Movie Inspiration for SF

Gargoyle2k7's picture
Gargoyle2k7
January 28, 2009 - 10:14pm
I'm gearing up for a new SF campaign (dusting the old books off after 20+ years), and I've been compiling a list of movies that help set the tone for SF.  Some have definitely influenced SF as they have all of sci-fi: Star Wars and Star Trek.  Although the SF setting is different from both, there are elements of both that are clear inspiration for SF.  Others range from the bad (Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared-Syn) to the great (Serenity/Firefly and Farscape).  Here follows a list of movies and TV shows that I feel help influence SF specifically (at least in some small fashion):
Star Wars (all)
Star Trek (all)
Alien (all)
Dune
Battle Beyond the Stars
Forbidden World
Forbidden Planet
Ice Pirates
Enemy Mine
Moon 44
Soldier
Starship Troopers
Fifth Element
Babylon 5
Farscape
Firefly & Serenity
Pitch Black
Outland
Space 1999
Total Recall
Bladerunner

I avoided anything that dealt with attacks on Earth or Earthmen from the 20th century in space, or that has too much of a magic/fantasy aspect.  Anything I may have missed?  Any comments? 
Long live the Frontier!
Comments:

aramis's picture
aramis
January 29, 2009 - 2:02am
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.


But, by my estimation, you've a bunch of stuff that's already well into fantasy (Star Wars, Space 1999, Dune, Ice Pirates, 5th Element).

Mind you, they are all good stories, but they all have strong fantasy elements.

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
January 29, 2009 - 5:39am

Those are some good titles

I humbly agree and disagree about classifying Sci-fi serials and pulp sci-fi as "Fantasy" and not sci-fi. When I was in college many moons ago we had a Class called writing about Science Fiction which was taught by the head of the university's english department who had done her doctoral thesis on Bladerunner. She, who is a well respected expert in the field, stated the following when i asked a similar question about sci-fi serials such as Star Trek. Science-Fiction essentially are fictional stories where an element of science or technology plays a role in defining the setting/universe, characters, plot, or storyline. Sci-fi serials usually do not classify as classical Sci-fi per-se but often take elements of classical sci-fi stories and weave them into their stories or settings. Early Sci-fi included such great authors as J. Verne often had quite a "fantasy" element to the stories but also included some science or technology that defined the story and thus classified them as classical Sci-fi. Other examples include Clarke, Heinlien, and Asimov who are undoubtedly considered some of the patriarchs of classical Sci-fi but had some very fantastic elements in their stories. Anyone who has ever read 2001 would undoubtedly think that some of its elements (dealing with the monolith etc) were fantasy and had no possible basis in reality. Whether a story has basis in reality or not is not the deciding factor whether it is Sci-fi or fantasy. It is simply by definition required to have a story, plot device, character(s), or setting that has some basis in science or technology. Now, back to serials, our professor, liked to refer to pulp science-fiction as speculative fiction as often the science such as warp drive was based on real concepts but could never be verified to be based on fact. Another good example of Sci-fi not being based on hard science is H.g. wells war of the worlds, recognized throughtout the world as classical science-fiction. Love it or hate it, the speculation that martians existed and would use their technology to try to conquer Earth is far from based on any shred of hard science.

My point is this, enjoy Sci-fi in all its wonderous diversity, whether fantastic or factual, its still Sci-fi if the setting, characters, plot devices, or storyline are defined by science or technology. Some of it is great, some of it is cheesy, some of it is horrible. However, unless it is a schematic or technical manual its all a form of fantasy.


Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
January 29, 2009 - 9:04am
I think it's really hard to define some sci-fi as fantasy really because technically it's all fantasy until we actually have the technology to do some of the stuff from them. Often reality ends up out doing what the sci-fi writers came up with, compare the Star Trek communicator with the cell phone. The problem is sci-fi writers have no real idea what's coming down the pipe with technological development, if humans ever do find a way to get faster than light travel odds are it's going to be done in a way that writers didn't think about. As for the alien life form part of it, well we don't really know if there is anything out there or not. And if there is what it's really capable of. That pretty much opens the door for whatever dosen't it?
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 29, 2009 - 9:22am
@ Az gamer: excellent arguement - reminded me of a book I read something like 9 years ago that had a title dealing with magic and science (I've search my book cases and cant find the book nor can I remember the title and now its bugging me- just spent an hour at amazon trying key words) Anyway the books premise was to examine common Sci-fi elements and determine if they were little more than magic or based on actual science. FTL travel, star gates, time travel and so on were all discussed. many chapters ended with a statement like this: for now technology x is little more than magic. it was pretty fascinating for a work of non fiction and had some surprising conclusions as to what was possible.

One thing that was interesting was the perception of magic: for instnace a flash light would appear as magic to a cave man. and what is little more than magic now will one day be reality.

As an aside the lost J. Verne novel "Paris in 1996" is an interesting read. It was never printed in Vernes life but left in a safe in his house till his great grandson wanted to renovate and the safe that they had always thought to be empty but could never open needed to be demonlished was openned in the 1990's. The book is an interesting read as its not a book about one technology like nuclear subs as in 50,000 leagues but about how many technologies have changed paris. His prediction of Fax machines is interesting. (They authenticated the hand writing to make sure it wasn't a hoax.)

