12 December 2012

FWS Index: Live-Action Military Sci-Fi

Rare within the genre of military science fiction are live-action productions. While science fiction films top the list of the highest grossing movies, often military sci-fi is a small element within a great sci-fi story. It also does not help that there is confusion over just what the hell military sci-fi is. This confusion causes some works to be called MSF when they are not and the same is true in reverse. It is my hope, with this list below, that FWS has complied one of the most complete lists of live-action MSF works, culled from video game ads, to movies, and TV series. FWS will continue to update this list when new entities come along. Just check the very bottom of the index for the latest entities.

What DID and DID NOT Make the List
Defining 'Military Science Fiction' is a tough one, and I've struggling with that blogpost since 2010, when FWS started. Much like all science fiction, creators and writers use different elements from other genre to create their sci-fi Gumbo. Issac Asimov use murder mystery in some of his robot novels, while Frank Herbert used political intrigue for his DUNE novels. The same is true of military science fiction, and one only needs to examine the work of James Cameron to see an excellent example. He inserted a well-developed realistic future military organization into space horror film with added elements of drama to create one of the finest sci-fi films of all time: ALIENS. Later, he would incorporated well-developed military sci-fi elements and characters into his environmental message movie with some Native American history thrown in created AVATAR. At the beginning of his career, Cameron used a few military science fiction elements to enhance his story of a killer time-traveling robot.  He does it right, by adding the MSF element in the right amount, like the salt in baking chocolate chip cookies, too little or too much and you fuck it all up.
That being said, just because there are some minor MSF element in a story does not equal that it is MSF. This very true in the bedrock science fiction theme, alien invasion that often it gets mixed up with MSF. From the 4th century BCE Mahabharata to the 1898 War of the Worlds to 2010's Battle: Los Angeles, alien invasion has been the most used theme in sci-fi, and often MSF gets lumped into it. I would not consider 2005's War of the Worlds film to be military sci-fi,but  it is an alien invasion movie, nor is Interdependence Day, however, Battle: Los Angeles is an MSF alien invasion movie. Why? Simple, the majority of main characters are military, and the invading aliens are seemingly an military organization.
This confusion also occurs within the extremely popular Space Opera genre, when some of the characters serve in a military organization. Given their limited military element, despite the level of action in most episodes, I've decided against including  Andromeda TV series. In the case of Andromeda because only one character, Captain Dylan Hunt, is actually a member of the High Guard, and most of the series was centered around Space Opera themes. I also left off ALIEN 4 for it being pure heresy, and let us never speak of it again.
Due to the limitations of current internet search software, along with the mislabeling and misunderstanding of what MSF really is, this list is not as complete as I would have liked. I am 100% sure that there are works in other languages that could be added here, but most search engines are bias toward English. If I've missed something, please comment below and let me know, so I can update the list of live-action MSF works.
Now on to the list!


ALIENS (1986)
There is a very good reason to start off with this one, because it is the single best MSF movie there is. ALIENS set the standard for showing a well-developed future military on-screen within an outstanding movie that balances horror/sci-fi/dramatic elements evenly. ALIENS was also responsible for the trend of bring back traditional firearms to sci-fi and introducing caseless ammo to the general public. If there is any kind of justice in the universe, this WILL NEVER be remade.

Forbidden Planet is a rare gem in the 1950's...a sci-fi movie that did not have a B-movie plot, instead, Forbidden Planet became the Star Wars of its day, influencing future sci-fi creators, like Gene Roddenberry. The MSF angle comes from when I watched the newly remastered print in the early 1990's on TNT. I was impressed that in an era of popcorn cheesy space movies that Forbidden Planet featured a real spacefaring military organization, not just some Buck Rogers-type space hero or adventurer, but with ranks and military thinking. Forbidden Planet could be the first sci-fi film to have a military sci-fi element.

AVATAR (2009)
While mostly an environmental message movie mixed with elements of Native American history, AVATAR boasts some serious MSF element coupled very cool military hardware mixed in. I was impressed with Cameron's hard science approach to space travel, the gear used, and of course, the design of the AMP suits. In this film, Cameron gave the genre of MSF many gifts.

Okay, this is stretching the label of 'military sci-fi', but 2008's Objective directed and written by Daniel Myrick has an Green Beret ODA team in A-Stan attached to a shadowy CIA agent on a mission to a rural area of the country to make contact with an cleric. In reality, the CIA picked a massive radiation signature there, and the agent was sent in to investigate if it is indeed UFO activity. Creepy, well-paced, and well-done, the Objective is a damn good movie. I love this film, and loan it out to friends because this film does not get the attention it deserves.

