Time Out London's 72 Essential Sci-Fi Films (2009)

List is alphabetical.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. (149 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
2.
The Abyss (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species. (145 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
3.
Alien (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life-form, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
4.
*batteries not included (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Apartment block tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition. (106 mins.)
Director: Matthew Robbins
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Cocoon." ” - Lwke
 
5.
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
A young farmer sets out to recruit mercenaries to defend his peaceful planet, which is under threat of invasion by the evil tyrant Sador and his armada of aggressors. (104 mins.)
 
6.
The Black Hole (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A research vessel finds a missing ship, commanded by a mysterious scientist, on the edge of a black hole. (98 mins.)
Director: Gary Nelson
 
7.
The Brother from Another Planet (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A mute alien with the appearance of a black human is chased by outer-space bounty hunters through the streets of Harlem. (108 mins.)
Director: John Sayles
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Repo Man." ” - Lwke
 
8.
Cherry 2000 (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
In the year 2017, a rich man travels to the ends of the earth to find that the perfect woman is always under his nose... (99 mins.)
 
9.
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The wanted criminal Riddick arrives on a planet called Helion Prime, and finds himself up against an invading empire called the Necromongers, an army that plans to convert or kill all humans in the universe. (119 mins.)
Director: David Twohy
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Pitch Black." ” - Lwke
 
10.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen. (137 mins.)
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "E.T." ” - Lwke
 
11.
Cocoon (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigour. (117 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "*batteries not included." ” - Lwke
 
12.
Contact (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine. (150 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Sphere." ” - Lwke
 
13.
Critters (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A race of small, furry aliens make lunch out of the locals in a farming town. (82 mins.)
Director: Stephen Herek
 
14.
Dark Star (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
In the far reaches of space, a small crew, 20 years into their solitary mission, find things beginning to go hilariously wrong. (83 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
15.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world. (115 mins.)
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Close Encounter of the Third Kind." ” - Lwke
 
16.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. (92 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
 
17.
Dune (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A Duke's son leads desert warriors against the galactic emperor and his father's evil nemesis when they assassinate his father and free their desert world from the emperor's rule. (137 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
 
18.
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Extraterrestrials traveling in high-tech flying saucers contact scientist Dr. Russell Marvin as part of a plan to enslave the inhabitants of Earth. (83 mins.)
Director: Fred F. Sears
 
19.
Enemy Mine (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A soldier from Earth crash-lands on an alien world after sustaining battle damage. Eventually he encounters another survivor... (108 mins.)
 
20.
Event Horizon (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned...with someone or something new on-board. (96 mins.)
Director: Paul Anderson
 
21.
Explorers (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A boy obsessed with 50s sci-fi movies about aliens has a recurring dream about a blueprint of some kind, which he draws for his inventor friend. With the help of a third kid, they follow it and build themselves a spaceship. Now what? (109 mins.)
Director: Joe Dante
 
22.
The Fifth Element (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr Zorg at bay. (126 mins.)
Director: Luc Besson
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Sunshine." ” - Lwke
 
23.
Five Million Years to Earth (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people. (97 mins.)
Director: Roy Ward Baker
“ Original Title: "Quatermass and the Pit." ” - Lwke
 
24.
Flash Gordon (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A football player and his friends travel to the planet Mongo and find themselves fighting the tyranny of Ming the Merciless to save Earth. (111 mins.)
Director: Mike Hodges
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Flesh Gordon." ” - Lwke
 
25.
Flesh Gordon (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
Emperor Wang (the Perverted) is leader of the planet Porno and sends his mighty "Sex Ray" towards Earth... (78 mins.)
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Flash Gordon." ” - Lwke
 
26.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In 1978, a boy travels 8 years into the future and has an adventure with an intelligent, wisecracking alien ship. (90 mins.)
Director: Randal Kleiser
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Wall-e." ” - Lwke
 
27.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has. (98 mins.)
 
28.
The Fountain (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi. (96 mins.)
 
29.
The Hidden (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
An alien parasite with the ability to possess human bodies goes on a violent crime spree in L.A. A human cop, detective Tom Beck, and an alien cop posing as a young FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher both pursue the parasite who frequently changes his human hosts. (96 mins.)
Director: Jack Sholder
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." ” - Lwke
 
30.
Howard the Duck (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
A sarcastic humanoid duck is pulled from his homeworld to Earth where he must stop an alien invader. (110 mins.)
Director: Willard Huyck
 
31.
The Ice Pirates (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
In the far future water is the most valuable substance. Two space pirates are captured, sold to a princess... (91 mins.)
Director: Stewart Raffill
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" & "Solarbabies." ” - Lwke
 
32.
Independence Day (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive. (145 mins.)
Director: Roland Emmerich
“ TOL recommends watching this film with both versions of "War of the Worlds." ” - Lwke
 
33.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A small-town doctor learns that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates. (80 mins.)
Director: Don Siegel
 
34.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion. (115 mins.)
Director: Philip Kaufman
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "The Hidden." ” - Lwke
 
35.
The Last Starfighter (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A video game expert Alex Rogan finds himself transported to another planet after conquering The Last Starfighter video game only to find out it was just a test.He was recruited to join the team of best starfighters to defend their world from the attack. (101 mins.)
Director: Nick Castle
 
36.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts... (139 mins.)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
 
37.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Earth is invaded by Martians with unbeatable weapons and a cruel sense of humor. (106 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
 
