1. Spaceships in Trouble
Nothing—and I mean nothing—gets me into a theater faster than a torn-up ship with a resourceful crew. The breath-taking scope and the cramped, mundane interiors—it’s like crack. Just thinking about what is going to happen in the airlock (and something will) makes me giddy.
2. Tough Women
Remember the scene in Working Girl where Sigourney Weaver kicks that alien’s ass? No, you sure don’t. Long before little Buffy picked up a stake, women in science fiction were getting it done. And now we have Milla. Dear, dear Milla.
3. Famous Actors in the Ghetto
Christian Bale in Equilibrium. Hurt and Oldman in Lost in Space. Sir Ben in…Well, damn, this goes all the way back to Slipstream. Either their star is (perhaps temporarily) on the wane, or they wanted a paycheck, or they dig sci-fi, but it’s fun to see the big guns in the little movies.
Whatever else he did wrong, George gave us the most cinematic, mythical, elegant, and oddly comforting tool in sci-fi history.
Who are we? Where do we come from? What is love? Is humanity worth saving? Who monitors the birds? We all ask these questions, but none more poignantly than people who can remove their own faces. Also, they can remove their own faces. And occasionally ours. Bots rule.
The sign of a cheap sci-fi movie (and those are the best ones) is a good location. They can’t afford to build anything, so the future is some Bauhaus monstrosity or desert village. Tarsem’s vastly underrated The Fall is probably the best. It’s all about the (pun!) space.
7. Kurt Russell
Soldier didn’t add up, but check out Kurt holding the screen with all of 15 words in the film. Then check out his deep comedy chops in the masterful Sky High. Then check out his entire Carpenter oeuvre. He is the King of the B’s, and up to anything else that gets thrown at him. The real deal.