Monday, January 30, 2012

My Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time - #19

My Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time - A Tie for #19

By Ken Parker

I always have trouble with these types of lists because as time goes on I remember movies I had forgotten about or have second thoughts on where a movie should be placed. This resulted in this particular list going from top 20 to top 25 and then ultimately with this ranking which is my only tie on the list. I felt both movies deserved to be placed in this spot.

#19A – Planet of the Apes (1968)

IMDB Story Summary -
Taylor and two other astronauts come out of deep hibernation to find that their ship has crashed. Escaping with little more than clothes they find that they have landed on a planet where men are pre-lingual and uncivilized while apes have learned speech and technology. Taylor is captured and taken to the city of the apes after damaging his throat so that he is silent and cannot communicate with the apes.Written by John Vogel <>  

One could argue that this movie has to be on anyone's top list. It spawned multiple sequels and a couple of remakes (re-imaginings). The original has so many iconic moments and scenes that one should appreciate the film and how important it was to cinema.

I think I originally left this film off this list but felt because it is so much a classic, I had to include it. I am reminded that before I became a fan of many of my favorite TV shows and eventually sci-fi in general, I was a fan of the Apes franchise. I had trading cards, comics and action figures, predating by a short period of time some of my all time best childhood TV shows.

The movie has shocking imagery and a Twilight Zone like feel to it. Sure, the apes may seem silly today compared to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but at the time this was outstanding make-up work and at least this young fan bought into it.

The commentary from this film is hard hitting and as subtle as a gorilla soldier in a human china shop. References to politics, animal testing, slavery and nuclear power are all there front and center. One could perhaps not like this preaching but some of the best sci-fi movies run parallels to the present day society.

The reveal that Taylor is not on an alien planet but instead a future Earth is one of the most powerful scenes in cinema. This is one of those mandatory films that must be seen.

When did I first see this movie – TV in the 70's
How many times have I seen it – only around 6-7
Do I own it on DVD/Bluray – no

19B – Serenity (2005)

If anyone read my top TV shows then you know that Firefly ranks near the very top of my all time sci-fi TV shows and is the top for my shows in the 2000's. So you may be shocked to see the Serenity movie so low on my list and probably more shocked to hear that this is the last film I added to the list. How could I have forgotten it?

IMDB Story Summary -
In the future, a spaceship called Serenity is harboring a passenger with a deadly secret. Six rebels on the run. An assassin in pursuit. When the renegade crew of Serenity agrees to hide a fugitive on their ship, they find themselves in an awesome action-packed battle between the relentless military might of a totalitarian regime who will destroy anything - or anyone - to get the girl back and the bloodthirsty creatures who roam the uncharted areas of space. But, the greatest danger of all may be on their ship.Written by Anthony Pereyra {}  

The main reason this movie is on my list is because it is Firefly. It has great writing and brings back the beloved characters for one more adventure. I saw this movie 4 times in the theater, twice during special advance showings. The movie does an excellent job continuing the story. So why is it so low on the list?

Well, the movie is excellent but it is a bit of a drop from the original series. Some of the feel of the series was not in the movie. First the western aspect of the series was toned down. One could argue that the western taste in the series may have been partially responsible for its lack of ratings numbers on TV. People had trouble figuring out what it was and so decided to ignore it. Fox also had trouble with how to promote it. Now the movie, I believe stands on its own, but there are many things that make it better after seeing the series. This really damages the movie in its own right.

Still, the movie is good but creator Joss Whedon decided to kill off two characters. This amps up the tension in the last act of the film (will anyone of them survive?) but it really deadened what should have been a celebratory event for fans. I remember seeing fans shuffling out of the theater, not excited or happy, just depressed.

Sure, people die in movies and TV shows all the time and they are still good stories. I am not going to hate Star Wars because Obi-Wan gets killed off. But in this case I felt the film's tone, despite it trying to lighten the mood in in the final montage, was too dark for what could have been a relaunching of the franchise to a new audience.

When did I first see the movie – A few weeks before its official release date
How many times – 4 times in the theater and 10 times on DVD and cable
Do I own it – yes, on DVD

1 comment:

  1. I'd be really surprised if either of these films were left off your top 25. Seems like too low of a ranking for both films, but I'll have to wait to see what you have higher.