5. The Thing (1952, 1982 and 2011)
[quote]“Thousands of years ago it crashes, and this thing… crawls out, or gets thrown out, and it ends up freezing in the ice”[/quote]
There was a hot debate about the original and remake because both were equally enjoyed by viewers. The plotlines are nearly identical between the three fillms which explains the hot controversy in fandom. The 1951 film depicts an American base in the Antarctic that detects a UFO that crashes into the ice with enough heat that only the tailfin is exposed. As the men try to defrost the ice , they find what they believe to be the pilot of the spaceship. The pilot is brought back to the station in a block of ice. Orders to maintain temperature and prevent defrosting for the safety of the team did not go as planned. The alien broke free, the soldiers heard the creature fighting with the base dogs outside the open window later discovering the alien fed on one of the dogs. The 1982 film depicts an alien ship crashing in Antarctica. American researchers witness a Norwegian helicopter chasing a dog, the helicopter explodes when they fail to launch a grenade to kill the dog. The researchers adopt the dog and go to the Norwegian research lab finding everyone dead. The dig is the carrier of the lifeform that terrorizes the crew. In the 2011 remake, the Norwegians are following a signal in a snow cat. A crack in the ice causes them to fall into a fissure with the lights pointing towards a spaceship that had crashed. The Americans are called in to investigate and the mechanic on the team has a dog with him. The storylines mirror each other as the alien starts killing off the team.
The plot has not changed, but the story depicts the political environments at the time. At the end of World War 2 and at the beginning of the cold war, soldiers were looking over their shoulders. The fear and uneasiness the men felt in the 1951 version was on target. The 1982 version was during a time in history when you had mistrust, people were being hit by the beginning of a severe recession and the film talks about humanity, and the mistrust people have for each other. The same themes are explored in 2011
4. District 9 (2009)
[quote]“When dealing with aliens, try to be polite, but firm. And always remember that a smile is cheaper than a bullet.”[/quote]
The story begins when a badly damaged spaceship hovering over Johannesburg. The aliens were initially welcomes but eventually that changed. The aliens were set up separate from human population in a militarized ghetto known as District 9. The film explores “us and them”, the separation of people and the realization that there are more similarities than differences. Discrimination is discrimination whether it be racism, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else that may appear “different”. This is a story of our hero, Wikus who is exposed to an alien chemical where he is reliant on the aliens to help him. In his journey, he discovers the common ground between human and alien.
3: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
[quote]“Klaatu: I’m impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.
Mr. Harley: I’m afraid my people haven’t. I’m very sorry… I wish it were otherwise.”[/quote]
An alien spaceship lands in Washington introducing an alien, Klaatu, and his robot Gort. The alien brings a message warning the earth they must keep peace. Klaatu is faced with opposition having been shot by a soldier. Gort used “laser eye” to melt tanks. Klaatu becomes a border with a family to understand humanity and decide if the earth is worth saving. The movie reflected a common theme coming out of World War 2, a message of peace as the world became more interconnected. The common fear explored was the need for peace because the world was recognizing that we could destroy ourselves through our own technology.
2: Metropolis (1927)
[quote]“The mediator between the head and hands must be the heart!”[/quote]
Metropolis examines socio-economic class struggles. A futuristic city where the working class live in squalor while the upper class have the best the city has to offer while neither class knows of the others existence. A man from the wealthy class was in the Pleasure Gardens when a woman from the working class brings a group of workers’ children to the surface. Boy sees girl and learns about the working class and seeks out the mad professor Rotwang to help him learn the working class secrets. This protagonist wants to preserve the separation of class by going to extraordinary means. This was a time with a rise of fascism, the industrial revolution, and the rise of the labor movements in the United States surrounding poor working conditions. Metropolis artfully explores the socio-economic struggles of the time.
1: The Fifth Element (1997)
Every 5,000 years, a great evil appears to destroy life in conjunction with a planetary alignment. An alien race visits earth in 1914 get a weapon to defeat evil. The weapon is four stones representing the four elements that join together adding the fifth element to create life. Flash forward to 2263 where the alien race returns to earth delivering the elements bit are attacked along the way. Earth scientists find the stones and fifth element to recreate “the perfect being”, Leeloo. This work explores the conflicts between good and evil. The four elements combined with spirit create life which is earth’s savior or destruction. It follows Carl Jung’s theory exploring the two halves of human nature, spiritual and rational joined as one.
Some of the honorable mentions across the science fiction community included Dark City, Bladerunner, Clockwork Orange, Jurassic Park, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars Empire Strikes Back and Village of the Damne