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The American Film Institute defines “science fiction” as a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation. By that definition, Al Gore’s claim that he invented the internet would be eligible for this list.

AFI Top 10 Top 10

AFI's Top 10 Sci Fi Films

2001: A Space Odyssey

1. 2001 – A Space Odyssey

Many consider this semi-experimental film Kubrick’s masterpiece. Personally, while I can see how ground breaking and influential this movie is, it bores the hell out of the Moose. AFI has previously recognized this as #22 on its 100 Years…100 Movies list as #40 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills, #13 on its 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains, #78 on its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, #47 on its 100 Years…100 Cheers and #15 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.

Star Wars

2. Star Wars

One of the most popular movies of all time, how could his movie not be on this list? I was pleasantly surprised that AFI did not have this movie as number one because the Moose doesn’t think this movie is particularly good. Most people think otherwise as a multi-billion dollar franchise shows. AFI has previously recognized this dreck as #15 on its 100 Years…100 Movies list, #27 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills, #14 on its 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains, #8 on its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, #1 on its 100 Years…100 Years of Film Scores, #39 on its 100 Years…100 Cheers and #13 on its 100 Years…100 Moives – 10th Anniversary Edition.

E.T.

3. E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial

One of the highest grossing movies of all time, E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial captured people’s imagination in the 1980’s. It’s one of the few Spielberg movies that is watchable and has more depth than Jean-Claude Van Damme. Proof that even a talented, but soulless hack can do it right now and then. AFI has previously recognized this as #25 on its 100 Years…100 Movies, #44 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills, #15 on its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, #14 on its 100 Years of Film Scores, #6 on its 100 Years…100 Cheers and #24 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.

A Clockwork Orange

4. A Clockwork Orange

One of Kubrick’s real masterpieces, this movie threatens you with its anarchic violence that is shocking even today. Its vision of a liberal government policies that tries to control what people think and desire could be closer to reality than you think or want. AFI has previously honored this movie as #46 on its 100 Years…100 Movies list, 321 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills, #12 on its 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains and #70 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.

The Day The Earth Stood Still

5. The Day the Earth Stood Still

Klaatu barada nikto! This iconic movie may look a little dated, but the story still resonates. So much so that Hollywood is remaking this film with Keanu Reeves. AFI previously honored this movie as #82 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills list and #67 on its 100 Years…100 Cheers list.

Blade Runner

6. Blade Runner

One of the most influential sci-fi movies ever, filmmakers have been copying the dark look of this film ever since its release. Based on a Phillip K. Dick short story, the movie itself is actually a little boring. Then again there are so many versions available now on DVD, you’re sure to find a version that you like if you’re willing to watch all of them. AFI has previously recognized this movie as #74 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills list and #97 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.

Alien

7. Alien

Another iconic science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott. The man has a gift with visuals. And dinner has never been the same since. AFI has previously recognized this as #6 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills list and #8 on its 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains list.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

8. Terminator 2 – Judgment Day

One of the pioneers of integrating computer generated images into big-budget action spectacles, James Cameron has created some of the most stunning and thought provoking sci-fi of the last three decades. His vision of an apocalyptic future is both bleak and hopeful and this is one of the more intelligent action blockbusters you will ever see. AFI has previously honored this movie as #77 on its 100 Years…100 Thrills list, #22 on its 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains and #76 on its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

This science fiction horror film has often been called a commentary of the Communism that America was afraid of at the time. Like the best of horror and science fiction, it holds up a mirror to society to show some of the darkest elements of human nature. Chilling and unforgettable. AFI has previously honored this movie as #47 100 Years…100 Thrills list.

Back To The Future

10. Back to the Future

The most fun and entertaining movie on this list, Robert Zemeckis’s has created a timeless classic. This tale of time traveling gone wrong never lets the science or effects overtake the human elements of the story. Surprisingly, AFI has never previously honored this wonderful film.

COMMENTS

With this list, the AFI has disappointingly gone with convention and picked some of the more popular and obvious science fiction films. People joke about how fast technology, especially computers, become obsolete. And while a good story will always remain a good story, audiences now are more sophisticated than in the past.

Some of the movies that the AFI has chosen are classics in their own right. But with the advances in special effects technology, these films have suffered. The effects in some of the old classics have become laughable. Sure, the story is good but the old effects now make it hard for a modern audience to maintain their suspension of the belief that the story requires. It’s the equivalent of seeing the zipper on the back of a monster suit. How scared can you be of a cinematic boogeyman when you can see his zipper?

With that in mind, the Moose’s version of this list of the 10 greatest American sci-fi films would include, in no particular order, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, The Abyss, The Thing, Back to the Future, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, A Clockwork Orange, Terminator 2 – Judgment Day and The Fly.

I’ve noticed that many directors who excel in science fiction often make several good, if not great, contributions to the general. Here are some other sci-films that you might want to watch.

From director Paul Verhoeven: Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers.

From Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan writer-director Nicholas Meyer: Time After Time.





From master genre director John Carpenter: Escape from New York and Starman. Also check out Carpenter’s low budget movie They Live for a film that could have been great with a bigger budget and better cast.

Filmmaker Darren Aronfsky gave us the good, but pretentious Pi and the sublime film The Fountain.

For those of you who think that sci-fi requires a big budget and fancy effects, check out the indie sci-fi flick Primer.

And finally, here are some good, but not great, science fiction films that are worth checking out: The Matrix, Dark City and The Andromeda Strain.









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