In the minds of most people, SST is how they define military science fiction, and the original 1997 film still stands out has one of the most 'pure' MSF film to date, which is kind of sad for the genre. Why? The original big-budget bug-killing film had tons of gunfire, pretty actors, and nudity, but it is a popcorn film...pure and simple. The high mindedness of the original 1958 text is substituted for violence and an accessible story line with hot girls fighting over the hot guy. Oddly, despite the original 1997 film making money, the next two SST films were low-budget, and no where near the standard of the 1997 flick. But, the third one is worth a watch, while the second is complete dogshit. A remake is on the horizon and we fans of MSF can only prey that it will be the SST movie we deserve and need.

In the late 1970's, Lucas redefined the genre of live-action space-action science fiction, where space fighters and lasers blasters were all the rage. Jumping on the bandwagon of this trend, ABC put Glen A. Larson's ancient astronaut themed space adventure pilot into production, but was changed to give the series more space battles with cocky space fighter pilots.Original, Larson envisioned BSG to be a series of made-for-TV-movies, like the two-hour pilot, but ABC wanted an weekly series to pull Star Wars fans to the network. It lasted one season due to BSG not garner the ratings it wanted for the high cost of the show. Fans blame ABC for moving Mork & Mindy to the better time-slot rather than BSG. There was a mercifully short-lived dogshit 1980 series that should be used to torture Al-Qaeda terrorists. Before Ronald D. Moore's 2003 reboot, there were several more attempts at another series, including the Richard Hatch funded BSG: The Second Coming and Bryan Singer's 2000 attempted miniseries that would been set 20 years after the original series.

Based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, Tom Cruise (who seems to be on a sci-fi kick) and Emily Blunt battle the alien Mimic invasion in Europe while being stuck in a time loop forcing Tom and Emily to relive the same day over and over again. The film uses World War II as a focus point, and give the genre of military sci-fi some of the most impressive battle scenes ever filmed. The film opened on June 6th of 2014 to rave reviews and good returns.

After rumors and false-starts. BSG was completely retooled and relaunched has a miniseries in 2003 with themes from September 11th. Under the helm of Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, the original 1978 series was turned on its head, and  given a more realistic, hard-edged (hard drinking, too) quality, with only a few space battles and the Cylons made by man. One angle developed by the new series, that was completely ignored by the 1978 series, was the civilian government and it's relationship to the Galactica. After four seasons and two made-for-TV-movies, BSG became one of the landmark science fiction series ever on TV, and one of the best examples of military science fictions ever.

Most of us fans of BSG thought that Blood & Chrome would never happen. For nearly two years, the Sy-Fy Channel drug their feet and then downgraded the project to a web-series. This series is the story of William Adama's first missions during the closing weeks of the Cylon Wars, and based on the universe created by RDM's BSG. It is unknown if Blood & Chrome will be developed has a full series.
This is a stretch, calling PREDATOR a MSF film, but having a American  SPECOPS team on a rescue mission in South America while being stalked by an badass alien hunter is gives me good cause. This 1987 film expertly blended several genre into a seamless action flick with a terrifying alien foe that makes you think. To this day, PREDATOR is one of the only Arnold Schwarzenegger films I own on DVD, and one of my all time favorites.

THE FOREVER WAR (2014? 2015?)
Ridley Scott, or God as we know him, was finally able to buy the rights to this 1974 founding classic of MSF: the Forever War by Joe Haldeman in 2008....and it has been in development hell since. It was believed that God would be developing the Forerver War after Prometheus. As of this November, news came out that the same script writer of All You Need is Kill is penning the most current script for the Forever War. If done correctly, this could be the Saving Private Ryan of MSF films. That is if God gets around to making it...prey that he does and WETA does the SFX.

This 2010 film is the 'real' sequel to the 1987 film in both story and style, making one totally forget about PREDATOR 2...thank the gods. In PREDATORS, a group of elite professional killers from Terra are transported to an alien hunting preserve during the middle of inter-species civil war. Adding to the favor of the film are other alien races and a Vietnam-era soldier that hunts the hunters. All and all, PREDATORS is a real treat for any fan of the original...and the best part of this movie? It was filmed in Texas.

This is a seven-minute MSF film from director Ruairi Robinson centers around three soldiers patrolling a dead city during some futuristic war on an off-world colony. This is a gritty realistic MSF short film, with normal soldiers dealing with the horrors of modern warfare against the backdrop of a burned out city that is devote of people but not threats. This movie that can be found on youtube has an eerie WWI quality to it. There is some real promise with this director and Silent City was a good start for him.

