ZGE. Genre Movies: Science Fiction: My Favorite

  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Brazil (1985)
  • Contact (1997)
  • Dark City (1998)
  • eXistenZ (1999)
  • The Fly (1986)
  • Galaxy Quest (1999)
  • Gattaca (1997)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • The Road Warrior (1981)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • Total Recall (1990)
Author Comments: 

Currently unordered. If I feel adventurous, someday, I'll order them.

If I do this right this list should be a subset of this list.

I think it's stretching the meaning of the term to call BRAZIL science fiction. But I sympathise with your impulse to list it here. A great film, I can't wait for it to come out on DVD.

I also sympathise with your listing of THE THING, even though John Carpenter's cynical and ham-fisted direction of the opening sequence (the Norwegians chasing the dog) is a major flaw.

The top four here, imho, are BRAZIL, BLADE RUNNER, GATTACA, and DARK CITY.

From the standpoint of what is considered Science Fiction in literary circle I think Brazil easily falls into the category of Science Fiction. To Science Fiction is just speculative fiction and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Science. Would you consider 1984 to be Science Fiction? I would.

But from what is considered Science Fiction in film circles I can see you would have trouble pushing it into that mold. I might create a Fantasy list and move it over there. I haven't decided yet.

I think it's definitely more science than fantasy. Science fiction does NOT have to involve aliens, etc. Fantasy seems to always involve magic or talking animals :)

Again, I think the true colors of the commenter are showing. In the first instance the poster was looking at the issue from a Film standpoint and what the typical markers are for Science Fiction in Film.

In this comment you, Kristen, since you read a heck of a lot more than you watch movies, are looking at the term Fantasy from the literary standpoint with its subsequent unicorns and unicorns and magic. But from a Film perspective many Fantasy films don't have any of that stuff.

Fortunately Genre films (action, fantasy, horror, mystery, science fiction, etc.) have a lot of overlap and it's really hard to place them firmly under 1 genre. I think the really good ones like Brazil split genres and use copious amounts from 2 or 3 different genres. At least it seems like those are the ones that are most fun for me.

I'll definitely buy that. I'm confused as to what would be considered fantasy in film then.

My two cents, and I am probably horribly wrong here, but aren't the traditional genres usually defined like this?

Science Fiction - Speculative fiction with a firm foot in science, even if intelligent guesses are made about science.

Fantasy - Fiction where events happen that defy science with no attempt to find a scientific explanation.

I fear that Star Wars has confused these in the popular mind. Now, science fiction is anything involving laser guns and outer space. Dungeons and Dragons helped the "unicorn and dragons" ideas of fantasy to grow. Really, however, both Star Wars and Alice in Wonderland are fantasy works, despite the lack of dragons and unicorns.

I feel that Brazil works as science fiction, even if we must stretch that 'science' to include 'political science'. 1984 works here for me as well.

Boy, I hope I didn't just vague myself out of a real definition there.

That how I understand it, anyway...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Oh, and I agree, Dan. Brazil is also fantasy. It's a mix (or, perhaps more accurately, the terms 'science fiction' and 'fantasy' simply are not strictly mutually exclusive...).

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I feel like we're treading back into that "What Is An Independent Film?" territory again. Which is fine by me. I don't think there's another group of people that I'd rather hash it out with. :-)

Being a scientifically minded person I think it's easy for me to say whether I think a movie or book is Science Fiction or Not, as well as Fantasy or Not. It's another thing entirely to define in terms others can understand how I come to this conclusion.

First of all when you are speaking of an entity like a movie or a book I don't think the terms Science Fiction or Fantasy are mutually exclusive. These entities can contain elements of each. Now, authors or filmmakers can take special steps to try and remove one or the other to make their movie or book Harder in either direction, i.e. Hard Science Fiction, but I think a little tidbit of the other always remains.

I think the main link that ties something back to Science Fiction or Fantasy is whether or not the events in the book or movie violate or obey the laws of science as we know them today, or as we extrapolate them out to be known X number of days, months or years in the future (where X can be anywhere from the day after tomorrow to a billion years hence) or as those laws were known in the past. If it obeys those laws it's Science Fiction and if it violates those laws it's Fantasy.

Does that definition make any sense? Better yet can you apply it or transform it into something you can use to judge whether something is Sci-Fi or Fantasy or both?

I think one of the things that made the original Star Wars films such a Fantasy series was the incorporation of the concept of the Force. There was no scientific explanation for it, it was just there and everyone knew about it. Then Lucas had to go and muck everything up by introducting the concept of midichlorians in Episode I (which he conveniently never even mentions in Episode II) thereby putting the kibosh on part of the fantastical element of the series. I think that was a horrible mistake on his part.

For sf movies, I think the hard / soft distinction is useful. As I understand it, hard sf is realistic in that it demonstrates a high degree of knowlege of and respect for contemporary science. Examples: GATTACA is hard sf, so are the 'Alien' movies. Great as the film is, the science in BRAZIL is a joke, I mean literally a joke. The 'ducting' technology is meant to be funny. If BRAZIL is sf it is soft sf, and the softest sf is indistinguishable from fantasy, which explores the world of imagination that lies beyond the confines of scientific possibility.

Good list! I like every movie here to varying degrees, and most I like quite a bit. I'll have to rent eXistenZ, which is the only one I haven't seen.