Hollywood's 10 MOST MEMORABLE movies set in space
I haven’t watched the film yet, but the deafening raves for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, heard from all over the world, are convincing enough to believe we may have a bonafide classic on our hands.
Space has, however, been a familiar hunting ground for filmmakers long before Cuaron stunned the critics.
Here, then, is my list of the ten best English-language films set in and across the final frontier.
Please click NEXT for more.
Image: Sandra Bullock in Gravity
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s epic masterwork may prove formidable to the casual viewer but remains a work of staggering artistry and magnificent balance.
Written by Kubrick and sci-fi maestro Arthur C Clarke, 2001 raised questions about sentience and loneliness that the genre has struggled to answer for decades afterwards.
Image: A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey
Space horror doesn't get more visceral than in Ridley Scott’s Alien, where an extraterrestrial creature turns lethally predatorial.
HR Giger came up with truly surreal design -- design that is influential to this day -- and the film gave us one of filmdom’s toughest women with Sigourney Weaver’s Officer Ripley.
Image: Sigourney Weaver in Alien
It might have had all the storytelling of Pocahontas, but James Cameron’s highly immersive Avatar works more like a theme-park ride than an actual movie.
The 3-D experience this film provided on a giant screen was unlike anything we’d seen before, and Cameron truly took us far, far away.
Read the review here.
Image: Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in Avatar
The very genre of the space-based film was defined by Fred M Wilcox’s 1956 classic, the first film to show humans building -- and travelling in -- a spaceship, and, after years of Alien-invasion movies, was the first film to be set away from the Earth.
This film laid the groundwork for Captain Kirk and Doctor Who.
Image: A scene from Forbidden Planet
Duncan Jones made his directorial debut with this hauntingly good film, a film resting on the shoulders of Sam Rockwell’s acting (and Kevin Spacey’s voice) but a film that implicates all of humanity in a bid to understand subjects as diverse as isolation and corporate callousness.
A strikingly original satire, this.
Image: A scene from Moon
Based on the Stanislaw Lem book of the same name, Andrei Tarkovsky’s profoundly unsettling film explores different kinds of mental neuroses and crises inflicted by the rigours and uniqueness of the astronaut’s life.
The 2002 remake with George Clooney gets some things right, but the Russian original is a far more stark and scary piece of celluloid poetry.
Image: A scene from Solaris
One of the most savagely clever spoofs in all of cinema, this Mel Brooks film takes on Star Wars and a slew of other films, making for a cult classic that is often better than the films it is mocking.
In one gloriously meta scene, for example, the characters watch a VHS copy of Spaceballs in order to ascertain the future ahead of them.
Image: A scene from Spaceballs
Mockery aside, you’d be hard-pressed to find a film that has connected as passionately with as many people, across generations and geography, as George Lucas’ 1977 blockbuster.
A highly engrossing narrative with outrageous characters and told with extreme technical proficiency, the Star Wars saga casts a massive shadow across the genre and things have never been the same since.
Image: Harrison Ford in Star Wars
The one film on this list most likely to be bumped off by Gravity, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine is nevertheless a remarkable storytelling trick -- (SPOILER ALERT) it is a horror movie in astronaut’s clothing.
It is also a film exploring fundamentally psychological questions, a film posing metaphysical quandaries, and so a horror-movie end seems like a tame finish, however effective the surprise it brings.
Image: A scene from Sunshine
How do you make a robot wistful, I’d wondered in an appreciation of Pixar’s marvellous Wall-E when it came out five years ago, and Andrew Stanton’s achingly beautiful film continues to enchant in just the same way.
Space has never, ever seen a better dance.
Image: A scene from Wall-E