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Wired Magazine’s Favorite Sci-Fi Flicks of All Time

Posted by dorian on September 1, 2009

Here are 10 of my favorites out of Wired Magazine’s list of 20:

Soylent Green (1973)

Edward G. Robinson’s last movie, overpopulation horror, cannibalism, euthanasia, class wars: It’s got a lot going on. —Marty Cortinas

scifi_15a euthanasia, class wars, already here. overpopulation horror, cannibalism, coming up!

Soylent Green is a 1973 dystopian science fiction movie depicting a future in which overpopulation leads to depleted resources, which in turn leads to widespread unemployment and poverty. Real fruit, vegetables and meat are rare, expensive commodities, and much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green” wafers.

The film overlays the science fiction and police procedural genres as it depicts the efforts of New York City police detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) and elderly police researcher Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson) to investigate the brutal murder of a wealthy businessman named William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten). Thorn and Roth uncover clues which suggest that it is more than simply a bungled burglary.

The film, which is loosely based upon the 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison, won the Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film in 1973. wikipedia

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Simply for Charlton Heston’s over-the-top performance. It’s a madhouse! —Marty Cortinas

a majority of  sci-fi films are dystopian. a few more after this one. – dorian

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Starring: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore
Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
Produced by: Arthur P. Jacobs, Mort Abrahams (II)


Planet of the Apes is a novel by Pierre Boulle, originally published in 1963 in French as La Planète des singes. As singe means both “ape” and “monkey,” Xan Fielding called his translation Monkey Planet. It is an example of social commentary through the use of dystopia.

Planet of the Apes (1968) was a groundbreaking science fiction film based on Boulle’s novel, and was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starred Charlton Heston. It was the vision of producer Arthur P. Jacobs, who commissioned Rod Serling to write the script, but the final version would be written by Michael Wilson. Jacobs enlisted Heston (who enlisted Schaffner) well before any production deal was made, and Heston’s star status was instrumental in gaining support for the film. They gained the support of Mort Abrahams after producing a short film demo which showed that the makeups (initially created by Ben Nye, not to be confused with the design by John Chambers for the actual film) could be convincing enough not to appear funny, as most “monkey suits” up to that time had. In the English-language films, the apes are insulted when called “monkeys,” but in the original book, no insult is possible because, as noted above, singes refers to both apes and monkeys.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

What would the world be like without the written word? François Truffaut’s colorful, textless take on Ray Bradbury’s novel is a masterpiece. —Randy Alfred

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Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 film directed by François Truffaut, in his first colour film and first and only English-language film. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury.

The film starred Oskar Werner as Montag and Julie Christie who was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role award for the dual roles of Linda (Mildred) Montag and Clarisse.

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian speculative fiction novel authored by Ray Bradbury and first published in 1953.

The novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a “fireman” (which, in this future, means “bookburner”). The number “451” refers to the temperature at which book paper auto-ignites. Although sources contemporary with the novel’s writing gave the temperature as 450 °C (842 °F), Bradbury apparently thought “Fahrenheit” made for a better title. The “firemen” burn them “for the good of humanity”. Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as issues in American society of the era.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Taps into ’50s paranoia, “bringing a new dimension in terror to the giant SuperScope screen!” —Stephanie Dale

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 science fiction film based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (originally serialized in Colliers Magazine in 1954). It stars Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, King Donovan, and Carolyn Jones. The screenplay was adapted from Finney’s novel by Daniel Mainwaring, along with an uncredited Richard Collins, and was directed by Don Siegel.

In 1993, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its “Ten top Ten”—the best ten films in ten “classic” American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was acknowledged as the ninth best film in the science fiction genre.

Logan’s Run (1976)

A future without underwear. —Lee Simmons

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Logan’s Run is a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Published in 1967, it depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources is managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expedient of demanding the death of everyone upon reaching a particular age, thus avoiding the issue of overpopulation. The story follows the actions of Logan, a Deep Sleep Operative or “Sandman” charged with enforcing the rule, as he tracks down and kills citizens who “run” from society’s lethal demand only to himself ultimately “run.”

