Monday, June 18, 2007

Have you seen it??? R.T's Sci Films - pt 1

Read - Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Rotten Tomatoes has compiled a list of The 100 Best Reviewed Sci fi Films of all time. As I've been toying with the idea of putting together a list of The Greatest Films I'm Most Embarrassed to Have Never Seen I thought I'd go through the list and focus on all the flicks I haven't watched. If you've seen any of the films I've missed and recommend them please let me know. I do consider myself a bit of a sci fi film buff; so I'm not sure if this will be a very long list.

hehe, so says the guy who has yet to even look through it. All the synopsis listed here are from Rotten Tomatoes, which is a wonderful film site that I hardly use at all. I wonder why that is... Ah well, on with the list. The films with descriptions are the ones I haven't seen yet. I'm listing the others here mostly for completeness. Ok, and maybe I'll make a comment or two on them as well. Which of these films have you seen? What do you love or hate about their list?

#100 - Escape From Planet of the Apes (1971)

#99 - Star Trek III: the Search For Spock (1984)

#98 - Primer (2004)
Totally awesome indie film. If time travel is ever discovered I bet it will look like this.

#97 - The Thing (1982)
I could easily write a whole post on how much I love this film

#96- A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Vic (Don Johnson), survivor of atomic holocaust, wanders hungrily across the bleak desert landscape in search of cans of food buried deep in radioactive ash. His telepathic dog, Blood (Tim McIntire) depends on Vic for food, but Vic needs Blood to find him something much more scarce: female companionship. The bedraggled duo eventually discover an underground society of survivors, called "Down Under," where they have reproduced the look of pre-apocalypse Americana but with frighteningly totalitarian politics. A cult black comedy based on the novella by Harlan Ellison.

While I haven't seen this film, I listened to a fantastic audiobook version of the story, on one of my favorite podcasts Escape Pod a few months ago. Now that I'm looking of course I can't seem to find it, but I would definitely recommend the cast for anyone who likes good dramatized short sci fi.

#95 - Dark Star (1974)
John Carpenter's low-budget debut feature is a hilarious romp set in the deepest reaches of outer space. The haggard crew of the dilapidated Dark Star spaceship--Doolittle (Brian Narelle), Boiler (Cal Kuniholm), Pinback (Dan O'Bannon), and Talby (Dre Pahich)--is on an extended mission to seek out and destroy unstable planets. But after 20 years of the same routine, each crewmember is reaching the end of his tether. The journey is fraught with mishaps, and danger seems to lurk around every corner. There are misbehaving pet aliens, suicidal bombs that dream of detonating, frozen crewmates dispensing advice from beyond the grave, and a surly, unhelpful main computer that holds the men it serves in total contempt. Despite all these problems, the crew is still bored to the brink of madness. Co-written by the multitasking O'Bannon, who is also credited as the film's production designer and editor, DARK STAR brims with giddy jabs at the science-fiction genre (including George Lucas's THX 1138), an approach that Mel Brooks would later take in his own sci-fi spoof, SPACEBALLS (1987). In addition to writing, directing, and acting, Carpenter also composed the film's atmospheric score.

This film definitely falls into the category of I'm embarrassed not to have seen it yet.

#94 - Mad Mad: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
We don't need another hero! This film isn't as good as either of its predecessors, but I love me some Tina Turner, and Mel Gibson is totally badass. I sure hope we really get Mad Max Fury Road one day.

#93 - Dreamscape (1983)
A university dream research clinic is exploring "dreamlinking", a method by which conscious people can insert themselves into others' dreams. The research director recruits washed-up psychic Alex Garland for his experiments, and Alex proves a natural for dream manipulation. But even though the doctor overseeing the research has only the best intentions, someone else believes that dreamlinking can be the ultimate weapon... and he's determined to recruit Alex for his own evil ends.

I'm going to operate under the assumption that I will have seen more of these films the closer I get to the top. I don't know that I've ever even heard of this film. Notice that the main character in Dreamscape is named Alex Garland. I wonder if the author and screenwriter Alex Garland has seen this film... probably. Any film starring Dennis Quaid and Max von Sydow is good in my books.

#92 - It Came From Outer Space (1953)
A meteor crashes in the desert near a small Arizona town, and research scientist John Putnam (Richard Carlson) thinks it's a spaceship, but no one will believe him except his loyal girlfriend, Ellen (Barbara Rush). Weird evidence begins to back up his theory however, from the strange behavior of some of the locals, to the slime trails, the ghostly noises in the phone lines, and the apparitions of hideous alien eyes swooping down on passing cars. Director Jack Arnold (CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) lets the story unfold deliberately, and infuses the desert locale with all the unearthly mystery of an alien landscape, helping to make this one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s. Charles Drake is Matt, the sheriff who first thinks John is a fool with all this flying saucer talk, and who later tries to lead a posse against the aliens when the truth is too blatant to ignore. It's based on a story by Ray Bradbury, with an eerie, theremin score, on which Henry Mancini is an unbilled contributor.

wow, I don't have any clue why I haven't seen this. Bradbury, Mancini, and what sounds to be an archetypal story... Sounds great!

#91 - A.I. Artificial Intelligence
I wish Kubrick had been able to get this film made in his lifetime. It's not what it should be...

