The genre of science fiction is one that both captivates and puzzles audiences worldwide, and that often starts conversations about topics both real and abstract. From AI to aliens, from spaceships and time travel to robots, there are countless stories and ideas to explore in sci-fi movies. Here is a list of 12 must-watch cult sci-fi classics that will undoubtedly entertain, excite, and challenge viewers: Blade Runner, The Matrix, Star Trek, Ex Machina, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Terminator, Doctor Who, The Fifth Element, Aliens, The Day the Earth Stood Still, A Space Odyssey and Avatar.
Time travel is the concept of traversing through time and is a common theme in science fiction movies. Some cult classics that feature time travel, and utilize it cleverly, are The Terminator, Doctor Who and The Fifth Element. The Terminator series follows the tale of a resistance attempting to prevent the Skynet Defense System from taking over and destroying the world, while Doctor Who follows the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien as he navigates through life. Lastly, The Fifth Element has a protagonist seeking out four ancient stones in order to restore peace to the universe.
By traveling through different timeframes, these movies enable viewers to experience the past, present, and future in ways that are both educational and entertaining. Through unique time-jumps, viewers can be challenged to think differently and more critically about the nature of time and reality.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also a popular and essential part of sci-fi and features heavily in many classic films. Blade Runner, The Matrix, Ex Machina, and A Space Odyssey all heavily depict the presence and capabilities of AI. In Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, a ‘Blade Runner,’ is sent to hunt down and terminate advanced Artificial humans. The Matrix, on the other hand, features a computer-generated dream world in which a battle between humanity and sentient machines takes place.
These films explore the limits and potential of AI, while also questioning the abilities, ethics, and nature of AI. Through the depiction of AI, these films take viewers deeper into a world of machines and speculation of the human heart.
The alien element of science fiction films is another classic and recognizable aspect. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Aliens, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Avatar are especially influential films featuring extraterrestrials. In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, viewers follow the journey of an alien stranded on Earth, while Aliens is a more action-filled movie that follows a team of space marines as they face off against hostile aliens. The Day the Earth Stood Still follows the story of an alien messenger who visits Earth intending to deliver a crucial message to humanity, while Avatar is set in a distant future and depicts the clash between humans and an alien race.
These films explore the nature of alien life forms and their potential interactions with humans. Through various scenarios and approaches, the films introduce different ways of life and thinking.
Robots are a common element in sci-fi films and often play the roles of both allies and enemies to humankind. In The Matrix, robots serve as the antagonists while also remaining very human in their attitude and logic. In The Terminator, robots are portrayed as both an evil terror and a savior depending on the context. In Ex Machina, robots are depicted as intelligent, android-like machines that are becoming increasingly aware of the world around them. Lastly, in A Space Odyssey, the protagonist is accompanied by an AI robot called HAL throughout his space journey.
Through these stories, viewers can journey into a world of robots, AI, and their potentials. Through the depictions in these films, viewers are forced to contemplate the dynamic relationship between humans and robotic entities.
Space exploration is also a major focus of sci-fi films. In Star Trek, a massive space exploration saga spanning many films and TV shows, viewers are taken on an intergalactic journey as the characters explore galaxies, unknown worlds, and distant stars. In A Space Odyssey and Avatar, viewers are taken to planets, moons, and other worldly realms as the characters struggle to find a place in these new, unexplored landscapes.
These stories explore the unknown and the vast universe around us. By taking viewers deeper into space, these films not only entertain, but also educate and inform viewers on potential realities and environments beyond our own.