I thought I would break from the pattern and review a few of my favourite Sci-Fi films. I'm going to ignore the usual top tens and all of the Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien and Matrix franchises. I know that most of these have earned "mixed reviews" but I have watched all of these more than once (most I have watched five times or more).
Here are my faves, in alphabetical order:
Dark City. This one is soooooo under-rated. I love the dark feel, the creepy concept and the payoff. Add to that some fun acting (Keifer Sutherland chews up the scenery as an Igor-type lackey) and you get one of my favourite late-night films.
Demolition Man. OK, this one definitely falls under "guilty pleasure." Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes are a cop and a criminal from the past, who end up duking it out in the future. But I LOVE the version of the future, from the "fast food wars" to the "three shells" there is so much subtle alternate history that I can forgive Stallone and Snipes. Plus a perky Sandra Bullock is the love interest.
Fifth Element, The. Although there are scenes ripped right off from other movies (notably one scene almost frame-for-frame from Heavy Metal), there are also some really original concepts and lots of eye candy. Gary Oldman is right over the top, and Bruce Willis is in perfect form.
Galaxy Quest. If you are a Trek fan, this cheesy meta-film movie is hillarious. Normally I can't stand Tim Allen, but he rocks in the lead. The premise is that a bunch of actors hopelessly typecast from a long-cancelled sci-fi show end up actually being contacted by aliens and travelling to space. Supporting cast includes Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub and Sam Rockwell.
Lost Skeleton of Cadavera, The. OK, this one is purposely cheesy. An homage to the great B-Movie creature-features of the 1950s, the Lost Skeleton has a monster, aliens, and yes, a talking skeleton, complete with obvious strings attached. If you love B-Movies, you owe it to yourself to rent or even buy this gem.
Mars Attacks!. Yes, it's cheesy ... what else would you expect from Tim Burton, the man responsible for Beetlejuice and Ed Wood? There is some very, very dark humour in Mars Attacks -- starting with the flaming cattle of the opening sequence -- which makes sense once you realize it was inspired by pulp comics from the 1950s.
Minority Report. Oh, how I hate Tom Cruise... but this film transcends his Cruise-ness with another dark, creepy rendition of the very near future. The concept is that Washington DC uses a "pre-crime" unit to stop criminals before they commit their crime -- how do they find a criminal? Using telepaths, of course. Based on a Philip K. Dick novel.
Serenity. This fan-favourite deserves a wider audience. The universe Joss Whedon created for the TV Series Firefly looks pretty good on the big screen; it's much more gritty and realistic than the plastic universes of Star Trek and similar films. The characters are well-rounded and the plot includes nasty aliens, government cover-up, and lots of action; Serenity is what all good sci-fi should aspire to.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. This one got unfairly panned, but its retro feel blended with high-tech delivery make it doubly enjoyable. Giant robots, a mad scientist, a nod to Conan-Doyle's Lost World, a perky reporter, a daring hero and more await you in this adventure that I suspect was intended to launch a franchise.