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9 space movies you need to watch before Gravity - 2001, Alien, more

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The wait is over! After countless festival screenings and a blockbuster debut Stateside, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is finally initiating its landing sequence for UK shores. The Sandra Bullock-George Clooney thriller has already been declared the greatest space film ever made by a certain James Cameron, and it's following in a long line of movie masterpieces that have embraced the infinite celestial darkness.

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

© Warner Bros.



Digital Spy takes a look at 9 space movies we think are essential viewing ahead of Gravity's release on November 8. Before you read on, it's best to establish the ground rules: these are all films that in some way feature men, women or robots of Earth exploring space. Star Wars is strictly fantasy so doesn't make the list and Moon misses out because, well, it mostly takes place on the moon!

Our pre-Gravity recommendations (in no particular order) and where to watch them are as follows...

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece is often cited as the greatest sci-fi movie of all time and rightly so - it charts the evolution of man from primate to a reborn intergalactic 'Star Child'. Packed with striking imagery such as the famous cut from bone to space shuttle and the Stargate sequence, this is a movie that will truly shake all your senses.


Where to watch: Blinkbox - £2.49 (rent) / £6.99 (buy) / YouTube (£2.49) / iTunes (£9.99)

Silent Running (1972)
Bruce Dern's Freeman Lowell seeks to preserve the last of Earth's plant life aboard the Valley Forge space craft in Douglas Trumbull's wonderful early-'70s film. An inspiration to many contemporary sci-fi filmmakers, Silent Running has grown in stature as the years have passed and is seen by many as a genre classic.


Where to watch: iTunes - £9.99

Alien (1979)
"In space, no-one can hear you scream," declared the tagline for Ridley Scott's horror, which saw Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo answer a distress call and let an unwanted Xenomorph on board. Not only is this a great movie, it also broke Scott and Weaver in Hollywood and spawned a franchise that's still alive today thanks to last year's Prometheus.


Where to watch: Blinkbox - £2.49 (rent) / £6.99 (buy) / iTunes - £9.99

The Black Hole (1979)
Disney takes a stab at high-minded science fiction with this film about a research team who encounter a missing ship teetering on the edge of a black hole. Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Forster feature in the impressive cast that find themselves propelled to Heaven and Hell. It's a genuinely surreal ending (particularly for a Disney film), and perhaps reason why the studio has tried and failed to crack a remake for years.


Where to watch: iTunes - £9.99

Apollo 13 (1995)
Ron Howard and Tom Hanks teamed up for this drama based on Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert's death-defying return to Earth after their failed moon landing. A clear forerunner to Gravity, this Oscar-winning drama seemed all the more effective by virtue of it being based in fact.


Where to watch: Blinkbox - £6.99 (buy) / YouTube - £7.99 / iTunes - £9.99

Event Horizon (1997)
Despite spending the bulk of his career getting annihilated by critics, Paul WS Anderson has one gem on his CV in the form of this thriller. Essentially The Shining in Space, this sent a very '90s cast (Fishburne! Quinlan! Neil!) to Hell for one nightmare journey. Event Horizon is the one of only two films on this list that'll likely leave you with permanent psychological trauma.


Where to watch: Blinkbox - £6.99 (buy) / iTunes - £7.99

Solaris (2002)
Perhaps a tad controversially, we've plumped for this Steven Soderbergh and James Cameron-produced remake above its Russian original (itself based on Stanislaw Lem's novel). George Clooney was well-cast as a psychologist sent to investigate strange happenings in an orbiting space station, while Soderbergh was able to take the best of the novel and '70s version to streamline it and tell a compelling story of grief and acceptance.


Where to watch: Blinkbox - £2.49 (rent) / £6.99 (buy) / iTunes - £7.99

Sunshine (2007)
Danny Boyle dispatches a team of astronauts to kick-start the dying sun with an atomic bomb in this underrated sci-fi gem. The film mixes heady and sophisticated ideas with edge-of-your-seat thrills, and also boasts an incredible score from John Murphy and Underworld. It failed to set the box office alight on its initial release but has earned a much-deserved cult favourite tag in the years since its cinema debut.

Where to watch: Blinkbox - £2.49 (rent) / £6.99 (buy) / YouTube - £2.49 / iTunes - £7.99

Wall-E - 2008
Not only a brilliant animated movie but also a terrific sci-fi in its own right, Wall-E is Pixar firing on all cylinders and perhaps the pinnacle of the studio's storytelling achievements. It features incredible moments of space-set spectacle and heart-warming emotion. Animated movies don't get much better than this.


Where to watch: Netflix / LoveFilm / Blinkbox - £2.49 (rent) / £6.99 (buy) / YouTube - £9.99

Which space movies are your favourites? Have we missed any from the list? Leave your comments in the space below!

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