Spaceships are probably the nerdiest aspect of any fan boy’s repertoire and knowledge. I’m not one of those nerds who take pride in owning Millennium Falcon blueprints because unless I can board it, what’s the point of owning it? Even with Harrison Ford, George Lucas, and Chewbacca’s signatures, owning a blueprint of a fictitious ship is just above and beyond nerdy and pointless. But in honor of the slew of upcoming science fiction films storming theaters like “Skyline,” and “Battle: Los Angeles,” and the foreign import “Monsters,” and “Super 8,” (and whatever crap Eli Roth is planning with his alien movie) extra-terrestrials and spaceships are slowly becoming all the rage.
So we thought we’d cash in our final chances with a living breathing woman and list our ten favorite movie spaceships in order. If we’re never going to touch breasts again, we might as well be anal about it, right? Spaceships can be just as much a character as their alien pilots, and ninety percent of the time they’re even more complex characters than the denizens within them. Sometimes they’re beacons, sometimes ratty old rust buckets, and other times they can signal ultimate annihilation for a populace consisting of forty million city goers.
Alien “Attacker” Ships
On the plus side, science fiction foes can also be housed in big fancy lookin’ monstrosities where they can be the size of small moons without collapsing the planet in on itself, can shoot fire from their bellies blowing up major US landmarks for no apparent reason, engage in one on one dog fights with the Fresh Prince and a piano player, and be brought down by a simple firewall from a MAC Laptop by the Fly! Hey, just because they say they’re a higher intelligence, it doesn’t mean they’re being honest about it. Sometimes they may just be over compensating.
10. The Death Star
(STAR WARS Trilogy)
The Death Star is a star. Of Death. A space station that looks like a star, or is the size of a star, but is also built to bring death to every planet in firing range. I think that’s the basic premise for the plans of the Death Star, but in either case it’s one of the most iconic plot devices and deus ex machinas of the original trilogy that is able to end whole worlds in a single blast but can be brought down by shooting a single laser down a port hole that leads in to the central nervous system of the entire station. That tomfoolery aside, the Death Star is a massive weapon that is the central theme for all three Star Wars movies and is the key ingredient to total galactic domination from the emperor who uses Vader to demonstrate its power by snuffing out an entire world before Leia’s eyes eliminating her entire family in a mere minute. The Death Star is the primary ace in the hole for Palpatine thus it’s something he is constantly intent on building throughout the trilogy, in spite of the fact a single laser can bring it to its knees. Just because something has a small flaw, doesn’t mean you stop using it, right?
(THE LAST STARFIGHTER)
Hell in the history of post-Star Wars rip-offs that tried for the same success of the original movies from Lucas, “The Last Starfighter” comes very close to achieving levels of magic and excitement. Possessing the same premise of a sorts, “The Last Starfighter” has a small farm boy living among his own kind dreaming of something bigger who secretly has the skills and is recruited thanks to fate by a mysterious mentor who trains him to become the last hope for the galaxy. We also learn arcades of their time were the recruitment tools for intergalactic armies.
For an admittedly obscure science fiction fantasy flick, the GunStar is one of the more underrated vessels of the science fiction genre. Possessing one of the best ship designs of its king, the Gunstar is a fantastic ship that is capable of taking down many enemies with its gunfire and panning gun stations capable of knocking enemies out of the skies. It also provides its fighters with a full view of the black with their own dome and it has with it one of the greatest last resorts: The Death Blossom! When all else fails the pilot will hit a button that will completely revolve the entire ship in multiple directions shooting lasers in every single angle and view imaginable at a rapid fire pace bringing down anything in their paths and giving the enemy one hell of a bad headache. It’s one of the most entertaining devices in a fantasy film and the Gunstar earns a spot on the list because if the Death Blossom.
