Monday, October 10, 2016

9 must-see Science-Fiction and Fantasy movies for moms

Star Wars
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Presenting 9 must-see PG-13 (mostly) science fiction and fantasy movies for mothers who want to geek out with their children.

We know, it's a drastic change. We couldn't sleep the other night and through the miracle of technology, we found ourselves talking to a friend on the other side of the planet who did not know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars - we know, heresy.

To be fair it was never her thing. She's a mom now and has a pod of boys growing up with her. We thought that it would be a shame if she wasn't able to relate with science-fiction and fantasy movies that every-boy with a hero-complex (Are there any boys who don't have the desire to save the world - or at least a princess - out there?) will eventually find and grow to love.

So here are ten such movies that have shaped our world.

For this review we are excluding some of the more modern movies such as the Avengers, the Dark Knight Series, etc... because the popularity of the characters more or less guarantees that kids - and moms - have seen them. So these are a bit older.


Star Wars
1) Star Wars IV-VI: Technically we're only recommending A New Hope (1977), Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), but we do believe that however bad we may think Episodes 1-3 were (With special thanks to the evil that is Jar Jar Binks), they did serve to expand the Universe that is Star Wars, and they did give rise to the Clone Wars.

The original trilogy is here because at the core of it is a simple farm boy longing for adventure, who ended up becoming a knight and the hope of the Universe. Sadly though he didn't get the Princess - who turned out to be his sister and ended up with a Space Pirate - but he did find his father - one of the finest and most terrifying villains ever made - and succeed in redeeming his father's soul.

E.T. phone home
2) E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Come to think of it, that title is quite redundant. Released in 1982, Spielberg's classic science-fiction story tells the tale of a young boy who discovers a stranded alien who needs to phone home so he can... well... go home. The movie studies the underlying themes of overcoming differences, racial prejudice, the bonds of friendship and defining what a family is. And it does so in what seems to be no more than a summer adventure between friends and siblings.

This family friendly movie is also known as the movie that dethroned Star Wars as the highest grossing movie of all time until another Stephen Spielberg epic, Jurassic Park, was released in 1993.

While not her first movie, E.T. catapulted one of Hollywood's biggest celebrities into stardom: Ms. Drew Barrymore - who played Gertie (The lead character Eliot's little sister who was initially terrified of E.T. but grew to love him in the end.)

The Flight of Dragons
3) The Fight of Dragons  You gotta love a movie that begins with a Wizard summoning down his dragon like he was hailing a taxi.

Released in 1982 and produced by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr; The Flight of Dragons featurs the BEAUTIFUL (understatement) music of Maury Laws and THE Don McLean, and a stellar voice cast led by James Earl Jones and the later John Ritter.

In "The Flight of Dragons" the power of Magic has started to recede in the face of Man's Science. The Wizards have decided to retreat and create a world of magic separate from mankind. However the Red Wizard Ommadon rejects that solutions and aims to subjugate mankind through fear. The powers of magic choose Peter Dickinson, a failing game-developer, polymath and writer, to lead a party of heroes in order to stop Ommadon and his army of dragons.

In the end the world of magic is saved, but Peter is ejected from it and from the love of his life, Princess Milisande.  Peter returns to his cold world thinking that all the magic is gone.... but love proves stronger than the boundary between both worlds.

The power of voodoo! Who do? You do.
4) Labyrinth Presenting Jim Henson's Muppet Show on Steroids! Released in 1986, the story focuses on Sarah a 15 year old girl who is driven out of her wits while babysiting her baby brother Toby. In desperation she wishes that the Goblin King would take him away - which he does. The Goblin King Jareth gives her 13 hours to solve his Labyrinth or lose Toby to him forever.

Labyrinth is actually a coming of age movie where a teenager learns to let go of the childish things of her childhood and realize that such things - including the Goblin King Jareth "...have no power over..." her.

However in the end, while Sarah realizes that she does indeed have to grow up, she cannot completely reject the "Magic" in her life as they will always be a part of her and an integral part of the woman who she is to become.

The movie actually features more muppets than actual actors and is actually also a musical that features the wonderful works of Trevor Jones.

I aim to misbehave
5) Serenity Before the Avengers and after Buffy the Vampire Slayer, John Whedon had a TV project called Firefly which chronicled the lives of a group of space-pirates. Firefly is actually a class of transport spaceship. It's called a Firefly because the "butt" of the ship lights up whenever the ship engages its main drive. Serenity is the name of the Firefly class transport Captained by Mal Reynolds. He named the ship after the battle of Serenity Valley - which was one of the last battles fought by the Separatist brown-coats against the core-world Alliance Government.

