The Criteria for Selection
These were tough choices and the FWS community helped me out to narrow down the massive amount of choices that exist in the whole of visual science fiction. Some of these were chosen for the historical importance and/or impact on the sci-fi as whole such as the Battle of Yavin IV from A New Hope and HALO 3: Landfall. Others were chosen for their gut reaction that had caused me to say: “I need a towel and a cigarette” afterwards.
When it came to works that contain a vast amount of sci-fi combat sequences, like Trek or Wars, the decision was much tougher. This list could be packed with examples from Star Trek, B5, Stargate, and Star Wars, but that would be not fair or representative of the wider realm of sci-fi combat in the visual medium. So, that meant that I had to boil down to the core of the battle scenes in those franchises. Some key moments in those franchises were not included like the first encounter with the Jem Hadar that resulted in the first combat loss of a Galaxy class starship, the first combat use of the Defiant, the Battle of Section 001, and the Battle of Proxima III.
1. The Battle of Yavin IV from Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
2. The Battle of New Caprica from Battlestar Galactica (2006)
For nearly a season, there had been buildup to the Colonial liberation of the occupied New Caprica and we were not disappointed. When the plan finally came together, we were treated an amazing moment in sci-fi combat scenes: Adama Maneuver. Having the Galactica burn into the atmosphere of New Caprica from a FTL jump, deploy fighters, then burn out using the FTL jump system was amazing. Then Galactica took on several basestars. With the end of the Galactica in sight, the Pegasus arrives and unleashes hell onto a basestar, destroying it and saving the Galactica. However, the Cylon force proves too much and the Pegasus, the second to last Battlestar in the known universe and the last of the Mercenary class is destroyed, but the Galactica is saved. Many have praised the combat scenes in this episode as the finest in the entire show and one of the greatest moments in sci-fi combat.
4. The Battle of B5 from Babylon 5 “Severed Dreams”(1996)
5. The Battle of the Homeworld from Ender’s Game
6. Invasion of Planet P from Starship Troopers (1997)
7. Battle of Hoth from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
8. Battle of Geonosis from Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones (2002)
9. Operation Return from Star Trek Deep Space 9 (1996)
10. The Normandy Beach Assault from Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
11. Attack at the Atmosphere Processor ALIENS (1986)
Star Trek never had great combat scenes until 1982’s The Wrath of Khan and it was not a space battle between the Klingons or the Romulans, but Federation starship vs. Federation starship! After Khan’s Reliant deeply wounds the much larger refit USS Enterprise, the stage is set for a rematch…but given the damage to the Enterprise, Kirk orders the heavy cruiser into the Mutara Nebula to even the odds. What follows is a tense game of hunter-pray between Federation starships with beautiful special effects, great acting, and unforgettable music. When the end comes for Khan, he quotes Moby Dick and unleashes the forces of creation. While Star Wars had space fighter combat, Star Trek had ship-to-ship space battles. Sadly, it would be four movies until we got something close to the Battle of the Mutara Nebula in Star Trek VI.
13. The 2372 Klingon Assault from Star Trek Deep Space 9 (1995)
14. HALO 3: Landfall (2008)
In 2008, the marketing campaign for HALO 3 was bold and expensive with Microsoft/Bungie diving in with a live-action “prequel” to the opening of HALO 3 featuring a ODST unit on a special mission. We fans of HALO and Military SF were very excited by the tense, realistic nature of the three part short videos directed by raising star Neill Blomkamp. When collected together, these shorts were called “Landfall” and it would serve as a template for the possible Peter Jackson produced Neill Blomkamp live-action HALO film project.
15. The Battle of Antarctica from Stargate: SG-1 (2004)
16. The Siege of the City of Atlantis from SG: Atlantis (2005)
Since the beginning of the SG: Atlantis show, there had been a big battle written into the DNA of the show: when the Wraith get to Atlantis. That came in the excellent three part season 1-2 bridge “The Siege” episodes. I watched these at the time and they stand out as some of the best of the entire show and all manner of combat is shown: air, land, and space. When the Daedalus shows up and starts teleportaing nukes inside the Wraith warships is a moment we fans of Trek have wanted to see for years and Atlantis delivered on that. Even if you are not a fan of Atlantis, these are worth watching.
17. The Battle over Area 51 from ID4 (1996)
19. Assault of the Thoth Station from the Expanse (2018)
20. The Mass Effect Trilogy End Battle Scenes (2007-2012)
21. Battle of Scarif from Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)
22. Future War Scenes from The Terminator (1984) and T2 (1991)
23. The Reavers vs. the Alliance Battle from Serenity (2005)
24. Magog Assault on the Andromeda from Gene Rhoddenberry's Andromeda (2001)
25. The Assault of the Zentrendi Armada On Earth from ROBOTECH (1985)
In minutes, an apocalyptic holocaust of unimaginable scale is reaped on the Earth. The vast majority of the human race is killed in the assault by 4.8 million alien warships and the surface of the Earth is scarred. The brave defenders of the RDF, their allied Zentrendi forces along with the Grand Cannon attempt to save what little is left of the human race and mother Earth from the enemy. This was the apex of the Macross stoyline and even features the only Lynn Minmay song I actually like and tolerate. There some beautiful scenes in this episode especially when Rick rescues Lisa and they watch the battle from the ruins of Alaska Base. While this one is a personal choice, I felt like it could not be ignored given the impact of ROBOTECH/Macross and how it scarred/inspirited a generation.
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