Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Science Fiction Movies (No Space or Aliens)


Well, I have two science fiction films in my All-Time Top Five. Sadly, my favorite of those two is ineligible here, what with the "No Space or Aliens" rule. That movie is Steven Spielberg's 1977 sci-fi masterpiece Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's okay. He made another one that works here.

This is good though because I have some good ones lined up, thought-provoking, futuristic tales of warning about what Man might be capable of, or what we one day might go through. No doubt, my favorite sort of sci-fi comes from the Utopia/Dystopia dynamic we love so much as movie fans. I also dig robots. I love time travel. There's a bit of all that here today. No space. No aliens.


So, it's Thursday, and it's time for another installment of Wandering through the Shelves' ever so much fun Thursday Movie Picks. This week it's Science Fiction Movies (with no space or aliens).

Here are my picks:

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Dir. James Cameron, 1991


When I was a kid, this movie was the shit. My Mom actually let me watch this when I was like 8 years old. I have no idea why. It is bloody, foul-mouthed, and features one of the grittiest scenes in my memory, the one where Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) goes after the Skynet designer, Miles Dyson (Joe Morton). Man, that scene is intense. James Cameron is a genius, no matter what you think of Avatar. He created some of the finest sci-fi action movies ever made. This is the best of the non-space/alien variety for me. Time-traveling robot in the form of Ahnold. Oh yes! T-1000 dude (Robert Patrick) that turns into liquid metal. Sweet! This movie is awesome! Way better than the original. Way better than all the sequels, prequels, etc., that I've seen.

Minority Report
Dir. Steven Spielberg, 2002


Minority Report is one of the most exciting, entertaining movies I've ever seen. I seriously want to watch it all the time. Tom Cruise is perfect here, as is his character, Chief Anderton, an officer in charge of the Pre-Crime Division of the Washington, D.C. police circa 2054. In this future, murder has been eradicated in the Nation's Capital through the use of Pre-Cogs, including one brilliantly characterized by Samantha Morton, beings that are harnessed for their ability to predict murders before they happen. When Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) shows up from the Justice Department looking for a flaw, a big one comes to pass, creating one of the great non-stop chases in movie history. And Max von Sydow is used to perfection here as the Pre-Crime Director Lamar Burgess. His turn here is fascinating. Oh, and that John Williams score. The best.

Children of Men
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 2006


Now, this movie, my second Cuarón pick in as many weeks, is currently sitting in the five spot in my All-Time Top Five list. Children of Men changed the game for me, in my love of movies in general. I have never been so blown away by a dystopian sci-fi story. The basic plot surrounds burnt-out former activist, Theo (Clive Owen) living in a devastated London in a devastated U.K. on a devastated Earth circa 2027.  For years, women have been unable to give birth, and the world is a mess for obvious reasons. When his ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore), now the leader of a "terrorist" organization bent on change, makes contact with him, Theo goes on a mission that may change the world. Cuarón's direction is nothing short of perfect, matched by Chivo Lubezki's unbelievable skill behind the camera. Action sequences have never been made this way. Think of Michael Bay. Now think of the exact opposite of that. Oh, yeah. And Michael Caine plays an old pot-smoking hippy.

Click here to read an essay I wrote on this one. 

26 comments:

  1. I like all three of these movies, especially Children of Men. In fact, I love Children of Men. That film is just amazing.

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    1. Children of Men blows me away every time.

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  2. I should have known you would pick the last two. I love Children of Men, and the car scene still blows my mind. Terminator is a great sleeper pick here.

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    1. Thanks, Bird. You know how I love those second two. They are both in my Top Ten ever. We should watch Terminator 2 soon. It's been ages.

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  3. Two great picks in Terminator 2 Judgement Day and Children of Men (I haven't seen Minority Report). Children of Men is stunning - that action scene done in one take is breathtaking.

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    1. That scene is unreal. Many scenes are. The opening shot is long and ends in such a shock. Love it. You should see Minority Report. It's one of Spielberg's best, no doubt.

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  4. Great picks! I prefer the first Terminator, I think it's probably just because it was the first and so instantly classic but T2 is a lot of fun. Minority Report is excellently made and quite exciting, I even like Cruise in it (not a common occurrence) though I think Colin Farrell is better then he is. Samantha Morton walks away with top acting honors though. Love Children of Men. I found the ending jarring when I saw it, on reflection however that was probably the filmmakers intent.

