Fantastic Planets, Forbidden Zones, and Lost Continents: The 100 Greatest Science-Fiction Films
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Whether you judge by box office receipts, industry awards, or critical accolades, science fiction films are the most popular movies now being produced and distributed around the world. Nor is this phenomenon new. Sci-fi filmmakers and audiences have been exploring fantastic planets, forbidden zones, and lost continents ever since George Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. In this highly entertaining and knowledgeable book, film historian and pop culture expert Douglas Brode picks the one hundred greatest sci-fi films of all time.
Brode’s list ranges from today’s blockbusters to forgotten gems, with surprises for even the most informed fans and scholars. He presents the movies in chronological order, which effectively makes this book a concise history of the sci-fi film genre. A striking (and in many cases rare) photograph accompanies each entry, for which Brode provides a numerical rating, key credits and cast members, brief plot summary, background on the film’s creation, elements of the moviemaking process, analysis of the major theme(s), and trivia. He also includes fun outtakes, including his top ten lists of Fifties sci-fi movies, cult sci-fi, least necessary movie remakes, and “so bad they’re great” classics—as well as the ten worst sci-fi movies (“those highly ambitious films that promised much and delivered nil”). So climb aboard spaceship Brode and journey to strange new worlds from Metropolis (1927) to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
street corner and being ignored by the public passing by such seeming nutcases. But what if that person who is thrown into a madhouse for claiming to be sent back in time is correct—and the only hope for our planet’s survival? As in so much sci-fi and imaginative fiction (dating back at least to Edgar Allan Poe, with many Twilight Zones included), madness is posited as a subjective, rather than objective, state. People are neither mad nor sane, but rather considered one or the other according to
producer. The brief but showy role of the security guard is played by Harry Dean Stanton, one of Hollywood’s most reliable character actors for more than sixty years and the star of the cult sci-fi film Repo Man (1984). MAN OF STEEL (2013) — RANKING: 52 — AN AMERICAN HERCULES: Henry Cavill joins the company of Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, and several others who have played the Man of Steel in movies and on TV. At last, Clark Kent/Superman is treated as a complex character with
order to remain incognito—a unique spin to the old story that either delighted and fascinated or concerned and troubled longtime fans of the franchise. THE FILM Warner Bros. executives were anxious to bring Christopher Nolan on board as “creative consultant.” His successes with Batman Begins (2005) and Inception (2010) were double-barreled proof that he could effectively handle superheroes and science fiction. Having penned Batman Begins, then co-creating TV’s sci-fi series FlashForward
for both Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and a sound remake of Phantom of the Opera (1943), also starring Claude Rains. THEME Once again, the science-fiction genre is used to convey a cautionary fable. The doctor’s good intentions in creating monocane have negative implications when the drug drives him mad. Though the Wells novel may be speculative fantasy, many of the wonder drugs that would eventually be developed did turn out to have unexpected side effects. TRIVIA A once-obscure
(Tom); Judith Ridley (Judy); Kyra Schon (Karen); Charles Craig (Newscaster/Zombie); George Kosana (Sheriff McClelland); Frank Doak, Mark Ricci (Scientists); Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille (Reporter); S. William Hinzman, A. C. McDonald, Samuel R. Solito, Lee Hartman (Zombies). MOST MEMORABLE LINE They’re coming for you, Barbra! JOHNNY BACKGROUND Roger Corman, a great pioneer of the youth market film, was always based in Hollywood. However, an even truer form of indie film for this populist