Top 3 Science Fiction Films of All Time.

Science fiction, I believe, all too often draws attention directly to the films that deal with space, aliens, infinity and beyond. Films and shows like Star Wars and Star Trek parade through the genre with its invented other worlds, leaving little room for other science fiction films to thrive. It begs the question of what IS truly science fiction? How do we define a genre that takes a scientific hypothesis, chews it up, and spits it back out in a grotesque and surreal manner? The answer lurks somewhere out there beyond the horizon of our neighbouring planets, but for the time being, I draw your attention somewhere closer to home – that is, our home planet. My belief is that science fiction merely draws upon the normal and turns it abnormal; it creates the surreal out of everyday objects, ideas, and meanings. By this definition, I will launch into a description of what I consider to be the TOP 3 SCIENCE FICTION FILMS OF ALL TIME.

1. THE BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY. (1985/1989/1990)
The beauty of the Back to the Future series lies in just that: its three-part continuation of the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown (Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd). As a child born in the late 80’s, I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to experience the 80’s in all its original first-run glory. Luckily, the BTTF trilogy became a staple beyond childhood fantasies and continued its reign well into the 90’s. But it wasn’t until this past summer that I was able to sit down and watch all three parts of this series in consecutive order, all in a day. The glory of the Back to the Future series is simple – the film is made in such a way so as to reflect the message being portrayed. What message, you may ask? It’s quite simple: time moves on. As our heroes travel through the time-space continuum (and consequently tip toe around multiple past, present, and future histories), Steven Spielberg carefully weaves the multiple storylines together, intersecting them only when necessary and in graduation. It is these seamless ties that give these three films its success.

2. TRON. (1982. Often referred to as “EFFIN’ TRON”.)
Disney’s Tron, at the time of its release, was ground breaking. Never before had a theatre’s audience seen a sci-fi adventure illustrated in such a way – deadly game grids, high velocity light-cycles, and of course, Tron, a specialized security program. Its tagline was not incorrect in hailing the movie as “a milestone in the history of computer animation”. Although a lesser-known film in the sci-fi fantasy catalogue, it is still a worthy addition to any DVD collection. The story follows Flynn (Jeff Bridges), an ex-computer programmer whose work has been stolen by a colleague. When he attempts to hack into the company’s computers to prove the theft, he is caught in the crossfire of a testing-in-progress shrink ray, which beams him into the computer mainframe. He then embarks on a digital adventure of gloriously pixilated neon proportions that becomes, I dare say, an epic precursor to sci-fi films of today, such as Transformers.

Although there are some who would categorize The Rocky Horror Picture Show more as a rock-operatic horror film, it is just as scientifically fictional as the other two previously mentioned films. Its lewd and obscene characters and bewildering love triangles blur the lines between the biological and the natural, distorting the very ideas of gender, love, and loyalty. Tim Curry’s portrayal of the domineering transsexual Dr. Frank-n-Furter is horrific in grand ways, exaggerating the extreme and stretching it far beyond the imaginable. If Back to the Future and Tron delved into the fantasy side of science-fiction, then The Rocky Horror Picture Show exemplifies the humanly perverse, lustful, and burlesque side. The musical follows a newly wed couple whose broken car strands them at the castle of the Dr. Frank-n-Furter. Their encounters with the castle’s occupants push them to lose their modesty and possibly each other.

(Originally published in The Underground, March 2008.)