General Question

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Can you recommend some good/well-made space sci-fi films?

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11266points) January 26th, 2011

I am wondering if anyone knows of any films that deal with outer space/extraterrestrials/life in the universe/UFO’s/etc. I still think the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is untouchable. And “2001: A Space Odyssey”...well, ditto. If you know of any documentaries dealing with UFO’s that are good quality, that would be welcomed,too.

I would like suggestions for films that feature outer space (classics or otherwise) as long as the drama is character-driven and not filled with violence. Are there any contemporary works that you recommend?

Please don’t give away the endings…:) if you have a suggestion.

Thanks so much!

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52 Answers

Blueroses's avatar

Well, I’m partial to Firefly, Dr. Who and Torchwood. Those are all series so you get a good feeling for the characters.

AstroChuck's avatar

If you enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey then you might want to check out Duncan Jones’s Moon.

thecaretaker's avatar

Im partial to star trek the original series, the graffics might be cheesy to todays space movies but very good science fiction writing

ragingloli's avatar

district 9
star trek deep space 9
babylon 5
star trek 2 the wrath of khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

aprilsimnel's avatar

Solaris, the 1972 original. George Clooney was the star of the remake from a few years back.

augustlan's avatar

I second Moon and District 9.

Blueroses's avatar

Don’t mod this, there are some great leads here
If you like classic sci-fi, many are named in this song. My love for Rocky Horror led to my seeing some old-time classics.

Brian1946's avatar

Forbidden Planet is enjoyable, especially if one has an introductory understanding of atomic physics.

talljasperman's avatar

Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy the original… and Dr. Who?

Nullo's avatar

A second vote for The Forbidden Planet.

I enjoyed the MST3K rendition of This Island Earth. The ending was kinda lame, but the buildup was decent.

tarab002's avatar

E.T., Star Trek(2009),Men in Black, Destination Truth(reality show)especially season 3 episodes 1(haunted forest in romania i think) and episode 5(mummy alien). watch all episodes…its a great show. The 4th Kind(movie based on true events in alaska with added real footage from the victims)

ShanEnri's avatar

I second Firefly the series but there was also a movie made about it called Serenity. I also second Star Trek both the original and The Next Generation as well as the movies and The Fourth Kind. You might also want to try Pandorum. There is some violence and such but the story line is pretty good.

Cruiser's avatar

The Abyss is one of my favorite and who can leave Close Encounters of the Third Kind off this list.

Tommyknockers was pretty fun!

Fire in the sky was kind good too!

mrentropy's avatar

I liked Pandorum, Moon, Serenity, uh.. probably others. (5:22am, brain hasn’t kicked in yet).

JilltheTooth's avatar

Another vote for Forbidden Planet, and, frankly, a lot of the above mentioned.

ucme's avatar

The first movie in the Alien franchise & Event Horizon are two that come to mind. Oh & an honourable mention must go to Stargate. A decent enough effort, certainly a major improvement on the TV series.

marinelife's avatar

Another vote for Serenity.

JilltheTooth's avatar

“I am a leaf on the wind…”

tranquilsea's avatar

As well as the many that have already been mentioned in this thread: Contact with Jody Foster. Great film.

SmashTheState's avatar

My list contains a lot of… quirky choices. These are my personal favourites, and every one of them is enormously entertaining.

Save the Green Planet
Flash Gordon
Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
Brother from Another Planet
Silent Running
Repo Man
Dark City
Galaxy Quest

Austinlad's avatar

Definitely add to your list “The Thing (from Another World)”—but ONLY the original, 1951. The panel shows it was directed by Christian Nyby, but in fact, the great Howard Hawks, with his customary believable characters, snappy and overlapping dialogue, and fast-paced action, was the wizard behind the curtain. May look dated and even a bit silly by today’s CGI-saturated standards, but I think it’s still a stunner. (The remake wsas a mess.)

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Although it was somewhat violent, I liked “Outland” (1981) with Sean Connery. It dealt with murder in a mining colony on one of Jupiter’s moons.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Austinlad : Isn’t that the one with Marshall Dillon dressed up as a giant rutabaga?

the100thmonkey's avatar

Try Battlestar Galactica (2003).

It’s military space opera, and there is some violence – nuvlear explosions and the like, but it’s a fine, _fine piece of film-making. It was a pilot for the reimagined TV show, which is also excellent, but not strictly a “film”.

RocketGuy's avatar

Galactica is most awesome!:
The writing is fantastic.

RocketGuy's avatar

Also try the even numbered Star Trek movies. I really liked Wrath of Khan and First Contact.

SmashTheState's avatar

@the100thmonkey and @RocketGuy

Galactica is politically reactionary and racist. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I don’t want to hijack the thread by turning this into a discussion about Battlestar Galactica, but just as an example of what I’m talking about, think about the only black people we see in the entire series: one is a mentally-unhinged lunatic Rastafarian who tries to assassinate Adama; one is a vicious member of the “secret police” who collaborates with the Cylons on New Caprica; and the third is a fat woman who looks like Aunt Jemimah, speaks with a thick accent, and happens to be a crazed religious fanatic with Magical Negro powers. Much as this is a question about personal taste, I think the OP should give Galactica a pass.

Rarebear's avatar

@RocketGuy I’m partial to the last Star Trek movie myself.

