Some of the most exciting science fiction films of all time are now released on video
(all through Columbia TriStar); here we take you on a short trip through these films, and
offer you a chance to WIN some of them. Sci fi fans won’t even
need to read these snapshots, but newcomers to the genre may find it useful.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT RRP $24.95
Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian
Holm, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry
Directed by Luc Besson
"Luc Besson has come up with a scream of a futuristic sci-fi
extravaganza, with a mélange of extravagant special effects, bizarre characters, cute
concepts, and charismatic leads, all thrust together in a fable-like story with humour.
Admittedly, there are holes in the piece, but once committed to the ride, it is reasonably
easy to forgive the flaws. Bruce Willis as cab driver Korben Dallas is terrific, and
solidly anchors the fantasy into a human tale. Willis shines in these roles as the
unlikely hero who saves the day, or as in this case, saves the world. Milla Jovovich
(Leeloo), with her impossibly orange hair, wide-spaced turquoise eyes, sylph-like body and
baby-doll look, is the epitome of sci-fi’s 10 - perfect. Jovovich is charming, as she
utters her nonsensical tirade of unknown blahblah language. And Chris Tucker as the radio
star Ruby Rhod is a screaming hyena on heat. There are incidental characters who will
leave an impression: the faceless bartender robot, the Diva - a close relation to Lisa
Marie’s character in Mars Attacks. It’s not a laugh a minute, but the humour
builds up, and even the violence is tinged with it. Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier must have
had a field day dreaming up the costumes, which are lush and vibrant. The Fifth Element
brings new meaning to flying through traffic and Chinese take-away to your door; while
McDonalds and Qantas may get ideas for a whole new look!"
TERMINATOR 2 – JUDGEMENT DAY
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert
Patrick, Edward Furlong
Director: James Cameron
A shape-shifting cyborg is sent back from the future to kill John Connor before he can
grow up to lead the resistance; a protector is sent, too. Nearly 10 years have passed
since Sarah Connor was targeted for termination by a cyborg from the future. Now her son,
John, the future leader of the resistance, is the target for a newer, more deadly
terminator. Once again, the resistance has managed to send a protector back to attempt to
save John and his mother Sarah.
"This is certainly one of the best action films ever made, and if
you want to narrow the definition to include its other genre – science fiction –
it is perhaps THE best in that double barrel category. Sensational effects and top
performances combine to deliver the strong script’s potential with all the energy,
speed and stuntwork you could ever hope for. On top of all that, the story has a genuinely
gripping premise, and several touches of humour."
Andrew L. Urban
"Terminator 2 is my favourite sci-fi action film of all time. There
are so many elements with which to engage, and the characters are as memorable as any ever
created. The special effects dazzle and haunt, while Arnie remains tops in what is no
doubt his best role."
TOTAL RECALL RRP $19.95
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Rachel
Ticotin, Ronnie Cox, Michael Ironside
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
What is reality when you can't trust your memory. Arnold Schwarzenegger
is an Earthbound construction worker who keeps having dreams about Mars. A trip to a false
memory transplant service for an imaginary trip to Mars goes terribly wrong and another
personality surfaces. When his old self returns, he finds groups of his friends and
several strangers seem to have orders to kill him. He finds records his other self left
him that tell him to get to Mars to join up with the underground. The reality of the
situation is constantly in question. Who is he? Which personality is correct? Which
version of reality is true?
"Storing and planting memory is one of the most fascinating
concepts, and in this intriguing action thriller, Arnie is at his best, struggling to
discover what is reality and what is not. The same sort of idea is used, again
effectively, in the upcoming Australian feature Dark City, to be released in August.
Verhoeven presents his characters to maximum effect. It’s a thrilling adventure
– jump aboard and let your imagination run wild."
