Movie Feature

A bluffer’s guide to: Sci-Fi Movies

By Travis WongMovies - 25 April 2012 11:00 AM | Updated 11 August 2014

A bluffer’s guide to: Sci-Fi Movies

A blend of science fiction and noir detective fiction, 'Blade Runner' is one of the movie world's most influential films; a precursor to many modern sci-fi.

It’s time to take the red pill and wake up from your dream world. This latest movie series will give you the tools to fool even the most discerning film aficionados into thinking that you know your stuff, or to go the extra mile, for you to check out to boost your film cred.

Science fiction has rocked cinemas for a century, and the genre has produced many undisputed classics during that time. But which ones are essential viewing for anyone interested in the genre?

So cross space and time with us as we bring you the most essential and important bunch of science fiction movies this side of Alderaan.

So what are we waiting for? It’s all systems go!

Step 1: You need to know Dick, as in Philip K. Dick

‘Blade Runner’ (1982)


Despite doing badly at the box office, 'Blade Runner' has become a cult favourite among sci-fi fans.

The story: Adapted from a story by Philip K. Dick, who appears to be the source of 75 per cent of all SF movies out there. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) has to track down four replicants who are in 2019 Los Angeles tracking their maker.

Why: Because it’s one of the most vividly imagined movies and was one of the originators of the cyberpunk movement, as it captured a vividly imagined Los Angeles, one that is a crazy mix of industrial landscapes, Fritz Lang's ‘Metropolis’, Hong Kong and run by global conglomerates

Most memorable scene: The tears in the rain scene, when Deckard confronts a replicant played by Rutger Hauer, who makes the speech during a downpour, moments before his own death. The scene is totally ad-libbed by Hauer and has been described as "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history.”

Quote of the film: “They don't advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop. Ex-blade runner. Ex-killer.”



Step 2: Go where no man has gone before

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968)’



This tops the list as one of the most cerebral and mind-numbing films ever.

The story: Mankind finds a mysterious artifact buried on the moon and, with the intelligent computer HAL, sets off on a quest to discover what the heck it’s doing there.

Why: An exploration into space that predated man’s landing on the moon. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and adapted from a book by Arthur C. Clarke, it captured the mystery of the space and the wonders it might contain. And if you notice, the space scenes have no sound, because in space you can’t hear anything. (Got that Lucas?)

Most memorable scene: The opening sequence, which is just cosmic, or the ending scene where a prehistoric ape throws a bone in the air and we cut to a spaceship.

Quote of the film: “[emotionless tone] I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.”



Step 3: Know that we’re all living in The Matrix

‘The Matrix’ (1999)'



Cool clothes and bad ass shades comes with taking the red pill.

The Story: Computer whiz Neo (Keanu Reeves) learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its nasty controllers.

Why: This action movie with John-Woo style sequences showed you can combine action with smarts. (Take that Michael Bay!) It threw together existentialist philosophy, a post-apocalyptic future, and a whole new way of depicting action, while playing mind games with both protagonists and the audience. Pity the sequels could not quite live up to the originality of the first film.

Most memorable scene: The lobby shootout when Neo and Trinity, wearing black, unleash gun-fu and kung-fu against a hapless bunch of security guards. 

Quote of the film: “(Deep Laurence Fishburne better not mess with me brother voice) This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”


Step 4: Know that not all cyborgs are out to get you

‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ (1991)



"[Arnie voice] Come with me if you want to live!"

‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ (1991)

The story:  The cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who once tried to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) must now protect her teenage son, John Connor (Edward Furlong), from the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), an even more powerful and advanced Terminator.

Why: The sequel to a great SF movie was even better than the original, as Arnold Schwarzenegger now turns into a good guy trying to keep the Connors safe from a gooey Terminator that is able to just shrug off everything thrown at it.  Once again, it put down ideas about time-travel and gave a look at the post-apocalyptic world where SKYNET has taken over.

Most memorable scene: When the T1000 starts going after Arnold and the Connors in the car park, refusing to be taken down. It gives a new meaning to relentless.

Quote of the film: [Arnie voice] Come with me if you want to live!


Step 5: Brush up on your anime

‘Akira’ (1988)



We hear a live action version is in the works.

‘Akira’ (1988)

The story: In Neo-Tokyo, a biker gang member turns into a psychic killer that only two kids and a group of psychics can stop.

Why: Adapted from Katsuhiro Otomo’s 2000-page manga, this is a gorgeous anime film that shows the possibilities of the medium, with mind-blowing vehicle design and awesome visuals. It showed the possibilities of anime and the mind blowing imagination of Otomo. And say no to the Hollywood remake.

Most memorable scene: The bike fight with a bunch of psycho clown bikers.

Quote of the film: I am Tetsuo!




Step 6: Use the Force

‘Star Wars IV-VI’



We personally think the best quote comes from Chewie: "ngaararrrrrrrr!!!"

The story: A ragtag group of rebels take on an evil empire bent on dominating the galaxy.

Why: Even though the series has taken a pounding from real SF fans, there’s no denying the sheer imaginative scale of the space opera saga, with exotic planets and a storyline that’s as old as time. The vehicle and alien designs are still some of the most imaginative ever put on film.

Most memorable scene: Too many to name, but the blowing up of the Death Star has to be one of them and the opening scene with the rolling text and the appearance of an Imperial Destroyer coming close.

Quote of the film: “(Breathy voice) I AM YOUR FATHER.”




Step 7: You have to know who’s Terry Gilliam (and what’s Monty Python)

‘‘Brazil’ (1985)’



'Brazil' is one of director and 'Monty Python' alum Terry Gilliam most seminal works.

The story: A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state.

Why: Directed by the master of the imagination Terry Gilliam, this story of a man stuck in a Kafka-esque bureaucracy brings elements of George Orwell’s 1984, and  should sound familiar to many in Singapore. It all builds up to a nerve-wracking ending in a film packed with black comedy.

Most memorable scene: The ending scene where Sam and Jill are on a truck escaping into the wilderness and… well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out. 

Quote of the film: “Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating.”