31 movies entered the arena. 22 remain. In round two we remove another 6 to set up a thrilling finale.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Matrix (1999)
Mysterious Island (1961)
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Ooooh, it's getting serious now. By the second round I was pretty exhausted. In Civ, the Egyptian capital of Thebes had proven hard to defend after my ill-planned two pronged assualt on the nation stalled. In the world of Sci-Fi some real biggies fell to the Light Sabre of criticism. No I'm not talking about Star Wars... but Tron. Surely the biggest movie in this rounds cut!
In many ways Tron and that minnow Star Wars are quite similar. Both follow a pattern of good vs evil, with the hero being a nobody at the start, but... aaaw shucks... you just know he'll come good in the end!
But seriously, I don't doubt the revolutionary effect that the original Star Wars had on the film industry. It created the modern special effects industry. It created the movie merchandising industry (not a good thing). But neither of these things make the movie great Science Fiction. If we look not too closely at A New Hope (Or Episode 4, or just plain Star Wars, or whatever the hell Lucas chooses to call it this week), the story is derived from quite basic plot lines.
First and foremost, it is a fairytale. Luke is the lowly farm boy, unaware of his destiny. Obi-Wan is the aging Knight with a secret past. Together they elicit the help of the loveable rogue Han and off on an adventure they go; an adventure to rescue the Princess from the clutches of an evil King (Emporer). The story leads our motley crew into the heart of the evil Kingdom, where our brave old Knight will face his destiny and do battle with the Kings evil Dark Knight (Vader). His death will pave the way for our farm boy to join other peasants in a rebellion against the Kingdom.
For that reason, it could be argued that Star Wars is not really Sci-Fi, and that in truth, Lucas' earlier film THX 1138 is a far better example of Science Fiction.
For similar reasons, we say goodbye to The Matrix. While, in my opinion, another example of revolutionary cinema in terms of technique, the movie leaves a lot to be desired in it's plot. A collection of stories pulled predominately from the New Testament, The Matrix offers a wonderful Sci-Fi edge to the story of Christ, but lacks the true brilliance to make it to the final round.
Mysterious Island, is another film from my youth. More adventures of Captain Nemo, as a motely group of Yankies and Confederate do battle with giant Crabs, Bees and Volcanic eruptions.
Brazil and The Andromeda Strain proved the hardest cuts. Brazil is a masterpiece of cinema. Both comic and tragic in equal measure, that it leace you unsure whether to laugh or blow your brains out in the end. It remains one of my favourite movies, but in the end there is just too much competition. As for The Andromeda Strain, here is a movie that illustrates Crichtons brilliance. Long before the CGI glory of Jurassic Park the young man sat down and penned one of the finest Sci-Fi mysteries in cinema history. Sadly, it is let down by an unhealthy dose of ham.
Only 16 left.
Coming soon - Round 3: Filthy Apes and Sentient Computers