From transporting us to galaxies far, far away to dropping us into outlandish scenarios where the singularity has struck, sci-fi is a surreal cinema genre with widespread appeal that continues to capture our imaginations. Its appeal could stem from the whimsical alternate realities we dream could be real or its poignant representations of modern life, but regardless, its influence is unbounded thanks to the creation of many marvelous pieces of sci-fi media. In this article, we have sifted through the endless stream of sci-fi masterpieces to distill what we believe to be five of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time. So buckle up your space belts as we fire up our hyperdrive for a tour of our top picks.
Back to the Future
It’s not everyday sci-fi directors are brave enough to tackle a comedy, but, it’s more common now than ever before thanks to the release of Back to the Future. Serving up a collection of hilarious gags, time travel shenanigans, and bizarre schemes, Marty McFly’s timeless story lives on because of its ‘don’t take me too seriously’ charm. Furthermore, it is such an influential flick that the iconic cartoon duo Rick and Morty are parodies of Doc Brown and Marty.
Alien shocked the world with its mind-blowing sci-fi/horror premise that took the concept of terrifying alien creatures to a whole other level. With a compelling story, exceptional visual effects, stunning set pieces, and chilling scenes, the film proved to have the perfect blend of all the right sci-fi ingredients. Furthermore, Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley was the renegade heroine cinema-goers were yearning to see on screen. The movie’s nightmarish world would become the birthplace of several sequels, spin-offs, and crossovers across the sci-fi genre.
When we think of sci-fi films we usually think of terrifying alien invasions, thrilling time travel scenarios, and jaw-dropping plot twists. Not often would we have thought of sci-fi spotlighting adorable animated beings until Wall-E came along. The Pixar animation is in a league of its own, pushing relevant dialogue around robots and the use of artificial intelligence while being stamped with the studio’s signature heart-melting touch. While there are some other incredible sci-fi films, Wall-E is hands down the most influential animated one.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick will forever be one of the greatest directors of all time and his film 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of his greatest works of sci-fi art. The surreal space story boasts impressive scenes, gripping dialogue, and impeccable performances, and the signature Stanley symbolism to top it all off. The 1968 movie is largely responsible for the iconic sci-fi tropes that feature in all of the films above, making it undoubtedly the most influential sci-fi film of all time.
In a time where the idea of ‘aesthetic’ seems to drive our cultural media, one should search no further than Blade Runner for an unfiltered look into the superb visual stylings of the movie’s flawlessly crafted cyberpunk scenes. Both a feat in storytelling and world-building, Ridley Scott’s Harrison Ford-led sci-fi flick broke new grounds upon its release and its influence was, and continues to be, so strong that a sequel has been released 25 years on. Furthermore, the film’s massive fan base led to the release of several different cuts where viewers may experience new perspectives of the story, a significant testament to its astonishing success.