Five Sci-Fi Movies I Make All of My Friends Watch

My mother made sure that I grew up as a nerd.  We watched such things as Doctor Who, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Willow together as a family on a regular basis.  One of my earliest childhood memories is renting all three Star Wars movies and watching them all over the course of one afternoon.  As a child, I had no lack of the fantastic and fictional in my life.  That being said, I am always shocked when one of my friends say they haven’t seen certain movies.  This shock is often compounded with frustration if they claimed the mantle of “geek.”  So to help you avoid (or instigate) these uncomfortable moments with your geekier friends, I present to you five movies I personally force all my friends to watch.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th DimensionThe Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Buckaroo Banzai is a modern day Doc Savage, or at least was modern in the 80’s. Expert surgeon, physicist, master gunslinger and rockstar are only a few terms that can be used to describe Buckaroo. Along with The Hong Kong Cavilers, his support staff and back-up band, he fights crime and generally make the world a better place. Of course, when the world has a problem with invading aliens, he is the first person called. With a cast including Peter Weller (Robocop), John Lithgow (Footloose, Dexter), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, The Fly), Christopher Lloyd (Clue, Back to the Future) and Clancy Brown (Highlander, Starship Troopers), Buckaroo Banzai isn’t lacking star power. It’s also not lacking in quirky humor and bizarre action. While the movie won’t be for everyone, it is an experience everyone should have at least once.

Moon

It’s hard to deny that Star Wars changed the way sci-fi movies are made. Since its release in 1977, sci-fi movies have gotten bigger, flashier and more action packed. Duncan Jones’ 2009 feature premiere was a callback to days gone by. Channeling the spirit of such movies as Silent Running, The Andromeda Strain and even 2001, Moon has a plot that takes its time and doesn’t rely on flashy special effects to draw you in. It’s simply a movie that uses its sci-fi elements to physically manifest issues and emotions that are a part of the human condition. Sam Rockwell is amazing in what is almost a one man show. This is a must see for anyone that is a fan of “hard” science fiction or likes good drama.

TronTron

If you would have asked me 10 years ago if Tron would make a list like this, I would have scoffed. As the age gap between my oldest and youngest friends widens, it has become clear that the 1982 classic has fallen out of favor with the young geeks of today. Maybe it’s the slightly dated special effects or the strong undertones of religious persecution, but for some reason more and more people are unfamiliar with this movie. Regardless, this movie is a must see for all geeks. The idea of programs actually being cyber avatars that represent their users in the digital world could easily be credited with predicting such things as facebook or World of Warcraft. With the sequel coming out in December, you really should consider using this time to catch up. Still not sold? Jeff Bridges. I think we’re done here.

Dark City

This film is criminally underrated. When it comes down to it, this movie has it all. Style, swagger, mystery and suspense all wrapped up into a sci-fi box that you don’t even realize is sci-fi till halfway through the movie. What starts out as a noir murder-mystery quickly turns into something else. I really don’t want spoil this story in case anyone hasn’t seen it. Not only is the story amazing and original, but the movie has a cast to die for. It features Rufus Sewell (The Pillars of Earth, The Illusionist), William Hurt (Lost in Space, The Incredible Hulk), Kiefer Sutherland (24, The Land Before Time X), Jennifer Connelly (Labyrinth, Hulk) and Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s own Richard O’Brien. If you go into this movie with an open mind, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

StarmanStarman

John Carpenter might be one of the most interesting and dynamic filmmakers of all time. From horror movies like The Thing to action comedies like Big Trouble in Little China, Carpenter has never been one to get bogged down by genres. 1984’s Starman might be the most unique film on his impressively geeky resume. The movie follows a marooned alien explorer who takes the shape of the recently deceased Scott Hayden and is then forced to drive cross-country with Hayden’s widow in order to meet up with his rescue party before he dies. While the movie’s message can be a little heavy handed at times, it doesn’t take away from the overall amazing experience. In fact, the performances in this movie are so strong it actually landed Jeff Bridges his first Oscar Nomination for Best Actor, an honor he would eventually win in 2009 for Crazy Heart. It’s a touching movie that will have you honestly cheering for the main characters by the credits.

These are just a few of the movies I feel every geek should see. Many of my friends can confirm that they have been forced to watch these films, and more often than not, they thank me when it’s over. Got a special movie that you make all your friends watch? Share it in the comment section!

7 Comments

  1. Posted November 12, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    Nice one Carl! I can't express how happy I am that you included Tron (the greatest movie of ALL TIME) in this list. I was ready to boycott anything you wrote if I didn't see it, haha….not true

    Another of my favorites to add to the list: That Last Starfighter!

    • Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
      Posted November 12, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, Last Starfighter almost made the list… Especially since there's supposed to be a new one in the works and it involves a lot of the original production crew.

      As far as Tron, I'm honestly surprised by how many people haven't seen it! I mean, I grew up watching it on the Disney Channel back when it was still a premium channel like HBO.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

  2. Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah, I was disappointed when District 9 got nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Not because I didn't like D9, but because as a movie, Moon was 100x better. If the Academy is going to throw a pity nomination for a Sci-fi movie, it should have been Moon.

    As far as Sunshine goes… I have never seen it. The worst part is I own it! I actually have it on DVD, I have just never gotten around to watching it. I'm terrible about that. I seriously have a giant stack of DVDs I have bought, but never watch.

  3. jtNo Gravatar
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 6:48 am | Permalink | Reply

    I hate to be the one to say this but I have not seen any of those movies. However, I do enjoy a lot of movies with jeff bridges, john lithgow, and kiefer sutherland.

    • Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
      Posted December 1, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      BBBOOOOOOOO!!!! HIIIIISSSSSSSS!!!!

      I kid, I kid. Seriously, I won’t say these are the best movies ever made, but they’re all at least very interesting. I’ve had friends that loved Buckaroo Banzai and others that hated it like a sunburn.

      If you end up checking any of them out, let me know! I’m always interested in hearing what people have to say.

  4. JeffNo Gravatar
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tron and Starman are awesome. I have Bukaroo on my instant cue since I heard you talk about it on KBP, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

    • Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
      Posted December 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Nice too see some KBP listeners chiming in! Definitely let me know what you think about it. Ryan really dug it. There’s really know way to explain it and do the movie any justice.

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