Must See Sci Fi & Fantasy Movies

22 May

Every month LIH’s staff will put in our vote for a “must see” film. As an exercise to hone our cinephile senses we will review films with positive buzz by word of mouth. Today our focus and discussion will be on “must see” Science Fiction and or Fantasy movies.  We hope you enjoy!

2001: A Space Odyssey-Comic Relief

A 1968 science fiction classic by anyone’s memory, “2001: A Space Odyssey” still retains it’s sheen after some 30 years of aging.  Screen written by novelist Arthur C. Clark and Stanley Kubrick, one doesn’t have to be a film historian to tell how different the filmmaking style was then than it is now.  Today the appreciation for experimental or expressive sequences has diminished considerably. Impatient audiences of today would likely protest or complain over the Internet because of the 5 minutes of futuristic or better yet synthetic music played over a empty black screen at the beginning of the film.  Though the sense of controversy has likely dulled considerably, with it’s contradictory “Cain and Abel” scenario one might still recognize how controversial the evolutionary “Dawn of man” sequence must have been for those audiences of that time. Despite the appearance of the eerie monoliths, it almost isn’t worth mentioning that we still haven’t had a verifiable incident of extraterrestrial interaction today in 2013.  That doesn’t diminish how courageous the filmmakers were in expressing their unique belief in aliens then.  Expressing an unconventional thesis is still a bold narrative choice given how timid studios are with the focus group driven filmmaking that typifies so much of what is distributed now.  Hal is still disturbingly cold, environmentally the space ship is still clinical given the industrial style license popular today, and the music less outer space scenes are almost a signal for you to turn off your DVD player.  Despite so many bold choices subtly still reigns far more than any film craft you might see in the present. Though the alien inspired psychedelic ending seems a little less challenging to this viewer, it does remind one of why so many crowned Stanley Kubrick a directorial genius so long ago.

Back to The Future-Littlebells

If you were born after 1990 and your parents haven’t cultured you in the fine art of Delorean time machines and flux capacitors, please go watch Back to the Future!  This has always been one of my favorite sci fi films.  I love time machines, I love Michael J. Fox, and I love Biff.  I know it’s an oldie, but it is a goodie.  How crazy would it be to go back in time and see your parents before they meet and then end up having your mom hit on you?  And Biff…one of the best bully characters of all time, in my opinion.  It makes you wonder how much your future would change if you went back to the past.

Strange Days-Open Book

This is a must see film for the amazing complex action sequences and plot. The film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow and co-written by James Cameron and released in 1995. It combines science fiction, politics and romance. Given the film came out in the mid-90’s when films like Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever was considered acceptable. Bigelow creates a risky love triangle that could rub middle-america the wrong way even by todays standards.  Regardless of this fact, she builds the film on two strong female lead characters (the protagonist played by Angela Basset and the antagonist portrayed by Juliette Lewis) with a great performance by Ralph Fiennes who selects Basset over Lewis at the end. Although, the story and performances are complex and compelling what really steals the show are the high adrenaline chase sequences that make you feel right there in it. The production budget was 42 million and it made 8 million at the box office due to its limited release and mixed reviews.

Iron Man 3-Parsienne

Recently,  I viewed Ironman 3.  I thought it was a little long but I enjoyed Guy Pearce’s character as well as Robert Downey Jr’s.  It was funnier than I thought it would be and action packed.  It is definitely worth seeing.

What are some of your must see science fiction or fantasy films?

34 Responses to “Must See Sci Fi & Fantasy Movies”

  1. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:03 PM #

    Think of visual art, music, or dance why does film get treated differently. For some reason the intended serialization of other art forms can provoke criticism or make critics of those art forms appraise in a negative manner. Why do you believe the science fiction film seems to neither provoke these criticisms nor encourage audiences to stay away?

  2. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:04 PM #

    I know every movie doesn’t carry the entire fate of the entire genre in it’s hand but….
    Group regardless of topic, what is it about the science fiction that seems to beg producers for greater serialization, extended stories and sequels. As books this trend seems to also exist, do you believe these tendencies help or hurt the genre?

  3. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:04 PM #


    I think you know this period in filmmaking so well. It would have been hard to cast anyone other than Michael J. Fox for this roll. Grabbing everyone’s attention as Alex Keaton on “Family Ties” what qualities does Fox have that makes him such a good choice a time travelling adventurer. Because so many people obsess about his Parkinson’s disease few discuss him as an actor. I’m only asking because I have frequently asked my self what is it the made Fox such a standout.

