Annal: 1997 Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film

Results of the Saturn Award in the year 1997.

Film:Independence Day

Independence Day

Roland Emmerich

In Independence Day, a scientist played by Jeff Goldblum once actually had a fistfight with a man (Bill Pullman) who is now president of the United States. That same president, late in the film, personally flies a jet fighter to deliver a payload of missiles against an attack by extraterrestrials. Independence Day is the kind of movie so giddy with its own outrageousness that one doesn’t even blink at such howlers in the plot. Directed by Roland Emmerich, Independence Day is a pastiche of conventions from flying-saucer movies from the 1940s…

Film:Escape From L.A.

Escape From L.A.

John Carpenter

Kurt Russell reprises his role as Snake Plissken, of the near-future thriller Escape from New York, in this reworking of that film’s basic premise. Instead of New York being a maximum-security prison, this time it’s L.A., which through the agency of earthquakes has become an island of the damned. This penal colony is where the film’s future rulers, something very like the Moral Majority, send those deemed guilty of “moral crimes.” But something has gone wrong in this new moral order, because the President’s daughter has absconded to L.A. with a detonation…

Film:The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

The Island of Dr. Moreau

John Frankenheimer

Previously filmed in 1933 (as Island of Lost Souls) and 1977, the classic H.G. Wells story was filmed again for this graphic 1996 version. The film was roasted by critics, but it’s an utterly fascinating failure, largely due to the performances of David Thewlis, Val Kilmer, and especially Marlon Brando in the title role as a mad (and in this case outrageously bizarre) scientist whose experiments in crossbreeding humans with animals have gone terribly awry. Thewlis plays the wayward scholar who is rescued at sea by Kilmer and brought to Moreau’s island to…

Film:Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks!

Tim Burton

It’s enlightening to view Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! as his twisted satire of the blockbuster film Independence Day, which was released earlier the same year, although the movies were in production simultaneously. Burton’s eye-popping, schlock tribute to 1950s UFO movies actually plays better on video than it did in theaters. The idea of invading aliens ray gunning the big-name movie stars in the cast is a cleverly subversive one, and the bulb-headed, funny-sounding animated Martians are pretty nifty, but it all seemed to be spread thin on the big…

Film:Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

Jim Mallon

The cult television show (in which a hapless space explorer and his robot pals are forced to watch and deliver a hilarious running commentary on bad movies) makes a successful transition to the big screen as Mike and the ‘bots lay waste to the ‘50s sci-fi yarn This Island Earth (a painfully stiff would-be epic that’s actually a cut above the usual MST3K fare). While ardent fans may be a little miffed that more advantage isn’t taken of the expanded theatrical venue (aside from a tad more scatological humor than usual, the content here would fit in…

Film:Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact: 2nd in Next Generation series

Jonathan Frakes

Even-numbered Star Trek movies tend to be better, and First Contact (#8 in the popular movie series) is no exception—an intelligently handled plot involving the galaxy-conquering Borg and their attempt to invade Earth’s past, alter history, and “assimilate” the entire human race. Time travel, a dazzling new Enterprise, and capable direction by Next Generation alumnus Jonathan Frakes makes this one rank with the best of the bunch. Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his able crew travel back in time to Earth in the year 2063, where they hope to…

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