The Heap’s Guide to the 2010 Girl Scout Cookies

As spring approaches, as the days get longer, and as motivation increases to end any sort of winter (and holiday feast) induced comas, the last h00rah before many Americans will commence beach body bootcamp is the annual sale of Girl Scout Cookies!

This year in our region, the Girl Scouts offer YOU 8 unique ways to satisfy even the most picky and specific sweets cravings. Will you indulge your taste buds with chocolate, peanut butter, or a mixture of the two? Perhaps your palette desires a more fruity taste?

Are you fretting because you don’t know which to choose? Well don’t you worry. Here at The Heap, we’ve already tasted devoured all of the cookies sold by local scouts, and we offer you The Heap’s own ranking and guide to help you decide!

Number 8: Lemon Chalet Creme

I was a bit disappointed with these. Normally, I like tarty sweets, and just lemon flavor in general, but the slight cinnamon and tart lemon led to an odd texture and taste. You have to appreciate the “artwork” on the cookie. Perhaps this slightly justifies the $3.50 price tag per box… Anyway, if you are a fan of tart sweets and can handle the slight nip of cinnamon mixing together, then you might enjoy these!

The Heap awards: The Honesty Badge. No lies here. There’s lemon creme, and there’s a damn chalet. Even if it is a chalet for ants!

Number 7: Thin Mints

As classic as these cookies are, The Heap has just never really been a fan of anything edible that is mint flavored. While they aren’t a favorable match for The Heap, they are usually the overwhelming favorite of purchasers across the country. The popularity of Thin Mints has even landed these delicacies lucrative contracts with various ice creme makers incorporating them into their lines. Heck, even Dairy Queen has stepped up to make Thin Mint Blizzards! If you have a taste for all that is minty, grab a box! They bring the most cookies for your 3.50!

The Heap awards: The Celebrity Status Badge. You know you’ve made it as a Girl Scout Cookie when Dairy Queen offers you as a blizzard flavor and you get your own cameo in a Gym Class Heroes song. (See: Gym Class Heroes – Cookie Jar)

Number 6: Thank You Berry Munch

A new edition for the 2010 Girl Scout Cookie Season, Berry Munch offers a cranberry infusion into the traditional tastes of your average midnight snack. The cookies claim to be made with “premium cranberries.” I wouldn’t expect less. Also, throw in some white chocolate chips and you have a one of a kind treat. Well done, Girl Scouts. What will they come up with next?

The Heap awards: The Turbopun Badge. No, these aren’t your normal Keebler Elf puns. It seems that the girl scouts in the marketing department really got the creative juices flowing on this one. Another tagline, “More berries than your body has room for!” (Please refer to the epic Powerthirst 1 and Powerthirst 2 videos)

Number 5: Dulce de Leche

Named after the Latin dessert of identical namesake, these artificially flavored cookies manage to uphold the pride of the real thing. The milk-caramel blend results in a tasty texture and will adequately satisfy cravings for anything well, caramel or milky! These go well with, surprise surprise, milk, and even coffee. Also, instead of being pre-packaged in a roll or crate, it’s just a bag of cookies!

The Heap awards: The Best Real Food Impersonation Badge. While these cookies will suffice for a short amount of time, let’s not get carried away. Your neighborhood friendly Hispanic mother will slap you silly if you prefer these to any of her own baked goods!

Number 4: Trefoils

Another classic cookie, the recipe for the Trefoil’s success is simple. No fancy, fruity or exotic flavorings needed here- just the sheer melt in your mouth texture of Buttermilk! Superb texture, satisfactory size, and perhaps the most recognizable cookie behind the Thin Mint. These have been giving Lorna Doone’s a run for their money… at least for the first few months of the year.

The Heap awards: The Comic Book Villian Badge. Trefoils are the preferred cookie of Hollywood stars Tommy Lee Jones and Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight. No joke.

Number 3: Samoas

Now we are starting to get to some of the heavy hitters of the Girl Scout Cookie world. The top 3 were hard to separate from each other, but alas, it had to be done. I wait for Samoas yearly. They are simply put, delicious. The chocolate and coconut peels hugging the caramel dipped cookie are again, another unique entity for the Girl Scouts. Possibly imitated, but never equaled. Stock up while you can!

The Heap awards: The Best Representation of and Ethnic Group Badge. Samoans are typically big and round. They also live in coconut rich areas. Very huggable. Just like how the chocolate hugs the cookie. Well played Girl Scouts.

Number 2: Tagalongs

Chocolate and Peanut butter. Need I say more? While I know that this combination disturbs a few of the anonymous posters out there, there is nothing like the mixture of chocolate and peanut butter to flavor anything. The peanut butter is creamy and mixes well with easily melting chocolate dipped cookie! Try refrigerating these to harden the chocolate and peanut butter so it melts in your mouth!

The Heap awards: The Friendship Badge. Even the name of this cookie suggests that you have them with you at all times. And with how delicious they are, you won’t have a problem asking a pack or two to tag along with you!

Number 1: Do-si-Dos

It was a toss up in between Tagalongs and Do-si-dos, but the oatmeal/peanut butter fusion came out on top for The Heap. You can’t beat not just one already good cookie, but two pasted together by peanut butter! Regrettably, these also bring the least, but at least the double cookie action makes up for this. Peanut butter lovers MUST get their hands on these!

