New Scientist's favourite sci-fi film
By Alison George (Image: Warner Bros) (Image: Warner Bros) Planning for a sci-fi special edition on 15 November, I sent an email asking everyone at New Scientist to vote for their best and worst sci-fi films and books. Of course my inbox was immediately bulging with responses. This is how they voted in the film category. Blade Runner, the 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott (based loosely on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick), was the clear favourite, with its human androids and robotic humans. “It’s a great story, emotionally involving and well acted – and still has a mystery. Was Harrison Ford’s cop really a cyborg?” wrote one of our editors. Three films tied for second place: The Blob, the 1958 sci-fi/horror film starring Steve McQueen. “I saw The Blob when I was about seven years old and haven’t eaten jelly since,” said one of our staff. Others noted that The Blob has one of the most implausible theme tunes of any sci-fi film. Dune, the 1984 film directed by David Lynch, must rank as one of the most unsuccessful adaptations of all time, at least according to New Scientist staffers: the novel by Frank Herbert on which it was based was voted one of the best books in the in-house poll. Most gratuitously scantily-clad female character: The gold went to The Fifth Element‘s Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovitch, for her half-unwrapped-mummy outfit. Silver went to Jane Fonda’s Barbarella, heroine of the eponymous film – although one editor defended her negligible outfits: “Barbarella is actually about sex and love and all that, so it makes sense that she hardly wears anything.” Bronze went to Jeri Ryan, she of the nothing-to-the-imagination catsuit featured in Star Trek: Voyager. Primer, the 2004 low-budget film directed by Shane Carruth. “Well worth watching,” said one of our editors, “though you might be excused for wondering if it makes any sense at all.” Both ardently loved and fervently loathed: The New Scientist staff are a contradictory bunch: Dune, The Matrix, Blade Runner and Event Horizon all featured on both the most loved and most hated lists. The case for The Matrix: “It’s visually stunning, but what really stands out is that it has a neat idea which is then worked out in detail through a driving story. All the elements – the idea, the characters, the plot, the visuals – mesh together to perfection. Pity about the sequels, though…” The case against The Matrix: “It has one of the worst backplot elements ever: using people as power sources. I could write an essay on how ludicrous that is.” The case for Dune: “Brilliant atmosphere, narrative and characters.” (It must be said that this was a lone voice in the wilderness.) The case against Dune: “There may be other films in which any given minute is as bad as any given minute of Dune – but the 190-minute director’s cut version of the Dune film probably contains as much total badness as any sci-film ever made.” Another editor notes that Dune is dreadful “because it had Sting in it”. What are your all-time favourite sci-fi film and book?