"One of Arnold Schwarzenegger's most complex action films, it
involves Arnold having his brain tampered with, distorting his sense of reality. He's not
sure whether he's just an average Joe, thrown into a situation beyond his control, or a
secret agent who must return to Mars to find out the truth, and stop a deranged madman
from destroying the planet. An extremely entertaining film, with countless plot twists and
intrigue, Arnold goes for the gold once again. The film is hampered by way too much
repellent violent blood-letting (even for a Schwarzenegger film), but you can mostly get
by all that and hang on for one hell of a thrilling ride."
Roger Davidson, Teen Movie Critic
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Teri
Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban
Directed by Steven Spielberg<
Roy Neary sets out to investigate a power outage when his truck stalls
and he is bathed in light from above. After this, strange visions and five musical notes
keep running through his mind. Will he find the meaning of the visions, and who - or what
- placed them in his mind ? Planes reported missing in 1945 suddenly appear in the Mojave
desert. A commercial flight is buzzed by a 'bright' object that the pilot 'wouldn't know
how to describe'. Roy Neary, while working one night, has a Close Encounter... The US
Government determine where the visitors plan to land and create an elaborate cover-up to
keep people away. However, a group of people, including Neary, share a vision which draws
them to the place and a meeting with new, and old, friends.
"I know the focus here is sci-fi, but one of the most memorable
aspects of this extraordinary film is Vilmos Zsigmund’s fabulous score. The old
Hungarian really excels himself here, giving Spielberg an emotive and emotional foundation
on which to build his cinematic magic for us. Even now, this 1977 question mark of film
(What if? How would we….?) is a gloriously romantic sci fi movie with stunning
effects and a humanist heart."
Andrew L. Urban
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER RRP: $19.95
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Ally
Walker, Ed O'Ross, Jerry Orbach, Leon Rippy, Tico Wells, Ralph Moeller
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Luc and Scott were killed in Vietnam, but the army has a secret project
for reanimating dead people as near-perfect soldiers. An elite team of soldiers has been
used against terrorists where they use astounding physical capabilities to overcome them.
Victoria, a reporter, follows them and discovers a part of their secret. When one of the
team kills her cameraman she tries to escape. Luc, one of the soldiers begins to have
flashbacks and turns sides and helps her as the remainder of the team follows to protect
"Of course Universal Soldier is violent, lowbrow and a threat to the
republic. It has Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in it. These guys just aren't
ready for Ibsen. As for the violence, it's considerable. But railing against it is like
coming down hard on patio furniture. People keep buying the stuff. And by its own
deliriously rock-bottom standards, Universal ain't half bad. Of course, you have to be big
on bloody slaughter, kickboxing, infrared gunning and impaired acting. But Universal
executes its subtle-free mission with surprisingly watchable efficiency. This is thanks to
Rambo-meister Mario Kassar, who knows how to sell trash. Throw in another $50 million, put
Ahr-nold in the lead, and this would have been a guaranteed, almost respectable hit."
Desson Howe, Washington Post
ROBOCOP RRP $19.95
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy,
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Detroit - in the future - is crime ridden, and run by a massive company.
The company has developed a huge crime fighting robot, which unfortunately develops a
rather dangerous glitch. The company sees a way to get back in favour with the public when
a cop called Alex Murphy is killed by a street gang. Murphy’s body is reconstructed
within a steel shell and named Robocop. The Robocop is very successful against criminals,
and becomes a target of supervillian Boddicker.
"A great sci-fi adventure that stretches the imagination – like
Terminator 2, allowing you to connect with the man/robot, who has more heart than a man of
"As created by director Paul (The Fourth Man) Verhoeven and
screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, RoboCop is one weird and entertaining
hybrid of camp and sci-fi shoot-'em-up. Newscasters tell you, in chatty Entertainment
Tonight patter, that the Mexicans are invading, the South African government has the Bomb
and an SDI satellite has inadvertently fired at the San Fernando Valley -- killing two
former presidents living there. From then on, the film grabs armfuls of Terminator, Repo
Man, Blade Runner and Frankenstein (and a fistful of Miami Vice) and runs."
Desson Howe, Washington Post
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