The Heap awards: The Best Hoedown Drunken Dance Move Badge: If you’ve ever locked arms with an unsuspecting dance partner and swung them and yourself around as enthusiastically as possible, or have ever sworn that Do-si-do should be a component of The Casper Slide, then this is the cookie for you.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Heap Presents: The Top 10 Ways to Know You Are On a Flight To/From Latin America

I have just returned from my lovely across the state trek to the Orlando airport to pick up my grandfather who was flying in from Puerto Rico. This list came to mind when we first dropped him off a few days ago, when we had to check him in and watch him ride off into the security line on his wheelchair. It has been a long time since I have gone to PR myself, and I have not been able to adequately enjoy these traits of Latin flights. So, here it is, the top 10 clues that you are on a flight from a Latin country.

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10. The parking lot is full at “off-peak” hours. This also includes making the “Arrivals” waiting/pick up area a parking lot. We all know we don’t follow directions to well- especially if it has to do with driving. Most flights going to or coming from destinations of Latin nature are either very, very early, or very, very late. So if you are wondering why the airport is full at that time, it’s because a caravan of people came to see off / pick up a loved one. This is explained in great detail at #2.

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9. There are no formal lines, just hoards of people waiting to be called on. If you arrive at the counter/ security area and all you see is a disorganized mob, chances are you are going to/leaving a Latin destination. We are practical people. Lines limit space. The Heap’s advice is to keep pressing forward and shuffle your feet. Don’t be alarmed if you bump into someone or you are bumped into. This is part of the process.

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8. All you hear is Spanish. Duh. What use is English? Chances are even the employees are going to be native speakers and will have just basic English skills. Plus, we like to speak Spanish in English speaking places, because we can!

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7. People are either overdressed or under dressed. This is quite noticeable. Most people of Latin decent tend to overdress for flights, treating it as some semi formal occasion. The amount of preparation that goes into traveling day is unprecedented. So if you notice people heading back to their country, there’s a good chance they will be dressed nicely. Then of course you have the other extreme, which include (but not limited to): sleeveless T-shirts, Underarmor, ridiculously thuggish clothes, curve accentuating tops and bottoms, lots of bling

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6. You see card board boxes being checked or retrieved from baggage claim. I feel that this is perhaps the second most telling clue that you are flying to/from Latin America. It is a familial duty to bring back all sorts of goodies from the Motherland. And since we love to over pack our suitcases, there is no room to bring them back, though some of the more advanced/considerate travelers set aside a suitcase specific to this purpose. Goods in the boxes include (but again, not limited to): Native pastries, native plants, gifts, something that has to be frozen/refrigerated, fresh cuts of meat/fish, livestock. (Honorable Mention: Pretty much every suitcase is over the allotted weight limit!)

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5. Greenery and exotic fruits are carried on. The subconscious planter in the depths of the Latin “id” comes to life when one returns to the Motherland. Thus, plants and fruits not available back home MUST be brought back home in order to attempt to grow them in your back yard, or to give them as gifts to someone who can. I can hear it now: “Please be careful when opening overhead compartments because bags and plant stems may have shifted.”

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4. It is really, really loud. Oh, you can’t escape it. In the aforementioned “line” people will be babbling in what may seem to the English speaker as tongues. Think your red-eye flight will be a nice time to catch some Z’s while the plane crosses the Caribbean? Guess again. There is a strong possibility that people will talk LOUDLY. If you are lucky enough to have your fellow passengers calm it down, then there will most certainly be a crying infant. And if you manage to avoid that, then there will be loud, obnoxious snoring from somewhere. Latin men and women are sound sleepers and loud snorers. Investment in Bose headphones is a must.

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3. Your flight is running late. Due to weather? Probably not. Forecast calls for clear skies and a strong contingent of stragglers. Possible reasons: Diaper changes and rounding up the family, having a three course meal, buying stuff at the duty free shop, leaving the house just 15 minutes before (and then packing), drinking at the bar, having to recover from the security strip search because of not following directions and/or putting back on all that bling. And lastly, if your pilots are Latin, they will be fashionably late too.

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2. The whole family is there to pick people up. Back before life was heavily Americanized, thus increasing the amount people fly for vacations, business, or for no reason at all, there was a time where traveling was almost a ritualistic rite of passage (which explains the need to dress up). The entire family comes to welcome back the loved one, and if you’re lucky, there might be a band of tribal drums there! (True Story: At TIA, Airside F is where the American Airlines San Juan flight comes in. Coincidently, it’s the only airside that has a roped off section with signs that tell the waiting parties to stay behind the barrier…)

1. Passengers clap and cheer when the plane lands. This is the most distinguished clue that you are on a Latin flight. As the plane makes its final approach, one can feel a unique tension build. This might be the only time that you experience quiet. The runway comes into view, the rear wheels touch, the front wheel touches, and a nice deceleration ensues. And then, at the first moment of assured safety, applause emerges from the silence, even some cheers and songs. Try this on your next flight on the US mainland. It doesn’t work quite as well…

So there you have it. Make sure to be looking for this the next time you fly! And feel free to leave comments with your favorite traits!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The heap Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (1)

We finally made it to number one, heapsters. It took waaay too long, and I have to apologize for the delay. Work has been killer, and I’ve had no time to write anything! But yes, the number 1 movie is here, and well, it was to be expected I feel. I’m sure after I dropped ET at number 2, there was only one logical choice for the number 1 slot.

