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July 12, 2011

The Mike's Top 10 Favorite Spacemen and Spacewomen

Last week, NASA launched the last space shuttle they will ever launch.  I don't know about you, but that ticks me off.  I mean, who DIDN'T want to travel across outerspace when they grow up?  I know I did.  Now, I know that NASA plans to work on new ways to send people further into space, but doesn't it kinda chafe your bum that we haven't been there yet?

Thankfully, a lot of cool people have been to space on the big and small screens.  And thankfully, I can share ten of my favorites here.  So, let's hit it.

Oh. And - just to be difficult - I've decided not to include anyone from any movie or show whose title starts with STAR. (Sorry Chewbacca!)

10. Jason Voorhees - Jason X
(Played by Kane Hodder, 2001.)
After a near decade of skewering camp counselors, silly kids, mental patients, and New Yorkers - plus a shape-shifting trip to Hell - it was about time that the masked Mr. Voorhees got some rest.  But after about 500 years of rest, his old rage is back and he's got a cast of goofy space folks to dispose of.

Written by Drive Angry scribe Todd Farmer, Jason X is a huge departure from the rest of Jason's adventures - but I have to admit I kind of love its awful dose of cheese.  And, considering the likes of Alien were basically slasher movies in space...why not send the most well known slasher of the '80s into orbit? Makes sense to me.

9. Sgt. Pinback - Dark Star
(Played by Dan O'Bannon, 1974.)
Speaking of Alien, one of the men behind the classic film once gave a fun performance while battling another loosed alien menace.  Maybe he didn't have a H.R. Giger designed creature - and maybe he was actually wrestling with a beach ball with feet - but O'Bannon still managed to fight off a space demon.

Moreover, O'Bannon - who co-wrote the film with his classmate John Carpenter - offers some of the film's funnier non-bomb related moments.  Most enjoyable are the scenes in which he rants into his diary, showing a natural bit of charisma and the passion for sci-fi that would define his career.  Although O'Bannon and Carpenter went through what my mother would call "a falling out" after the film was released, it's safe to say that their one collaboration is nothing if not memorable.

8. Tom Servo - Mystery Science Theater 3000
(Played by Kevin Murphy, 1988-1999.)
I probably could have picked anyone from The Satellite of Love - except Joel, who annoys me - but there's something about Tom Servo and his gumball machine shaped head.  Plus, Tom Servo was the only of the group to make it through every episode of the series, so perhaps I'm rewarding him for his longevity.

And yes, I know a robot isn't necessarily a spaceman or a spacewoman. But it's my list, so laugh at the gumball bot.

7. Barbarella - Barbarella
(Played by Jane Fonda, 1968.)
Barbarella is one of those movies that is just kind of entrancing.  While a lot of the intrigue comes from the intergalactic scenery and the wacky adventures of all characters....a lot of the charm comes from Jane Fonda at zero gravity, too.

Aside from her looks, Fonda also manages to make the title character interesting with her willingness to be totally innocent in the role.  Well, it's either innocent or vapid.  Some days I'm not sure.  But she's awesome at whichever it is.

6. Korben Dallas - The Fifth Element
(Played by Bruce Willis, 1997.)
My life would not be complete without Bruce Willis movies, and this list would not be complete without The Fifth Element. I still recall being a teenager who had next to no interest in seeing this film in the theater - I only went because it seemed more interesting than Jurassic Park 2 - but it's become one of my favorite sci-fi blockbusters over the past 14 years.

Though the likes of Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, and (yep, I'm gonna say it) Chris Tucker steal most scenes in the film, Willis' cab driver turned hero in goofy clothes and with bleached blonde hair is the film's center - and he brings his a-game.  It might not be as good as Die Hard or as snarky as The Last Boy Scout - but those movies aren't in space now, are they?

5. Ellen Ripley - The Alien Series
(Played by Sigourney Weaver, 1979-1997.)
Sometimes you don't really have to defend the things you say.  Like when you say "Man, that Hitler guy was a dunce" or when you say "Grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty amazing".  And, after years upon years of loving the Alien films, I'm pretty sure that the phrase "Ellen Ripley is one of the all-time greats" falls into that category.

I suppose if I had to defend myself I could mention that I'm quite fond of Ripley's resolve.  Everyone lauds her for how aggressive she became in the second film, but even before that it was easy to see that this was a character who would stand for what's right and what needs to be done...and I dig that.  Good for you, Ms. Ripley.  May you never face an Alien menace again.

Oh, and bonus points for the cat love.

4. Captain Malcolm Reynolds - Firefly/Serenity
(Played by Nathan Fillion, 2002-2005.)
If only Fillion really got to play Reynolds for a full three years. He might be higher up this list.  Alas, the short reign of the Captain and the Browncoats left much to be desired.  None of that's his fault, of course...but it makes me sad enough to not risk ranking him higher.

I know it's become cliche and kinda uncool to be a browncoat, but I stand by the Captain still.  Reynolds nearly single-handedly got me interested in sci-fi and western cinema in a way I didn't expect...and he did so with a mix of compassion and brutality that made him the perfect hero on the edge of the 'verse.  I can dig it.

3. Stella Star - The Adventures of Stella Star (aka: Starcrash)
(Played by Caroline Munro, 1978.)
Because she's Caroline Munro.

2. Flash Gordon - Flash Gordon
(Played by Sam J. Jones, 1980)
The top two on our list are basically the two greatest dudes ever created on screen that aren't named Plissken or Balboa.  And it was near impossible for me to pick which belonged at #2 and which belonged at #1.  Alas, it was Gordon that checked in at #2, partially because he didn't play for the Packers and partially because he can be kind of a doofus at times.

Those minor flaws aside, I think it's safe to say that there are few heroes who are more heroic than Flash Gordon.  With his blonde locks and his too small t-shirt, Flash manges to woo both an intelligent New York woman and a space princess.  He manages to overthrow a Merciless villain, and befriends a future Bond...and he does it all in such style.  Why isn't he Number 1 again? Perhaps it's because Brian Blessed needs some of the spotlight too.
1a & 1b. Buck Rogers & Wilma Deering - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
(Played by Gil Gerard & Erin Gray, 1979-1981.)
While I intended to have Buck Rogers atop this list a few minutes ago, I decided that just wasn't right.  That quote about every good man and a good woman is always fun, and Wilma Deering needs to be represented here.  After all, she kinda kept Buck in check, didn't she?  

That said, Buck Rogers is kinda the ultimate dude.  He fights, he befriends robots, he has ridiculously cool hair - he does it all.  I mean, he got lost in time - but he still came out on the other side as a hero.  In fact, considering their similar fates, I think it's only fitting that someone out there needs to make Buck Rogers vs. Jason X.

And with Wilma on Buck's side, there's no way Jason stands a chance.


Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

Kudos for Captain Mal Reynolds! Oh what might have been if Firefly had gotten a real chance. All the characters were endearing and engaging, there was humor, there was drama, there was action, there were horses and laser guns in the same scene (okay maybe not, but there could have been eventually). And Nathan Fillion played the lead role to a T - I loved him before and I loved him even more after seeing him in such episodes as "Out of Gas" and "War Stories."

R.D. Penning said...

OH WHAT A LIST MIKE!!! Firefly is in my top 5 favorite tv shows of all time! I only have one complaint though... why Tom Servo? Crow was the man...errr... robot!

Jinx said...

I love this post! Everything's better in space. I adored it all; Jason X, Ripley being awesome, our goddess Caroline Munro being impossibly gorgeous and you gave Brian Blessed a deserved shout out! Made my day!