25 best space movies ever

To infinity and beyond! We've rounded up the greatest space movies of all time

Aliens (1986)

A war raged in the Stuff offices, with Ridley Scott's original 1979 space horror going head to head with James Cameron's action-packed thrillathon for a place in this list. Pulse rifles finally won out over breakfast-related chest bursting, with the majority of the team preferring the faster-paced sequel.

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Memorable for so many things – the ape intro, creepy HAL the computer, the iconic design themes… If you haven't already seen Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, please do so now.

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Moon (2009)

You might think it would be dull watching a movie about a guy working alone on the moon, with no direct communication with Earth. You'd be dead wrong.

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When Worlds Collide (1951)

Another planet is on a collision course with Earth, but the stupid Earthlings don't believe they're doomed. With investment from a decrepit millionaire, a group of scientists build a space ship to escape before the world's collide. Looks surprisingly good for its age.

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Apollo 13 (1995)

"Houston, we have a problem." Who knew that one of the most incredible real-life dramas of the 20th century would be brought so successfully to our screens by freckly friend of Fonzie, Richie Cunningham? Ron Howard directs an entire cast that doesn't put a collective foot wrong in telling the story of NASA's second-most-famous space mission.

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Barbarella (1968)

Not just Jane Fonda prancing around doing a naked zero-G workout (although a whole generation only watched it for that bit – you know who you are). Psychedelic and sexual, as you might expect from a film inspired by a French comic.

The Fifth Element (1997)

Super-saturated colours and designer outfits made this an instant classic. Chris Tucker's motor-mouthing and Milla Jovovich's alien twittering soundtrack a quirkier-than-usual Bruce Willis action-fest.

WALL-E (2008)

Despite many people moaning that the first half is better than the space-bound second, there are moments of genius scattered from start to finish in this animated tale of robot romance.

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Total Recall (1990)

Quade goes to take a virtual trip, hiring a company to inject false memories of a holiday into his brain (presumably so he can save his holiday allowance for watching Oprah and getting his nails done). But of course it all goes wrong and he may not be who he thought he was. Cue Arnie breaking heads, tripping off to Mars to confront a conspiracy and meeting some weird peeps along the way.

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Star Trek (2009)

It takes a brave man to take on one of the world's most revered franchises and give it a reboot. That man was JJ Abrams, creator of Lost – and y'know what? He did a good job. A decent young cast, including Heroes villain Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as Bones, combine well with some great special effects and plenty of action to make the best of a lacklustre storyline.

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Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

"I am your father", etc. You all know it. It's the best of the three, although some prefer the "origin" theme of A New Hope. None prefer Return of the Jedi.

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Outland (1981)

On a remote space mining colony, policeman Sean Connery investigates a series of deaths before uncovering a secret that could get him killed. Feels much like a western, with the lone sheriff outcast in a corrupt town. Except it's in space, of course.

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More after the break...

Starship Troopers (1997)

Not the faithful screen adaptation of Robert Heinlein's classic that many fans hoped for, but Paul Verhoeven brought some of the satire promised by his earlier hit, RoboCop, and wrapped it in the style of Nazi propaganda. Quite utterly brilliant in parts.

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Pitch Black (2000)

Try to scrub any memories of the uber-terrible sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and remember this fondly as a tense horror with a magnificent turn from Vin Diesel. The great supporting cast includes Tom Berenger lookalike Cole Hauser and ex-Neighbours star Radha Mitchell.

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The Right Stuff (1983)

The legendary pilots who formed the US space program are immortalised here by a stellar cast with square jaws and gruff voices. They had the right stuff, and luckily so did the makers of this movie.

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Avatar (2009)

Once you get past the silly plot and James Cameron's awful dialogue, this is a triumph, heralding a new age of 3D and believable computer-generated characters.

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Forbidden Planet (1956)

This sci-fi re-imagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest deserves to be remembered for far more than Leslie Nielsen playing it straight and a star turn from Robbie The Robot. An all-time great.

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The Last Starfighter (1984)

Greetings, Starfighter. It must be tough recruiting an ace pilot to take on Xur and the Ko-Dan armada – that's why the Star League cunningly planted arcade machines around the universe, in the hope that a hero would complete the game and jump into space for a taste of the real thing. That hero is whiney trailer-trash, Alex Rogan. Wonderfully cheesy.

Dark Star (1974)

Possibly the strangest premise ever for a sci-fi movie: a crew of planet demolitionists, with a dead captain who can be awoken from deep freeze to offer advice, is struggling with one of their bombs becoming sentient and thinking it's God. Oh, and there's an alien that looks suspiciously like a beach ball.

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Serenity (2005)

When 2002 series Firefly ended after a single season, there was outrage from sci-fi fans only just picking up on the show's colourful characters and intriguing running plot. Creator Joss Whedon brought back the original cast for a movie that condenses the central story and ties up some loose strings.

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Dune (1984)

Frank Herbert's trippy epic was brought to the big screen by the equally trippy David Lynch. Giant sand worms, wars over spice, an appearance by Sting, and one very scary little girl make this memorable, even if the special effects look horribly dated.

Silent Running (1972)

Another tale of a spaceship with a crew of one – is this an indication of staffing levels in the future? Bruce Dern plays the lone spaceman with three robot shipmates and a conscience about the destruction of plantlife.

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Event Horizon (1997)

Not since Aliens had a space horror made so many people jump. Sure, it's naff in places, but it's just disturbing enough to be watchable (or should that be "unwatchable"?).

Destination Moon (1950)

Like When Worlds Collide, this is a fairly sober tale of space travel for the '50s – not a flying saucer or rubbery alien in sight.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

"Khaaaaaan!" Ricardo Montalban reprises a role from the original series, looking for revenge over Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. Surely William Shatner's finest hour, and easily the best of the Star Trek series. Who will ever forget Spock and Kirk's exchange: "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few... or the one"?

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Honourable mentions go: Alien (1979), Enemy Mine (1985), Spaceballs (1987), Sunshine (2007), the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy, The Black Hole (1979), Galaxy Quest (1999), This Island Earth (1955)

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