Buena Vista Distribution Company, Netflix, Walt Disney Pictures

(Photo by Buena Vista Distribution Company, Netflix, Walt Disney Pictures)

Since becoming a Tomatometer-approved critic in 2018, Robert Daniels has written for some of the most popular film- and culture-centric sites out there. No matter where he’s writing – RogerEbert.com, Polygon, his own site (812filmreviews), or Rotten Tomatoes, where he recently traced Ben Affleck’s career and deemed him one of the best actors of his generation – Daniels’ voice consistently resonates as both approachable and incisive. Reading his work feels like having a conversation with an exceptionally witty, thoughtful friend, one who seems to have read and watched just about everything out there.

“I’m lucky, I write pretty fast,” Roberts said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes. “Usually the first draft is basically the draft.”

But it’s not for lack of effort. He goes in cold to screenings so that his opinions are fresh, jots down minimal notes to keep his eyes on the screen – unless he’s not enamored of what he sees (“I can always tell when I don’t like a film because I will actually long hand write my reviews while I’m watching,” he said) – and does all his background research before sitting down to write.

“It’s not something that you can just fall out of bed and do,” Roberts said of writing reviews. “Things are easiest when you feel like you have all the answers around you and you just have to order all the elements together in a cohesive way.”

Robert Daniels is a freelance film critic based in Chicago, IL. Find him on Twitter: @812filmreviews.


What have you been watching during quarantine?

It’s been a mixed bag. I’ve been heavy on Criterion Channel. They had a lot of noirs, so I watched a film called The Sniper, if I remember correctly. I’ve been watching a lot of new releases, like The Old Guard, The Beach House, Relic, some of the recent stuff. I rewatched First Cow for the first time in a while. I loved that film so much. I saw it at the New York Film Festival and I was waiting for it to come out so everyone else could see it – I love Kelly Reichardt‘s work.

What do you think makes a good movie?

I don’t think I can give an answer to that. I know what I personally like, but I don’t equate personal evaluation with universal, with greatness, anything. Some films that I hold dear to my heart – Cats, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending – those are movies that probably a good number of people wouldn’t call “great.”

I personally gravitate toward creatives who take risks; even if they don’t stick the landing, I love the ambition. So, I know what makes a great movie for me. Great movies always arise from the unlikeliest of places.


Criterion Collection

(Photo by Criterion Collection)

What do you consider required viewing?

The Passion of Joan of Arc, the silent film version, that’s always an oldie but a goodie. I think when people watch silent films, they automatically think that silent films are lesser than current sound films, whether visually or narratively. But that film, just every portion of it, it’s a study in editing. It’s a study of pathos and empathy and the narrative just works. It’s classic. The story of Joan of Arc, I don’t think has ever been done better than that film, which – all these decades later – is saying something.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I wasn’t really one of those kids who watched the films growing up and thought, “Oh, I’m going to be involved with that one day.” Movies weren’t really a big part of my childhood, whether going to them or owning them on VHS because my parents just didn’t have the disposable income for that. So, the only escapism I had was really books from the library.

In my childhood, I bounced around from my grandmother to my aunt’s house and for a time, I was homeless and we didn’t really have enough money to buy stuff like movies. I knew of Siskel and Ebert – they were Chicago institutions. But the idea that I, a Black kid from the west side of Chicago who’s probably partly destitute… The idea that I could become a critic never entered my mind.

And so, when I got to high school, I did a lot of catching up to fill blank spots with films that people had grown up with, but I hadn’t. And so, it took years before I had the confidence to undo any intellectual shortcomings I told myself that I had, because I didn’t vacation in whatever country. I didn’t have whatever major experience and see such-and-such movie title. That seed of inadequacy never leaves you. So, every day you feel like you have to prove yourself. I think that’s why I love movies so much today, because I didn’t have them when I was growing up.

The fact that I’m even doing this is what I’m proud of.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about critics?

That our reviews and the pieces that we write are born out of an ether. I think in the purest sense, we’re always providing our opinion, and opinions can be made up of internalized values with regards to quality and interest. But, I think we couple that prior knowledge with research.

I always find it interesting that when someone comments on one of my reviews, they’ll be like, “Did you look up this? Did you look up that? It’d be really helpful if you read this.” And it’s like, well, I did my research before I wrote it. I didn’t just jump off a trampoline.


Universal Pictures

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

Do you have a favorite book-to-film adaptation?

That’s easy: Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. I love the adaptive work for that film mostly because he throws the book out. Because of fanbases today, there is this fear that you have to show some fidelity to the original work. And, I think some of the most interesting adaptations are the ones that throw away everything and go down a different road.

Who is an under-the-radar director or screenwriter that you think more people should know about?

Sarah Gavron. She did Suffragette, and her first film was This Little Life. I watched her newest film Rocks, which hasn’t been released yet, but it played at TIFF this past year. Her stories are just so specific, but they’re built out in a way that they’re entities, intimate worlds that are separate from our own experiences and yet they feel universal.

What is the hardest review that you’ve ever written?

That’s hard because so many things have different valuations. My first thought would be, I did a listicle about the top 20 black director films of the decade for Consequence of Sound. I would say listicles are harder than they seem because if you do them right, you have to do rewatches. You have to do research. You have to have introspection and put them in the context, everything like that. And they can actually be, if you do it right, they could be difficult.

Any personal cultural piece that I write based around race is always difficult just because those pieces tend to either deal with Black Lives Matter or they deal in trauma. I’m always happy that I can write about those kinds of subjects and give them a wider voice. They take a lot out of me, mostly because it’s confronting things that are buried and they’re buried for a reason.

Writing about trauma, it’s not like rolling out of bed. There are some days when even rolling out of bed is a difficult act. I don’t know, it’s difficult because you feel like you have to speak for a community. At least, I feel like I have to speak for a community. And, that’s a dangerous trap to fall into when you feel like you’re speaking for more than yourself. When I’m writing these pieces, the tight rope always feels higher and the fall feels bigger and that’s a terrible place to write from. Words should begin with their importance to you.

The John Boyega Star Wars piece for Polygon was pretty challenging. I had one of the best editors with Matt Patches, and he was just fantastic. And, I kept trying to run away from giving definitions or from taking things down to their simplest terms because I was afraid what those definitions would say. But Matt, to his credit, pushed me – and through all of his queries, the piece ended up with what I wanted to say and not the easy way I wanted to say it.

Honestly, when that piece got released, I thought, “Oh my God, the Star Wars fandom is really toxic. I’m going to get ripped apart.” And then, I woke up and then I saw John Boyega was doing the protest through the streets of London. And I was like, “Oh my God, perfect timing.” It was phenomenal timing.


Buena Vista Distribution Company

(Photo by Buena Vista Distribution Company)

What’s a Rotten film you love?

Oh, Reign of Fire. I love Reign of Fire. I love mythology. That’s not like a mythological movie, but it does have a mythological beast with dragons. It’s over the top and it’s Matthew McConaughey at his peak – shirtless Matthew McConaughey era – and Christian Bale in his grumpy cat era. I love every component of it. It’s a film that I definitely don’t think got a fair shake on its first time out.

Is there an actor or a director or screenwriter whose work you always love?

The first person who pops in my mind is Barry Jenkins. I love all of his work from Medicine for Melancholy, to Moonlight, to If Beale Street Could Talk – all those works. He just does them from such a personal place and you would think something so personal wouldn’t feel universal, and yet it does. Not only does it feel universal, but it feels personal to me watching it and his eye and his taste for colors and the way that he films Black skin. He’s just amazing. That’s probably not the most inventive answer, because I’m pretty sure a lot of people say Barry Jenkins, but it’s the best answer I can give.

What’s your favorite classic film?

8 1/2 by Federico Fellini. I think that was probably the moment where I realized that I am very much into ambitious directors and Federico Fellini very much obviously sticks the landing. The amount of surrealist stuff that he does in there… I watched it when I was a freshman in college and that was probably the first movie where I looked at it and I thought, “Oh, that’s what auteur theory is. That’s what it means to have a singular vision and to translate it to the screen. That’s what it means to take risks.”

Who are three people that you think everyone should follow on Twitter?

Soraya McDonald (@SorayaMcDonald). More than great movies, I love great writing. And her style – the way she expresses historical inequities and the way she puts it in such a compact style that breathes very easy, the knowledge and context comes across incredibly swiftly – I’m always amazed by it.

Joi Childs is another critic (@jumpedforjoi). Her interviews for The Hollywood Reporter are – they just all read incredibly. They’re all approachable and she accesses a personal side to celebrities that’s hard for most people. I usually envy her for that skill.

Roxana Hadadi (@roxana_hadadi). I can’t understand how she finds so many angles and new approaches to recent and past films that I would struggle to think of. Being frank: I just love the way her mind works.

Is there a non-critic in your life whose opinion you admire?

My mom, she is the universal barometer. If a movie plays well with her, then I know it plays well with anybody. Usually, if my mom really, really, really likes something – even if it’s something I think I’ll hate – I’ll take a look at it.


Robert Daniels is a freelance film critic based in Chicago, IL. His reviews have appeared at RogerEbert.com, The Playlist, Consequence of Sound, Polygon, and Mediaversity Reviews, among others. Find him on Twitter: @812filmreviews.

(Photo by Warner Bros. Thumbnail: Jasin Boland for ©Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection)

150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies to Watch Now

There’s only one place where you can get clones, time travel, simulated realities, irradiated and irritated giant lizards, and space fights and beyond. (Maybe not all at once, but we can dream.) Anything’s possible in this creative nebula known as science fiction, and with its long and historic association with cinema, we present our choices of the greatest science-fiction movies ever: The 150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies!

As they do with horror, filmmakers use science fiction to reflect our aspirations, terrors, and issues of the times. Through genre lens, we can consider our impact on the environment (Godzilla, WALL-E), technology gone berserk (The Terminator, Ex Machina), identity (Blade Runner, The Matrix), and societal breakdowns (Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange). We might even check-in on the current state of the human condition (Gattaca, Her).

Or, maybe we just want to see giant ants wreak havoc across the neighborhood. There may not be a lot of subtext in a big monster movie like Them!, or even crowd-pleasing masterpieces like Star Wars or Back to the Future, but they speak to the one thing that attracts us to movies in the first place: escapism. Science-fiction movies are our tickets to planets far-away (Star Trek, Avatar, Starship Troopers), or a quick hop to a local joint in the solar system (The Martian, Total Recall). They take us just above the atmosphere (Gravity), deep down to the bottom of the ocean (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Abyss), and into the human body (Fantastic Voyage). Limited only 2020by imagination, sci-fi inspires wonder, awe, terror, and hope for alternative mindsets and better futures.

Sci-fi spreads across subgenres, all represented here: the monster movie (Cloverfield), space opera (Serenity), cyberpunk (Ghost in the Shell), and post-apocalyptic (Mad Max: Fury Road) and more. Or it can fuse onto traditional genres like drama (Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), comedy (Repo Man, Idiocracy), and action (Predator, Demoliton Man). Wherever the destination, these movies — each with at least 20 reviews — were selected because of their unique, fun, and possibly even mind-blowing spins on reality.

It’s time to strap in and cue the Theremin for some of the best science-fiction films created: Time to launch the 150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies!

