Monday, October 12, 2009

The 10 best space movies

IMO Here are the best 5 space movies ever made I am picking movies that are semi realistic, shot mostly in space and with a low silliness factor (no Jar Jar)

10.FOR ALL MANKIND. 1989, Criterion video. This is the only space movie on the list FILMED in space. It is a fascinating and somewhat surreal documentary about the Apollo missions, in the astronauts own words. There is a lot of really beautiful footage, featuring a soundtrack by none other than space musician Brian Eno, no less. Its a very visual and ambient movie, highly recommended.
9. APOLLO 13. 1995, Universal. Ron Howard's movie adaptation of the ill fated Apollo 13 moon mission (did you know Apollo 13 launched on 13:13 on April 13Th?). Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, and of course Tom hanks give a moving performance, as well as some ground support by Ed Harris and Gary Sinise.
8. THE RIGHT STUFF 1983 The Ladd company/Warner Bros. A memorable and moving account of the first days of the space age, beginning with Chuck Yeager's sound busting flight on the X-1 into the days of the Mercury program. A long movie but there is a lot to cover here.
7. FORBIDDEN PLANET MGM took a chance with this one, and if you haven't seen it, you MUST. Said by some to be the direct inspiration for Star Trek, the film concerns the story of an expedition to the planet Altair 4 to search for survivors of a lost expedition. Survivors they find, and a ancient secret of terrifying and unlimited power lies below the sands of this nearly deserted planet. Featuring Leslie Nelson (in a non comedic role) as the captain, and Robby the robot.
6. SILENT RUNNING Filmed in the early seventies, when ecology was all the vogue. Bruce Dern gives a moving but somewhat over the top performance as space freighter crewman Freeman Lowell, space bound ecologist tending a cargo of domes containing the last surviving ecosystems of an Earth devastated by pollution and apathy. When the command comes to destroy the domes and return to Earth, Freeman's buddies are jubilant. But he has different ideas. Highlights include shooting the rapids of Saturn's Rings, three very realistic robots named Huey Duey and Louie, and some deep thinking about the quality of life. Highly recommended.
5. ALIEN Ridley Scott's masterpiece about a bunch of space truckers who answer an alien distress beacon, with disastrous results. The only movie I have ever seen where someone actually stood up in the theater and screamed (and it was a guy). I loved the dark claustrophobic atmosphere of this movie. The space scenes are just seamless.
4. ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS A very underrated classic, concerns the crash landing and subsequent stranding on Mars of American Astronaut Christopher "Kit" Draper, lone survivor of a two man orbital foray to the red planet. He deals with loneliness, no oxygen, no food no water and whips all these problems. He is joined on Mars with runaway slave "Friday" (played by Victor Lundin, Star Treks FIRST klingon). I don't know where to start with this movie. The movie is somewhat dated, but the idea to film in Death Valley was just brilliant. and there is even a semi pink sky (we didn't know Mars had a pink sky until 1976). Its just an amazing film.
3.VOYAGE TO A PREHISTORIC PLANET American International Pictures, 1965. Originally a Russian film, concerns the exploration of the planet Venus, not the scorching hot sulfuric acid Venus, a milder somewhat prehistoric Venus with some amazingly humanoid Venusian swimsuit models here and there. This movie actually has a lot going for it, there are some pretty cheesy scenes inter spaced, but also some intriguing ones. One of my faves is when the robot tries to save one of the astronauts by administering a pill. Pretty amazing considering the state of robotics in the 1960s. Worth a watch.
2. CONQUEST OF SPACE Paramount Pictures, 1955. This is a gem, concerning a mission to Mars. The movie is based on the book of the same name. Chelsey Bonstell and Willey Ley had released a non fiction work about spaceflight and this is a gorgeous film adaptation, with some dramatic license of course taken. Lots of eye candy including a space station, Mars rocket plane and of course meteors, the bane of 50s sci fi.
1. 2001; A SPACE ODYSSEY Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1968. For so many reasons, the best space movie of all time. Concerning the discovery of an alien artifact on the Moon and the subsequent mission to Jupiter to investigate a mysterious signal sent there. The cinematography is beautiful, with fantastic special effects (f0r 1968, way ahead of its time) The spaceship models are just unforgettable, and remember this is before CGI was even a thought in anyone's minds.

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