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Gargoyle2k7's picture
Gargoyle2k7
January 29, 2009 - 1:53pm
OK, interesting conversation, but what, if any, other sci-fi movies (beyond Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, which I haven't seen... yet) do you feel best inspire you for SF?  The setting to me is very much a product of the post-Star Wars sci-fi generation; science and technology are around to explain a few things, but the story and the characters are paramount.  Good vs. evil, man vs. machine, humanity vs. the unknown.  All with a definite appreciative nod to the pulp era.
Long live the Frontier!

Will's picture
Will
January 29, 2009 - 5:40pm
In addition to the ones already mentioned:

Silent Running.
Titan A.E.
Gundam F91.
Char's Counterattack.
Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
Andromeda(first and second seasons only, everything beyond that is crappola)
Genesis Two/Planet Earth
Robocop
Space:Above And Beyond
The 80s Filmation Flash Gordon cartoon
Space Ghost
and the cartoon which got me hooked on SF....

The Jetsons.... 

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 29, 2009 - 6:53pm
There was a TV serial that saw only one season maybe 2 - cant remember the name but it was very much a Frontier feel. A ship was arriving at a distant planet to start a colony and theres a problem and they have to jetison the drop cargo modules and come down in life pods and the ship bites it in the atmosphere. the Female leader's teenage son has some serious health issue that is the reason for her, at least, to leave earth. They struggle to collect their cargo and supplies and soon discover a sentient species that lives and travels underground. It caught my interest because one of the actors was the evil guy in Highlander that is fought at the end of the movie except he's really unrecognizable without the highlander make up. The early episodes were cool had a great feel for the Frontier but the show got weird and was cancelled.

I was also going to mention the movie with John Boy using the "Varda" which was a poor man's "Force"
but I see Gargoyle mentioned that one; too bad it was just a poor copy of 7 Samuria and Magnificent 7.

I don't see Dark Star mentioned above. That was the first Sci-Fi movie I ever saw in the theatre. Though the beach ball alien was super lame I liked the some elements of it as a kid. Especially, how everyone who survived to the end had a different fate including the robots.




I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
January 29, 2009 - 7:08pm
jedion357 wrote:
There was a TV serial that saw only one season maybe 2 - cant remember the name but it was very much a Frontier feel. A ship was arriving at a distant planet to start a colony and theres a problem and they have to jetison the drop cargo modules and come down in life pods and the ship bites it in the atmosphere.

That would be Earth2.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

Will's picture
Will
January 29, 2009 - 7:48pm
Spaceballs!

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 29, 2009 - 7:53pm
Thanks RumRogue!
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Gargoyle2k7's picture
Gargoyle2k7
January 29, 2009 - 9:55pm
Will: Thanks for this list, and although there are some good sci-fi movies on there, I have to disagree with some of them.
Silent Running.  I love this movie, but I don't really feel it has the right tone for SF.  One lone guy out tending an ag-ship with a couple of servo-droids?  Not very SF to me...
Andromeda: This entire series was drek to me, so that's a no-go on the SF in my eyes.
Robocop: Too set in the "not-too-distant-future" to be SF.  Fun movie, though.
Space:Above And Beyond: Like Robocop, just not far enough in the future.
Space Ghost: Oh, come on! 
The Jetsons.... : Eep!  Ock!  Orck!  AH-ah!  I couldn't play in such a SF game....

Likewise, Earth 2 was mentioned.  Again, its more of the "normal-folks-in-a-strange-place" kind of thing than a true SF setting for me, but I could see how elements of it could work in SF.  Oh, and yes I can see Spaceballs as inspiration, just because it spoofs Star Wars and all other sci-fi so heavily.

Thanks all!
Long live the Frontier!

Gargoyle2k7's picture
Gargoyle2k7
January 29, 2009 - 9:57pm
And I can't believe I forgot to list Battlestar Galactica (both series).  There is so much there...
Long live the Frontier!

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
January 30, 2009 - 5:04pm
I've found myself inspired by these

Legend of Galactic Heroes
AT Votoms
Gundam mostly the UC series, but Gundam 00 is looking pretty good
Dirty Pair, it's not what you think
Venus Wars
Babylon 5
Lensman
Space Rangers
Gall Force (where I've taken my av from, Paranoid officer Commander Dawn)
Tytania
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

Will's picture
Will
January 30, 2009 - 6:09pm

Some other good inspirations:

Macross/Robotech
Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles(I strongly recommend the cartoon over the movie)
Wing Commander(good ideas, bad execution)
Space Rangers: Fort Hope

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 1, 2009 - 5:13am

Battle Beyond the Stars...was that the one where (what's his name from the A-Team---Hannibal Smith) portrayed a space cowboy?

Ice Pirates...I loved that flick. Roll over laughing everytime I see it. Every campaign needs a case of the space herpes.

I read a couple books back in the day from a series called "Space Angel" that were decent. Picked up a few ideas from another "Starwolf" series.

