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The Best Science Fiction Film of All Time?

So, it's been thirty years since we first saw STAR WARS. Hard to believe.

Amidst all the hype and hoopla of this anniversary, I keep seeing people calling STAR WARS "the best science fiction film of all time." Uh... really? I don't think so. The original STAR WARS was a good movie, and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was even better (Leigh Brackett wrote that one, so there's good reason), but RETURN OF THE JEDI went downhill, and you really don't want to get me started about those three wretched prequels. Even the original triad hasn't aged as gracefully as one might have hoped. It has become apparent that much of the charm of the first movie came from the novelty of seeing favorite tropes from classic SF books realized on the screen for the first time... but that charm wears off on repeated viewings, and once it does you realize that neither the story is, well... not all that it could have been. You also realize how much retrofitting and backfill has gone on since the movie's first release. I don't care what Lucas says, I will never believe that Darth was meant to Luke's father from the outset, or that the romantic pairing was always supposed to be Leia and Han (it is plainly Luke and Leia)... and damn it, Han shoots first!

Never mind about all that. STAR WARS is what it is, and it had a profound effect on both SF and on film, for both good and ill... but it is not even close to being the best SF movie of all time.

What's better? Try 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Try THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Try the first ALIEN, or even better, ALIENS (but never mention the third installment in my presence). Try CHARLIE (the film version of the classic "Flowers for Algernon"). All worthy. Try George Pal's wonderful adaptation of H.G. Wells' WAR OF THE WORLDS (a better film than the Spielberg remake, in my opinion), or Pal's version of THE TIME MACHINE (a MUCH better film than the really truly abominable recent remake).

The best, though?

MGM, 1956. Leslie Nielson, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Robbie the Robot. FORBIDDEN PLANET. Also known as the Tempest on Altair-4. Inspired by Shakespeare, in turn it inspired Gene Roddenberry, who borrowed heavily from it when coming up with STAR TREK. State of the art special effects (for 1956, admittedly), gripping story, some fine performances (especially by Walter Pidgeon, whose performance as Morbius beats anything ever seen in any of the STAR WARS films). Unlike STAR WARS, this is a film that only grows richer every time you watch it. A monster that makes sense, characters with a little psychological depth, science that isn't just empty technobabble, a sexy heroine, a tragic hero, the awesome caverns of the Krel... FORBIDDEN PLANET has it all.

Winner and still champion.

The best science fiction film of all time.


Jun. 9th, 2007 09:30 am (UTC)
best science fiction movies ever...
per "starlog," who reprinted earlier interview w/lucas [before or after iv's release], lucas said vader is luke's father. in "revenge/return of the jedi," leia asked luke if he remembered their birth mother & how she was so sad. does the force help them remember what their mother looked like on the day that they were born? i liked "revenge of the sith." when anakin was w/the emperor @ a theatre, the emperor said that he once knew a sith lord who could bring life from mitochondrians? i think the emperor's master[before the emperor killed his master in his sleep(i think it was)] was that sith lord. pick a slave, use mitochondrians to get her pregnant, knowing that the child wouldve a hard, difficult life, which could result in the child becoming angry/hateful/full of hurt, which could lead someone 2 the dark side, or according to "300," could make 1 a very good Spartan ;P

as for han shooting 1st, i agree. he wouldnt live very long shooting 2nd. iv-vi were a lot of fun. 'though ford couldnt act @ that time, his improv lines regarding his thoughts on the force, &, "i know," made iv-vi more fun & left a gaping hole in i-iii. i dont think lucas ever meant to have han shoot 2nd, or spielberg meant for the agents in "et" to have walkie talkies instead of guns, or children dressing up as hobos instead of terrorists. i think it was revisionist history at work after 9/11.

