“Space opera” is a phrase that defines a genre of science fiction literature, and can also be applied as a category for movies. Typically, space opera occurs on a galactic scale, involves intelligent races other than humans, and has multiple types of spacecraft, from speedy corvettes to battleships capable of destroying planets. There is plenty of action and adventure in space opera. One thing you can be nearly certain of when watching a space opera film is that you won’t get bored. What follows is my opinion of the top five space opera films, in chronological order. I consider these movies to be equally good and none deserves to outshine the others.
1. Star Wars
This movie set the bar extremely high for all space opera films that came after. Groundbreaking special effects combined with an almost Shakespearean level of epic storytelling allows us to see characters meeting local challenges on a backdrop of galactic discord.
2. The Empire Strikes Back
Many fans consider this film to be the best of the Star Wars movies. The conflict between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is knocked up a notch and betrayal of a friend becomes a strong theme. This movie shows us the seductive nature of the Dark Side and how joining it is a credible temptation.
3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
This film pits one of the most famous sci-fi captains versus a superb villain who brings an intense, theatrical mood to the film. We understand and sympathize with Khan’s desire for revenge, even if we may not agree with the methods he uses to pursue that revenge.
4. The Fifth Element
If you enjoy space opera films with a liberal dash of comedy and strange visuals,
“The Fifth Element” is your cup of alien tea. Good acting is a key factor, with impressive performances by Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Chris Tucker and Ian Holm. Combining comedy and drama acting for this type of script is not an easy feat.
This movie is based on the ‘Firefly’ television series created by Joss Whedon, who also directed and wrote the film. Unlike most heroic sci-fi captains, Mal is considered a criminal by the galactic society. In the film, Mal shows that unlike many criminals, he supports average galactic citizens more than the powerful forces trying to control them, and he is willing to die for the right of those citizens to have transparency in government.