Movies for hardcore sci-fi geeks

In summary, Shane Carruth's Primer is a well-done, complex science fiction film that may be too difficult for some viewers. It's an excellent movie that is sure to entertain those who enjoy time travel and scientific fiction.
  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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A few favorites that I've mentioned before are:

Metropolis [the rerelease by Giorgio Moroder]
Solaris
Brazil
The Man from Earth

I just caught one that I'd never heard of before, called Primer. It drags at times but the plot is excellent.

...One of the great things about most low-budget, independent science-fiction films is that they often rely heavily on their writing. This film is no exception. As its story moves from the complicated world of entrepreneurship to the mind-bending considerations of causality and paradox that go with all time-travel tales, Primer's narrative, as it folds in on itself, is like origami—ingenious and pleasing when successful, confusing and frustrating when not. It's hard science fiction that makes for one smart, complex movie, but this is also its problem—Primer becomes so complicated that it's likely to lose even the most engaged and nimble-witted of moviegoers at some point or another...
http://www.scifi.com/sfw/screen/sfw11536.html

Primer (2004) is an American science fiction film about the accidental invention of time travel. The film was written, directed and produced by Shane Carruth, a former mathematician and engineer, and was completed on a budget of only $7,000.[1].

...One reviewer said that "anybody who claims [to] fully understand what's going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar."[2] The film collected the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004 before securing a limited release in cinemas, and has since gained a cult following.[3]...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primer_(film )
 
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  • #2


THX 1138: I saw it when it first came out but that was in 1971. I just watched it again and amazingly it is still quite futuristic. Great movie! It stars Robert Duvall; directed by George Lucas and produced in part by Francis Ford Coppola.
 
  • #3


a scanner darkly, IMHO blade runner was a much better book (do androids dream of electric sheep)
 
  • #4


Primer sounds like a great movie.

Well i guess 2001 a space odyssey is a honorable mention, although most of us have probably seen it.

Another movie i thoroughly enjoyed was Silent Running.

EDIT As above poster put, scanner darkly was a great movie also (as pretty much all indie movies are these days...)
 
  • #5


Ivan Seeking said:
I just caught one that I'd never heard of before, called Primer. It drags at times but the plot is excellent.
I looked that up and watched it since you mentioned it. It was really very good. I would suggest all PFers watch it. I think I need to rewatch it though. Toward the end I became unsure of what was going on anymore lol.

git67 said:
a scanner darkly, IMHO blade runner was a much better book (do androids dream of electric sheep)
I actually watched Bladerunner before I read Androids. Fortunately I was not tainted by expectations and really enjoyed the movie, I am uncertain if I would feel the same way otherwise but think I might have.

A Scanner Darkly was definitely a better book in my opinion. The movie wasn't bad but I think it was off the mark. It was too light with the humour and the Johnny Depp/Hunter S stylization of the Barris character was particularly silly. The book was far more paranoid and focused much more on Arcter's crisis of fractured identity and the loss of his mental accuity. In the movie it is hard to sift through all the silly drug crazed slapstick to see what the story is really about.
 
  • #6


I've mentioned this before, but if you like sci-fi, one of the best imo is kin-dza-dza
 
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  • #7


I will reference once again my all-time favourite: 'Charly'. The only SF movie in history to garner a best actor Oscar (for Cliff Robertson).
 
  • #8


Not a movie I would recommend for everyone, but I really enjoyed 'Man with the Screaming Brain'. If you enjoy Bruce Campbell's work then it is definitely worth a look.

The movie 'Primer' was very good. The acting comes across as a college art school student level, but the plot is exceptional. It's an original work that keeps your mind spinning from beginning to end. I don't think any sci-fi fan will lose by watching this one.

I also have to mention the TV series 'Firefly'. I call it the best space western ever created. The characters are interesting and have believable motivations, and I found myself becoming attached to their personalities and personal interactions with each other very quickly. The universe they exist in has tension and intrigue. They exist on the fringes of civilized space as smugglers and pirates; a crew of marginally good people bartering with some unsavory characters. They live on a small, outdated freighter of the Firefly class that is named Serenity, which is also the name of the battle where the rebel army lost their battle for independence to a powerful and unethical central government. I am still upset that it was canceled after the first season.

Here's the theme song with an audio link. It explains everything better than I can.
http://www.fireflywiki.org/Firefly/FireflyThemeSong
 
  • #9


Blade Runner is the #1 classic sci-fi, of course

i also liked http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085271/"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/"

Primer was OK, and not really hard to follow like the commentary above suggests.
 
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  • #10


Firefly was a masterpiece
 
  • #11


Ivan Seeking said:
The Man from Earth

Thanks! I just watched this on the Netflix website. Freakin' amazing. I haven't seen a good movie where the total driving force was the dialogue since 12 Angry Men.
 
  • #12


Pupil said:
Thanks! I just watched this on the Netflix website. Freakin' amazing. I haven't seen a good movie where the total driving force was the dialogue since 12 Angry Men.

Cool! Indeed, the first few minutes had me worried, but after that it was an absolute treat. Definitely one of my all-time favorites of any genre.

