Are you sick of hearing about Star Wars all the time? If you said yes, then I probably think you’re kind of weird. If you said no, then here’s a list of movies to tide you over until the next scrap of news about Episode VII emerges.
Star Wars is kind of a pop culture phenomenon; it reached both sci-fi fanatics and people who don’t know what “sci-fi” is short for. It successfully blends multiple genres, such as science-fiction, fantasy, and even samurai movies, to bridge the gap between super-geeks and the average moviegoer. Even if you hate Star Wars for some reason, these are some decent alternatives to get your fill of space exploration and science fiction action.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Speaking of action, this movie has almost none. It is however, widely regarded as a science fiction classic. It has revolutionary special effects, most of which still hold up more than 50 years after its release. In fact, they’re so good that conspiracy theorists are convinced that director Stanley Kubrick shot the footage NASA showed of the moon landing while filming 2001.
This is not a movie you watch for the plot or the gripping action. It’s very slow and kind of boring. But it definitely holds a kind of spectacle, partially due to its age. It’s easy to marvel at how far ahead of its time it is. The artificial intelligence HAL is also great to watch, playing a significant role in forming the most memorable and famous scenes.
Like 2001, part of the reason to watch this movie is the spectacle of it. The opening shot is one long twelve-and-a-half minute take. It’s an incredibly impressive movie, but unlike 2001 it’s exciting. Due in no small part to Sandra Bullock’s amazing acting, it keeps you interested and amazed the entire 90 minutes.
Gravity is one of the few movies I’ve seen in 3D that I felt was worth it. The whole thing is visually engrossing, and the excellent storytelling and acting keeps you interested in the plight of this unfortunate astronaut.
Where Gravity is pretty straightforward, Interstellar bends the mind. Time travel and thinking in four dimensions all play a role in the story. It also raises the stakes: save the world from post-apocalyptic destruction. It has a surprising amount of heart for a sci-fi movie, with one scene in particular that could definitely induce some waterworks.
Interstellar is a 2001 for 2014. More exciting and more emotional, it’s one of my favorite movies from this decade. If you’re looking for some high quality sci-fi and don’t mind sitting for three hours, then Interstellar would definitely be the movie for you.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Now here is some action-packed sci-fi. Not only is Guardians one of the best Marvel movies, it’s up there as the best in the genre. It’s just so incredibly enjoyable. It’s funny and action-packed, with likable characters and an engaging plot.
But honestly, who hasn’t seen this by now? My advice is to watch it again, then buy the soundtrack, then watch it again. It’s worth it. What other movie has a climax involving a dance-off?
In space, no one can hear you scream.
That was tagline for Alien when it came out in 1979. The film creates a claustrophobic feeling so effective I have yet to find another movie that replicates it. This claustrophobia comes, ironically, in the biggest area imaginable: space. Fear, loneliness, and desperation come together through the setting to create the best sci-fi/horror movie ever made. Both genres have gone on to take cues from it, and the influence shows even on the first viewing.
There’s nothing else quite like Alien. It’s completely unique, and extremely memorable. If there is one space movie that you absolutely have to see that isn’t Star Wars, it’s Alien.
Maybe nothing will ever quite match Star Wars, but I think these are enough to hold space fanatics over until December. I’m sure I missed some other popular space movies, so be sure to let us know what your favorite space movie that isn’t Star Wars is.
Joel Wallick is currently pursuing a degree in film studies at Bowling Green State University with a minor in creative writing. He has been gaming since early childhood, beginning with Pokemon Silver. Follow him on Twitter @SuperNerdJoel.