My 12 Favorite SF Movies
By Robert W. Bly, Founder,

The Terminator

  1. District 9.
  2. A million man-sized bug-like alien creatures -- given the pejorative nickname of "prawns" -- stranded on Earth are corralled in a detention camp called District 9. They live in crowded conditions under the watchful eye of MNU, a private corporation hired to manage the camp.

    The protagonist, Wikus van der Merwe, is a corporate bureaucrat - a midlevel manager with MNU. Because his father-in-law is a senior executive with MNU, he gets a promotion to a position that puts him in more direct contact with the aliens.

    Wikus is accidentally sprayed with a fluid that causes him to begin to mutate into a prawn. Taken prisoner by his own agency for study, he discovered horrible mistreatment of the aliens, including vivisection to unlock the secrets of their DNA, which is needed to activate alien weapons and other technology.

    As he mutates, he befriends a prawn named Christian and the alien's young son. Christian and son are planning to activate a disabled spaceship to return to their home planet. Christian promises to cure the protagonist in exchange for help with the escape.

  3. Enemy, Mine.
  4. Based on a story by Barry Longyear, "Enemy, Mine" is set in a future where humans are at war with a reptilian humanoids species, the Drak.

    A human (Dennis Quaid) and Drak (Lou Gossett, Jr.) crash-land on an asteroid. At first they try to kill each other, and then realize they need to work cooperatively to survive. Gradually they transition from enemies into grudging allies into friends.

    Drak have sexual organs of both sexes and therefore can reproduce asexually. The Drak gives birth, but something goes wrong, and he dies in childbirth. It is up to Dennis Quaid's character to raise the infant Drak - child of a race he knows almost nothing about - and protect him from human pirates who would kidnap him into slavery or even kill him.

  5. Silent Running.
  6. Bruce Dern is Freeman Lowell, an astronaut in charge of a gigantic spaceship carrying the last surviving forests of Earth. When his crewmates tire of their mission and decide to jettison the payload, Freeman kills them and continues on in space, guardian of the last of our planet's flora and fauna, with only three robot drones to accompany him on his lonely voyage.

  7. Soylent Green.
  8. Charlton Heston is a cop and Edgar G. Robinson his assistant in this futuristic film. Global warming envelopes the planet with unbearable heat; people live in poverty with not enough food to feed them. Real food is nearly impossible to come by and only the wealthy can afford it. The rest of the populace eats a tasteless synthetic food wafer called Soylent Green.

    To control rioting, cops in bulldozers patrol the streets, scooping up unruly crowds. At the movie's end, Heston discovers and shouts out the government's horrible secret: Soylent Green is made from the people scooped up in the streets.

  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  10. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's classic SF film. Aliens left a monolith on the moon. When astronauts uncover the monolith on the moon, it signals the aliens that mankind has progressed to a point where humans are capable of space travel. A crew journey into space on a rocket equipped with a super computer called Hal to track the source of the signal.

  11. The Matrix.
  12. Atomic weapons set off by intelligent computers to annihilate man have blanketed the Earth in nuclear winter, cutting off the solar rays that powered the machines. The computers breed humans and use the heat from their comatose bodies as a power source. The humans are kept passive in a dream state called The Matrix - a computer-generated world that we see instead of reality. A number of humans have escaped becoming plug-in batteries, live underground, and revolt against the machines trying to exterminate or enslave them.

  13. Forbidden Planet.
  14. Astronauts land on a planet whose sole occupants seem to be a Morbius, a brilliant but eccentric scientist, and his daughter. The scientist lives there to study and master technology installed and abandoned there by a race of superior aliens, and has used the technology to boost his intelligence to super-genius level. A monster made of pure energy threatens the astronauts. The monster is generated unconsciously by Morbius' machine-enhanced brain, a projection of his desire to stop the spacemen from discovering the secret of the planet and its alien machinery.

  15. Planet of the Apes.
  16. A space mission goes wrong and the rocket crash lands on a planet. One of the astronauts, Taylor, is captures by the natives, a race of intelligent apes who rule the planet. There are also humans on the planet, but they are an inferior, mute species, dominated by the apes. Taylor discovers that he in fact has not traveled to a distant planet but to the future. The planet is an Earth on which monkeys have evolved and humans devolved so that they are the masters and we the animals.

  17. Star Wars.
  18. Perhaps the most famous SF movie of all time next to "2001," Star Wars is one of six films in the Star Wars series of films. In the first Star Wars, we think the movie is about Luke Skywalker, who is menaced by Darth Vader, a black-masked villain who turned out to be Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father. When you see all six films, you realize the Star War series is the story of Anakin Skywalker, a young boy who is rescued from slavery by the Jedi (beings who tap into the Force, an energy field that gives them special powers), joins the Jedi, and is eventually turned against them.

  19. Blade Runner.
  20. Based on Philip K. Dick's story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", Bladerunner is about an agent, Harrison Ford, whose job it is to track down and kill androids that rebel against their human makers.

  21. The Terminator.
  22. A killing robot from the future, a Terminator, travels back in time to kill Sarah Connor and prevent her from giving birth to John Connor, who in the future leads a rebellion of humans against the killing machines. The war of the machines against humans is launched by Skynet, a defense computer network that becomes self aware and makes an instant decision to eliminate humans, which it sees as a threat against itself.

  23. Children of Men.
  24. In the future, humankind has become sterile, without a single birth in many years. The world is falling into chaos, as people realize there is no future for their kind. Then a young woman discovers she is pregnant, various factions want to gain control of her, and it falls to the movie's protagonist to be her protector.

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