1. Star Wars: Episodes IV – VI (1977, 1980, 1983)

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It had to be the Star Wars franchise. You see, I really feel that prior to the Star Wars phenomenon, Sci Fi was almost seen as “indie” type of deal. Sure it was popular, but it never really was part of mainstream society or a prominent part of pop culture until the release of Star Wars. From then on, Sci Fi was “cool” and really, you can’t find to many movies released that don’t have some form of sci fi element in them presently. Star Wars continues to be such an instrumental part of the lives of many people today. Toys, books, and video games have been inspired by George Lucas’ fictional galaxy. Star Wars captivates to audiences imagination from the beginning, as each film begins with the spine-tingling line, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Then it is always followed by the defining scrolling yellow text providing the backdrop of the story. But of course the most endearing part of Star Wars is it’s story and its application to real life. It’s much more than the battle between good and evil. It’s the revolution against tyrannical and fear based reign. It’s the reemergence of the “old religion” in a hopeless world (Thus episode IV being called “A New Hope”). The Force is much more than organized religion. It’s the interweaving of all beings… a positive force which contrasts the suffocating enveloping power of the dark side. Episodes I-III, while not as good as the originals, do explain the nature of the Jedi as a vocational calling, much like a religious beckoning. The parallels between Jedi and priesthood resonate strongly. I could go on and on… It revolutionized special effects and so on, and much like Star Trek, it made use of the limitless technologies only available in imagination for space travel, and also Star Wars follows suit by its own creation of specific and intricate races and species of creatures.

IMDB
Ep IV: #12 out of 250: 8.8
Ep V: #9 out of 250: 8.8
Ep VI:#103 out of 250: 8.3

Rotten Tomatoes
Ep IV 95%
Ep V 97%
Ep VI 75%

And that’s it for the Sci Fi Countdown! Hope you enjoyed the choices and the commentary! We should have a new list going on in the near future! If you have any ideas for what it should be about, go ahead and leave a comment here!

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The heap Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (2-3)

Finally, the next segment of the list is here. It’s been a long weekend of celebration as the Rays finally wrapped up the AL East crown. And thanks to avid the heap. reader Michael Rodriguez, I may have a ticket to Game 5 of the ALDS. Let’s hope it doesn’t get there.

Anyway! The here are 5 more honorable mention films and the next 2 on the list!

Honorable Mention Films

Independence Day Will Smith seems to always pop up. Great call for world unity against extraterrestrial extermination. Bill Pullman might be the most badass prez of all time.

Solaris (1972) Another alternative reality movie… this time we follow the adventures of psychologist Kris Kelvin and his own interaction with this strange realm in space…

Contact Apparently, intelligent life also uses radio waves as a means of communications. They also really, really want to talk to us. Maybe we’re the aliens!

Galaxy Quest Simply Hilarious. A nice little spoof on cult sci fi series a la Star Trek and Star Wars. Actors having to really play a space traveling crew? Tim Allen pulls it off… perhaps one og his best films

Starship Troopers Paul Verhoeven has had a strong showing on the list. ST could have easily made it… but we had to chose. A disturbing commentary on current state of affairs, and an equally frightening view of a totalitarian militaristic future.

3. Minority Report (2002)

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In 2054, murder has been virtually eliminated in Washington D.C. thanks to the implementation of the “Pre-crime” unit. So basically, agents such as Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton work quickly to create a case against the foretold perpetrators as well as actually determining the location of the uncommitted crime. He believes in the system, and is a huge promoter of it going national, because it could have prevented the kidnapping of his son in the past. The of course, things change when it is he who is predicted to murder a man he doesn’t even know, yet. What ensues is a frantic attempt to escape the judicial prophecy of the “Precogs” and a action packed effort to change his slated fate. what makes the film so applicable is the way it comments on the post 9/11 hysteria of citizens as well as government, as obvious invasions of citizen privacy were being mulled. IMDB: 7.7 Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

2. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982)

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Spielberg’s E.T. might be one of the most powerful existential epics of all time, and certainly the most notable in the Sci Fi genre. ET is left behind after his spaceship leaves unexpectedly. He is eventually found and taken in by Eliot and his siblings. ET becomes their secret, as they try to keep him safe from the real world, the world of possible exploitation and science- a world of adults. He wants to return to his planet, as we are constantly reminded by “ET phone home.” But during his time with the earthlings, he is able to preach a message of love, compassion, and understanding, as his emotions start to become synonymous with those of Eliot and visa versa. Also, Spielberg creates a dynamic contrast between the innocent stage of being a kid, full of imagination and the dull pessimistic reality of adult life. The most memorable scene (thanks in part to John Williams’ delectable musical arrangement) is when Eliot is able to fly on his bike with ET in the basket, the ultimate tribute to fantastical possibility and unhindered imagination… much like the film itself. IMDB: 7.9 Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

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The heap. Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (4-5)

The list is back! Only on the heap. can you expect to find a list so ridiculously delayed and drawn out… We all know that I could have given you all 30 at once. But I really don’t think the world could have handled that much omnipotent opinionated knowledge at once! We’ll start off with 5 movies from the honorable mention list! Then you’ll see the usual movie poster and interpretation of the movie’s importance of number 5 and then 4! You know how it works!

