It is not all that easy a task to recommend films or TV series to fans of Star Wars for the one simple reason – George Lucas’ epic space saga (now in the capable hands of JJ Abrams and Disney) is one of a kind. There truly is not any like it. But if you have to suggest something from the genre to the said fans, what would suggest? Rather than random choosing, the key lies in the methodology of the choice. First and foremost, you start off by asking what influenced Lucas to make Star Wars and then trying to narrow down what makes Star Wars tick.
From the perspective of genre, sci-fi may generally be said to split into two broad groupings – hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi. The subject matter of hard sci-fi is generally on stories which place an emphasis on science with technical accuracy. This relegates action or special effects to the background. Fans of this sub-genre of sci-fi would generally include the genius classic 2001: A Space Odyssey at the top of their list and it may also include newer entries like Europa Report. Then we have soft sci-fi on the other hand, which favours soft sciences (sociology, psychology, etc.). It is more concerned with character and futuristic society at large from a speculative viewpoint. It is often informed by concerns and anxieties of our humanistic life conditions. In this sense, Star Wars would fall into the latter category. It should be noted though that there are some who opine that the series exists in an entirely separate category: sci-fi fantasy.
Getting back to the original mission regardless of the genre debate, we now have a fairly calculated idea or a sense of what might appeal to a Star Wars fan. So we have narrowed it down to the sub-genre of soft sci-fi and now we shall try to find titles that capture the adventure and fun of Star Wars. Without further ado, here are ten films and TV series that would appeal fans of Star Wars.
1. Flash Gordon
Fact Alert – Did you know that Flash Gordon was one of George Lucas’ primary Star Wars influences? That itself is enough to pique your interest. If it isn’t yet piqued, I guarantee that this comic strip-based film is worth your time if you’re a Star Wars fan. Take my word for it and give it a chance.
Furthermore, Lucas attempted to obtain the rights to make a Flash Gordon film even before he made Star Wars. Unfortunately, he was denied that but luckily for us, many of the ideas made their way into Star Wars: A New Hope.
There have been many adaptations of Flash Gordon over the years – to be precise – three film serials, a series of television shows both live action and animated, and a video game. But the pick of the lot, the loopiest and most entertaining has to be the 1980 film adaptation directed by Mike Hodges starring Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, and Max von Sydow (who by the way also plays a character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens). It intentionally imitated the campy style to emulate the narrative technique of comics and serials. Flash Gordon narrates the story of the titular hero who is an American football player. He is scooped up by a rocketship and sent to planet Mongo where he and his friends battle Ming the Merciless over the fate of Earth.
At the time of the release, the film performed quite poorly. Like several movies from sci-fi and fantasy would do later, it went on to achieve cult classic status. The filmmaker Edgar Wright claims it as a favourite.
Need more persuasion to check it out? The film’s soundtrack was composed and performed by none other than Queen.
2. The Fifth Element
Luc Besson’s filmThe Fifth Element was released in the summer of 1997. Since then it has gone on to achieve classic status in the minds of many sci-fi fans. The film stars brilliant actors such as Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, and Chris Tucker. Willis played the role of Korben Dallas — a taxi driver and former special-forces major. He is inadvertently roped into an enormous struggle that involves the fate of the Earth. If that casting makes you salivate then you’ll be ecstatic to know that it also feratures Gary Oldman in one of his most memorable performances as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg. The film is filled energy that can be best described as manic, it has a fantastic production design, and the special effects that still holds its own to this day.