time. Star Wars has absolutely no science, it is about as Sci Fi as Lord of The Rings or Where Eagles Dare!

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: "Star Wars defined movie SF"

      No, you are wrong - it's got lazors and midi... No, meh-dee... Oh, whatever - chelorians...

      1. Tom 13

        Re: it's got lazors and midi

        These are not the midis you are looking for.

        You have never seen these midis. They have never been here. We may go now.

  109. banjomike

    Blade Runner - MUSIC, don't forget the Blade Runner music

    Still one of the best bits of movie music EVER.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just writing a note to say "Thank you" to the author for (thankfully) understanding Star Trek: The Motion Picture's true plot. Most people can't recognize it at all and, therefore, consider the movie a failure. In actually, it it amongst the best of Star Trek; highly personality driven, and beautiful science fiction (not science fantasy) effects.

    I've been supporting ST:TMP's true plot, as identified by the author, for years (for example,!topic/alt.startrek/fGrdOnBSQ8I - see Snake's reply from 31 July 2003) and it regretfully only 'clicks' with a few people.

  111. gaz 7

    What about...

    The day the Earth caught fire - serious, scary apocalyptic climate change movie. Excellent stuff

    Journey to the far side of the sun - Actually even for the Gerry Anderson haters an excellent film

    Don't want to give the plots away, but worth worth digging out and watching if you like decent sci-fi. I also really like Colossus: The Forbin Project but not sure it's good enough for here

    1. Nigel 11

      The day the earth caught fire ...

      Premise is utterly bonkers. A bad fantasy. No science at all. Newton would have discovering relativity as a consequemnce of how fast he'd be spinning in his grave. Even "The day after Tomorrow" made more sense.

  112. jif01

    Dark Star

    Swap Close Encounters for Carpenter's Dark Star. Phenomonology... Talking to a bomb and a balloon alien with chicken feet. Imagination and humour.

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've just bought Silent Running for £4.07 on amazon. Looking forward to Sci-Fi with a heart :-)

    1. Pooua

      I've seen it twice

      I was about 5 or 6 years old the first time I saw "Silent Running." I rented a copy from Netflix several decades later. Get ready for some heavy-duty '60s environmental militarism!

  114. Spoonsinger

    Where's the....

    'Millennium' love? (not the TV series but the weird airplane disaster investigation time travelley film with Kris Kristofferson)

    and also the Preachy Silent running can quite easily be replaced with 'The Green Slime' and its awesome theme song.

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re 'The Green Slime'....

      (You know you want too).

    2. DCID 6/3
      Thumb Down

      Re: Where's the....

      the BOOK millennium was very good, the Move was VERY BAD! if you had never read the book it was a confusing, long, and difficult to follow movie. I know I saw it AND I had read the book. my wife and I for years used that movie as the benchmark for BAD MOVIE.

  115. Haku

    Murder on the Moon

    Brigitte Nielsen & Julian Sands investigating a murder on the moon!

    How could could you possibly omit this tv masterpiece?

    Also, Saturn 3

    1. Super Fast Jellyfish

      Saturn 3, oh yes Farah Fawcett Majors and Kirk Douglas

  116. Pooua


    I watched the 1968 movie, "Charly," in my 11th Grade Enriched English class. The movie is based on the book, "Flowers for Algernon." Sometimes called an un-SciFi, because the world is not so alien to our own, "Charly" questions what makes a man as science elevates a mentally retarded man into super-genius, only for him to lose it.

    My understanding is the 1968 version is superior to the later versions.

    1. Fogcat

      Re: Charly

      I can't remember how old I was when I first read Flowers for Algernon in a library book but I'm sure it made me cry. It still has an impact,

  117. Steven Roper

    One of my favourites

    is a little-known 1985 movie called The Quiet Earth (IMDB link). Its stark minimalism (there are only 3 people in the entire movie) sets an eerie background for the complex story and the science behind it, and for it's small budget it's a seriously underrated piece of hard SF.