BABYLON 5 (1994-1998)
I watched B5 in high school along with DS9, and while B5 is more in league with a grand space opera like Star Trek than pure MSF of the time, Space: Above and Beyond, the human characters that ran the B5 station did serve a real military organization. During the four main years of the series, there were several wars, that were not only fought in space, but also in the diplomats arena.

The early 1980's were a great time for sci-fi movies, and one of the forgotten gems of this era is The Last Starfighter. This movie was damn cool back-in-the-day when I was eight, and became a show piece for complete computer generated special effects. When it came time to write up the list for live-action MSF, I thought this film should belong. The story is about a cold war between the Rylan Star League and the Ko-Dan Empire that heats up when a Xur, a traitor to the RSL betrays the secret of the RSL defense that have kept the Ko-Dan empire at bay. Both sides of the war are projected has military organization, along with the two main charters are Gunstar pilots and members of the RSL military. FWS will be devoted a 'Forgotten Classic' blogpost about this film in the near future.

Take note Hollywood, this is how an military sci-fi alien invasion movie is done! Battle: Los Angeles has a team of US Marines locked in brutal street fighting with an alien military invasion force. Shot and acted like a genuine modern military movie instead of sci-fi film, Battle: Los Angeles stands has one of the most impressive MSF movies done. Now, what can't all MSF movies be this gritty, hard-edged, and just down right good?

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was asked by TNT to create a spin-off series of his Babylon 5 universe, and the result was Crusade. The story is set in 2267, about five years after the end of the Shadow War, and allies to the Shadows attack Earth with a deadly nanovirus that will kill all life on the planet in five years. To find a cure out there, the Victory class Excaliber is tasked with the mission to locate the cure. Sound familiar? Yeah, it was recycled from elements of Starblazers. There were just thirteen episodes filmed for Crusade and they were aired in different order than intended, causing confusion. This doomed-from-the-start series was soon cancelled by TNT, and the experience left Straczynski bitter. but he was able to re-order the episodes in the correct placement when the series ran on the old Sci-Fi channel in 2001.

Chris Roberts' excellent space fighter computer-simulator games got me through some tough days in high school, and even had a good MSF storyline. The popularity of the games was not lost on Hollywood, who helped Chris Roberts bring his vision of a MSF deep space war against a feline alien race to the silver screen in 1999...and it was complete dogshit. The film bears little likeness to the games, even the Kilrathi are redone in this painful film where gravity does exist in space. No shit. The Terran space fighters actually dip when powering down the Tiger's Claw carrier deck. I've watched only once, and this film forced to drink during it due to its the epic-shitty. And because of the way I feel about the video game series, it wasn't even worth laughing at, it was just plain sad. Thankfully, Chris Roberts never directed another movie, saving the whole of humanity.

STEALTH (2005)
This bomb of a sci-fi movie was made in 2005 and detailed events around the new 2016 F/A-37 Talon stealth attack jet. Only a few elite pilots are selected, including Jessica Biel, for the program. Back at the Penatgon, the F/A-37 also becomes the testbed for an AI-controlled UAV, called EDI. Of course, you know where this is going....Skynet junior. Sigh. This film was panned by critics for being dumb and bombed at the box office.

I bitch and whine about the effect of Star Wars and how it is more space fantasy than pure space opera, but there is some portions that are military sci-fi, especially the prequel films. Star Wars is primarily concerned with the religious war between the Sith and the Jedi, while two other major conflicts rage through that galaxy far, far away. From legions of space fighters, to massive Imperial warships, to the cloned armies of the Republic, Star Wars contains some serious futuristic hardware that have become part of our everyday culture and our toy stores.

One of the earliest live-action MSF works was the 1964 episode of The Outer Limits entitled Soldier and based on a short story from Harlan Ellison. Here we seen two super-soldiers of two factions in a far future war on Earth battling on a stark and scarred landscape with laser guns when both are transported back to the 1960's, forcing Qarlo to meet a society that is alien to him as any outer space creature. He was raised to hate and fight the enemy until death for the glory of the state. No kindness, no love, no mother or father, just service to the state. Soldier cast a long, looming shadow of influence over the bulk of military science fiction.

This was a fan-made short film based around the second Killzone game that had a total budget of $2500. Director Clinton Jones tells the story of ISA infantry unit Alpha Team Four trying exfil from Helghan controlled ground. But, nothing is that easy. A friendly air strike is in bound after their evac bird is shot down, and this small team must get out of the hotzone on foot. Well directed, and done in a style similar to the HALO: Landfall series with realistic  battlefield attack. For the limited budget, the props and SFX look pretty good,

Star Trek is the longest running American science fiction franchise, spanning ten movies (no, I don't count those fucking films by that heretic J.J. Abrams), and five TV series along with countless books, RPGs, and video games that mostly center among members of the exploration/defensive organization called Starfleet. While Trek is not pure military sci-fi, like Starship Troopers, it does have MSF component via Starfleet being a semi-military organization and several story-arches, the Dominion War of DS9. Much like Star Wars, Trek is more of a well-written high-thinking Space Opera, but every once awhile, the phasers are set to kill.

