What makes a sci-fi flick?

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If you do a search by genre on IMDb and list sci-fi...
It pulls all these movies to me that AREN'T sci-fi.

LIKE POKeMON, & Rollerball
to me these movies AREN't sci-fi.

Now I know the text book Definition, but what I want to know is what makes a movie sci-fi to you? What are your favs and God help us, what are the ones you hate.

This thread is totally self serving as I have an idia for a website, so consider your answers here research.


My fav would have to now be SIGNS & Donnie Darko
and least fav... Probably the 6th Day, or... Judge Dredd....
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I could have sworn we did one of these threads already, but alas, I can't find one, so I guess not. My picks for best Sci-Fi flicks ever....

1. BladeRunner (1982 - Ridley Scott)
"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die...."

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968 - Stanley Kubrick)
"I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal."

3. A Boy & His Dog (1975 - L.Q. Jones)
"Lack of respect, failure to obey authority. The Farm, immediately."

4. Solaris (1972 - Andrei Tarkovsky)
"Science? Nonsense. In this situation, mediocrity and genius are equally helpless. We don't want to conquer space at all, we want to expand Earth endlessly."

5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 - Don Siegel)
"I never knew fear until that moment I kissed Becky."

6. 12 Monkeys (1995 - Terry Gilliam)
"Wiping out the human race? That's a great idea, that's great. But more of a long-term thing. I mean first, we have to focus on more immediate goals."

7. Alien (1979 - Ridley Scott)
"I admire its purity, its sense of survival, unclouded by conscience, remorse or delusions of morality."

8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977 - Steven Spielberg)
"I just want to know that it's really happening"

9. The War of the Worlds (1953 - Byron Haskin)
"If they're mortal, they have mortal weaknesses. They'll be stopped, somehow."

10. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951 - Robert Wise)
"I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it."

11. The Thing (1982 - John Carpenter)
"I know you men have been through a lot, but if it's all the same to you I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FU*KING COUCH!"

12. Akira (1988 - Katshuhiro Otomo)
"Amoebas don't make motorcycles and atomic bombs."

13. The Hidden (1987 - Jack Sholder)
"I guess a career in the Police didn't really prepare you for this, did it?"

14. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 - Philip Kaufman)
"Well why not a space flower? Why do we always expect them to come in metal ships?"

15. The Terminator (1984 - James Cameron)
"You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her, that's what he does, that's all he does! You can't stop him! He'll wait for her, reach down her throat, and pull her fu*king heart out!"


As for what "makes" Science Fiction, that's really up to each person to interpret. Some don't consider Star Wars, Superman, Brazil or A Clockwork Orange Sci-Fi, others do. I guess like good art or pornography, you know it when you see it.

As for Science Fiction that is truly dreadful, that's a more painful list, and one I feel no need to devote a lot of time and effort to. But as always, I nominate Highlander 2: The Quickening as maybe the worst ever. I'd certainly rank it as the worst sequel ever, one of the worst mainstream Sci-Fi pics too, and its just generally awful in every way. Tons of others, including recent entries such as Battlefield Earth, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes re-make, Supernova, Red Planet, The Astronaut's Wife....unfortunately, a never-ending list.


How about a sub-category: comedy Science-Fiction? The best for me...

1. Ghostbusters (1984 - Ivan Reitman)
"Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an ulicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."

2. Men in Black (1997 - Barry Sonnenfeld)
"We're not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here."

3. Back to the Future (1985 - Robert Zemeckis)
"The way I see it, if you're going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?"

4. Galaxy Quest (1999 - Dean Parisot)
"I'm not even supposed to be here. I'm 'crewmember #6', I'm expendable! I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is! I've gotta get outta here!"

