Any "best of" list is bound to be interesting. Doubly so, when that list is published by some university press.
It's worth noting that there are actuallAny "best of" list is bound to be interesting. Doubly so, when that list is published by some university press.
It's worth noting that there are actually more than 100 films listed here, with related films (part of a series or otherwise) being ranked together as a two- or three-way tie. Well, except for The Thing from Another World (1951) and The Thing (1982). Which are listed separately. Because reasons. (The films are presented chronologically, so these two were presumably separated due to the time-gap.)
But the list! Oh, that list!
It was fun to try 'n figure out what the author's criteria and reasoning were, and if he managed to be consistent at all.
Interstellar (2014) was an "expensive flop" and a "disappointing effort" [p. xvii]. Flash Gordon (1980) was a "shrill, cynical, and smug disappointment" [p. 43]. Man of Steel (2013)? 52nd greatest SF movie of all time.
War of the Worlds: Yay 1953! Boo 2005.
In that film, the machines come closer to the ones described by Wells, though the failure of that massive movie only proves that Pal's decision had been a wise one. [p. 64]
I'm assuming the "decision" referenced is the one where Pal had altered the design to more resemble a manta ray. (The above sentence doesn't make any sense, otherwise.)
But what has that anything to do with either version's "success" or "failure"?
It's like the author starts from the point of "this movie is good," justifies that with "therefore all elements of this movie are good," and then warps back around to "the good elements make the movie good."
There are problems out the wazoo with the 2005 version. But sticking with tripod designs is not one of them.
Escape from New York (1981). Great movie. But how is it sci-fi? It's noted multiple times that Godzilla is included while King Kong is not, owing to the latter's lack of science. So where's the science here? Simply being a dystopia (or hellish vision of the future) shouldn't be enough to qualify it for inclusion under the author's own criteria.
Although, in Appendix 5, he notes that "all dystopian films at least flirt with sci-fi" [p. 388]. So does he want to include all spec-fic, science optional? Or does he strictly want sci-fi, science required? He can't seem to make up his mind.
But back to Escape:
Here then is a film that, like Star Wars, recalls the science-fiction film's identity as a kind of futuristic Western. [p. 204]
Really stretching it there, buddy.
And, look, I love The Avengers (2012). But including it as sci-fi? Presumably for the aliens-thru-wormhole element? That feels like a stretch. (As is mentioning the "cowboys in space" thing, since they're firmly rooted on the Earth here.)
But the stupid hits full-force for Heavy Metal (1981).
It might be thought of as expressing an "anti-Green" ideology as that color, so associated with innocence and purity in films like WALL-E (2008) or Avatar (2009), represents demonic forces here. This serves as a reminder that there is no single political sensibility inherent in sci-fi; it is a form that can be used by different artists to express their own social values. [p. 211]
Or, you know, the color green could have been used in the fantastical sense.
Ugh, I can't believe that the antagonistic forces in Sleeping Beauty (1959) and "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" are associated with the color green. And Minas Morgul as seen in the LoTR movies! Having the protagonists take on and defeat forces associated with that color... Some real anti-Green political messages, those tales were.
It's almost as if Heavy Metal were science-fantasy or something...........
Also, marvel at the "most memorable line" from each movie, as the author manages to consistently choose some of the least-memorable lines throughout. (These choices might have been better named "most representative line," since they seem to have been chosen for getting across the theme/message.)
Since the point was clearly to show off as many reader-designed outfits as possible, it is amusing to see where each storyNo Moral Theater: The Comic
Since the point was clearly to show off as many reader-designed outfits as possible, it is amusing to see where each story cuts off. Because, past that point, there would be no more opportunities to showcase different outfits.
Special mention must be made of the story where Katy is invited to be on a talk show, debates what to wear, gets locked in some room, and so doesn't appear on air.
Closure? What closure? What are you even doing, trying to look for a plot here??...more