Honorable Mention Films
Total Recall – Another good AHnold flick. Violent… very violent.
A Clockwork Orange – A defining work by Stanley Kubrick. A futuristic world where good and evil are grossly intertwined
I, Robot – Another good Azimov book, and an interesting adaptation. Man vs. Rebelling superior Machine motive.
The Abyss – When aliens actually live here on Earth… or rather, UNDER us in the greatest depths of the sea… this can only spell impending doom.
Soylent Green – A nice little commentary on social structure. One of the biggest plot twists of ALL time.

5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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Perhaps the greatest “old” sci fi film of all time,The Day the Earth Stood Still, like many of its contemporaries, manages to encapsulate the feelings of hysteria regarding the American perception of “the Outsider” within the realm of a film dealing with human-alien relations. Not to mention, the film boasts a mightily inflated anti-weapons and anti-war message, and emphasizes the vast importance of global unity, and the end of prejudice and disparity. The other option is termination. The film is a product of post WWII sentiment, as well as an expression of extreme caution regarding escalating conflict with the Soviets and in Korea. A remake of this film comes out later this year starring Keanu Reeves. If he plays Klaatu’s robot, he would be perfectly cast (He’s actually Klaatu). IMDB (205 out of 250 top films): 8.1 Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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Jim Carrey is one of my favorite actors, and I feel he is often underrated and even forgotten. This is one of his best films, as well as Kate Winslet’s. Memories is the hot topic of the film, and we see applicable science’s attempt at manipulating memories, mainly by essentially erasing them from the minds of patients. Most of the film is in fact the memories Jim Carrey’s character wishes to rid but instead wants to hold on to regarding his relationship with Clementine. Despite his best efforts, science wins and the procedure works. Yet, what we discover is that the two become attracted to each other again, suggesting the trumping of nature, and perhaps the will of God, over the controls of science and human desire. Sci fi mixed in with a little chick flick action… you CAN’T lose with this one. IMDB (57 out of 250 top movies): 8.5 Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Finally down to the last three films! 2 and 3 should be up tomorrow. Stay Tuned!

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The heap. Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (6-10)

I know I promised you this one this weekend, but it was a jammed, sports-packed weekend for me. Plus, I needed a little bit of a break from writing. But now we’re back and ready for the home stretch of our list. I’ll give you 6-10 today, and then I’ll go one by one, but I’ll throw in two honorable mentions in each post, since there are PLENTY of movies which could have easily have been on our list. You’ve waited long enough so here we go!

10. Forbidden Planet (1956)

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All I should have to say about this film is Robby the Robot. Not to mention the fact that it is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which would be reason enough for any of you English majors, Shakespeare enthusiasts, or just plain literary buffs to want to watch and see the similarities with one Willy’s more interesting plays, as well as one of the most enchanting (A Midsummer’s Night Dream wins of course). The audience is intertwined in a story of romance and artificially created (boosted) intelligence, as well as in the middle of the battle between patriarchal repressed sexuality and the desire to experiment. Another classic tale of the exotic nature of difference. Special effects were groundbreaking for a film of the late 50’s, and the music was all electrically composed. If that isn’t enough, maybe a young, pre Mr. Magoo Leslie Nielsen will make you watch. IMDB: 7.8 Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

9. Metropolis (1927)

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Clearly the oldest movie on the list, Metropolis pioneers the genre, perhaps beginning the trend of sci fi films being a prominent source of social scrutiny. Director Fritz Lang constructs a world plagued by a duality of sorts. The audience encounters a heavenly utopia of skyscrapers amidst the clouds, dominating scenes at points in the film. Here, the literal upper class reside, the “thinkers.” Yet supporting this lavish lifestyle is a world dystopian in nature where the labor class work in order to support the lifestyles up above. What ensues is a brilliant critique of the capitalist system, as the city is pushed to the brink of non-existence by a revolution by the lower class, thus causing the system to collapse. Another interesting duality is that of Maria and a robot created in her likeness. And of course, there is some corporal imagery, such as the impending mediation between the hands (workers) who run the heart (the power plant to the city) and the head (upper class). IMDB (Rated #72 on 250 Greatest Films): 8.4 Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

8. Alien, Aliens (1979, 1986)

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The pair of movies are probably the most popular movies from the time of the generation before us college graduates (Yes, our parents went to movies too in their heyday). These films, more than a quarter of a century later STILL have an effect on popular culture such as the AVPseries of films, cultural references to these movies, and conceptual representation of alien life. We still imagine either little green men, or the vicious intelligent creatures of Predator and Alien. This was the film that put Ridley Scott on the map as a master director, and truthfully, the film is a mastery of all aspects of film making. The cinematography is stellar, and perhaps the best of modern films. The use of color imagery, particularly light and dark, add an unique artistic touch to this sci fi – horror hybrid. Acting is believable and excellent. All you could ask for in a movie. IMDB (Rated #49 and #65 respectively, top 250): 8.5, 8.4 Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, 100%

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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A Stanley Kubrick film HAD to be on here somewhere, and you can expect it to be a biting satirical commentary on society of the late 60’s. Many critics have clamored for Odyssey to be considered as the best sci fi film of all time, and we believe that it certainly was that at the time of it’s release. It fulfills strongly our own qualifications we looked for while we made our list here. Many say that Odyssey IS sci fi, providing the definition of what a sci fi flick should be, and we agree. While the concept isn’t the most groundbreaking, it takes pieces of earlier films and pretty much perfects them, while at the same time poking fun at present possibilities, and the colossal-ness of the “space odyssey” itself. IMDB (#80 of 250 on the list): 8.4 Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