#150
Adjusted Score: 67938%
Critics Consensus: A frantic and occasional funny adaptation of Douglas Adams' novel. However, it may have those unfamiliar with the source material scratching their heads.
Synopsis: Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is trying to prevent his house from being bulldozed when his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def)... [More]
Directed By: Garth Jennings

#149

The Endless (2017)
92%

#149
Adjusted Score: 98416%
Critics Consensus: The Endless benefits from its grounded approach to an increasingly bizarre story, elevated by believable performances by filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.
Synopsis: Two brothers receive a cryptic video message inspiring them to revisit the UFO death cult they escaped a decade earlier.... [More]

#148

Timecrimes (2007)
89%

#148
Adjusted Score: 90231%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
Synopsis: Nacho Vigalondo's time-travel thriller opens with Hector spying on a beautiful woman undressing in the woods near his property. Investigating,... [More]
Directed By: Nacho Vigalondo

#147

Ad Astra (2019)
83%

#147
Adjusted Score: 106795%
Critics Consensus: Ad Astra takes a visually thrilling journey through the vast reaches of space while charting an ambitious course for the heart of the bond between parent and child.
Synopsis: Thirty years ago, Clifford McBride led a voyage into deep space, but the ship and crew were never heard from... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#146

Westworld (1973)
85%

#146
Adjusted Score: 88554%
Critics Consensus: Yul Brynner gives a memorable performance as a robotic cowboy in this amusing sci-fi/western hybrid.
Synopsis: Westworld is a futuristic theme park where paying guests can pretend to be gunslingers in an artificial Wild West populated... [More]
Directed By: Michael Crichton

#145

High Life (2018)
82%

#145
Adjusted Score: 96495%
Critics Consensus: High Life is as visually arresting as it is challenging, confounding, and ultimately rewarding - which is to say it's everything film fans expect from director Claire Denis.
Synopsis: Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of... [More]
Directed By: Claire Denis

#144

Coherence (2013)
88%

#144
Adjusted Score: 90276%
Critics Consensus: A case study in less-is-more filmmaking, Coherence serves as a compelling low-budget calling card for debuting writer-director James Ward Byrkit.
Synopsis: Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing... [More]
Directed By: James Ward Byrkit

#143
Adjusted Score: 80873%
Critics Consensus: Rocky Horror Picture Show brings its quirky characters in tight, but it's the narrative thrust that really drives audiences insane and keeps 'em doing the time warp again.
Synopsis: In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), stuck with a flat tire during a storm,... [More]
Directed By: Jim Sharman

#142

Midnight Special (2016)
83%

#142
Adjusted Score: 97826%
Critics Consensus: Midnight Special's intriguing mysteries may not resolve themselves to every viewer's liking, but the journey is ambitious, entertaining, and terrifically acted.
Synopsis: The government and a group of religious extremists pursue a man (Michael Shannon) and his son (Jaeden Lieberher), a young... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Nichols

#141

Wizards (1977)
59%

#141
Adjusted Score: 61012%
Critics Consensus: Its central metaphor is a bit too on the nose, but Wizards is an otherwise psychedelic, freaky trip into an alternate version of our world.
Synopsis: After the death of his mother, the evil mutant wizard Blackwolf (Steve Gravers) discovers some long-lost military technologies. Full of... [More]
Directed By: Ralph Bakshi

#140

Annihilation (2018)
88%

#140
Adjusted Score: 108010%
Critics Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Synopsis: Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Directed By: Alex Garland

#139

Contact (1997)
66%

#139
Adjusted Score: 70084%
Critics Consensus: Contact elucidates stirring scientific concepts and theological inquiry at the expense of satisfying storytelling, making for a brainy blockbuster that engages with its ideas, if not its characters.
Synopsis: In this Zemeckis-directed adaptation of the Carl Sagan novel, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) races to interpret a possible message... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#138

The Congress (2013)
73%

#138
Adjusted Score: 75930%
Critics Consensus: The Congress rises on the strength of Robin Wright's powerful performance, with enough ambitious storytelling and technical thrills to overcome its somewhat messy structure.
Synopsis: An aging actress (Robin Wright) agrees to preserve her digital likeness for a studio to use in any future films... [More]
Directed By: Ari Folman

#137
#137
Adjusted Score: 85362%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by impressive special effects and a charming performance from its young star, Flight of the Navigator holds up as a solidly entertaining bit of family-friendly sci-fi.
Synopsis: This 1978 Disney adventure tells the story of 12-year-old David (Joey Cramer) who lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale,... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#136
#136
Adjusted Score: 94422%
Critics Consensus: Remixing Roger Corman's B-movie by way of the Off-Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors offers camp, horror and catchy tunes in equal measure -- plus some inspired cameos by the likes of Steve Martin and Bill Murray.
Synopsis: Meek flower shop assistant Seymour (Rick Moranis) pines for co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). During a total eclipse, he discovers an... [More]
Directed By: Frank Oz

#135
#135
Adjusted Score: 81593%
Critics Consensus: Alita: Battle Angel's story struggles to keep up with its special effects, but fans of futuristic sci-fi action may still find themselves more than sufficiently entertained.
Synopsis: Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#134

Ready Player One (2018)
72%

#134
Adjusted Score: 98589%
Critics Consensus: Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg's strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.
Synopsis: In 2045, the planet is on the brink of chaos and collapse, but people find salvation in the OASIS, an... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#133
#133
Adjusted Score: 66951%
Critics Consensus: The epitome of so-bad-it's-good cinema, Plan 9 From Outer Space is an unintentionally hilarious sci-fi "thriller" from anti-genius Ed Wood that is justly celebrated for its staggering ineptitude.
Synopsis: Residents of California's San Fernando Valley are under attack by flying saucers from outer space. The aliens, led by Eros... [More]
Directed By: Edward D. Wood Jr.

#132

Rollerball (1975)
68%

#132
Adjusted Score: 69687%
Critics Consensus: In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.
Synopsis: The year is 2018 in a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries. A violent futuristic game known as Rollerball... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#131

Silent Running (1972)
71%

#131
Adjusted Score: 72857%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't fulfill the potential of its ambitious themes, butSilent Running stands as a decidedly unique type of sci-fi journey marked by intimate character work and a melancholic mood.
Synopsis: After the end of all botanical life on Earth, ecologist Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) maintains a greenhouse on a space... [More]
Directed By: Douglas Trumbull

#130
#130
Adjusted Score: 85844%
Critics Consensus: Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds delivers on the thrill and paranoia of H.G. Wells' classic novel while impressively updating the action and effects for modern audiences.
Synopsis: Dockworker Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) struggles to build a positive relationship with his two children, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#129

Metropolis (2001)
87%

#129
Adjusted Score: 87540%
Critics Consensus: A remarkable technical achievement, Metropolis' eye-popping visuals more than compensate for its relatively routine story.
Synopsis: Visually stunning Japanese anime interpretation of Fritz Lang's classic film, also based on Osamu Tezuka's outstanding 1945 illustrations. A Japanese... [More]
Directed By: Rintaro

#128

Shin Godzilla (2016)
86%

#128
Adjusted Score: 90751%
Critics Consensus: Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi -- and altogether entertaining -- return to the monster's classic creature-feature roots.
Synopsis: A mysterious monster emerges from Tokyo Bay and wreaks havoc upon Japan.... [More]

#127
Adjusted Score: 82561%
Critics Consensus: Though it may be short on dazzling special effects, The Search for Spock is still a strong Star Trek installment, thanks to affecting performances by its iconic cast.
Synopsis: Adm. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) has defeated his archenemy but at great cost. His friend Spock has apparently been... [More]
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy

#126
Adjusted Score: 113388%
Critics Consensus: Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.
Synopsis: Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing... [More]
Directed By: Gareth Edwards

#125

The Fountain (2006)
53%

#125
Adjusted Score: 60766%
Critics Consensus: The Fountain -- a movie about metaphysics, universal patterns, Biblical symbolism, and boundless love spread across one thousand years -- is visually rich but suffers from its own unfocused ambitions.
Synopsis: A man (Hugh Jackman) travels through time on a quest for immortality and to save the woman (Rachel Weisz) he... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#124

Logan's Run (1976)
63%

#124
Adjusted Score: 64926%
Critics Consensus: Logan's Run overcomes its campier elements and undercooked plot with a bounty of rousing ideas and dashing sci-fi adventure.
Synopsis: In the year 2274, young residents enjoy an idyllic, hedonistic lifestyle within the protective confines of a domed city. The... [More]
Directed By: Michael Anderson

#123

The Blob (1958)
68%

#123
Adjusted Score: 70237%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its chortle-worthy premise and dated special effects, The Blob remains a prime example of how satisfying cheesy B-movie monster thrills can be.
Synopsis: A drive-in favorite, this sci-fi classic follows teenagers Steve (Steven McQueen) and his best girl, Jane (Aneta Corseaut), as they... [More]
Directed By: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.

#122

Scanners (1981)
70%

#122
Adjusted Score: 72537%
Critics Consensus: Scanners is a dark sci-fi story with special effects that'll make your head explode.
Synopsis: Scanners are men and women born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. There are many who exercise the benefits of... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#121

Things to Come (1936)
93%

#121
Adjusted Score: 97350%
Critics Consensus: Eerily prescient in its presentation of a dystopian future, Things to Come's special effects may be somewhat dated, but its potent ideas haven't aged at all.
Synopsis: It's Christmas 1940, and Everytown resident John Cabal (Raymond Massey) fears that war is imminent. When it breaks out, the... [More]

#120

Cube (1997)
64%

#120
Adjusted Score: 65916%
Critics Consensus: Cube sometimes struggles with where to take its intriguing premise, but gripping pace and an impressive intelligence make it hard to turn away.
Synopsis: Without remembering how they got there, several strangers awaken in a prison of cubic cells, some of them booby-trapped. There's... [More]
Directed By: Vincenzo Natali

#119

Strange Days (1995)
65%

#119
Adjusted Score: 67805%
Critics Consensus: Strange Days struggles to make the most of its futuristic premise, but what's left remains a well-directed, reasonably enjoyable sci-fi fantasy.
Synopsis: Former policeman Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) has moved into a more lucrative trade: the illegal sale of virtual reality-like recordings... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#118

Heavy Metal (1981)
61%

#118
Adjusted Score: 62964%
Critics Consensus: It's sexist, juvenile, and dated, but Heavy Metal makes up for its flaws with eye-popping animation and a classic, smartly used soundtrack.
Synopsis: Adventures from deep space to futuristic New York, and beyond. Each world and story is dominated by the presence of... [More]
Directed By: Gerald Potterton

#117
#117
Adjusted Score: 77574%
Critics Consensus: An offbeat, eccentric black comedy, A Boy and His Dog features strong dialogue and an oddball vision of the future.
Synopsis: Vic (Don Johnson) is a libidinous 18-year-old traversing the post-apocalyptic desert of 2024, in the company of his telepathic dog,... [More]
Directed By: L.Q. Jones

#116
Adjusted Score: 81841%
Critics Consensus: A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism, A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.
Synopsis: A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#115
#115
Adjusted Score: 78602%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After meteors enter Earth's atmosphere, blinding much of the planet's population in the process, plantlike creatures known as Triffids emerge... [More]
Directed By: Steve Sekely

#114
#114
Adjusted Score: 80653%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After Dr. Bronson (Hayden Rorke) discovers Zyra, a new planet, fellow astronomer Dr. Hendron (Larry Keating) checks Bronson's data and... [More]
Directed By: Rudolph Maté

#113

Sunshine (2007)
77%

#113
Adjusted Score: 83186%
Critics Consensus: Danny Boyle continues his descent into mind-twisting sci-fi madness, taking us along for the ride. Sunshine fulfills the dual requisite necessary to become classic sci-fi: dazzling visuals with intelligent action.
Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future, Earth's dying sun spells the end for humanity. In a last-ditch effort to save the planet,... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#112

Liquid Sky (1982)
96%

#112
Adjusted Score: 96541%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An alien creature invades New York's punk subculture in its search for an opiate released by the brain during orgasm.... [More]
Directed By: Slava Tsukerman

#111

Dark Star (1974)
78%

#111
Adjusted Score: 79146%
Critics Consensus: A loopy 2001 satire, Dark Star may not be the most consistent sci-fi comedy, but its portrayal of human eccentricity is a welcome addition to the genre.
Synopsis: A satiric look at the problems experienced by a crew of bumbling astronauts on a mission to destroy rogue planets.... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#110

Open Your Eyes (1997)
85%

#110
Adjusted Score: 87514%
Critics Consensus: Director Alejandro Amenábar tackles some heady issues with finesse and clarity in Open Your Eyes, a gripping exploration of existentialism and the human spirit.
Synopsis: Handsome 25-year-old Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) had it all -- a successful career, expensive cars, a swank bachelor's pad, and an... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