5. What Planet Are you From? (2000 - Mike Nichols)
"I hear they perform those anal probes. How primitive is that technology? 'Hello, we've come six-trillion miles to study your ass! We're proctologists from space.'"
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Originally posted by Holden Pike


4. Solaris (1972 - Andrei Tarkovsky)
"Science? Nonsense. In this situation, mediocrity and genius are equally helpless. We don't want to conquer space at all, we want to expand Earth endlessly."
First, I'd like to say off the bat that I do like Solaris, but just not nearly as much as Tarkovsky Stalker and The Sacrifice. I know that Tarkovsky dilbrately paced the film but I found that pace to be in some scenes to slow and get a bit dull. Take for example his wife or well you know what I mean. The scenes with her in them seem to be over done some of the time. It seemed like Tarkovsky was waiting for something that doesn't happen. Holden I'd love to know what you dig so much about this film.



I love Solaris. I know with its pace and thick subtext, much like 2001 in that regard, is not going to be everybody's cup of tea. I find the movie is dense without being ponderous, and thematically I connect with the emotional undercurrent and examination of self and love going on at that remote outpost. All in all, it's an excellent adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's introspective novel. I'm very anxious to see what Steven Soderbergh is going to do with the material now. The Solaris effects were very good for their day (1973), especially given that it was made in Soviet Russia, but Soderbergh's mastery of emotional character motivations coupled with his technical sure-handedness should make for another terrific movie.

I liked Stalker, though I've only seen it a couple times and not in four or five years now. For me while it is a bit more unique narrative-wise (though with the same kind of deliberate pacing will drive most to hit the eject button), I just didn't connect with it the same way I do with Solaris.


What are some of your favorites in the genre (however you define it), L.B.?



Here's A Bunch In No Particular Order

DARK CITY (ALEX PROYAS) 1998

PI (DARREN ARONOFSKY) 1998

THE GHOST IN THE SHELL (MAMORU OSHII) 1995

THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (JEAN-POERRE JEUNET & MARC CARO) 1995

THE ABYSS (JAMES CAMERON 1989)

ROBOCOP (PAUL VERHOEVEN 1987)

BRAZIL (TERRY GILLAIM 1985)

LE DERNIER COMBAT (LUC BESSON 1983)

BLADE RUNNNER (RIDLEY SCOTT 1982)

JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (JOHN CARPENTER 1982)

SCANNERS (DAVID CRONENBERG 1981)

STALKER (ANDREI TARKOVSKY 1979)

ALIEN (RIDLEY SCOTT 1979)

COMA MICHAEL CRICHTON (1978)

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (PHILIP KAUFMAN 1978)

THE ANDERSON TAPES (SIDNEY LUMET 1971)

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (STANLEY KUBRICK 1971 )

SECONDS (JOHN FRANKENHEIMER 1966)

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (STANLEY KUBRICK 1968)

LA JETEE (CHRIS MARKER 1962)

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (DON SIEGEL 1956)

ZARDOZ (JOHN BOORMAN 1974)

THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (ROBERT WISE 1971)



Registered User
Science Fiction is just that, fictional science. It's not a new world, its our world stretched beyond our current understanding.

Star Trek is science fiction.

Star Wars is fantasy.

I think the problem you have is that many people categorize Sci-Fi and fantasy together, and they shouldn't. These are two different genres.

Highlander is fantasy, alien is sci-fi
Pokemon is fantasy, transformers is sci-fi
The Time Machine is sci-fi, Jurassic Park is sci-fi, Reign of Fire is sci-fi, Jurassic Park is sci-fi.

All of these movies have amazing things, the difference is how they explain it. Do they explain it with science? Or are you just supposed to accept the reality of the universe they show you?

What do you think Minority Report will be classified under? Action/Adventure or Sci-Fi? Rollerball... that one looked like Action to me.
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For me, Star Wars fits into sci-fi, because it is futuristic. No, it is not set in the future, rather the past, but they have futuristic technology and science, and that is enough for me. Some people even go so far as to say that a movie is not sci-fi unless there is some kind of battle between humanity and technology. Blah.