Oh, god...do I have to talk about this one? Really? Okay! Fine! Battleship is an action film with aliens invading the Earth from our own oceans, and the US Navy, transforms from the force of good to the force to kick alien ass. This showed current US Navy technology, plus a WWII-era battleship, against the interestingly designed aliens. However, the only ass that kicked was this movie at the box office.

Originally, I was not going to place the Terminator films or the TV series on this list, but FWS has talked a great deal about and given its impact on the world of sci-fi, it deserves a place. Depending on which film you watch or the TV series, you're going to see differences on the nature of the human resistance movement against the machines. Some project that their is a military style global resistance (Salvation), others project groups working collectively or separate and base themselves off of military organizations, with John Conner being the spiritual head of the movement (Terminator). The real military organization maybe Skynet and it's hordes of death machines.

DOOM (2005)
Okay, I'll level with you, I've never seen this film, and I never will. This looks bad, and most likely smells even worse. However, it is MSF mixed with horror, and therefore it earns it's place on the list. Watch at your own risk or better yet, just play the games instead.

Robert Patrick of Terminator II, X-Files, and The Unit fame plays a Terran POW soldier during a losing war with a reptile alien species. In his cell, he meets another military female prisoner. And that's where it goes all wrong...if you've watched many of the newer the Outer Limits series of the late 1990's, than you can figure out the twist here, but it's still some interesting TV.

This is the continuation of Quality of Mercy, when humanity has developed a planet-cracking bomb and the Light Bridge has been tasked with taking the bomb to the alien home world...can you say Footfall? This is the last hope for humanity in their losing war. Onboard one of the many reactor rooms of the Light Bridge, Wil Wheaton plays a Senator's son and an cadet, while Robert Patrick resume his character from the Quality of Mercy. When the warship makes it's last jump, it is intercepted by the aliens, firing several neutron charges. Most of the crew is dead and only a few survivors have to arm the bomb before the out-of-control Terran ship misses their homeworld. The story is interesting, but the acting...is...well, bad. Wil Wheaton, who was fine in ST:TNG, comes off odd in this one, and per Outer Limits tradition, the end is a twist, but a twist that makes little or not logical sense.    


This starts Outer Limits epsiode starts off with a bang! A small human special ops team assaults an hostile alien base with thermal scopes and directed energy fire. These aliens were raiders, undercutting the mining operation on this world for the North American Federation. The Outer Limits twist is that the NAF lied to the soldiers about the real reason behind injections. The brass said it was for protection against an alien virus, but in reality it was hypoallergenic, allowing the operators to see aliens instead of seeing the true face of the enemy...humans.

On a normal mineral and resources planetary survey mission to distant planet, the mixed team of military and scientists are attacked by primitive alien life. After they are beaten back, the head of the military unit takes control of the mission against the pleas of the science team to study more and shoot less. But they do not listen, hunting down their attackers killing them. On one of the bodies, they discover an golden object. Then the twist comes...these primitive aliens were actually similar to Boy Scouts on a camp trip, and that object was a distress beacon. Above the planet, an advanced alien warship comes out of hyperspace, and bombs the survey team then the warship travels to Earth for some payback.

On the planet Mars, two Earthbound factions, the Free Alliance and the Coalition have established colonies to mine an ore that can be used for a powerful explosive. For thirty years there has been uneasy cold war, both on Terra and Mars. Then, an explosion is seen destroying the Earth, leaving what is left of humanity on Mars. The Free Alliance base prepares for a strike on the Coalition base, blaming the explosion on rumors that the Coalition was smuggling ore back to Terra for a weapon. As the story ends, the Free Alliance was suiting up for an assault on the Coalition base...maybe causing some of the last members of mankind to be killed in a foolish act of vengeance.

Notes Star Wars fan-film marker Shane Felux was given the opportunity in 2010 to make a web series for Crackle (original Stage 9) that had about a dozen three-to-five minute segments. Given his love of Star Wars, Felux turned out a gritty MSF series about two factions of mankind fighting on a near-desert planet in brutal combat. There was some good writing, weapons, and costumes for a extremely low-budget production. This was hanging around youtube for awhile, but it seems it was removed by Crackle.com as well as their own website. Pity. FWS will be reviewing Trenches in more detail soon.