#109

Paprika (2006)
85%

#109
Adjusted Score: 87382%
Critics Consensus: Following its own brand of logic, Paprika is an eye-opening mind trip that is difficult to follow but never fails to dazzle.
Synopsis: Dr. Atsuko Chiba works as a scientist by day and, under the code name "Paprika," is a dream detective at... [More]
Directed By: Satoshi Kon

#108

Serenity (2005)
82%

#108
Adjusted Score: 88357%
Critics Consensus: Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.
Synopsis: In this continuation of the television series "Firefly," a group of rebels travels the outskirts of space aboard their ship,... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#107

Turbo Kid (2015)
91%

#107
Adjusted Score: 91465%
Critics Consensus: A nostalgic ode to kids' movies of yesteryear, Turbo Kid eyes the past through an entertaining -- albeit surprisingly gory -- postmodern lens.
Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, an orphaned teen (Munro Chambers) must battle a ruthless warlord (Michael Ironside) to save the girl... [More]

#106

THX-1138 (1971)
86%

#106
Adjusted Score: 91474%
Critics Consensus: George Lucas' feature debut presents a spare, bleak, dystopian future, and features evocatively minimal set design and creepy sound effects.
Synopsis: In the future, mankind lives in vast underground cities and free will is outlawed by means of mandatory medication that... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#105

Attack the Block (2011)
90%

#105
Adjusted Score: 96874%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, briskly-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
Synopsis: South London teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones) defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Cornish

#104

Upgrade (2018)
88%

#104
Adjusted Score: 99400%
Critics Consensus: Like its augmented protagonist, Upgrade's old-fashioned innards get a high-tech boost -- one made even more powerful thanks to sharp humor and a solidly well-told story.
Synopsis: A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife dead. A billionaire inventor soon offers... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Whannell

#103
#103
Adjusted Score: 94420%
Critics Consensus: While fans of the series will surely appreciate it, First Contact is exciting, engaging, and visually appealing enough to entertain Star Trek novices.
Synopsis: The Enterprise and its crew follow a Borg ship through a time warp to prevent the Borg from taking over... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

#102

The World's End (2013)
89%

#102
Adjusted Score: 97925%
Critics Consensus: Madcap and heartfelt, Edgar Wright's apocalypse comedy The World's End benefits from the typically hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, with a plethora of supporting players.
Synopsis: Gary King (Simon Pegg) is an immature 40-year-old who's dying to take another stab at an epic pub-crawl that he... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#101
Adjusted Score: 97055%
Critics Consensus: Employing gritty camerawork and evocative sound effects, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a powerful remake that expands upon themes and ideas only lightly explored in the original.
Synopsis: This remake of the classic horror film is set in San Francisco. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) assumes that when a... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#100

The Host (2006)
93%

#100
Adjusted Score: 98421%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
Synopsis: Careless American military personnel dump chemicals into South Korea's Han River. Several years later, a creature emerges from the tainted... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#99

A Quiet Place (2018)
96%

#99
Adjusted Score: 118865%
Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
Synopsis: If they hear you, they hunt you. A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by... [More]
Directed By: John Krasinski

#98
Adjusted Score: 110988%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series' former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.
Synopsis: Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren... [More]
Directed By: J.J. Abrams

#97

Repo Man (1984)
98%

#97
Adjusted Score: 100371%
Critics Consensus: Repo Man is many things: an alien-invasion film, a punk-rock musical, a send-up of consumerism. One thing it isn't is boring.
Synopsis: After being fired from his job, Los Angeles slacker and punk rocker Otto (Emilio Estevez) lands a gig working for... [More]
Directed By: Alex Cox

#96
#96
Adjusted Score: 70084%
Critics Consensus: A fun movie...if you can accept the excessive gore and wooden acting.
Synopsis: In the distant future, the Earth is at war with a race of giant alien insects. Little is known about... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#95
#95
Adjusted Score: 74084%
Critics Consensus: Visually inventive and gleefully over the top, Luc Besson's The Fifth Element is a fantastic piece of pop sci-fi that never takes itself too seriously.
Synopsis: In the 23rd century, a New York City cabbie, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), finds the fate of the world in... [More]
Directed By: Luc Besson

#94

V for Vendetta (2006)
73%

#94
Adjusted Score: 84194%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and thought-provoking, V For Vendetta's political pronouncements may rile some, but its story and impressive set pieces will nevertheless entertain.
Synopsis: Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V... [More]
Directed By: James McTeigue

#93

Dredd (2012)
79%

#93
Adjusted Score: 85904%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd 3D does a remarkable job of capturing its source material's gritty spirit.
Synopsis: Mega City One is a vast, violent metropolis where felons rule the streets. The only law lies with cops called... [More]
Directed By: Pete Travis

#92
Adjusted Score: 90665%
Critics Consensus: Featuring director John Sayles trademark humanity and an expressive performance from Joe Morton, The Brother from Another Planet is an observant, dryly comic sci-fi gem.
Synopsis: "The Brother" (Joe Morton) is an alien and escaped slave on the run from his home planet. After he lands... [More]
Directed By: John Sayles

#91
Adjusted Score: 70898%
Critics Consensus: Sci-fi parodies like these usually struggle to work, but Buckaroo Banzai succeeds through total devotion to its own lunacy.
Synopsis: Buckaroo Banzai is caught with his trusted allies, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, in a battle to the death between evil... [More]
Directed By: W.D. Richter

#90

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#90

#89

Dark City (1998)
76%

#89
Adjusted Score: 80497%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.
Synopsis: John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of... [More]
Directed By: Alex Proyas

#88

Under the Skin (2013)
84%

#88
Adjusted Score: 95071%
Critics Consensus: Its message may prove elusive for some, but with absorbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin is a haunting viewing experience.
Synopsis: Disguising herself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland and tries to lure unsuspecting men into... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 87170%
Critics Consensus: Filled with stunning imagery, The Man Who Fell to Earth is a calm, meditative film that profoundly explores our culture's values and desires.
Synopsis: Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is an alien who has come to Earth in search of water to save his... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Roeg

#86

The Fly (1986)
93%

#86
Adjusted Score: 98490%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
Synopsis: When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#85

Cloverfield (2008)
78%

#85
Adjusted Score: 85527%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares.
Synopsis: As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know... [More]
Directed By: Matt Reeves

#84

Men in Black (1997)
92%

#84
Adjusted Score: 97654%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.
Synopsis: They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee... [More]
Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld

#83

Tron (1982)
71%

#83
Adjusted Score: 76692%
Critics Consensus: Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.
Synopsis: When talented computer engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) finds out that Ed Dillinger (David Warner), an executive at his company,... [More]
Directed By: Steven Lisberger

#82

Bumblebee (2018)
90%

#82
Adjusted Score: 105127%
Critics Consensus: Bumblebee proves it's possible to bring fun and a sense of wonder back to a bloated blockbuster franchise -- and sets up its own slate of sequels in the bargain.
Synopsis: On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee the Autobot seeks refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach... [More]
Directed By: Travis Knight

#81

Independence Day (1996)
68%

#81
Adjusted Score: 71582%
Critics Consensus: The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.
Synopsis: In the epic adventure film "Independence Day," strange phenomena surface around the globe. The skies ignite. Terror races through the... [More]
Directed By: Roland Emmerich

#80

Barbarella (1968)
74%

#80
Adjusted Score: 79213%
Critics Consensus: Unevenly paced and thoroughly cheesy, Barbarella is nonetheless full of humor, entertaining visuals, and Jane Fonda's sex appeal.
Synopsis: Barbarella (Jane Fonda) roams 41st-century space with her blind guardian angel, Pygar (John Phillip Law).... [More]
Directed By: Roger Vadim

#79

Donnie Darko (2001)
87%

#79
Adjusted Score: 90338%
Critics Consensus: Richard Kelly's debut feature Donnie Darko is a daring, original vision, packed with jarring ideas and intelligence and featuring a remarkable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled title character.
Synopsis: In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take... [More]
Directed By: Richard Kelly

#78

Pacific Rim (2013)
72%

#78
Adjusted Score: 84164%
Critics Consensus: It may sport more style than substance, but Pacific Rim is a solid modern creature feature bolstered by fantastical imagery and an irresistible sense of fun.
Synopsis: Long ago, legions of monstrous creatures called Kaiju arose from the sea, bringing with them all-consuming war. To fight the... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#77

Idiocracy (2006)
73%

#77
Adjusted Score: 73429%
Critics Consensus: Frustratingly uneven yet enjoyable overall, Idiocracy skewers society's devolution with an amiably goofy yet deceptively barbed wit.
Synopsis: In 2005, average in every way private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is selected to take part in a secret military... [More]
Directed By: Mike Judge

#76

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
81%

#76
Adjusted Score: 82959%
Critics Consensus: Fahrenheit 451 is an intriguing film that suffuses Truffaut's trademark wit and black humor with the intelligence and morality of Ray Bradbury's novel.
Synopsis: Adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel about a future society that has banned all reading material and the job of... [More]
Directed By: François Truffaut

#75

Demolition Man (1993)
60%

#75
Adjusted Score: 60905%
Critics Consensus: A better-than-average sci-fi shoot-em-up with a satirical undercurrent, Demolition Man is bolstered by strong performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock.
Synopsis: With innocent victims caught in the crossfire in Los Angeles' intensifying war on crime, both cop John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone)... [More]
Directed By: Marco Brambilla

#74

A Scanner Darkly (2006)
68%

#74
Adjusted Score: 75003%
Critics Consensus: A faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the author's conception of a drug-addled and politically unstable world.
Synopsis: In the near future, as America virtually loses the war on drugs, Robert Arctor, a narcotics cop in Orange County,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#73

Source Code (2011)
92%

#73
Adjusted Score: 101330%
Critics Consensus: Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.
Synopsis: Helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is part of a top-secret military operation that enables him to experience the last... [More]
Directed By: Duncan Jones

#72

The Abyss (1989)
87%

#72
Adjusted Score: 90558%
Critics Consensus: The utterly gorgeous special effects frequently overshadow the fact that The Abyss is also a totally gripping, claustrophobic thriller, complete with an interesting crew of characters.
Synopsis: Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#71
Adjusted Score: 91718%
Critics Consensus: Led by Rupert Wyatt's stylish direction, some impressive special effects, and a mesmerizing performance by Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes breathes unlikely new life into a long-running franchise.
Synopsis: Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist in San Francisco, is experimenting with a drug that he hopes will cure his... [More]
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt

#70

Altered States (1980)
85%

#70
Adjusted Score: 89027%
Critics Consensus: Extraordinarily daring for a Hollywood film, Altered States attacks the viewer with its inventive, aggressive mix of muddled sound effects and visual pyrotechnics.
Synopsis: Respected scientist and psychology professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) decides to combine his experiments in sensory deprivation tanks with powerful... [More]
Directed By: Ken Russell

#69

Predestination (2014)
84%

#69
Adjusted Score: 86969%
Critics Consensus: Fun genre fare with uncommon intelligence, Predestination serves as a better-than-average sci-fi adventure -- and offers a starmaking turn from Sarah Snook.
Synopsis: A temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) embarks on a final time-traveling assignment to prevent an elusive criminal from launching an attack... [More]

#68

They Live (1988)
85%

#68
Adjusted Score: 88826%
Critics Consensus: A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter.
Synopsis: Nada (Roddy Piper), a wanderer without meaning in his life, discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#67

Seconds (1966)
78%

#67
Adjusted Score: 84362%
Critics Consensus: Featuring dazzling, disorienting cinematography from the great James Wong Howe and a strong lead performance by Rock Hudson, Seconds is a compellingly paranoid take on the legend of Faust.
Synopsis: Banker Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) gets a call one day from a friend he thought was dead. It turns out... [More]
Directed By: John Frankenheimer

