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The 1990s: My favorite Decade for Science-Fiction Films

While perusing my DVD collection, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films I own, I became aware that my most favorite time period for sci-fi and fantasy films is the 1990s. I am mostly referring to Science-Fiction films of the 90s for the 1990s are a bit light on Fantasy films. Now not many people would automatically think of the 1990s as a golden age of Sci-Fi and Fantasy films as compared to the 1950s…(I love the 50s alien invasion movies) but the 1990s did produce a lot of memorable and successful Sci-Fi and Fantasy films.

Now maybe not every movie on my list was a financial or critical success, that’s fine, financial or critical success doesn’t determine whether or not I enjoy a film. While there are Sci-Fi and Fantasy films from all eras that I enjoy, I must admit I have a certain affection and admiration for the film’s of the 1990s. I don’t believe it is due to reasons of nostalgia because these aren’t the movies of my childhood, I spent the majority of the 1990s in my 30s. So why do I appreciate the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 90s?

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I think the answer is threefold. I am an admitted special effects junkie and the 90s saw the birth of CGI…and while some hate it, I love it! I also like practical or real world special effects and many the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films have special effects that are a mixture of both techniques. The majority of the films on my list have special effects that I still enjoy to this day.

The second reason is simply the 90s offered a diversity of the type of Sci-Fi and Fantasy that I enjoy. Favorite franchises of Godzilla and Star Trek brought some high quality movies during this time period. I love Alien Invasion and Alien themed movies and the 90s brought some favorites such as Independence Day, Men in Black, Contact and Starship Troopers.

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The last component of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 1990s that I like needs to be seen in context of how these types of films have been trending, for the most part, in the last 18 years. Namely, these types of films are more darker, grittier and more serious than those of the 90s. What I enjoy in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy from the 1990s is that they’re FUN! They’re all movies with a good balance and mixture of action, adventure, drama….and light hearted humor and fun!

The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Type of movies in general can be dark and serious as they deal with aspects of humanity and our future…while I do enjoy the darker and more serious Sci-Fi and Fantasy films I don’t want a steady diet of them. So my preference in these type of movies is toward films that have a sense of humor and don’t take itself too seriously. I say this with no sense of shame.

A few prime examples of these type of movies are: Judge Dredd and Demolition Man, both starring Sylvester Stallone, the aforementioned Starship Troopers, a satire on Fascism, and Independence Day an homage to 50s Science Fiction Invasion movies. These films do mix action, adventure with a sense of humor and in the end they’re entertaining and fun to watch…and re-watch!

My favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 1990s.

Total Recall
The Fifth Element
Judge Dredd
Demolition Man
Independence Day
Men in Black
Galaxy Quest
Stargate
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Starship Troopers
The Matrix
Contact
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: Insurrection
Godzilla vs King Ghodirah
Godzilla vs Mothra: Battle for the Earth
Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II
Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla
Godzilla vs Destroyer
Godzilla 1998
Godzilla 2000
Back to the Future III
Coneheads
Time Cop
The Arrival
Mars Attacks
Armegeddon
Deep Impact
Bicentennial Man
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Matilda
Phenomenon
Groundhog Day
Jumanji
Dragonheart

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Top 25 Favorite Science Fiction Movies

For the next 4 weeks on Wednesday I am going to list my top favorite movies from Science Fiction, Monster Movies, Superheroes and Fantasy genres. These are my personal subjective favorites.

It may surprise some readers not to see such well loved and respected movies as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner on my list, but I really do not care too much for the dystopian style of science fiction movies (with exceptions) and instead prefer a more fun and lighthearted version of science fiction. So here are the movies I like to frequently watch.

25. Demolition Man (1993)

This is a movie that knows when to be serious and when to lighten up. Set in the near future Demolition Man is a fun science fiction action movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. Both are put in a state of suspended animation in the 80s and thawed out decades later. This Rip Van Winkle story has action, adventure, drama and humor. 

24. Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956)

Alien Invasion movies are my favorite from the Science Fiction genre. This is one of the better ones from the 50s when these movies were a symbol of the Cold War.

23. Forbidden Planet (1956)

A classic from the 50s and one that inspired Star Trek. This film deals with psychological themes of power.

22. Starship Troopers (1997)

Many fans of the book complained that the movie wasn’t true to the book. Some say it was better. Either way this movie is roller coaster ride and a heck of a lot of fun. Co-ed showers and a war in space with giant bugs, what more could you want?

