Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Generally - and rather oddly - disliked by Trekkies, the first Star Trek on the big screen remains closer to the spirit of the original TV series than the Star Wars-fuelled space operas that followed it. While the sequels focused on the Enterprise's plucky, increasingly plump crew falling foul of stock space villains, this movie had an eye on the bigger picture. The plot device of a threatening alien presence bearing down on the Earth was superannuated even in 1979, but Trek creator Gene Rodenberry used it as a platform to ponder the eternal verities: the strength of friendship, the quest for spiritual fulfilment and the question of what it means to be human.
Shock horror space probe
Source: Paramount Home Entertainment
To be fair to its detractors, it is over-long, and the Enterprise takes far too long to encounter the living vessel V'ger. They also complain about the protagonists' characterisation, but that's the whole point of the story: it's only by becoming more intuitive and less coldly logical - regaining their true selves and their pivotal relationship - that Kirk and Spock can understand V'ger and save the day. V'ger likewise, by vicariously enjoying Decker's metaphorical final-reel shag with the bald lass.
Writer Gene Roddenberry
Notes The Director's Cut edition adds four minutes to the run time, mostly with extra "because we can" effects shots, though it is arguably a better edit than the original.
You’ve enjoyed it for its dark dystopianism. You’ve gawped at its dazzling special effects. You’ve pondered its peculiar script and continuity errors. You’ve even been amazed by its prediction that Atari will still be producing videogames in 2019 and Pan Am still flying. Now go an enjoy it for its intelligence. Blade Runner, like so many Ridley Scott movies, be more interested in its visual style than its substance, but here at least is a film with some meat to it. Human meat, to be precise, whether it’s the fruit of a mother’s loins or a test tube. Natural people or artificial people - both are equally viable and of equal value.
Is Deckard a human or an Android? If you need to ask, you’ve missed the point of the film.
Source: Warner Home Video
It’s other theme is that life is short so it’s important to enjoy it while you have it. A cynic might say we’re born solely to snuff it - “Wake up, time to die” - and that’s clearly where the moody, wet Blade Runner is coming from. Best make the most of it, then, whether you have three years remaining or many, many more: “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long,” as replicant boffin-in-chief Eldon Tyrell, played by Joe Turkell through impossibly thick bottle-bottom lenses, says.
Writer Hampton Fancher and David Peoples
Notes Original cut or one of the many others? It's a vexed question. Certainly Scott's Final Cut is the best of the remodelled versions, though you may miss the film noir voiceover or even the jarring out-of-the-smog ending.
Next page: Gattaca
You put Zardoz in there but missed Silent Running?
Zardoz is terrible. Watched it a few months back and aside from some neat ideas and imagery its actually one of the worst films I have ever seen. A film so bad it actually hurts.
It's essentially takes what would make a good Doctor Who or Blakes 7 story and turns it into the longest 100 or so minutes of your life.
I wanted to like it, there of bits of it that I think are really quite good, but it's just a confused po-faced mess that gets worse as the movie progresses.
That said, you can pick Zardoz up for pennies on Amazon so if you are interested in such things (as I am) at least you don't have to pay through the nose to get a copy. Think mine literally cost me a few pence + the postage!
Oh, and one other thing: Dark Star
Dark Star was the first movie to show the non-utopian(*) version of the Sci-Fi space travel future: bored, lonely people in a cramped uncomfortable dirty spaceship with everything breaking down and going wrong and a disinterested planet Earth back home cutting off their funding.
(*) - Yes, I mean non-utopian as opposed to dystopian. I'm treating topianity as (at least) three-valued, and I don't think it's really about a dystopia
Bit of an underappreciated classic methinks. Directed by Katherine Bigelow who got the rights as part of her divorce settlement with James Cameron who wrote the script. It has dated a bit because they chose to set it in 2000 and the technology seems to involve MiniDiscs; but the idea of people recording their experiences seems somewhat prescient in the era of Google Glass.
The opening POV robbery is a work of genius and it has the amazing Angela Bassett as one of Cameron's strong female roles. There are a couple of incredibly violent scenes, including a rape, which some people might find too much.
Re: Wot, no Avatar?
I remember seeing Leslie Neilsen interviewed about his career. One of the things touched on was Forbidden Planet. He said that he thought he had it made when he did that. He was the hero, he got the girl, the reviews were good and it sold well. Pretty much everything an actor could ask for to endorse their credentials as a box office draw in a lead role.
He said he sat back and waited for the phone to ring. It never did and to this day he still wonders why it didn't.
I'm with him. I thought he was bloody brilliant in it.
Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.
I've never watched it all in one sitting.
Have to agree about Star Trek, it's my favourite Trek film (providing you fast forward through the 'look at the cool spaceship' scenes).
What about 'Moon'? That's a corking modern science fiction film.