#66

Soylent Green (1973)
69%

#66
Adjusted Score: 72323%
Critics Consensus: While admittedly melodramatic and uneven in spots, Soylent Green ultimately succeeds with its dark, plausible vision of a dystopian future.
Synopsis: In a densely overpopulated, starving New York City of the future, NYPD detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder... [More]
Directed By: Richard Fleischer

#65
Adjusted Score: 91339%
Critics Consensus: One of Disney's finest live-action adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings Jules Verne's classic sci-fi tale to vivid life, and features an awesome giant squid.
Synopsis: In 1866, Professor Pierre M. Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre), stranded in San Francisco by reports... [More]
Directed By: Richard Fleischer

#64

The Hunger Games (2012)
84%

#64
Adjusted Score: 97734%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
Synopsis: In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them... [More]
Directed By: Gary Ross

#63

Avatar (2009)
81%

#63
Adjusted Score: 94655%
Critics Consensus: It might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but Avatar reaffirms James Cameron's singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking.
Synopsis: On the lush alien world of Pandora live the Na'vi, beings who appear primitive but are highly evolved. Because the... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#62

Minority Report (2002)
90%

#62
Adjusted Score: 97592%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller.
Synopsis: Based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report" is an action-detective thriller set in... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#61
Adjusted Score: 97200%
Critics Consensus: While Alphaville is by no means a conventional sci-fi film, Jean-Luc Godard creates a witty, noir-ish future all his own.
Synopsis: Government agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) is dispatched on a secret mission to Alphaville, a dystopian metropolis in a distant... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard

#60

Them! (1954)
93%

#60
Adjusted Score: 97809%
Critics Consensus: One of the best creature features of the early atomic age, Them! features effectively menacing special effects and avoids the self-parody that would taint later monster movies.
Synopsis: While investigating a series of mysterious deaths, Sergeant Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) finds a young girl (Sandy Descher) who is... [More]
Directed By: Gordon Douglas

#59

Videodrome (1983)
78%

#59
Adjusted Score: 82397%
Critics Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.
Synopsis: As the president of a trashy TV channel, Max Renn (James Woods) is desperate for new programming to attract viewers.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#58

Snowpiercer (2013)
94%

#58
Adjusted Score: 104212%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters.
Synopsis: A post-apocalyptic ice age forces humanity's last survivors aboard a globe-spanning supertrain. One man (Chris Evans) will risk everything to... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#57
Adjusted Score: 103697%
Critics Consensus: One of the best political allegories of the 1950s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an efficient, chilling blend of sci-fi and horror.
Synopsis: In Santa Mira, California, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is baffled when all his patients come to him with the... [More]
Directed By: Don Siegel

#56

Predator (1987)
82%

#56
Adjusted Score: 84704%
Critics Consensus: Predator: Part sci-fi, part horror, part action -- all muscle.
Synopsis: Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 92781%
Critics Consensus: Planet of the Apes raises thought-provoking questions about our culture without letting social commentary get in the way of the drama and action.
Synopsis: Complex sociological themes run through this science-fiction classic about three astronauts marooned on a futuristic planet where apes rule and... [More]
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner

#54

Mad Max 2 (1981)
94%

#54
Adjusted Score: 97780%
Critics Consensus: The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.
Synopsis: After avenging the death of his wife and young son at the hands of a vicious gang leader, Max (Mel... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#53

Star Trek (2009)
94%

#53
Adjusted Score: 109157%
Critics Consensus: Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.
Synopsis: Aboard the USS Enterprise, the most-sophisticated starship ever built, a novice crew embarks on its maiden voyage. Their path takes... [More]
Directed By: J.J. Abrams

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 91311%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, Escape from New York is a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.
Synopsis: In 1997, a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding, and the entire island of... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 91191%
Critics Consensus: Though it's dated in spots, The War of the Worlds retains an unnerving power, updating H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi tale to the Cold War era and featuring some of the best special effects of any 1950s film.
Synopsis: Scientist Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) are the first to arrive at the site of... [More]
Directed By: Byron Haskin

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 120779%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right.
Synopsis: Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has... [More]
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

#49

Galaxy Quest (1999)
90%

#49
Adjusted Score: 94479%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and humorous satire with an excellent cast -- no previous Trekkie knowledge needed to enjoy this one.
Synopsis: The stars of a 1970s sci-fi show - now scraping a living through re-runs and sci-fi conventions - are beamed... [More]
Directed By: Dean Parisot

#48

Fantastic Voyage (1966)
91%

#48
Adjusted Score: 93666%
Critics Consensus: The special effects may be a bit dated today, but Fantastic Voyage still holds up well as an imaginative journey into the human body.
Synopsis: The brilliant scientist Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) develops a way to shrink humans, and other objects, for brief periods... [More]
Directed By: Richard Fleischer

#47

Solaris (1972)
92%

#47
Adjusted Score: 98823%
Critics Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.
Synopsis: A psychologist is sent to a space station orbiting a planet called Solaris to investigate the death of a doctor... [More]
Directed By: Andrei Tarkovsky

#46

Her (2013)
94%

#46
Adjusted Score: 105292%
Critics Consensus: Sweet, soulful, and smart, Spike Jonze's Her uses its just-barely-sci-fi scenario to impart wryly funny wisdom about the state of modern human relationships.
Synopsis: A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

#45

The Iron Giant (1999)
96%

#45
Adjusted Score: 101301%
Critics Consensus: The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.
Synopsis: In this animated adaptation of Ted Hughes' Cold War fable, a giant alien robot (Vin Diesel) crash-lands near the small... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#44

Fantastic Planet (1973)
91%

#44
Adjusted Score: 90532%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
Synopsis: This animated tale follows the relationship between the small human-like Oms and their much larger blue-skinned oppressors, the Draags, who... [More]
Directed By: René Laloux

#43

Total Recall (1990)
82%

#43
Adjusted Score: 87434%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
Synopsis: Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a bored construction worker in the year 2084 who dreams of visiting the colonized Mars.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#42

Moon (2009)
90%

#42
Adjusted Score: 96875%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Sam Rockwell's intense performance, Moon is a compelling work of science-fiction, and a promising debut from director Duncan Jones.
Synopsis: Astronaut Sam Bell's (Sam Rockwell) three-year shift at a lunar mine is finally coming to an end, and he's looking... [More]
Directed By: Duncan Jones

#41

The Martian (2015)
91%

#41
Adjusted Score: 107209%
Critics Consensus: Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.
Synopsis: When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#40

Gravity (2013)
96%

#40
Adjusted Score: 109984%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
Synopsis: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#39

Interstellar (2014)
72%

#39
Adjusted Score: 88285%
Critics Consensus: Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp.
Synopsis: In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#38
Adjusted Score: 101335%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by Charlie Kaufman's smart, imaginative script and Michel Gondry's equally daring directorial touch, Eternal Sunshine is a twisty yet heartfelt look at relationships and heartache.
Synopsis: After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey)... [More]
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#37

Looper (2012)
93%

#37
Adjusted Score: 103710%
Critics Consensus: As thought-provoking as it is thrilling, Looper delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action.
Synopsis: In a future society, time-travel exists, but it's only available to those with the means to pay for it on... [More]
Directed By: Rian Johnson

#36
Adjusted Score: 99252%
Critics Consensus: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.
Synopsis: Science fiction adventure about a group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) witnesses an... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#35

Arrival (2016)
94%

#35
Adjusted Score: 121925%
Critics Consensus: Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
Synopsis: Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations... [More]
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

#34

Ex Machina (2014)
92%

#34
Adjusted Score: 103686%
Critics Consensus: Ex Machina leans heavier on ideas than effects, but it's still a visually polished piece of work -- and an uncommonly engaging sci-fi feature.
Synopsis: Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a... [More]
Directed By: Alex Garland

#33

WALL-E (2008)
95%

#33
Adjusted Score: 105657%
Critics Consensus: Wall-E's stellar visuals testify once again to Pixar's ingenuity, while its charming star will captivate younger viewers -- and its timely story offers thought-provoking subtext.
Synopsis: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#32
Adjusted Score: 110804%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#31

Godzilla (1954)
93%

#31
Adjusted Score: 100824%
Critics Consensus: More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.
Synopsis: A fire-breathing behemoth terrorizes Japan after an atomic bomb awakens it from its centuries-old sleep.... [More]
Directed By: Ishirô Honda

#30

Forbidden Planet (1956)
96%

#30
Adjusted Score: 99430%
Critics Consensus: Shakespeare gets the deluxe space treatment in Forbidden Planet, an adaptation of The Tempest with impressive sets and seamless special effects.
Synopsis: In this sci-fi classic, a spacecraft travels to the distant planet Altair IV to discover the fate of a group... [More]
Directed By: Fred McLeod Wilcox

#29

12 Monkeys (1995)
89%

#29
Adjusted Score: 93669%
Critics Consensus: The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience.
Synopsis: Traveling back in time isn't simple, as James Cole (Bruce Willis) learns the hard way. Imprisoned in the 2030s, James... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#28

Jurassic Park (1993)
92%

#28
Adjusted Score: 102598%
Critics Consensus: Jurassic Park is a spectacle of special effects and life-like animatronics, with some of Spielberg's best sequences of sustained awe and sheer terror since Jaws.
Synopsis: In Steven Spielberg's massive blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#27

Primer (2004)
73%

#27
Adjusted Score: 76416%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
Synopsis: Intellectual engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends... [More]
Directed By: Shane Carruth

#26

Stalker (1979)
100%

#26
Adjusted Score: 103174%
Critics Consensus: Stalker is a complex, oblique parable that draws unforgettable images and philosophical musings from its sci-fi/thriller setting.
Synopsis: In an unnamed country at an unspecified time, there is a fiercely protected post-apocalyptic wasteland known as The Zone. An... [More]
Directed By: Andrei Tarkovsky

#25

Gattaca (1997)
83%

#25
Adjusted Score: 85785%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
Synopsis: Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 99156%
Critics Consensus: A stunning feat of modern animation, Ghost in the Shell offers a thoughtful, complex treat for anime fans, as well as a perfect introduction for viewers new to the medium.
Synopsis: In this Japanese animation, cyborg federal agent Maj. Motoko Kusanagi (Mimi Woods) trails "The Puppet Master" (Abe Lasser), who illegally... [More]
Directed By: Mamoru Oshii

#23

Brazil (1985)
98%

#23
Adjusted Score: 100777%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam's visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
Synopsis: Low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) escapes the monotony of his day-to-day life through a recurring daydream of himself as... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#22
Adjusted Score: 90996%
Critics Consensus: Considered by many fans to be the best of the Star Trek movies, Khan features a strong plot, increased tension, and a sharp supporting performance from Ricardo Montalban.
Synopsis: As Adm. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Capt. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) monitor trainees at Starfleet Academy, another vessel from... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Meyer

#21

District 9 (2009)
90%

#21
Adjusted Score: 102336%
Critics Consensus: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.
Synopsis: Thirty years ago, aliens arrive on Earth -- not to conquer or give aid, but -- to find refuge from... [More]
Directed By: Neill Blomkamp

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 95135%
Critics Consensus: Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor.
Synopsis: In an England of the future, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his "Droogs" spend their nights getting high at the Korova... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#19

RoboCop (1987)
90%

#19
Adjusted Score: 95719%
Critics Consensus: While over-the-top and gory, Robocop is also a surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture.
Synopsis: In a violent, near-apocalyptic Detroit, evil corporation Omni Consumer Products wins a contract from the city government to privatize the... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#18
Adjusted Score: 102081%
Critics Consensus: Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.
Synopsis: When a UFO lands in Washington, D.C., bearing a message for Earth's leaders, all of humanity stands still. Klaatu (Michael... [More]
Directed By: Robert Wise

#17

Akira (1988)
90%

#17
Adjusted Score: 93563%
Critics Consensus: Akira is strikingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime.
Synopsis: In 1988 the Japanese government drops an atomic bomb on Tokyo after ESP experiments on children go awry. In 2019,... [More]
Directed By: Katsuhiro Ôtomo

