Ten Sci-Fi Flicks for the Thinking Man

...or woman.

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Science fiction is often accused of taking itself too seriously, but leave it to Woody Allen to provide the exception to the rule with 1973's Sleeper, a hilarious twist on H.G. Wells' When the Sleeper Wakes. As health food store owner Miles Monroe, Allen goes to the hospital to have his ulcer looked at, is accidentally cryogenically frozen for 200 years, and wakes up as the unwitting leader of a pack of revolutionaries who need him to assassinate a nose. (Don't ask, just laugh.) Although Sleeper certainly isn't the only sci-fi film to tackle the ethical questions of cloning -- heck, it isn't even the only one on this list -- it's definitely the funniest; as Christopher Null of Filmcritic wrote, "pound for pound and minute for minute, Sleeper may just have more laughs in it than any other Woody Allen movie."

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Though quite a few sci-fi movies offer commentary on political debates, very few of them do so as explicitly as Gattaca, which offers a potential end point to the advances in genetic engineering -- and the public's concern regarding said advances -- that dominated headlines for a time in the '90s. Helping to erase memories of his years spent playing angsty twentysomethings who were prone to saying things like "there's a planet of regret on my shoulders," Ethan Hawke plays Vincent, a man born through natural means (an "in-valid") rather than with the aid of genetic pre-selection. The flaws in Vincent's DNA keep him from his dream of becoming an astronaut, but he manages to secure the aid of a "valid" named Jerome (Jude Law) who's willing to loan him his genetic profile. Some critics yawned and poked at the holes in the plot, but most were charmed by Gattaca's thoughtfulness and complexity, both of which were in rather short supply during the Men in Black era. As Jeffrey Overstreet of Looking Closer wrote, "there's a window on a possible future, a warning about the wages of sin, and enough beauty to make this a lasting classic of modern science fiction.".