8. Star Destroyer
(STAR WARS TRILOGY)
While many Wars fans are big advocates of the Death Star’s grandiose appearance and threat to the galaxy, the Imperial Star Destroyer is the most important element in the “Star Wars” trilogy. The opening shot of its nose descending in to the picture revealing a vast juggernaut of unstoppable force became a standard for genre space epics, and was mimicked for decades. Beyond that it’s one of the key moments in the story where the droids are discovered, Princess Leia is captured and stunned, and Darth Vader makes his entrance aboard the rebel ship strangling soldiers, striding about like the cock of the walk, and making it clear he’ll do whatever he can to please his master. Armed with a Tie Squadron, turbolasors, and two shuttles, this is a man made force to be reckoned with from the empire that is one of Palpatine’s primary aces.
7. U.S.S. Sulaco
The USS Sulaco is the Conestoga class ship that transported the United States Colonial Marines to investigate the lost communication with the colony in “Aliens,” and is a key element to Cameron’s science fiction actioner and the primary plot point to exploring the Marines and their individual personalities. Here is where we not only get to re-unite with Ellen Ripley and re-form our bond with her and her tribulations, but we’re given some great moments of characterization involving the Marines and their rough and tumble rituals that bond them closely. Armed to the teeth with missiles, and Cheyenne utility droids, this is practically a character of its own.
6. Rebel X-Wing Fighter
(STAR WARS TRILOGY)
Becoming one of the most iconic plot elements of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, the X-Wing is a dynamic fighter ship for the rebellion that is shaped like a normal fighter and then spreads its wings before combat to form four blasters which provide extra fire power for the pilot and it looks ultra-bad-ass when storming down the skies. The X-Wing is one of the most popular parts of the original trilogy save for the Millennium Falcon, and it’s a beautiful and deadly force to be reckoned with with the right pilot behind it. The basic fighter jet for Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, and the rebel alliance, the X-Wing is the more rugged battle machine of the trilogy playing an important role in the destruction of the original Death Star, the final raid on the second Death Star, and Luke honing his abilities of the force in front of Yoda. More X-Wing action was added in the much hyped re-release from Lucas that showed the rebel alliance swarming in on the Death Star. We’re talking about the first re-release… not the second re-release or third re-release… the one in the nineties with the Doritos tie-in.
5. The Great Devil’s Tower Mother Ship
The bowels of the mother ship in “Close Encounters” were something of a grand mystery until Spielberg got the wild idea to re-cut the entire movie and let us in a little closer to what was inside the mother ship. Before that though, the belly of the magnificent mother ship that appears before the Devil’s Tower is something of a beautiful glorious anomaly. It’s frightening but awe inspiring, heavenly but something made of science, spiritual but ominous, and a clear cut hand made mechanism but something of a magical world where time is capable of standing still. Its residents are aliens but when they emerge from the ship they’re indeed angelic, and while they do bring peace in some strange form, they are quite horrifying to behold.
From the small aliens to the long thing ones who walk on all fours they are a superior form of beings who have come to Earth for reasons we’re never quite sure of. Maybe they hold the answer to life and death, maybe they want to share their secrets, or maybe they’re simply docile scientists from another planet who want to learn about us as we do them. In either case, the mother ship is a gorgeous spectacle of light and sound and one that musters up some of the most exciting sequences in a Spielberg film. I enjoy Spielberg’s explanation that perhaps “Close Encounters” was a prequel to ET. What if the alien mother ship that landed also sent out other ships and accidentally left behind the small alien who wanted to phone home. Imagine the possibilities for a fan fiction there.
4. Millennium Falcon
(STAR WARS TRILOGY)
It’s the Millennium Falcon. As a movie geek and fan boy, it’s a requisite that I mention Star Wars every chance I get. Plus, in spite of what you think of the movies themselves, the Millennium Falcon is a supreme spaceship of the galaxy and one run by a bad ass named Han and his buddy Chewie. The original Firefly ship in many ways, the Millennium Falcon is a ship fit for hoarding cargo and shipments and not so much battle, even though it can still outlast many space wars. And that’s because of the folks piloting it.