#16

Children of Men (2006)
92%

#16
Adjusted Score: 101450%
Critics Consensus: Children of Men works on every level: as a violent chase thriller, a fantastical cautionary tale, and a sophisticated human drama about societies struggling to live.
Synopsis: When infertility threatens mankind with extinction and the last child born has perished, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#15

The Terminator (1984)
100%

#15
Adjusted Score: 105178%
Critics Consensus: With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks.
Synopsis: Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#14

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
91%

#14
Adjusted Score: 104406%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
Synopsis: When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj.... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#13

Aliens (1986)
97%

#13
Adjusted Score: 104458%
Critics Consensus: While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.
Synopsis: After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team.... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#12
Adjusted Score: 104208%
Critics Consensus: Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.
Synopsis: The adventure continues in this "Star Wars" sequel. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)... [More]
Directed By: Irvin Kershner

#11

The Thing (1982)
82%

#11
Adjusted Score: 88509%
Critics Consensus: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter's The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.
Synopsis: In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 114455%
Critics Consensus: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller's post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
Synopsis: Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#9

Alien (1979)
98%

#9
Adjusted Score: 108927%
Critics Consensus: A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
Synopsis: In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#8
Adjusted Score: 98521%
Critics Consensus: T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters.
Synopsis: In this sequel set eleven years after "The Terminator," young John Connor (Edward Furlong), the key to civilization's victory over... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#7

Inception (2010)
87%

#7
Adjusted Score: 101366%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Synopsis: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with the rare ability to enter people's dreams and steal their secrets from... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#6

The Matrix (1999)
88%

#6
Adjusted Score: 95175%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects.
Synopsis: Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can... [More]

#5
Adjusted Score: 105728%
Critics Consensus: A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.
Synopsis: The Imperial Forces -- under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#4

Metropolis (1927)
97%

#4
Adjusted Score: 110464%
Critics Consensus: A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.
Synopsis: This influential German science-fiction film presents a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a... [More]
Directed By: Fritz Lang

#3

Blade Runner (1982)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 99674%
Critics Consensus: Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott's mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece.
Synopsis: Deckard (Harrison Ford) is forced by the police Boss (M. Emmet Walsh) to continue his old job as Replicant Hunter.... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 103089%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.
Synopsis: In this 1980s sci-fi classic, small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the '50s when... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 106047%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential of all sci-fi films -- and one of the most controversial -- Stanley Kubrick's 2001 is a delicate, poetic meditation on the ingenuity -- and folly -- of mankind.
Synopsis: An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

(Photo by Well GO USA/ courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Train to Busan

If you’re looking for more movies like Train to Busan, the South Korean zombie classic that sunk its teeth into savvy filmgoers and hasn’t let go since its 2016 release, why not first punch your ticket for something in the shared universe? Check out Seoul Station, an animated prequel to Busan, directed by the same guy, Yeon Sang-ho. He was primarily an animation director before Busan (that was his live-action debut), and he followed that up with 2018’s Psychokinesis, his take on the superhero genre which also had a father-and-daughter relationship driving the plot. Yeon will be back in 2020 with Peninsula, another story set in the world of Train to Busan.

For more from South Korean, consider checking out Rampant, a period piece action epic about – true to history, we’re sure – a zombie outbreak. Deranged and The Wailing are also about illness and outbreak in contemporary SK. (For more quality choices from the region, see our list of 30 Certified Fresh South Korean movies.)

If you’re really into the whole train setting, seek out Snowpiercer, directed by Parasite‘s Bong Joon-ho, The Cassandra Crossing, about a biological weapon that may have been set loose in the caboose, and Howl, wherein a passenger train and its riders have to deal with an outbreak…of werewolves.

Zombie godfather George A. Romero spent his career exploring the different stages of undead chaos: from infection, to pandemic, to normalization. His last great film, Land of the Dead, explored the latter, depicting society that had tenuously adapted to a new, dark way of living. Carriers, The Road, and The Crazies (a remake of a Romero movie) are further entertaining, credible looks at society-destroying diseases in America.

Of course, if you consider yourself a Train to Busan fan, you might also think of yourself an adventurous movie-watcher, ready for pandemic and outbreak movies beyond the borders of America. To that, we’ve assembled suggestions from the UK (28 Weeks Later, Children of Men, The Girl With All The Gifts), Japan (I Am a Hero), France (Ravenous, The Night Eats the World), Germany (Rammbock: Berlin Undead), and Spain ([REC]).

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 30115%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Terrorists have planted a deadly virus on a transcontinental train. On board are the glamorous Jennifer Chamberlain (Sophia Loren) and... [More]
Directed By: George Pan Cosmatos

#19

Deranged (2012)
60%

#19
Adjusted Score: 14126%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jae-hyuk tries to find a cure after his wife and children come down with a mysterious infection that causes people... [More]
Directed By: Park Jeongu

#18

Rampant (2018)
62%

#18
Adjusted Score: 52062%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Returning from imprisonment abroad, a prince and his fellow countrymen band together to battle bloodthirsty demons in ancient Korea.... [More]
Directed By: Kim Seong-hun

#17

Howl (2015)
63%

#17
Adjusted Score: 62064%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Train passengers band together to fight a deadly creature.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Hyett

#16

Carriers (2009)
66%

#16
Adjusted Score: 65729%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a virus threatens to wipe out humanity, Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), his brother Brian (Chris Pine), and their friends... [More]
Directed By: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor

#15

The Crazies (2010)
70%

#15
Adjusted Score: 75579%
Critics Consensus: Tense, nicely shot, and uncommonly intelligent, The Crazies is a horror remake that, unusually, works.
Synopsis: Anarchy reigns when an unknown toxin turns the peaceful citizens of Ogden Marsh into bloodthirsty lunatics. In an effort to... [More]
Directed By: Breck Eisner

#14

28 Weeks Later (2007)
71%

#14
Adjusted Score: 79379%
Critics Consensus: While 28 Weeks Later lacks the humanism that made 28 Days Later a classic, it's made up with fantastic atmosphere and punchy direction.
Synopsis: Six months after the original epidemic, the rage virus has all but annihilated the population of the British Isles. Nevertheless... [More]

#13

The Road (2009)
74%

#13
Adjusted Score: 81876%
Critics Consensus: The Road's commitment to Cormac McCarthy's dark vision may prove too unyielding for some, but the film benefits from hauntingly powerful performances from Viggo Mortensen and Kodi McPhee.
Synopsis: America is a grim, gray shadow of itself after a catastrophe. A man (Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (Kodi... [More]
Directed By: John Hillcoat

#12

Land of the Dead (2005)
74%

#12
Adjusted Score: 80997%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's latest entry in his much-vaunted Dead series is not as fresh as his genre-inventing original, Night of the Living Dead. But Land of the Dead does deliver on the gore and zombies-feasting-on-flesh action.
Synopsis: In a world where zombies form the majority of the population, the remaining humans build a feudal society away from... [More]
Directed By: George Romero

#11

Psychokinesis (2018)
80%

#11
Adjusted Score: 51400%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A father with newly acquired superpowers sets out to help his estranged daughter before she loses everything.... [More]
Directed By: Yeon Sang-ho

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 87955%
Critics Consensus: The Night Eats the World finds a few unexplored corners in the crowded zombie genre, with a refreshing emphasis on atmosphere and character development.
Synopsis: After waking up in an apartment the night after a raging party, Sam comes face to face with his new... [More]
Directed By: Dominique Rocher

#9
Adjusted Score: 94049%
Critics Consensus: The Girl with All the Gifts grapples with thought-provoking questions without skimping on the scares -- and finds a few fresh wrinkles in the well-worn zombie horror genre along the way.
Synopsis: In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist and a... [More]
Directed By: Colm McCarthy

#8

The Ravenous (2017)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 88120%
Critics Consensus: Uncommonly restrained for a movie about a flesh-eating menace, Ravenous offers a satisfyingly nuanced entry in the crowded zombie apocalypse subgenre.
Synopsis: A village in Quebec is terrorized by a flesh-eating plague.... [More]
Directed By: Robin Aubert

#7

Rec (2007)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 89819%
Critics Consensus: Plunging viewers into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege, [Rec] proves that found footage can still be used as an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror.
Synopsis: A reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman record the horrifying outbreak of a disease that turns humans into vicious cannibals.... [More]

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 34120%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Michael (Michael Fuith) and Anna (Anna Graczyk) barricade themselves in an apartment when a zombie plague rips through Berlin.... [More]
Directed By: Marvin Kren

#5

I Am a Hero (2015)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 64998%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man witnesses a fatal traffic accident on his way home from work, and the victim is clearly killed on... [More]
Directed By: Shinsuke Sato

#4

Children of Men (2006)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101450%
Critics Consensus: Children of Men works on every level: as a violent chase thriller, a fantastical cautionary tale, and a sophisticated human drama about societies struggling to live.
Synopsis: When infertility threatens mankind with extinction and the last child born has perished, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#3

Snowpiercer (2013)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 104212%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters.
Synopsis: A post-apocalyptic ice age forces humanity's last survivors aboard a globe-spanning supertrain. One man (Chris Evans) will risk everything to... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#2

The Wailing (2016)
99%

#2
Adjusted Score: 102586%
Critics Consensus: The Wailing delivers an atmospheric, cleverly constructed mystery whose supernatural thrills more than justify its imposing length.
Synopsis: Suspicion leads to hysteria when rural villagers link a series of brutal murders to the arrival of a mysterious stranger... [More]
Directed By: Na Hong-jin

#1

Seoul Station (2016)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100806%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and relentless from start to finish, Yeon Sang-ho's Seoul Station is a layered and vicious entry into the zombie genre.
Synopsis: A man desperately searches for his runaway daughter as the government struggles to shut down the area around a zombie... [More]
Directed By: Yeon Sang-ho

“Babies!! They’re babies!!” Yes, Shredder, they are babies, and one day when you’re all grown-up, you too will appreciate the miracle of birth. Just ask Bridget Jones’ Baby — whose mother endured ugly Christmas sweaters and middle-aged manfights and a previous sequel where we assume stuff happened — crowning this Friday after gestating years in development hell. But because Rotten Tomatoes is never one to pass up a cause célèbre, here’s this week’s gallery of 24 most momentous movie babies!

Diego Luna

Diego Luna is bristling at RT’s suggestion he pick just five favourite films. “It’s really unfair to have to say only five films,” he complains as he picks his final choice. “This barely covers my life; I’m up to about the age of 16 by the end of the list!”

The 29-year-old has been acting since before 16 in his home country of Mexico, but burst onto the international stage aged 22 as part of the trio of leads in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y Tu Mama Tambien. That film marked his first collaboration with Gael Garcia Bernal (see his five favourites here), a partnership that continues – this time with Cuaron’s brother Carlos at the helm – with Rudo and Cursi, out now in UK cinemas.

Indeed, the Cuaron connection is another sticking point for Luna. “I’d also want to say that when I saw Children of Men, for me it wasn’t only a fantastic film, but it was an important film for me because not only do I know the guy but I’ve worked with him, collaborated with him. Every time I have something I show it to Alfonso and hear what he has to say. I’d actually say that film is, for me, the most important film today because it’s a relationship I’m still working on and learning from.”

But what of his final list? Read on to find out more.


