Top 10 Fantasy/Sci Fi Films

My ten favorite movies of my two favorite film genres.
August 12, 2009
I'm a buff when it comes to the genres of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I've always been into these two incredible genres, when it comes to books, video games, manga, and of coarse movies. I felt like doing this mot only to share my interests, but also to bring about the great things about the genre to the public, since nowadays its always comedy movies with toilet-humor and movies with annoying teenage-talk that get all the attention. Well without much further ado about what types of movies I like and dislike lets get started.

10. The Black Cauldron (1985)

To start the list off, I'm beginning with what is probably considered to be Disney's biggest flop at Box Office. This movie release back in 1985 was quite the devastation to Disney. The style of the movie differs greatly from what Disney has made in the past. I guess you could say that no-one was ready for this movie when it was first released for one thing it was a Disney movie that didn't contain any musical numbers and it involves a big amount of frightening images which probably haven't been seen in a Disney movie since the Scalding Mountain sequence in "Fantasia". The movie stayed in movie theaters for two weeks, and following that time span "The Black Cauldron" became a forgotten gem for fifteen years not to be released on VHS till 1998. Anyway I actually like this movie, in fact despite its box-office failure it has become a somewhat cult-classic movie and many people like it. This movie is based on the first two novels in the series of books called "The Chronicles of Pyridan", published in the 1960s by Lloyd Alexander. Normally I hate it when movies based on books follow them very poorly (Especially Eragon, which stunk terribly), but I still find this movie to be enjoyable (After all Jurassic Park and Benjamin Button don't follow the books that well, but their still great movies). Another thing that made this movie contrast with most of Disney's movies is that it was the very first one to receive a PG rating; in fact before the movie's release several scenes were cut in order to prevent the film from receiving a PG-13 or R rating. One thing I really like about this movie is The Horned King, who has got to be the scariest Disney villain of them all, he's pure skeleton and that would probably freak anyone who is use to all the human villains in the previous films. I soon hope to be the proud owner of the new special edition DVD which is coming out sometime this year which will feature all the deleted scenes. Among the Disney Animated Classic this falls among my favorites including: "Robin Hood", "The Lion King", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "101 Dalmatians", "The Sword in the Stone", and "The Nightmare Before Christmas".

9. Blade Runner (1982)

This is a true gem of the 1980s. Sir Ridley Scott is by far my favorite director, and in my honest opinion no other director knows how to make movies like him. If you aren't familiar with Scott, some of his well known movies include: "Gladiator", "Alien" and "Black Hawk Down". Basically this movie takes place in the future and it is the year 2019; around this time their have been some real big increase in genetic technology and scientists have been able to create new mutant humanoids with incredible abilities called Replicants. When a massive breakout of Nexus-6 Replicants escape from servitude and kill a member of the police force Blade Runner, a former retired member of the force Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is forced out of retirement to find the Replicants and kill them. Like "The Black Cauldron", this movie was another box-office failure following its release in 1982, which has become a cult-classic among movie viewers. Throughout its history this movie has been released into seven different versions (I've only seen the Directors Cut version released on DVD in 2006). Apparently throughout the films several moments of re-releases in theaters and on video, the movie has gone through several edits in its appearance (Which Ridley Scott has gotten more satisfied with each release.). The first time I saw this movie it really caught my attention instantly and I really enjoyed it. I think the acting goes up to a really good scale when it comes to emotions at the current situation of the characters, especially with Harrison Ford, Joe Turkell, Daryl Hannah, and the beautiful Sean Young. Also I like that this movie unlike most Sci-Fi films, sticks to its dark nature, and although it has a happy ending still gives a bit of a chill feeling.

8. Jurassic Park (1993)

Ever since age 3 dinosaurs were probably the biggest passion I had in my youth period, and "Jurassic Park" immediately became and instant favorite to me after I first saw it at age 4. In this film a group of scientists have been able to bring cloned dinosaurs back to life using extracted DNA from a prehistoric mosquito which was preserved in fossilized amber, and contained blood of ancient dinosaurs in its system. This movie was a box-office amazement and is currently the 8th most popular film in the United States; it is well remembered for its incredible special effects in a combination of CGI and animatronic dinosaurs. At the time of its release it was praised as one of the most scientifically accurate dinosaur films of all time, and its scientific accuracies came in part from paleontologist Jack Horner's involvement in the movie development; however with some new theories in prehistoric life the movie has been found to more inaccurate than it was at the time. Still this is just a movie so it doesn't have to be entirely accurate. As I mentioned above in my review of "The Black Cauldron", this movie really doesn't follow the book that well, in fact it contains only 10-20 percent of Michael Crichton's novel. A reasonable explanation for this is that the movie was in development before the book was published in 1990, and though many fans claim to like the book more, many have claimed to really enjoy the movie. The movies popularity led to the development of a sequel in 1997 called "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" which was also based on a novel by Michael Crichton and was almost as good as the first one, as well as a third movie released in 2001 which was really bad and I found to be completely unnecessary because Crichton only wrote two books. Nowadays not many movies have been made that mostly focus around dinosaurs, and I've seen many of the old dinosaur movies that were made in the time span of the 1920s-1980s. A fourth Jurassic Park is said to be in the works and it's been in the works for quite a while now, I will conclude here by saying to only stick to this classic as well as it's sequel and pay absolutely no attention to the horrible 3rd movie. As for the fourth movie I guess we will just have to wait and see how it turns out. Before switching over to the next movie I must say I felt terribly sorry at the end of this movie for Hammond because to run a park of dinosaurs would probably cost more money than any zoo on the planet.