  118. Sarev

    Donny Darko

    I'd say it's one of my favourite sci-fi films - certainly one of those films I find myself thinking back to the most.

  119. This post has been deleted by its author

  120. bag o' spanners
    Black Helicopters

    I quite like Bunker Palace Hotel. It's set in what looks like the snowblown rotting remains of Leningrad.

    Also liked Adjustment Code because it kept it simple, Idiocracy for taking the dystopian piss so mercilessly, Cypher (which is everything Paycheck shoulda been), and Mr Nobody, which I thought was kinda sweet, although the friends I watched it with found it a bit disturbing.

    Moon was ok, I spose. Source Code is a bit meh. Inception disappears rapidly up its own CGI-infested fundament. THX1138 is like eating sand.

    Of the old stuff, I like 2001, Bladerunner (without the voiceover), Enemy Mine, Screamers, Stalker, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (the goofy original and the Donald Sutherland remake), Le Dernier Combat, Things To Come, Scanners, eXistenZ, Videodrome, Malevil, Clockwork Orange, The Green Beautiful, Blast From the Past, 12 Monkeys/La Jetee, Starship Troopers, Robocop, all three Tetsuos, and Themroc.

    I'd love to see any of Brunner's overpopulation trilogy filmed, and live in hope that Philip K Dick's Flow My Tears and The Man in the High Castle will eventually make it out of the "in development" phase

  121. Neil 30

    The main Moon

    What about Moon? A truly original story brilliantly made and Sam Rockwell carrying the whole thing.

  122. rav

    Hmmm.... When Sci-fi meets Sci-fact the clone of "Clonus Horror"...."The Island"

    Okay so the storey is pastiche now that sci-fi is all grown up. But can we honestly say that a community of live clones providing body parts 'on-the-hoof" will never exist? "The Island" goes beyond entertainment much the same way that Soylent Green did with food shortages.

    So shoe-horn "The Island" somewhere in that list even if only to serve as a warning what power and money is apt to do with exclusive life extending technology.

    Why is it necessary to clone people? Unless you have a need to create Untermensch.

    1. Super Fast Jellyfish

      Re: Hmmm.... When Sci-fi meets Sci-fact the clone of "Clonus Horror"...."The Island"

      Hmm, idea good but as you say, the actual film was poor.

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Hmmm.... When Sci-fi meets Sci-fact the clone of "Clonus Horror"...."The Island"

      The movie studio responsible just ripped off Michael Marshal Smith's "Spares", The book is quite excellent, the film, not so much.

  123. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    and a few outliers...


    The Man Who Fell To Earth


    The Prestige (since people insist that Christopher Priest writes sci-fi...)

    K-Pax, even ?

    1. Fogcat

      Re: and a few outliers...

      Not sure what sort of author you'd classify Christopher Priest as. Trying to compare "The Affirmation" with "The Prestige" and with "The Inverted World" shows quite a range.

  124. DCID 6/3

    No Soylent green? no Alien? you picked Zardoz over those two?

  125. deMangler
    Big Brother

    Just to pick two swaps I would have dropped Star-Trek The Tedious Picture (why didn't you pick Wrath of Khan?) and Gattaga (disappointing but good idea and who can fault Jude Laws acting) and brought in Brazil and This Island Earth. Never seen Zardoz. Will now even just to see how bad it is.

    Love lists like this though - the comments is bound to provide a film or two I haven't seen that will be worth watching.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Never seen Zardoz. Will now even just to see how bad it is.

      I'm going to go against the grain here and say it's actually not bad. Very clever in it's own way, but firstly its way is very much Boorman's[1] way and secondly it is a product of its time.

      [1] Quite possibly the most "marmite" of directors.

  126. TheFinn
    Thumb Up

    The Man from Earth

    This one caught me completely unaware, great stuff. Basically, bloke argues with a college faculty that he's 10'000 years old. More intense than it sounds. Its not like Kpax. Cast is mostly old sci-fi series supporting actors, so even if you don't like it you can play "Who's who without makeup".

