Scalzi: 9 Scifi Films You Should See That You (Probably) Haven't

J-Sun

Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
5,323
Article

Since I've seen and enjoyed the first three (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) and already wanted to see the fourth, it looks like an excellent list and I probably want to see all of them. Anybody seen any of these (especially the last six)?
 

Abernovo

Transcontinental intergalactic tea drinker
Supporter
Joined
Sep 13, 2011
Messages
3,439
Location
Offices on Earth, Haumea, and at Galactic Core.
I've seen The Iron Giant - a great film. It's an adaptation of a Ted Hughes book which I read in school. Watch the movie, buy the book.

Seen part of Solyaris (often just called Solaris), but had to go out when it was on and missed the end. :( What I saw of it though was really good.

Ghost in the Shell is one that a former colleague keeps on recommending to me. His taste is normally pretty solid, so it's on my list, when I get round to it.
 

Lenny

Press "X" to admire hat
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
3,958
Location
Manchester
I've seen the last three of the final six, as well as the remake of Solaris.

Primer is a good film, but it needs multiple viewings (ideally one after the other!). I've seen it a few times now, and I still don't understand it, possibly because my degree isn't in physics. Having said that, even the physicists I've shown it to don't understand all of it, and many of them do have degrees (Master's degrees, and PhDs) in physics. :p

I didn't think much of The Iron Giant. I'm not a fan of the book, either.

I'm in two minds with Ghost in the Shell. As it is, the film is very good, and some of the ideas are fantastic. However, the anime series (two seasons - Stand Alone Complex, and S.A.C. 2nd Gig), are far superior. If you're a fan of slow, philosophical musings in a futuristic setting, then the film (and its two sequels) will suit you just fine. The anime is a lot faster, and less philosophical, but shows off more SF elements (particularly the 'net, and a lot about cyborgs - a key part of both the anime and films).

As for Solaris, the remake was pretty naff. I've heard the original is much better.
 

iansales

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
3,447
Seen all of them except The Iron Giant. I wouldn't call Metropolis obscure, as it's the one silent film most people will have heard of. Solaris is superb; the remake is rubbish. And I've yet to meet anyone who has figured out the all the time loops in Primer...
 

Lenny

Press "X" to admire hat
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
3,958
Location
Manchester
I think Primer is one of those films (I say "one of those", yet it's the only one I can think of...) that you need to sit down to watch with a pen and paper, to plot out the various character arcs, to fully understand!

Doesn't make it any less of a good film, though - something cerebral is always nice every now and again.
 

Dave

Non Bio
Staff member
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
22,587
Location
Way on Down South, London Town
I have Primer on DVD (though I'm not sure it is as good as it is cracked up to be.)
I saw a longer version of Metropolis on TV (much is still lost) and while visually stunning for a black and white silent film, there are some very dull sequences.
Flash Gordon is excellent. I agree, that it is Star Wars, and it is also better in the weekly serial format, which was how my father saw it at the cinema in the 1940's.
I think I have seen Destination Moon, but too long ago.
The others are on my radar, but I haven't seen.

I don't think blockbusters can be dismissed just because they were popular. Science fiction doesn't always need $100 million to work but it doesn't hurt. That's like saying money can't buy you love, or that a rich man can't appreciate real beauty in art. I'm not sure that the financially successful films quoted were really the most artistically and culturally significant films either, but it is all individual taste.

His last question is a good one though.
I want you to pick the tenth. Put it in the comments. Make it one that you're pretty sure not everyone has seen, one that you think they should.
 

Ian Whates

Author and Editor
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
1,613
Ive seen four:

Metropolis: which I didn't really appreciate when I saw it but felt I ought to watch.

Solaris: which I thought was excellent.

Destination Moon: which I loved, but in a nostalgic, patting-on-the head sort of fashion.

The Iron Giant: not really for me, but I'm not that big on cartoons.
 

williamjm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
1,018
I thought Ghost in the Shell was very good, one of the better anime films I've seen. The sequel was pretty good as well.

The Iron Giant was a fun story. There might not be a huge amount of depth to it, but it was a very likeable children's film.

Primer was good and also a very original film. I really need to watch it again someday, probably more than once.
 

Metryq

Cave Painter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
935
I've seen most of the films on the list, but I do not understand the hub-bub about Primer. It is Yet Another Time Travel film that invokes paradoxes (rewriting history), which makes it total fantasy. Don't need a physics degree to figure that one out. I'll give it a couple points for some very convincing techno-babble to make the whole thing seem more "real." However, the cinema verite also made the film very difficult to watch. The characters talk too fast, and they constantly interrupt each other—when they're not simply talking over each other outright. (Turn on the captioning.)