Diego Luna

Bambi

Bambi

“It’s so corny, but it was the first film I saw and the thing about the mother hit me really badly. I remember it was a good connection with my sister, who was fifteen years older. I was about 5 or 6.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief

“I’m still kind of psychoanalysing myself but my first shock was with the relationship between the mother and then the father. To find out that your parents are not perfect and in fact they do behave sometimes like thieves to protect you, it was powerful.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

“Three Italians! I remember crying really badly with that when all the films in the projection room are on fire. I remember that also it was a film that when I was really young I could see myself reflected in the younger part of the film. And you can grow with the film, you know. When you become more mature you find a lot of sadness in the story of the old guy while he’s watching at the beginning and the end.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Amarcord

Amarcord

“Still with the Italians, I’m sorry! With many things in life you’re there because there’s a cute girl around that you want to go out with and you end up finding magic. You end up not caring about the girl but wanting to stay there because of what you found. That happened with Amarcord to me. I really thought a lot about creating images and the connection that cinema had with theatre in a way. That film feels a little bit like theatre. I lived all my life watching theatre and it’s when I found the connection with what I was watching and could do in my life.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

“This was a really important movie for me as a teenager. It was a movie I could have fun with, that I thought was a piece of art and that I thought was doing something modern that had to do with my life. Cinema until then, the ones I really appreciated were done by guys that lived in a different reality from mine and were talking about something in the past that had connections with what I was living but I would have to make an effort to be part of the story and make it work for my reality. With the Coen brothers I thought I was looking at something which was an idea from the day before, you know, and also the commitment they had to their point of view was amazing. I felt excited and it was the perfect film to fall in love with when I was young.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.

RT Interview: Director Carlos Cuaron on Rudo and Cursi

Brother of Children Of Men helmer Alfonso Cuaron and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of sizzling Mexican roadtripper Y Tu Mama Tambien, Carlos Cuaron makes his directorial debut with comedy drama Rudo and Cursi. He inked the script, too, which sees Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as rival siblings going head to head as professional footballers. Rudo is the tough-guy goalkeeper. Cursi is the happy-go-lucky goal-machine. Something has to give. Powered by their energetic performances, it’s spiky, frantic, funny and, according to Cuaron, nothing to do with football…


Rudo and Cursi

[tomatometer]MuzeID=10011128[/tomatometer]

Are Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna any good at football in real life?

Carlos Cuaron: I cannot say they are the worst players… but they are not as good as Rudo and Cursi! We all play in the same Saturday league, although they don’t play that often because they’re always working or touring. They used to play in a team that I founded 23 years ago. We just have fun.

How much of the salty banter between Gael and Diego is ab-libbed?

CC: It’s all scripted. There’s very little improv, because we didn’t need it. Maybe only two or three bits. I was looking for naturalness and the dynamic these two guys have together is just amazing.

Why did you decide not to shoot the football scenes?

CC: When I was writing the script, I knew didn’t want to make a sports movie. I was very clear that I wanted to make a sibling rivalry story. So when I was writing the script, the football was getting in the way of the drama. One day, I saw Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, which is probably the most violent film I’ve ever seen — but the violence is off camera. When I finished watching the film, I said, ‘Hey, that’s what I have to do.’ Haneke gave me this solution.

Rudo and Cursi

Gael Garcia Bernal in Rudo and Cursi

Why haven’t been any great football films?

CC: Sports like baseball or baseball are easy to dramatise, because all of them have a pause and that helps with the tension. Football never stops. I’m a football fan. I believe in the beauty of the game. If you are a fan, you have two choices. Go to the stadium, where you see the whole beauty of it. Or stay at home, watch the beautiful moves on the slo-mo cameras. Don’t go to the cinema, because you won’t see it there.

So did you use the penalty kicks as your action scenes?

CC: Exactly. The only moment football really stops is with a penalty kick — and that is a moment that is really dramatic. A penalty kick becomes a Western duel. It’s two guys facing each other. Destiny and potential death, whether metaphorical or literal. That’s why in the penalty kick at the end of the film, I shot it like an homage to the Sergio Leone Westerns I saw when I was a kid, especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.

Your brother, Alfonso, produced Rudo and Cursi. What do you think is his best film?

CC: I think Children Of Men is just amazing. I’m not a Harry Potter fan but I enjoyed Azkaban. I did Y Tu Mama Tambien with him and I think it’s a beautiful movie. But when he says that A Little Princess is his most personal film, I know that it is. It was our first feature. Whenever we talk about it, I tell him, ‘We were so unconscious. We knew shit, man!’ I didn’t even know how scripts were written! I hope I could do that again. But how can you recapture that freshness? I think Francois Truffaut said that a director’s first film is his best because it is his purest. And that’s probably true.

What’s next for you? Something in Hollywood, maybe?

CC: I have an agent in Hollywood and he’s looking for material. If I get the offer and I feel I relate to that material, I will do it. I would love to do a horror film, a thriller, a tearjerker… I like diversity. I would just like to sustain my sense of humour!

Rudo and Cursi is out in the UK today.

Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation

The news that one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time was to get a full-fat reboot predictably sent cyborg fanboys into paroxysms of joy. For about 10 minutes. That Arnie, otherwise engaged running the world’s fourth largest economy, wouldn’t be back was partly compensated for by the casting of Christian Bale. But the revelation that McG was to be at the helm put an abrupt stop to the celebrations. Recently, though, the tide’s been turning with trailers and longer assemblages revealing a gritty war movie with more in common with Mad Max and Children of Men than Charlie’s Angels. RT talked exclusively to the much-maligned McG about the rise of his machines…


Terminator Salvation

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Pitch Terminator Salvation to us.

McG: The whole idea for doing this movie is to honour the first three movies but begin again. The big difference is we’re post-Judgement Day, whereas the other pictures were all contemporary, with Terminators coming back in time. It’s deep post-Judgement Day, it’s a new beginning, and because the future is malleable, there are a great many places to go.

One of the joys of this picture is it explores the space between Judgement Day and the becoming of the T800. So we get to see all the research and development that went into the proficiency of the T800. It’s like an Apple computer; the first ones you got 15 years ago had 2 megs of memory, and they weren’t so fast. And now today it’s the Macbook air and it does back flips. You know, it’s the same thing with the Machine world. And it suggests a world that’s less based in science fiction than it was when Jim Cameron was making the movies.

How do you mean?

McG: Well we live in a time where if you have an arthritic shoulder, they’ll give you a new one. We can make a 70-year-old woman pregnant, and deconstruct the human genome. And certainly the days of talking to a psychiatrist about your mommy and daddy issues are over — they just want to manipulate your serotonin levels. And therefore it’s real — it’s here. It’s now. That wasn’t the case when Ridley Scott made Blade Runner, or the first Terminator pictures, or even when the first Matrix came out. So in response our film was designed to have that tactile reality of Children of Men, or even the Bourne franchise.

Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale and Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation.
Click here for more Terminator Salvation images.

Are there obvious elements in the previous movies that have to come back into play in yours?

McG: Certainly. We pay off a great many things that are established — particularly with Kyle Reese. We talk about the mythology of his shotgun strap, his proficiency for stealing cars, and we see where he learned a lot of these skills. And it wasn’t from Connor, it was from the Marcus character, which is one of the joys of the picture. We cite “Pain can be controlled, you just disconnect it,” you know, and we realise where he got that, and there’s a great many tidbits for the hard-core fans out there. But it’s designed as well for people who don’t know that much about the ins and outs of the first films.

Any “Hasta la vista, baby” moments?

McG: We’re working on a few. But I would never be so bold as to say we’ll have that good fortune of, you know, stuff sticking around to that degree. [Laughs]

You’ve got a really talented team of writers on board.

McG: Yeah, we wanted it to be written with the deftest pens possible. There’s a writing team called Ferris and Brancato that wrote the original draft. Then when I got involved, I brought in Paul Haggis, we worked for about 2 months on the script, with Christian as well. He taught us a great deal about character. Then we brought in Jonathan Nolan — who wrote the Batman pictures, Prestige, and largely Memento. So it’s a very cerebral bunch that’s here to make a film of the highest quality.

Continue onto the next page as McG talks about the challenges of shooting the film, his approach to CGI and whether he could take Linda Hamilton in a fight.

Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation


Terminator Salvation

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What were the most complicated scenes to shoot?

McG: Well a lot of the scenes take place in one shot, and figuring out places to hide the cuts… Again, I go to Children of Men — the car sequence, where the motorbikes come, and Julianne Moore is shot, and the whole thing plays in one shot. Figuring that out is very difficult, and you’ve got to figure out exactly where you’re going to have your blend points; you need to measure everything off, and consult with the visual effects people.

There’s a big gas station sequence that had that, and that was very, very tedious, and very, very technical filmmaking. And that’s why I love this film — one day we’re shooting a very intimate, character-driven scene, and there’s nothing going on but Connor and his wife in a room, and she’s the only one he can talk to about what’s on his mind. And then the next day we’re, you know, blowing up half of New Mexico, and going to a place of extraordinary action. So those are decidedly different hats to wear, day in, day out.

Do you deliberately do as much physically as you can? George Lucas would shoot the whole thing on a green screen, with guys wearing ping-pong balls…

McG: I say with respect to George Lucas, who I adore, I don’t like that at all. This is why Stan Winston‘s team is here. We do as much practically and in camera as possible. I want the machines to be real and we built all the machines. We built all the prosthetics. And then they’re accentuated and added to, certainly.

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Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation.
Click here for more Terminator Salvation images.

McG: I believe in visual effects completely. But I just don’t believe in saying, “throw up the green screen, and let’s make it happen.” I think the audience has become so skilled in recognising that – they sniff it out and it loses its potency. We’re going to have 800 CGI shots in this — I mean it’s a CG festival, that’s why I brought in the best minds in the business to come in and get it done – but we don’t just say, “put a blue sleeve on the Marcus character,” I mean — the guy spent six hours in make-up.

How do you inject humour and warmth into this universe?

McG: I don’t. There’s not a great deal of humour and warmth in this universe. It’s very largely influenced by the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road. It’s designed to feel that way — detached and existential, it’s got a great deal of Camus’ The Stranger in it. But there’s a gallows humour. We could all be in a bunker somewhere, and every now and again, you elbow the guy next to you and you make a wisecrack — what else are you going to do? It’s one of the defining characteristics of being human, even in the face of death. But the movie is designed to be very serious and very credible.

Could you take Linda Hamilton in a fight?

McG: Most certainly not. After those pull-ups in the psychiatric ward, I don’t think I could make that happen.

Terminator Salvation is released in the US on 21st May, in the UK on 3rd June and in Australia on 4th June.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last four years, you know that the cheesy old sci-fi TV series known as Battlestar Galactica got picked up, dusted off, and given the all-time, grand champion, mother of all reboots. Solidly led by a couple of veteran movie actors (Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell), BSG has garnered a reputation as one of the best shows on TV. But don’t just call it a sci-fi show; its so much more than that. It’s about love and loss. It’s about what it means to be a soldier, and what it’s like to be a refugee. It’s about religion and fanaticism. It’s about government and corruption. But mostly it’s about our own humanity, and what it really means to be human. Since some of us here are at RT are huge BSG fans (and we’re betting some of you are too), in honor of the beginning of the end (starting next week), we thought we’d share a list of “thinking man’s” sci-fi films; sci-fi stories that aren’t about laser battles or rampaging mutants, but more thoughtful pieces on what it really means to be human.

By the way, if you’re wondering who we think is the final Cylon, as you can imagine, we’re still arguing about that; when pressed, most of us that watch the show suspect President Laura Roslin (even if she doesn’t know it). But Editor in Chief Matt Atchity is going with an extreme longshot and betting that the final Cylon will be revealed as Zack Adama.


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Planet of the Apes

We like to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution — or the divinely appointed head of the food chain, whichever you prefer — but what if our inability to transcend our biggest flaws (like, say, our thirst for war) resulted in humans losing their top-dog status? These were the questions asked by Pierre Boulle’s novel, La planète des singes, adapted for the big screen by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling for this 1968 classic. Planet of the Apes took some liberties with Boulle’s book, but that’s par for the course with adaptations — and the changes worked, most notably Serling’s addition of the film’s classic twist ending, which Boulle said he wished he’d come up with himself. Blending thought-provoking commentary and popcorn action at a level few science fiction films had achieved, Planet struck such a chord that it spun off multiple sequels, a television show, and Tim Burton’s 2001 remake (not to mention the reboot that’s reportedly in the works). As Variety noted on the film’s release, “Planet of the Apes is an amazing film.”