I spotted the empty space for this at the video store. If I run across a sci-fi that I haven't heard about, I make sure to check it out as this is often how I find the best ones - the stuff that didn't make it at the box office. When after two months I was still unable to rent a copy of it because it was always out, I figured it must have a cult following. I finally managed to watch it on some cheesy video feed, and later bought the DVD.

Of course I have netflix now. :cool:
 
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  • #13


Blenton said:
Primer sounds like a great movie.

I came in here to recommend Primer when I saw the thread title.
 
  • #14


Ivan Seeking said:
Cool! Indeed, the first few minutes had me worried, but after that it was an absolute treat. Definitely one of my all-time favorites of any genre.

I spotted the empty space for this at the video store. If I run across a sci-fi that I haven't heard about, I make sure to check it out as this is often how I find the best ones - the stuff that didn't make it at the box office. When after two months I was still unable to rent a copy of it because it was always out, I figured it must have a cult following. I finally managed to watch it on some cheesy video feed, and later bought the DVD.

Of course I have netflix now. :cool:

Yeah, if I want to find a good movie I use rottentomatoes.com + Netflix. Usually any movie that gets a 70% or higher is good.
 
  • #15


Stargate (the original) is good, and many Stargate SG1, and Atlantis episodes are an excellent source of hardcore sci-fi.
 
  • #16


Primer was excellent even if the budget were ten times as much.

Check out the Doctor Who episode entitled "Blink". Not a movie, but should have been one. Won several awards.
 
  • #17


2001: A Space Odyssey rules all.
 
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  • #18


fleem said:
Primer was excellent even if the budget were ten times as much.

Check out the Doctor Who episode entitled "Blink". Not a movie, but should have been one. Won several awards.

That is at the top of my list of favorite Who episodes. They only exist when not observed...:smile:
 
  • #19


git67 said:
Firefly was a masterpiece
Yes, yes it is!

I wish I had heard about it while it was actually on the air. It's like whoever was in charge of PR for this one was asleep at the console. They must not have had much hope for a sci-fi western from the beginning because this great work went totally under my radar. I've usually at least heard of sci-fi movies or television shows that are noteworthy. I didn't even realize it existed until the movie 'Serenity' came out in the theaters. I thought that was pretty good, and I was completely blown away by the tv series, especially disc 3 of the boxed set.
 
  • #20


Hey Ivan, have you seen the 3rd season of Torchwood yet (Children of Earth)? If not it is being released on netflix at the end of this month. There is some crossover between Torchwood and Doctor Who series (as well as the anagram) so I figure you might want to check it out if you haven't yet.
 
  • #21


Huckleberry said:
Hey Ivan, have you seen the 3rd season of Torchwood yet (Children of Earth)? If not it is being released on netflix at the end of this month. There is some crossover between Torchwood and Doctor Who series (as well as the anagram) so I figure you might want to check it out if you haven't yet.

Yep, torchwood was an offshoot of Dr Who--via Captain Jack. I didn't like Torchwood much, myself. i think Jack was a little hard to take at times. Trivia: Who was the Face of Boe??
 
  • #22


I enjoyed Torchwood, but Jack's sexuality was a bit "all up in your face" in a somewhat unpleasant way. I tolerate it because it is a good show nonetheless, but that aspect was not anything I care to see so regularly, particularly in the second season. Funny thing though, I don't think I would have minded so much if he wasn't such a playboy. Just personal preference I reckon, or prejudice if that suits... whomever.

I don't think most people will get the reference to Face of Boe unless they watch both series. I'd rather not say too much about that anyway. I enjoyed that episode and wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone else, but you made your trivia question too easy by context.
 
  • #23


FireSky86 said:
2001: A Space Odyssey rules all.

Last night I watched 2010, which I hadn't seen in a very long time. In light of the news of late and AC Clarke's reputation for science and social prophesy, it was interesting to note that in 2010, the US and Russia [The Soviet] come to the brink of war over... Honduras.
 
  • #24


First Alien.
 
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  • #25


Huckleberry said:
Hey Ivan, have you seen the 3rd season of Torchwood yet (Children of Earth)? If not it is being released on netflix at the end of this month. There is some crossover between Torchwood and Doctor Who series (as well as the anagram) so I figure you might want to check it out if you haven't yet.

I haven't followed the Torchwood series but plan to get caught up eventually.
 
  • #26


I enjoyed the Norby books as a kid. They were never made into movies but I think that they deserve an honorable mention.
 
  • #27


Borek said:
First Alien.
Great movie, no doubt. I've always been partial to the sequel, 'Aliens'.

I was sorely disappointed with the latest releases of the Alien versus Predator movies. I enjoy almost all sci-fi, and I wasn't expecting anything great from those films, and still I found them unbearably bad.

I'm ready for a turn to a more Hitchcock style cinema. I'm very tired of special effects driven stories. It's gotten to the point now that when I hear the word 'blockbuster' I immediately associate it with 'garbage'. The sci-fi genre has suffered much because of creative special effects and unimaginative plots lately.
 
  • #28


Another one of my favorites is John Carpenter's 'The Thing'. If you enjoyed 'Alien' then I would highly recommend this movie.
 