After years of rumors and false starts, an Ender's Game movie is finally being filmed with some A-list acting talent...Harrison Ford to name one. While I may not care for the 1985 book as much as many people, the film could be a very good MSF work, and it will be amazing to see the battle-rooms and the insect aliens. The film is scheduled for release in late 2013.

Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. play space fighter pilots on opposite sides in an interstellar war between Terrans and the Dracs over territory and Starbuck's locations. During a fighter engagement, Quaid and Gossett are shot down and forced to pull together to survive on the brutal conditions of Fyrine IV. This film was an early MSF film that is nearly unknown today, but it should be noted for the excellent performance of Louis Gossett Jr. FWS will be discussing Enemy Mine in more depth with an forgotten classic blogpost in the near future.

In an attempt to establish themselves, 343 industries with their HALO: Waypoint website along with Machinima Prime created a live-action five-part web series, covering the experiences of cadets at an elite off-world UNSC military academy just before the Human/Covenant War. The goal was to broadcast the HALO universe to previous non-players, or those players that disregarded HALO and played the Call of Duty games. This is well done with great SFX, props, and acting. This mini web-series continued the line of great HALO-themed live-action shorts.The bitch move that 343 and Machinima made with Forward onto Dawn was making episodes three, four, and five private, forcing you to pay or buy the DVD. When I get the DVD, FWS will do a full review...damn, HALO is like crack.

I make no secret about my admiration for the unloved Star Trek: Enterprise series, and it was not until the third season that I could have classified this Trek series has MSF. Peaceful Terra is attacked (think September 11th) by a alien probe that uses a cutting DEW beam to murder thousands, forcing Starfleet only Warp-Five ship into abandoned their exploration mission and mounted a mission to find the planet-killing super-weapon and destroy it. Aiding the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise is a team of United Earth Military MACO commandos, adding to the 'MSFness' of the 3rd season. For the entire run of episodes, all were devoted to the quest to find the weapon, rare focus among American TV, with resulting battles and events that remind me of Starblazers. 

The first anime I ever watched was Starblazers in the late 1970's, and for the rest of my life, it occupied a special place in my heart. So, I was thrilled when trailers began to leak out with footage of this Japanese-made live-action Yamato film. Taking elements of the first two Space Cruiser Yamato TV series, and some liberal borrowing from the American BSG reboot. For the most part, Yamato looks good, sounds good, but had some major changes to the original story. It is the best we fans of Yamato could have hoped for. 


In 2007, Dark Horse Comics published two volumes of the anime-inspirited Gear School by Adam Gallardo about a future war where young pilots commander 'gears', a take-off of the Macross Veritechs mecha, against an hostile alien race. The star is 13 year old pilot Teresa Gottlieb and her adventures during the war. In 2010, a live-action short called Gear School: Plug & Play was made in Spain starring Paula Jimenez Garcia has Teresa, and had a small story about several of the students at the Gear School taking one of the mecha on a joy ride. I've searched and never found more than a 'making of' featurette and a trailer to Plug & Play. FWS will be review both Gear School comics in 2013.

Here is a very story live-action HALO 4 story film about the launch and mission of the UNSC: Infinity, the first UNSC navy ship devoted to exploration. This blends in with the events that happen during the game, explaining some of why the Infinity was pulled into the Forerunner shield world.  

RUNDOWN (2011)
Here is a little three and half minute future story about several soldiers armed with H&K G36Cs fighting off creepy black-clad red-glowing eyed enemy that are mostly likely war robots. It is truly amazing what novice filmmakers can accomplished with off-the-shelve software.

Even after 343 took over the HALO mantle, they carried on with the tradition of live-action HALO adverts. For the fourth Master Chief game, we got the 'scanned' trailer that tells some of the history of the SPARTAN-II program, and brief combat of the Chief taking out three knights with easy, then being captured by the Didact. For most of us, this was some of the first footage of the new enemy, but it was nice to see the tradition being maintained.

Here is one of the rare space fighter short films on youtube, Cockpit: the Rules of Engagement, and has some real Hollywood talent in veteran sci-fi actor Ronny Cox. It is 2103, and Terra is at war with an alien enemy that uses mind control has their main offensive weapon. The story centers around events unfolding on the Terran space carrier, several space fighters, and in the minds of the humans. This 11-minute short film was designed garner interest in developing the world of Cockpit:ROE into a movie or series.