  127. Keith 12

    A very well thought out list, with the exception, in my opinion, and noted by some, of Zardoz and to my mind Solaris. Twelve Monkeys comes to mind but I'd have to give some real thought for the 10th.

  128. David Evans

    Zardoz and Solaris (at least the remake) are both terrible. And if Star Wars doesn't count, neither does Planet of The Apes, not really (its a good movie but its rubbish SF).

    As you alluded to in the article, the seventies is where its at; Dark Star, Silent Running, and the Donald Sutherland Invasion of The Body Snatchers are all worth anyone's time. More recently, how could you miss out Moon and District 9?

  129. Super Fast Jellyfish


    Not one for the top 10 or even 20 but worth watching if you get a chance.

    And as to big ideas I think Inception should be included but it does fall a little bit into the Matrix camp of too much CGI. Given the premises not sure they could be done otherwise?

  130. Anonymous Coward

    Contact - Dr. Eleanor Arroway has spent her life searching for truth in the study of radio astronomy. Palmer Joss has spent his searching for truth through faith in God. When Ellie discovers a stunning message from an extraterrestrial intelligence, they and everyone on Earth will be forced to challenge their own assumptions. In the inevitable first contact, will humankind be able to find a compromise between science and belief?

  131. JDX Gold badge


    They may be an exploration "into the human condition" but what a lousy collection of films. Solaris? Really?!

    Gattaca is a great film though.

  132. Richard 120

    All comments

    I have read all the comments and come to the conclusion that Zardoz is wrong and Silent Running is right.

    I wasted a good 20 minutes coming to a conclusion that I already knew.

  133. Tony Paulazzo

    +1 for the Star Trek: TMP love, the directors edition being the best version - Robert Wise was allowed to finish the film by reshooting certain effects that he ran out of time for in the original theatre edit. Doesn't really change the story, or shorten it... but I for one, love my spaceship porn, and married with big idea's and personal growth, Spock going from total logic to grasping Kirks arm in friendship, V'gers birth into a new cosmic being....

    This is the SciFi I grew up loving.

    Light up a doobie or have a glass of wine / beer, draw the curtains, douse the lights, get comfy and lose yourself for some two hours in a film directed by the same man who gave us (the original - & only IMHO), The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Andromeda Strain and many other classics.

    +1 for Supernova, Event Horizon and all the other titles everyone's put forth, some I'm going to look out for, but I do have to admit, Gattacca bored the bejesus out of me and I don't think Zardoz should have been on the list. Great article and seven pages of comments though.

    1. Kevin 6

      Well only thing I disliked about ST TMP was its length. It took me like 6 times watching it to not fall asleep usually near the same exact point. 5th time I tried watching it on VHS (1st 4 times was while it was airing on TV), and for the 6th I was like screw it I just jumped to where I nodded off on the 5th attempt, and hyped myself up on caffine. The point I usually fell out was the part where the enterprise is flying with music playing in the background with no action of any kind for like 4-7 minutes(might be wrong on its duration as it seemed like hours)... But outside the extremely long scenes of the enterprise just flying I enjoyed it.

  134. Colin Millar

    A bit USAian

    Apart from the grudging mention of Tarkovsky (the long running time is part of the way the original film actually works).

    Zardoz as a reflection on mortality and the human condition - really? You might as well have Brave New World if you want a bunch of hippies with existentialist angst. In the meantime Cronos doesn't get mentioned at all?

    And Forbidden Planet? Please - A Hollywood simpleton's idea of a morality tale being bludgeoned into your head - his version only of course. For real complicated human stuff with shades of grey, secret ambiguities and balls-out contradictions try almost anything else. Delicatessen or City of Lost Children by Jeunet are excellent on the human condition as is La Antena.

    Something against non-english language films?

  135. John 62


    Can't stop the signal

    /mine's the brown one

  136. RainForestGuppy

    Sorry but you're all wrong!!

    SPACEBALLS - The Movie.

