10 best sci-fi films of all time, chosen by Tim Robey

From the UK Daily Telegraph:

From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Solaris, Telegraph film critic Tim Robey lists his 10 sci-fi films of all time.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 
From man’s origins to his rebirth, Kubrick concentrates on technology – the primitive weapon of a femur bone becomes a space station in cinema’s most famous match-cut, and AI reaches a point where HAL 9000 is more human than the humans.

Planet of the Apes (1968) 
A topsy-turvy political allegory about the misuse of civilisation, with Charlton Heston as the stranded astronaut being thrust to the bottom of an even baser society than his own. Amazingly, Fox just thought they were making a monkey movie.

Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison in The Planet of the Apes.

Blade Runner (1982) 
An extraordinary feat of cyberpunk design, wrapped around an equally extraordinary premise about replicants raging against the dying of the light. Harrison Ford’s Deckard could easily be one of them – witness his unicorn dream in the Director’s Cut.

 

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 
It could have been little more than a movie about an extremely weird dog from space, but Spielberg’s subtle bead on childhood made it so much more. Simple yet profound visual ideas – the glowing finger, the flying bike – give it unbelievable lift-off.

Read a review of E.T The Extra-Terrestrial

 

The Thing (1982) 
The same summer as Scott and Spielberg’s masterpieces, John Carpenter made his: a squirmy, what-the-hell-is-that experience which suggests some close encounters are best avoided. In the freezing Antarctic, look carefully at your neighbour.

 

Back to the Future (1985) 
The best kind of gee-whizz blockbuster, and so beautifully low-tech about its devices – the gull-winged DeLorean as a time machine is a stroke of design genius. The mad-science aspects of the story delight constantly, as do the stars.

 

Brazil (1985) 
Originally titled 1984½, Terry Gilliam’s crazily ambitious riff on Orwell is a dystopian comedy about a world stuffed to bursting point: one clerical error and it threatens to burst. A nightmare of retro-futuristic oppression, outfitted with mad bravura.

 

Aliens (1986) 
On all fronts a spectacular expansion of Alien, especially in the ways it pits machinery against biology, and follows the creature’s whole life-cycle back to its source: what’s laying the eggs? Ripley’s confrontation with the Queen is truly inspired.

 

The Fly (1986) 
Teleporting Jeff Goldblum gets an unwanted housefly trapped in his DNA, and becomes a missing link we weren’t missing. Cronenberg updates the 1958 original with hideous imaginative flair but also great sympathy – file it under Best Remakes, too.

 

 

Solaris (2002) 
And another great remake, even beating Tarkovsky, because of its crystalline beauty as a thought-piece about the tyranny of memory. A huge flop for Soderbergh and Clooney, but scene for scene it’s their riskiest, most philosophical movie.

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