In 1977, everyone wanted to cash in on the Star Wars mania, and Toho Studios of Japan was no different, so, they redressed an undersea adventure movie, designed a space-going battleship, and borrowed plot elements from Space Cruiser Yamato. I've seen the War in Space a few times when the Tulsa TV station KOKI Channel 23 (which is now a fucking FOX station!) aired really late at night or in the afternoon, and this film is really bad, nearly nonsensical. In 1988, the Earth is invaded by UFOs, and an experimental space battleship is finished and takes the war to the rubber-aliens from Venus. Is actually features a laser pistol being cleaned like convectional firearm, that's how bad this film is.

I found this on youtube while searching for live-action MSF short films. This is a pretty standard story in MSF circles, and even BSG: Blood & Chrome had some of the same theme: stranded soldiers tagged with escorting a female scientists that has the weapon or ability to end the war. Priority One is that story, and while being little more than a well-done home movie, it shows real promise. The armor and weapons are interesting  the SFX is not bad, and I wanted to know more about the aliens (in the bad rubber mask). Some of the combat scenes are a little sloppy, and show that the filmmakers and actors needed more time in research and less playing Call of Duty. I think Priority One is worth your time, and would be cool to see more.

From 1968 to 1973, there were five...count'em, five film made that detailed the rise of the apes. Only the lat one, made in 1973 can be considered live-action MSF. This one is set in 2670, after the nukes have fallen, and Caeser attempts to make peace between the apes and the surviving humans. It doesn't go well. This film series slid further and further down into the toilet with each film after the original, and I've only seen this once...and I think was high, but I can clearly remember laughing, as I am now. The last big battle for the Earth takes place in the 27th century, that is beyond Star Trek and Mass Effect, but Battle for the Planet of the Apes has the humans and apes still using the M16 and the M1 Carbine! That is very damn long service life! Vietnam era Army Jeeps make an appearance, and even the uniforms are from an Army/Navy store. Roger Ebert said of the film in 1973: "thank merciful god, it's the last of the Apes movies", and I couldn't agree more.

'Believe' is a entire campaign designed to push the finality of the third HALO game, and the impact of the Covenant War on Terran society. Several of the videos are interviews with elder former UNSC soldiers for the 'museum of humanity''s archives. Most center around their experiences with the Master Chief, and are an interest piece of MSF media. Another video details the massive hand-built diorama, depicting a portion of the Second Battle of New Mombasa. One of the most bittersweet HALO live-action videos.

If we a kid in the late-1980's, and chances are that you knew of this oddity of live-action MSF...Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. One part live-action toy advertisement, along with another part Terminator rip-off, Captain Power was the story of a grim future were machines have conquered man during the Metal Wars, and the only hope is these flashy warriors in their fabulous armor. While cheesy, it attempt to give kids something more real to watch than lame American animation cartoon focusing on selling their own toy line. But it ended after one season because it seems that Americans didn't want their kids watching a post-apocalyptic war children's TV program.

Beginning with a big-budget 1994 film starring Kurt Russel, Stargate soon became the longest running 'pure' military sci-fi show in history, encompassing several DVD movies,   three TV series, and maybe more to come. The interesting angle that Stargate took on MSF was that it took place in the current real-world, but the US government had ancient alien FTL portal technology allowing us to travel throughout the galaxy, while our space program was still playing with the Space Shuttle in Earth orbit. I also found the use of the USAF to be a cool element.

HALO: landfall is actually composed of three separate short films: Arms Race, Combat, and Last One Standing that rocked work of science fiction and gaming. Never before had we seen the world of HALO or MSF These were put out before the launch of HALO 3 to generate buzz and were directed by Neil Blomkamp. For me, these three shorts became one of the best examples of hard-edged futuristic combat. With anmazing shorts like this, I have to ask...where the hell is my HALO movie?

SF3D (1985)
Beginning in the early 1980's, SFD3 was a monthly manga series in a Japanese hobby magazine, where creators Kow Yokoyama, Hiroshi Ichimura, and Kunitaka Imai developed the universe that was SF3D and became later, M.a K ZBV30000. Taking their love of BLADE RUNNER, World War I & II, and created a universe where World War IV destroyed the Earth in the 29th century, and the colonies repopulated their homeworld, but created conditions for wars between the Terran settlements. In 1985, a twenty five minute live-action film was made using SF3D models, and actors telling the story of the aftermath of a  battle in the Australian desert in 2884. One mecha pilot attempts to recovery his suit after being damaged, when robotic hovertanks stalk him through the ruins of a city.    