"2001" is visually stunning & has beautiful music, like "fantasia." "2001" is boring, yet intriguing to me.[when the year 2001 started, i thought we'd find a monilith on the moon. haven't read the book yet.]

my best science fiction films list: "Forbidden Planet" ['though it has been a very long time, & i only saw most of it, but wow!], "The Day The Earth Stood Still" [would a mother actually allow a stranger to take her daughter to the movies?], "War Of The Worlds" [the original, havent seen spielberg's remake], "Solaris" [the original, havent seen the remake yet, but wanted to see the original 1st, because i normally hate remakes. (i like george clooney)], "Blade Runner" [went to see it because i love the whole concept, & liked harrison ford before i saw this film & liked rutger hauer after seeing this film], "The 5th Element" [i heard this was a remake, of what, i dont know. but to me, this was so original to me, it's one of those films i can see again & again], "Serenity" [1 of my very best friends recommended it.this film is awesome/original], "1984" [because "1984" is now & has been since 1948 (at least)], "Gattaca" [our impending future], "Hardware Wars," "Spaceballs," "Terminator 1 & 2," "The 6th Day," "Imposter" [like "blade runner," based on a Philip K Dick story], "The Empire Strikes Back" [definitely the original, i prefer when luke takes a step off of the plank, defiantly, telling his father he refuses the dark side, not falling clumsily in the reworked version], "Revenge Of The Sith" [if anakin hadnt walked in, mace windu wouldve killed the emperor], "V For Vendetta" [1 of my favorite films. period.(see "serenity")], "The Matrix" [until ii(which was ok)] & iii [which ruined "the matrix"(i wished i couldve my $$ back on iii)], "Metropolis" [except for the music], "Le Voyage Dans La Lune" [without this film, what would we be watching?]
Jun. 9th, 2007 09:34 am (UTC)
Re: best science fiction movies ever...
forgot about, "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind." thanks for reminding me, "getoutatheway." that film has francois truffaut, richard dreyfuss, melinda dillon, william atherton, lance henrickson, and john williams' musique.
Jun. 9th, 2007 09:35 am (UTC)
Re: best science fiction movies ever...
i meant, "thanks for reminding me, "getouttatheway"
Jun. 9th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
Re: best science fiction movies ever...
The username is probably better spelled the way you wrote it the first time.
Another film I recently thought of that I enjoyed was 'Red Planet'. It had Benjamin Bratt, Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer among others. Pretty good film.
Have you seen 'Brazil'? I have not, but it's been rated as one of the best sci-fi films.
Unfortunately a good number of horror films are released as sci-fi, which gives the genre a bad reputation. Watch the Sci-Fi channel and see how many selections are merely splatter films with gel-mouthed critters as the villians.
Jun. 10th, 2007 07:39 am (UTC)
Re: best science fiction movies ever...
i've seen "brazil," & it's an excellent film, except the ending is frustrating like "time bandits," so i couldn't say "brazil" was 1 of the best sf films ever. "brazil" accurately shows the world as it has been since bureaucracy existed, w/a *little* bit of exaggeration, monty python style! i've to get my hand on the uncut version of "brazil" & see if it helps the ending, because i heard the studio chopped it up, so i didn't see the whole thing as it should've been. i enjoyed, "time bandits," too, but its ending punched me in the stomach, "red wedding" style. i love monty python, but sometimes it's a *might* harsh.
i haven't seen "red planet" [carrie-anne moss is in the cast, too]
regarding the sci-fi channel, i want to see, "glass spiders!" lol! However, sci-fi did an awesome job of "dune," [no, not the garbage that's lynch's film, (i can say that because i LOVED lynch's "twin peaks," which was an awesome tv series on the same league as "northern exposure.") the new "dune" w/alec newman & william hurt], "taken," "stargate sg-1" [w/exception of the pilot episode, i liked the film "stargate" better, the pilot was basically a rehash of the film to start the series], "stargate atlantis," [especially because of sheppard], "farscape," the wtf "lexx," [does anyone know what happened w/"lexx?" the last episode i saw of "lexx," had cliffhangers w/each of the characters of "lexx," including lexx himself!
oh yeah! "stargate" is also 1 of the best sf films ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun. 11th, 2007 08:35 am (UTC)
Re: best science fiction movies ever...
let me add, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" & "The Road Warrior"
thank you other grrm "not my bloggers!"
Jun. 15th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
Re: best science fiction movies ever...
Ooo, Wrath of Khan was great, as was The Undiscovered Country.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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