Think of Serenity as a cowboy movie before  the United States fought for independence, except you replace all the trains, ships or horses with space-craft, and; you replace the United States with the outer fringes of the galaxy.

When one of Mal's crew, River - a psychic whose mind was fractured by the Alliance - starts having nightmares that threaten to reveal the Alliance's deepest, darkest secret, Mal and his crew must choose to keep running, keep fighting, stay safe, or stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.

Serenity actually makes a cameo in Battlestar Galactica.
Star Trek II

6) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Admiral Kirk returns to the Enterprise - which is now commanded by Captain Spock. Under Spock's command, the Enterprise, manned by cadets embarks on a training mission. Along the way they receive a distress mission from Regula I, a space station researching Genesis (A planet Terra-formation missile), manned by Admiral Kirk's former flame Dr. Carol Marcus and her son David. Kirk takes command of the Enterprise and proceeds to Regula I.

Along the way they encounter the Reliant, a Federation ship whose first officer is the Enterprise's former tactical officer Commander Pavel Chekov. Unbeknownst to them, the Reliant has been taken over by Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically modified tyrant who wants Genesis and who really, really, REALLY hates Kirk.

The Enterprise in combat? Check. The Enterprise is NOT destroyed? Check.

The movie however ends with the death of Captain Spock who sacrifices himself in a successful attempt to restore power to the Enterprise.

JJ Abrams's alternate reality Star Trek Into Darkness is a re-imagining of Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan.

7) Princess Bride Now THIS is a fairy tale. It's primarily known for this quote: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Released in 1987 as a romance-fantasy adventure movie, The Princess Bride tells the story of a farmand named Westley who goes off to find his fortune so he could marry his childhood sweetheart Buttercup - no she's not a horse.

Unfortunately Westley disappears and assumed dead. Buttercup accepts the proposal of marriage from Prince Humperdinck  but is kidnapped along the way by a trio of kidnappers that includes Andre the Giant.

But Westley returns as the Dread Pirate Roberts and must battle his way through the kidnappers (Who become his friends and allies), and even death to be reunited with  his Princess Buttercup.

This is, without a doubt, one of THE greatest love-stories ever told at a bedside (The story is presented as a narrative from the point of view of a Grandfather telling the story to a young sick Fred Savage). It's filled with magic, adventure, tales of incredible sword fights, battling giants, pirates, evil princes, and, of course true-love.

Till all are one!
8) Transformers the Movie If Labyrinth was the Muppet show on steroids, Transformers the movie was the Transformers on an even greater high!

The Galaxy is being threatened by the World Eater Unicron and the only thing that can possibly stop him is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership - something prophesied to one day "Light the Darkest Hour" of the Autobots.

The movie combines 80s rock music with some of THE BEST Ever fight sequences of the Transformers that include: The defense of Autobot City; the Dinobots versus Devastator, and; Optimus Prime taking on ALL of the Deceptions alone - and winning.

Unfortunately he is mortally wounded while saving one of the dumbest Autobots ever made, Hot Rod.

The series attempted to reboot the Transformers with new main characters in tow: Ultra Magnus the City Commander; Springer the triple-changer; Arcee, the female Autobot; Kup, the old Sergeant; Blurr, the Speedster, and Rodimus Prime - or Hot Rod, the guy who inherited the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.

Rodimus Prime proved to be sooo unpopular that Optimus Prime had to be brought back to life in the cartoons that followed.

Game over man! Game over!
9) Aliens The 1986 sequel to Alien is here but is recommended only for more mature audiences - as it has an R rating due to violence and.... cursing.

Sigourney Weaver reprises her role as Ripley, the sole survivor of the Nostromo and the only survivor of an "Alien" attack - which therefore makes her a specialist.

After floating in stasis in space for 57 years, Ripley is recruited by the military to return to LV-426, now known as Hadley's Hope - the planetoid where the crew of the Nostromo found the egg that doomed them. Ripley this time is accompanied by a platoon of Space Marines whose objective is to deal with the infestation and recover Weyland-Yutani's investment.

Unfortunately bad leadership and overconfidence result in the deaths of most of the marines.

Aliens is here instead of "Alien" which first introduced us to the concept of space being dirty - as in really filthy - in comparison to the ultra clean worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek; but it also introduced the world to the concept of the Space Marine - which is ultra cool! - and the concept of mechanized exoskeletons - just as cool.

But understandably, this movie is for a more mature audience.

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