21. Total Recall (1990)

“Get your Ass to Mars.” The remake is coming out soon but it doesn’t have the Mars scenario. The remake looks good but the original is a thriller and I love ambiguous nature of the film..

20. I Robot (2004)

Another movie based on a series of books. This movie is based off of books written by the late great Issac Assimov. An enjoyable special effects extravaganza about robots run amok in the future.

19. The Terminator (1984)

The movie that made Arnold a star. This is one of the few movies with a dystopian view of the future that I enjoy. Mainly because at its heart it is more of an action-adventure film.

18. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

I think this movie has a lot of charm. Not a lot of action or special effects, this is s story that is carried by the relationships of the people. Still holds up well today.

17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg brings a sense of wonder to many of his movies. This movie has a sense of suspension and mystery too. A great first time visit for aliens.

16. Terminator 2. Judgment Day (1991)

Not as dark as the first movie but just as engaging. Great special effects and Arnold in classic form.

15. Avatar (2009)

This movie is pure Eye Candy. Giant Blue people living on a strange planet with strange creatures. While the story is not ground breaking the special effects are.

14. Contact (1997)

I miss the great mind of Carl Sagan. This is a good movie based on Sagan’s book, which touches on religious themes and the question “are we alone in the universe?” The fact that the alien Jodie Foster’s character encounters on her journey to Vega appears to her as her father is sentimentally appealing, given the nature of the father-daughter relationship depicted in the film; but in the end disappointing (I wanted a real alien) and the only negative in another wise engaging film.

13. Time Machine (1960)

Other than alien invasion movies, time travel is a fascinating subject in science fiction for me. This movie is a great adaptation of the HG Wells original classic. 

12. War of the Worlds (1953, 2005)

I must admit I like both the original and the sequel equally. Both tell the tale of alien invasions from different points of view and both have great special effects. The special effects of the original still are pretty good today while the special effects in the remake bring a sense of gritty realism. I like the design of the aliens in the newer version.

11. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

An action adventure time travel movie from the TNG crew. The best of their movies. Resistance is Futile!

10.  Independence Day (1996)

In some ways this is a remake or re-imagining of War of the Worlds…or any 50s alien invasion movies. I cannot count the times I have watched this movie. I love the fact that the flying saucers are now 15 miles wide and hell bent on destruction. Also the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously so it is a fun and enjoyable ride.

9. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (1980)

I am a Star Wars fan, but I like Trek better. 🙂 This was a very good sequel to the original and Darth Vader proclaiming he is Luke’s father is ingrained in our cultural consciousness.

8. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

I saw this in the theater in 1977 when I was 13. It still is amazing to this day. It tells a great story and has excellent characters, an Evil Dark lord, a farm boy turned warrior adventurer, a princess, a rouge hero and a wise mentor, all with great eye popping special effects. A true classic. 

7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

I love time travel stories and the Voyage Home delivers and enjoyable lighthearted time travel adventure.

6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

This is a movie Trek fans either love or hate. I love it. Sure it is saggy in the middle but the first part when the crew comes together, the reveal of the refitted Enterprise, Spock walking onto the bridge as if Superman had swooped in to save the day, still gives me goosebumps. The fact that V’ger was a Voyager probe is a nice twist to the story.

5. Jurassic Park 3 (2001)

This one is ..and I know I use the word often…FUN! It doesn’t have the grandiose wonder of the first movie but it does have a lot of great dino action.

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

This movie still awes and wows nearly 20years later. The scene where we see the giant Brachiosaurus for this first time still fills me with wonder. The T-Rex crashing through the fence is still pretty amazing. 

3. ET-The Extraterrestrial (1982)

As Dorthy said in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.” ET proves that adage. As I view ET as a symbol of our lost inner child this movie brings me to tears every time.

2. Star Trek (2009)

I just love this movie. I grew up watching the original Trek in the early 70s as a kid and this movie really captures the wonder and magic I felt back then as I was discovering the Star Trek TV series for the first time. The new actors have captured the essence of the original characters and Leonard Nimoy playing his iconic character Spock once more brought great emotion to the movie. 

1. Planet of the Apes (1968)

An all time science fiction classic. Still good nearly 50 years later. I was never into the sequels like the original. The originals stands on its own. There are many themes dealt with in the movie. It is a time travel movie, it is a movie that looks at prejudice and fearing those that are different. It also examines the conflicts between religion and science.