The Best SciFi Films

For the times when you are in the mood for something differenct. Sandy Chertok reviews the best Science Fiction films.
The science fiction genre is one in which filmmakers are able to expose people to issues, themes, and ideas that may be difficult for people to face in a more realistic setting. One such issue is the possibility that the Holocaust could happen again if we are not sensitive, careful, and aware of what is taking place in our world. Two science fiction films/TV movies that explore this topic are the tv film V: the Original Miniseries and the feature film X-men.
In V, the science and medical communities are separated and condemned by the Visitors and the Earth community. One Holocaust survivor (Daniel’s grandfather) words the situation correctly by saying that he has seen this once before and if people do not help out the doctors and scientists,
then man has learned nothing from the past. In X-Men, the mutants are separated and condemned by various government agencies. Magnito, the head of the villain mutants and a survivor of the Holocaust, has first hand knowledge of what the governments are doing and will do everything in his power to make sure that what happened in the past does not re-occur in the present.
Both V and X-Men are two science fiction films that expose their audiences to the possibility that past atrocities can occur again and individuals must do everything they can to prevent that inhumane element from taking over. These films show that the evil that drove the Holocaust is still alive in individuals, communities, and nations. V and X-Men mask this evil through science fiction elements like an alien race or evil government officials. Both films are well written, well acted, and well worth your time to see on video, DVD, and even cable.

V: the Original Miniseries
#1 Jewish SciFi
Came out in 1983
Running time of under 4 hours
Not Rated
Originally aired as 2 night TV Mini-Series on NBC
Available on VHS and DVD
Written and Directed by Kenneth Johnson
Main Stars: Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Jane Badler

What’s it all about:
V: the Original Miniseries is a story about an alien race who come to Earth under the false pretense of peace. The Visitors, who appear to be human-like, claim they need certain chemicals in order to survive on their own planet. Skeptical of the Visitors, many scientists start to uncover the truth. The Visitors are really lizard-like beings with plans of taking water and food back to their planet. Immediately, the Visitors with the help of worldwide governments start to isolate and separate the scientific and medical communities. Many scientists and doctors avoid capture and begin to form various rebel groups in an effort to stay alive and eventually reveal the truth about the Visitors to the rest of the world. The bulk of the film takes place in the Los Angeles community and follows a particular group of individuals from different
backgrounds as they form the LA Resistance.

Why I Recommend It:
1 – The story. Kenneth Johnson crafts a strong and well-written story that combines science fiction elements with serious dramatic themes. Johnson takes the notion of an alien race coming to Earth in peace and shows the horror of what might happen if their peaceful intent was really a mask for their true nature. At the same time, Johnson is able to expose the various human responses to the situation – from extremes of fighting against the aliens to even joining the Visitors as well as the degrees in between.
2 – The acting. All of the actors and actresses capture the essence of their characters and expose the viewer to various types of people and aliens and what these type of people or aliens are capable or not capable of doing in a stressful and life-threatening situation.

Distinguishing Jewish Appeal:
1 – The parallel story of the Visitors separating the scientific and medical communities from the rest of man with what happened in the Holocaust, when the Germans separated the Jews from the rest of man. Similar to the situation in Europe, in V, a small group of scientists and doctors manage to
group together and form a rebellion group to fight back and try to save humanity.
2 – Johnson re-emphasizes the parallel story with the Holocaust by having one of the characters be a Holocaust survivor. Despite his grandson’s actions of joining the Visitor youth core, he is smart enough to realize what is going on. He convinces his son and daughter-in-law to help out their neighbors, a family who is in danger because the father is a scientist. He believes if they do not help out their neighbors, then they and man have not learned a thing from the past.

Of Note:
1- The story from V: the Original Miniseries continued in V: the Final Battle and V: the Series. Both spin-offs turned away from the “Holocaust theme” and instead focused in on the science fiction action elements presented in the story. Kenneth Johnson was a consultant with the spin-offs, but backed away from further involvement.
2 – Faye Grant, who stars as Dr. Julie Parrish, can be seen as Tattie on the ABC Family show, State of Grace. The show is about the Rayburns, a Jewish family, who move to a southern town and their adaptation to the town and their relationship with a non-Jewish family.

#2 Jewish SciFi
Came out in 2000
Running time of 1 hour and 44 minutes
Rated PG-13
Available on VHS and DVD
Directed by Bryan Singer
Story by Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer
Screenplay by David Hayter
Main Stars: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry

What’s it all about:
The film is an adaptation of the X-Men comic book series. The story depicts a time and place, similar to our own, when some humans were born with special traits that made them a kind of human
mutant. One such mutant, Prof. Xavier developed a special school in which mutants could develop their special traits and eventually help man. Prof. Xavier’s colleague, Magnito, took a different course. Magnito is a Holocaust survivor and did not like the talk among politicians to isolate and separate mutants from the rest of man. He did not think man would ever accept mutants and decided to come up with a plan to even the score.

Why I Recommend It:
1 – The story. Singer, DeSanto, and Hayter are able to transform elements of the comic book series onto the screen and make an interesting, entertaining, and action packed film.
2- The characters. Singer, DeSanto, and Hayter turn comic book characters into three-dimensional complex individuals that come alive through well acted performances of the various actors and actresses. In particular, the characters of Prof. Xavier and Magnito stand out among the mutants.
Their dynamic interactions as well as different political views push the film forward and make viewers think about their situation.

Distinguishing Jewish Appeal:
1 – The parallel story of the potential government law to separate and isolate mutants from the rest of man with what happened in the Holocaust, when the Germans separated the Jews from the rest of man.
2 – The Holocaust connection is emphasized through the character of Magnito, who is a Holocaust survivor.

Of Note:
1- There are going to be two sequels that are coming out to the film. The first sequel will be released into theaters in May of 2003.
2 – Halle Berry became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress at the 2002 Academy Awards.
3 – Anna Paquin is the youngest actress to win an acting Ocsar. She won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Piano.
4 – Famke Jensen is a bond girl. She was in Goldeneye.
5 – Ray Park, who played Toad, also played Darth Maul in Star Wars The Phantom Menace.
6 – Patrick Stewart is known best for his role on Star Trek as Captain Jean Luc Picard.
7 – Ian McKellan was nominated for an Oscar for his acting work in Gods and Monsters. He can currently be seen in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
8 – Bruce Davidson has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows. In particular, he starred in the adaptation of “The Wave” another Holocaust themed film.
9 – Stan Lee, the creator of X-Men, makes a cameo in the film as a hot dog vendor on the beach.
10 – On the DVD, if you place the cursor on the rose in the main menu, you can see a deleted scene where Spiderman makes an appearance on the set.

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