It was originally won by pirate Han Solo from Lando Calrissian after a bet that aided him in many journeys across the stars delivering cargo and dodging the threats and laser blasts of everyone from Jabba, to Boba Fett, to storm troopers to bounty hunters, assassins, sith lords and giant monsters. Filled with hidden compartments, a ramp, two gun stations, and a break room, the Millennium Falcon can make the kessle run in 12 parsecs. Or so we’ve heard. The last movie audiences saw of it, it narrowly avoided the implosion of the second Death Star piloted by Lando and a new crew. I really have no idea what happened to it in the extended universe, but the Millennium Falcon is likely still outlasting many interstellar threats.
3. Discovery One
(2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY)
The Discovery One is not just a space ship, but one of the most important characters in science fiction cinema and presents within it one of the most imposing science fiction menaces to ever be conceived by one man. Both a declaration of the dangers of the advancement of technology, and what happens when artificial intelligence has decided to stop and think for themselves decrying its human hosts as expendables and carrying out its mission.
This is the basis for the final half of “2001” where main computer HAL 2000 decides to revolt against its human hosts and take control of the Jupiter mission engaging in a battle of survival of the fittest, putting in motion natural selection in a series of crafty moves that decide the fate of this mission. It can read lips, deprive its hosts of oxygen, put them to sleep and whatever else necessary that can help it succeed with its initiative, and in the final half of this battle we see man bring down technology as it rapidly devolves in to a blithering technological mess setting the stages for Dave’s final descent in to a higher realm beyond mere mortality. The Discovery One is symbolic of the evolution of humanity, and the fight for control in the galaxy and one of the more iconic symbols of the genre.
2. The Satellite of Love
(MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE)
Just repeat to yourself it’s just a list, you should really just relax. Yes, I know the Satellite of Love is not a movie space, technically, but Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a movie at one point, so it counts. It counts, in our book. In either case the Satellite of Love is a peculiar space ship and one void of any form of logic. And that’s why the fans love it. It has a long hall with three doors that lead in to a movie theater… for some reason… it has a teleporter that’s never used.
A bunch of robots that really do nothing to help their human hosts get out of this kidnapping from the evil Pearl, and there’s not really any food or source of water and air. Not to mention they all have their selection of props and tools they use to demonstrate the absurdity and idiocy of a movie they’re all being forced to see, and ninety nine percent of the time it’s quite hilarious. But you figure if they could gather the props for the mocking, they could get out of this–oh who am I kidding? It’s the Satellite of Love, don’t over think it.
For this design, Joss Whedon and co. sidestepped any futuristic decor that would make the ship feel sterile and cold to the touch and instead opted for a very amusing and charming lived in look. Serenity is a Firefly vessel named after war veteran Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburn’s confrontation in the historic ill-fated battle at Serenity Valley, a constant reminder of his past demons and how much he hates the alliance. And it’s one that often resembles the bowels of a boat with a brown tint and rust that often provide a lived in a homey atmosphere that offers home, shelter, and safety for the ragtag group led by Malcolm Reynolds.
That includes a mess hall, bunks, and medical ward, and often too many people to count at one time. The ship is one part a boat, one part a horse and carriage, one part a train, one part a living being with a heart and a soul, and one part a home that many of the crew could not imagine being without. Even when Inara left it in “Serenity” she found herself missing the ship, and Shepherd Book also seemed very drawn to it when he first met Kaylee. It’s a ship destined to be traveling the galaxy, and it’s by the hands of its captain Malcolm Reynolds who holds such a deep searing passion for it that he is more than willing to die inside of it.
“Serenity” never offered up a real closer to the romance of Mal and Inara because there’s a good chance Mal is married to Serenity, and may never find a lover more suitable, even with the woman he’s meant to be with. Serenity classcode 03-K64 is a ship always on the verge of falling apart, with a core engine that seems to be constructed with rubber bands, screws, and wads of chewed up gum, but it stays up because of the love inside of it and while it may never win a beauty contest, it’s still home at the end of the day to its roughneck crew of malcontents, and thugs.