KoldCast TV Picks 17 Seminal Moments in Sci-Fi Films13
In years past, science fiction was almost exclusively left to the hard-core fans: comic nerds, Trekkies, Tolkienites, and even the dreaded otakus. In contrast, today’s average moviegoers flock to see sci-fi blockbusters. The genre has evolved from the esoteric to the mainstream. And here at KoldCast, we’re proud to offer up numerous sci-fi web series, including Raptured, which takes place on the 21st of October 2011, but it’s not the fire and brimstone we’ve come to fear – it’s merely a routine earth upgrade which happens every century or so… But our own contributions to the sci-fi genre would not be possible without the genre’s remarkable, not to mention entertaining, evolution. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most seminal moments in sci-fi film history.
Raptured – Episode 1
1. Metropolis (1929): The Cityscape
Metropolis stands as one of the earliest sci-fi classics. Directed and written by Fritz Lang, it features special effects and set designs that continue to marvel modern viewers. In a trope that would be repeated time and again, the film takes place in a dystopian future where discontent is rising between the social elite and the working class. The real stunner comes when audiences catch their first glimpse of the movie’s futuristic cityscape that was, for lack of better terminology, years ahead of its time.
2. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): The Closing Monologue
Klaatu, a strange visitor from an alien world, disables the Earth’s electronics and delivers an ultimatum to the planet’s inhabitants: they can either cease their destructive wars or face annihilation at the hands of his robot. His closing monologue illustrated the way in which science fiction served as a political vehicle during the Cold War.
3. 2001: Space Odyssey (1968): A Strange Obelisk
Based on Arthur C. Clark’s novel, director Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece took the genre to new heights at a time when B-movie science fiction films plagued the industry. The film deals with numerous complicated themes, including mankind’s intellectual evolution related to artificial intelligence and technology. It tells the story of a group of astronauts on an interstellar voyage defending against their ship’s A.I, which (spoiler alert!) kills them off one by one. Cinematically, the most memorable moment in the film came when a group of prehistoric primates gaze upon an obelisk, which mysteriously allows them to develop their own weaponry.
4. Planet of the Apes (1968): An Earth Shattering Ending
Another film from the 1960s, Planet of the Apes, remains a classic to this day. A group of astronauts emerge from hibernation over the course of a millennium to discover that Earth is populated with intelligent simians with humans as slaves. The film’s pivotal moment lies in its twist ending and serves as a commentary about nuclear armament. The protagonist overlooks the remnants of the Statue of Liberty, realizing that he was on Earth the entire time.
5. Star Wars (1977): “Use the Force, Luke.”
“Use the force, Luke.” With those words of guidance, Luke Skywalker destroyed the Death Star, marking the birth of the science fiction blockbuster. The story of a country bumpkin venturing forth to save the galaxy from a great evil was a recycled archetype, but George Lucas re-energized it in Star Wars and further ingrained into the genre.
6. Alien (1979): Xenomorph Chest Buster
Viewers didn’t know what to expect when a parasite infested an astronaut on board his ship. When the alien Xenomorph exploded from a human chest like something out of a bad drug trip, audiences screamed like crazy (in spite of the film’s tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream”). From 1979 on, it was difficult to watch any extraterrestrial abomination without clearly seeing Alien’s haunting influence.
7. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): The Death of Spock
It’s always an emotional moment when an iconic hero dies, especially in the line of duty. Upon the realization that the crew would be unable to depart a deteriorating nebula unless the warp drive is repaired, Spock ventures into the engine room despite the high radiation. When McCoy tries to prevent his friend from risking his life, Spock combats the doctor. He succeeds in restoring power to the warp drive, but perishes from radiation poisoning. Some say that this cinematic moment may have influenced future writers of science fiction and led to the deaths of iconic characters like Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent (temporarily), and Captain America.
8. E.T. (1982): The Flying Bicycle
When young Eliot disappears into the woods with E.T., he loses control of his bike and almost falls off a cliff. As he frantically tries to regain control, E.T. uses his telepathy to allow them to fly across the sky. What a friend. It was difficult for even some of the most tightly wound adults not to watch that scene and remember what it was like to be a kid again.