Ghost in the Shell is "like" 2001 in that it examines next steps in human evolution. The film may have influenced The Matrix in many ways. (The text design of the titles, QRS plugs in the back of the neck, and the exploding melons in the market place are just a few examples.) The movie has been released in a "2.0" version, but I prefer the original animation work. The characters in the TV series (Stand Alone Complex) are much closer to their manga originals, while Oshii added his own touches for the movie. (Kusanagi is completely humorless, and Batou's pet is a basset hound, a trademark Oshii detail.)

I agree with the comments on Destination Moon, although the film holds up remarkably well. It has a "future perfect" flavor that I am hoping to find in Man Conquers Space—the way the future was.

Iron Giant is an excellent family film. Kudos to the filmmakers for showing the military as more than robots. Sometimes all it takes is one loose cannon to create all the trouble.

The problem with Metropolis is that every time you think you've finally seen the complete film, a newly restored, lost-footage-found edition is released.

I have yet to see either version of Solaris, as the book convinced me I really didn't want to.
 

J-Sun

Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
5,323
Good discussion - despite these being nominally obscure there's two or more pros or cons (most are mixed) for all the films except Alphaville, which was on my list and The Brother from Another Planet (which I've only heard of).

His last question is a good one though.

Agreed - I've just got a bad notion of what everyone's seen. I mean, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, and the original The Day the Earth Stood Still are as old as Destination Moon and are all very good but I'd figure those are "you probably have seen" movies. While not being big commercial successes, different things like Serenity or The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai have their own sort of fame and cult following. About all I can think of is this sort of indie film that presents as mostly weird and minimally SF called The Big Empty. I'm not sure what I really think of it but I enjoyed the heck out of one viewing and will watch it again.

But, if you haven't seen any of them, I recommend all of them.
 

clovis-man

Prehistoric Irish Cynic
Joined
Sep 28, 2007
Messages
2,415
The Flash Gordon entry is the first of three serials featuring Buster Crabbe as "the blonde giant". Still entertaining after all these years.

See the dedicated web site: http://flashgordon.ws/
 

hopewrites

Crochet Streamer
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
3,487
Location
Earth
I watched Iron Giant for the same reason I watched 2001 SO, so that I would get all the references made to it in other things I was enjoying. I think I might have enjoyed it more if i hadnt been spoilered into watching it.
 

iansales

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
3,447
Alphaville is a bit meh. It's completely unconvincing as sf - it's filmed in contemporary Paris - and feels more like a surreal noir film than sf. Brother from Another Planet is interesting and mildly amusing. Joe Morton is good in the title role. But Sayles has made much better films.
 

Daisy-Boo

Purr-fectly crazy
Joined
Sep 21, 2009
Messages
595
Location
Cape Town
The Brother from Another Planet
I saw this one years ago and I remember I enjoyed it, though I don't remember the details. I'd like to re-watch this movie.

The Iron Giant
A sweet, thoughtful film
 

Abernovo

Transcontinental intergalactic tea drinker
Supporter
Joined
Sep 13, 2011
Messages
3,439
Location
Offices on Earth, Haumea, and at Galactic Core.
I have yet to see either version of Solaris, as the book convinced me I really didn't want to.

Metryq, the English version of the book is widely regarded as a terrible translation. It isn't from the original Polish, but instead is translated from the French edition.

Stanislaw Lem, the author, was supposedly very unhappy with it, but as he'd sold his rights to his publisher's there was nothing he could do.

It's up to you if you want to see the movie. My only recommendation would be not to base the decision solely on a poor translation.
 

Metryq

Cave Painter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
935
Thanks, Abernovo. I'll track down the first movie and see if it lights up any of my circuits.
 

steve12553

The Enigma of Steel
Joined
Feb 5, 2006
Messages
1,292
Location
Moved my books to the deep south. I have a loft/li
I've seen 5 of the films and yes they were interesting and clever. I saw all of the Flash Gordon serials as a kid. I was two young to see them in theaters but they used to show them quite early on Sunday mornings on one of our local channels.I've now got a line on Solyaris, The Iron Giant, and Ghost in the Shell. (Netflix and Amazon Prime) but Primer I may have to put up some more than usual cash for a DVD I'm not sure of if I want to see it. It it appears to have gone out of print in the last couple of years and is starting to cost collectable prices. The article says for the reader to add the tenth and some of the posters below had some good choices. There was mention of the Quiet Earth, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Repo Man, and A Boy and his Dog. I have those four in my collection and agree that they also fit into this category. Different, clever, well made, and with a solid Science Fiction concept behind them.
 

Metryq

Cave Painter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
935
Steve, check your local library for movies before buying something you may not like. That's where I found Primer. The libraries in my state are also unified under a single computer database (Web accessible), so I can request materials from anywhere. It is rare that I cannot find something. Lots of Blu-rays coming in lately, too.

I wouldn't put Repo Man in the "must see" column, but it's a wacky diversion. "Repo man spends his time getting into tough situations." I haven't see the other three you mentioned... time to hit the library, I guess.
 

Similar threads


Top