Best Science-fiction Movies


  • 2001: A Space Odyssey

    2001: A Space Odyssey (G, 1968)

    Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Douglas Rain
    A mind-bending sci-fi symphony, Stanley Kubrick's landmark 1968 epic pushed the limits of narrative ... read moreand special effects toward a meditation on technology and humanity. Based on Arthur C. Clarke's story The Sentinel, Kubrick and Clarke's screenplay is structured in four movements. At the "Dawn of Man," a group of hominids encounters a mysterious black monolith alien to their surroundings. To the strains of Strauss's 1896 Also sprach Zarathustra, a hominid invents the first weapon, using a bone to kill prey. As the hominid tosses the bone in the air, Kubrick cuts to a 21st century spacecraft hovering over the Earth, skipping ahead millions of years in technological development. U.S. scientist Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) travels to the moon to check out the discovery of a strange object on the moon's surface: a black monolith. As the sun's rays strike the stone, however, it emits a piercing, deafening sound that fills the investigators' headphones and stops them in their path. Cutting ahead 18 months, impassive astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) head toward Jupiter on the spaceship Discovery, their only company three hibernating astronauts and the vocal, man-made HAL 9000 computer running the entire ship. When the all-too-human HAL malfunctions, however, he tries to murder the astronauts to cover his error, forcing Bowman to defend himself the only way he can. Free of HAL, and finally informed of the voyage's purpose by a recording from Floyd, Bowman journeys to "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite," through the psychedelic slit-scan star-gate to an 18th century room, and the completion of the monolith's evolutionary mission.With assistance from special-effects expert Douglas Trumbull, Kubrick spent over two years meticulously creating the most "realistic" depictions of outer space ever seen, greatly advancing cinematic technology for a story expressing grave doubts about technology itself. Despite some initial critical reservations that it was too long and too dull, 2001 became one of the most popular films of 1968, underlining the generation gap between young moviegoers who wanted to see something new and challenging and oldsters who "didn't get it." Provocatively billed as "the ultimate trip," 2001 quickly caught on with a counterculture youth audience open to a contemplative (i.e. chemically enhanced) viewing experience of a film suggesting that the way to enlightenment was to free one's mind of the U.S. military-industrial-technological complex. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
  • Serenity

    Serenity (PG-13, 2005)

    Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin
    A band of renegades on the run in outer space get in more hot water than they anticipated in this sc... read morei-fi action-adventure adapted from the television series Firefly. In the 26th century, the galaxy has been colonized by a military force known as the Alliance, but its leadership has not gone unquestioned. The Alliance was once challenged by a league of rebels known as the Independents, but the Alliance emerged victorious after a brutal civil war, with the surviving Independents scattering around the galaxy. Also wandering the edges of the galaxy are the Reavers, who have won few allies due to their violent behavior and habit of ripping apart their enemies and eating them before they're dead. Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who fought as an Independent in the galactic war, is the head of Serenity, a rogue frieghter ship whose crew includes Mal's first mate, Zoe (Gina Torres), who fought alongside him in the war, her husband, hotshot pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), sunny but dependable mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and hard-nosed gunman Jayne (Adam Baldwin). The crew of Serenity wander the galaxy, taking on whatever work they can get, from criminal activities like smuggling and stealing to legitimately offering transport to travelers. Passengers aboard Serenity include professional "companion" Inara (Morena Baccarin) and holy man Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), but the real trouble aboard the ship comes with the arrival of Simon (Sean Maher) and his teenage sister, River Tam (Summer Glau). In time, the crew discovers that River has remarkable psychic powers and was being held captive by Alliance forces until Simon came to her rescue. Now the Alliance is hot on the heels of Serenity and its passengers, with The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a sinister Alliance tracker, leading the chase. Serenity was written and directed by Joss Whedon (in his directorial debut), creator of Firefly, which only lasted 11 weeks on the air but gained a powerful cult following who rallied to get the show released on DVD after its cancellation, leading to impressive home-video sales and and an eventual motion picture deal. A couple of months prior to Serenity's theatrical release, reruns of Firefly were picked up by the Sci-Fi channel, adding even more fans to its cult following. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
  • Moon

    Moon (R, 2009)

    Sam Rockwell, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Matt Berry, Malcolm Stewart
    An astronaut miner extracting the precious moon gas that promises to reverse the Earth's energy cris... read moreis nears the end of his three-year contract, and makes an ominous discovery in this psychological sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey. For three long years, Sam Bell has dutifully harvested Helium 3 for Lunar, a company that claims it holds the key to solving humankind's energy crisis. As Sam's contract comes to an end, the lonely astronaut looks forward to returning to his wife and daughter down on Earth, where he will retire early and attempt to make up for lost time. His work on the Selene moon base has been enlightening -- the solitude helping him to reflect on the past and overcome some serious anger issues -- but the isolation is starting to make Sam uneasy. With only two weeks to go before he begins his journey back to Earth, Sam starts feeling strange: he's having inexplicable visions, and hearing impossible sounds. Then, when a routine extraction goes horribly awry, it becomes apparent that Lunar hasn't been entirely straightforward with Sam about their plans for replacing him. The new recruit seems strangely familiar, and before Sam returns to Earth, he will grapple with the realization that the life he has created may not be entirely his own. Up there, hundreds of thousands of miles from home, it appears that Sam's contract isn't the only thing about to expire. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi