Monday, January 12, 2009


Robert Zemeckis, 1997 (9.0*)
Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote just this one novel, which blended science, fiction, and religion into a story of mankind discovering we are not alone in the universe, and it intelligently examines potential consequences and effects on mankind. Jodie Foster, as Dr. Arroway, discovers a signal from space while monitoring radio telesopes; first thought a red herring, careful analysis of the signal detected layers of information, which include a translation key.

Suddenly the news is out, religious fanatics once again decry science as 'devil’s work', corporations race to capitalize financially, while nations are both skeptical and appalled at having to spend any money, in short special interests threaten the entire world-shattering breakthrough from even occurring. Matthew McConaughey is miscast as a priest who is Foster’s friend and romantic interest; Sam Shepherd is a jealous colleague, but the film is all Foster’s, who also produced.

Zemeckis also directed Back to the Future, and in this case shows he can direct serious science fiction as well. A little slow if you expect action SF, but one of a few intelligent adult sf books to film, so add another classic must-see to that genre’s growing list.

If you like this theme, make sure you see Close Encounters, and read Arthur C. Clarke's awesome book Childhood's End, which Kubrick wanted to film and ended up with 2001 instead due to the limited film technology of the time.

Note: For a list of my favorite science fiction-fantasy novels, check here, you'll see that Childhood's End is #1:
Top 100 Science Fiction Books


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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