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Dark City

Philosophers and scientists have been trying to locate the seat of the human soul for as long as there have been philosophers and scientists, and we’re arguably no closer now than we were when we started — so it would be unreasonable to expect a 100-minute science fiction film to solve the riddle, or even shed any new light on the subject. Dark City probably doesn’t do either of those things, but it does provide plenty of nifty special effects, and blends sci-fi and noir more enthusiastically than any major entry in the genre since Blade Runner. For some critics, this wasn’t enough to forgive City‘s occasionally incomprehensible plot (eFilmcritic’s Rob Gonsalves called it “one of the most ludicrous movies in years”), but most scribes responded to director/co-writer Alex Proyas’ stylish visuals, and some fell completely in love with it; the Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter, for one, declared that “if you don’t fall in love with it, you’ve probably never fallen in love with a movie, and never will.”.


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Sleeper

Science fiction is often accused of taking itself too seriously, but leave it to Woody Allen to provide the exception to the rule with 1973’s Sleeper, a hilarious twist on H.G. Wells’ When the Sleeper Wakes. As health food store owner Miles Monroe, Allen goes to the hospital to have his ulcer looked at, is accidentally cryogenically frozen for 200 years, and wakes up as the unwitting leader of a pack of revolutionaries who need him to assassinate a nose. (Don’t ask, just laugh.) Although Sleeper certainly isn’t the only sci-fi film to tackle the ethical questions of cloning — heck, it isn’t even the only one on this list — it’s definitely the funniest; as Christopher Null of Filmcritic wrote, “pound for pound and minute for minute, Sleeper may just have more laughs in it than any other Woody Allen movie.”



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Gattaca

Though quite a few sci-fi movies offer commentary on political debates, very few of them do so as explicitly as Gattaca, which offers a potential end point to the advances in genetic engineering — and the public’s concern regarding said advances — that dominated headlines for a time in the ’90s. Helping to erase memories of his years spent playing angsty twentysomethings who were prone to saying things like “there’s a planet of regret on my shoulders,” Ethan Hawke plays Vincent, a man born through natural means (an “in-valid”) rather than with the aid of genetic pre-selection. The flaws in Vincent’s DNA keep him from his dream of becoming an astronaut, but he manages to secure the aid of a “valid” named Jerome (Jude Law) who’s willing to loan him his genetic profile. Some critics yawned and poked at the holes in the plot, but most were charmed by Gattaca‘s thoughtfulness and complexity, both of which were in rather short supply during the Men in Black era. As Jeffrey Overstreet of Looking Closer wrote, “there’s a window on a possible future, a warning about the wages of sin, and enough beauty to make this a lasting classic of modern science fiction.”.


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Primer

Like any genre, science fiction has its share of clichés — and anything relating to time travel probably belongs on that list. But few films have ever dealt with time travel — or the many personal and ethical questions that could arise from ownership of the technology — with the level of intelligence that Shane Carruth’s ultra low-budget Primer brought to the table. The story of two garage scientists who accidentally build a time machine, Primer eschews whiz-bang special effects for a nuts-and-bolts look at the science behind the device, and a cold, hard look at how quickly and easily a friendship can be torn asunder by unchecked power and bottomless greed. It certainly isn’t for everyone — the reams of technical dialogue prompted critics such as the BBC’s Matthew Leyland to dismiss it as “one of the most willfully obscure sci-fi movies ever made” — but if you can absorb the material, it’s uncommonly gripping. Time Out’s Jessica Winter was appreciative, saying “this film imagines its viewers to be smart, possessed of a decent attention span and game for a challenge. It doesn’t happen all that often.”



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Children of Men

Unlike a number of the movies on this list, Children of Men works even if you don’t like sci-fi — and don’t particularly care for thought-provoking movies, either. Yes, it grapples with some heavy issues — most notably, the idea that human hope is tied inorexably to our ability to reproduce — but it also moves with Bourne-like speed and intensity, bounding from one white-knuckle setpiece to another (and packing some truly incredible cinematography as it goes, courtesy of Emmanuel Luzbecki). Director Alfonso Cuarón wasn’t shy about loading his adaptation of the P.D. James novel with visual statements on man’s cruelty to man and the folly of governing through fear, but he doesn’t linger on them; instead, he trusts his audience to absorb the story’s subtext, and rewards them with one of the most rip-roaring dystopian sci-fi films you’re ever likely to see. It deserved the heaps of praise it received from critics like the St. George Spectrum’s Bruce Bennett, who called it “an apocalyptic thrill ride that is as gritty as it is gripping, with a dark terror outgunned only by its daring humanity.”.


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Solaris

Most early sci-fi took the urge for space exploration — and the generally humanoid appearance of extraterrestrials — for granted, but with his 1961 novel Solaris author Stansislaw Lem brought another perspective to the genre, opting instead to use outer space as a backdrop for an examination of the human psyche. Solaris also turned the tables on its explorers, gradually revealing that although they believed they were examining the titular watery planet, it was in fact learning all about them — including a terrible array of dark secrets they thought were buried. In bringing Lem’s novel to the big screen, director Andrei Tarkovsky took some liberties (which annoyed Lem, natch), but critics didn’t mind, praising Solaris‘ quiet, beautifully complex medidation on love and communication. Although Tarkovsky later lamented the film’s inability to transcend the sci-fi genre, his movie still resonated with critics like Roger Ebert, who mused “there was so much to think about afterward, and so much that remained in my memory.”



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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Is it a sci-fi spin on Moses’ trip up Mount Sinai? A piece of Cold War commentary? A manifestation of writer/director Steven Spielberg’s love for his parents? The motivations behind Close Encounters of the Third Kind have been debated countless times since it landed on screens in 1977, but no matter which angle you view it from, what can’t be argued is the gentle-yet-overwhelming optimism of its message. Shifting the spotlight away from intergalactic battles, Spielberg instead focused on the need for simple communication — and the belief that despite our many problems, human beings are indeed capable of building friendships with beings from other planets. Even the New York Times’ Vincent Canby couldn’t help but crack a smile, pronouncing Close Encounters “a work that borrows its narrative shape and its concerns from those earlier films, but enhances them with what looks like the latest developments in movie and space technology.”


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Blade Runner

Decades before Dolly the sheep grabbed headlines, Philip K. Dick pontificated on the thorny ethical implications — and possible effects — of cloning and genetic tinkering in his 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It took nearly 15 years to reach the screen (and wasn’t all that enthusiastically received by critics once it finally arrived), but Androids eventually inspired Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, a sci-fi/noir blend that pits humans against bio-engineered workers called replicants in a grimy future version of L.A. Though it tanked at the box office and was initially shrugged off by many critics (the Los Angeles Times’ Sheila Benson famously called it “Blade Crawler”), Blade Runner‘s stock rose steadily over the years, eventually attaining classic status. It’s been reissued more times than Elvis Costello’s back catalog — including 2007’s mammoth five-disc “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” — but this is one film that arguably deserves multiple versions. In the words of the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum, Blade Runner is “the most remarkably and densely imagined and visualized SF film since 2001: A Space Odyssey, a hauntingly erotic meditation on the difference between the human and the nonhuman.”



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2001: A Space Odyssey

In making 2001: A Space Odyssey with Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick set out to make what he called “the proverbial good science fiction movie,” and although critics were divided at the time as to whether or not he achieved his goal, 2001 has aged exceptionally well — in fact, it’s hard to imagine any list of smart sci-fi movies without it. As for what it all means, well…part of 2001‘s enduring appeal is how open to interpretation it all is, something surely recognized by Kubrick, who rebuffed all attempts to get him to explain the film’s heavy symbolism. And even if you find yourself shaking your head at some of the more difficult-to-understand moments, it’s hard to argue with the attention to technical detail, the stunning visuals, or the way Clarke and Kubrick presaged decades of computer-related anxiety. It also helped bring sci-fi out of the margins; in the words of the BBC’s Almar Haflidason, “its triumph lies in its scope of cinematic splendour and the attempt to marry some of man’s most beautiful music to the infinite mystery of space.”

Neil Marshall

Just a few scenes into Doomsday and we know we’re watching the work of someone who adores post-apocalyptic films, with every scene littered with references to end-of-the-world classics from the 70s and 80s. And writer-director Neil Marshall readily admits that’s exactly what he was going for.

“Right from the start, I wanted my film to be an homage to these sorts of movies, and deliberately so,” he says. “I wanted to make a movie for a new generation of audience that hadn’t seen those movies in the cinema – hadn’t seen them at all maybe – and to give them the same thrill that I got from watching them. But kind of contemporise it, pump up the action and the blood and guts.”

This is a rather surprising shift for the filmmaker behind Dog Soldiers and The Descent, two claustrophobic thrillers that got deep into their characters’ heads. But Doomsday is a big, loud action movie, and Marshall reveals to RT readers the films that inspired him most…


The Road Warrior (1981)

The Road WarriorThe three Mad Max movies set the bar for this kind of movie, but for me personally it’s the second one. I do love the third one, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985); there are elements in it that are rubbish, but most of it’s pretty good. The first one, Mad Max (1979), has a great car chase at the start – a real jaw-dropper – and a pretty good one at the end, but the rest of it is quite slow. But with The Road Warrior, once the bondage gear comes out – the Mohawks and all that kind of stuff – it was like, “Wow, OK, we haven’t seen this before.” My thinking is that if you’re in the apocalypse and you survive, you’re going to choose to wear a leather jacket instead of a tweed suit. People are going to look like punks, because it looks cool!

The Road Warrior is so concise, beautifully written and beautifully directed. I love the use of cars and locations. And Mel Gibson is just so perfect in that role. He hardly says a word, but when he does speak, it counts. Like him, Rhona Mitra‘s character in my film, Eden Sinclair, is a police officer who has a history. So there’s another connection.


Doomsday


Escape from New York (1981)

The Road WarriorWhat a fantastic vision and idea, and certainly my film is a huge homage to this film, what with the concept of something being walled off and all the gang warfare. The anarchic spirit of that movie is definitely something I was going for. And of course Eden Sinclair has an obvious connection with Snake Plisken. It’s no accident that she wears an eyepatch in the film. But I said right from the start that if I was going to have her wear an eyepatch, I’d have a bloody good reason for that. So the eyepatch became a plot point, with the fake eye and the camera. And that also enabled us to have her not wear the eyepatch all the time. So that was fun.


Excalibur (1981)

ExcaliburThis isn’t a post-apocalyptic film, but it had that same ethos, and it’s one of the films that deeply inspired me when I first saw it. I think John Boorman did a wonderful job with the whole genre; no one has ever touched the artistry of it. I mean, compare it to King Arthur! Excalibur has that beautiful look about it – it’s so rich, and I wanted to tap into that a little bit. There’s just a kind of logic in that they’re living in this castle, and they’ve gone to a feudal society and have divided into tribes at war with each other. Scotland is full of these amazing fortresses, so what better place to hide out? They’re all museums as well, so they’re all going to be full of suits of armour and swords and stuff. Maybe go that way – you don’t need to find ammunition when you’ve got bows and arrows and other useful kit.

Doomsday


The Warriors (1979)

The WarriorsOne of my biggest inspirations is Walter Hill. He made these very tough, very violent adult action movies during that period. And The Warriors is just a classic example. It’s completely nuts – just the visual style of the gang warfare. When I first saw it I took it as being pretty literal, like this kind of stuff was going on in New York. And now of course he’s explained that it was very much an exaggeration and he sees it as a comic book movie. And I don’t see it that way at all. I love the idea of these crazy gangs roaming around New York – it’s scary but fun. But its world is New York at night, and it’s a brilliant depiction. And he did a similar kind of thing with Streets of Fire, another great movie. It’s not post-apocalyptic, but it’s certainly set in a nonspecific future world.