    May the Schwartz be with you!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry but you're all wrong!!

      Comb the desert!

  137. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
    Thumb Up

    twopenneth of Waaah!

    Here's my Waaah for what it's worth.

    Soylent green should've been in the list...could've got rid of 'Apes to avoid a Heston O.D... Anyways... Waaah :'-(

    Oh, and also the andromeda strain... Waaah... etc.. etc...

    Many thanks, though for the hitlist. I've been re building my collection since the flood and this fine article has been superbly nourishing for such consideration although potentially deleterious to my credit rating given my newly fortified resolve to build the definitive must-see collection.

    Each one of the films listed is worthy viewing.

  138. Stevie


    I rather liked the Golden Age style plot and story of Book of Eli.

    For all the talk of serious sci fi, no real PKD story at all? Through a Scanner Darkly was quite faithful to the book I thought. If only Blade Runner had gone that route instead of ... well, water under the bridge. BR is a visual feast if a plot fail (and Ridley really needs to stop talking about it. Every word lessens the impact of what *was* in there).

    Lord of the Flies? Perhaps a bit too abstract a stretch, but the plot is definitely the stuff of SF from the forties. (film and mainstream fiction always "discovers" these ideas about 25 years after they've been explored in genre fiction it seems).

    Avatar is okay Space Opera, nothing special, but if you are going to cite Blade Runner you have to at least consider Avatar on the same basic merits - it looks good. I haven't watched it as much as I have Blade Runner, but that is mostly because I have a mad-on at the blatantly stolen-without-attribution scenery. I watched the credits to end and saw not one mention of Roger Dean, yet upon returning home astounded my wife by showing her a book of images "from the movie" that had been printed a decade before the film had been made. There's homage, then there's theft.

    Alien? No mention of a movie that changed the game in horror SF? And the plot was so SF it was the subject of a lawsuit from a Grand Master - who won.

    When Worlds Collide should have been mentioned too. Dated, but then, all SF is about the time it is written in, not the time it purports to be about.

    The First Men in the Moon should also be seen, it being a reasonably faithful telling. I like it better than the Time Machine myself.

    And while the imagery is satirical and the style tongue-in-cheek, Mad Max is most definitely a serious SF story and downright enjoyable to boot.

    Ah, we really need to do this sort of thing in a pub with decent beer and some grub.

  139. Tom 38
    Thumb Up

    Saw 'Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel' last night. Really quite funny, Chris O'Dowd on form, lots of time travel fun for all, watch till the end of the credits :)

  140. Cipher


    The first one, maybe they should have stopped there. Subtract all the kung-fu and gun play and there is plenty to think about in The Matrix.

    If Zardoz belongs, certainly The Matrix does...

  141. unitron

    Star Wars.... Swords and Sorcery in Space (at least 4,5, and 6) and as that works well.

    But people who don't really know any thing about science fiction see the space part and the sword blade made out of light instead of steel and think it's science fiction.

  142. Anonymous Coward

    You know your a sci-fi geek

    When you spent the time read all the comments on an article like this.

    Personal opinions

    Silent Running - Awful, slow and without real merit, robots were cool though, happy they got further work in red dwarf.

    Bicentennial man - amazing film, two hours but you don't realize it till after watching, asimov classic though there are many others

    They Live - bubblegum brilliance

    Phillip K Dick - scanner darkly, classic, I remember the original 1978 amazing lord of the rings cartoon with the same rotoscopic animation

    enjoyed reading through posts and look forward to watching some of the films mentioned I haven't seen though that would only be a few

    Has flash gordon been mentioned?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know your a sci-fi geek

      Only in passing.

      A mention of Flesh Gordon brought it up.

  143. jai

    Here's another suggestion

    Big ideas? Exploring the human condition?

    Then may I suggest the original, Carradine, Death Race 2000

    If that's not a commentary on the human condition, in a (then) futuristic setting then....

