Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The 30 Greatest Sci-Fi Movies (Part 2 of 2)

After exploring many well-loved classics and new entries into the realm of science fiction film, we’ve arrived at the Top 15! Ranging from ground-breaking entries from decades ago to brand new takes on the genre that have immediately left their mark, these sci-fi films take the strengths of the genre and find new ways to tell original yet deeply human stories.

Through elements such as time travel, alien life, and robotics, these movies explore important and deeply-resonating ideas. Throw in a few awesome action scenes, some mind-bending twists, and jaw-dropping special effects, and you have stories that illustrate not only the power of the science fiction genre, but what movies as a whole can do.

These are the best if the best. The science fiction movies that show the true heights that the genre can reach and what can be possible when ideas and imagination are backed with true talent and creativity. Read on for the Top 15, featuring fantastic sci-fi movies from across the decades.

Click here for Part 1 of The 30 Greatest Sci-FiMovies!

15. Source Code

Merging time travel with mystery, Source Code packs a punch because of the investment in its characters. U.S. Army Captain Colter Stevens wakes up in a program that sends him back in time to relive the final eight minutes of a train passengers life in order to discover who blew up the train and plans on exploding a dirty bomb in Chicago. Forced to relive the scenario again and again, Stevens explores new sides to the scenario while exploring what happened to him before being put in the Source Code program and growing close to a now-dead passenger. The simple premise is propelled by the human story beneath it all as the time loop twists in on itself.

Best Sci-Fi Feature: The ability to relive the last eight minutes of a person’s life allows for the exploration of a mystery from every angle. But what is thought to be a simulation turns out to be the creation of alternate realities.

14. Children of Men

Not for the faint of heart, director Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men is an exercise in unrelenting bleakness. In the near future, humanity can no longer give birth. No reason is given (it really could be the result of anything) but the result is that mankind has lost all hope. Humans will be completely dead in decades, so the world is quickly descending into violence and chaos. But when former activist Theo is entrusted with taking care of the first pregnant women in years, he’s forced into a chaotic race to get her to safety. This Earth is bleak and unrelentingly brutal, but the spark of hope could be enough to bring the world back. But what cost must be paid?

Best Sci-Fi Feature: When mankind is no longer able to reproduce, the humans resort to chaos and despair. But can the hope of new life bring back hope for humanity?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The 30 Greatest Sci-Fi Movies (Part 1 of 2)

Science fiction has been a mainstay of film since its creation, with 1902’s “A Trip to the Moon” being the very first in the medium. Over the course of more than a century, some of the most creative and unique writers, directors, and actors have tackled fascinating and thrilling concepts through the science fiction genre. Covering a huge scope of settings, ideas, and characters, countless sci-fi films have pushed filmmaking to its limits.

While the tools and effects used to bring extraordinary creatures and worlds to life have exponentially improved over the years, the quality of the ideas that propel sci-fi films are what truly make them special. And while this genre includes a vast amount of concepts and approaches, the best sci-fi films are some of the greatest films ever made.

So what are the best? From alien invaders to intergalactic adventures to meditations on the human soul, these 30 films are the best of what science fiction movies have to offer.

As a general rule, these films have to be primarily science fiction. While there are plenty of comic book and horror movies that contain sci-fi elements, most of these are not generally considered to be science fiction mainstays. Some of the movies on this list are a combination of the two, combining both of their elements for a potent blend.

30. Tron

It’s a classic of the genre, but it does show the wear and tear of time, which keeps it from beating out many of its far more timeless cohorts in science fiction. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) gets sucked into the world of The Grid, where he teams with the heroic program known as Tron to free the computer world from the MCP and his villainous army. Brought to life with then-cutting edge graphics and a unique look, The Grid became an unforgettable Disney world. The light cycles and identity discs in particular are classic, with their vibrant imagery still instantly recognizable. It’s still fun and vibrant, but a little stiff by today’s standards.

Best Sci-Fi Feature: Entering the world of computer programming for the first time, Kevin Flynn discovers a brand new world filled with heroes and villains, all living inside ENCOM’s servers.

29. Snowpiercer

One of several additions to the list from the year 2014, Snowpiercer is some of science fiction at its bleakest and most brutal. In the future, the world has been frozen over by an attempt to reverse global warming that went wrong and the last remnants of humanity are onboard the Snowpiercer, a train that runs a continuous loop across the globe to keep them alive. But the poor are kept in the back, living in squalor and abused by the upper class living in the front. So when the poor revolt to take over the train led by Curtis (Chris Evans), all of humankind is at stake. It’s filled with brutal violent action, inflinching deaths, and commentary on the classes today. In short, it’s really messed up. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s so good.

Best Sci-Fi Feature: As the rebels fight their way up through the train, more and more secrets are revealed about what lies in each compartment, exposing dirty secrets and filthy opulence that repulse and shock.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Headcanon – Making Your Favorite Series Better in Your Mind

If stories are brought to life by audiences willing them into existence with their imagination, does that mean that the true fates of characters and their worlds vary from person to person? Just because a writer decides to kill off a beloved character or veer stories of into wild directions, does that mean that everyone is forced to accept the developments are irrevocable truth? If a company says that a well-loved tale no longer exists in the fictional world they own, does that mean audiences must now disavow something they have loved for so long?

