‘Space is boundless. It squashes a man’s ego,’ according to Charlton Heston’s George Taylor in the truly awesome Planet Of The Apes. On the silver screen, the opportunities for making space movies are no less boundless. This month sees the release of a Christmas cracker in Passengers, starring two of Hollywood’s finest specimens in Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence as a pair of space commuters heading to a distant colony (who happen to wake 90 years early and all is not well... With this latest foray into space on the intergalactic horizon, we got to thinking about some of the best space movies out there, and beyond. So here are 10 of the best…
1. 2001 Space Odyssey (1968)
One of the finest sci-fi movies ever made, 2001 has everything: a master craftsman in Stanley Kubrick at the height of his powers, incredible visual imagery, interesting questions in terms of our evolution, the unnerving central computer HAL 9000 and let’s not forget those awesome apes. Even NASA and Arthur C Clarke were involved. What more could you want?
2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
While we are massively excited for the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it would be nigh on impossible to top The Empire Strikes Back. After all the positivity of A New Hope, Empire gave us a cold hard slap across the chops and reminded us that space can be a lonely and miserable place with all its heroes dispersed to far flung parts of the galaxy, and Lord Vader, no doubt still annoyed about losing his Death Star, definitely showing everyone who the daddy is.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is available now on Sky Cinema
3. Sunshine (2007)
Danny Boyle’s third collaboration with Alex Garland was a hugely ambitious project which boasted a cracking cast including Cillian Murphy, Rose Burne and even Captain America himself Chris Evans, and saw a team of international astronauts sent to detonate a bomb on the Sun to save mankind., Despite the fact that you’re not supposed to look directly at it, Sunshine is a feast for the eyes, and even boasts the expert advice of D:Ream member and nerd heartthrob Professor Brian Cox.
Sunshine is available now on Virgin Movies
4. Event Horizon (1997)
Named after the theoretical boundary surrounding a black hole, it would be fair to say that this is director Paul W S Anderson’s masterpiece. Event Horizon follows the tried and tested formula of a spaceship heading into Nowhereville to investigate something strange, only for that oddity to lead to a new presence on board. Utterly chilling, with a truly exceptional performance from arts and crafts expert Sam Neill, make sure you have a spare pair of trousers at the ready. The initial 130min cut had to have plenty of the violence toned down, but for gore lovers, watch the onboard computer scenes on slow mo!
Event Horizon is available now on Netflix
5. Moon (2009)
Duncan Jones, son of the legendary David Bowie, may have borrowed from some of the sci-fi classics for his first foray into the movie world with his debut feature film, but rest assured there’s not a hint of cheese in Moon. Sam Rockwell plays a lonesome astronaut who is stuck in a truly endless routine on the Moon. He only has his computer GERTY for company, and is utterly desperate to get home to Earth. With a limited budget, Jones brought a hugely atmospheric sci-fi movie to life, with a little help from Rockwell and the dulcet tones of Frank Underwood himself, Kevin Spacey.
Moon is available now on Sky Cinema
6. Gravity (2013)
Sandra Bullock gives a tour-de-force as a medical engineer sent on her first shuttle mission, while gorgeous George Clooney is a veteran going on his last. Things inevitably go awry and the pair discover, to coin a phrase from Elton John, that ‘it’s lonely out in space’. Amazing pioneering special effects make Alfonso Cuaron’s dizzyingly brilliant movie a must-see.
Gravity is available now on Virgin Movies
7. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Just when you thought the tried and trusted Marvel formula was wearing a bit thin, they release a movie like Guardians and blindside you with its blockbusting awesomeness. Man of the moment Chris Pratt steps up as lead protagonist Peter Quill to save the galaxy with the aid of a talking raccoon and the lovable Groot. And the sequel is a mere four months away!
Guardians Of The Galaxy is available now on Netflix
8. The Martian (2015)
The fact that this film, which is about a man abandoned on a distant planet, won best comedy and comedy performance at last year’s Golden Globes should tell you a lot. At least half the film is focused solely on Matt Damon ‘Cast Away’ style, and yet, although there is no Wilson equivalent, it is still utterly compelling. The sets are sumptuous and no stone was left unturned with regards to accuracy, as NASA was heavily involved with the production.
The Martian is available now on Sky Cinema
9. Serenity (2005)
When Joss Whedon’s baby Firefly was unceremoniously dumped by the TV networks after a mere 14 episodes, it lit a fire in Nerdville. For any sci-fi fan worth their salt loved that show, so after a furious backlash, the powers that be succumbed, and Whedon was able to reassemble Nathan Fillion and co for a movie adaptation titled Serenity.
Serenity is available now on Sky Cinema
10. Alien (1979)
Each of these movies deserve their own spot, but since space is tight…Ridders’ second entry on the list is just a total classic. Psychological horror Alien was such a masterpiece of suspense and tension, it was enough to make your chest burst open. Morale of the story? Don’t go to an SOS distress signal in space. Oh and don’t upset Sigourney Weaver either.
Alien is available now Virgin Movies