6. The Matrix (1999)

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While I do like the entire trilogy, the first movie is the best one of the three and is really the one which has become an essential sci fi must see. Again, the ideas aren’t too new, as it roughly uses the premise of Terminator. BUT, The Wachowski Brothers offer the audience a twist, suggesting that the world we live in is nothing but a mechanically induced dream, and the real us is nothing but a tool, a resource for dominant beings. Highly symbolic, highly psychological, and action packed. A pleasant collusion of mythologies, and in particular, the Christian tradition. Not to mention perhaps the best possible part for Keanu Reeves- one where he can look clueless for most of the time and he doesn’t have to talk too much! IMDB (#32 of 250 on the list) 8.6 Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

So there you have it. We’re down to the final five! Our first list is almost complete here at the heap. If you have any suggestions for the next list we should tackle, feel free to leave comments!

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The heap Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (11-15)

Finally I am able to continue our countdown here at the heap. of what we think are the movies which are instrumental and define the Sci Fi genre. If you’ve missed the first 15 movies on the list, check the entries out on the Lists page. Or if you just want to know the movies and spare yourself of my commentary hoopla, you can see a convenient text listing of the movies. So without further ado, let’s get on with the next 5 movies!

15. The Fifth Element (1997)

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It’s the year 2263, and as expected, the future presented by the film is full of many technological advancements which typify sci fi films. Again, we are presented with a sort of dystopian world, where man has been forced to build (and survive) Upwards. The visuals of The Fifth Element certainly resonate of the futuristic vision of Blade Runner with flying cars. Unforgettable is the chase scene in which Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) is able to escape police officers in a thrilling mid air series of events. But of course, this isn’t what sets this movie apart. Despite all of these futuristic advances, the universe is still plagued by intergalactic strife, notably hate and war. The Fifth Element wraps an antiwar message alongside the inner turmoils of faith- shown through the perseverance of forgotten religion, and the struggle of the proverbial savior (Leeloo) to decide (after ALL of the trouble to save and preserve HER) if the world is worth saving. And of course, Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod shows the absurdity of the media of the future. All of this delivered with MUCH comedy. IMDB: 7.3 Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

14. Jurassic Park (1993)

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We’ll stick with just the first one here. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel, Jurassic Park takes the audience on an epic “You know, this might just be a bad idea” journey to a remote island where dinosaurs have been genetically cloned and raised. And of course, all for ultimate commercial gain. JP becomes the ultimate dream of any kid who grew up loving dinosaurs, only being able to see fossil evidence and scientific reproductions as evidence for their existence. The animatronic for the movie brings to life some spectacular beings, and the computerwork (for what was available back then) is superb. JP is on the list because it IS the elite film which uses dinosaurs as its main selling point, and manages to do it without being all too cheesy. Oh, and Spielberg and Co. manage to make it intriguing, educational, and TERRIFYING. The purpose? To again promote caution with our ever-increasing knowledge and capability- a la cloning. Also, commercial gain from such scientific endeavors are to be frowned upon (See Wayne Knight’s character- you know… Newman!). IMDB: 7.8 Rotten Tomates: 86%

13. Fantastic Voyage (1966)

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Most of the movies on the list are about the vast unknown with is the Universe we live in. We can only try to calculate things in relative and even sometimes abstract scale, as we are limited by our present technology and unable to travel like in space sci fi movies. Yet, we have such a relatively unknown and unpredictable entity right here on Earth- the human body. Fantastic Voyage takes you on such a journey, a journey to twist the fate of a dying man through literal intraveinal human intercession. Again, a visual, creative delight, as the audience journeys through “inner space” and sees how various organs are portrayed on the silver screen. IMDB: 6.8 Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

12. War of the Worlds (2005)

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You want to talk about an epic tale of survival? Spielberg’s film based on H.G. Wells’ revolutionary novel assuredly thrilled audiences worldwide with it’s American perception of the events which transpired in the novel. Its success is also based off of the 1938 radio broadcast as well as the 50’s version because it captures the thematic issue of mass hysteria, whether it had to do with Nazi/Japanese infiltration during WWII, or possible secret operations by Russians during the Cold War. Of course, the novel itself played with such notions, predominately regarding the influx in immigration during the time period in England. Ironically (but perhaps purposefully… Spielberg’s a smart one…) the film came out during the apex of our own immigration “crisis,” as well as during the contining sensitive time period regarding acts of terrorism on our own soil. The themes could also be extended to racial and even sexual orientation demographics- any category of “threatening” difference. IMDB: 6.6 Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

11. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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If you like the theme of exaggerated hysteria, especially during the Cold War standstill, then watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers will probably make you quite happy. The film captures a panoramic view of the effects of fear injecting media influence. As the main character, Dr. Bennell recounts the events of past days, one common theme ties all of the incidences together. Patients are claiming that their loved ones are impostors! And as it turns out, they’re right! What ensues is a discovery of the replacement of the loved ones by unemotional clones which kill humans and spread the “seeds” of the “pod people.” Clearly a stab at the portrayal of Soviet personalities, but also a sombering view of the effects of Communism on our often disregarded autonomous lifestyle. IMDB: 8.0 Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

And we’re down to our last 10! You’ll definitely see the next 5 by this weekend, and we’ll release the last 5 one at a time next week! (Including an honorable mention post!).

