The Terminator or Blade Runner: 80s Sci-fi Movie Recommendation

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R E C O M M E N D A T I O N – M O V I E S

Rabab Rayan

Sci-fi is a loved genre. It takes us places and extends human imagination to the limits, creating huge worlds with supportive plots and characters that try to help us imagine what the future may hold. The 80s gave us some great bands, TV shows, and classic movies. However, one criminally overlooked part of the 80s pop culture is the sci-fi genre, which operated at a time when CGI, green screen, and computers were not as advanced as today. Comparing 80s sci-fi to modern-day sci-fi may make the old movies look like cheap or amateur, but the stories and the acting made them cult classics that are enjoyed since three decades after their initial release. 

Here are seven 80s sci-fi movies which are definitely worth a watch.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 

E.T. is the quintessential 80s sci-fi movie from Steven Spielberg. The movie can be found in several rankings. It was an instant hit when it was released and is still an old favourite for moviegoers around the world.

E.T. is an alien who gets stranded on Earth and meets Elliot and his siblings who help him escape from U.S. government officials. The connection that E.T. makes with Elliot and the other children and how they try to help him despite the interference from adults make the film heart-touching and compassionate. I remember, as a kid watching Pokemon and wanting to have one in real-life, the movie reminded me of that and it forces you to be on the side of the children. 

Back to the Future Trilogy

Marty Mcfly (Michael J. Fox) travels to the past and the future using the DeLorean time machine equipped with a flux capacitor, and tries to change the outcome of a couple of unfortunate situations. His actions in the different time periods create many changes in his present-day, some subtle and some not so subtle.

Life is not exactly great for Marty and no one expects him to make anything of himself as no Mcfly has ever been successful. However, his pursuits to right a couple of wrongs and trying to connect his parents and help his father stand up to bullies while it is usually the other way around in real life and most movies. If you want to see an 80s sci-fi movie trying to predict how the 2010s will be and compare it to your surroundings, this is the film trilogy to watch and have a laugh with friends about how wrong or close they got to the predictions.

The Terminator

The Terminator by James Cameroon is a sci-fi classic from the 80s. Notably, his best work until he released Avatar. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cyborg assassin sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor to stop her son from being able to wage war against Skynet (evil AI) in the future. 

As the movie was made in the 80s before computers were as advanced as today, some production designs and visions of the future may look flimsy to most new viewers. However, the perfect blend of action, sci-fi, and violence, and wonderful storytelling makes it a classic, not to mention “Arnold Schwarzenegger” and his heavily built body from a time when he was in his prime, make it a great movie to watch for fans of either action, sci-fi, or “Arnold Schwarzenegger”. 

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the second movie in the original trilogy and, in my personal humble opinion, the best in the entire series. Master Yoda trains Luke to become a Jedi Knight while Princess Leia and the others try to fend off the Imperial fleet from destroying them.

The film is probably the greatest sequel A New Hope could have had. The action sequences, risks, and consequences were all bigger than the first film and when compared to space movies from that time, it felt more like belonging to space than down to earth. Meeting Yoda was not the least of surprises for viewers; plot twists and climax set it up for being one of the greatest space odysseys of all time. 

Aliens (1986)

Aliens (1986) is another sci-fi action flick from James Cameroon. Here, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has to return to LV-426  after being in stasis for 57 years to help exterminate the creatures in her former space vessel.

Each scene is filled with anxiety with no foreboding of what is to come, and the underlying sexism that exists within almost every organisation and team is also presented perfectly. The horror elements within the film differentiate it from most sci-fi films both from its time and modern-day contemporaries. The emotional bond between the characters that is revealed as the film progress, adds a nice touch to all the existing action and horror scenes, leaving us with a great ending. 

Tron (1982)

In Tron by Steven Lisberger, a software engineer by the name of Kevin Flynn tries to hack into ENCOM’s mainframe system, but is stopped by the Master Control Programme and plots a plan to succeed with Alan and his girlfriend Lora. It didn’t initially receive much success either in terms of Box Office or critical acclaim, but as the years have progressed, it has transformed into a cult film and created a substantial franchise revolving around the Tron world.

Kevin Flynn gets sucked into the computer and converted into a matrix of points. The film completely embraced the computer generation and arcade games that were heavily popular at the time to create a wonderful masterpiece, which was unfortunately not appreciated at the time of its initial release, but has slowly grown into a loved movie because of the multitude of universes we are able to witness. The movie is in every sense of the term — a retro movie with retro-tech — and that makes it great to watch. It is an original film with an original story and one of the first movies to use CGI to make the sets look realistic.

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner by Ridley Scott is set in a dystopian future in 2019 Los Angeles. A fugitive group of synthetic humans led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) escapes back to earth to find their creator, burnt-out cop, and blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with hunting them down.

Dystopians have been popular among the masses because of how it predicts human generation will end up in future. Blade Runner makes quite the prediction about synthetic humans and life will change for the worse decades from today. It makes you laugh at all the stuff the filmmakers predicted would happen, but we cannot find it in today’s modern society or how our 2019 is different from 2019 shown in Blade Runner. It is probably one of the greatest film depictions of a dystopian future adapted from a book. 


Rabab Rayan is a Business undergrad trying to excel academically but failing spectacularly.


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