    A shame they copped out with the remakes

  144. Watashi

    God complexity

    I love Star Trek: The Motion Picture's allegorical tale about how our quest for scientific knowledge can both empower us and dehumanize us. The two films I'd add are Dune and Sunshine, the first is a seminal Sci-Fi tale looking deep into the human soul, the second shows us that we don't need God to have a profound spiritual relationship with the universe.

  145. Turtle

    Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes)

    Timecrimes (Los cronocrímenes)

    I can not recommend this enough. This was the best time-travel movie that I have ever seen! If you like serious, well-crafted sci-fi that relies on plot and not effects, you will not be disappointed. Just a really really good movie. That the movie accomplishes all that it does and does not even need anything more than the meager resources it has, is quite impressive.

  146. Darryl_Drury

    Selected Highlights

    To summarise,

    in addition to the published list we should all watch...

    Metropolis, Dark City, Rollerball, Soylent Green, Logan's Run

    Moon, Strange Days, 12 Monkeys

    Contact, Silent Running, Event Horizon,

    District 9. Thirteenth Floor, Dreamscape, Primer, THX1138

    Akira & Ghost In The Shell


    AND Zardos should never be watched by anyone, ever

  147. Neil in Chicago

    "Zardoz" but not "12 Monkeys", or "Brazil" or ANY Terry Gilliam??

    This isn't right. It isn't even wrong.

  148. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gotta put up Outland over Zardoz

    Sean Connery and Frances Sternhagen's bitter and very competent characters are a stark contrast to the bubble headed characters in most modern SF films. The movie also does without fantasy-science mystery particles or psychic powers of any kind.

    I'd also throw in the 1979 The Black Hole ahead of old 'Doz, but I must admit its a guilty pleasure... if for no other reason than to hear Sean Connery freak out when it is brought up in an interview...

  149. HCV

    Is it really surprising the that ST:TMP isn't well-regarded by Star Trek fans? It's missing the character interplay that was a hallmark of the series, is snail-like in its pace, and lifts the bulk of its plot line from a TOS episode.

    On the plus side, it *looked* awesome. It was amazing to see the Star Trek universe lifted out of its $162,000-per-episode box. But Nicholas Meyer showed in ST:WoK what you could do with less budget than the first movie and a script with some real exuberance to it, and an understanding to what made the characters interesting.

  150. Bert Chadick

    Lest we forget, Aliens was all about overreach, corporateism and exploitation wrapped in a thick rind of adventure/horror. IMHO Zardoz was one level below Ice Pirates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Ice Pirates was a wonderful movie....when I was 13. Thank you for reminding me that 30 years later, I'm still not grown up.

  151. Bert Chadick

    Primer gave the most bang for the buck and highlighted the ambitions of the young and hungry.

  152. kbutler.toledo

    Missed an OLD classic

    Conquest of Space


  153. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Solaris but no Sunshine?

    Solaris with him off of ER, rather than Danny Boyle's epic Sunshine?

    Yes, the science is iffy, but I thought it was epic when I first saw it.

    And an Underworld soundtrack to boot!

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: Solaris but no Sunshine?

      Your comparison is wrong. It should be Silent Running but not Sunshine. The list was about 'Science Fiction', not in the case of Silent Running some sort of late sixties hippy eco rubbish, and in the case of 'Sunshine', some sort of new gen eco rubbish with a space ship piloted by the retarded product of a New Labour government. But out of the two films, I'd go for Silent Running, (as much as I dislike it).

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Solaris but no Sunshine?

        It could be worse, I could've worked Cool Runnings in there somewhere :)

  154. jimtron


    Brazil - directed by Terry Gilliam.

    Funny, thought-provoking and disturbing in equal measure.

    Obviously borrows greatly from Orwell's classic 1984.

    The frustrations of living with duff technology and faceless bureaucracy hit home hard.

    The reason I would classify it as science fiction rather than fantasy would relate to its satirical / philosophical aspects, in line with the article above.

  155. FANofREG

    I would have to add "THX 1138", "A Boy and His Dog", "Logan's Run", and "Soylent Green" to this most excellent list.

