How do you see the state of SF on TV and in Movies?

Blu Eye

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I've seen The 6th Day and it wasn't really anything special. Mostly I watched it because Robert Duvall was a supporting cast member. It wasn't terrible, but I haven't thought about it in years and I doubt that I've ever seen is since a theatrical viewing. So, not exactly a stunning endorsement. :)

I have Elysium and Surrogates on Blu-Ray, when they were really inexpensive during some Amazon gold box or other promotion, but I have yet to watch either of them. Of the two, I suspect that Elysium is the best of the three based on the cast and premise.

- Walter.
Didn't know Robert Duvall was in it.

A brilliant actor and I am a big fan.

Have you seen The Stars Fell on Henrietta (not a Sci-Fi)?

He's fantastic in that. I saw it on TV late at night by accident and was completely engrossed. Never heard of the film before that point.

It's great when you stumble accidentally on TV to watch a great movie that you never heard of. Not done it many times but it's a pleasure when it happens.

The film was not liked by critics I don't think for some reason but I personally think it is an underrrated film.

 

Walter Kittel

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Didn't know Robert Duvall was in it.

A brilliant actor and I am a big fan.

Have you seen The Stars Fell on Henrietta (not a Sci-Fi)?

He's fantastic in that. I saw it on TV late at night by accident and was completely engrossed. Never heard of the film before that point.

It's great when you stumble accidentally on TV to watch a great movie that you never heard of. Not done it many times but it's a pleasure when it happens.

The film was not liked by critics I don't think for some reason but I personally think it is an underrrated film.
I've heard of the film. It does have a distinctive title, but I've never seen it. Duvall is pretty awesome. I don't think I've ever seen him turn in a bad performance.

- Walter.
 

DaveF

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Farscape is still one of my favorites.
Never got to watch Farscape. Was a cable show and was young and couldn’t afford cable. Now, it’s blu I think. But it’s hard to go back 20+ years for sci-fi. Especially if you’re seeing new vs watching an old favorite with nostalgia.
 

BobO'Link

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Here’s a solid, but lesser known, sci-fi movie. The PKD short it’s based on is also decent.


The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
The affair between a politician and a contemporary dancer is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1385826/
That's a good one. But I have an affinity for movies based on stories from PKD. The only thing I know of I've not yet seen is the Amazon series "Electric Dreams." It's on my watch list but I've not yet made time for it.
 

DaveF

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That's a good one. But I have an affinity for movies based on stories from PKD. The only thing I know of I've not yet seen is the Amazon series "Electric Dreams." It's on my watch list but I've not yet made time for it.
I enjoyed Electric Dreams. It's not great, but it's not terrible. And there were one or two I found affecting. Unfortunately, it didn't do well enough to get a second season it appears.

And I'm finding that I like this new wave of anthology series (Electric Dreams. Black Mirror. Love Death Robots.)
 

BobO'Link

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Never got to watch Farscape. Was a cable show and was young and couldn’t afford cable. Now, it’s blu I think. But it’s hard to go back 20+ years for sci-fi. Especially if you’re seeing new vs watching an old favorite with nostalgia.
It's a surprisingly good series. When I first saw it I had trouble getting past the Henson puppets (those things always take me out of something) but the characterizations were good and that helped tremendously. It's currently available on Amazon Prime streaming free for Prime members. I'm still annoyed at the way it was handled and cancelled with a half-baked mini-series offered up for the last season as a "sorry - we screwed up" to the fans. It's mostly satisfying but, like all such things, runs too fast and is forced to leave out lots of material (looking at you, Serenity).

My son's not a huge SF fan - he surprised me by liking both Farscape and Firefly.
 

Reggie W

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I just started watching an old TV series from 1977 called The Fantastic Journey. I assume I would have watched it as a boy but nothing in it so far has sparked any memories. I'm three episodes in and it seems like after the first episode they had a change of heart and immediately dropped what seemed to be the main character and bring in Roddy McDowall and a female character to replace him.

The gist of it is the people that disappear in the Bermuda Triangle end up on an island that exists in another dimension seemingly outside the bounds of time that also exists (in separate sections) in many different times at once.

Anybody recall this one? It has sort of a Star Trek feel which kind of makes sense as some people involved in the original Star Trek series were involved in making this including D.C. Fontana.
 

BobO'Link

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I became aware of The Fantastic Journey sometime in the summer of 2019. I really don't recall where (possibly a Star Trek thread after Fontana passed) - just that it was discussed and, having never heard of it, looked it up. I found episodes on youtube and started watching them. It's interesting, though nothing truly "special," and similar in scripting/pacing to many other SF/Fantasy series of that era. I don't know that I'd call it "Star Trek" in feeling - it's more like Logan's Run with a time travel aspect and fantasy elements.

