Prometheus is landing in theaters, supposedly as a prequel to what many call one of the best all-time science fiction movies -- Alien. We were inspired by Ridley Scott's latest film and the legacy his sci-fi films have had over the last three decades to set out and name our Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time.
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece is a film that is not only astounding as a science fiction vehicle, but it triumphs as a fantastic movie, no matter its genre label. There are so many iconic images from 2001: A Space Odyssey… something that you will find in many of our top 10 sci-fi flicks. It also is paid tribute, in a way, in the opening moments of Prometheus. Its beginning mirrors the opening moments of 2001. Makes you think, no?
This silent movie classic still holds up so well. The 1927 film from Fritz Lang is often imitated, but never recreated. Like those indelible images we mentioned for 2001, replication is another form of flattery in the sci-fi world and few films have had their feel, premise or scope inspire legions of movies that would follow it like Metropolis.
8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Steven Spielberg may have announced his cinematic presence in 1975 with Jaws, but it was his 1977 sci-fi epic that secured his place as one of movies' maestros. The ensemble story of what an international group of individuals go through as an alien presence is about to pay us a visit is as resonant now as it was decades ago. We can’t decide which storyline of the film is our favorite, they’re all equally outstanding!
7. Back to the Future
A film that can meld science fiction, time travel, comedy, romance and thrills -- all with a soundtrack peppered with Huey Lewis songs -- and we’re in! Back to the Future would arrive in 1985 and spawn two more sequels and make a movie star out of Michael J. Fox. The way director Robert Zemeckis (who was mentored by Steven Spielberg… go figure) crafted his instant classic is still being held as a standard for time travel movies that seek to have a little fun.
6. The Matrix
There is no question when The Matrix arrived in 1999 it rocked our collective worlds. The Wachowski brothers likely will never again live up to the revolution they crafted with the “What is The Matrix?” cultural phenomenon. The story of Neo managed the amazing by melding the classic finding-The-One tale that films have always turned to while simultaneously taking audiences on a sci-fi journey that was unlike anything we had ever seen before.
5. The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter created fear in a sci-fi world that may have been frozen on the outside in form of the vast tundra that our characters inhabited. But inside, Kurt Russell’s character and his cohorts were playing with fire in the form of unidentified creatures threatening to kill all who cross their path. Try watching Carpenter’s masterwork without flinching at least once. Even though it feels like horror, it still gives audiences a sci-fi world that many to this day still aspire to recreate (such as the 2011 remake… er, sorry… prequel).
4. The Terminator
James Cameron’s The Terminator showed that a sci-fi classic could be created with very little. Sure, the film feels low budget and was, but because the story is so stellar and the filmmaking so crisp, when Arnold Schwarzenegger and his killing machine arrive to assassinate Sarah Connor, audiences didn’t take a breath for two hours. Cameron managed to give us a time travel story that kept to the genre’s rules, but still presented it in a way that has never felt so pressingly urgent.
3. Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back
We lump these two together because it’s hard not to think of one without the other. Star Wars introduced us to the Lucas world of wizardry while Empire Strikes Back is largely why the film series is considered so iconic. Collectively, these two movies manage to create a revolution story that combines all the classic elements such as romance and the battle of right over wrong, and presented it in a way that not only appealed to vast generations, but changed our world forever.
2. Blade Runner
When it comes to the final two of our Top 10 Sci-Fi Films of All Time, honestly, one and two could interchange. But, in Movie Fanatic’s world, there can be only one. Blade Runner begins our final two as it achieves the rarity in the history of sci-fi filmmaking: It does not look dated. Ridley Scott painted a future that still feels futuristic. The story, the filmmaking and incredible Harrison Ford performance all add up to nothing short of brilliance.
Alien edges Blade Runner in that it takes the simplest of concepts and manages to blow it up into not only the top sci-fi film of all time, but one of Hollywood’s greatest epics and thrillers. Ridley Scott’s film also gave us one of the first female heroines that transcended gender in Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. Its tagline may have seemed like overkill at the time, but it's so true in the world of sci-fi and especially with Alien: In space, no one can hear you scream.