Think, Geeks! The Nerdiest Science Fiction Movies Ever
In ‘The Martian,’ Matt Damon plays the galaxy’s toughest nerd, an astronaut who must survive being stranded on Mars with only scientific knowledge to guide him. Sci-fi has always been a geeky genre, but some movies are nerdier than others. These movies reign supreme on the Geek-o-Meter.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
One of the most famous “hard” science fiction movies ever made, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ asks you to do the nerdiest thing ever while you watch it -- think! There are no easy answers in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece about space travel and aliens and evil computers. You engage with it, keep up with it, and fill in all of the intentional blanks yourself. It’s the best kind of homework.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
When ‘Star Trek ‘was rebooted in 2009, the new movie made sure it was an exciting, action-packed adventure suitable for all kinds of audiences. In other words, it couldn’t have been more different than ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture.’ Big on ideas and light on action, this is the thinking person’s ‘Star Trek’ movie. It’s a movie made for hard-core Trekkies, first and foremost. People who can talk at length about the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space. You know who you are.
‘TRON’ is one of the nerdiest movies ever made for two reasons. First off, this is a movie about a guy who gets sucked into a computer and must survive a life-and-death video game world. That’s already got to tickle the center of your nerd brain. Second, TRON is filled with early CGI and computer effects that were nonexistent at the time. Actual geniuses rolled up their sleeves and created new technology to make it!
The Fly (1986)
We’ve seen all kinds of mad scientists on movie screens, but few have been as human and relatable as Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle. We like him because he’s not a cackling megalomaniac -- he’s an enthusiastic dork, a whip-smart, charming megageek excited by his new teleportation technology. Sure, things go horribly wrong for him, but this remains one of the best cinematic depictions of a nerdy character. He’s not a stereotype. He’s just like you. Just much smarter. And far more doomed.
There are a ton of science fiction movies about humans making contact with aliens, but ‘Contact’ is obsessed with the real-world ramifications of such an event. It puts you on the ground with scientists and ministers and politicians. It delves deep into existing science to explain how we could actually contact extraterrestrial life. At the center of it all is Jodie Foster’s plucky communications expert, the perfect stand-in for every geek who has ever dreamed of traveling beyond the stars.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
The high-concept premise of ‘Galaxy Quest’ is ingenious. What if aliens saw a long-canceled ‘Star Trek’-esque show, mistook the actors for actual space explorers, and recruited them in their war against a monstrous villain? Aside from being a funny and clever adventure, the film is a delightful ode to geek culture, where obsessive fans who know waaay too much about their favorite show end up saving the day. So keep those ‘Enterprise’ schematics on hand, ladies and gentlemen. They may help you save the world.
The Matrix (1999)
‘The Matrix’ may have been a huge hit, but it did so while being the obvious work of huge nerds. It’s a postapocalyptic robot-uprising movie. It’s a kung fu fighting action flick. It’s a philosophical debate. It’s pretty much a live-action anime. Few films sum up nerd culture so well, touching on so many niche genres and delving into so many tricky concepts. If the movie wasn’t so dang cool, you’d want to push it into its locker.
When it came time to make ‘Interstellar’ realistic, director Christopher Nolan pulled no punches. Working with renowned experts across several fields, he did everything in his power to make this one of the most accurate space-travel movies ever made. When it came time to create things the human eye has never seen (like black holes), Nolan and his team based their work on actual scientific theories. There’s a reason Interstellar looks so different from most movies like it -- this one is close to the actual thing!