Space is a popular setting for science fiction films because of how little we know about it, which leaves plenty of room for speculation. Films about space became especially popular after the space race of the 1960s and the subsequent moon landing in 1969.
Even though space films became more popular after the moon landing, they have always been a part of film, starting with A Trip to the Moon (1902). Over one hundred years of space films have provided the opportunity for some great, and some not-so-great, films to be produced. Here are the films that IMDb has determined are the best, and the worst.
10 Worst: Fire Maidens Of Outer Space (1956) - 2.3/10
This space movie follows astronauts from Earth as they land on the ninth moon of Jupiter, where they meet an elderly man named Prasus, a large population of women looking for mates, and a mysterious, monstrous being known only as The Creature. Most of the women on the planet, except Hestia, are not even identified with names.
One of the taglines listed on IMDb is "Maidens Without Men on Mystery Planet!" Based on that tagline and premise, the film sounds like an hour and a half of a chauvinist's fantasy and a feminist's nightmare... which it is.
9 Best: WALL-E (2008) - 8.4/10
While WALL-E starts out on Earth, the film mostly takes place in space. It follows WALL-E, the last functioning robot in charge of trash cleanup on Earth. He meets EVE, who came to the planet in search of plant life. She is called back to her ship after finding a seedling and inadvertently takes WALL-E with her, catalyzing an adventure through space for the both of them, and ending in successfully bringing humans back to Earth.
Like most Disney and Pixar films, it generally appealed to people of all ages and grossed over $500 million worldwide.
8 Worst: Space Mutiny (1988) - 2.1/10
This film takes place on a ship, called The Southern Sun, containing people whose mission is to colonize space. The ship has been traveling for several generations and some of its residents grow impatient and start a mutiny with the aid of some pirates who infiltrated a nearby ship. The film follows a pilot and a professor as they attempt to escape from the mutinous ship.
The film (and its iconic bumper car chase) was so bad that it was featured and roasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000 during the show's original run. It is now considered one of the most popular episodes of MST3K.
7 Best: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - 8.5/10
This massive crossover film was highly anticipated, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe was building up to the events of Infinity War for a decade. These events were eventually resolved in its immediate sequel Avengers: Endgame, which was even more highly anticipated. Of the two, Avengers: Infinity War spent more time in space, where it followed the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy as they tried to stop Thanos from wiping out half of the universe.
The film ended on an emotional cliffhanger which left audiences reeling for weeks afterward. The ending is still often discussed among fans over a year after its release, and will most probably be a common talking point in the years to come.
6 Worst: King Dinosaur (1955) - 2.1/10
This film follows two scientists as they embark on a journey to explore a newly discovered planet. While there, they first encounter typical earth creatures before encountering giant insects, snakes, and prehistoric animals. They eventually encounter the "king dinosaur," which is actually just some guy's pet iguana filmed to look gigantic. If it helps, the iguana can stand on its hind legs.
As a means of defense against the prehistoric creatures whose territories they entered, the scientists nuke the island after they leave it, killing off its inhabitants. For scientists whose goal was to study the planet, they were quick to destroy it. This film was also featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
5 Best: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) - 8.6/10
This was the very first Star Wars film produced and released and catalyzed what would eventually be a global phenomenon. This film is chronologically the fourth in the main storyline and follows Luke Skywalker, who joins Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, and Chewbacca to save Princess Leia from Darth Vader.
From the epic story, loveable characters, and the phenomenal soundtrack, it immediately resonated with audiences upon its release and still resonates with audiences to this day and has spawned four sequels, three prequels, and several television and film spinoffs, with more on the way.
4 Worst: Dracula 3000 (2004) - 2.1/10
This Dracula adaptation takes Bram Stoker's story and sets it in space in the year 3000. It follows Captain Van Helsing and his crew as they salvage an abandoned ship called the Demeter. They discover that the crew vanished after receiving cargo from a station called Transylvania. Among the cargo is Count Dracula. The salvage crew then sets out to defeat Dracula.
While horror has been successfully set in space in films such as the Alien franchise or Event Horizon, space and vampires of all things are just an odd mix. Space could allow for the interpretation of vampires as aliens, but the traditional vampire we all know and love does not fit well in space.
3 Best: Interstellar (2014) - 8.6/10
Interstellar takes place in the mid-21st century after a crop blight and dust storms plague Earth. The main character, Joseph Cooper, is a former astronaut and currently farms corn, the only viable crop while living with his children and his father-in-law. He is later recruited for a mission to pilot a ship and enter a wormhole near Saturn as part of a plan to ensure humankind's survival.
Christopher Nolan directed the film and co-wrote the script with his brother, Jonathan, and Hans Zimmer, who often collaborates with Nolan, wrote the soundtrack. Between the Nolans and Zimmer, Interstellar was always going to be a well-made film.
2 Worst: Turks In Space (2006) - 1.7/10
Turks in Space, also known as The Son of the Man Who Saved the World, is a science fiction comedy film about a Turkish family and their crew as they explore space after the father had saved the Earth. The plot mainly follows the son, who embarks on a journey to find the crew after they go missing during a spacewalk.
In spite of being a comedy, the film takes itself too seriously, which may have been its downfall. The actors overacted, and the special effects were mediocre at best.
1 Best: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - 8.7/10
This film was the first sequel to the original Star Wars film. It follows Luke, Leia, and Han as they continue to fight with the Rebel Alliance against Darth Vader. This film marks the first appearance of the Jedi Master Yoda and Han's friend Lando Calrissian and depicts iconic scenes in the franchise such as Han being frozen in carbonite, Leia being held captive by Jabba the Hutt, and Luke losing a hand.
The Empire Strikes Back continues the first film's epic storytelling and phenomenal music while continuing to follow the same lovable characters while introducing more, which gave way for the film to be as well-received as the first film.