We’ve just had Star Wars day (4th May), and sci-fi is certainly in the atmosphere at the moment, with several out-of-this world releases rocketing onscreen (Star Trek, Iron Man 3, etc.). Time to time-warp and take a glance at five of the genres’ best:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…Not exactly a controversial choice, but this is where it all began. It’s nice to wallow in the origins with all the hype about Star Wars Episode VII. Spirited farm boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) joins the big dogs to save his sister Carrie Fisher (little did he know…) from Darth ‘Dark Daddy’ Vader. It’s got some great characters (Chewbacca, here’s looking at you) and some top dialogue from banter hunter Han Solo (Harrison Ford). It’s a bit of a comfort blanket and a must see for any self proclaimed sci-film fanatic.
Blade Runner (1982)
Harrison Ford is back once again in Ridley Scott’s futuristic dystopian, with a grown up exploration of the human condition. Clearly an inspiration for numerous other sci-fi narratives, synthetic humans known as Replicants are posing a threat to their human creators. Deckard (Ford) is a former Blade Runner, a special policeman tasked with bringing illegal Replicants under control. Of course, when androids are involved, emotions get complex; I’m not one for spoilers, but this is one big heart/mind fuck. The aesthetics are beautifully realised, and the 2007 Final Cut of the film is definitely one to get hold of.
Star Trek (2009)
No, it hasn’t yet stood the test of time, and yes, it is a modern reboot, but by God, J.J. Abrams made a stonker. The sequel is out now, and this viewer is rather hyped. Star Trek posed a prequel for the original Star Trek series, with Kirk and Spock (Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto respectively) growing up in an alternate reality in order to give writers free reign. It’s immensely self-aware, in a good way, with many nods to Trekkies, with a typically complex plotline. There’s some great moments in which Spock meets his older self (holla, Leonard Nimoy), and where Simon Pegg appears as Scotty. Some may view Star Trek as sacrilege. I say Live Long and Prosper.
Lack of diversity aside (Ridley Scott’s here again), Alien is one of the scariest sci-fi movies ever made. It’s ‘cos in space, no-one can hear you scream. The cast is great, and the tension is agonising; realism colliding with horror to put you off space travel for eternity. John Hurt. That Alien. That scene. All I need to say. Numerous sequels have had varying rates of success, and have spawned a franchise that has cemented Alien in cinematic history.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Spielberg’s iconic piece has more than earned its place as a cult classic, and its top place in my best of the rest. You know the deal: a friendly alien befriends an alienated boy and a beautiful story ensues. It encapsulates the fantasy, wishful ethos of most sci-fi, providing escapism for lonely kids. Apparently E.T. was based on Spielberg’s imaginary friend, created as a comfort after his parents’ divorce, and the film has consequently provided a similar role to many. It beat Star Wars to the highest-grossing film, before Jurassic Park knocked it off the top spot. Drew Barrymore also stars in her premier role as Elliott’s (Henry Thomas) annoying little sister. Fortunately, E.T’s rep was saved from a disturbing sounding sequel: E.T. Nocturnal Fears.