The New York Times tried an experiment with four classic sci-fi movies exactly 40 years ago:
If you were a moviegoer in the 1980s, you were constantly being asked figurative questions that seemed cosmic and existential. Will humanity ever be able to resolve its differences here on earth and learn to travel the stars as one species? Or are we destined for a dystopian future with only smoky skies and giant billboards to look forward to? Was our advanced technology able to literally swallow us up or completely replace us? Could we ever encounter alien life that was intelligent and benevolent? Probably, the distant year 2000 will answer some of these questions.
Blade Runner, Alien, Thrones, and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, all released 40 years ago in the summer of ’82, were seminal works that shaped the next several decades of fantasy franchises. But what if it’s not the sci-fi movie you grew up watching? What if you came of age in a later generation and only knew these movies as famous when they were a bit far-fetched? Will they still seem exciting, innovative and thought-provoking? Or—to counter another terrifyingly speculative scenario—will they just seem uncool?
To find out for ourselves, we picked four modern stars—all born in the 21st century—and asked each of them to watch one of these seminal sci-fi films. They shared their reactions and reflections, didn’t judge the special effects too harshly and still cried when they thought the alien had died.
Showed Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan Celia Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura in the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Brave New Worlds. Gooding’s response was that “the Mahaism of the rulers has not changed in the future… it’s still two guys trying to find out whose ship is bigger.”
Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Netflix star Cobra KaiJacob Bertrand watched both Throne and its sequel in 2010 Tron: Legacy. “I feel like the new one doesn’t hold a candle to the old one…I’ve been trying to think of how they could do it with the technology of the time and all I can think of is it sounds like so much work. I was like, man, how do they do it at the time? Holy cow, these people were dedicated.”
19-year-old Iman Velani (star of the Disney+ show Ms. Marvel) felt it Running on a razor’s edge “hit the mark… I feel like everyone in my generation is always looking for some higher purpose or trying to prove that they are worthy enough or special enough to be in the spotlight or just worth living with. I find myself empathizing with replicants much more, after rewatching it, which I didn’t expect.”
And the 19-year-old Netflix star Strange thingsFinn Wolfhard, described ET is extraterrestrial as “unbelievably sweet”.