The 411 Movies Top 5: The Top 5 Sci-Fi Action Movies
The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week’s topic…
The Top 5 Sci-Fi Action Movies
5. AUTOMATIC – This low budget sci-fi action flick starring Olivier Gruner has Gruner as a cyborg protecting a woman from being killed by a group of mercenaries hired to kill her. The mercenaries, led by the uber sleazy Jeff Kober, are hired by Goddard Marx (John Glover), the head of Robgen Industries, a company that has made a fortune with home protection cyborgs. Business is down, though, and with a new cyborg product set to hit the market, Marx can’t afford to have anything mess up the new product’s debut. See, the woman, played by Daphne Ashbrook, is a Marx employee and secretary who is assaulted by a company executive and is subsequently rescued by Gruner’s cyborg J267. J267 refuses Marx’s orders to stand down and Marx believes that J267 is malfunctioning, hence the mercenary assault on Robgen’s corporate HQ. The action in this flick is non-stop and some of the best you’re likely to see in any low budget sci-fi action movies from the 1990’s and features top performances from everyone, especially Gruner, who ends up playing multiple roles as different cyborgs. Gruner is quiet, somewhat understated, and soulful as J267. The movie also features a nifty twist at the end that I’m still in awe of 21 years later. Track this movie down and check it out. It needs to be on DVD.
4. PREDATOR – This sci-fi action horror flick doesn’t really become a full on sci-fi movie until the Special Forces rescue team headed by Ahnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is alone in the jungle, having just annihilated an encampment of rebels or whatever the fuck. We know that something with heat vision is stalking them, and, yeah, we saw a spaceship pass by Earth at the very start of the movie, but, hey, that could be anything. But when the team is alone the Predator alien starts taking out members of Dutch’s team one by one, and then it becomes a sort of slasher movie with an alien as Jason Voorhees. The equally awesome Predator 2 is probably more of a straight up sci-fi movie than the first one, but, if there’s no part 1 you can’t have part 2. And that’s why Predator is on this list. Great movie.
3. THE TERMINATOR – This is another Ahnold movie that is a sci-fi action horror hybrid. Basically, it’s a movie about a guy (Michael Biehn) protecting a woman (Linda Hamilton) from a gigantic, heavily armed psycho hell bent on killing her (Schwarzenegger). However, unlike a regular old action movie, Schwarzenegger is a robot from the future, a cyborg that wants to alter the future by killing the mother of the leader of the human resistance (Hamilton) in the post-apocalyptic future before that leader is born. And once Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character is activated in 1984 Los Angeles he acts like a monster in a slasher movie, methodically killing anyone and everyone that gets in his way. It’s such a simple story that it’s amazing that it took until 1984 for someone to create it. The sequels may be more technically accomplished, but they don’t have the energy and life that the original still has. Amazing always.
2. THEY LIVE – This sci-fi action flick is well known in cult movie circles for the excellent performance of star Roddy Piper, the big alley fist fight between Piper and co-star Keith David, and the forever classic “I have come her to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum” line uttered by Piper’s John Nada right before he commits “mass murder” inside of a bank. It’s also fairly well known for its “put the special sunglasses on and see the world as it truly is” sunglasses that reveal that the world is under the control of a race of aliens that use subliminal messaging to control humanity. It’s such a brilliant conceit because it seems so plausible. What better way for the rich and powerful to control the population than with hidden messages via TV and advertising that tells everyone to continue sleeping and to stop thinking? It also has a political impact as the entire movie is an attack on the right wing political ideology that ran the world in the 1980’s (and, to a certain extent, still runs the world today). It’s a movie with an underlying paranoia that, amazingly, turns out to be true. “They” do live and they own you and everyone and everything else. What are you going to do about it?
1. STARSHIP TROOPERS – Starship Troopers, written by Edward Neumeier and directed by Paul Verhoeven, is still the greatest movie ever made almost two decades later. Based on the novel by Robert Heinlein, it has everything. It’s a science fiction movie, it’s a war movie, it’s a parody of war movies and action movies, it’s a movie with a slight fascist undercurrent that also attacks fascism. It’s just brilliant from start to finish. It has a top notch cast, a terrific script, gore galore, and is endlessly exciting. Even with Denise Richards in the cast it’s above and beyond everything that came before it and everything after it. I am still in awe of this movie, that it was ever made in the first place, and that we haven’t had a big time sequel to it. Yes, the direct-to-video sequels were cool, especially Marauder (part 3), but why not do another mega movie? I’m sure there are still plenty of bugs out there in space to kill, and as we all know the only good bug is a dead bug. I mean, come on, you apes, you want to live forever?