    Here's my three for the week:

    Source Code (2011)-As part of a secret military operation Colter Stevens is placed repeatedly in the body of a man during the last eight minutes of his life to find out the identity of the terrorist who blew up a commuter train and prevent them from striking again. As he goes through the calamity time and again he begins to see a way to prevent the original tragedy. A clever premise excitingly directed with a strong lead performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.

    Back to the Future III (1990)-Marty McFly and Doc Brown head out to the Old West by way of the flux capacitor where Doc finds love but also runs afoul of gang of bandits. After the scattershot BTTFII the series finds its legs again recapturing its sense of wonder and winds up with this charming and fun comic sci-fi western.

    Fahrenheit 451 (1966)-François Truffaut’s only English language film is a terrifically chilly affair based on the Ray Bradbury classic. In the future Montag, a firemen whose job is to search for and burn books begins to question his existence. The masses, now called Cousins are under various degrees of mind control but there are still pockets of protesters who strive to keep knowledge alive. A perfectly cast film with amazing production design. Julie Christie is super in a dual role.

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    1. I think I've just seen T2 more, and that's why it's held so well for me. It was just so big when I was a kid.I was just an infant when the original came out. I agree. Cruise in unusually effective in Minority Report but Ferrell really does steal the show in some cases. Morton is amazing in that role. I can't imagine how hard that role was to play, and she nailed it. The ending of Children of Men is definitely jarring but so affecting. That movie put me in awe the first time I saw it. I literally couldn't move.

      I've always wanted to see Source Code and Moon, Duncan Jones' other one. I just never got to it. Need to change that.

      Back to the Future III is a great pick. It is incredibly charming, though I'm one of those that adores Part II. I even like it a bit better than this one. I do like how III ties everything up so well, though. Such a fun movie. I'd love it if you read my essay on the Back to the Future Trilogy. Here's the link: http://speaksinmovielines.blogspot.com/2015/02/when-i-was-thirty-back-to-future-trilogy.html.

      I have only read the novel Fahrenheit 451. Never got to the movie. I've seen bits and pieces here and there but have never done it. It is easily one of the best sci-fi stories ever told though. No doubt about that. Love that Truffaut made this one.

      Thanks for sharing here, Joel. Always great to see your picks.

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    2. You really must watch Fahrenheit 451, it's look is so sharp and it's loaded with good work. I saw it the first time in a theatre when the print had been remastered and it was reissued for a brief run. That of course is the ultimate viewing experience but they've done a good job with the DVD. My copy has a commentary by Julie Christie, I nearly died of happiness when I found that out!, and she offers some nice backstage tidbits about the making of the film and how one of the iconic scenes and images wasn't planned but a happy accident that Truffaut saw the opportunity for and took it.

      I'll definitely be reading your essay, looking forward to it!

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    3. Excellent! Can't wait to hear what you think. And I'll definitely check out Fahrenheit 451. I've always wanted to see it.

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  5. I've only seen one of your picks this week, Terminator 2 which I also used for my post. Out of every Terminator movie I've seen (haven't seen Rise of the Machines or Genisys yet) which I realize only leaves the first two and Salvation, I have to say Judgment Day was the best.

    Mike's Cinema

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  6. I've seen all of these and liked them all, esp. Minority Report. In fact, it's one of my fave sci-fi movies. I decided to only include films from the past 5 years on my list, otherwise I'd have picked these film too!

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    1. Nice. Minority Report is the best. I re-watched it again after picking it here. It's still great! Love the look of it. So tonally perfect.

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  7. Children of Men is my top movie of '06. Period. T2 is a classic. I actually like the first better, but they're both great. Happy to see Minority Report getting so much love this week. It is such a wonderful movie.

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  8. Great picks! Love all three movies, especially Children of Men.

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  9. Love the inclusion of Children of Men! Such a fantastic movie and great story

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    1. Thanks. You said it. The story is brilliant.

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  10. Love all 3. Children of Men, in particular is such an amazingly well-directed film, just shows Cuaron's immense talent as a filmmaker.

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    1. His talent is nearly unmatched these days. Can't wait to see what he does next.

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  11. Minority report was picked by so many people. I think I have to watch it immediately.

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    1. Yes. Immediately. It's that great!

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  12. Somehow I forgot Children of Men. I love Children of Men! Even read the book because of it.

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