by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director
Back in 1977, in a galaxy not so far away, “Star Wars” captured the imaginations and the dreams of billions. In the six additional films in the series, as in the many incarnations of “Star Trek”, and in the hundreds of motion pictures both good and bad in the years before and since, science fiction on film has continued to draw audiences.
Ask 100 people to name their favorite science fiction movies, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Search the Internet for the best films in the genre, and you’ll walk away with multiple opinions. To simplify matters, this column will highlight the top ten science fiction films as judged by the games and entertainment media company, IGN, from The Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/09/14/top-25-sci-fi-movies-of-all-time.
10) “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” 1991. In this sequel to the 1984 movie, “The Terminator,” a liquid metal, shapeshifting terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor and prevent him from becoming leader of the human resistance against the machines.
9) “The Road Warrior,” 1981. Also a sequel (“Mad Max” 1979), the film uses a western movie motif to tell the story of a community of settlers who defend themselves against a band of marauders in a post-apocalyptic world.
8) “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” 1951. A humanoid alien, Klaatu, comes to earth with an eight foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message to Earth. Live peacefully, or else. Who can forget those immortal words, “Klaatu barada nikto?”
7) “The Matrix,” 1999. The first in a trilogy about a dystopian future in which “reality” as perceived by humans is actually a simulation called the Matrix, and the real world is ruled by thinking machines.
6) “The Planet of the Apes,” 1968. Based on the novel by French author, Pierre Boulle, astronauts travel to a strange planet ruled by apes, and humans are an inferior species. There were 4 sequels to the original film, as well as a 2001 remake.
5) “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1980. Also known as “Star Wars Episode V,” the title of this film says it all. After the triumph of Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in the original, the galactic empire and Darth Vader strike back at the rebel alliance.
4) “Alien,” 1979. The crew of a spacecraft on its return voyage to Earth lands on a small planet in response to a distress call. They discover an alien spacecraft and the remains of a giant alien. I think you know what happens from there. “Alien” spawned 3 sequels.
3) “Star Wars,” 1977. No, not number one according to IGN. Later retitled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” this is the film where we first meet Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Obi Wan, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and of course, Darth Vader. The rebel alliance seeks to destroy the Galactic Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.
2) “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1969. Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, this film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution.
And the number one best science fiction film of all time, “Blade Runner,” 1982, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Rick Dekard is a blade runner, a special police bounty hunter tasked with hunting and killing replicants (androids) from off world who have illegally escaped to Earth.
Most of the top ten films on this list are available at the library. If your favorite science fiction movies didn’t make the list, don’t worry, the library has hundreds of other films in the genre. You should also checkout the selections of science fiction films on Hoopla, the library’s streaming service. Thousands of films, television shows, audiobooks, music cds, ebooks, and comics are available for free streaming on your computer, or to download to your tablet or smartphone.
Remember that today is the final day of the Manhattan Library Association’s annual book sale. It’s bag day. Fill a bag or box with books and other materials for one low price. Now that’s a bargain you won’t have to travel to a far off galaxy to find.