We fans of MSF and HALO got something amazing with this less than three minute live-action short film in 2010. Delivery Hope is quality short-flim production, with incredible music, props, and story line. Noble Team has been tasked with destroying an CCS class warship over a human city, supporting the invasion of this nearly lost human colony. The goal is to get a micro-nuke onboard the alien vessel and destroy it from the inside out. Delivery Hope explains how Kat lost her arm, and why a slot in Noble Team was empty for SPARTAN-III B312. If you haven't watched this, watch now.

Director Sandy Collora, who made the acclaimed 2003 Batman: Dead-End short-film, had a live-action MSF space adventure for this first full-length film, Hunter Prey. A future prisoner survives a crash landing on a hostile desert world, has the remains of the elite team is on the hunt, but the hunt is proving difficult for the team as they die off one by one. Done extremely well for the money with cool armor, Hunter Prey is worth a look. Piece of trivia, the futuristic guns in the movie are reworked Nerf N-Strike Long-Shot CS-6. FWS will be presenting a full review in the near future.

This low-budgt, nearly straight to tape film starred Peter Weller (Robocop) and the original material was written by Philip K. Dick under his 1953 story Second Variety. In the year 2078 on the planet orbiting the star Sirius 6B, where a civil war over the mining rights to the planet has ended the flow of ore and ruined the cities. The war is pretty much over when the fresh troops, supplies, and government interest stop, making for a soldiers' ceasefire possible. When one faction asks for negations on a ceasefire, Peter Weller's character goes out to met the them and discuss terms. It is there, that Weller and company, find out that one of their own automated killing machines, the Screamers, are changing and heating up the war on this off-world colony. Over all, not a bad B-movie, and was a sci-fi movie of its time. FWS will devote a full 'Forgotten Classics' blogpost on Screamers in the near future.


Brutal. That is one word for this 2009 live-action short for the HALO 3: ODST game, which was no way connected to the actually game. For me, this was perfect. It showed the hard lives of the elite SPECOPS unit of the UNSC, and what the future of paratroopers could be.


During the height of the science fiction boom on TV during the 1990's, there was alone standout of pure live-action MSF: Space: Above and Beyond. For one season, we followed five US Marine space attack jet pilots during the 2063-2064 Chig War, when mankind meets their first ET when their interstellar colonies come under attack. There was nothing like it on TV before or after until the reboot of BSG, and for fans like me, it loom large in our hearts. Wild Cards forever!

When Bungie and 343 wouldn't make a movie, some British fans pooled their pounds, hit up people for support, and began the work on their own HALO movie with a Land Rover-based Warthog...but, that was in 2009. The story goes that film is set around the time of HALO 3, and centered on some recon UNSC marines investiaging a downed CCS-class alien warship.
There was some get buzz around this production, one of my favorite DeviantART artisits, ukitakumki, did the concept art. At present, there is not much in the way of news...I believe that Operation: Chastity is in post-production. At least, I'm hoping so.

This low-budget film has been around since 2010, surprising us with the imagines and trailers for this project. Project Arbiter is an alternate history tale with an OSS secret armored power suit operator going after a Nazi WMD program in the closing days of  war. I hope one day to watch the full movie, if it ever gets finished.

Yet another live-action HALO short advert for the Reach game, but this one shows the full measure of transforming a normal teenager into a SPARTAN-III. Really worth watching if you are into the HALO mythology or super-soldiers in general. As always, so real quality work here.

SOLDIER (1998)
The script was penned by David Peoples of BLADE RUNNER fame, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Kurt (call me Snake) Russell has a product of military super-soldier project called ADAM. The movie centers around Russell's character Sgt. Todd being replaced by a new generation of super-soldiers and dumped off a garage planet. Soldier could have a great pure MSF film, especially with it's connection to the BLADE RUNNER universe, but instead, the director fucked it up, and Soldier died at the box-office. Today the movie is nearly forgotten, which is a pity because Russell turns in one of best performances,  and  now difficult to find on DVD.

Often the Captain American character is considered one of the original super-soldier characters in popular fiction. In 2011, there was a serious Hollywood attempt, with a matching budget, to finally bring the Captain America to a proper film. In this alternate history tale taking place during World War II, the Red Skull characters developed DEWs, the Germans had a process of taking normal soldiers and transforming them into ubermensch, not to mention the ultra-dense metal, possibly alien technology shield.

It is the 21st century and we finally get a military science fiction mecha movie! And...and...it gets better, we get a massive monster, akin to the glory days of monster films from Japan, all in one film directed by Guillermo de Toro! The first trailer for Pacific Rim finally got released, and this looks better than I original thought. Here is hoping!

FARSCAPE (1999-2003)
One of FWS frequent readers gave a heads-up on Farscape needing to be on the list, and after some research, he is right! Farscape was one of those shows I missed completely, but from what I've read there is some real MSF elements, especially when it comes to the Peacekeepers. I think I'll have to check this series out in the future...

