From Raspberry World – Volume 3, Issue 2 (August/September 2008) Submitted for your approval a list of motion pictures:
01. Iron Man
02. Star Wars
04. The Empire Strikes Back
05. Return of the Jedi
07. Back to the Future
08. The Matrix
09. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
10. The Day the Earth Stood Still
11. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
12. The Incredibles
13. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
14. Jurassic Park
17. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
18. Superman: The Movie
21. The Terminator
22. V for Vendetta
24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
25. Deja Vu
26. X2: X-Men United
27. Donnie Darko
28. I Am Legend
29. X-Men: The Last Stand
So what is all this? This is Yahoo’s list of the 30 Greatest Science Fiction Movies of All Time.
Yeah I know. Take a minute and sit down, get your breath back…
Now I don’t deny that many of these movies border on greatness (except for the five I haven’t seen), but I ask you: Greatest of All Time? Oh, come now. Star Wars was a bit of a landmark, in several way, but The Empire Strikes Back was better (scripted by the legendary Leigh Brackett, it would be). And for my money, Revenge of the Sith was better than that. Truly, apart from the aforementioned five “lost sheep”, I like and in some cases love all the movies on this list, with the exception of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which I find manipulative and saccharine, and for which (in concert with Annie) I blame my diabetes.
But this list professes to be the thirty Greatest Science Fiction Movies of All Time – that’s where my eyebrows elevate; indeed, there is now a small, eyebrows-shaped hole in my ceiling. If these are the greatest of all time, then why is it that only one of them was produced prior to 1975 and the numero uno only appeared on theater screens within the last three months?!? The Day the Earth Stood Still (and my heart’s dearest wish is that the voters were not thinking of the Keanu Reeves remake) absolutely deserves a place on such a list, as do Alien, Aliens, The Terminator and T2, and those Star Wars movies I mentioned.
But Close Encounters, in my entirely correct opinion, is mostly a piece of over-long, navel-gazing crap. And are these people (or any people, for that matter) really trying to tell me that Predator is a better, more memorable, to-be-saved-for-future-generations movie than Metropolis (1927)? Frankenstein (1931)? The Invisible Man (1933), or several of the other now-iconic films that Universal gave to us, back in the day? Better than The Thing from Another World (1951) or even John Carpenter’s brilliant-if-gooey 1982 remake? Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), It Came from Outer Space (1953) (and written by Ray fecking Bradbury!), the Quatermass series, War of the Worlds (1953), It! the Terror from Beyond Space (1958) (you laugh it inspired Alien, whatever Dan O’Bannon says, and came from a story by golden age SF pioneer A.E. van Vogt!), Forbidden Planet (1956), either version (1958 or 1979) of Invasion of the Body Snatchers? 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968), even though I find it, in places, somewhat inscrutable, however beautiful it is to look at? Cocoon (1985)?
And that’s just the opening salvo. Because not only is this list flirting with ageism, the productions are almost exclusively American in origin. The rest of the world has given us some truly splendid science fiction cinema Four-Sided Triangle and The Day the Earth Caught Fire leap immediately to mind, as does the original (I think it’s Russian, though my memory isn’t what it was) version of Solaris, from the early seventies. There are plenty of others, you are welcome (for the sake of space) to fill in the many blanks I leave for you.
In general, I find “Best/Worst of…” lists terribly sad-making affairs (those composed by our contributors included, honestly), because they always seem to initiate or reignite the Wars of Personal Taste and Opinion. This list, though, I find especially offensive, implying as it does that, with one exception, all the movies of any merit were made in the last 30 or so years, and that 29/30 of them were made in or by the Good Old U.S. of A. Even more frustrating is the thought that this list was composed by a crew of under-30-year-old brats (probably even younger), and that its aim was less to reward the works in question than to apply (coincidentally, of course) some crafty marketing principles. Honestly, I don’t know how this list was compounded it may actually have been based on DVD sales over the last year or two.
I’m quite surprised that it didn’t include Dude, Where’s My Car (2000) (which, to my surprise, I enjoy enormously and, to my further surprise, really does contain science fiction elements necessary to the story!), or the Bill & Ted movies of ’89 and ’91.
– K.C. Locke