Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

A Top Ten List

This was originally written for my anthology blog, Distant Worlds, Distant Realms, but I thought I’d post it here, too.  If genre film doesn’t interest you, check back Monday for the next scene of Thorvald’s Wyrd.

What you’re getting here is a list of my ten favourite SF/F films from the 21st century so far.  There are things that might be conspicuous by their absence (Avatar, for example.  Even though it was a really good movie, it’s not making my top ten, but I’ll save that for another time.).  There are also movies I haven’t seen yet that I fully expect to really enjoy (Stardust and Moon spring to mind), movies I really wish I hadn’t seen (Pirates of the Caribbean II), and movies I have no intention of ever seeing (Hot Tub Time Machine, any of the Twilight films).  These last two categories deserve lists of their own, maybe.

Half of the movies on the list are animated.  I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of my coolness as a Dad or just the fact that as a Dad I’m more likely to get to watch the animated stuff.  With my oldest being almost 12, that’s starting to shift.

Quick, Robin.  To the list!

10. I, Robot.  It may not have been as true to the original story as Asimov fans might have liked, but it was a fun movie.  Lots of action, pretty impressive CGI for 2004, and Will Smith.

9. Spirited Away.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, though there are still a couple of his films I haven’t seen.  Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is probably my favourite, but if I were to put together an all time favourite anime list, there would be a lot of Miyazaki-san’s films on it.

8. The Emperor’s New Groove.  Oh, no!  A Disney film!  Wait, how is this genre?  Well, a completely made up Mesoamerican empire, magic potions that can turn people into animals who can still function as people, more or less, and talking squirrels.  How is it not Fantasy?

7. Titan A.E. Set a thousand years in the future after the Earth has been destroyed by rather odd aliens who have no real physical being.  Action, mystery, romance, and the ultimate survival of the human race at stake, not to mention a great soundtrack.

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.  The first Pirates movie was tremendously fun in spite of being based on a theme park ride.  Pirates, zombies, great FX and solid writing.  How can you lose?  Too bad about the sequels.

5. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  A pulpy diesel-punk movie with everything you could ask for.  Giant robots, a mad scientist, brilliant heroes, rockets, amphibious fighters, and the biggest damned flying aircraft carrier you could hope for.  Not to mention a great story.  It’s really too bad this film didn’t get more recognition at the box office.

4. WALL·E.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Three Disney movies in a top ten list that isn’t about Disney movies.  Yeah, well, Pixar doesn’t really count and we can make an exception for Wall·E, anyway.  We’ll all have fled our own accumulated filth to become floating wheelchair-dwelling blobs of fat and Wall-E will keep on trying to fix the mess we left behind seven hundred years after we bail.

3. Space Cowboys.  Four almost-astronauts from the sixties get called up for a special mission to repair an old Soviet satellite.  When those old guys are Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner, you know you’re in for a ride.

2. The Lord of the Rings.  I’m not going to distinguish between the three, instead I’ll treat it like all one movie just as Tolkien himself supposedly envisioned it as all one story.  But to be honest, the third was the best of the three.  Middle Earth come to life.  Yes, they took some liberties with the text to make it work for the big screen.  Were you surprised at that?  Not all of them made me happy, either, but it was still a great movie(s).

1. Appleseed.  This will be the first thing I buy on blu-ray when I get around to switching.  It’s based on a series of Manga books from the mid-80s by the same name.  This is a must watch for any SF or Anime fan.  An intricate story set in a apparently utopian society in a mostly post-apocalyptic world.  Spectacular visuals, tonnes of action, and plenty of characters to care about… cyborgs, robots, battlesuits, what’s left of the world in the balance.  106 minutes of pure geek-gasm.

So there it is, my top ten list of genre movies in the past ten years.  Not my ten favourite genre movies of all time.  That’s a different list that would be a lot harder to narrow down.

Hope no one minds if I cross-post this.


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