5. PREDATOR – Have to have this on here, still a terrific film to watch. The first half plays like your typical Arnie ‘80s action piece with his team of mercs heading into the jungle and taking down a camp of fighters (leading to Jesse Ventura’s now immortal “Ain’t got time to bleed” line). Then we get to the real plot as an alien hunter starts picking them off one by one. The jungle setting helps as does the effect of the Predator hiding in plain sight so you don’t know when or where it’s going to strike. It all comes down to Arnie and the alien mano a mano in a great battle and remains one of his best films ever to impress.
4. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY– The first is a groundbreaker that put Arnie and James Cameron on the map but the sequel is better. The idea of Arnie as the “Good” Terminator protecting John and Sarah Connor is good while Robert Patrick is perfect as the shape-shifting T-1000. Back in 1991, the CGI was nothing you’d ever seen before and amazing to watch as we see explosions, gun fights and more, plus the sight of the Terminators smashing each other remains epic. Throw in Linda Hamilton as the buff and bad Sarah and it’s a dream for action buffs with a major sci-fi edge and still the best entry of the franchise.
3. THE LAST STARFIGHTER God, I love this movie. A video game buff discovers the arcade game he’s beaten is actually a recruiting tool for an interstellar war and has to defend a peaceful Frontier from an evil army. The groundbreaking CGI is terrific but it also gets you with the humor (Robert Preston steals the film as the sneaky Centauri), the fantastic music and more. It still works today to be a fantastic experience with a great blowout finale and deserves to be recognized as a true sci-fi action adventure with plenty of ‘80s charm to win you over.
2. THE FIFTH ELEMENT – Turn Luc Besson loose on sci-fi and you can expect something wild and this sure does work there. Milla Jovovich is terrific as Leeloo, the alien in human form, hot in her “bandage outfit” but also kicking major ass. Bruce Willis does his best as the cab driver pulled into this with some great gun battles and Gary Oldman chews the scenery with utter relish as the baddie. Sure, Chris Tucker can be annoying but the rest of the movie just works wonderfully and the sexiest sci-fi adventure you can imagine while holding its own as a great wild ride.
1. ALIENS: The first movie was more a horror experience but this is pure balls-to-wall action. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley leads a team of Marines to a planet infested with those horrid creatures and the battles are terrific. The dialogue sparkles (“Game over, man! GAME OVER!”), James Cameron shows the action off with great direction and James Horner’s musical score gets you going every time you hear it. Top it all off with a stunning showdown between Ripley and the Alien Queen and you’ve got a classic that can appeal to both sci-fi and action fans alike and arguably the best of the entire series.
5. TOTAL RECALL – This is Arnold during his prime, as he stars in the gloriously violent, over-the-top, action filled romp to Mars. As the movie gets going, you get pulled into the idea of Total Recall’s business just as Arnold’s character does, and wonder what you would do, and just as that happens, BOOM! The movie kicks off as Arnold’s memories come rushing back. Right from the jump he heads down the rabbit hole of discovering just what the hell happened to him, and just who he really is, and that’s one of the most fun aspects of the film, because as Arnold learns, you learn. Along with this, you get the classic Verhoven violence & adventure that carries you all the way to the end in one of Arnold’s all time greatest. I also have to mention the effects, where just as he did with Robocop, Verhoven brought the top-notch goods, bringing some of the most memorable special effects of all time. Of course, there’s always the discussion about whether or not what he experienced was real or just the implants. For me, I like thinking he was the real deal, and that his trip to Mars was much longer than two weeks. Two weeks. Tweras weaaaaakss….
4: THE TERMINATOR 3 – Since this countdown is “Sci-Fi Action”, I went with T3 since it’s far more action oriented than the original, which I consider to be more of a horror/thriller kind of film. Anyway, most people would go with T2, but I feel T3 is a better telling of that story. Sure, Robert Patrick’s T-1000 is incredible, and one of the best villains ever, but that’s where it ends with T2 beating out T3. John Connor is very unlikable, as is his screaming, obnoxious mother. They turn the Terminator into a family friendly joke who gives a thumbs up at the end, it’s meh. But T3? Hell yeah. The action is fantastic, including one of the best chase-scenes of all time, the human characters are more likeable, and the humor [sans the opening dance club scene] is so much better than Judgment Day. The TX was a solid villain, and worked well in the role where she had some fantastic, knock-down-drag-out fights with the T-800. It’s a hell of a movie that unfortunately becomes quite unfairly judged due to the fact it followed one of the biggest & best movies/sequels of all time.