Okay, how about The Last Starfighter? C'mon...who doesn't want something like Centauri's ground car that converts to an interstellar transport?

No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Will's picture
Will
February 1, 2009 - 7:14am
George Peppard played the Space Cowboy in Battle Beyond the Stars, Shadow.

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 1, 2009 - 7:30am
Will wrote:
George Peppard played the Space Cowboy in Battle Beyond the Stars, Shadow.


John Boy Walton was the lousy luke skywalker with his ship's computer playing Obi-wan mentor roll.

The movie would have been more fun with the A-team:

Mr T: "I aint getting on no ship!"

Face hands Hannibal a doze grenade.

Instead of machine gun fire in the music intro you have laser fire.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0ZmUKBgwqg&NR=1
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Bilygote's picture
Bilygote
February 3, 2009 - 7:49pm
Gargoyle2k7 wrote:
Space:Above And Beyond: Like Robocop, just not far enough in the future.



What the ? SAAB is the bomb. You've got a war going on very similar to the Sathar War. The Chigs and their AI allies (read Sathar and Mechanon) threaten the survival of the species. I would say that this series could be very usefull to somebody wanting to set up a campaign during that time frame.

Will's picture
Will
February 4, 2009 - 4:40pm
Not to mention the corp which was behind the whole Chig War in the first place: Aerotech. 

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

Bilygote's picture
Bilygote
February 4, 2009 - 8:16pm
How could I forget the Aerotech...Just another point for SAAB. Maybe the writer(s)/producer(s) played SF. Makes me want to dig out my DVDs...

Gargoyle2k7's picture
Gargoyle2k7
February 7, 2009 - 11:17am
SAAB: aka, Space 90210.  :)  I know, a lot of people liked it (though not enough to keep it on the air), but I just couldn't get into it.  I still also feel that it is not far future enough for SF, though I can certainly see some inspiration in it.
Long live the Frontier!

Inigo Montoya's picture
Inigo Montoya
April 11, 2009 - 8:05pm
I got suckered into going to that Duplicity movie with Julia Roberts (payback for making my wife see Taken with me). I'll keep my technical evaluation of it to myself but wanted to share with you that it reminded me a lot of SF. It was of course not a sci-fi flick, but it was about corporate espionage. One thing that SF was big on was Big, Bad, Business. This movie would be a good example of corporate 'warfare'. (though you may want to wait until it comes out as a $1 rental)

Will's picture
Will
April 12, 2009 - 8:21am
Frankly, the one movie I dread coming out(aside from the new Star Trek movie, where Paramount, yet again, moves its corporate bowels on the franchise's continuity...)is the live-action G.I. Joe  movie.

Yo, Joe?! Say it ain't so, Joe!

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 12, 2009 - 12:54pm
Will wrote:
Frankly, the one movie I dread coming out(aside from the new Star Trek movie, where Paramount, yet again, moves its corporate bowels on the franchise's continuity...)is the live-action G.I. Joe  movie.

Yo, Joe?! Say it ain't so, Joe!


Oh I think they'll do alright with it as an obligatory take the kids to the movies movie and little more and the marketing of GI Joe materials will be the rage and some people will do alright pawning off their old GI Joe junk on ebay (briefly)
All and all I doubt the experience will be anywhere near as bad for GI joe as it was for Shoeless joe!- he never got an action figure after all.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Will's picture
Will
April 12, 2009 - 3:29pm
Here's where I usually insert my rant about studios running out of originial ideas and recycling other people's unoriginial ideas.

Only to realize that there never were any originial ideas in Hollowwood to begin with.... 

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
April 13, 2009 - 6:01am
Will wrote:
Frankly, the one movie I dread coming out(aside from the new Star Trek movie, where Paramount, yet again, moves its corporate bowels on the franchise's continuity...)is the live-action G.I. Joe  movie.

Yo, Joe?! Say it ain't so, Joe!


Well I've said it in the past, now that the Transformers movie was such a big hit it was only a matter of time before other 80s toy lines came out on the big screen.

Let's just hope nobody commits to a "ROM: Space Knight" flick. The comic book was bad enough.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

w00t's picture
w00t
April 13, 2009 - 7:34am


+1

Will's picture
Will
April 22, 2009 - 2:47pm
Hell, who knows...maybe we'll actuallyget to see all those laser rounds hit something for a change....Laughing

Hmmm, with the state of the art in CGI, we might even see a live-action Silver Hawks movie?

Wings of silver, nerves of steel...Sil-verrr-Hawks...Partly met-al, partly real.....Sil-verrrr Hawks....

(OK, so it's a guilty pleasure of mine, as well as an SF inspiration. Sue me.)  

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

umungus's picture
umungus
April 13, 2009 - 8:03pm
I think your should use whatever inspires you. The whole hard sci-fi versus fantasy debate gets tiresome. There are elements to just about every sci-fi story that can disqualify them as hard sci-fi.

At least I got to scare an alien rabbit thingy......


w00t's picture
w00t
April 13, 2009 - 10:45pm
How about Sci-Fun?

:-)