Tag Archive: iconic science fiction movie images


Iconic scenes 2001 A Space Odyssey

If you love 2001: A Space Odyssey or Stanley Kubrick, just walk away now.  More than any other science fiction movie it stops me in my tracks.  Every five years or so I re-watch it, thinking, like tomatoes, I may finally bite right in and say “tasty!”  The movie is absolutely a treat for the eyes in much the same way as Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  These are great looking movies.  But when it comes to storytelling?  Ask fans of the film, those with a critical eye, and no two will describe what the film is about in the same way.  Yet 2001: A Space Odyssey is often on lists of the best movies of all time, lists made by clever people who know good movies.

Only after reading the Cliff’s Notes version of 2001 (the film, not the book) do I understand what Kubrick was going for.  I’m still left scratching my head.  The dialogue is flat like the lines in the Star Wars prequels.  Kubrick admitted he wanted the viewer to have his/her own understanding of the film.  That’s “the point”.  Hey–if you’re a fan of ambiguity it’s the film for you.  If you tried making a movie like it today you’d end up with something like Punch-Drunk Love or the remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  Slow, boring, long, dull.  Most of the film is just banal.  But the star baby!  The black monolith!  So he takes a film and overlays it with well-known classical music and juxtaposes some cryptic symbolic imagery.  Just because someone hasn’t done it doesn’t mean it’s groundbreaking.  If I want cool images and great music sans linear story, I’ll take Powaqqatsi.

2001 huh black monolith

Maybe it’s because I like excitement in my science fiction, not this documentary-style filmmaking.  For that give me a NASA IMAX movie and educate me along the way.  Give me Star Wars or Star Trek II.  Has anyone ever referred to 2001 as exciting?  Great looking films minus a big story to back it up may be why I shy away from mainstream science fiction movies, the kind that get nominated for film awards like Gravity or Interstellar. 

So why is it on the American Film Institute list of best science fiction films at #1 and on the Library of Congress National Film Registry?

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Science fiction on the big screen may be like no other genre.  The seemingly impossible comes to life as filmmakers predict the future–sometimes positive and exciting, sometimes bleak and full of unspeakable horrors.  Whether these movies show us how humans may live in the future, or who else may be sharing our galaxy with us, or what galaxies we may never confront, science fiction takes storytelling and gives us a vision of the future.

So if you had to select one scene, or even better, one image, that best defines the science fiction genre in movies, what image would you choose?  Select your choice from these iconic images in the below poll and see if others agree.  If you think we’re missing an iconic image, let us know by posting a comment.

Dave confronts Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Our first look at where the creature has been hiding in Alien

Ripley confronts the queen alien in Aliens

Marty McFly sees the time machine work in Back to the Future

Deckard is taken to the police station in Blade Runner

The mother ship arrives at Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Daniel Craig gets to use an arm gun in Cowboys & Aliens

Gort arrives on Earth in The Day the Earth Stood Still

The slave ship hovers above South Africa in District 9

Snake Plissken shoots up the place in Escape from New York

Eliot and E.T. take a ride across the moon in E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial

Leeloo arrives in Corbin Dallas's cab in The Fifth Element

We get our first look at Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet

The aliens zap the White House in Independence Day

Donald Sutherland is finally taken in Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Tony Stark test drives the Iron Man armor in Iron Man

Alex Rogan gets to be a Starfighter in The Last Starfighter

J makes these look good in Men in Black

The robot is revealed in Metropolis

John Anderton shows us some cool new technology in Minority Report

Charlton Heston in the big reveal from Planet of the Apes

Johnny Rico takes down a bug by himself in Starship Troopers

Our first look at the Enterprise refit in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Admiral Kirk screams at Khhhaaaan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The death of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Kirk and Spock return to 1980s San Francisco in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Worf's promotion ceremony is interrupted in Star Trek: Generations

The Star Destroyer appears overhead in Star Wars

Our first look at Darth Vader in Star Wars

Luke dreams of space on Tatooine in Star Wars

We get to marvel at Yoda--a muppet that looks real--in The Empire Strikes Back

Luke, I am your father -- from The Empire Strikes Back

Sarah Connor beats the Terminator in The Terminator

We meet the new liquid terminator in Terminator 2

Arnold takes another guy's leathers in Terminator 2

The creature appears in The Thing from Another World

Arnold reveals his disguise in Total Recall

The rocket arrives at the moon in A Trip to the Moon

Flynn is zapped into the Grid in Tron

Quorra hangs out at Flynn's place Tron: Legacy

C.J. Bunce
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