Starship Frida: 12-Hour Intergalactic Sci-Fi Marathon launches Friday night at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana with Joss Whedon’s Serenity before splashing down after the end credits of Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element Saturday morning. But Frida wants the other four movies in between to be a surprise, so we put on our crash-helmet thinking caps to come up with our desired overnight lineups.
GALACTIC EMPIRE EXECUTOR MURILLO
10 p.m., Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (109 minutes): This offbeat, British sci-fi cult comedy based on the book series has all the makings of a good time: an out-of-this-world storyline; a string of madcap, quirky interstellar characters (some played by Mos Def and Zooey Deschanel, plus Stephen Fry as narrator); and even an existential quandary of the universe. It’s funny, insightful and so well-written it’ll make new fans out of audience members who haven’t already seen it.
Midnight, Alien (117 minutes): It’s only fitting that we go into the dark side of space at the midnight hour, and Alien is the best film to take us there. Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece is one of the best films in both the sci-fi and horror genres, and it’s a great change of pace from the previous two flicks. Here, we get to see Sigourney Weaver play the badass crew member of the Nostromo pitted against an H.R. Giger-designed deadly alien lurking aboard her ship. Even if people have trouble staying awake throughout the film’s quieter, tension-ridden moments, you just know audiences will be keeping their eyes peeled for that one stomach-bursting scene.
2 a.m., Galaxy Quest (102 minutes): What better film to cleanse your palate after getting the wits scared out of you than this 1999 campy comedy ribbing pop-culture fans, Star Trek and campy space comedies in general? Not to mention, it’s a treat to see Weaver do a complete 180 and have some fun in space. This film has the right balance of absurdity with some equally thrilling adventure sequences; star turns by Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell and Justin Long; and the cheesy but well-meaning slogan “Never give up, never surrender!”
4 a.m., Guardians of the Galaxy (125 minutes): Still awake? Methinks a Marvel-produced superhero-space-adventure flick would be the best thing to keep people up and energized at this hour. As one of the more pleasing and well-received films in the Marvel franchise, this one brings in a star-studded cast to play a team of galactic miscreants forced to work together to save the universe from a tyrannical warrior. Who needs coffee when you can watch riveting, CGI-laden spaceflight scenes for a couple of hours?
SUPREME BASHAR COKER
10 p.m., The World’s End (109 minutes): Because a Whedon film begins the marathon, I wanted to follow it up with sci-fi from another director who possesses a rabid fan base. And Edgar Wright is who sprang to mind. The criminally underappreciated 2013 capper to his trilogy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost has five friends in their forties reuniting to re-enact an epic pub crawl from 20 years before. However, their final destination—the World’s End pub—takes on a literal meaning when the twizzled team staggers into an alien invasion.
Midnight, Aliens (137 minutes): Point of order, Cosmic Command Council: Aimee stole my midnight movie! So, I’ll raise you an Alien with James Cameron’s equally classic 1986 sequel that has Weaver’s Ripley awakened 57 years after she was Nostromo’s lone survivor. Her corporate overlords, who had been skeptical of her claims regarding what wiped out her crew, convince her to join an investigatory expedition to the same planet that originally sent Nostromo a distress signal. Please ignore the fact that Aliens rolled at Frida in March.
2 a.m., Thor: Ragnarok (130 minutes): From a 24-hour “rockathon” fundraiser, at which donations increased the longer each rocking-chair occupant stayed awake, I know that despite reaching the bitter end (thank you, caffeine pills washed down with Red Bull), no memory remains of what transpired between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Mumbling nonsense in a foreign accent seems to have happened. Anyway, I can say the same thing about missing a sizable middle chunk of this 2017 Marvel hit. Parts I do remember were very funny. The point is, marathons require secret power naps. Wait . . . that was Cate Blanchett!?!
4 a.m., District 9 (112 minutes): If you were to ask me to name my favorite sci-fi flick of the moment (and one that will definitely keep you awake), my answer would be South Africa’s most popular movie from that genre (and horror). Twenty-eight years after occupying a massive ship stranded over Johannesburg, aliens inhabit a militarized ghetto known as District 9. A multinational munitions corporation is contracted to evict these so-called “Prawns,” but the man in charge of the operation is exposed to a strange alien chemical that has him seeking help from two refugees. Director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp delivered such a fresh vision that he was quickly snatched up to helm Elysium and Chappie.
Starship Frida: 12-Hour Intergalactic Sci-Fi Marathon at the Frida Cinema, 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana; thefridacinema.org. Fri., 8 p.m. $20.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.