The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. (IMDb)
The mellow anti-sensationalism message and method here are much appreciated, given the film’s oft-overblown alien on earth premise: Instead of a crazed attack from space, we get a visit of good intentions; instead of grotesque and violent aliens, we get a well-tempered, peace-loving man from another planet and it is the earth dwellers who spread hysteria and destruction. The alien’s silent invasion is uniquely enjoyable to watch, if a tad too slow-paced and thematically heavy-handed at times.
7/10 (Good)

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

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A scientist is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his blood stream with a small crew. Problems arise almost as soon as they enter the bloodstream. (IMDb)
The awesome opening credits here set the bar for cinematography a little too high for a film that mostly takes place in a human body portrayed by cheesy and underwhelming visuals. The story, meanwhile, loses the luster of its intriguing set-up from outside the bloodstream as it never really picks up the pace on the inside, with its points of crisis too far apart and often featuring dated special effects. The tense silence in the operating room when the sub is in the ear is a great moment though.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

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An astronaut crew crash lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved. (IMDb)
Heston’s suave melodramatics here firmly take hold the reins of this pointed sci-fi, right from his great opening monologue to his anguished final cry on the beach. The story’s commentary on science, faith, and culture, while smart, is a tad heavy-handed, but it’s offset by a trio of apes, who with Taylor give us characters to care about amongst the many ideas to ponder. A variety of interesting camera angles and a mysterious soundtrack add further flavour to the straight-forward script.
7/10 (Good)

Soylent Green (1973)

With the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a CEO with ties to the world’s main food supply. (IMDb)
What stands out here is the chillingly plausible future setting (a bleak-looking, resource-depleted, corporate-controlled dystopia where things like hot water and fresh food are a supreme luxury), tactfully and naturally built with each affecting scene and populated by two great characters. Despite sharp dialogue, the plot isn’t quite as engaging–a murder mystery featuring bad fight sound effects that doesn’t go anywhere until the final twist–but it doesn’t need to be in this immersive sci-fi.
7/10 (Good)