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Space opera movies are the lifestream of mainstream sci-fi. For those who have never heard the term before, outer space operas are shows and films that deal with people who are traveling through space. So, mainstream movies like Star Wars and series like Star Trek both would be part of this genre.
The truth is that we can't seem to get enough of the thrill of watching heroes traveling through space, conquering galaxies, and maybe hitting it with a hottie from another planet.
Considering how popular the sub-genre is, it's only natural to celebrate it. That's why we've compiled this list of the best space opera movies of all time.
(Note: We're not including Star Wars or Star Trek-related movies, primarily because they're already obvious choices.)
The Fifth Element
It's the 23rd century, and an NYC cabbie by the name of Korben Dallas is the guy who will have to save the world after an alien named Leeloo falls into his car. Leeloo, being the embodiment of the Fifth Element, has to combine with the other four elements in order to keep the Great Evil from destroying everything. Can Dallas help her make it happen?
Colorful, insane, and absolutely spellbinding in that classic 90s way, The Fifth Element is regularly cited as one of the best space opera movies of all time. Sure, it may be a goofy movie that's filled with humor that pokes fun at the genre, but we can't ignore the fact that it's such a great film.
Most people would call this one of the top cult classic sci-fi films of the 90s, and we're inclined to agree. Also, Bruce Willis just killed it in this, too.
Starship Troopers is a mix between most mainstream space opera movies and a little bit of snark thrown in. Based off a book by Heinlein, Starship Troopers is supposed to be a highly dystopian look at an Earth that forgot what it was like to live without fascism.
While the topic is serious, the movie takes a lighthearted approach. The end result is a pointedly likable movie that you really can't help but enjoy.
Dune has long been called one of the best space opera movies of all time—even if it's not Jodorowsky's Dune. Frank Herbert's famous world of Arrakis was recreated in spectacular ways in Lynch's version of Dune, and included some of the most unforgettable scenes in sci-fi history.
Though the plot may be confusing and there's a lot of 80s camp involved, it'd be an outright lie to deny Dune a place on any list of great sci-fi films. After all, it's influenced so many movies afterward. It's a cult classic, and a must-see for any Frank Herbert reader.
If you're like most people who are Star Wars fans, you probably already know this movie. Spaceballs is one of the best spoofs of one of the best space opera movies of all time.
Lone Starr and Barf the Mawg were happy just livin' la dolce vita in space, but soon find themselves in a situation where they have to save the Druish space princess from the grips of Lord Dark Helmet.
Hm, wonder who Lord Dark Helmet could have been a spoof of...?
A bunch of actors from an old sci-fi show called Galaxy Quest have been propping up their ailing careers with convention meet-and-greets. However, they soon find out that not all their fans are humans.
When aliens saw the transmissions of Galaxy Quest from light years away, they kidnap the actors and beg them for help against an evil space tyrant. Chaos ensues.
Yet another movie that lampoons television shows like Star Trek and movies like Star Wars, Galaxy Quest was one of the most hilarious space opera movies ever made. (It also has Tim Allen playing an actor who's forced to be a space commander. So there's that, too.)
Admittedly, part of the reason that this is on here is due to the TV series that the movie was based on, Firefly. But, you don't need to be a Firefly fan in order to enjoy Serenity. It's truly one of the most underrated space opera movies of all time.
Joss Whedon's writing made the Serenity's crew's struggle against the Alliance epic—and makes everyone want to help River out. Amazing dialogue and character development make this a must-see for anyone who loves good science fiction.
Yes, technically, the Alien franchise fits under the realm of space opera movies. This also means that the original Alien movie is one of the best space operas of all time.
Why? Because it changed the way people saw aliens in horror movies, and because H.R. Giger's influence changed horror for the better. It was a trendsetter of a movie that still manages to give people the chills, even after all these years. You have to respect that.
WALL-E is one of the best space opera movies ever created for kids. It teaches the importance of self-sufficiency and caring for the environment in such an adorable way.
A plucky little robot who was tasked with cleaning up Earth's post-evacuation sees a new robot called EVE. He follows her into a spaceship, and soon manages to bring humanity back home from the stars above.
While many people might argue with this addition, you have to see this movie for what it is. It's supposed to be a bit campy; and the fact that Queen was behind the movie's soundtrack automatically makes it pretty darn awesome.
Can the superhero known as Flash Gordon save the world from the terrible grips of Ming the Merciless? Of course he can, and that's why you want to watch it.
Last on our list of the most epic space opera movies of all time is Forbidden Planet, which follows a group of explorers who discover an almost-uninhabited planet colony with only two survivors. One of them is hiding a terrible secret—one that can possibly wreck everyone's lives.
Yes, it's seriously old, but age doesn't make this movie bad. It's classic 50s sci-fi, thoughtful musings on the nature of man, served with a touch of camp.