In this Will Smith film, who created the basic plot and stars along with his son, Earth has been abandoned, and setup house on humanity's new homeworld, Nova Prime. That was a 1,000 ago, and only six FTL colonial vessels were about to transport 750,000 off of the toxic Earth to the new homeworld. The rest of humanity was left to die. Will Smith plays a Ranger, the soldiers of Nova Prime, and his son is close to being kicked out of the Ranger military academy. During a route mission to Earth, the transport crashes, with only Will Smith and his son are surviving members of the mission, and are marooned on this wild planet. While this movie had much promise...it bombed at the box-office. Pity.

Based on the IDW graphic novel of the same name, Earth is abandoned after an alien invasion some sixty years prior to the events in the film. Now, Tom Cruise's character, and former marine, Jack is one of the drone repairman on the planet. The remains of the human that are out in space, are continuing the mining of Earth's raw materials. However, a crash on the planet of a life-pod that causes Jack to question his entire life and role. This film seems to contain some MSF elements and is a very beautiful, but flawed film.

Over the course of Sci-Fi  on TV, there have been attempts to tell an alien invasion story, but few have been has successful as TNT's Falling Skies starring Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood with Steven Spielberg as producer. This series, as of 2013, is in its third season, and continues the story of the remaining 10% of the Terran population fighting against the alien invades and their kidnapping of children.

Before the drop of HALO:5 Guardians, the new live-action digital HALO series will be released, Nightfall. While just announced, it seems that Ridley Scott will be producing this one, and it will exclusive to the Xbox One. This will tell the story of SPARTAN-IV ONI Agent Locke (who could be female), who will be in HALO: 5. The poster for the digital series shows a broken Forerunner ring. We shall see what Nightfall is in November of 2014.


  1. Excellent list - the memories! Kudos for listing Cpt Power, that one I remember fondly.

    Pity you decided against Farscape, as one of the lead characters, Aeryn Sun, is a bad ass commando and the entire "Peacekeeper" military force is slamming it's hammer on our heroes.
    But, hey, it's your list :)

    It's an acquired taste, but the old (and very, very dated) BBC series Blakes7 and Space 1999 are some semi/quasi MSF worthy of a slight mention, even though they'd never make the list.

    Oh and yes, stay far, far away from Doom; it's so bad, it's not even funny.

    Thanks! Enjoyable read, as always.

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  2. Well do! When I saw the trailers for DOOM back in '05, I thought it smelled.
    Damn...I didn't know that about Farscape. Let me do some more research, and I'll add if it fits. I've never watched it, but I wish I had. I don't have cable, and it aired on regular TV, but my wife hates scifi (odd, I know), and she couldn't stomach the few times I tried to watch it. It didn't play very long on that station.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Hi Will, I have enjoyed looking for new MSF sites. If you get a chance check out the media list I have created on my site at http://militaryscifi.com/thelist/thelist.html
    I play a little fast and loose with what is MilSciFi but most of it should fit. Let me know if there is anything you think should be added.

    Thanks! Now back to digging through your blog.


  4. I hope you enjoy looking through FWS, and I really believed that FWS was along here...interesting website and nice layout. Especially enjoyed your book release posts, and how they look! Very nice! Maybe one day my book will be on one of your lists!
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Another great MSF article William! When you have the time you should also check out Digital Man (1995) and the Recon 2020 series (Recon 2020 (2004), Recon 2022: The Mezzo Incident (2007) and Recon 2023: The Gauda Prime Conspiracy (2009)). To be completely honest the first is so cheap it makes Starship Troopers 2 look like a Hollywood big-budget blockbuster and the Recon 2020 "films" are more like fan productions. But we MSF film fans have to get our "fix" wherever we find it, right?

  6. Should see the killzone intercept movie. It's pretty good. Are u gonna do a review of killzone shadow fall?

  7. I wish I could...I have only the money to own one video game system, and since HALO is on the Xbox systems, own Xboxs. I would like to own both the PS4 and the Xbox ONE.. The only KILLZONE game I've played is the original game on the PS2. When my home was robbed in 2005, my PS2 was taken, and I replaced it with the insurance money with an original Xbox and the HALO:CE...and it changed my life.

  8. I appreciate everything you have added to my knowledge base.Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer.Thanks.best 80s sci-fi

  9. I'm still mad about Falling Skies. It started off with such a cool premise, sort of like Twilight 2000 with aliens, but like a lot of SFF shows it got sillier and sillier as it went along, to the point of being completely unwatchable by season 4.

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