  156. OrsonX


    *(prehensile) tale.

    Not apes!

  157. OrsonX


    I'm good to....

    Why didn't it make the cut?

  158. Hawkmoth

    A lot of comments, not much variety

    Just to change it up a little, how about "Idiocracy" (2006)? Okay, it's a comedy, but the main point is totally serious and in being so, a little alarming.

  159. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, I really do like Blade Runner, Gattaca and Solaris. The others (other than perhaps Planet of The Apes), I don't have a great deal of time for. Wasn't Star Trek The Motion Picture known as Star Trek The Slow Motion Picture? Great concept IMHO but not terribly well executed. Of course, this was followed up by the occasional fine episode of Star Trek TNG.

    Science fiction needs to be compelling and credible. Of the older films, Alien, Blade Runner and Aliens delivered both in spades, without being too far up their own arses. Anything based on works from Philip K Dick's damaged mind should be good, and some are.

  160. M Neligan

    Hard & Soft

    My Top 20 Scifi (not in order):

    1. Bladerunner

    2. 2001 A Space Odyssey

    3. Planet of The Apes (1968)

    4. The Time Machine (1960)

    5. War of the Worlds (1953)

    6. Forbidden Planet

    7. Quatermass and the Pit

    8. Aliens

    9. Terminator 2

    10. Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country

    11. Total Recall

    12. Twelve Monkeys

    13. The Omega Man

    14. Independence Day

    15. Tron

    16. Metropolis

    17. Galaxy Quest

    18. Brazil

    19. Flight of the Navigator

    20. The Incredible Shrinking Man

    Proxime accesserunt:

    Invasion of the Body-snatchers

    Demon Seed






    Return of the Jedi



    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hard & Soft

      "Return of the Jedi"



      Am I the only one who would actually pay over the odds to see a cross-over with a Predator or two dropped into that Ewok forest to finish what the empire failed to do?

  161. heyrick Silver badge


    Can Zardoz, increase the list to 12 items and add these:

    * The Quiet Earth

    * Silent Running

    * Logan's Run (a hokey ending, but a more intelligent story underneath it all, hey, you put Zardoz on the list...)

    Also, what, no "Serenity"? Or are you looking for harder sci-fi? In that case, try the film "Primer" and tell me that isn't the geekiest small-budget film ever made, so hard into hard sci-fi you'd be forgiven for thinking it was real.

    Of course, if animé is permitted... ;-)

  162. Bsquared
    Thumb Up


    *sigh* The commentard that pointed out that SF geeks will read through 409 comments hit the nail on the head. That's an hour of my life I won't get back, but I was delighted to find a few surprises in the comments - movies I didn't know about that don't look like they are complete crap!

    @spoonsinger: "No Millennium' love? (not the TV series but the weird airplane disaster investigation time travelley film with Kris Kristofferson)"

    I loved it - a glorious mess. I'm just bitterly disappointed that it's the only John Varley ever to grace the silver screen, despite the fact that he was supposed to be off working for Hollywood instead of writing SF in the 80s+90s. His body of work deserves better cinematic treatment (and yes, I know there have been a few cheapo made-for-TV versions of short stories).

    Millenium reminds me about "The Twonky" (1953).

    It's a bit dated now, but - y'know - Henry Kuttner and CL Moore!

    +1 for Flowers for Algernon - made me blub like a little gurlie too, just like Silent Running (damn you, Joan Baez for cheap heartstring tugging). Although I saw the 2000 version with Matthew Modine.

    Haven't seen mentioned so far:

    Paprika - quite "Lathe of Heaven" in concept, with some genuinely mind-expanding imagery. Not your average anime.

    WALL-E - if we're having Silent Running, I'm having WALL-E. Ludicrous premise, profoundly moving execution and characterisation.

    Simone AKA S1m0ne - quite topical this one, with Al Pacino's virtual movie star getting out of hand (shades of Idoru)

    CJ7 - from the director of Kung Fu Hustle, small boy finds an interesting alien toy.

