As the real world continues to catch up with and surpass ideas in classic sci-fi features, this prompted the need to create a list of the top 10 science fiction movies of all time. Lightsabers at the ready, film fans, things are about to get weird...
10. The Prestige
While Inception has big ideas (and dreams), The Prestige is a psychological sci-fi drama with much more relatable (if disturbing) themes at its core. Christopher Nolan adapts Christopher Priest's novel about warring magicians in the time of Tesla and Edison and reveals the lengths both men are willing to go to create the ultimate illusion. Abracadabra, indeed...
9. Planet of the Apes
A science fiction film that really dropped jaws when it was released in 1968. Charlton Heston lands on a strange planet in the distant future where apes rule and humans are oppressed. Sure, the recent trilogy was great, but check out the make-up here and sit tight for that damn dirty final twist.
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry directed Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, but Charlie Kaufman’s idiosyncratic screenplay gets all the praise. A complete, immensely entertaining, sad, funny and poignant realisation of that unfortunate, ever-persistent desire to erase a past love from memory… would still like to give it a try.
7. Children of Men
Alfonso Cuaron's best film (yeah, I saw Gravity) was met with critical acclaim on release but didn't set the world alight. It is now regarded as a prescient masterpiece that speaks more to the society we live in today than perhaps we might like. If only we paid attention.
6. Blade Runner
So, you want a movie set in a dystopian future? Ridley Scott's vision here is the gold standard. The opening cityscape shot was created using miniatures and it's amazing how well it holds up. Harrison Ford and Sean Young are electric in a world populated with replicants passing as humans... For answers, choose the Director's Cut.
Filmmaking and Andrei Tarkovsky were a match made in sci-fi heaven. Set on a space station orbiting the titular planet, this incredibly thoughtful meditation on the nature of human relationships is beyond deep. Viewer caution advised: choose the 1972 original, not the 2002 Clooney vehicle...
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
James Cameron's genre film still plays like gangbusters, never mind the dated special effects (which I still love!). It's a sci-fi movie that carefully balanced time travel, action, father-son/mother-son relationships and paid off with an awesome catharsis. Pity the franchise has proven to be a terminator unto itself ever since...
3. The Matrix
Arguably the most influential movie of the past twenty years. The Wachowski's philosophically deep, action-packed classic introduced the world to 'bullet time' and made the world say "whoa" in unison... thought-provoking and thrilling in equal measure.
The ultimate killing machine and a chest burst scene that'll repulse even the most desensitised viewers elevate Ridley Scott's space terror from slow-burn suspense drama to a heart-pounding, nail-shredding suspense fest of the highest calibre. In space, nobody can hear you scream... here on Earth, best give your neighbors fair warning.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrik's stunning masterpiece. Admittedly this one went way over my head as a child and even if the ending is still something of a headscratcher, the journey from the beginnings of mankind to the doom we're seemingly destined to realise is nothing short of mind-blowing. Hal demands that you watch...
Upcoming Sci-Fi Films
For future discussion, here are a few upcoming sci-fi films that may require your attention:
Ad Astra – James Gray directs Brad Pitt as he journeys to the outer edges of the solar system… to save the Earth.
Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker – JJ Abrams is back directing everyone’s favourite space opera…
Dune – Denis Villeneuve on directorial duties is reason enough to put this on your watchlist.
Gemini Man – Ang Lee and Will Smith finally team up in a David Benioff scripted clone hitman movie…
Terminator: Dark Fate – Tim Miller of Deadpool fame directs Linda Hamilton, Arnie AND Edward Furlong. Aww, a father/son, mother/son type reunion.
Niall Queenan is a screenwriter and content creator living in Dublin, Ireland.