Dear Sci-Fi Fans,
We’re hoping the hardcore among you will come to our rescue when people see what we’ve done to this list.
This instalment of the Greatest Movies A-Z with WatchMojo includes ground rules for what we call “sci-fi”. We’re taking the “science” term more literally than some, trying to seperate space fantasy from true visions of the future, or science run amok. Take a look, and let’s talk.
As you see, we had two sets of rules this time. One that applies to all videos:
- One film per letter
- Articles don’t count (the, an, a, etc.)
- Final list should encapsulate the genre
And one that’s unique to defining the genre of Sci-Fi:
- Humans come from Earth
- Earth-based monsters are created by scientists
- No ghosts or magic
Why did we do it? Well, for one, we have a lot of videos coming out. Tomorrow is Superheroes, and so we didn’t want to deal with Marvel movies in this one. And by actually defining sci-fi, Star Wars became a casualty. An even worse “offender” of hardcore sci-fi rules, in some cases. Most humans in Marvel movies are from earth, but not all. Earth doesn’t even exist in Star Wars. The next rule helps us differentiate between Frankenstein and Dracula, or King Kong and (the original) Godzilla. There are important distinctions that give those characters different meanings, even if they can lazily all be called “monsters”. And the last rule basically takes us away from the supernatural, even when science is involved (sorry,Ghostbusters). But also, it reinforces why the Star Wars universe (with the force) and Marvel movies (with mystics) aren’t truly sci-fi films.
Got it? Good! Now here’s some take-aways from the rest of our decision-making process. If your favorite movie isn’t in our final video, there’s a very good chance it’s a decision, and not an omission.
LESSONS FROM SCI-FI A-Z
TOP DECADE: 1980s
A little surprising, but that’s definitely the way it shook out. New technology introduced in the 70s definitely gave the genre increased legitimacy, leading to a lot of classic films that still set the gold standard today - from visionary epics (Blade Runner), to beloved family films (E.T. and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids), to critical darlings (The Fly) and franchise peaks (_Star Trek II_… and, just for good measure, consider that other franchise peak that didn’t qualify).
HARDEST LETTER: C
K was actually the hardest for the wrong reasons (horrible options), but in terms of being spoiled with choice, C was probably the biggest doozy. We actually jumped on board pretty quick once we agreed A Clockwork Orange qualified, but it came at the expense of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, Children of Men, Cube... all movies more readily considered classic sci-fi. But we cut Kubrick from horror, and 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t start with a letter, so be damned if we were going to deny him here.
CHEATED OUT: The Road Warrior
Obviously we should say Star Wars was the real movie cheated out (or The Empire Strikes Back), but we explained that choice earlier. For Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, we first debated if it would be M or R, since the movie was first released in the U.S. simply as The Road Warrior. If we went with R (where we were leaning), it was up against another cult classic from the same era. But we ultimately plan to represent the Mad Max series in another genre, so when that video eventually comes, we will finally sleep at night.
BEST BATTLE: Alien vs Aliens
We did this to ourselves. Had we used Alien in horror, we could have put Aliens in sci-fi and called it a day. But we didn’t, and it has been ripping us from the inside out ever since. We’ll find a way to make-good with a future video.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATION: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Most serious critics would have gone with Her here, but not us. No sir. We took a stand against all those depressed and depraved visions of technology to reflect the good, clean fun you can have with the genre.
Think your list would be better? More balanced? Less heart-breaking? Let us know.
Dear Cast & Crew