  • #29


Huckleberry said:
'm ready for a turn to a more Hitchcock style cinema. I'm very tired of special effects driven stories. It's gotten to the point now that when I hear the word 'blockbuster' I immediately associate it with 'garbage'. The sci-fi genre has suffered much because of creative special effects and unimaginative plots lately.

That's why I like Alien. You have no idea what is going on, but you know you have to run away. It doesn't happen on the screen - it happens in your head.
 
  • #30


Huckleberry said:
The sci-fi genre has suffered much because of creative special effects and unimaginative plots lately.

While I appreciate good special effects as much as the next guy, I have to agree. As I think Primer and The Man from Earth conclusively demonstrate, the best science fiction needs no special effects.
 
  • #31


Ivan Seeking said:
Last night I watched 2010, which I hadn't seen in a very long time. In light of the news of late and AC Clarke's reputation for science and social prophesy, it was interesting to note that in 2010, the US and Russia [The Soviet] come to the brink of war over... Honduras.

Interesting. I have never seen 2010. Good to watch?
 
  • #32


Huckleberry said:
Great movie, no doubt. I've always been partial to the sequel, 'Aliens'.

I was sorely disappointed with the latest releases of the Alien versus Predator movies. I enjoy almost all sci-fi, and I wasn't expecting anything great from those films, and still I found them unbearably bad.

I'm ready for a turn to a more Hitchcock style cinema. I'm very tired of special effects driven stories. It's gotten to the point now that when I hear the word 'blockbuster' I immediately associate it with 'garbage'. The sci-fi genre has suffered much because of creative special effects and unimaginative plots lately.

Agreed. Have you tried looking at any of Terrence Malick's films? They're beautiful. He almost got his PhD in Philosophy but instead went into film. He was Rhodes Scholar and was about to finish his thesis on Martin Heidegger. He is, in my opinion, one of the last great directors living today.
 
  • #33


Borek said:
That's why I like Alien. You have no idea what is going on, but you know you have to run away. It doesn't happen on the screen - it happens in your head.

Ivan Seeking said:
While I appreciate good special effects as much as the next guy, I have to agree. As I think Primer and The Man from Earth conclusively demonstrate, the best science fiction needs no special effects.

The effects in the Alien movie were pretty good, but it didn't rely on them for effect. Modern movies have a tendency to put the wagon in front of the horse in that regard. I like effects as much as the next guy, or super cool sci-fi geek girl, but I agree that fear and other responses happen in one's head. When a movie gets this right then effects can be a great addition to it. I'm at a point now where movies like Primer and The Man from Earth gain appeal just because they understand that.

FireSky86 said:
Agreed. Have you tried looking at any of Terrence Malick's films? They're beautiful. He almost got his PhD in Philosophy but instead went into film. He was Rhodes Scholar and was about to finish his thesis on Martin Heidegger. He is, in my opinion, one of the last great directors living today.

I'm not familiar with Malick's films. I read a little about him and found he directed 'The Thin Red Line' which was a good movie. Some of his other popular works are 'Badlands' and 'Days of Heaven'. He sounds like he could be the type of director who's work I might enjoy, so I'll be sure to check those out. Not really sci-fi as far as I can tell, but thanks nonetheless. A good movie speaks for itself beyond its genre.

A post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie that I enjoyed was 'A Boy and His Dog' staring a young Don Johnson of all people. It's about a young man's journey through a dangerous wasteland as he searches for a mythical utopia that his talking dog told him of. Through his travels he seeks out women and food with the help of his dog. It's a bit raunchy at time, which never bothered me in the least, but might turn some people off from it.

'Six-String Samurai' is another post-apocalyptic movie with more of a comedic approach. Elvis has died and a mysterious Buddy Holly like figure has to reach Las Vegas to become the new King of Rock'n'Roll to return peace to the wasteland. He rescues a mute boy along the way that tags along behind him and becomes something of a motivation for the katana wielding musician. A Slash like villian (from Guns & Roses) pursues him.

'Screamers', based on a short story by Phip K. Dick, is a good movie. There is a rare element on a distant planet and the miners have been in a protracted war against their corporate employers. The planet has become an irradiated desert seeded with viscious, saw-bladed killing machines called Screamers. After years of being holed up in their base and several months without any conflict the miners receive a message asking them to negotiate a peace treaty. Throughout the movie they discover the truth of what has been happening as they fight to survive against the Screamers.
 
  • #34


Huckleberry said:
A post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie that I enjoyed was 'A Boy and His Dog' staring a young Don Johnson of all people. It's about a young man's journey through a dangerous wasteland as he searches for a mythical utopia that his talking dog told him of. Through his travels he seeks out women and food with the help of his dog. It's a bit raunchy at time, which never bothered me in the least, but might turn some people off from it.

I've never actually managed to see that, but the original Harlan Ellison story that it was based upon, entitled 'Blood Was a Rover' was awesome. I hope that it pops up in the video shop sometime.
 
  • #35


Still can't edit without crashing, damn it. Anyhow, I forgot to mention that in the original story the dog didn't talk; it was telepathic. That's how it 'sniffed out' women for the hero and communicated with him.
 

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