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Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies About Moon Landings

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spaceflight launched that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969. Armstrong is the first person to step onto the lunar surface. Buzz Aldrin joined him later.

The first manned mission to the moon was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience and became the most-watched moment in television history. Armstrong's words "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" immediately made television history and has been referenced for decades. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race with Russia and made the national goal of spaceflight a reality.

Throughout history, man has dreamed of traveling to its closet neighbor the moon. The satellite has been the subject of wonder and excitement for hundreds of years and been the subject of movies since the invention of film. While not always scientifically accurate here are the most influential movies about humans visiting the moon.

10. Apollo 18 (2011)

Apollo 18 is a supposedly true found-footage film about the last mission to the moon and its disastrous consequences. The movie says that the supposedly canceled mission to the mon happened and the crew discovered the true horror there: space rocks. The moon rocks attack and kills most of the crew in the goofiest ways possible.

So why recommend it? It's unintentionally hilarious and if you're looking for the range of movies covering moon landings it's a must-see movie.

9. Capricorn 1 (1978)

Capricorn 1 (1978)

This movie is a fun one for conspiracy theorists. When NASA realizes it's too expensive and hard to launch a mission to Mars they decide to fake it. The astronauts are taken from the ship and to a secret base while the rest of the world watches the fictional Mars landing. Capricorn 1 is a high-stakes thriller showing NASA as an evil organization willing to do anything to achieve its goal of hoaxing the American public.

The movie is the dream of conspiracy theorists who have spent decades pushing the idea that NASA faked the moon landing. In fact, one scene shows the remains of the fake Apollo 11 mission. It's a ridiculous and silly movie that manages to bring real thrills to the idea. Plus, it stars O.J. Simpon as Commander John Walker.

8. Project Moonbase (1953)

Project Moonbase (1953)

In the future world of 1970, a group of astronauts is sent to the moon to help establish a base, but one of the crew members sabotages the mission and they end up trapped on the moon.

This 1950 movie co-written by the classic science-fiction author Robert A. Heinlein boasts an impressive grasp of the science of space flight. This movie is both the most progressive and sexist science-fiction movie ever made. It features a future where women are equal and in charge, even president. But it makes the only female protagonist a weak, incompetent moron who has to run to the hero for help.

While the movie itself isn’t worth much the Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary on the film is hilarious.

7. Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)

Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)

This classic 1950s low budget science fiction movie follows a "scientific expedition" to the Moon that encounters a race of Cat-Women living underground. The vivacious women wearing black unitards, beehive hairstyles, and heavy makeup take control of the female members of the crew and seduce the men. They plan to steal their ship and take over Earth.

The movie is absurd, silly and goofy but led to a whole sub-genre of women all-female (or almost all-female) civilizations on other planets, including Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968).

6. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) - Bumblebee

In this sequel to the popular Transformers live-action movie, the alien robots are in a race to collect alien technology that crash-landed on the dark side of the moon.

While it was panned by critics (including me), the special effects are still impressive and it won a number of popular and industry awards for its outstanding visual effects. Plus, it has one of the few movie appearances of the late pioneering astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

5. Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)

In the near future, the moon is colonized and a commercial lunar shuttle is being sent on its maiden voyage. Along the way the computer malfunctions and sends the ship towards the sun. A member of the flight crew takes control and hilarity ensues.

Airplane II is not as inventive or as funny as the first Airplane movie, but it does manage to lampoon several space movie tropes. Plus, it stars both Rip Torn ("Well the boys on the board know about safety") and William Shatner ("No tower?"). So it can't be all bad.

4. Frau Im Mond (aka Woman in the Moon) (1931)

This German black-and-white silent film is directed by Fritz Lang the pioneering director of Metropolis. It’s based on his wife’s novel The Rocket to the Moon by Thea von Harbou. It was released in the US as the name By Rocket to the Moon and in the UK as Woman in the Moon.

The movie tells of scientific exploration to the moon and the multiple efforts to sabotage the mission. The crew heads to the moon in search of gold but after a struggle, the ship is damaged. They are forced to draw straws to see who can return home.

While the movie is scientifically inaccurate because of the moon's breathable atmosphere it does have an astonishing level of scientific truth. From a multi-stage rocket to the chair designed to counteract G-forces it’s almost prophetic considering the scientific knowledge of the time. Wernher von Braun, a leading German-American aerospace engineer, and space architect says it was a key inspiration for him.

3. Destination Moon (1950)

The movie follows a group that finances a spaceflight to the moon using private instead of government agencies. Space flight has always fascinated people but it was only in 1950 that the dangers of space travel were dealt with. Destination Moon is the first major U.S. science fiction film to deal with the dangers of space travel and the difficulties landing on and safely returning from the moon.

Not only is the first hard sci-fi depiction of space travel it’s also the first movie to pioneer the popularity of the genre. Although the science is outdated it was made with the full cooperation of astronomers and rocket experts. The movie the Academy Award for "Best Special Effects" and was also nominated for the Art Direction Academy Award.

2. Le Voyage Dans la Lun (aka "A Trip to the Moon") (1902)

One of the first science-fiction movies is also considered the most influential. Six men in an adventurers club make a giant bullet and shoot themselves at the moon. The capsule inexplicably lands on the eye of the face of the moon where they encounter aliens and a great adventure. This classic silent French film is best known, not for it the incredibly naive view of space travel but it’s extensive use of pataphysical and anti-imperialist satire.

The image of the Man in the Moon with a black eye from the spaceship remains one of the most enduring images in cinema.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

In 1968 Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke short story "The Sentinel" opened in theaters. In the movie travel to the moon is mundane and only seen as a layover to the greater mission to Jupiter. The movie follows a group of astronauts trying to decipher the meaning of mysterious monoliths.

The mind-bending tale still has critics arguing about the meaning and symbolism of the ending to this day. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and won for Special Effects. United States Library of Congress calls it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the and it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The movie’s groundbreaking use of special effects and attention to real-world science sets it apart as the greatest science-fiction movie on moon landings ever made.

From Men in the Moon to catwomen, the moon has intrigued and delighted audiences for generations. While manned spaceflight to the moon hasn't happened for decades we'll still be thrilled by the place and its wonders for generations.

Which is your favorite movie about spaceflight and the moon? Let us know in the comments below!
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