Science Fiction film reviews

Part of my SF consumption includes films; here are my reviews and ratings
(SF TV has a separate listing.)

The director aims for the grandeur and sophistication of ‘The Wild Women of Wonga’. He misses.

— Adrian Turner, Observer, 12 July 1987,
Review of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension


 


SF films, recently viewed
03 Nov 2017 Blade Runner 2049 great stuff
07 Jan 2017 Ghostbusters mind candy
25 Dec 2016 Frozen mind candy
02 Dec 2016 Arrival great stuff
02 Jul 2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies mind candy
02 Apr 2016 Mad Max: Fury Road great stuff
19 Mar 2016 The Martian great stuff
02 Jan 2016 Inside Out worth watching
26 Dec 2015 Guardians of the Galaxy mind candy
11 Apr 2015 Looper mind candy




[Star Wars]
1. Unmissable
[Bowman]

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) • Kubrick's masterpiece, still mind-blowing (and it's silent in space!)

Alien (1979) • there's a horrible monster loose on the ship: I'm just going into this dark room by myself...

[Apollo 13 cast] Apollo 13 okay, so it's not science fiction, but who cares

Forbidden Planet (1956) • Leslie Nielsen in an early, straight role

Star Wars (1977/1997) aka episode IV: A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back (1980/1997)
The Return of the Jedi (1983/1997)

[Wizard of Oz]

The Wizard of Oz (1939) • "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more!"

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she encounters then teams up with three total strangers and plots to kill again.

— Rick Polito, Marin Independent Journal (attrib)


 

[Edward Scissorhands]
Jonny Depp as Edward Scissorhands

 

[Toy Story -- Woody and Buzz]


2. Great Stuff

The Abyss (1989) • underwater adventures with alien visitors, and how drowning can save your life (I haven't seen the Director's cut with the new ending yet)
Akira (1988) • Japanese anime
Aliens (1986) • many more aliens, but they seem easier to kill now
Antz (1998) • ant animation
Arrival (2016) • send in the linguists
Back To The Future (1985)
Babe (1995) • the piglet that thinks it's a sheepdog
Blade Runner (1982) • the original edition (I haven't seen the Director's cut with the unicorn and the new unhappy ending yet)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
A Bug's Life (1998) • insect animation
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) • the original cut
Chicken Run (2000) • plasticene chickens plan their Great Escape
Chinese Ghost StoryI (1987) / II (1990)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001)
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Dark Star (1974) • "Bombed out in space with a spaced out bomb" -- most effective use of a Space Hopper
[Gort and Klaatu] The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) "Gort, Klaatu barada nikto"
The Dish (2001) • Apollo 13 meets Strictly Ballroom?
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) • Kubrick's darkly funny anti-bomb film
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The Fifth Element (1997)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Gravity (2013)
Groundhog Day (1993) • nasty weatherman Bill Murray has to keep repeating a day
Inception (2010)
The Incredibles (2004)
Invaders from Mars (1953)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986) • musical remake of Corman's original -- "feed me!"
Lord of the Rings I-III (2001-3)
Mad Max (1979) • Mad Max 2 (1981) aka The Road WarriorMad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) • Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The Martian (2015) • bring him home
Master and Commander (2003)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Puppet Masters (199?) • film of the Heinlein novel
Repo Man (1984) • just what is in the boot of that car?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) • cult B-movie spoof
Serenity (2005)
Shrek (2001) • Shrek 2 (2004)
Silent Running (1971)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Social Network (2010) • real life story of the genesis of Facebook
Spirited Away (2003)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) • "He's dead, Jim" -- one of very few 'sequels' to be better than the original
The Terminator (1984) • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The Time Machine (1960) • George Pal's version -- the machine makes occasional guest appearances in Lois and Clarke
Things to Come (1936) • the Korda classic
Toy Story (1995) • Toy Story 2 (1999) • Toy Story 3 (2010)
The Wizard of Speed and Time (1988) • Mike Jittlov's SFX film about an SFX film
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1982) • Hong Kong made fantasy, somewhat in the style of The Water Margin , but with more fantasy elements


 

[David Bowie]
Labyrinth: Jareth, King of the Goblins [David Bowie]