7. Alein (1979)

Another amazing Science-Fiction masterpiece directed by Ridley Scott. Around the time this movie was released, their were a number of other movies involving aliens later on including: "The Star Wars Trilogy", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial". "Alien" certainly brought the Science Fiction genre to a whole new level. No Science Fiction movie released at the same time as this one contained more blood, gore, and violence than this one. The movie is about a group of space explorers returning from an expedition to the planet Thedus with large amount of rich ore mineral, their trip back to Earth is disrupted by a signal coming from an attack alien spacecraft. This puts the space-crew in a conflict which brings the seven crew members in war with the use of deadly guns, flamethrowers, and electric pods. Unlike "Blade Runner" which would come out three years later, "Alien" was a major success at Box Office and won an academy award for its Visual Effects, as well as a nomination for its Art Direction. A lot came out of this movie during its release including a really popular toy line. It also had at least 3 direct sequels released during the following eighteen years which all featured actress Sigourney Weaver and didn't involve Ridley Scott as the director. Also quite recently two prequels to this movie were released called "Alien vs. Predator" and "Alien v.s. Predator Requiem" which I haven't seen yet, but very well intend to. The one thing I like the most about this movie is its incredible special effects which look incredibly realistic and the aliens were put together really well. What was unique about this movies creation was that it featured a lady in the lead role for a science fiction movie, which was not very common. In fact I was quite pleased with Sigourney Weaver's performance, especially since she never had any experience in a movie before; she was well known for her appearance in several Broadway shows. Weaver does a really good job in the part and this film reveals her tough nature when it comes to fighting something that isn't human. To conclude this part of my list, if you're looking for a classic science fiction film with Aliens that contains a more serious tone I would highly recommend this motion picture.

6. Legend (1985)

As I've mentioned above Ridley Scott is by far my favorite director, so why else would I have a total of three films he has directed in my list so far. After talking about three films focusing on Science Fiction it's time to change the subject and talk about some more Fantasy films. To begin with in Ridley Scott's movies which he directed from 1977-1982 Scott had shown how talented he was with creating settings for his stories. When "Legend" was released in 1985 movie-viewers were able to witness how talented he was with creating symbolism and imagery in his films. At the time of the release Scott had not been familiar with creating a movie in a fantasy setting, so the movie was made in a somewhat simple matter compared to several other fantasy flicks. In this film an evil Satan-like Lord of Darkness has a desire to rule over a world of eternal darkness which he can only achieve by killing the remaining two unicorns in the world. Since the Lord of Darkness cannot step out in the light he sends a team of three servants of his with hearts as black as midnight to kill the unicorns and claim their horns. After both unicorns are captured along with the bountiful Princess Lily (Mia Sara), a young forest hermit named Jack (Tom Cruise) teams up with a stubborn fairy named Oona, an energetic elf named Honeythorn Gump, and two clumsy dwarves named Screwball and Brown Tom to find the Dark Lords domain and save the unicorns and Princess Lily. This movie certainly differed from Scott's previous three movies in which in was not as violent and took on a more spiritual appearance. The movie quite nicely shows how Unicorns are symbols of Innocence and Peace especially with the mention that the only feelings a unicorn possess are peace and happiness and that is why they are highly sacred animals. Poetry is also a big motif in this film especially where evil can explain about the passion it has for bad things one in which being, "May be innocent, may be sweet... ain't half as nice as rotting meat.". The casting in this movie also was a really well thought out group; for one thing Mia Sara and Tom Cruise make a very cute fantasy setting couple, and Tim Curry just does a magnificent job in his role as the Lord Of Darkness his voice of evil is by far the most evil one I've ever heard before sorta like Darth Vader meets Lord Sauron. Finally the soundtrack ties in with the movie exceptionally well, even though most of the music sounds the same in the moments of the movie not involving Darkness and Mia Sara sure has a pure harmonious voice unlike most I've ever heard.

