Sci-Fi Fodder

Best Sci-Fi Movie

SFX Magazine recently conducted a survey to determine the best Sci-Fi movie of all time. The winner? Drum roll please...


Now, I am sure the Browncoats had a lot to do with this coronation. After all, it is the most recent movie on the list and the fans are very active. Even if a little ballot box stuffing occurred, the movie is very solid and belongs somewhere on the list. Just for the record, "Star Wars" came in second, with "Blade Runner", "Planet of the Apes" and "The Matrix" rounding out the top five.

Now, as one would expect, there is much consternation about this result. After all, the SFX survey only polled 3,000 fans - which could easily be overwhelmed by a strong fan group like the Browncoats. So, the BBC is sponsoring its own survey. Here are the current results at the time that I posted this article:

  • (37.31%) - Star Wars
  • (26.68%) - Serenity
  • (21.54%) - Blade Runner
  • (12.09%) - The Matrix
  • (02.39%) - Planet of the Apes
  • 23172 Votes Cast

Geek Monthly has published a related article detailing "12 Sci-Fi Films Better Than Serenity". They state that they came up with the list because "...a few of us geeks at the office started wondering a.), how anyone could think such a thing and b.), what would we suggest as a few movies we would place slightly ahead of Serenity on this list".

Their list is interesting, but I am not sure that most of these films are actually on the level of "Serenity". The list includes several films that I have never seen ("Five Million Years to Earth", "The Incredible Shrinking Man", "Forbidden Planet" (I know, I probably should rent it...), "The Andromeda Strain", "Colossus: The Forbin Project") and some that, although they are decent movies, I don't think merit 'best of all-time' consideration ("Dark City", "eXistenZ", "The Fly", "Twelve Monkeys", "Brazil").

The Geek Monthly list does have some very strong candidates, though. "The Matrix" and "Planet of the Apes" were both included in the survey, and with good reason. Although I wouldn't put either as the top choice, they both have classic Sci-Fi elements and both are more than simple Sci-Fi escapist stories. They have meaning beyond the genre - which makes them both classics in my book. The list also includes Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001: A Space Odyssey", both of which still get me to stop flipping channels whenever I happen to stumble upon them.

But, my #1 Sci-Fi movie owns a spot on the survey as well as the Geek Monthly list. That movie is Blade Runner. Geek Monthly correctly states that "...this movie influenced EVERYTHING for about 20 years, so viewers have been so busy watching stuff that rips it off that they’ve forgotten to check out the movie that started it all." Amen! How much do the skin-job Cylons in "Battlestar Galactica" owe to the Replicants in "Blade Runner"?

So, why not "Star Wars"? I think "Star Wars" gets extra credit for being so widely seen and loved. Certainly, I can't have an issue with people voting it as the #1 Sci-Fi movie of all time. Still, at its core, it really is a good versus evil tale - just a simple Hero's Journey story. "Blade Runner" has commentary on society and a possible distopian future that resonates far deeper than the make-believe world of "Star Wars". So, although I love "Star Wars", I still think "Blade Runner" is more important.

And you call yourself a Sci-Fi blogger. How can you talk about the greatest Sci-Fi movie ever and not mention Total Recall.

-- Posted by: Marvin from Decatur at April 4, 2007 7:28 AM

Wow ... hell hath no fury like a "Total Recall" fan scorned ;)

-- Posted by: mac at April 4, 2007 11:41 AM

Gotta give some love to "Alien" and "Aliens" for these lists. I'm a bit surprised to see them left out. The remainder of the movies in that franchise are de trope, but those two movies stand tall. Taller than "Planet of the Apes" at any rate.

"Alien" was also a highly influential movie, and "Aliens" was no mere sequel, but a great adaptation of the elements of the first story into an entirely different second story. "Aliens" was a great Vietnam combat movie masquerading as scifi and did "Starship Trooper" better than "Starship Trooper" did. While you can call both movies derivative, they're no more derivative than "Serenity's" western-in-space motif.

I'll also toss out the controversial "Pi" for consideration. Perhaps it's too much of a love it/hate it move for a top 10 (or 12) list, though.

-- Posted by: Deep Cover at April 4, 2007 3:26 PM

It's funny - my wife wanted to put 'Running Man' on the list. ;-)

I've got no qualms with Total Recall - it's pretty darn good! I have to agree with the Aliens comment more, though. It did combat as well as any movie that I can think of. The original list did have it in the top 10.

-- Posted by: Fred at April 4, 2007 5:25 PM

As I was listening on the radio to some ignorant bloviators rave on about fixing homosexuality in utero this morning, I was reminded of one more very good, but lesser seen and underappreciated scifi movie that deserves consideration: "Gattaca".

-- Posted by: Deep Cover at April 5, 2007 10:58 AM

Hey, Fred, if you're going to nominate camp, go whole hog: "Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension". There's a movie without peer! Indeed, it's pretty much in a category by itself.

-- Posted by: Deep Cover at April 5, 2007 11:01 AM

Good call on Gattaca! That movie was way more solid than the eXitenz crap that was referenced in the Geek Monthly article.

Now, for camp, I'll give you Bonzai...but, I wouldn't call Serenity or Blade Runner camp - well, at least not in the 'Buckaroo Bonzai' zipcode of camp. That is, unless you were referring to the Ahnold movies...then I'm with ya!

-- Posted by: Fred at April 5, 2007 10:57 PM

I'd have to mention a few others for greatness.

"Soylent Green" Great Harry Harrison novel made faithfully and fully realized distopian story. I still can't watch the Saul (Edward G. Robinson) death scene without a catch in my throat.

"This Island Earth" Beautiful special effects for the day (along with Forbidden Planet).

"Earth vs the Flying Saucers" Best 'us vs them' movie of the fifties - also great Ray Harryhousen special effects.

"Silent Running" OK, the science was a little hokey, but oh, that Joan Baez sound track. And emotionally involving robots - Huey, Dewey, and Louie got it all over C3PO and R2D2.

-- Posted by: Cecil Rose at April 9, 2007 3:00 PM

Right on Fred!

While I do agree that you should rent "Forbidden Planet," much props needs to go to "Blade Runner." It is in its own league.

-- Posted by: Rachel at April 11, 2007 6:13 PM

Heh - finally got a Blade Runner ditto!

Now...I can't resist:

"Soylent Green is people!!!"

-- Posted by: Fred at April 11, 2007 10:39 PM

Did you happen to hear the NPR morning news on Sunday, Apr 15. They broadcast two April Fools stories - one was a fake news segment about NYC passing a law restricting residents to one of four ring-tones on theie cell phones due to incidents of 'ring rage'.

The other was a sponsor acknowledgment:

NPR is in part sponsored by the Soylent Corporation, creators of fine protein products since 1976. Remember, "Soylent Green is People!"

(BTW, the Harry Harrison novel Soylent Green is based on is "Make Room, Make Room".)

-- Posted by: Cecil Rose at April 16, 2007 11:56 AM

2001:A Space Odyssey is the greatest science fiction film of all time. It's also one of teh best films ever made. I love Serenity, I'm a huge fan of Firefly, but I'm not sure it should be on the top 5 list. I don't like Blade Runner, but it IS a great film and should be on the top 5. Although Star Wars is more fantasy than science fiction, it should definately be on the list. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a great science fiction movie and could be considered top 5. Matrix yes, Apes no.

-- Posted by: Andrew Cassese at December 12, 2007 7:36 AM