Science fiction is an extremely malleable genre. You can literally mash it with any other type of film and still have a great movie on your hands. Over the decades, sci-fi has given us some of the best stories, creepiest moments and most hard-hitting sequences in film. From the beginning of the medium we’ve always had sci-fi films that have elevated the craft and in turn the quality of storytelling as well. In our list we’ll look at the 10 best science fiction films of all time. Read on to see if your favourite sci-fi film made it to the list.
Arguably the most influential film on the list, Blade Runner was a masterpiece of emotive storytelling in a dark, futuristic dystopian world. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film was a box office bomb but has found its fair share of fame when people were actually ready for a film like that. It was dark and slow and meditated on the flaws and idiosyncrasies of the human condition in the face of a Replicant rebellion. Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer both play off each other as beings on opposing sides of the law. The end sequence is one of the most poignant moments in the history of film. Check it out if you’re tired of big explosions and action and are in the mood for something more cerebral and thought-provoking.
2001: A Space Odyssey
What can be said about 2001: A Space Odyssey that hasn’t been said before? The film is a true masterpiece of cinema crafted by the prudent hands of Stanley Kubrick. From the opening shot, you’re drawn in a universe that morphs and changes through its very nature and cannonballs the viewer through a story that spans millennia. Again, this is a slow film that looks carefully at what we perceive as reality and proceeds to rip it away from our fragile human minds. A true masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey stands the test of time and is an engaging watch, even now.
The Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Also known as the greatest action movie of all time, The Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a science fiction film with attitude. Back when it first premiered in 1991, T2 (as it’s more commonly known) smashed all the box office records with its blend of visceral action coupled with more quiet, reflective human moments. The scene where Sarah Connors talks about how the Terminator was more of a father to John Conner was heart-breaking. Directed by the mercurial James Cameron, T2 is an all-out action sci-fi thriller that you cannot afford to miss.
Back To The Future
Back To The Future was one of the first few films that blended comedy with sci-fi and the result was an astounding success. Starring Michael J Fox in his breakout role, the film charted the life of Marty McFly as he and his best friend Dr. Emmett Brown travel to the past and are faced with a dilemma of a lifetime (literally). The film also popularised the DeLorean DMC 12 which essentially because a cultural phenomenon with people still paying top dollar for that car. Also, self-lacing sneakers anyone? We know we want a pair. Directed by the great Robert Zemeckis, the film crushed box office records and remains one of the most important films in the history of cinema.
One of the first films to truly meld science-fiction and bone chilling horror, Alien was a transformative experience. Right from the eerie first shot of the film, you’re transported to a hostile setting with an even more hostile antagonist in the titular Alien. Popularly known as the Xenomorph, the creature was designed by Swiss surrealist artist H.R Giger and has been etched into the collective nightmares of the human species. Directed by Ridley Scott (of Blade Runner fame), the film is an exercise in absolute terror. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do yourself a favour and check out this masterpiece.
One of the more gory films on the list, The Thing was a science fiction/horror game changer. The film bombed when it first came out but has since found its audience on the internet. The film is no hailed as a masterpiece of cinema with its insanely detailed practical effects and moody score. Directed by John Carpenter, this tale of a shape-shifting alien wreaking havoc on a small Antarctic research station still stands the test of time. Check it out if you’re a fan of horror films and cool practical effects.
Another sci-fi/horror film, The Fly was David Cronenberg’s piece de resistance. The film tells the story of an introverted genius who actually invents teleportation in the form of two separate pods. Things go south when he decides to start human trials on himself but ends up getting his DNA spliced with that of a common housefly. What follows is a body horror maelstrom with Jeff Goldblum giving the performance of his life as the affected prodigy as his body slowly deteriorates, giving birth to an absolute monstrosity. You cannot afford to miss this film, trust me, you won’t regret it.
You all remember Neo running up walls and blowing up everything in sight in this seminal 1999 sci-fi romp. The Matrix was truly a paradigm shift when it came to science fiction and film. The film was an exploration of human will and survival in the face of extinction as the war with the machines has taken its toll on humanity. Keanu Reeves plays the titular Neo as he escapes the clutches of the machines and unplugs himself from the program that is The Matrix. The film was an action-packed spectacle that also contained a deep philosophical core. If you haven’t seen The Matrix as yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out at least once.
The granddaddy of all sci-fi films, Metropolis is Fritz Lang’s gift to the world of cinema. A stunning piece of work for its time, the film not only changed the way films were looked at but also changed what could be shown on screen. From the fantastical to the absurd, Metropolis was a dark and grim look at the future. One of the earliest films on this list, the reason who Metropolis stands the test of time is because of its absolutely mind-bending set design and character work. Released in 1929, the film is a landmark achievement in the world of cinema.
A truly dark and disturbing look at Artificial Intelligence, Ex Machina is a warning to all who are looking to create and are working on the next level of AI. Starring Domhnall Gleeson and the amazing Oscar Isaacs, the films takes a deeper look at our fears and insecurities when faced with something that is completely artificial but is still gives off the feeling of being ‘human’. One of the darkest films on our list, Ex Machina is directed by Alex Garland who also wrote 28 Days Later and The Beach. The film also features some mesmerising special effects especially when it comes to the robotic lead. This movie is essentially science fiction for the thinking person. Check it out, right now!