A few months back I discovered a region free Australian release of the series and have that in my wish lists at Amazon and Deepdiscount. It's fairly inexpensive (typically in the $25-$30 range) - I'm just waiting for the "right" time.
 

Thomas Newton

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There was the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Slaver Weapon", written by Larry Niven, and based on one of his Known Universe stories.

It had Kzinti, Slaver stasis boxes, and a "soft" weapon that the Kzinti were very eager to possess ("If the Kzinti had that, the whole galaxy would be their dinner table!").
 

Jack Briggs

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I have only read the first couple of pages of this thread (so far), but I would like to add to it based on my long experience with science fiction -- literary SF, that is. I have attended three Worldcons and numbers of regional SF cons and have met many of the genre's most celebrated authors (Heinlein, Asimov, Silverberg, Sturgeon, Niven, Simak, and on and on).

My standards for what constitutes a genuine SF film tend to be tough (or anal, according to my critics). However, I might have missed some more recent films (due to extenuating circumstances), so please forgive that.

All that aside, here is my list of the ten best SF films (though some originated on television shows):

10. Metropolis: Fritz Lang's classic must be on this list for it established the genre in film in the first place.

9. Phase IV: Almost unheard of today, this 1975 look at humanity's relationship with suddenly intelligent ants fits all the criteria for genuine SF -- and it's a gripping little film to boot.

8. "Demon With a Glass Hand" (from The Outer Limits, second season, ABC): Harlan Ellison scripted what has to be just about the finest episode of televised science fiction ever presented. Marvelous storytelling, and an example that a good story alone should suffice.

7. Solaris: A slip of the mind prevents me from remembering the Soviet director's name (I need that Geritol, everyone!), but this fantastic tale of reality and personal fantasy colliding around a planet orbiting another star is unforgettable.

6. Gattaca: Now, here's a doozy -- I do not even care for this film, but it fits all the established criteria for genuine SF. As a result, I respect the film more than I like it.

5. The Day the Earth Stood Still: Of course, we are talking about the 1951 original here. Michael Rennie as Klaatu and Robert Wise as director make for a gripping Cold War drama about interplanetary objections to a warlike humanity cascading into space.

4. Zardoz: John Boorman's 1974 presentation of a brutally murderous humanity contrasted with a decadent immortal commune thanks to a genetically mutated warrior can lay claim, as a result, to being one of filmed SF's finest achievements.

3. Forbidden Planet: Until a certain director released his own film in 1968, this extraordinary tale of interstellar intrigue could lay claim to being the greatest SF film of all time. There's nothing else quite like it.

2. Blade Runner: Ridley Scott finally hit it out of the park with this stunningly well-realized "near" future in which biological androids attempt to establish their humanity alongside actual humans. A beautiful film.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece is the very summation of science fiction on film, an extraordinary work of images, music, and spare dialogue that tells the story of human evolution being helped along by an extraterrestrial intelligence. No other SF film comes as close to literary SF as this one. Other filmmakers attest to 2001's brilliance and influence. The greatest.

That's it. Now I will read the rest of the thread and see if this post is out of bounds. Thank you.
 
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BobO'Link

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I have only read the first couple of pages of this thread (so far), but I would like to add to it based on my long experience with science fiction -- literary SF, that is. I have attended three Worldcons and numbers of regional SF cons and have met many of the genre's most celebrated authors (Heinlein, Asimov, Silverberg, Sturgeon, Niven, Simak, and on and on).

My standards for what constitutes a genuine SF film tend to be tough (or anal, according to my critics). However, I might have missed some more recent films (due to extenuating circumstances), so please forgive that.

All that aside, here is my list of the ten best SF films (though some originated on television shows):

10. Metropolis: Fritz Lang's classic must be on this list for it established the genre in film in the first place.

9. Phase IV: Almost unheard of today, this 1975 look at humanity's relationship with suddenly intelligent ants fits all the criteria for genuine SF -- and it's a gripping little film to boot.

8. "Demon With a Glass Hand" (from The Outer Limits, second season, ABC): Harlan Ellison scripted what has to be just about the finest episode of televised science fiction ever presented. Marvelous storytelling, and an example that a good story alone should suffice.

7. Solaris: A slip of the mind prevents me from remembering the Soviet director's name (I need that Geritol, everyone!), but this fantastic tale of reality and personal fantasy colliding around a planet orbiting another star is unforgettable.

6. Gattaca: Now, here's a doozy -- I do not even care for this film, but it fits all the established criteria for genuine SF. As a result, I respect the film more than I like it.

