Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Review: "25 best sci-fi movies and TV" (3/5 stars)

This is the first review that I'm reviewing.

Sci-fi central lists what they consider the 25 best sci-fi movies and tv in the last 25 years.

It's an ok list. To make it easy to read, I've condensed it down to this text:

25. V (1983)
24. Galaxy Quest (1999)
23. "Doctor Who original"/"new Doctor Who" (1963-Present)
22. "Quantum Leap" (1989-1993)
21. "Futurama" (1999-2003)
20. "Star Wars: Clone Wars" (2003-2005)
19. Starship Troopers (1997)
18. "Heroes" (2006-Present)
17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
16. Total Recall (1990)
15. "Firefly"/
Serenity (2002/2005)
Children of Men (2006)
The Terminator / Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1984 /1991)
Back to the Future (1985)
11. "Lost" (2004-Present)
The Thing (1982)
Aliens (1986)
8. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Brazil (1985)
5. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
4. "The X Files" (1993-2002)
Blade Runner (1982)
2. "Battlestar Galactica" (2003-Present)
The Matrix (1999)

I think they got it right with The Matrix at the top, and the new "Battlestar Galactica" at #2. Both very much the best. That's why I ended up with a 3 star rating on this review.

I find that I have strong reactions to this list. While it is OK, there are some significant lame inclusions. Items on the list I disagree with:


"Doctor Who" is only popular because there are millions of people in the UK who grew up with it and accept its many flaws, primarily in the lack of budget and production value. In the end, even the newest stuff is pretty silly. The reviewer at sci-fi central said, "special effects and budget don't matter" - sorry, I don't agree.

"Quantum Leap" was the opposite of subtle and is like killing insects with a sledge hammer. Remember when killing insects with a sledge hammer - it usually doesn't work very well and misses the mark almost all the time.

"Futurama" just has such stupid characters that I could never get into it. While I appreciate that stupidity still exists in the future, I can't believe that anyone is as stupid as Frye. This is the opposite of intelligent humour.

"Starship Troopers" is a poor representation of a fantastic book. It just wasn't good enough.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - was more about the druggie technicians partying at the victim/customer's house all night as they erase memories. I couldn't imagine such an important technology falling into the hands of such witless people. Completely unbelievable and silly.

"Total Recall" while mostly good, can't get away from the Hollywood cliche of the couple kissing at the end, even after they just got SHOT OUT INTO HARD VACUUM AND HAD THEIR EYES BOIL AWAY! Too damn stupid to make this list.

"Children of Men" The story lets down what was an awesome premise and set of actors. I also loved the directing and sets, backdrop etc... but the movie was boring. I don't get its inclusion here.

Why exclude "Star Trek The Next Generation"? Star Trek represents the worst of what is wrong with sci-fi on TV. Its anti-imagination theme is what you get when you have a committee deciding on all the major directions and taking no chances. There was no continuity from episode to episode and what worked in one was deliberately ignored in the next. I don't know why - probably because it's easier to write. I want it hard to write and still done well.

"Brazil" was just weird. There is a scene where the renegade plummer is caught up in flying paper (bureaucratic red-tape?) and eventually just disappears when the paper blows away. I don't get how that's sci-fi. I guess it's set in the future, but so was Immortel (ad vitam) but the doesn't make it science fiction.

Of course, I've removed 9 items from the list and have to put something in their place. How about:

1 "Samurai Jack"
2 "Babylon 5" (you have to forgive the first season, which is hard to watch)
The Incredibles
Twelve Monkeys
5 "Stargate SG-1"
6. "Earth 2" (lasted less than 1 season - don't know why)
7. Jurassic Park
8 Contact
9 Treasure Planet (based on Treasure Island - animated film)

All of these are better than the ones I would like to remove and all fit within the last 25 years. NOTE: since I used imdb as a source, like them, all TV shows are in quotes and all movies aren't.


Violet said...

I wouldn't have considered Eternal Sunshine a sci-fi movie, but really liked it. I was fascinated by the idea of what constitutes an "unwanted" memory, and whether you'd want to entirely forget a relationship just because it went a bit sour at the end.

I also wouldn't have included Lost in the list because it's so meander-y.

And yeah, the ending to Total Recall was nothing but pure, unbelievable cheese.

But I do agree with Twelve Monkeys being there though.

Determinist said...

Eternal Sunshine has the memory erasing machine, which qualifies it as sci-fi. I thought that the bit about the two main characters was good, but didn't like any of the "staff" who were working on erasing memories - I thought that it was dumb.

Lost, Heroes, Quantum Leap and Brazil all fall into the same category - Fantasy. They aren't technically sci-fi. Lost COULD still be, it depends on the ending. I debated going into "What is science fiction?", but decided to leave that until later.

Determinist said...

I can't believe I kept "Heroes" on that list - maybe I just didn't have anything to replace it with at the time.

However,there are better tv-shows. Stargate XYZ is better than Heroes.

Since this posting, they've added "Stargate Universe" to TV, however, it won't have a 3rd season - it's been cancelled after season 02, which is a complete shame.