There are many things I love about my dad, one of them being our shared love for sci-fi movies. I still might be a little scarred from the time he let me watch Alien with him (you know the scene), but it all led to me being a huge science fiction nerd. Thanks dad!
Here are seven of the many films that shaped my love for science fiction:
2001 Space Odyssey (1968)
I’m convinced that this film was actually made in the year 3000 and transported back through time for us mere mortals to view in 1968. Seriously though, the cinematography in 2001: A Space Odyssey is unmatched and continues to be way ahead of its time.
Terminator 2 (1991)
If you claim that the original Terminator is better than Terminator 2: Judgement Day, I will fight you. Because two words: SARAH CONNER.
Sure, Sarah was in the first one, but the way she transformed herself for this role was iconic! Sarah was one of the first strong, independent female characters that I’d ever seen on screen in an action movie. Usually, all of the women were busy being saved. Judgment Day showed me that I could be the one to do the saving.
One day in my 12th grade English class, my teacher queued up a film called Contact for us to watch. I never would have guessed the impact this film would have on my life. On the surface, Contact is a story about one woman’s search for alien life, but at its core, it is a story about connection, finding faith, and hanging on to love.
When you watch this film, you’ll notice that there are so many scenes of Jodie’s character just listening. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. These small moments are a testament to the quiet beauty of discovery and the fact that both the search for extraterrestrial life and God might be one and the same.
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is the reason you immediately associate that bright green code on a black screen with “the One”. Not only was the storytelling on point, but the action was mesmerizing. Like that stuff will literally have you in a TRANCE. When I finally found out how they shot the action scenes, my brain was never the same.
Red pill or blue pill, which would you choose?
I, Robot (2004)
I was thirteen years old and my dad was my hero for taking me with him to see my first ever PG-13 movie in the theatre. After we got our tickets and grabbed our snacks we entered the auditorium and chose our favorite seats, what I call the middle-middle (middle of the auditorium, and middle of the row).
Will Smith plays Del Spooner, a “techno-phobic” cop who investigates the murder of his mentor while Alan Tudyk plays the robot in question. The exchange between Sonny and Del in the interrogation room remains to be one of my favorite sci-fi scenes of all time. Would you believe a robot who claims he’s innocent? I wouldn’t.
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Revenge of the Sith was the first Star Wars movie that I ever saw from beginning to end. The scene on Mustafar between Obi-wan and Anakin made me ugly cry. I hadn’t seen the original trilogy or the two that came before Revenge of the Sith, and yet I cared deeply about this mentor and his student. I love that about George Lucas and how he puts the relationships between his characters first. The Star Wars saga is one of the main reasons I’m so in love with storytelling today.
Take Shelter (2011)
I can’t believe Take Shelter is already 10 years old. It’s timeless. One of my favorite directors, Jeff Nichols, takes us on a journey of a middle-aged father (played by Michael Shannon) as he grapples with the post-apocalyptic nightmares he’s been having. Is he delusional or a prophet?
Some might argue that this is more of a psychological thriller than anything else, but I think it has the best of both worlds.
Do you have any movies you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments!
Well done. Can’t believe I haven’t seen Take Shelter yet. Gonna see if my Daughter will watch it with me.
Fantastic list! I’ll add Altered States (1980) and Arrival (2016). It’s funny that Altered States is sometimes listed as a horror film! So many “Science Fiction” films, like Jurassic Park below, put all their ideas in the beginning, and then make me sit through a second hour of chase action. Altered States is one film and book that pursues compelling ideas from beginning to end. Meanwhile, Arrival might be the best “tone poem” this side of 2001. Putting any film in a sentence with 2001 is probably blasphemy, but you get the idea.
And while I’m at it, how about the first 1/2 of Jurassic Park (1993). I say the first half because the second half is just a chase film. Exciting & tense action if you like that sort of thing. But, like many films, all the ideas are in the first half. I love that Sam Neill’s character has spent his life piecing together tiny fragments of what long ago animals might have been like… then suddenly… after quick jet, helicopter, and jeep rides, he finds himself in the middle of a field filled with giant creatures he never dreamt he’d see. Inspiring music and glorious cinematography.