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Top 10 Sci Fi Movie Scores

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Nick Spake These are the melodies that teleported us to new worlds in galaxies far, far away. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 sci-fi movie scores. For this list, we're taking a look at the most iconic main musical scores from science fiction films. Special thanks to our user Lionel Gilmore for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Sci Fi Movie Scores


These are the melodies that teleported us to new worlds in galaxies far, far away. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 sci-fi movie scores.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most iconic main musical scores from science fiction films. However, we’ve excluded adapted themes that weren’t originally composed for particular movies like “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

#10: “12 Monkeys” (1995)

This isn’t the kind of theme you’d usually expect to hear in a science fiction film. Then again, “12 Monkeys” is anything but a conventional sci-fi flick. Composer Paul Buckmaster creates the atmosphere of a zany circus meets a Sherlock Holmes or Professor Layton mystery here. It’s amazing how his theme manages to evoke so many different emotions at once, from paranoia, to whimsy, to insanity. Inspired by Argentine tango, the music provides the perfect backdrop for our characters as they submerge themselves into this schizophrenic world headed for the apocalypse.

#9: “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979)

Okay, so “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” might not be the best film in this series. However, it did set the bar for the franchise’s music with Jerry Goldsmith’s immortal theme. From the first note, it feels as if the audience has been beamed into the vast recesses of space, drifting through a galaxy of endless majesty. While future installments would produce several other phenomenal themes, this is one that defines “Star Trek” and prepares us to boldly go where no man has gone before.

#8: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

Improving upon his score from the original film, Brad Fiedel delivered one of the most haunting and ominous movie themes ever in “Terminator 2.” Unlike some sci-fi themes that put an emphasis on fun and exploration, “Terminator 2” evokes feelings of supreme loss and defeat. It’s the end of times and all innocence is lost. As the melancholy music builds up to its heart-pounding climax, though, we’re given a shred of hope that humanity will rise again and challenge the machines.

#7: “Sunshine” (2007)

Even if you’ve never seen “Sunshine,” chances are you’ve at least heard its scorching theme, which has been reused in various other movies and trailers. A collaboration between the band Underworld and composer John Murphy, “Sunshine” is as godly and transcendent as sci-fi themes come. Hearing this score, the audience feels like they’re taking in something that’s greater than the whole human race, something we can barely begin to comprehend. When the music ends, the listener is left with the sentiment that they’ve become slightly more connected to our galaxy.

#6: “RoboCop” (1987)

The forceful opening to this theme by Basil Poledouris sounds as if a person is being mercilessly gunned down, ultimately hitting the floor where death awaits. Just when it looks like this is the end; a shimmering light with the promise of new life appears. Through innovative technology, that person is reborn as mankind’s mighty savior, prepared to triumph over anything in their path. Solely through music, the audience is told the entire story of “RoboCop” without even realizing it.

#5: “Tron: Legacy” (2010)

The original “Tron” is the definition of retro in every technical department. In “Tron Legacy,” everything is given a new-aged upgrade, including the music by Daft Punk. Their score sends out an appropriately electronic vibe, teleporting the audience to the enhanced virtual reality of the Grid. Much like the film, the theme manages to be dark and mysterious, but also fast-paced and energizing. While it often sounds very 21st century, the theme can occasionally come off as very 1980s too, bringing together the best of both worlds.

#4: “Jurassic Park” (1993)

Where most sci-fi themes transport audiences to the future, John Williams’ theme for “Jurassic Park” takes us back to the dawn of time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. As fantastic as the dinosaurs look, it’s the music that adds another layer of grandeur to this epic film. Through this theme, we experience all the magic, splendor, and adrenaline rushing through the main characters as they first see the dinosaurs. Whenever this theme plays, you can’t help but feel insignificant compared to these astounding, ancient beasts that existed long before us.

#3: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

Here’s a theme that really triggers one’s creativity and childlike innocence. All the inventiveness, playfulness, and joy associated with childhood shines through John Williams’ score for “E.T.” His music makes the audience feel lighter than air, lifting us out of our seats alongside E.T. and Elliot in the night sky. Suddenly, all the fears and insecurities plaguing our lives vanish. We’ve been uplifted to another plane of imagination seen through a child’s eyes. Although reality might sink back in eventually, for a few minutes we truly feel like kids again.

#2: “Back to the Future” (1985)

Seeing how time is such a huge factor in “Back to the Future,” it’s only appropriate that Alan Silvestri’s theme pumps the audience with an immediate sense of urgency. Silvestri’s music encompasses the cliffhanging adventure of a serial and the thrills of a rollercoaster. The theme plays an especially crucial role in the film’s climax as our hero literally finds himself in a race against time with tension building. When he crosses the finish line, we’re left with a final note that makes everyone want to burst out victoriously.

Before we listen to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Inception” (2010)
- “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977)
- “Stargate” (1994)
- “Pacific Rim” (2013)
- “Men in Black” (1997)

#1: “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)

From the second John Williams’ score was first played in the opening to “Star Wars,” everybody in the theater knew they were in store for a movie-going extravaganza unlike anything we’d seen or heard before. It doesn’t matter if the theme accompanies a lightsaber duel or yellow text floating through space. Whenever this Oscar-winning music meets our ears, all we can do is cheer in excitement. This isn’t just the greatest sci-fi movie theme of all time. It’s arguably the most significant piece of music ever composed in cinematic history.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite sci-fi movie theme? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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