5. Excalibur (1981)

The long-told Dark Age Legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table is my favorite among the stories of Medieval and Renaissance literature. That being said, it would probably make this movie sound a little off topic considering what the top-ten is about. Well it's on the list, because it's the story of King Arthur and how he came into the possession of the legendary god-forged sword Excalibur by adding elements of fantasy and mythology to the story. This telling of the Legend of King Arthur takes the story in a bit of a more matured themed way compared to movies like Disney's "The Sword and The Stone" and Columbia's "First Knight". The movie for instance features a number of sword fighting stunt scenes with reveal some intense graphic violence and squirting blood as well as graphic nudity which is what earned the movie an R rating. This movie has beautiful cinematography and utilizes some beautifully colorful lighting effects in the scenes when it comes to contrasting the moods of the scene. The acting is also quite impressive where Nigel Terry plays Arthur from Arthur's youth to maturity and he executes the age differences of Arthur really well. Helen Mirren who plays Morgana Le Fay plays the character really beautifully and portrays the character really well with her beautiful/evil facial appearance. If your looking to see a movie about King Arthur, this is truly the one to watch, because it is amazing beyond comparability.

4. Gojira (1954)

As I mentioned above, during my youth I was a dinosaur buff. Being a big fan of such things I was a really big fan of the long going Godzilla Franchise. As of today there are 27 movies in the series, which began in 1954 with the original and has now gone into its rather long break time in 2004 with "Godzilla Final Wars". Out of all 27 films in the franchise there are several reasons as to why this classic is the best out of them all. This film had brought together three of Japan's best talents in the film industry including: master director Ishiro Honda, superb music conductor Akira Ifukube, and the Ray-HarryHousen of Japan Eiji Tsuburaya who creates awesome special effects. This film became the start of a world-wide phenomenal type of genre involving giant prehistoric monsters attacking major cities. The plot involves the creation of a mutant dinosaur like creatures of a group of natives refer to as Godzilla from accidents involving the testing of nuclear bombs. The movie despite being a science fiction film is actually based on a true incident involving a real Japanese ship called The Lucky Dragon which got to close to a nuclear test site, and caused half the crew on bored the ship to get radiation sickness. The reason why I like this film the most out of all the movies in the franchise is because of it's serious tone and mature appearance which the other films don't feature so much of. The film is a combination of serious romance, science Fictions, and drama which are all executed really well. It's a movie that has several moments of sad emotion that execute into a good theme. Just to point it out my review is focusing on the original Japanese version of the film, and has nothing to do with the American version with Raymond Burr released in 1956. To conclude I've seen just about all the movies in the series and the best films include: "Gojira" (1954), "Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster" (1964), "Destroy All Monsters" (1968), "Godzilla v.s. King Ghidorah" (1991), "Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S" (2003) and "Godzilla Final Wars" (2004).

3. The Last Unicorn (1982)

Quite often when it comes to fans making comparisons between movies and the books they're based on, many usually say that the books are better than the movies. With this movie however; most fans felt the opposite way. This incredible animated movie based on the wonderful novel by Peter S. Beagle, is incredibly accurate in following the book. The movie exceeds over several others of its time with its appearance in beauty and is made wonderfully through its development in its art and music. The movie was directed and animated by the Rankin/Bass Company, who created the animated versions of "The Hobbit" (1977) and "The Return of the King" (1980). Let's just thank God for this movies release because it was a major improvement over their god-awful version of "The Return of the King" and I mean by a long shot. The movies popularity was also in-part by the fact that despite being a movie produced and directed in America it was animated in Japan (In fact Godzilla's roar is used by a dragon in the movie). Like Ridley Scott's "Legend" this movies shows how unicorn's are a symbol of Innocence and can create beauty and peace in what they have control over. The thing that first attracted me immediately to the movie was its beautiful beyond heaven soundtrack which features the composing of Jimmy Webb and amazing ballads by the rock duo America, the only small flaw in the music is that actor Jeff Bridge who plays Prince Lir and actress Mia Farrow who plays the Unicorn/Lady Amalthea can't sing for their lives, but the scene they sing in is very romantic. Despite the movies success at box-office and capturing of the hearts of its fans, the movie appears to be less-remembered compared to other animated movies of the 80s like "An American Tale" (1986), "The Land Before Time" (1988), and "The Little Mermaid" (1989) that's the only thing about this movie that I really find disappointing (I do like those movies though, don't get me wrong.). Watching this movie gives me a very similar feeling to how I feel when I'm listening to my favorite soundtrack "Pure Moods" because the music, appearance, and dialogue of this movie all combine into something god would've made to relax anyone after a really rough day of work or school