Nullo's avatar

The Fifth Element was cool but the space was kind of incidental rather than the focus of the movie. Star Wars, too, with the same caveats.

earthduzt's avatar

I don’t know about anyone else but I really like District 9 for a modern day sci-fi…I think it is very well made and has a great message behind it…and has some kick ass alien technology in it!

josie's avatar

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I have seen two versions and each are great in their own way.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

WHOA!!! I logged in….. and was just gobsmacked to see so many responses! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! There are so many suggestions, too…I had “Moon” on my shortlist and “District 9” thanks for the confirmation.

I loved the original “Star Trek”. It’s still my favorite of all of them.

I am writing down all the recommended titles to go investigate.

Lots of great suggestions…..I am posting Lurve to all of you and throwing in some big extraterrestrial hugs, too!

Thanks again!

Oh…by the way…does anyone recommended/pan “V”...? I know they showed it here in the UK…but it was on sporadically. I never caught it. I also heard that “Dark Skies” has just been released on DVD.

mrentropy's avatar

I liked the old and new ‘V;. The old one is kind of hokey, now.

Austinlad's avatar

That’s the one, @JilltheTooth. As many times as I’ve seen that movie I still jump a little the first time he appears onscreen… which is almost half way through the film.

Austinlad's avatar

“Day of the Triffids,” an English export with an American actor (Howard Keel) is a really excellent sci-fi film. It’s been done on TV a couple of times, but the ‘61 movie is still the best version, I think.

mrentropy's avatar

If we’re gonna talk series then I’m also going to suggest watching “Quark.” Old, very short-lived series from the 1970s. It ran, unfairly, for only part of one season. It was created by Buck Henry and starred Richard Benjamin as captain of a space garbage scow that somehow ended up doing really dangerous missions.

augustlan's avatar

I just remembered a TV series from the late 80s that I enjoyed: Alien Nation.

Staalesen's avatar

Second Battlestar Galactica, the new series :)

mrentropy's avatar

@augustlan Alien Nation was a movie before being a series. I forgot about that. It was pretty good, too.

RareDenver's avatar

Knowing is worth a look, more aliens, less space. And I too go with the Battlestar Galactica (both series) Firefly was great as was the movie, Serendipity I think it was called.

District 9 was good too, although I think we needed subtitles for the South African guy as much as we did the Aliens, even my South African friend commented on how thick his accent was.

I wouldn’t bother with Skyline, not at all what you are looking for.

The TV series The Event is looking promising.

There was a good TV show called The 4400 that just got dropped in the middle of the story, never understood why, but still worth getting hold of the ones that were made.

Now I know this will be controversial but I actually enjoyed Avatar.

Check out Chocky and Chocky’s children.

The Last Starfighter was a favourite when I was younger

And finally the Star Wars movies, without a doubt.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Sunshine is a good one. Oh yeah, Event Horizon is also good.
Mission to Mars.

Nullo's avatar

@RareDenver That would be Serenity, same name as the pilot episode. Serendipity is an unimpressive deterministic romantic comedy (which thoroughly fails to address the fascinating philosophical debacle upon which it so precariously balances). These are critical differences that I only point out because I fear for the well-being of my sci-fi brethren.

The 20XX series is superbly well-made – lots of attention to detail (thanks, Clarke!), but it crawls.

For me, good sci-fi has always been in the novels. Bova, Asimov, Heinlein (his juvenile fiction novels were more vivid to me, growing up, than most things on TV today), Clarke, Adams, and doubtless many more that I’ve gone and forgotten. I want to include Poul Anderson, but his books never seem able to hold my interest past about the halfway mark. Those are people who actually grasped groked the implications of what they were going on about, working in a medium almost wholly devoid of budget dependencies and reliant only upon the special effects that could be conveyed in words.

RareDenver's avatar

@Nullo Oh yeah, Serenity! Wasn’t that the name of the ship too?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Nullo I totally agree, especially about Heinlein. I cut my teeth on stuff like “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” and “The Rolling Stones.”

However, I never could grok, or get into at all, Stranger in a Strange Land.

Staalesen's avatar

Agreed, Heinlein must be my favorite author, I even splurged to much and got me a signed copy of one of his books from a collector.. :D

JilltheTooth's avatar

Red Planet. Who doesn’t love Willis???

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think any mentioned 2010 A Space Odyssey, the sequel to 2001. I loved it.

I love all the Star Trek movies.

Alien Nation, mentioned above was good. The series and the movie.

Blueroses's avatar

On a slightly different tangent, I love the old radio program X minus One Our NPR station played these shows on Sunday afternoons when I was a kid and I loved lying on my bedroom floor coloring while I listened to these stories by many well-known sci fi authors: Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Pohl, Sturgeon, Phillip Dick. I was so happy to find them on the internet and I play the episodes while doing housework now. It’s every bit as vivid as a film without having to be tied to a screen.

thecaretaker's avatar

I love “V” I remember the old one in the 80s and it was scarry at the time; it was off for what seemed like a long while but now its back and the drama is getting good, I dont know why the UK is not playing all of it, they had the tutors on showtime and now its on BBC America and they have edited the crap out of it, so I bought the series on DVD, I hate editing; let the heads role d@mmit! I want to be scarred!

RareDenver's avatar

@thecaretaker it’s showing on SyFy UK

thecaretaker's avatar

@RareDenver, To my knowledge I dont get SyFy UK, at least I have not seen it through Direct TV, I get BBC America, maybe I would get it through a different channel packet but I will look for it; I usually end up buying the series because its unedited, they throw in bonus footage, and you dont get bombarded with commericials every 15 minutes; I would love to see a continuation of the tudors, the life of Bloody Mary and then Elizabeth would be a series worth watching; English Monarchs are an interest of mine.

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