There’s a lot going on in January for science fiction fans—the start of the last ten episodes of Battlestar Galactica, the series finale of Stargate Atlantis*, the release of Outlander (which is either going to be embarrassingly bad or Totally Awesome) and more. Io9 has put together a handy day-by-day breakdown of January so you can buy your movie tickets, set your DVR, and get in line at the comic-book store at the right time.
*The nice people at SciFi sent me a screener of the last two episodes, and I can tell you now the penultimate episode of Stargate Atlantis on January 2nd is one of their cleverest ever in terms of storytelling.
SciFi Wire bring us the news that The Terminator, the founding entry in one of the most successful and influential science-fiction franchises ever, has been added to the U.S. Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, which preserves movies deemed to be particularly noteworthy in the national archives. As well as the script and iconic performance by Schwarzenegger, the Library’s citation also singled out the synthesizer-based soundtrack for praise.
These things always start small: First someone programs a computer to read minds, and next thing you know it’ll be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and we’ll all be erasing unpleasant memories.
And how long a step can it be from there to the trippy I’m-in-your-mind sequences from The Cell, or even, dare I say it, The Matrix itself? And the mind-reading computer that starts it all? We’re getting there.
Our ultimate pick for this week is the only movie to have a DNA sequence for a title: Gattaca. An all-too-believable future has divided the world into the genetic haves and have-nots. One of the have-nots sets out to fulfill his dream of traveling into space, proving that DNA is not your destiny. Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and Uma Thurman all turn in perfectly calibrated performances in this cautionary tale of man who leases another’s genetic identity.
Okay, so today’s pick is not exactly festive fare, but 28 Days Later does celebrate the importance of family along the way, and it even has some christmas lights in it! We mentioned this movie recently in Science Not Fiction’s list of the 10 Best Post-Apocalypses: not only is it a great movie in itself, but it also breathed new life into the Zombie Apocalypse sub genre. A small handful of survivors find themselves alone in a world in which nearly everyone else has been turned into a de facto zombie by a virus in this gripping film.
People seem to either like or loath The Fifth Element, but the alien opera singer’s performance scene alone was enough to win me over. Lavish visuals and entertaining performances from Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Gary Oldman make this movie worth watching.
Today at #4 is John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing, one of the few times a remake has turned out markedly better than the original film, in this case 1951’s The Thing From Another World. A group of isolated scientists at an Antarctic research base struggle with a shapeshifting and hostile alien that had lain frozen in the ice for countless millennia. The special effects were groundbreaking for their time, but they do not overwhelm the plotting as Carpenter inexorably ratchets up the tension.
With most of our favorite shows on hiatus until the new year, science-fiction fans need to find some other way to get their fix. Fortunately, this year we have Hulu and it’s admittedly pretty slick streaming technology that means anyone with a reasonably fast Internet connection and web browser can watch video on demand without any fuss. Science Not Fiction looked through Hulu’s science fiction catalog and came up with their five best movies. We’ll be featuring one per day till the end of the week.
First up is Ghostbusters, which married high-tech gadgets with the supernatural. Rooted firmly in the science-fiction and horror tradition of H.P. Lovecraft but executed with deadpan humor, this movie was a real original that has held up surprisingly well.
Getting impatient for the January 16th kickoff of the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica? To tide us all over until then, SciFi is releasing a 10 webisode series called “The Face of The Enemy” that takes place nine days after the mid-season finale. The webisodes are a few minutes long and are being up put up every two or three days, with the third currently the most recent. The action centers on fan-favorite Felix Gaeta, who finds himself stuck on a raptor stranded in deep space. Revelations abound, so don’t watch it unless you’re caught up. (Those new to the show can watch this “Catch the Frak Up” 13-minute video instead that covers the last 3.5 seasons, hilariously narrated by Katie Sackhoff, who plays Starbuck) Check out the webisodes at the Battlestar website, or on Hulu.