Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Worlds

Sorry, I have nothing interesting to say, so it's blog meme time!

I saw this at Prawn Bites; it's a list of the (allegedly) most important scifi films of all time, originally from here.

I'll follow Prawn's format; those I've seen are bolded, underlined ones are ones I think are among the most important scifi films ever made. I'm taking "important" to mean films that had some kind of significant impact on how scifi films are made or thought of; I'd say about 90% of the films on the list are essential scifi viewing, but I'm unsure of their importance.

Oh, and I'd love to see what Liam makes of this list.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!-I'm not sure this is an important movie per se; while it's a cult hit, and great fun, it's had little influence elsewhere, and I struggle to understand why it's considered important.
Akira-There are better examples of anime out now (Miyazaki made most of them), but the importance of Akira as a scifi film and as a gateway for the West to the world of anime cannot be overstated.
Alien-Good horror movie, but I'm not sure it's important.
Aliens-Good action movie, but I'm not sure it's important.
Back to the Future
Blade Runner-This should be important; it's pretty much the only decent cyberpunk movie out there (excluding anime), and it shows how perfect cyberpunk is for the medium of film. But hardly anyone (again, aside from anime) has tried to follow in its footsteps.
Brazil-I'd say that anything by Gilliam is important, but whether anyone notices that is another thing entirely. Has he ever made a popular film?
Bride of Frankenstein
Brother From Another Planet
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind-Overrated tosh.
The Damned
Destination Moon
The Day The Earth Stood Still-Another that should be important, if only because it bucks the trend of 50's American scifi and actually has a positive message.
Escape From New York
ET: The Extraterrestrial-More overrated scifi tosh from Spielberg.
Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)
The Fly (1985 version)
Forbidden Planet-Conventional wisdom says this is an important film. I'm not so sure.
Ghost in the Shell-GitS is sort of the "next generation" Akira, a ten-years-later update that reminds the West of what animation can do. It's a beautiful film, but really not much good as a narrative, and again pretty much everything Miyazaki has made is better.
The Incredibles-Why exactly is this considered important?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)-50's paranoia about Communism and the Other, blah, blah. The 70's one is better.
Jurassic Park-In my opinion, this is Spielberg's finest scifi film, and I'd guess it's important if only from a special effects perspective.
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior-Like The Matrix, this is important in that it opened up a new genre for filmmakers, but (a) most of the subsequent films were rubbish, and (b) I'm not sure "post-apocalyptic car chase" is an important genre. For what it's worth, I love the Mad Max trilogy, and my favourite of the three changes regularly, but it's most often this one.
The Matrix-Undeniably important, if only because it opened Hollywood's eyes to the possibilities of scifi cinema, and got scifi films as a genre out of a rut. Of course, they went straight into a Matrix-inspired rut, but oh well.
Metropolis-I'm not sure if I've seen the original or not. I think I have. But I've definitely seen the Tezuka remake/reimagination, which I (blasphemy!) prefer.
On the Beach
Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
Robocop-I'm not sure if this is an important film, or if I just want it to be, but it's one of the best satires of 80's America around, and I've always taken good scifi to be something that has a point, a message, to it.
Solaris (1972 version)-Better than the remake, even if it is six hours long and very boring.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope-Important doesn't necessarily mean in a good way...
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back-Is this any more important than RotJ? No. Is it the one that's trendy to like the most? Yes.
The Stepford Wives
Superman-Absolutely. Delivered on its promise that "you'll believe a man can fly". The sequel is better (and one of the best superhero movies ever made), but there wouldn't be a sequel is this film hadn't shown that superheroes work really well on film if you do them properly. And I don't even like Superman as a character.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day-Great action movie, and certainly important in a pushing the boundaries of technology kind of way. When it came out, all the talk was about the special effects technology, but in recent years, people have come to realise that Cameron might actually have something interesting to say about fatherhood and humanity in there somewhere.
The Thing From Another World-50's paranoia about Communism and the Other, blah, blah. Now, I love this film to bits, but I'm not sure it's important as such.
Things to Come
Tron-Oh come on. Tron? I can't fathom exactly how this is important. There's some proto-cyberpunk stuff in there, but you can count the number of cyberpunk movies on a hand and a half, and even so, they take after Blade Runner much more than this. And as a cgi pioneer, Tron is lacking, as it doesn't actually contain a significant amount of cgi...
12 Monkeys-See Brazil. And by the way, I'm not sure why he's put the numbers down here under 'T'. Isn't it more appropriate to list them before the alphabetised bit of the list?
28 Days Later-Huh?
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
2001: A Space Odyssey
La Voyage Dans la Lune
War of the Worlds (1953 version)

Thoughts? Omissions? I'm always tempted to put the underrated Stargate on these lists, although I'm not sure it's an important film. I've still not seen Donnie Darko, but I know enough about it to be surprised that it's not included. I'm similarly surprised that Night of the Living Dead (at least) isn't on the list, especially as 28 Days Later is.


  1. I guess 28DL is more of a science fiction film, they try to give a scientific reason for the zombies?
    Empire is great, Jedi not so much.

  2. Close Encounters is a marvellous film! And why is Tron important? Early - and spectacular - use of computer effects. For the full gravity of its import, see the extras on the 2-disc DVD. Agree with many of your other comments.

  3. you should see Clockwork Orange. Period. seriously, go see it now.

    Agree with you about close encounters --- I heard so much about it when it was being rereleased for some anniversary, and was surprised how plodding and dull it was.

    the numbers are all under T because numbers begin with letters. 12 starts with a T.

  4. Well yeah, I get that, but it's more normal to list the numbers at the beginning, before the A's.

    I'll have to check out the special edition of Tron, but as I recall, the computer effects in that film were actually faked (as with the "flight simulator" in Escape From New York).

  5. The reason 28DL is on the list is because it is the first film to be shot purely on digital medium and does not use 35mm anywhere, while not important to the viewing public it is massivly important to the film world.
    The reason being that most directors will not use anything but 35mm which is expensive to buy (both film and cameras), process (in time and money), edit (still done manualy) and they poo poo any other medium for not have "That movie quality", The fact that the average jo cant tell the diff makes no odds.
    This means that indipendent film makers loose half there budget just setting up a movie on 35mm just so they can be taken seriously, What 28DL did was show that digi is just as good, the cameras are cheaper (£4000 digi, £30,000 35mm), no processing cost, quick and easy edit time and most of all it showed that the general public really could'nt give a shit and that hollywood directors should stop being so pretentious because the new boys are on there way.
    Sorry to take up so much space but thought it was nessecary, as while 28DL is not a Fantastic film it is an important one.

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  7. Ah, I thought it might have something to do with the digital film-making. Thanks J.

  8. Can't believe you don't find Fritz Lang's Metropolis to be important. Those are some incredible special effects and visuals!

  9. Terry Gilliam's most commercially successful movie was probably Time Bandits or maybe The Fisher King.