Since every story is fictionally, who is to say that every story is clearly defined and the same for every person?

This concept, most commonly known as headcanon, may have only been given a name in recent years, but it’s a practice that has been in use since the first caveman decided that he didn’t like the way his fellow Neanderthal ended the story he painted on a cave wall. With serialized storytelling in place today in everything from television shows to comic books to shared movie universes, the repercussions of an audience-hated development can ripple through more stories than ever.

So does practicing your own personal brand headcanon help in the enjoyment of fiction, or is it all an exercise in pointlessness?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Greatest Fictional Weapons: The 15 Coolest Guns in Fiction

Every hero needs a trusty weapon at his or her side when facing down legions of evil. Just the same, every villain needs a means of destruction to enact evil schemes. For countless characters in film, television, and books, guns have played a major role in actions scenes that thrill and enthrall.

While modern guns are commonly featured in everything from Westerns to Crime Dramas, they rarely stand out in the minds of audiences.

However, when creators take the time to craft a unique and memorable weapon in their stories, countless audience members come to remember and love the strange guns put on display. From the very first science fiction stories to today’s new generation of comic book adaptations, these are the 15 most memorable and imaginative guns in fiction that in the end are just plain cool.

As a rule for the list, the firearms you see here are fictional creations. So iconic weapons like Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum and James Bond’s Walther PPK are not included, but they are still fantastic pieces that have made their mark on audiences for decades.

For a more civilized list of weapons, read The 15 Coolest Swords in Fiction.

15. The Samaritan - Hellboy

It’s enormous and extremely deadly, so it’s the perfect fit for Hellboy. Used by the half human/half demon paranormal investigator in his pursuit of all things evil, Hellboy’s Samaritan revolver comes equipped with a huge stockpile of ammunition. Each of these giant bullets is specially equipped to take out a different kind of creature, helping Hellboy keep the world a little safer.

14. Sonic Shotgun - Minority Report

The only completely non-lethal gun on the list, the Sonic Shotgun from Minority Report still packs a huge kick. Sending out a shockwave instead of ammunition, police, or anyone else who commandeers the weapon, can take out a nearby target efficiently and with little chance of lethal effect. Still, no one want to be on the receiving end of one of these blasts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fiction’s Darkest Alternate Realities

It’s guilty pleasure and unbridled imagination all rolled into one, with a healthy dose of darkness thrown in for good measure. When our favorite fictional works decide to take a detour into the darkest alternate realities imaginable, we all get to savor our dark ideas.

The idea of parallel worlds and alternate realities has been considered by both scientists and artists for centuries, giving play to countless ideas all centering on the concept of “What if?” While these scenarios can go anywhere and reshape a fictional world into any shape, they almost always go in the darkest direction possible. Heroes become villains, evil triumphs over good, and everything generally goes in the worst direction imaginable. Whether these stories take place in an alternate universe that darkly mirrors our own or is the result of a catastrophe that must be avoided at all costs, these strangely familiar worlds excite, amaze, and terrify.

But why do so many of the alternate realities created for our favorite characters and worlds turn out to be so horrific? And why do we love it so much? Diving into the new and horrible realities can show us what we love about stories so much and what compels us to twist our imagination into such horrifying new shapes.

Enjoying the Darkness
If there is an immediate draw to these many darkened worlds, it’s that creators and viewers have the chance to express their Id in fictional form. While the fates of many characters may be harsh or shocking, they give everyone a chance to see a world where the typical laws of fictional stories and the comforting elements that we typically look for in stories are gone. Heroes die, villains win, and the common elements of well-worn stories are deeply subverted.

Being able to indulge in everything going wrong is so much easier for everyone because in the end, things will be back to normal. Should these strange worlds exist as merely a standalone miniseries or some parallel world that characters travel to, these are only temporary pit stops for readers that do not impact their long-running tales. If these dark worlds are a grim future or the result of someone meddling in the past, then they spur on our heroes to avert such terrible disaster. With so much gone wrong and every former victory now worth nothing, the stakes are higher than ever!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Greatest Fictional Weapons: The Cosmic Cube

Some weapons become more iconic than the fictional characters that use them. Others are a vital aspect of a character’s personality. In this column, we take a look at some of the greatest fictional weapons of all time.

It’s one of the most simultaneously terrifying and thought-provoking weapons in all of fiction and has been used to shape some of Marvel Comics’ most epic stories. It’s the Cosmic Cube!

In the history of the Marvel Comics Universe, there have been many Cosmic Cubes. These are actually containment devices, designed by many civilizations throughout the cosmos to contain vast amounts of power from the real of the Beyonders – omnipotent beings from another dimension. While few know the true origins of the Cubes, many understanding the pure power they possess. Both heroes and villain have battled to gain control of Cosmic Cubes to assert their will over the universe, as whoever holds the Cosmic Cube has the ability to reshape reality!

Over the years, the Cosmic Cube has sparked epic battles and choices that have impacted the entire universe. For such a small object, the effects of the Cube have reverberated throughout the Marvel Comics Universe. But what power truly lies within the Cosmic Cube? And what role may it yet play in both the Comic and Marvel Cinematic Universes?