I don’t really have a top five. Only some that occur to me. And I should note that movies generally suck compared to books.
Well, here are some:
The first two Alien movies. Predator
Just about all the “Next Generation” Star Trek movies. Gattaca Blade Runner
The 1980s version of Dune, which is wonderfully cheesy.
Let me add a sub-thread here: which scifi movies SHOULD be made?
Of course, as noted above, the movies always suck compared to the book, so one could argue that they shouldn’t make any good scifi novels into movies. But suppose the movie could be every bit as good as you would want it to be. Which books would you like to see turned into movies?
On my list: The songs of distant Earth
Also some other Clarke novels like Hammer of God and the Rama series. The latter was in production as one stage but I don’t know what eventually became of the project.
The Culture novels of Iain Banks, especially Consider Phlebas.
Veering still further into another sub-thread, which scientists should have biopics made about them? I finally got to see Creation, the Darwin biopic, and didn’t like it much, but it occurs to me that some scientists had dramatic enough lives to justify biopics…
Harry Harrison’s Deathworld deserves a movie of its own. And almost anything by Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers is much, much more than just humans vs. insectoid aliens) and Philip K. Dick. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. As you say, the books normally outdo the movies. I think that’s because the books leave much more to one’s imagination.
Biopics tend to romanticise the pleasant aspects of their central character’s life and downplay or even ignore those less so (A Beautiful Mind completely left out some of John Nash’s less attractive traits). Despite this reservation, I’d like to see biopics of Werner Heisenberg and Edward Teller — as counterpoints to one another in terms of how they related on a human/ethical level to the science they were doing. Also, Rosalind Franklin. If you include mathematicians as scientists, whose life would be more fascinating than Leonhard Euler’s, whose more productive than Carl Friedrich Gauß’s, and whose more tragic than Évariste Galois’s?
PS: Gattaca and Blade Runner were touch-and-go for my list.
Yup, the book reached philosophical depths that the film never even touched. What I really liked about the book is that made a very strong case for a form of government that I abhor. So it really forces one to think a bit.
But I liked the movie too, on its own terms. The satire seems to have been lost on many viewers.
and Philip K. Dick.
They have already done some films based on his books or themes from his books. If memory serves, Total Recall was based on a Dick novel?
Biopics tend to romanticise the pleasant aspects of their central character’s life and downplay or even ignore those less so ([i]A Beautiful Mind[/i] completely left out some of John Nash’s less attractive traits).
Or, for the sake of a story line (or whatever) they take absolutely wild liberties with the person’s actual biography. Immortal Beloved got Beethoven’s personality fairly right, but then spun all manner of wild fantasies.
Despite this reservation, I’d like to see biopics of Werner Heisenberg
Sure about that?
Also, Rosalind Franklin. If you include mathematicians as scientists, whose life would be more fascinating than Leonhard Euler’s, whose more productive than Carl Friedrich Gauß’s, and whose more tragic than Évariste Galois’s?
Speaking of math genii, there is a very charming biopic of Richard Feynman, titled Infinity, in which they stick rather closely to actual events from his life (it is mostly set during his time at Los Alamos). I don’t think it ever showed in theatres here. It was quite low profile and I stumbled upon it by chance in a video shop about 15 years ago.
PS: [i]Gattaca[/i] and [i]Blade Runner[/i] were touch-and-go for my list.
For some reason, no one has mentioned Space Odyssey yet, but I guess it is kind of obvious. I actually even liked the sequel too.
Avatar (Purely for 3D eye-candy reasons)
Both “Ghost in the Shell” movies.
A scanner darkly.
I would love someone to someday make a series of one of Peter. F. Hamilton’s (my personal fav. sci-fi writer) works, but I don’t think they’d translate well to the screen. That is to say, I don’t think non-fans would appreciate his pacing.
I’m hoping Elysium is good.
As mentioned, “A scanner darkly” is a movie, in case you didn’t know.
Feynman was a physicist more than a mathematician. But you’re right, he led an interesting life. His work is characterised in large part by Einstein’s dictum to make things as simple as possible — but no simpler than that.
Well, it’s one of those works you cannot really be neutral about. You either love it or you hate it. The lack of a denouement and plot resolution left me frustrated with the movie but its atmosphere-laden production is timeless.
If memory serves he initially planned to specialize in mathematics and eventually turned to physics, but he was renowned for his math skills as well. Apparently blew the socks off the mathematicians at Los Alamos.
You know I think it failed because there was so much anticipation, and it really would not have hurt
if they just has a science advisory on staff. Also Charlize death felt like they needed a way to kill her
and came up with the laziest way of doing it. Else it was ok.