3. Worth watching in the cinema

Alien Ressurection (1997) • Ripley returns from the dead to fight more aliens
Babe: Pig in the City (1998) • blackly comic sequel
Back To The Future III (1990)
Beetlejuice (1988) • the possessed dance at the dinner table is hilarious
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Brave (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Special Edition (1980) • gets a lower rating than the original release, because the scene of building the mountain indoors was cut
Cocoon (1985) • old folks find a 'swimming pool of youth'
Coraline (2009) • don't fall for the button-eyes
The Dark Crystal (1983) • dark Henson fantasy
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Deep Impact (1998) • a comet is about to hit the earth
[ET] Deja Vu (2006)
Earth Girls Are Easy (1989)
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) • too cute -- "Phone home!"
eXistenZ (1999) • VR nightmares
Finding Nemo (2003)
Flushed Away (2006)
The Fly (1958)
Freaky Friday (2003)
Harry Potter (2001--2011)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Highlander (1986)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids(1989)
Hook (1991)
I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958) • ignore the cheesy title
I, Robot (2004)
The Imitation Game (2014)
[King Kong] King Kong (1933) • the classic, with superb stop-motion gorilla effects, but Fay Wray's screaming grates
Labyrinth (1986)
Mannequin (1987)
The Mask (1994)
Men in Black (1997) • "Saving humanity from the scum of the universe"
Men in Black III (2012)
Monsters Inc (2002) • what's that in the closet?
My Stepmother is an Alien (1988)
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
The Net (1995) • stolen identity techo thriller
The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)
The Postman (1997)
Ratatouille (2007) • you'll believe a rat can cook
Robots (2005)
Shrek Forever After (2010)
Stardust (2007) • the fairy tale that won't behave
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) • the funny one with the whales
Star Trek IX: Insurrection (1998) • Picard In Love
Star Trek X: Nemesis (2002) • The Wedding Singer
Star Trek XI (2009) • Brat Kirk
Super 8 (2011) • ET meets the Goonies
Tremors (1990) • great spoof about giant worms
The Truman Show (1998) • unknowingly trapped in VR
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Unbreakable (2000)
Village of the Damned (1960) • John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos
WALL·E (2008)


 

[Daryl Hannah]
Daryl Hannah in The Clan of the Cave Bear

 

[Christopher Reeve]
Christopher Reeve as Superman

 

[Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]




3.5. Worth watching but wait for it on TV

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Alice in Wonderland (2010) • Tim Burton's version
Android (1982)
Cars (2006)
Cats and Dogs (2001)
The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) • Prince Caspian (2008)
The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) • good attempt at a dialog-free film
Contact (1997)
Dead Again (1991)
The Fantastic Four (2005)
Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within (2001)
The Flintstones (1994)
Gattaca (1997)
The Golden Compass (2007)
Hellboy (2004) • Hellboy II (2008)
Hocus Pocus(1993) • black comedy as teenagers accidentally revive three evil witch sisters
The Hunger Games (2012)
Independence Day (1996) • good FX, pity about the plot -- why didn't the aliens just synchronise their watches?
Inside Out (2015) • feelings have feelings
John Carter (2012) • ... of Barsoom
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Jumanji (1996) • great fur effects, but the movement is still not quite right
Men in Black II (2002) • "Same planet. New scum."
Millennium (1989)
Minority Report (2002)
Monsters vs Aliens (2009)
Over the Hedge (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Pleasantville (1998)
Predator (1987) • Arnie fights an invisible alien hunter in the jungle
Primer (2004)
Princess Mononoke (1997)
The Return of Captain Invincible (1983) • look out for the Peach Pit!
[Robocop] Robocop (1987)
Scooby-Doo (2002) • Scooby-Doo 2 (2004)
Short Circuit (1986) • "Number 5 is alive!"
Shrek the Third (2007) • spoof fairy tale sequel
The 6th Day (2000)
Small Soldiers (1998)
Spider-Man (2002, 2004)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) • you didn't really believe he'd stay dead, did you?
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) • how the Klingons become the good guys
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Superman (1978)
Superman Returns (2006)
Tank Girl (1995)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)
They Live (1988)
The Thing (1982)
Tintin (2011)
Topsy-Turvy (1999) • writing The Mikado
Total Recall (1990)
[Waterworld] Trapped in Space (1994)
Tron (1982) • SFX a bit dated now
Village of the Damned (1995)
Waterworld (1995) • ["Mad Max on jet-skis" -- SFX]
X-Men (2000/2003/2006)


 