38.
Metropolis (1927)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences. (153 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
39.
Mission to Mars (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
When the first manned mission to Mars meets with a catastrophic and mysterious disaster after reporting an unidentified structure, a rescue mission is launched to investigate the tragedy and bring back any survivors. (114 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
“ TO pairs this film with "Red Planet." ” - Lwke
 
40.
Morons from Outer Space (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  
The story begins when three aliens get a bit hacked off at their 'friend' Bernard, who keeps making a prat of himself playing space ball... (90 mins.)
Director: Mike Hodges
 
41.
Pitch Black (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A commercial transport ship and its crew are marooned on a planet full of bloodthirsty creatures that only come out to feast at night. But then, they learn that a month-long eclipse is about to occur. (109 mins.)
Director: David Twohy
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "The Chronicles of Riddick." ” - Lwke
 
42.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved. (112 mins.)
 
43.
Red Planet (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Astronauts, and their robotic dog AMEE (Autonomous Mapping Evaluation and Evasion), search for solutions to save a dying Earth by searching on Mars, only to have the mission go terribly awry. (106 mins.)
Director: Antony Hoffman
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Mission to Mars." ” - Lwke
 
44.
Repo Man (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result. (92 mins.)
Director: Alex Cox
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Brother from Another Planet." ” - Lwke
 
45.
Serenity (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The crew of the ship Serenity try to evade an assassin sent to recapture one of their members who is telepathic. (119 mins.)
Director: Joss Whedon
 
46.
Silent Running (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
In a future where all flora is extinct on Earth, an astronaut is given orders to destroy the last of Earth's botany, kept in a greenhouse aboard a spacecraft. (89 mins.)
 
47.
Solarbabies (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
In a post-apocalyptic future ruled by the military, a group of renegade teenage orphans find a legendary orb, Bohdai, that can supposedly bring the rain back to dried up Earth. (94 mins.)
Director: Alan Johnson
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" & "The Ice Pirates." ” - Lwke
 
48.
Solaris (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane. (167 mins.)
 
49.
Solaris (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet. (99 mins.)
 
50.
Soylent Green (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a big company CEO. (97 mins.)
 
51.
Spaceballs (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Planet Spaceballs' President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to steal planet Druidia's abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr can stop them. (96 mins.)
Director: Mel Brooks
 
52.
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
Three women make an emergency landing on a planet plagued with a fatal disease, but are captured by dictator Overdog... (90 mins.)
Director: Lamont Johnson
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "The Ice Pirates" & "Solarbabies." ” - Lwke
 
53.
Sphere (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A spaceship is discovered under three hundred years' worth of coral growth at the bottom of the ocean. (134 mins.)
Director: Barry Levinson
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Contact." ” - Lwke
 
54.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral Kirk resumes command of the Starship Enterprise in order to intercept, examine and hopefully stop the intruder. (132 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
 
55.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
With the assistance of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using the life-generating Genesis Device as the ultimate weapon. (113 mins.)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
 
56.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Admiral Kirk and his bridge crew risk their careers stealing the decommissioned Enterprise to return to the restricted Genesis planet to recover Spock's body. (105 mins.)
Director: Leonard Nimoy
 
57.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
To save Earth from an alien probe, Admiral James T. Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to San Francisco in 1986 to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it: humpback whales. (119 mins.)
Director: Leonard Nimoy
 
58.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
Captain Kirk and his crew must deal with Mr. Spock's long-lost half-brother who hijacks the Enterprise for an obsessive search for God at the center of the galaxy. (107 mins.)
Director: William Shatner
 
59.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
On the eve of retirement, Kirk and McCoy are charged with assassinating the Klingon High Chancellor and imprisoned. The Enterprise crew must help them escape to thwart a conspiracy aimed at sabotaging the last best hope for peace. (113 mins.)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
 
60.
Star Trek (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. (127 mins.)
Director: J.J. Abrams
 
61.
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
After the rebels are overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker begins Jedi training with Master Yoda. His friends accept shelter from a questionable ally as Darth Vader hunts them in a plan to capture Luke. (124 mins.)
Director: Irvin Kershner
 
62.
Starship Troopers (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival. (129 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
 
63.
Sunshine (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A team of international astronauts are sent on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb in 2057. (107 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "The Fifth Element." ” - Lwke
 
64.
Supernova (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
Supernova chronicles the search and rescue patrol of a medical ship in deep space in the early 22nd... (90 mins.)
Director: Thomas Lee
 
65.
The Thing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A research facility in Antarctica comes across an alien force that can become anything it touches with 100% accuracy. The members must now find out who's human and who's not before it's too late. (109 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
66.
Things to Come (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of a century: a decades-long second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel. (100 mins.)
 
67.
This Island Earth (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war. (86 mins.)
Director: Joseph Newman
 
68.
Total Recall (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or does he? (113 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
 
69.
WALL·E (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind. (98 mins.)
Director: Andrew Stanton
“ TOL recommends watching this film with "Flight of the Navigator." ” - Lwke
 
70.
The War of the Worlds (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A small town in California is attacked by Martians. (85 mins.)
Director: Byron Haskin
“ TOL recommends watching this film with the remake and "Independence Day." ” - Lwke
 
71.
War of the Worlds (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival. (116 mins.)
“ TOL recommends watching this film with the original and "Independence Day." ” - Lwke
 
72.
Zardoz (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
In the distant future, a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements. (105 mins.)
Director: John Boorman