    Mirrormask - Drifting into fantasy rather than SF, but I prefer to lump it with SF (Somehow it Fits) to avoid being tainted with elves, dwarves and sodding dragons.

    And no true SF nerd gets by without some love for the trashier end of the spectrum:

    Split Second (1992). Not Rutger Hauer's finest hour, but worth it for the scenery-chewing by both him and his nerdy sidekick (dude from Taggart)

    "We need to get bigger guns. BIG FUCKING GUNS!"

  163. SteveCarr
    Thumb Up

    I'd add two films...

    Metropolis and Brazil - both brilliant, dystopian epics.

  164. robin48gx

    the matrix

    how did they miss that one.

  165. david 63

    Dark star and Rocky horror.

    That's all

  166. Grogan Silver badge

    Tomatoes, tomattoes

    Sorry, but this just seems fairly opinionated. I can do that too. I dislike most of those old Sci-Fi movies and don't find them enlightening at all. How boring... a tin can robot. Klaatu doesn't blow my mind in any way and nor does the message. (common as dirt) Most of what you picked are boring movies. Close Encounters of the third kind... what's so "scientific" about that? Yet another flying saucer movie and even worse, it was a long movie of mostly drama that finally climaxed in a spectacular light show. (I'll give it that.)

    But oh no, "Star Wars" isn't real science fiction because it's a bit heavier on the fiction than some. Sometimes it's more about the adventure in a futuristic setting, with futuristic travel and weapons than the pseudo science behind it all, or even the sociology. What, no mention of the revolutionary special effects? (1977) What about the impressive scale of things?

    I love the Star Trek movies and series' but that's bullshit science too, even if they did publish technical manuals for it. A Utopia that would never work... nobody is going to do menial tasks just because they enjoy it and think it's their purpose in life. Society would collapse because "Hey, we don't want to be sheep anymore, we want to be artists"

    Who says science fiction is about exploring the human condition? It can be, like any other genre of movie, but it's not a defining characteristic. To use your example, even Star Wars has some of that. Not to the extent of something like "1984" (That's not one of my favourites either, but no mention of that? Even though that very thing is starting to happen today. What could be more about the human condition?) but there are some lessons in there.

    There were much better Science Fiction movies than the ones you present here, even by your own definitions of what science fiction should be.

  167. Blitheringeejit
    Thumb Up

    The real challenge now... to come up with a candidate that none of the previous 421 commentards (at time of writing) have mentioned. For the first half-hour of comment-wading I thought I was onto a winner with "The Man In The White Suit", but someone eventually cited it.

    But as far as I can see no-one has mentioned "Max Headroom", so I'll go with that. Not very sciency, but that's not unusual in this thread, and it has the dystopian individual-versus-faceless-corporations shtick which seems to be the prerequisite for qualifying. Shame that like so many classics it was retrospectively ruined by further development.

    I'll also give a million upvotes to "Dark Star", a film I loved so much as student that I once stole a television in order to watch it.

  168. Bsquared

    Re: The real challenge now...

    " to come up with a candidate that none of the previous 421 commentards (at time of writing) have mentioned. For the first half-hour of comment-wading I thought I was onto a winner with "The Man In The White Suit", but someone eventually cited it."

    Dammit. The gauntlet has been thrown down now. I'm going to play the "made for TV" card and cite "Brave New World", made as a miniseries in 1980.

    It's a bit heavy-handed, I know, but it ticks the "serious SF" boxes, and I remember being quite moved by it at the time.

    Now Equilibrium, on the other hand, drew deeply from the well of Aldous Huxley, and is a crappy action movie which I deeply love. Guilty Pleasure.

  169. This post has been deleted by its author

  170. Martin G. Helmer

    Missed one.

    Fellow enthusiasts, I believe we missed one,

    A centerpiece in SciFi History, at its time renowned for it's superior special effects:

    * A Trip to the Moon,

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