3. STARSHIP TROOPERS – Man, what a film. One thing I absolutely love about this movie is that despite the fact that we were right at the beginning of ‘Let’s all do CGI! And EVERYTHING will look as good as T2! [but never was]”, they used a lot of animontronics & puppets on the close ups, and kept the CGI where it belonged. Most directors then would have used the CGI as the tool bench, instead of just a tool. Beyond the fantastic effects, you have a great cast, dialogue, comedy, and of course, action. This film is absolutely packed with glorious action, as man takes on hordes of bugs with a various amount of weapons, as all different colors of blood splash on soldiers & scenery. It’s just a great fucking movie that any genre fan needs to see.
2. ROBOCOP – There is just so much right about this film. From Robo’s look, to ED-209, the hyper-violence, the music, Peter Weller’s voice, the commercials, and the classic gang of bad guys. Peter Weller was the perfect choice for Alex Murphy, as his lower jaw was chiseled and complimented the look of the suit perfectly, and his voice is one of the most classic of all time. Everything he said was repeated on school grounds the world over. The villains were fantastic, as Clarence Boddicker is still one of the scariest bad guys of all time, taking sheer delight in the torture, dismemberment, and murder of police officers. He’s a guy you absolutely can’t wait to see get it. Peppered in through out the movie are news clips & commercials that mock the way society was headed at the time and do a fantastic job of inserting comedy into the film without it being at the expense of Robo, or any of the serious characters. You’ll never hear Murphy say “I need a vacation”. On the other end of the spectrum is the hyper-violence, where we see people shredded to bits by machine guns, arms blown off, blood spurting from puncture wounds, the whole 9 yards. Something that became a trademark of this film. Finally, I couldn’t talk about this film without mention of ED-209, one of the coolest robots of all time. Useless when it comes to stairs, but absolutely show stopping in any other capacity. Arguably the last great use of stop-motions & miniatures.
1. PREDATOR – In my mind, this is the greatest action film of all time, and arguably the best movie to have on when hanging out with a group of guys. We have Arnold in his prime, surrounded by a cast of characters so burly that I’m sure their lines on the actual script pages needed to be shaved. We have mid-air arm wrestling, chewing tobacco that turns men into sexual T-Rexes, guys not having time to bleed, massive explosions, one-liners, jungle traps, a Gatling gun, and one of the most bad-ass movie monsters of all time. He systematically takes out each guy one at a time, until we get the ultimate battle; survival style Arnold vs The Predator. They go from trading blows with explosive weapons to a good ol’ fist fight. It’s Arnold at his absolute best, and one of those films you just can’t hate. Pop-corn film making at it’s finest.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy – I wanted to put The Avengers in the Top 5 because aliens=sci-fi, but then I wanted to keep this as movies that were a little more based in sci-fi, so I went with Guardians of the Galaxy. This has just about everything someone could want from a sci-fi action movie, from alien planets and strange species of beings, to space battles, evil aliens wanting to destroy worlds, and more. Plus, it was really funny.
4. Pitch Black – I had Minority Report in this spot, but then I remembered Pitch Black, and I absolutely love Pitch Black. Riddick was an awesome character and the fact that they had the alien monsters come out in the dark made it easy to both create tension and scares, while also not ruining the movie with cheap monster effects. The sequel was a letdown and the third movie, Riddick, was pretty great, but this first movie was a damn masterpiece.
3. The Matrix – The Matrix is one of the most groundbreaking action movies of all time, as I mentioned in last week’s Top 5, and it is also one of the best sci-fi action adventures out there as well. The second and third movie really convoluted the plot, but this first movie about aliens keeping humans in incubators and satisfied in believing they lived in the real world, while actual living rebels fought to free everyone was a fantastic tale. It is also pretty ambiguous as to whether the heroes were even in the right, freeing everyone from a world of happiness to a destroyed world where every day was a fight for survival. Those are the questions that make great sci-fi.
2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – People have mentioned the first Terminator, and that is a great sci-fi movie, but I feel that Terminator 2 really raised the stakes and blew me away when it came out thanks to the groundbreaking technology that James Cameron used. The fact that Titanic and Avatar made more than T2 still pisses me off. This movie was the best of the series and one of the best action movies of all time.
1. The Empire Strikes Back – The first Star Wars movie was a fun sci-fi action romp, but the second movie is one of the best of all time, regardless of genre. Luke learns how to use the Force, Han Solo is betrayed by his old friend, C3PO is disassembled, Yoda shows up for the first time, Darth Vader spills the beans to Luke before lopping off his hand, The Emperor shows up – this movie is just packed with awesomeness.
YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS
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