The introduction to the book states:

“The seeds of the Little War were planted in a restless summer during the mid-1960s, with sit-ins and student demonstrations as youth tested its strength. By the early 1970s over 75 percent of the people living on Earth were under 21 years of age. The population continued to climb — and with it the youth percentage.
In the 1980s the figure was 79.7 percent.
In the 1990s, 82.4 percent.
In the year 2000 — critical mass.”

the soundtrack for Logan’s Run is very good. –  dorian


The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958)

A Trip to the Moon may be the oldest sci-fi flick, but this wonderful Czechoslovakian movie looks like it was made even earlier. A mixture of stop-motion and Terry Gilliam–style cut-out animation perfectly recreates the look of the fantastical engravings that appeared in Jules Verne’s seminal science fiction novels. It’s easy to imagine that this is what Verne’s 19th century contemporaries saw in their mind’s eye when they read his books. —Chris Baker

scifi_6aAs its title suggests THE FABULOUS WORLD OF JULES VERNE is an awe -inspiring, meticulous cinematic rendering of the aesthetic and conceptual inventions of proto-science fiction genius Jules Verne, based on one of the famed author’s lesser known short stories. However, the real star of the film is the intricate art direction, successfully rendering the visual style of nineteenth century woodcuts and engravings into motion pictures, creating a stylized and surreal graphic world within which Verne’s fanciful tale unfolds. A brilliant scientist, Dr. Roche, perches high above a stormy sea, inventing a powerful explosive, when he and his assistant are kidnapped by an evil businessman, Artigas. Taken by submarine to Artigas’ volcano headquarters, Roche is tricked into developing his experiment for evil intentions. The scientist’s assistant, Simon, struggles all the while to free himself and warn Roche. A magical world of baroque submarines and sailing ships, killer octopus, undersea bicycles dazzles audiences as human actors, puppetry, animation and fanciful scenic design interact to create a cinematic experience that is unique by any standards. Mixing slapstick comedy, action adventure pacing and Mélies style film magic, this little known Czechoslovakian gem transcends the juvenile literature at its source to create cinematic art of the highest order. rottentomatoes.com

Starring: Louis Tock, Ernest Navara, Milo Holl, Francis Sherr

Starring: Louis Tock, Ernest Navara, Milo Holl, Francis Sherr, Lubor Tokos, Van Kissling, Jane Salata

Director: Karel Zeman

Them! (1954)

I’m going to go for this great sci-fi horror story of the giant ants that came out of the White Sands of Nevada after being created by the hubris of man’s atomic bomb testing. The ants eventually take on L.A. (Go, Giants?) But the movie’s lesson wasn’t learned, so Stanley Kubrick eventually had to direct Dr. Strangelove, a fantastic movie that unfortunately is not science fiction despite the centrality of the so-called Doomsday Machine to the plot. —Ryan Singel [ Sleeper, (1973) by Woody Allen is another one that unfortunately is not under the science fiction genre.  – dorian]

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Them! is a 1954 black and white science fiction film about man’s encounter with a nest of radiation-giganticized ants. It is based on an original story treatment by George Worthing Yates, was developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes for Warner Bros. Pictures Inc., which was produced by David Weisbart and directed by Gordon Douglas for the company. It starred James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arness.

One of the first of the “nuclear monster” movies, and the first “big bug” film, Them! was the biggest moneymaker for Warner’s in the year of its release. It was nominated for an Oscar for Special Effects and won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.

The Thing From Another World (1951)

Don’t kid yourself. This is a Howard Hawks movie. He took charge of the script, and he directed — but let Christian Nyby take the credit so he could get into the Directors Guild (according to legend). A tightly written (Charles Lederer, based on the short story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.), neatly acted and professionally directed movie. No frills. No gore. Just humans fighting for their lives. —John Scott Lewinski

scifi_2a

The Thing from Another World (often referred to as The Thing before its 1982 remake), is a 1951 science fiction film that tells the story of an Air Force crew and scientists at a remote Arctic research outpost who fight a malevolent plant-based alien being. It stars Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite and Douglas Spencer. James Arness appeared as The Thing, difficult to recognize in costume and makeup. No players are named during the opening credits; the only cast credit is at the movie’s end.

The movie was loosely adapted by Charles Lederer (with uncredited rewrites from Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht) from the 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr. (originally published under the pseudonym Don A. Stuart). It was directed by Hawks, with Christian Nyby receiving the credit, for Hawks’ Winchester Pictures, which released it through RKO Radio Pictures Inc.

