Non-Horror Sci-fi Movie Recs

I’m a scifi fan first and a writer second. I like movies, so here’s my thoughts on a few:

  • Stargate: Origins – Don’t think too hard, but if you ever wished that the Stargate franchise could cross with Indiana Jones while leaving the accidental sexism behind, here’s your chance to sit back, have fun, and go on an adventure that doesn’t completely break the SG-1 timeline with drama, cultural commentary, and laugh-out-loud dialogue.
  • Star Trek: The Voyage Home – This movie is a product of the 80s, and it has the foibles that come with it, but this Cold War masterpiece can never be remade with the same charm and utterly quotable lines.
  • Star Trek (2009) – Need to introduce a friend to Star Trek in one, concise shot? This witty, action-packed, (lens-flare-starring) feature gets the basics in without whole seasons of build up and is a great gateway to the franchise. (YMMV if you already know the lore.)
  • Dune (2021) – A gorgeous take on a dramatic classic–finally, with humor!
  • Interstellar – Finally! A near future scifi film in which going back to Earth isn’t the answer!
  • Stargate (1994) – This movie’s pacing is slow and dramatic, but it’s a great depiction of overcoming a language barrier and the ultimate underdog story on multiple levels.
  • Arrival – I have some bones to pick with this one, but the nonlinear story is fun, and the visuals are superb. Based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. (Also, if you enjoyed this but wanted one of the characters to be more forthcoming or wanted a linear story, try Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells.)
  • The Host – Yes, it’s based on a book by the author of Twilight, and yese it got advertised as an action-packed movie, which it clearly isn’t, but hear me out: body-possessing aliens. This is my jam. Also, Stephanie Meyer does relationships well. If you don’t want to read the very long novel, the movie is a decent substitute.
  • Jupiter Ascending – I had zero interest in this movie until a friend pitched this to me as a scifi movie for teenage girls, and now I’m in love. Let it be dramatic and over-the-top and have too many concepts shoved into a blender with way too much production budget. Middle school girl scifi fans deserve that annually.
  • Ready Player One – I saw this shortly after reading the book, and I honestly don’t remember which is which. It has its foibles: 80s gamer boy nostalgia is really not great at treating women like human beings. This movie is visually appealing and handles the real life/virtual reality juxtaposition very well.
  • Alita: Battle Angel – I did not expect this to be good, but it is. Also visually appealing.

Many big movies didn’t make my list.

  • Star Wars – all of them – This franchise will always have a special place in my heart, and the top two films are the finale to the Clone Wars animated show followed by Rogue¬†One. (What in the world possessed them to not center episodes 7-9 on Grand Admiral Thrawn?! On the flip side, at least Chewie hadn’t died on a moon.) If you’re interested in scifi, you probably already have an opinion on Star Wars.
  • The Martian, Gravity, The Space Between Us – I cannot fathom why people would go through all the trouble of writing, producing, and marketing movies to a spaceflight loving audience that are about how we can’t hack it in space, and we’re better off just going back to Earth. This subgenre needs to take a lesson from Interstellar‘s success.
  • Serenity – Never happened. I am a leaf on the wind.

Books that should be movies or TV shows:

  • The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel
  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  • a spinoff of Alien Taste by Wen Spencer but with a very diverse production crew and screenwriter, plus maybe an updated backstory (Seriously, this book is about four different kinds of love. It would be so perfect in the near future. Also, maybe it would help explain our present.)
  • Murderbot (by Martha Wells)