5. Men in Black
4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
3. Star Wars
2. The Empire Strikes Back
1. The Terminator
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Now With Moveable Parts
I agree. Star Wars is Science Fiction. The books that followed are in the Science Fiction section at the book store; not Fantasy.
Fantasy Movies are more like:
Willow
Legend
LOTR:FOTR
Neverending Story
Wizard of Oz
*things of this nature. I would also put Reign of Fire in the Fantasy genre, aspen, as it does have dragons in it and dragons are typically fantasy; think: Dragonslayer and Dragonheart, both Fantasy.

Anyways,
my favorite Science Fiction movies would be:

-The Star Wars series.

-Total Recall

-Men in Black

-The Ghost in the Shell

-Blade Runner

-Mad Max (all of them)

-Alien

-Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the one with Southerland)

-The Matrix

-12 Monkeys

-A.I.

-Back to the Future

-Dune

-Enemy Mine

-The Time Machine (the old one)

-Predator

-Jurassic Park

The major distinction between fantasy and science fiction is, simply, that science fiction uses one, or a very, very few new postulates, and develops the rigidly consistent logical consequences of these limited postulates. Fantasy makes its rules as it goes along...The basic nature of fantasy is "The only rule is, make up a new rule any time you need one!" The basic rule of science fiction is "Set up a basic proposition--then develop its consistent, logical consequences."
translation: Sci-Fi tries to present a logical turn of events based on very few imaginitive differences in our world, Fantasy just goes all nutty in any which way the writer wants. No logical rules apply.



Damn good choices, Sadie. I still haven't seen 12 Monkeys. I know. Shame, SHAME!



The Adventure Starts Here!
The writers I know all seem to agree that sci-fi has to have just that: elements of science (technology, etc.) in it. It can be in this universe, some alternate universe -- that's secondary to the outrageous use of science, obviously science and technology that don't exist in our world, or that are hyped up beyond what we know in our present-day world.

Fantasy doesn't usually have the heavy doses of science and technology. It's more about the alternate reality. Fantasy would also include such things as many fairy tales and folk tales of centuries past.

That's the writer's perspective, anyway.

Linda



Some favorites...
  • The Puppet Masters
  • Titan A.E.
  • Back to the Future
  • X-Men
  • Alien
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • All the Star Wars flicks
  • Total Recall
Best of the best...
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Matrix
  • Terminator 2
My favorite of all time? I can't say. The last two are too difficult to choose from.



Now With Moveable Parts
Originally posted by firegod
Damn good choices, Sadie. I still haven't seen 12 Monkeys. I know. Shame, SHAME!
What's stopping you? It's a Friday night, plenty of time to go get it and enjoy!



i think aliens make a sci fi flick
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Now With Moveable Parts
Yes. Just aliens. That sums it up.



Don't forget the robots.

Lots and lots of robots.

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Don't forget the robots.



Registered User
what makes a movie sci-fi to you?

Having a narrative that substantively depends on counterfactual

technologies which are unavailable to us because they are impossible, implausible, or (at present) impracticable.



Lots of details as mentioned here.

But I think the most important ingredient is a metaphor or allegory that corresponds to issues in our own historical or current reality, but told in a setting outside, beyond or in the future of reality. That seems to be the most common ingredient for sci-fi.



I'd define sci-fi as featuring real and believeable human characters, but a new technology changes conditions of living in some way.


I think Star Wars is a different kind of sci-fi than Matrix or Terminator. The latter movies try to make some sort of statement about our society or human nature. Star Wars is moreso pure escapism; it's a sci-fi themed fantasy.



Science Fiction?

It's stuff (plot elements, that is) that are fictional go beyond conventional reality as it is today or when it was written, and don't have spooks, monsters with religious origin (e.g., vampires) or angels.

That includes creatures, inventions, anything off the earth that's not from NASA or another nation's space project.

Frankenstein is sci-fi, Dracula is not. Old stuff can be sci-fi if it wasn't real when the story was written.