The film took advantage of the national feelings of the time to help enhance the horror elements of the story. The film’s release in 1951 coincided with the Korean War and the upswing in anti-communist feelings brought on by McCarthyism and by the territorial ambitions of Stalinist Russia. The idea of Americans being stalked by a force which was single-minded and “devoid of morality” fit in well with the parallel feelings of the day on communism. Equally the film reflected a post-Hiroshima scepticism about science and negative views of scientists who meddle with things better left alone. In the end, it is American servicemen and sensible scientists who win the day over the monster.

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Shrunken surgeons and a saboteur aboard a miniaturized ship that’s injected into a patient’s bloodstream for a critical operation. I’m still waiting for this to become sci-fact. —Kim Zetter

they’re already working on it, Kim – dorian

scifi_10a

Fantastic Voyage is a 1966 science fiction film written by Harry Kleiner. Bantam Books obtained the rights for a paperback novelization based on the screenplay and approached Isaac Asimov to write it. Because the novelization was released six months before the movie, many people mistakenly believed Asimov’s book had inspired the movie. According to Fred Schodt’s The Astro Boy Essays, FOX also approached NBC to get the rights to an Astro Boy episode which had the same premise, but they never contacted the manga artist or credited him in the final product.The movie inspired an animated television series, as well as a painting of the same name by Salvador Dalí. wikipedia

Starring: Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasence

Starring: Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasence, Arthur Kennedy, Arthur O’Connell, William Redfield, Jean Del Val, Barry Coe

Director: Richard Fleischer

Producer:  Saul David

Silent Running (1972)

I need to see it again. Space eco-terrorism with robots! —Marty Cortinas

scifi_14a

Silent Running is a 1972 ecologically-themed science fiction film, directed by Douglas Trumbull, who had previously worked as a special effects supervisor on such science fiction films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Andromeda Strain.

Silent Running depicts a future in which all plant life on Earth has been made extinct, except for a few specimens preserved in a fleet of space-borne freight ships converted to carry greenhouse domes. When orders come from Earth to jettison and destroy the domes, the botanist aboard the greenhouse-ship ‘Valley Forge’ (Bruce Dern) rebels, and eventually opts instead to send the last dome into deep space to save the remaining plants and animals. The film costars Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin and Jesse Vint.

i’m adding one not included in the Wired Magazine list:

2455441670_b44634e746_o

Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton, this 1971 thriller, about is about a team of scientists racing against time to destroy a deadly alien virus that threatens to wipe out life on Earth. The emphasis is on an exciting clash between nature and science, beginning when virologists discover the outer-space virus in a tiny town full of corpses. Projecting total contamination, the scientists isolate the deadly strain in a massive, high-tech underground lab facility, which is rigged for nuclear destruction if the virus is not successfully controlled. — Amazon.com

The Andromeda Strain is a 1971 science-fiction film, based on the novel published in 1969 by Michael Crichton about a team of scientists who investigate a deadly organism of extraterrestrial origin that causes rapid, fatal blood clotting. Produced and Directed by Robert Wise, the film starred Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid, and David Wayne. The film follows the book closely. The special effects were designed by Douglas Trumbull. wikipedia

to see all 20, see article: Wired’s Favorite Sci-Fi Flicks of All Time

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10 Responses to “Wired Magazine’s Favorite Sci-Fi Flicks of All Time”

  1. kay~ms said

    Great post Dorian… Soylent Green always creeped me out.. I could never watch it all the way thru. Planet of the Apes was the first movie I think I ever saw in a theatre… my dad took me and my brother to see it. I’ll never forget the scene where Heston sees the statue of liberty and realizes he’s on earth. An excellent movie.

    I guess the fear of overpopulation has died down over the decades. It’s interesting though.. I’ve heard several times lately on the cable news chanels (probably fox) the mention of limiting the number of children a family can have.

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  2. dorian said

    thanks, kay. they already had those limits in china and parts of india. i think they lifted the one child rule in china recently. i tried to find some good news to post (for a change)! but didn’t come up with any. maybe the next one.

    Like

  3. princessxxx said

    kay, get used to the idea of “soylent green” because it is right around the corner.

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