5. The Day the Earth Stood Still: Of course, we are talking about the 1951 original here. Michael Rennie as Klaatu and Robert Wise as director make for a gripping Cold War drama about interplanetary objections to a warlike humanity cascading into space.

4. Zardoz: John Boorman's 1974 presentation of a brutally murderous humanity contrasted with a decadent immortal commune thanks to a genetically mutated warrior can lay claim, as a result, to being one of filmed SF's finest achievements.

3. Forbidden Planet: Until a certain director released his own film in 1968, this extraordinary tale of interstellar intrigue could lay claim to being the greatest SF film of all time. There's nothing else quite like it.

2. Blade Runner: Ridley Scott finally hit it out of the park with this stunningly well-realized "near" future in which biological androids attempt to establish their humanity alongside actual humans. A beautiful film.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece is the very summation of science fiction on film, an extraordinary work of images, music, and spare dialogue that tells the story of human evolution being helped along by an extraterrestrial intelligence. No other SF film comes as close to literary SF as this one. Other filmmakers attest to 2001's brilliance and influence. The greatest.

That's it. Now I will read the rest of the thread and see if this post is out of bounds. Thank you.
That's an excellent list, Jack, with several I totally forgot about.

I discovered Phase IV with the "recent" disc release and really enjoyed it. I also, unlike you, like Gattaca - it's very underrated. I've only seen Zardoz once but do own a copy so it'll be watched again at some point. I recall it being "weird" but enjoyable.

And that's Stanisiaw Lem who wrote the novel Solaris with Andrei Tarkovsky directing that Russian production.
 

Jack Briggs

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Oh, and Bob: Are you aware of HTF's role in getting Zardoz onto DVD in first place? An interesting story that I (proudly) took part in, along with another HTF member now deceased. I do not have links for you, but look into the forum's past for the full story (you might look at a thread that was started in reaction to a limited-edition Blu-ray disc of Zardoz from a few years ago. I told the whole story in it).
 

Walter Kittel

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Solid list, Jack. You know I love me some Zardoz :)

While not a top ten list, here are some other entries of (mostly) more recent vintage that are worthy entries in the annals of SF filmmaking to augment your list.

Arrival - Terrific film based on Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life. Directed by Denis Villeneuve who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite directors. (Really looking forward to his treatment of Frank Herbert's Dune.)

Brazil - For me, one of the better dystopian SF films. Production design, and the quirks that Gilliam's direction bring to the film, make it a longtime favorite for me.

Children of Men - Another really strong dystopian film that features a strong humanistic message, excellent acting from all involved and very immersive cinematography.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- Strange, quirky film that deals with the concept of memory in a very involving manner.

Ex Machina - Maybe the most SF film in this list. Really a tight, focused story that feels like something that I could have read in any collection of Years's Best SF (edited by Gardner Dozois).

Inception - First of two Christopher Nolan films in this list. Conceptually strong, excellent production values and a large ensemble cast that all deliver strong performances. Really well staged action sequences in this film. Folks joked that this was Nolan's audition tape for the James Bond franchise, and based on this film he would excel in that series were it to happen.

Interstellar - More SF than Inception, this film explores the effects of time dilation and is excellent in nearly every way. As Nolan's filmography has expanded the concept of time has become more of a central facet to his narratives and that is expressed as strongly in this film as any in his catalog. Terrific film that always engages me.

Moon - A real sleeper that works as a one person act. Sam Rockwell is excellent in this feature. Another story that feels like it could have been a written SF work that one might encounter in a Hugo or Nebula award collection.

Snowpiercer - With Boon Jong-Ho's Parasite doing so well at the Academy Awards this year, this earlier effort might get more viewings. Strong production design, and an excellent cast in this SF tale that deals with class and economic inequality.

WALL-E - One of my favorite animated films of the past twenty years. Typically strong Pixar production dealing with a lone robot. (The protagonist of this film is almost as lonely as Trent in Demon WIth A Glass Hand. Almost.)

- Walter.
 

Jack Briggs

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As usual, Walter, you've posted another good 'un. I have not seen Interstellar, but as soon as my arrangements in life are settled, I certainly look forward to it. Ex Machina also is on that list. (So, I take it that my post still fits in this thread. But I am still reading the rest of it.)
 

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Regarding Christopher Nolan, there’s one film in his catalog that’s not marketed as sci-fi, but it has a twist ending of sorts that reveals that it is. I love how he pulled it off. Of course, now I can’t mention the film without spoiling it.

The Prestige
 

Neil Middlemiss

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Regarding Christopher Nolan, there’s one film in his catalog that’s not marketed as sci-fi, but it has a twist ending of sorts that reveals that it is. I love how he pulled it off. Of course, now I can’t mention the film without spoiling it.

The Prestige
I LOVE that movie!
 
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