Annal: 1991 Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film

Results of the Saturn Award in the year 1991.

Film:Total Recall

Total Recall

Paul Verhoeven

This science fiction blockbuster from 1990 began its production life as a very different movie than the one that was released. An adaptation of the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” Total Recall was originally conceived of with Richard Dreyfuss starring as a Walter Mitty-like character who experiences a variety of artificially induced fantasies. The movie we know is a mega-budget action epic set on Mars. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a normal working man who discovers that his entire reality has been invented to conceal a…

Film:The Abyss

The Abyss

James Cameron

Meticulously crafted but also ponderous and predictable, James Cameron’s 1989 deep-sea close-encounter epic reaffirms one of the oldest first principles of cinema: everything moves a lot more slowly underwater. Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some “issues” to work out, are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on earth, and the petro-techies…

Film:Back to the Future: Part 3 of trilogy

Back to the Future: Part 3 of trilogy

Robert Zemeckis

Shot back-to-back with Back to the Future II, this final chapter in the series is less hectic than that film and has the same sweet spirit of the first, albeit in a whole new setting. This time, Michael J. Fox’s character ends up in the Old West of 1885, trying to prevent the death of mad scientist Christopher Lloyd at the hands of a gunman. Director Robert Zemeckis successfully blends exciting special effects with the traditions of a Western, and comes up with something original and fun. —Tom Keogh

Film:Back to the Future: Part 2 of trilogy

Back to the Future: Part 2 of trilogy

Robert Zemeckis

Critics and audiences didn’t seem too happy with this inventive, perhaps too clever sequel to the popular 1985 comedy about a high school kid (Michael J. Fox) who travels into the past and has to bring his parents together (or lose his own existence). Director Robert Zemeckis and cast bent over backwards to add layers of time-travel complication to this follow-up, and while it surely exercises the brain it isn’t necessarily funny in the same way that its predecessor was. It’s well worth a visit, though, just to appreciate the imagination that went into it,…

Film:Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Stephen Herek

Like, radical, dude—but not nearly as funny as it should be, even though it was a box-office hit. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are a pair of dim Valley boys, whose life is made heinous by a school history project. Enter George Carlin as a futuristic dude with a time-traveling phone booth. So Bill and Ted go back in time to round up a gang of historical figures (Socrates, Joan of Arc) to bring back for their presentation. Abe Lincoln at the mall? That’s about as witty as it gets, rendering this the kind of comedy that gives teenaged audiences a bad name.…

Film:Flatliners

Flatliners

Joel Schumacher

What if you could stop your heart to simulate a temporary death, and then be revived so you could describe your near-death experience to others? The mysteries of life—and the afterlife—compel five medical students (Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt) to experiment with their own mortality, and what they discover has unsettling psychological implications. That’s the intriguing premise of this neo-Gothic horror thriller, directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin) with his typical indulgence of vibrant colors and…

Film:Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Joe Johnston

Get set for the adventure of a lifetime in the #1 comedy hit of the year, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids! Rick Moranis stars as a preoccupied inventor who just can’t seem to get his electro-magnetic shrinking machine to work. Then, when he accidentally shrinks his kids down to one-quarter-inch tall and tosses them out in the trash, the real adventure begins! Now the kids face incredible dangers as they try to make their way home through the jungle of their own backyard! Hurricane sprinklers! Dive-bombing bees! A runaway lawn mower and much, much more! Directed by Academy Award®-winner Joe Johnston (Visual Effects, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, 1981), this record-breaking smash is full of amazing special effects, hilarious comedy, wild chases, and nonstop surprises!

Film:Robocop 2

Robocop 2: 2nd in series

Irvin Kershner

With the surprise success—both critical and commercial—of Robocop, it was inevitable that a sequel would emerge (actually, two sequels). But this follow-up lacked the dyspeptically funny vision of filmmaker Paul Verhoeven and wound up skimming the surface to repeat only the most superficial elements of the original: the big, clunky hero (played by Peter Weller), the ultra-violence (minus a dark sense of humor), and the plethora of action sequences. What plot there is deals with the corporation that runs the cops and its two-pronged attempt to squeeze every…

Film:Tremors

Tremors

Ron Underwood

Tremors didn’t actually break any new ground (even though its tunnelling worm monsters certainly did), but it revved up the classic monster-movie formulas of the 1950s with such energetic enthusiasm and humour that it made everything old seem new again. It also has a cast full of enjoyable actors who clearly had a lot of fun making the film, and director Ron Underwood strikes just the right balance of comedy and terror as a band of small-town rednecks battle a lot of really nasty-looking giant worms. The special effects are great, the one-liners fly fast…

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