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The Heap. Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (16-20)

We know it’s been a while, but we are BACK with the next 5 movies on our list. While we are on the subject of sci-fi, this past weekend, Vin Diesel’s newest explosionfest, Babylon A.D. came out, having mediocre reviews. Yahoo users gave it a C+, while those on IMDB gave it a 5.7. It received an astounding 5% on Rotten Tomatoes! I was interested in seeing it this weekend, but I’m kind of glad Michael expressed his disinterest. the premise seems promising, but apparently, 20th Century Fox had their way… which resulted in a distasteful bomb. Read the wikipedia article here: Babylon A. D. information

Anywho, here are numbers 16 through 20! You’ve waited long enough, and here they are! Again, thanks to Chaz and his contributions to the list.

20. Transformers (2007)

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Autonomous robots which come to earth to save mankind from other BAD robots? Count us in! Another of Michael Bay’s masterful usages of marvelous special effects, Transformers delivers an good ole fashioned American cinematic thrill ride. Explosions, “roller skating” robots, and timely comedy are what makes the movie work, and what made it such an international success as a risky silver screen execution of what really was a cartoon show for children. It’s not far fetched to suggest Japanese influence by Manga and Anime movie Mobile Suit Gundam, but it brings a different idea to the table, since the robots are not controlled by man. Rather, they serve as their own entities as they too face prospects of intergalactic war (Autobots vs. Decepticons). Again, an interesting rendition of man’s relationship with machine. Oh, and the late Bernie Mac makes a memorable cameo as a used car salesman! IMDB: 7.5 Rotten Tomatoes: 57%

19. Star Trek Franchise (Trekking since 1960’s!)

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You can definitely make the case for Star Trek to be much higher on the list, and perhaps it deserves it. We don’t have to explain the massive effect it has had on popular culture. Just look for the closest Star Trek convention near you, or better yet, Tune it to Spike TV or late night on the CW to catch reruns of Next Generation. Success has never been a question, as there have been numerous (I’m thinking like 5 or 6) TV series, and not to mention 10 films (with number 11 just around the corner, with J.J Abrams directing). In short, it is a sci-fi juggernaut. It created a detailed universe with an appropriate taxonomy of extraterrestrial organisms. Travel faster than the speed of light exists in this universe… and everything is spawned by? You guessed it, the apocalyptic aftereffects of nuclear war. We just never really got into it here at the heap. But we can recommend it, and obviously hold it in highest regards with its place in sci-fi.

18. Ghostbusters I, II + Franchise (1984, 1989, 90’s)

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Who you gunna call? The 1984 original was one of the year’s most popular movies, and to a degree remains as a “cult classic.” The ghost story is perhaps one of humankind’s most cherished conventions, probably having its origins in the oral storytelling traditions of our ancestors. Ghostbusters literally capitalizes on the ghost myth becoming reality, as it becomes their job to capture the roaming spirits. The ideas are just so creative! The created science that the movie proposes is interesting, such as the use of the “proton packs,” or essentially harnessing atomic, symbolically positive energy, to capture the creatures. What makes the movie great is the psychological and even psychic themes of the movies. Clearly, a movie like this could only happen in New York! Commercially, Ghostbusters continues to be an ever blossoming success. I grew up on the cartoon show The Real Ghostbusters, and there are rumors of GBIII, and even an awesome GB video game! (I kid you not: check it out here, it actually looks pretty sick: Ghostbusters: The Video Game). But just remember, DON’T cross the streams! IMDB: 7.7 6.0 Rotten Tomatoes: 93% 53%

17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

3rd Kind

Close Encounters is just one of those movies which revolutionized the genre, society, and pretty much the expectations of film making as we know it. One of Steven Spielberg’s utter masterpieces, the movie concerns itself with presenting aliens in a different light. The social conception of aliens prior to this work was often of silvery flying saucers flown by beings which meant harm. The film plays with these ideas, introducing a spaceship adorned by lights, and relatively peaceful aliens. Yet, the primary focus of the film is the burgeoning obsession of the main character, Roy Neary, with UFOs and aliens. The audience experiences the psychology of obsession through the various ramifications of the ineffable image in Neary’s mind. Could it be playing again with the same notions of faith seen in Signs? I think so. We are not alone physically in the universe, nor spiritually/ psychologically within ourselves. If these themes don’t ultimately get you interested, the movie is groundbreaking because it thrust the underground mashed potato sculpting population into the mainstream! IMDB: 7.8 Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

16. The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1984, 1991)

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So again, we’ll introduce an apocalyptic future and dwindling humanity. Overused and boring right? The the world of Cameron’s The Terminator, you could be DEAD wrong, especially if your name is Sarah Connor. The end of humanity’s dominance is again of their own doing. Yes, man-made machines are the culprits again… except that these machines are just well… made too well. The Terminator certainly popularized the idea of the potential of technological mutiny/ anarchy at the hands of mechanical artificial intelligence- the fact that we’ve created machines so advanced that they have evolved and surpassed our own intellect AND physical ability. The thing is, humanity has been promised a savior. Thus, in order to preserve mechanical “order,” the machines send a cyborg to kill Sarah Connor, the woman who will give birth to the leader of the future human resistance, John Connor (notice the initials). Add in the obvious religious undertones, a nice glossy “exterior” – aka stunning visuals / special effects, and a whole lot of firepower, suspense, and violence, and you get a memorable franchise: Though Arnold WON’T be back in 2009, look for the final chapter of the saga to come to the silver screen in 2009! (TI is 188 in IMDB’s top 250, and T2 is 68) IMDB: 8.1 8.4 Rotten Tomatoes: 100% 100%

