6 Astronomy Movies That Won’t Bore You To Death
The initial reaction people have when someone talks about astronomy or astronomy movies is to find an exit strategy. The one exception to this is on a first date: it can be charming and actually work to your advantage.
That is, as long as you know what you’re talking about. For the most part, astronomy is generally considered too complex and is not something people would want to watch onscreen for an extended period of time. However, there are a number of astronomy movies out there that won’t bore you to death, ranging from documentaries to feature films with incredible stories. Six of these movies are listed below, so you can enjoy learning about space and the great beyond without dozing off.
“The Right Stuff” This modern classic from the early ’80s follows the crew of the US Mercury 7 and their funny, macho approach to flying into outer space, which was no small feat in the ’50s and ’60s. There are a few things that make “The Right Stuff” stand out from the other space films out there. First, it’s based on Tom Wolfe’s popular book of the same name, which is arguably one of the writer’s best works to date. The other is the incredible cast of Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris and Dennis Quaid, who were all rising stars in Hollywood at that time.
“Contact” Starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, “Contact” tells the story of an astronomer who makes contact with alien life forms on another planet and builds a machine for them. The movie’s great cast, unfolding mystery and appropriate subject matter for all audiences makes this film one of the few that manages to take the heady world of astronomy and makes it something just about everyone can understand.
“The Planets” A BCC documentary about our galaxy sounds like a perfect recipe for an all-out snooze-fest, but give this one a chance. The BBC has become one of the best producers of high quality, fascinating documentaries out there and their recent “Planet Earth” series is clear evidence of that. “The Planets” is another triumph for them, surmising what our future will be like when we travel to all the planets in our galaxy, discover new moons and use our understanding of the solar system to navigate.
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” This fun film based on Douglas Adams’s incredibly popular book takes a more comical approach to astronomy and space travel, while having a direct metaphor to life and society on Earth. These direct links between our future in space travel and the way we currently live allows more viewers to identify with this story, paying more attention to the characters than the complex notion of intergalactic travel. Performances from Sam Rockwell and Mos Def also make this a great viewing experience.
“Sunshine” A great science fiction film from modern master Danny Boyle adds a lot of drama and philosophy to an astronomical, apocalyptic premise. In the future, the sun is about to burn out, so Earth launches a ship loaded with nuclear weapons to re-ignite the sun and save humanity. When the first ship goes missing, a second, final ship is sent to try and save the galaxy. A lot of astronomy and physics are glossed over here, but seeing this little-known film is still a great.
“Melancholia” This little known art film from famed director Lars von Trier follows a set of characters while another planet is caught in the Earth’s gravitational pull with the strong possibility the two planets will collide. Heavy stuff, but beautifully done, considering one of the main plot points has to do with how large objects are caught in planetary orbits. However, don’t be surprised if you’re feeling a little depressed afterward.
Classic Sci Fi Movies
Classic sci-fi movies remain some of the smartest, creative movies of any genre. Whether the movies deal with space travel, alternate dimensions or alien attacks, these movies deal with science fiction in ways that both enthrall the hard core fans and entertain the mainstream movie going crowds.
“Star Wars” George Lucas made his name with this movie and has lived off the value of this classic sci-fi movie ever since. The movie is a hero’s journey, as a young farm boy travels to a land far away to battle to help save the universe from evil. The movie has spawned five sequels as well as numerous spinoffs.
“Aliens” The original movie in this franchise was a horror movie, a haunted house story in space. The second movie brought in James Cameron as the director and he changed things up, making it a sci-fi movie with the military coming in to help battle the aliens.
“The Thing from Another World” John Carpenter remade this classic sci-fi movie in the 80s, but the original remains a favorite in the genre. A scientific outpost in the Antarctic is under siege by an alien monster and there is no escape and no one who can get to them to offer assistance.
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” While the original movie was a true sci-fi classic, the remake in 1978 remains the better movie. Donald Sutherland stars as a man who tries to help a young woman prove that aliens are taking over the body’s of their loved ones. The end, with Sutherland’s piercing scream, is a perfect conclusion.
“Star Trek” Most people prefer the second movie in the franchise, but the first movie remains an intelligent, thoughtful classic sci-fi movie. The film is not about fighting aliens or having giant space battles, but instead is a question of the meaning of life. This is the one “Star Trek” adventure that is pure science fiction.
“War of the Worlds” Steven Spielberg remade this 1953 movie about an alien invasion of Earth. The film retells the H.G. Wells story about a Martian attack on Earth. The movie is one of the earliest sci-fi alien movies and shows a society ill equipped to deal with such an attack.
“Terminator” James Cameron’s first movie in this franchise sends Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator back in time to kill the woman who would give birth to the leader of the future resistance. The movie is a violent, classic sci-fi horror movie and set the table for the more elaborate sequels that would come.
“Brazil” Terry Gilliam directs this dark, futuristic classic sci-fi movie set in a dystopian future. A man works as a government employee whose life grows out of control when he allows an unauthorized man to fix his air conditioning. Soon, his entire life spirals out of control.
“E.T.” This Steven Spielberg movie is one of his sweetest family adventures. A young boy finds a strange little alien and takes it in, protecting it from the government officials who want to capture it. Meanwhile, E.T. just wants to return home. Drew Barrymore co-stars in one of her earliest film roles.
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” This seems like the movie that “The X-Files” was patterned after. Roy Neary is a family man who ends up in a close encounter with a UFO and then becomes obsessed with the phenomenon. The end, when he chooses to leave his family to travel with the aliens, is heartbreaking. Source: Screen Junkies