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

I understand this movie came out recently and therefore falls nowhere under the retro category, but I felt their was absolutely no reason that this list could come to an end without listing a movie in director Peter Jackson's "The Lord Of The Rings" Trilogy. The Trilogy was a worldwide phenomenon with the release of the three movies from 2001-2003. This film is currently only second to "Titanic" for the highest grossing movie of all time world-wide. Everything makes this movie a worldwide wonder; especially since it was the last movie in the series. As I mentioned above in my review of "The Last Unicorn" the Rankin/Bass company released a really horrendous animated version of "The Return of the King" in 1980 which was a sequel to the animated version of "The Hobbit" released in 1977. This movie is just amazing in everything including it's wonderful soundtrack composed by Howard Shore (As well as the song played during the end credits “Into The West” by Annie Lennox), the sets and the locations in New Zealand where the film was shot, the incredibly realistic look of the Orcs, Ring Wraiths, Nazgul, and other Tolkien creatures, and the incredible group of cast members who greatly portray the characters in the story they play; which all contributed to this movie winning 11 academy awards including Best Picture. As far as the comparison between the book and movie versions of this story, the film at first left a lot in the original version and includes a lot of details that are supposed to happen at the end of the book version of "The Two Towers", but certain details from the book not in the original version were brought into the movie with the release of the extended version of the movie in 2004. Fans though have been said to be the most disappointed over the movie leaving out the part at the end of the book where Saruman takes over the Shire, following his defeat by the Ents at Isengard. The books may still be better than the movies, but this will be a film trilogy that shall never ever be forgotten as long as the movie business goes, hopefully it will keep its spot as the second highest grossing movie, because as literature author C.S. Lewis says about the story, "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron."

Well the list has pretty much come to it's end, and only one movie is left to include. What fantasy/sci fi film could I possibly love more than "The Return Of The King"? Well I'll begin by giving you a hint:

What do you get when you put:
Jim Henson
George Lucas
David Bowie
Into the creation of one movie?
The Answer is:


1. Labyrinth (1986)

Labyrinth is a classic and a great movie that combines three incredible talents together into the development of one movie, and that is why this movie is number one on my list. When a spoiled teenage girl named Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connely in her teenage years.) wishes to have her baby brother Toby taken away by the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie), she goes on a mission to rescue him after her wish unknowingly comes true; before the clock strikes 13 O' Clock or Toby will become a goblin. The movie tells an old common theme seen in most literature stories involving kids that at one point in our lives we must accept responsibility and leave our childhood behind. Sometimes I like to think of this movie as Disney's "Aladdin" meets New Line Cinema's "Lord Of The Rings" Trilogy; because it is a serious movie with some dark fantasy images that is actually loaded with a lot of laughs. Speaking of which it is rather ironic because "The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy" is on my list before this movie, and that movie was a major success, but this film was in-fact a box office failure which like "The Black Cauldron" and "Blade Runner" has since become a world wide cult-classic. Everyone has their own opinions about movies and even if the critics think it's a movie is bad, it can still appeal to someone who views the movies and finds it enjoyable. The movie contains some of the most bizarre creatures I've ever seen in a movie, and the settings, special effects, and puppet animatronics are all great fitters into the movies elements. One thing I should point is that this was made by Jim Henson, the mastermind behind the famous group of puppets the Muppets! Henson has also worked on some serious projects that don't fall into the humor world including his first fantasy film "The Dark Crystal" (1982) as well as "The Star Wars Trilogy". This movie just goes to show how talented he is in creating stories in both comedy and adventure. It is a big shame that he died though in 1990. I also want to point out how well the two leads present themselves in the movie. Despite being a teenager at the time Jen Connely does a great job in her role as Sarah. Also one of my favorite rock musicians David Bowie plays the villain Jareth, and boy does he do a good job with his evil voice and dark appearance. In my opinion Bowie has got to be only second to Jackson for the amount of talent a celebrity has in the arts: he can act, dance, sing, and play guitar, piano, and saxophone. Speaking of the arts the one thing I like the most about this movie is its soundtrack. Trevor Jones who composed the music made a great haunting and popish soundtrack which are combined really well together, Bowie even shows his talent from writing four different songs for the movies which contrast in the style: the title song "Underground" is a smooth jazz piece that builds up as the song progresses, the main theme song "Magic Dance" is an upbeat hip-hop dance piece that really meets the beat, "Chilly Down" is a funk-rock piece that really teaches you to have fun, "As The World Falls Down" is an smooth rhythm and blues piece that gets you thinking about your true love, and "Within You" is a haunting song that even though lacks dialogue contains some great use of electric guitar riffs. There is nothing else I can really say, except that this will always be a movie that will hold a special spot in my heart, and I will remember it until the day I die.

Well the list is finally complete. Hopefully from making this list this I was able to expand the ideas of the fantasy and science fiction film genre and why I they are both great genres. If you're not into the two genres though and prefer the genres I don't really like then I respect that.

Piece out for now everyone, Shepard of Suburbia!

My next article will probably be a revision of my first article in the way it was supposed to appear.
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