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The Heap. Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (21-25)

And we’re back. I know I’ve kept you all on your toes regarding the rest of the list. I DO want you coming back and reading, don’t I? There’s plenty of additional entertaining and fascinating content here! This week will certainly be groundbreaking here, as we’ll have our first album review! Also in the works is a book review. I might decide to release the artist/titles I will be reviewing… but I want to build up the suspense. Just a little. Just like with this list. I know you are ready for the next 5.

Movies 21-25 are quite well known. Some may argue that they belong a little bit higher on the list, and from a popularity point of view, I would probably agree. But again remember, we are looking for conceptual orginality, contribution to the sci-fi genre, and the all important “sci-fi-ness,” a film which upholds the and promotes the characteristics of the genre. And we start with:

25. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

An adaption of a Jules Verne novel had to be on the list somewhere, as he and H.G. Wells pretty much invented the science fiction genre in literature. With novels conceptualizing technological advancements far beyond their time (late 19th Century), the two paved the way for the likes of the future writers and directors of sci-fi alike. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is revolutionary when placed in the context of its setting, the 1870’s. Underwater travel was an unlikely possibility during the time. Thus the Nautilus as a method of underwater transportation clearly qualifies as a creative, imaginative concept. Captain Nemo perhaps provides one of the more resounding and chillingly applicable lines when the professor discovers the source of the submarine’s power as being atomic. He states, “Such a secret could revolutionize the world!” to which captain Nemo responds, “Or destroy it.” In the wake of the aftereffects of WWII and the use of the atomic bomb, the film clearly shed a light on the dangers of technology, if used irresponsibly. IMDB: 7.2 Rotten Tomatoes 90%

24. Robocop 1 (1987)

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The future of law enforcement was the popular tag line of this late 80’s sci-fi thriller. Again, the audience is presented with a society afflicted with extreme lawlessness. The answer to widespread crime? A kick ass cyborg. Director Paul Verhoeven paints a pretty pessimistic picture of the near future, as crime and violence reign supreme. Sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire, as the robotic protagonist goes on violent rampages himself in order to save the day. What makes Robocop unique is the fusion of man and machine in the concept of the cyborg. Robocop is the remains of human cop Murphy, controlled by computer programming. Throughout the course of the film, Robocop eventually overrides the mechanical restrictions placed on his brain’s freewill, and he is able to utilize human with with the superiority of machine. IMDB: 7.5 Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

23. Back to the Future I, II, III (1985, 1989, 1990)

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The heap. loves the entire franchise, and while the sequels aren’t entirely groundbreaking after the first film, they are just as entertaining, and for the most part, you don’t really think that it’s just a rehashing of the formula. It’s pretty obvious that man has always been fascinated by the idea of time travel. We see it most prominently in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and many sitcoms and films play around with the concept. Back to the Future provides a creatively fresh and hilarious take on time travel. For starters, the machine is a DeLorean, a funky sports car from Northern Ireland. The movie also emphasized the rules of time travel, as all “new” actions effect the (present) future. All in all, a good flick. (FYI: Back to the Future I is number 106 on IMBD’s best 250 movies of all time) IMDB: 8.3, 7.3, 6.9 Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, 65%, 74%

22. Planet of the Apes (1968)

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We must reiterate, please see the original! While I love Mark Wahlberg, he doesn’t get the job done in the 2001 version. This film probably has one of the biggest, unexpected twists of all time (which I won’t reveal). Human scientists, after traveling for millenia, land on an unknown planet where apes are the dominant species. They have advanced so much that they have also developed their own social class hierarchy. Humans still exist, but can no longer speak and are not intelligent beings. They are used for experimentation and are hunted. The main character, George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) tries to demonstrate that he is intellectually able for most of the movie. A memorable scene is the trial, (which is apparently a satirical take on the Scopes Monkey Trial). The twist, and its reverberations are why it deserves to be on the list (which I can’t discuss now, so go see it!). IMDB: 8.0 Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

21. Blade Runner (1982)

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Flying cars, Earth colonies in outer space, and a dystopian Los Angeles. What more could you ask for in a sci-fi thriller? Ok, fine, we’ll throw in Harrison Ford too. Blade Runner symbolically addressed the pressing concerns of topics which are applicable as early as now! We see overpopulation, cloning, and climate concerns. Not to mention the question of how genetically engineered beings are to be treated, and what rights should they have. It is clear that the replicants, the bio engineered beings, are indistinguishable from humans, but are forced to be part of an extreme working class. After a revolution of sorts, blade runners are hired to kill off the troublemakers. Yep. Ford is one of these blade runners. Clearly ahead of its time in concept and depiction of the future. (Number 103 on IMDB’s best 250 Movies of All Time) IMDB: 8.3 Rotten Tomatoes 91%

So there you go. Look for the next 5 later this week!

