Old films can be pretty divisive. Some are amazing, truly, even by today’s standards, and yet others are absolutely terrible. The thing is, these “terrible” films may have been brilliant in their day, but due to advances in technology such as CGI these films have become unbearable to watch for modern audiences. On the other hand, films that pioneered new technologies and pushed limits still stand amongst the best films ever made and provide hours of enjoyment, even for those used to CGI indistinguishable from real life.
5 SciFi Movies That Aged Well
Aliens is the 1986 sequel to the Science-Fiction Horror film Alien, and star Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley – a warrant officer cast adrift for 57 years after the events in the first film. Notably, the role of Ripley catapulted Weaver to fame, and rightly so. It marks one of the first times a strong female protagonist starred in a blockbuster film – and she arguably remains the strongest female character despite more modern female-centred films being released within the last few years. After being reawakened from stasis by employers sceptical of the events she says transpired in the first film, Ridley is sent back to LV-426 to investigate the reports of disturbances in the recently established terraforming colony. This time, dozens of Aliens are let loose, and it’s up to Ridley to use her past experience to stop the Alien queen.
The Empire Strikes Back
The 1980 sequel to the original Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back is even better than the original and is regarded by many as one of the best films of all time. It pioneered the use of new special effects such as using stop-motion, landscape paintings, and puppets in order to create the amazing battle sequences and the iconic figure of Master Jedi Yoda. These effects were so advanced, that even today, although not quite up to today’s standards, they are barely noticeable. Even the modern Star Wars: The Force Awakens has reverted back to use the Lightsaber effects present in The Empire Strikes Back.
Based on the book of the same name, Jurassic Park was released in 1993 to wide critical acclaim, winning over 20 awards – most of which were for its technical achievements. The plot follows a group of experts as they visit an island populated by the clones of dinosaurs. Soon, as one would probably expect, things go terribly wrong and the group are forced to run for their lives from giant reptilian monsters. Featuring giant animatronic dinosaurs and CGI that still stacks up very well even today, Jurassic Park is an amazing film – arguably better even than the most modern instalments.
Despite legal disputes, Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released in 1991. A sequel to the original Terminator, also starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator 2 was the most expensive film made up until the point of its release. Following Sarah Conner and John Conner on the run from a new, more advanced Terminator, it’s up to the original Terminator to save them. The film won Oscars for various things including its special effects and is ranked as one of the greatest films and sequels of all time.
The one and only original Ghostbusters that we all know and love first made its appearance in 1984 to critical and box-office success. A supernatural comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver among others, the film follows a group of parapsychologists as they attempt to prevent a Sumerian God of Destruction from being set loose upon the city of New York. Nominated for two Oscars including one for special effects, Ghostbusters is still a joy to watch to this day – even surpassing the latest film despite the age difference.
5 SciFi Movies That Did Not
The original Terminator film was released in 1984 to critical and commercial acclaim, and helped launch director James Cameron’s very successful career. Despite this however, the film had a relatively low budget, and as such the special effects aren’t on par with the effects of today – though luckily it spawned a franchise that now doesn’t require this film to be watched in order to know what’s happening.
Released in 1982, Tron was a moderately successful film for its day, and was praised for its special effects. However, time has not been kind to this particular film, and many modern audiences would probably cringe and the old, unbelievable CGI. To make matters worse, the world is based on the world of video games, and modern audiences know that games are capable of much more than that which is represented in the film. The sequel, Tron: Legacy, has the type of CGI we’d expect, though sadly, the first instalment is not even close.
Of the first few superhero films that were released before the 21st century and before superhero films were popular, Batman was the best. Released in 1989 and starring Michael Keaton (a role he still boasts about to this day), Batman was very influential in terms of later superhero films and developments. However, today when we have the Batman films directed by Christopher Nolan, any other Batman film seems sub-par – and this is equally true of this fantasy take on the character.
Although the acting of Hackman, Brando and Reeve in the movie wasn’t bad, the plot of the movie was always weak. And with time, the FX became almost laughable, like Superman lifting a mountain range to stop an earthquake. When Lois dies, Superman hits the do-over button (lazy writing) to reverse time, by circumnavigating the globe in a scene that is laughably cheesy.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
A beloved film that was extremely successful, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is the highest grossing film of the 1980’s since its release in 1982. Despite this, modern audiences may find it difficult to enjoy this film due to its ordinary use of special effects.
Despite the aforementioned films being either dated or not, a cinephile should either see, or should have seen, these very successful films. Many of the films we watch today stem from advances or mistakes made during the production of these films, and so they should forever remain culturally significant pieces of art.