Author Top 5s - Amanda Bridgeman on Military Sci-Fi Films

In Author Top 5s I'm inviting a number of authors to share top 5 lists somehow related to the genre they write. They'll be discussing things they love and how they've been influenced by them. Should prove to be interesting and hopefully we'll all pick up a few recommendations of good stuff to check out.

Today we're talking military sci-fi with Amanda Bridgeman. I really enjoyed Amanda's military sci-fi debut Aurora: Darwin and am looking forward to getting into the sequels. I've been hounding her to write a blog post for me for a little while so I'm glad she's here. I'm also glad she's decided to focus on films because it's always good to see where authors draw inspiration other than books. This series is called author top 5s because authors have been sharing lists of 5 things, Amanda has cheated and done a list of 7, but I'm going to forgive...this time. So here's Amanda's list of the top 7 military sci-fi films that have inspired her.

As a space opera/military sci-fi writer I draw inspiration from the movies all the time. Given this, I decided to pull together a list of some great military sci-fi films I think everyone should watch. So without further ado, here they are:

Aliens (1986)

This time it’s war . . .

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain to you how great this film is, but just in case you’ve come from another planet, here’s why:

1.     It features the greatest heroine of all time (Ellen Ripley);

2.     It has all the world-building elements you could possibly need: the guns, the technology, the spaceships, the aliens;

3.     It has great secondary characters: Hicks – the level-headed corporal the leadership falls to after the shit hits the fan. Vasquez – one of the toughest chicks you’ll find on screen. Bishop – the ‘synthetic’ you don’t whether to trust. Hudson – the soldier with the classic one liners, who ultimately calls it like the rest of us would see it);

4.     It has my favourite kind of premise in which you have a group of people trapped in an isolated place with a deadly adversary;

5.     And not only do they have the ‘beasts’ to contend with, but they also have to face their own kind turning against them;

6.     And of course, there is that subtle romantic interest suggested between Ripley and Corporal Hicks.  

I actually cannot fault anything about this movie. It’s military sci-fi at its best!

Predator (1987)

Soon the hunt will begin…

Love this film! Again we have a group of soldiers stuck in an isolated place and being hunted by a deadly alien, only this one can make itself camouflaged. So how do you run from an enemy you can’t really see? Answer: you can’t. This film is equal parts action, terror and drama, and that’s just the way I like it. Honestly, aside from The Terminator/ T2, this is probably my favourite Arnie film. Another great military sci-fi!

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Live. Die. Repeat.

When I saw this at the cinema, I didn’t really know a hell of a lot about it before I went in, but it blew me away. The plot was great, the special effects were fantastic, and Emily Blunt breaking her mould as a kick-ass soldier was excellent to see. I love it when a movie surpasses expectations and this one did that in spades! A ‘Groundhog Day’ of the future, it’s a roller-coaster thrill ride of a military sci-fi.

Starship Troopers (1997)

A new kind of enemy. A new kind of war . . .

This film was almost more than just a film. It felt like an interactive entertainment package. There was a little bit of everything in there: intergalactic battles, drama, romance, politics – all set to a ‘coming of age’/‘hero’s journey’ tale. Most importantly, it was fun. The awesome world-building came to life and took viewers on an amazing, almost 3D, adventure across space. The question was continually asked “Do you want to know more?” And the answer was yes. Yes, I did.

Pacific Rim (2014)

To fight monsters, we created monsters…

It’s no secret that I love a good blockbuster, and that is exactly what this was. This was a film about big-ass Kaiju vs men in big-ass robots. The very best thing about this film, though, is Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, because let’s face it – Idris Elba is ‘The man’. The best scene is where he turns around to Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and says “Number one. Don’t you ever touch me again. Number two. Don’t you ever touch me again!” SUPERB! If I ever see the Aurora series made into film/tv, I want Idris for the starring role of Captain Saul Harris please

Avatar (2009)

Enter the world…

The best thing about this film is that yes, it’s a military sci-fi, but it’s one that goes a little deeper than the rest. This film takes a good look at humanity; what we humans are screwing up on, but also the goodness that still survives in some people’s hearts. Too soft, you say? I disagree. I think a little depth can add a whole new dimension to the military sci-fi. Soldiers are humans like the rest of us, after all. Whilst being entertained, why not learn something about ourselves and the world as well?

Universal Soldier (1992)

The ultimate weapons of the future have just declared war... on each other.

Look, I had to add this one in... Soldiers of the future enhanced to become killing machines. Now, how could I not like that premise? (Bad) acting aside, with a plot like that you just know it’s going to promise you plenty of action and thrills, and from a purely entertainment perspective, that’s what you want from a military sci-fi, yeah? Also – I’d love to see a big budget remake of this!

If you’d like to read more about some of my favourite sci-fi films of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s, then check out the links below.

Sci-fi Films of the 80’s:

Sci-fi Films of the 90’s:

Sci-fi Films of the 00’s:

Born and raised in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, Amanda hails from fishing and farming stock. The youngest of four children, her three brothers raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC. Naturally, she grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. But that said, she can swoon with the best of them and is really not a fan of bugs.

She lived in ‘Gero’ for 17 years, before moving to Perth (WA) to pursue her dreams and study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies). Perth has been her home ever since, aside from a nineteen month stint in London (England).

She is a writer and a film buff. She loves most genres, but is particularly fond of the Spec-Fic realm. She likes action, epic adventures, and strong characters that draw you in, making you want to follow them on their wild, rollercoaster rides. Her debut novel Aurora:Darwin was published with Momentum in May 2013; the sequel Aurora: Pegasus was published in December 2013; and Aurora: Meridian was released in September 2014.

When she’s not writing, she loves to travel and partake in a little photography.