#90 - Death Race 2000 (1975)
I find this film is not as great as you remember or wish it was but I still hope the remake is cool.

#89 - War of the Worlds (2005)
ugh. Damn you Tom Cruise. Damn you...

- Flash Gordon (1980)
Frankly, I felt like this movie has been overhyped for what it is. But don't miss the new Flash Gordon tv series, starting on Sci Fi Channel 08/10.

#87 - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Ewoks and all I love this film. I would almost definitely rate this film higher on the list.

#86 - Starman (1984)
A departure for director John Carpenter, STARMAN is a gentle, simple film that won accolades from critics and applause from audiences. Jeff Bridges plays the title character, an alien that has come down to Earth on a peaceful scouting mission. When he takes the form of a recently widowed woman's dead husband he unintentionally involves her in his mission. The alien only has a few days to reach a rendezvous point where he will be picked up by his mothership. Along the way he must discover what he can about human beings and our civilization. He finds out plenty very quickly, as his relationship with the young widow grows very strong as they make their way to the rendezvous point. Meanwhile, the FBI is in hot pursuit after it discovers the discarded landing vehicle, and the alien's own health is deteriorating in Earth's foreign atmosphere. The story tells of the struggle for communication, the pain of letting go, and the search for understanding. Jeff Bridges gives an unforgettable performance as the gentle alien trying his best to cope with being a human. With STARMAN, Carpenter proves he is a master storyteller, not just of horror and science fiction, but of subtle, emotional drama as well.

Yet another film I am ashamed to say I have never seen. It is currently on my computer waiting to be watched though... soon, soon...

#85 - Innerspace (1987)
I should see this again. I remember it being really funny...

#84 - Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
not as bad as people made it out to be.

#83 - Signs (2002)

#82 - Dark City (1998)
Another favorite of mine.

#81 - The Matrix: Reloaded (2003)
I believe history will look back at all 3 Matrix films as sci fi masterpieces.

#80 - The War of the Worlds (1953)

#79 - Total Recall (1990)
Utterly fantastic. I even love the book. Great all around.

#78 - Gattica (1997)
First time I remember realizing who Jude Law was. This is a very solid film.

#77 - Videodrome (1983)
This film, along with Cronenberg's other masterpiece Naked Lunch, changed my life. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to get into filmmaking. Take from that what you will...

#76 - X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
Ray Milland stars in this visionary sci-fi film as Xavier, a doctor who gains the power to see through solid objects; first it's women's dresses at a party, then people's bodily organs, and, eventually, God looking back at him from the center of the universe. Attractive Dr. Diane Fairfax (Diana Van Der Vlis) is Xavier's love interest, though he can’t stop seeing through things long enough to notice her--he can’t even sleep since he can see through his own eyelids. When he accidentally kills a fellow doctor, Xavier winds up at a carnival sideshow where he performs fortune-telling and faith healing for a sleazy barker (Don Rickles). Later he and Diane head to Vegas, where his see-through card abilities parlay into a small fortune, but then he's on the run again, going progressively more insane as the visions get too much to bear. An insightful script, a moody Les Baxter score, and Milland’s tortured performance amply compensate for the film’s low budget, and there’s a twisted shock ending. It's considered an intellectual peak in B-movie maestro Roger Corman's vast canon, with cheap but engaging "X-ray" optical effects that anticipate his later psychedelic freak-out THE TRIP.

I haven't actually seen much Roger Corman, other than Bucket of Blood. This sounds interesting. I wonder who plays God?

#75 - The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
In Nicolas Roeg's sci-fi tale based on the novel by Walter Tevis, a humanoid alien from a dried-up husk of a planet falls to Earth in a spaceship--and later falls again metaphorically through alcohol abuse and the manipulations of a hostile culture. Arriving as a secret ambassador from a dying world, the masquerading Mr. Newton (David Bowie) patents several basic devices, including a self-developing color film and music recordings in the shape of small silver balls, in order to amass the tremendous capital necessary to build a spaceship. Along the way he solicits the help of a crack patent lawyer (Buck Henry) and a country-fried small-town girl (Candy Clark) who introduces him to gin, which he soon begins to substitute for his customary glass of water. Newton debates the reality of returning to his dead world only to have the choice made for him when he is swept from the launchpad by government agents. After serving his time with men in black, he is released, blinded by x rays, into the world. As a last drunken hurrah, he records an album under the name the Visitor with the hope that it may someday be broadcast and heard by his family and friends back home.

Well it looks liek once again I'm in desperate need of some edjumacation....

I do hope that part two of this romp through the most highly regarded classic sci fi films doesn't leave me looking worse than I do now. Then again as Rotten Tomatoes says, this is technically just the best reviewed films on their site. Not sure what that means precisely... I suppose its a really nod to the Wikiality of the Rotten Tomatoes system. And if I respect anything, its Turthiness...

It looks like I've already got some watching to do. 7 of 25 missed. Not good. How'd you do? Any of the other ones I caught that you maybe missed? Let me know in the comments.

And sorry if this post isn't your thing. I think I'm leading up to maybe eventually trying to put together a list of my own. Eventually...

ok, I'm off now. TTYL kids.


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