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The Heap. Presents: The 30 Most Influential Sci Fi Movies (26-30)

Sorry for the delay! The “potter head” head sister has been busy moving back down to Miami for school, and I’ve been working at night, and just taking it easy, but we HAVE been working on that list for all you heapsters. out there. If you have no idea what is I am talking about, please check out this earlier entry: It was a pleasure to burn, and check out the link to Yahoo!’s top 30 sci-fi films of all time.

Chaz, the heap.‘s movie expert, as well as myself, were a bit disappointed with the list, and thought that we could perhaps make another one. It’s not that the list isn’t bad, we just felt that it was based on relative (recent and/or cult) popularity versus actual contribution to the genre of science fiction. This is the basis of our list, movies which were popular, but also which introduced something new… a new concept, new technology… elevated the popularity of the genre… or served as a major influence on future movies.

We eliminated superhero movies because we felt that that was its own genre. It’s obvious that a superhero can only exist within the realm of a sci-fi environment, as any powers or characteristics which break the mold of the understood laws of nature should be considered as such. Others were eliminated just because we didn’t agree, or that we felt were just on there because they were recent, and quite mainstream. Others because we felt they were not a prime example of “sci-fi-ness,” but rather were a combination of sci-fi and other more predominate genres as well.

Along with exclusions came films other great films that probably deserved to be on the yahoo list and also faced a similar fate on ours. Foreign films were not included this time around. Japan probably has contributed the most to the genre other than American writers and filmmakers to the genre. Hayao Miyazaki is perhaps Japan’s most well known animator, and his pieces always dealt with an apocalyptic future, and how science had caused damage to the planet through its use in war, imperialism, consumption and disregard for the planet itself. Notable films include Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke (most of his films involve a female hero vs. a male). Another example is Rintaro’s Galaxy Express 999, and Yoshiyuki’s Mobile Suit Gundam.

Ahem… without further ado, here are the first 5 films of our list!

30. Videodrome (1983)

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Videodrome, starring James Woods, is actually a Canadian film… so much for our exclusion of foreign movies… but we’ll let it slide. Anyway! Of course, many of you may not have even heard of this film, let alone seen it, but, like we said, we are looking for concepts, new ideas. Director David Cronenberg delivers a chilling outlook on the future of the media. Tiptoeing on the cusp of sci-fi and an all out gore fest, Videodrome shows how the power of the media, and how it infiltrates our thoughts, actions, even body… so much so that the audience (of the TV channel in the movie) becomes part of the show. Nevertheless, an interesting view on the constant inundation of information via various media forms, which is going to be even more applicable as technology only makes outreach easier. Ahead of its time, to say the least. IMDB: 7.3 Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

29. Men In Black (1997)

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Stunning visuals, a killer soundtrack, and a talking dog… Men in Black had it all. Where else would you consider the possible “alien capital of the world” to be other than New York City! Aliens and human contact have long since been a concept in American cinema. MIB executes the concept that the two coexist unknowingly! And of course, a secret government agency was formed to keep tabs on immigration and diplomacy between the human race and the many species of aliens which come to earth. Plus, we had to have a Will Smith Movie on the list somewhere… he’s tried a lot of sci-fi… (See, Independence Day, I Am Legend, maybe even Hancock). IMDB 6.9 Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

28. Predator (1987)

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Ahhhnold, Jesse Ventura, and Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) vs. some unknown assassin, some hunter of man… a PREDATOR. This sci-fi staple matches the wit (and want of survival) versus a quite capable opponent. For most of the movie, the gang wonders who, NOT what could be the human hunters. What the audience is introduced to is a new class of alien, though remarkably human-like. While the film isn’t of the utmost quality, it works because of how it handled the concept of alien invasion, providing a memorable character, as well as decent rising action until we get to the ultimate revelation! IMDB 7.7 Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

27. Mad Max (1979)

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Oops… an Australian film! Young Mel Gibson stars as Max Rockatansky, a patrolman for a poorly funded police agency in Australia. Basically, we are presented with a sort of dystopia, where society has basically decayed into small packs of villages who must live under the “reign” of motorcycle gangs. It is left to Mad Max to take care of the most prominent of the gangs, Nightrider… what ensues is a tale of retribution- unfettered Australian vengeance… a commentary on the role of violence, and how it could escalate in the future. The movie just kicks ass, for lack of a better, more refined explanation. I guess Mel isn’t so bad to look at in leather either… IMDB: 6.9 Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

26. Signs (2002)

signs

I’m sure most of you have seen the creepy shows about crop circles and their “implications” (or people just having too much time on their hands). Perhaps M. Night Shyamalan’s most memorable recent work (especially with the garbage he has directed lately), he manages to interweave a cute story about faith with “signs” from above. Again, one of the most endearing traits of the movie is the development of the suspense until the climactic revelation of the actual aliens. But like I said, the movie is about faith, about believing in what is happening, in the unknown. What makes the movie so unique is how Shyamalan plays with the genre, because Sci-fi requires “faith” so to speak, or a suspension of disbelief in order for the audience to fully immerse themselves in the film. Faith on all levels requires such a jump. IMDB: 6.9 Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

So there you have it, movies 26-30 on our list. No posts for a few days, as I will be in Miami until late Friday or Saturday, so I’ll come back to keep the list going. Also, I PROMISE a life update this weekend. And as always, Thank you for reading heapsters. and keep reading!

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