No Blade of Grass (1970)

It’s about a virus that wipes out all the crops in the UK, and there’s bikers roaming the countryside, somebody trying to make their way up north, and they end up hiding in a country house full of soldiers – just like in 28 Days Later. And it was made more than 10 years before Mad Max. I think 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later are great movies, but they’re very straight-faced, and I wanted to make mine a lot of fun. It’s not to be taken seriously, really.

Doomsday


The Omega Man (1971)

My generation’s version of the whole empty city thing. It’s a subgenre that I really like. This generation has had 28 Days Later and I Am Legend. But I prefer the gritty, darker side of it.

Doomsday


A Boy and His Dog (1975)

I like the world of it, and that sort of sun-scorched look. And I just loved the relationship between Don Johnson and his dog, and then at the end when they eat the girl – one of the best endings ever. I think that’s kind of where the whole Sean Pertwee sequence in my film comes from – the cannibalism idea.


Waterworld (1995)

I just love that gritty thing, with everyone just scavenging to survive, and how they’ve adapted to the future world. Although some of those things don’t really go there enough.

Doomsday


Gladiator (2000)

I think Ridley Scott gave us the most amazing spectacle put on screen in years. It’s brutal and giant. And it’s what my film is about – trial by combat. I wanted to put Eden Sinclair through that, and she’s not supposed to survive it. And I just liked the idea of this little woman facing off against this seven-foot knight in armour and managing to outwit him. She’s not stronger than him, but she outsmarts him, and I thought that was a lot of fun.

Doomsday


Children of Men (2006)

An excellent movie. But it was kind of frustrating that it came out during the course of making this film. Oh great, let’s do a version of post-apocalyptic London after they do it, and they had something like a $130m budget. So we knew we were going to have to make ours more bloody and more fun.

 

BAFTA is putting the final preparations in place for BAFTA Goes to Mexico in association with ezylet.co.uk, a weekend of special Mexican events that starts tonight with a glitzy party and a celebration of the work of director Alfonso Cuaron. RT-UK caught up with Cuaron ahead of the celebrations to talk about Mexican filmmaking, keeping it in the family and, of course, the possibility of a return to the world of Harry Potter.

RT-UK: You must be having a busy week, I imagine you have a bunch of friends coming in for the BAFTA celebration…

AC: Actually it’s the first time I’ve seen people here, today. I’ve been really busy, though, I’ve been writing and supervising the film that my brother Carlos is shooting in Mexico – he wrote Y Tu Mama Tambien and he’s directing his first feature. It’s Gael [Garcia Bernal] and Diego [Luna], the same cast of Y Tu Mama Tambien, I’m producing that with Guillermo [del Toro] and Alejandro [Gonzalez Innaritu]. Then I’m producing a short that Jonas, my son, is directing that is going to Venice. And his feature film is going to Venice too, so it’s a lot of stuff going on!

RT-UK: It seems like it’s a good time to be a Mexican filmmaker.

AC: The most important thing, I think, is the community; that’s what’s more exciting than anything else. It’s really a community that supports each other and it’s a community that’s extremely politically aware. It’s a community that understands that sometimes cinema is a means for something more important. In that sense it’s a community that, even with aesthetic differences sometimes, comes together for the important issue. It’s really exciting to be a part of that.

And it’s also a community that has decided to, finally, erase the borders so it’s not about Mexicans it’s about filmmakers. A big chunk of the Argentinean and Brazilian community are making fantastic films and there’s no difference between them and the Mexican community; it’s pretty-much the same. It’s about filmmakers that you bond with. I have so many good friends in that community and we’re always looking to collaborate.

RT-UK: You’ve started a production company with Guillermo and Alejandro, is that going to continue your form of making films both in Mexico and the rest of the world of various different ideas and sizes?

AC: The thing is that the company doesn’t have a nationality, in a sense. Right now we’re producing Carlos’ film in Mexico but there’s a plan to do this other film in Argentina and probably one that’ll be in America. For us it’s not about Mexico, it’s just about filmmakers. I believe in what Marco Muller from the Venice Film Festival talks about as nomad cinema. You can see it in Sokurov films, that he can do Russian Ark in Russian in Saint Petersburg in the Hermitage Museum and he can do The Sun about Hirohito in Japanese in Japan. Both films have the same soul and the same heart of this filmmaker who happens to be Russian. This community of filmmakers that are bonding are doing so because they have the same approach, I think.

RT-UK: It seems to be the case that you’re able to preserve a certain sense of passion whether you’re making Y Tu Mama Tambien or Harry Potter which are clearly very different films.

AC: Yeah, hopefully. They’re mine so it’s kind-of difficult to talk about because I’m too close to them, but I can see it in the work of my peers; I can see it in Guillermo through Pan’s Labyrinth and then I watch Hellboy and I can see that same passion again; it manifests, for me, in the girl in Pan’s Labyrinth and the teenager on the roof in Hellboy; those two are Guillermo del Toro. Two different manifestations of the same thing.

RT-UK: Does being around Guillermo, Alejandro and the rest of that community make you raise your own game?

AC: We’re brutally honest with each other. Sometimes painfully honest! But that’s an amazing comfort, you know, because you know that you don’t have to be trying to smell the bullshit around. I trust their judgement and I know that if they’re going to get tough on me it’s coming from the standpoint of caring and love. That just pushes the envelope. If I’m getting lazy or anything or if I talk about the next project I’m going to do, sometimes they’ll tell me, “You know what, that’s becoming lazy. You’re not trying to stretch yourself. You can do that, but it’s boring. Go and do it, become a ‘bureaucrat of cinema,'” as we say.

And it’s not exclusive to those two either; I can have these conversations with Fernando Trueba or Emanuele Crialese. It’s very obvious to see the Mexicans just because we’ve known each other for a long time and I guess it’s easy to identify the three of us together, but each one of us has relationships with other filmmakers that we’re in constant communication with. There’s this attitude of love of filmmaking and love for filmmakers. Yeah, there are filmmakers that are very competitive but, then, maybe they don’t want to be your friends!

RT-UK: It’s not about movies being better than each other; it’s about having a good raft of great movies…

AC: Well that’s the thing, I love my work but I really admire seeing a great film and when I see a great film I tend to want to meet with and talk with the filmmaker. In most cases you realise it goes both ways; a communication is established and in many cases a relationship is established, and once you’ve established that relationship it’s a great support to know that you can rely on somebody else. You can call and ask someone for advice. Obviously with Guillermo and Alejandro there’s baggage, there’s history, and that makes everything very telepathic, very second-hand.

RT-UK: Making Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appeared to be a strange decision after Y Tu Mama Tambien, but it also appeared to lead to the chance to make Children of Men – what’s the story behind that?

AC: Well, actually, I wrote Children of Men right after Y Tu Mama Tambien and that didn’t happen at the time. Of course Harry Potter helped make Children of Men happen. That’s one of those beautiful coincidences; I did Harry Potter because it crossed into my life and I was completely unfamiliar with the material. Guillermo is the one who kept on telling me, “You need to read it.” Originally I was making jokes about them offering it to me. I read it and I really fell in love with it. It just made sense, you know, and when I did it I spent the two most beautiful years of my life doing that film. After one of the perks was that I could do Children of Men; it’s just one of those things, I’ve been very lucky. Sometimes you have to just not follow your ego as the perception you wish people had of you, you have to follow what you feel is the right thing and you have to understand why you’re making those choices.

That was the thing about Harry Potter, I have to say, it was something instinctual that I knew I had to do it. When you commit to a movie you’re committing one or two years of your life to a movie, and that affects what you do with your life. I don’t want to get really old and realise that I’ve wasted my life making films. I want to look back and say that I lived and that I was making films as I was living. It’s the combination of all of that stuff.

RT-UK: Is the Potter universe something you’d like to return to?

AC: You know, it was such a great opportunity and such a beautiful two years and everything around Harry Potter – JK Rowling’s creation – is enveloped in this really beneficial energy. I got the benefits of that energy for those two years. So yes I’d be very tempted to do so even though, at this point, I feel a little bit like I have to try to do the films that are not going to exist without me. On the same token, I would be really tempted because it was really beautiful. I just started reading the last book and something I respect is the care the producers have put in the film franchise. It would have been so easy after the success of the series just to take the cynical approach of knowing that no matter what people are going to see those movies. Actually they’ve been taking a lot of care from beginning to end, so yeah I would be really tempted.

Hey, remember action star Vin Diesel? Well, he’s back.

Aside from "The Pacifier," "Find Me Guilty," and a really goofy cameo in "Tokyo Drift," we haven’t seen a whole lot from Vin Diesel lately — especially in the action genre. Looks like all that’s about to change with the arrival of Mathieu Kassovitz‘s "Babylon A.D." And if this behind-the-scenes teaser trailer is any indication, it’s going to be a pretty chaotic affair.

Click here to see the teaser at Vin’s official site, and then pop back here to let us know if the promo clip has you pumped to see "Babylon A.D." The IMDb describes the plot like this: "Veteran-turned-mercenary Thoorop (Diesel) takes the high-risk job of escorting a woman from Russia to China. Little does he know that she is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest in order to produce a genetically modified Messiah."

So it’s "Children of Men" meets "Cherry 2000." And I really ought to offer a bonus prize to anyone who actually remembers "Cherry 2000."

Scheduled for release next February, "Babylon" is the second English-language feature from the French filmmaker. His first was … "Gothika." But "Gothika" didn’t have tigers, strippers, fistfights, explosions, and Michelle Yeoh.

Source: One Race Films

Although the idea of a sci-fi western is nothing new, I’m down for any movie that deals with cowboys AND aliens — let alone one that puts both of ’em in the title.

According to Variety, Universal and DreamWorks will work together to bring Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s "Cowboys & Aliens" to the big screen. The writing team of Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus will be on adaptation duty. (Their other films include "First Snow," "Children of Men," and the upcoming "Iron Man.")

As this is only one of a few dozen graphic novels I really ought to read, we’ll rely on our source for a plot synopsis:

"Set in 1800s Arizona, a skirmish between cowboys and Apaches is interrupted by the crash landing of a space ship. The alien commander plans to tame the Old West and enslave everyone, but the cowboys and Native Americans turn their six-guns against the alien invaders."

So let me get this straight: It’s going to have cowboys … AND aliens?

Source: Variety

Bryan Singer’s "Superman Returns" cleaned house at the Saturn Awards over the weekend. (Hey, don’t laugh. The Saturn Awards have been around for over 30 years and they pay some fine attention to the genre films we all love so much.)

Check out these winners and then tell me the Saturn folks don’t have pretty good taste:

Best Science Fiction Film: "Children of Men"
Best Fantasy Film: "Superman Returns"
Best Horror Film: "The Descent"
Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film: "Casino Royale"
Best Animated Film: "Cars"
Best International Film: "Pan’s Labyrinth"
Best Actor: Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns")
Best Actress: Natalie Portman ("V for Vendetta")
Best Supporting Actor: Ben Affleck ("Hollywoodland")
Best Supporting Actress: Famke Janssen ("X-Men: The Last Stand")
Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Ivana Baquero ("Pan’s Labyrinth")
Best Director: Bryan Singer ("Superman Returns")
Best Writing: Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris ("Superman Returns")
Best Music: John Ottman ("Superman Returns")
Best Costume: Yee Chung-Man ("Curse of the Golden Flower")
Best Makeup: Todd Masters and Dan Rebert ("Slither")
Best Special Effects: John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall ("Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest")

Best DVD Release: "The Sci-Fi Boys"
Best DVD Special Edition Release: "Superman II"
Best DVD Classic Film Release: "Gojira"
Best DVD Collection: James Bond Ultimate Edition
Best DVD Television Series: "Masters of Horror"
Best Retro Television Series on DVD: "Adventures of Superman"

They also gave out some TV awards, which you can check out at Sci-Fi.com. (There’s also a full list of nominees so you can see which flicks got beat up by Superman.) I think they might be just a bit too much drooling over "Superman Returns," but hey, I’m not on the voting committee.

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