[Ghostbusters]
4. Mind candy ... watch if nothing better to do

12:01 (1990) • a time loop story: only one person knows the day keeps repeating (unlike Groundhog Day , there is a reason for the repeat)
[2010] 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)
Alien Nation (1988)
Back To The Future II (1989)
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) • Seven Samurai in Space
Bedazzled (2000) • pact with the devil
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) • sequel to the superior Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
The Borrowers (1997) • little people in the wainscots
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the Movie (1992)
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command the adventure begins
Casper (1995) • the friendly ghost
The Craft (1996) • high school witches
Daredevil (2003) • blind superhero
Destination Moon (1950) • "He's got the whole world in his hands"
District 9 (2009)
Dragonslayer (1981)
Dreamscape (1984)
Elektra (2005)
Enchanted (2007)
Enemy Mine (1985)
Escape From New York (1981)
The Faculty (1998)
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Flash Gordon (1980) • saved from a '5' only by the Queen soundtrack
Frozen (2013) • reimagining The Ice Queen, with songs
The Game (1997)
Ghostbusters (1984) • Ghostbusters II (1989) • Ghostbusters (2016) • “Who you gonna call?”
Gremlins (1984)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) • “I am Groot”
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Happy Feet (2006)
The Haunting (1999)
The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Honey, I Blew Up the Baby (1992)
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
This Island Earth (1954) • scientists conned by aliens with high foreheads
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) • early inspiration for Alien?
Judge Dredd (1995)
Jumper (2008)
Jurassic Park (1993) • great SFX, pity about the plot
Ladyhawke (1985) • full moon one day, total eclipse of the sun the next?!
Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001/3)
The LEGO Movie (2014)
Looker (1981) • computer generated actors – in 1981 it was SF – today it’s a techno-thriller – tomorrow it will be a police procedural – soon it will be historical drama
Looper (2012) • Bruce Willis as a time travelling hit man
Lost in Space (1997)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) great SFX, cliched plot
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
The Matrix (1999)
Mr Vampire (1985)
Muppets from Space (1999) • just what is Gonzo?
Muppet Wizard of Oz (2005) • Miss Piggy as all four witches...
Outland (1981) • High Noon on Io, with Sean Connery as the marshal
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
Pitch Black (1999)
The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002)
Predator 2 (1990) Danny Glover fights an invisible alien hunter in the city
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
The Relic (1996) • there's a monster loose in the museum
Robocop 2 (1990)
Runaway (1984) Tom Sellek chases out-of-control robots
Sky High (2005)
Sleepy Hollow (1999) • sleepy ghost story
Sphere (1998) • An underwater alien golden ball sends eveyone mad
Starman (1984) • Jeff Bridges as an alien who falls to Earth [Stargate]
Stargate (1994) • ancient Egypt found in another galaxy, followed by a TV series
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) • the old crew go to the centre of the galaxy to find God
Star Trek VII: Generations (1994) • a chance to compare and contrast the acting skills of William Shatner and Patrick Stewart
Star Trek VIII: First Contact (1996) • back in time to fight the Borg
Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
Superman II (1980)
Super Mario Brothers (1993) • the plumbers rescue Princess Daisy, and defeat an invasion force from a parallel world of [remarkably human-looking] dinosaurs, with the help of some devolved fungus
Surrogates (2009)
Them! (1954) • giant mutant ants in the desert
The Thing (From Another World) (1951)
Thunderbirds
Time Bandits (1981)
Toothless (1997)
Universal Soldier (1992) • Luc Devreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) both 'died' in Vietnam, and now battle terrorists as ressurected super-soldiers -- but Luc starts to remember...
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
WarGames (1983) • kids hack the wrong computer, and nearly start WWIII
Willow (1988)


 

[Batman Returns]
Batman Returns : Penguin [Danny de Vito] and Catwoman [Michelle Pfeiffer]

5. Waste of time -- I did sit through it all, but wish I hadn't!

Armageddon (1998) • a meteor is about to hit the earth
Battlestar Galactica (1979) • almost so bad it's good, but not quite
Batman (1989) • disappointing
Batman Returns (1992) • introducing Catwoman
Batteries Not Included (1987)
The Black Hole (1979) • a 'cute' robot that looked like a vacuum cleaner, and that was the best bit!
Dune (1984) • long, confused, boring
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) • catch the background advert: "Casablanca, now in colour with the new happy ending"!
The Mummy (1999) • a poor Indiana Jones knock-off
Powder (1995)
Saturn 3 (1980)
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)
Species (1995)
Superman III (1983)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) • the trailer had a better plot than the film
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) • nicknamed The Motionless Picture , for good reason
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) • the 'hero' with the three bladed sword (the outer two of which are jet-propelled) has his hands nailed to wood, and frees himself by pulling out the nails . [It escapes being a 6 only because the group of six of us watching in the cinema, the total audience btw, were all jeering too much to leave!]


 


6. Unfinishable -- I couldn't even finish it

Alien 3 (1992) • I wouldn't even start it
Beastmaster III: the Eye of Braxus (1995)
Cherry 2000 (1988)
Dragonheart (1996) • Even Sean Connery as a dragon couldn't make this tedious mess watchable
Evolution (2001) • After half an hour of watching insultingly stupid characters, I evolved off in another direction.
Flatliners (1990) • Medical students kill then revive each other, for the near death experience. They should have stayed dead.
The Ice Pirates (1984)
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) aka Doppelganger Cinemania claims "The ending makes the movie"; I didn't get that far...
Mars Needs Women (1968) • Almost so bad it's good
Moon (2009) • yawn
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)
Night at the Museum (2006) • yawn
Robocop 3 (199?) • A distasteful mix of real and comic-book violence
The Shape of Things to Come (1979) • Not the Korda one, but instead truly dreadful
The Shadow (1994) • Neither camp nor serious -- just dull
Short Circuit 2 (1988)
Strange Days (1995) • I gave up on the violence, language, nudity and grunginess of this turn-of-millennium memory-chip murder thiriller long before any actual plot seemed to have started.
Strange Invaders (1983) • Supposedly a spoof of the It Came From Outer Space genre, it's just slow, dull and boring (for the first 45 minutes, at least).

... and too many, many more to mention.