9. Blade Runner (1982): Dystopian Los Angeles
Dystopian futures are featured heavily in science fiction. But it wasn’t until Blade Runner offered a glimpse of a rundown but technologically advanced version of Los Angeles that the dystopia ingrained itself into the modern film viewer’s psyche, suggesting that the future wouldn’t be so bright after all.
10. Terminator (1984): Death Rendered in Steel
Director James Cameron’s science fiction thriller was a box office sensation and perhaps more importantly, catapulted the movie career of California’s current governor. When an explosion strips the T-800 of its external flesh, revealing the machine that Cameron referred to as “death rendered in steel,” audiences everywhere knew they were in for something different. Terminator painted the dystopian future powerfully with simple, believable, and downright scary details. In the future, intelligent machines defy their designers when treated improperly.
11. Brazil (1985): An Act of Terrorism
Since its initial release, this lesser publicized film has reached a cult-like status. Brazil depicts Orwellian visions of the future in a comedic light. In some respects, the film has proven prophetic, such as in the scene below in which society is so frightened by the prospect of terrorism that it’s willing to cede more and more power to the government.
12. The Fly (1986): The Metamorphosis
Watching Seth Brundle’s steady metamorphosis into an insect is like viewing a car crash in slow motion. It’s horrifying to watch, but equally difficult to turn away. His final mutation into a fly-human hybrid leaves Seth more animal than man. Although the final stage of the metamorphosis lasted no more than five minutes, it has lingered over the minds of audiences for decades.
13. Akira (1988): Gang Fight Scene
Quite literally, Akira begins with a bang when a mysterious explosion in Tokyo sparks a Third World War. The scene proceeding the blast features a motorcycle fight between two rival gangs that has embedded itself in the memories of anime fans across the world. What this scene offered was a forerunner for countless animated films from Japan. It sowed the seeds of a cult following dedicated to the medium. The Japanese film industry has already produced several live-action anime adaptations like Deathnote (2006) and Nana (2005). Although Hollywood failed to deliver on its rendition of Dragonball: Evolution (2009), anime adaptations may be the rage in the decade ahead.
14. The Fifth Element (1997): Taxi Cab Chase
Taking place in 2214, a ragtag group of misfits must take part in a ceremony uniting the four classical elements as well as the title’s eponymous fifth element in order to destroy a cataclysmic evil. The car chase with Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich offered a breathtaking glimpse of this futuristic world, and showcased the film’s groundbreaking effects that earned an Oscar nomination in 1998.
15. The Matrix (1999): Bullet Time
Without question, the most memorable moment (and there were many!) in this Wachowsky Brothers’ classic was the 360-degree shootout. Future filmmaker’s would emulate this cinematic innovation, while others just used it as fodder for parody. Either way, no one can deny its impact.
16. Cloverfield (2008): Viral Marketing Trendsetter
Audiences were abuzz when an unknown force decapitated the Statue of Liberty in an untitled movie trailer. What came next was an unprecedented viral marketing campaign featuring websites showcasing Cloverfield’s meta-narrative via pseudo-advertisements for a fake product called Slusho. Soon, movie fans were scrambling to uncover more about the mysterious movie’s plot. While the movie itself turned out to be little more than a Godzilla imitation, the film’s marketing technique would later inspire the likes of The Dark Knight (2008), Paranormal Activity (2009), and District 9 (2009).
17. Star Trek (2009): “The Birth of James T. Kirk”
If there’s one complaint that franchise cynics maintained over the years, it was that Star Trek was relatively devoid of real action. Director J.J. Abrams assuaged that complaint in the action-packed opening scene, and converted a new generation of viewers into both Trekkies and science fiction fans.
So those are our picks. We know we missed some “moments” and you shouldn’t let us get away with that! Tell us your favorite seminal moments in Sci-Fi Films and we’ll publish SEMOinSCiFi Part II.
Raptured – Episode 2
Raptured – Episode 3