    I think “Back to the Future” 2 and 3 were shot back-to-back, do you think this helped or hurt the franchise to be developed that way? Or did you only mean to solely talk about the first movie?

    • littlebells May 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM #

      I loved all of them, but the first one is still my favorite. I am a softy for the 50s. You ask some great questions. I think Fox was perfect because he just has this charming quality and way about himself. Yes, he was very popular, but I don’t remember it being so out of control like today’s young heart throbs. Mostly because of social media. Bleh. He was funny and seemed just to be natural in his roles. I think he had great timing and he had great chemistry with his co-stars. I think maybe it should have been left as one film. Again maybe. It was such a huge success and I remember getting excited when a sequel was coming out. However, like most sequels, the first one is usually the best. The formula was the same for all three movies which was probably a downfall.

      I also think that taking a car and making it a time machine was a great idea. Usually its some specially built machine. I also want to add that I think it wasn’t just Fox that made it a hit, but the entire cast. Doc was a screwball and hilarious. If he’d been played seriously, it would have stunk. Ok, I think I got off topic. 🙂

      • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 6:44 PM #

        “…it wasn’t just Fox that made it a hit, but the entire cast.”

        Well, if you believe that tell me….

        Does Michael J. Fox eat the careers of his female co-stars???

        I don’t want to start rumors BUT I was noticing some patterns with his co-stars. I know there are actors who are accused of eating scenery but Fox’s female co-stars rarely seem to last after being placed on film with him. To count you have to be an actress who plays a Fox girlfriend, sister, coworker, friend or buddy. Basically you have to be an equal or potential alternate to him. For some reason mothers tend to always be exempt. Meredith Baxter and Leah Thompson seem to have fared fairly well compared to their frequently younger screen counter parts.
        Here are some examples…

        • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM #

          Justine Bateman:

          You remember the actress who played Mallory Keaton on “The facts of Life.” But when was the last time you saw Justine Bateman?

          • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM #

            Claudia Wells:

            Who you say? You know Marty McFly’s girlfriend. Claudia Wells seems to be making a comeback according to her IMDB page but using her as an example I might claim the fox venom lasts at least 20 years.

            • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM #

              Heather Locklear:

              Much like the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) has today in movies, television sex symbol that she was, Heather Locklear had developed a reputation for saving ailing television shows. Cast her and suddenly the rating improved giving her (and the rest of the cast) at least two more seasons of visibility. Until that run ended abruptly with her screen time with Fox on “Spin City”.

              I think she’s been limping ever since. I certainly don’t think I’ve seen much of her lately.

      • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:02 PM #

        I love, love love Back to The Future. My favorite scene is when the mother keeps hitting on him and calling him Calvin. Hahaha!

  4. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:05 PM #

    Also does “Back to the future 4” fill you with longing or dread and if so why?

    • littlebells May 23, 2013 at 12:10 AM #

      haha! As for a BTF 4, I know Zemeckis has denied it happening. However, it would depend on the cast and story. I would probably just go see it because it would be for nostalgic purposes. 🙂

      Oh and yes, I think there is too much focus on the disease rather than the talent. Have you seen the previews for his sitcom this fall? Looks great and I’m very excited to watch it. I want it to do well. He is a great actor and should keep going as long as he can. Go Teen Wolf!

      • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 6:46 PM #

        LOL. I hope you never change.

  5. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM #


    Though I vaguely remember Juliet Lewis’s performance I wish I could remember “Strange days” better. I think Fiennes was a great option for action films and clearly this movie started that trend. If we can thank Bigalow’s casting, she is an excellent judge of talent. It’s a shame how few times Bassett has had center stage since that period.

    Romance. Lately we haven’t seen too much romance out of Bigalow’s films. Why do you assume she has shied away from this topic or genre?

    • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:05 PM #

      I’m personally happy she has steered away from romance. I assume she’s done this in an effort to challenge and grow as an artist.

      • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:08 PM #

        Also, she is a pioneer for those who believe women can’t sustain the attention of male audience with action.

  6. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:07 PM #

    Also why isn’t Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever” considered acceptable anymore?

    • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 6:47 PM #


      Here’s Ralph Fiennes in multiple action-adventure movies. I wish I could give K. Bigalow credit for all of this but I think he started his career of an action-adventure TV show.

    • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:24 PM #

      I’m not saying “Jungle Fever” isn’t acceptable anymore. I’m saying the exact opposite that its more acceptable than the other way around. Meaning white america could accept a black male choosing a white female over a black women than for a white male to choose a black female over a white women? Come on! Bigelow was making a huge statement by casting Basset as the smart hard working mother opposite Lewis who plays a prostitute trying to become a singer. Then at the end Fiennes ends up choosing Basset who probably earns the same amount as he does.

      • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:31 PM #

        I think these figures illustrate more acceptance. “Jungle Fever” production budget was 14 million and it earned around 44 million at the box office.

  7. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:20 PM #


    I feel bad saying this after seeing the provided clip because he really has had a diverse range of roles over the last few years (if not his entire career). Though I still tend to think we don’t see enough of him, as the geek, I had a harder time believing he could be a guy who could hang out with Bill Gates. Maybe since that was never expressed about him, maybe that isn’t an appropriate evaluation?

    Obviously Pearce was cast to be the villain, eventually polished it was easier to take him seriously in the role later in the movie. Yet I agree and was surprised at how frequently funny the movie as a whole.

    So Paris since you liked the movie, would you say this movie compliments or competes against with the Avengers, since that was the last time the character Ironman was seen?

  8. Comic Relief May 22, 2013 at 11:21 PM #

    Seems that most of the cast members unanimously think that this one will be the last Ironman? Do you agree, or disagree and if so why?

  9. Open Book May 23, 2013 at 6:57 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    Let me read and get caught up.

    • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 7:04 PM #

      Hi OB.

      • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 7:09 PM #

        Unfortunately, I need to go. That’s why I did so much pre-talking. I will try to return later though. Can you tell I’m a science fiction fan? Great article idea OB!!!!!

        • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

          Ah! Sorry u have to go CR. Thanks for the great questions. TC!

  10. Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 7:01 PM #


    What I meant to say is one of the things I think distinguishes nerds and geeks is their obsession with details about other typically ignore.

    When I were think about his career, so many of Pearce’s characters were exceptionable because they were always big picture thinkers.

    • Hollywood Confidential
    • The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
    • Memento
    • Prometheus

    When I think of computer genius I tend to think about actors who appear to be obsessed with details. “Social Network’s” Jesse Einsberg would be my best example.

    Is this a fair assessment?

  11. Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

    I really liked Guy Pearce in “Iron Man 3.” In the video above he discusses his process for choosing a script. What I like he doesn’t sign unless he sees a script and likes it. This speaks volumes about why the films he chooses are worth seeing because he cares about the product he puts out.

  12. Open Book May 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM #

    CR- I know u are a sci-fi fan and have seen a ton of sci-films. Given this fact what made 2001 stand out over all the others?

    • Comic Relief May 23, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

      In the DVD’s extra features Arthur C. Clark congratulates Stanley Kubrick for taking the whole genre seriously versus so many other science fiction films of that time and before that did not.

      • Open Book May 23, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

        Yes! But what is it about 2001 that’s more dynamic than films like E.T., Terminator or Star Wars they too changed the genre?

        • Comic Relief May 24, 2013 at 6:25 AM #


          I think you’re right that “E.T.”, “Terminator”, and “Star Wars” were dynamic ideas. But I’m not sure any of those ideas were possible prior to those creations creators seeing “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

          I think it’s like the film “Superman; the Movie,” another science fiction sub-genre, before that film no one had taken the super hero movie seriously. Before that movie the whole genre was generally considered a camp, kitchy kind of fantasy which people could find amusing but know one should take it seriously.

          “2001: A Space Odyssey” suggested the medium was a place where we could invest or debate much more serious ideas about the sciences, philosophy, politics, and the economy. As I said in my article, Clark and Kubrick used this genre to posit ideas about evolution, extra-terrestrial life, national sociology, and scientific progress. There were a great many science fiction movies before it, some of which are classics, that invested that aliens were real and plausible, yet none were as committed to the genre the way “2001: A Space Odyssey” was.

          Seeing this movies, thoughtful creators or directors like Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron (and all of their collaborators) obviously thought it was possible to invest these movies with other ideas that were equally unique. Watching the movie again, I was surprised at how original it was though I’m did not see the film in it’s original run.

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