Sci-fi movies have always been a way to expand our thinking about technology, space, time travel and A.I. technology. The following list of films highlight the best sci-fi movies to watch with these factors in mind, in both remarkable and frightening ways. Although the list is compiled from worst to best, all of these films are a must-watch.
6. "Star Trek" (2009)
This fan-acclaimed rival to “Star Wars” is filled with action and adventure, opening up possibilities for what the future of space travel may look like.
“Star Trek” showcases James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine, as a brash young man attempting to live up to his father's legacy after his death on a mission. All in all, Kirk lives up to his own legacy of being one of the most beloved captains in the “Star Trek” universe in this movie.
This film also shows a future in which both humans and aliens work together to help save the universe, displaying a series of unique relationships that show a sense of unity and teamwork to accomplish a common goal regardless of what species they are.
This is a good choice if you want to watch something similar to “Star Wars” with a little bit more adventure.
5. "The Matrix" (1999)
“The Matrix” is certainly a standout on this list, utilizing cyberpunk aesthetics, philosophy and martial-arts-inspired fight scenes to create an unforgettable action film.
Hacker Thomas Anderson, known by his alias “Neo,” meets Morpheus, a leather-clad rebel who reveals that Neo lives in a shared simulation of the world known as the "Matrix.” This sets Neo off on his quest to escape and free the rest of humanity, all while fighting against the forces that lead to the Matrix’s inception.
The kung fu and anime influences are apparent in the film’s action sequences — characters levitate in mid air and perform unbelievable stunts, all while each kick and punch are punctuated by over-the-top sound effects. “The Matrix” never aimed for realism. Instead it revels in decadent, superhuman battles that keep you locked in from start to finish.
Some of the most memorable moments in the film, though, are the mind-bending dialogues between characters where they discuss “the real,” and whether one can be sure of the concreteness of the things they percieve. While the action sequences are entertaining, it’s these probing conversations that make repeat viewings a necessity.
4. "The Terminator" (1984)
“The Terminator'' is one of the most influential science fiction films that explores the rebellion of artificial intelligence and societal anxieties surrounding rapidly evolving technology. This is one of James Cameron's more popular and notable films, and for good reason.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays the film’s killing machine from the future, casts a frightening figure — a towering, powerful robot that has humanlike features, but lacks any feeling or moral conscience. “No pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable,” the film’s DVD cover reads.
The thrills of the film are further heightened by the cold, synthesizer-laden soundtrack, which creates a chilling and threatening atmosphere. It makes you feel as if the Terminator could appear from the shadows at any moment, just when you think he’s gone.
3. "Alien" (1979)
You can't talk about sci-fi without mentioning the iconic sci-fi/horror film “Alien.” Thick with tension and fear, this flick will keep you on your toes as Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, and her other crewmates try to survive the night.
Long, drawn-out shots are used throughout the movie, pulling you further and further into the horrific unknown that lurks within the USCSS Nostromo spaceship. You’ll be frozen in anticipation of what might jump out at you from behind the next corner.
This is made all the more frightening by the film’s grotesque creatures, which kill off crew members in unimaginable, stomach-turning ways. While the main alien that terrorizes that crew remains mostly unseen, what glimpses you do get are enough to make you want to move your chair a couple feet back from the screen.
2. "Back to the Future" (1985)
“Back to the Future” is a classic science fiction film, even to this day. Its humorous script, strong cast and creative time-traveling premise made the film a cult classic that continues to be celebrated.
Stuck in a family of failures, Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, meets Emmett “Doc” Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd. This eventually leads to Marty accidentally activating a time-traveling DeLorean that sends him back to November 5, 1955.
While in the past, Marty realizes his actions are threatening his existence in the future, setting him off on his unique quest to ensure his parents still meet and fall in love. This plot shows what a monumental impact a seemingly small moment in time can have on the future, changing your view on everyday life.
This movie is also filled with drama and suspense that will keep you on your toes — even though comedical moments come through, this is a matter of life and death for Marty.
The movie is also filled with iconic scenes, like the chase scene at the diner or when Marty accidentally invents rock ‘n’ roll at his parents' school dance.
It’s moments like these that make the film so memorable and worth repeat viewings.
1. Original "Star Wars" Trilogy (1977-1983)
The “Star Wars” franchise, which started with the eponymous trilogy, introduced audiences to an immersive universe filled with action, adventure and romance. The first three films are a must-see for any sci-fi fan because of the universal themes and cultural significance within nerd circles and the general public alike. Fans have been treated to a total of nine films with the potential for more, especially after Disney acquired the franchise in 2012.
While the proceeding films have their merits, the original trilogy reigns supreme for its use of state-of-the-art CGI and inventive sound design, such as the slowed down elephant howls that create the TIE fighter screams.
Most importantly, though, the films subverted the traditional Western genre and took the “good guys vs. bad guys'' formula to epic porportions, creating a space opera that soared to new heights and resuscitated the science fiction film genre for decades to come.
Overall, all of these films encompass what sci-fi is about in not only the imagination and adventure factors, but the terrors as well. These films will keep you immersed in the story as if you were actually there.
Jesus Mata is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @JesusMataJr99
Alex McCausland is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @alexkmccausland