Yesterday marked the 42nd anniversary of when Neil Armstrong, (shortly followed by coolest name for an astronaut ever Buzz Aldrin– who you shouldn’t mess with), walked on the face of the moon. Take a minute and think about the glory of that statement, and then share the discontent that comes with knowing that NASA has no plans to launch another mission into space in the near future. Twelve days ago, NASA had its last manned mission to speak of, the successful launch of the aircraft Atlantis. With that in mind, I can’t help but think that my favorite space movies will never come to fruition – they imagine an existence in space that we have all but abandoned. OK, so most of these movies have to do with catastrophe and/or alien invasion, but they’re still great movies. They harbor an appreciation of space and technology that is looking rather bleak to me currently, so bear with me, dear readers. (Oh and I’m going semi-recent, because picking 2001: A Space Odyssey would effectively end this list with its sheer power – same goes for The Right Stuff.)
I know, I know, I can hear the whiners already. It wasn’t as good as the books! What else is new? Books are generally way better, but this movie was really well done. The casting was top notch – Deschanel, Def, Freeman, and Rockwell rounded out the gang (Marvin the Martian voiced by a perfect Alan Rickman) – while staying faithful to the story and keeping the humor intact. Considering it ran on a limited budget and didn’t perform in theaters, they won’t get the opportunity to reunite for the rest of the series. A shame, it’s fun imagining a universe outside of Earth that is as idiosyncratic and bizarre as this.
Hey, Sam Rockwell again – he must have a vision for space as well, even if in this movie he’s all alone with a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey (in the role he was born to play!) Directed by David Bowie‘s son Duncan Jones, creating cinema like this will allow some room outside of that large shadow. This movie has cloning, philosophical dilemmas (existentialism and solipsism), and all the beautiful solitude of living alone on the moon.
Soderbergh remade this Russian film with stud George Clooney and it flopped tremendously. I, for one, cannot see why. It’s beautiful, desolate, and opens an entire wormhole about space and isolation that is often unexplored. A psychological space movie, I can see why people didn’t flock to the theaters, but when it’s available now you shouldn’t continue missing the chance. Oh, and Jeremy Davies (of Lost fame) totally steals the show.
Before Danny Boyle got all Slumdog on us, he came out with perhaps his most experimental and vast film. It’s also one of my favorite movies. Ever. The “Icarus II” is on a mission to reignite the sun with a nuclear device big enough they mined out the entire planet to comprise it. It is humanity’s last hope, but the film is a reminder that the human condition exists no matter where you place it. It’s striking and haunting, and you will never look up at the sun without quiet appreciation ever again.
This one is way older than the rest of the list, and yeah I said it was more recent, but try to watch this without knowing the year and guess when it came out. It looks beautiful. That this movie is only 10 years after the actual moon landing blows my mind. Also, terrifying – why can’t anyone make a movie this scary anymore?
What do you think of my choices, dear readers? Anything you disagree with? Anything I foolishly omitted? What movie reminds you of the vast awesomeness of space?