Much time and space have been given in these pages to small-screen tales of romance that cross, well, time and space. From Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck and Apollo to Farscape’s Crichton and Aeryn and so very beyond, we clearly love us some inter-stellar, even occasionally inter-species lovin’; why, then, not turn our attention some of the genre’s best big screen manifestations?
10. Dr. Ira Kane and Dr. Alison Reed
Played by David Duchovny and Julianne Moore
Subgenre: Alien Invasion
The irascible Ira Kane had been a respected military researcher before an unauthorized experiment led to his exile at the little-regarded Glen Canyon Community College. Earnest Allison Reed still worked for the government, and despite a propensity for clumsiness only rivaled by the least coordinated of the Stooges, her position brought the two of them into a sharp-tongued conflict that endangered their initial attraction to each other. Harsh words were exchanged from which surely their relationship could never recover…fortunate, then, that an aggressive alien menace hitched a ride to Earth on a piece of space debris and they subsequently had to work together to defeat it and somewhere in all the chaos managed to find their way to a happily ever after. All in the name of science, of course.
9. Newton Crosby and Stephanie Speck
Short Circuit (1986)
Played by Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy
Subgenre: Artificial Intelligence
Likeable cyberneticist Newton had spent years of his life working on the SAINT project, creating prototype “Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transports” for a US military still mired deep in Cold War paranoia. A freak lightning storm rendered one of these, Number 5, not only intelligent but sentient, and in time he came to the home of strident animal rights activist Stephanie, where they soon made the catchphrase-creating discovery that “Number 5 is alive.” Even a stubborn scientist like Newton could not, in the end, deny the truth of this—he certainly had not programmed his robots to make jokes or reenact scenes from John Travolta movies—and the three of them became a family, with the renamed “Johnny 5” presumed destroyed by the government and given the chance at a peaceful country existence with his friends... until, that is, 1988’s Short Circuit 2 recalled him back to duty and even managed to give Fisher Stevens’s inept, lyrically-accented Ben a girlfriend, against perhaps all odds.
8. Evan and Kayleigh
The Butterfly Effect (2005)
Played by Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart
Subgenre: Alternate Reality
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just cannot make a relationship with the object of your affections work. And that, above any other, is the lesson to be learned in The Butterfly Effect, as the personable Evan goes from child to man and back again, desperately trying to right the wrongs that screwed up his life—and the lives of almost everyone he cares for—but really only making things worse. At the center of it all is his love of childhood sweetheart Kayleigh, whose future, it turns out, is infinitely better without his presence in her past, causing Evan to make the ultimate sacrifice of being just really mean to her and driving her away entirely. Who says courtesy costs nothing?
7. Spock and Uhura
Star Trek (2009)
Played by Zachary Quinto and Zoë Saldana
Subgenre: Space Opera
In the long history of things Trek-ian, at no time had a romance between that very logical son of Vulcan, Spock, and that very capable-of-placing-long-distance-calls, Uhura, passed into lore. Sure, the occasional fanfic or licensed tie-in novel would hint at a certain fondness between them. Sure, they both professed an interest in music and jammed with those space hippies that time. Sure, Uhura was part of the cabal that saved Spock’s life again and again, and damn the consequences to her long and distinguished career (mostly of placing long distance calls). But that was about it. Then came J. J. Abrams’s rebooted Star Trek film, and suddenly a feverish phalanx of re-energized shippers emerged, at last no longer doomed to endlessly troll TOS for snippets of Kirk/Rand or Spock/Chapel, and instead gifted with an alternate reality version of events in which two of the Enterprise’s most intriguing officers were more than mere colleagues…though, if the creators had been really brave, they’d have gone with that original topic of slash fiction, Kirk/Spock. Which would have been, if nothing else, hilarious.
6. Han Solo and Princess Leia
Star Wars Trilogy (1977, 1981, 1983)
Played by Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher
Subgenre: Space Opera
Few cinematic affairs encapsulate the Hating Their Way to Love motif better than that of brash, irrepressible spaceship pilot Han and poised, opinionated princess Leia. Through the assorted perils imposed by Imperial garbage compressors, mixed up almost incest, kidnapping and freezing in corbonite, this mismatched pair of rebels made an art out of longing looks, snide backbiting and sizzling chemistry—added to which is probably the best declaration of love scene ever:
LEIA: I love you.
HAN: [pause; significant look] I know.
And no, surprisingly enough, Anakin and Padme do not make it onto this list.
5. John Spartan and Lenina Huxley
Demolition Man (1993)
Played by Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock
Gung-ho police officer John Spartan is sentenced to decades in cryonic suspension for the crime of being, well, gung-ho. He is awoken many years later in a brightly-colored future in which wrongdoing is anathema, and where the police are at a loss to deal with the multiple “MurderDeathKills” being perpetrated by Spartan’s recently revived nemesis. One of his few fans in the future police department is the young and enthusiastic Lenina Huxley (note the Brave New World reference; clever, eh?), an aficionado of his more brutal century, and in between the tracking down of unrepentant serial killers and the exposure of a top level conspiracy, eventually hero worship leads to something more… even despite his new obsession with knitting and the fact that apparently in the future, all sex will be virtual. (And all restaurants Taco Bell.)
4. Neo and Trinity
The Matrix (1999)
Played by Keanu Reeves and Carrie Moss
When hacker Thomas Anderson is approached by cyber legend Morpheus and given the choice of living in blissful ignorance or awakening to the truth of his existence, he takes the red pill and enters a world of dirty, humanity-enslaved-as-batteries resistance that requires the consumption of unidentifiable slush and lots and lots of guns. This is all made tolerable by his virtual reality coolness, his newfound position as the post-apocalyptic Messiah and most particularly by the soulful adoration of the kickass, leather-clad hotness that is his comrade in arms, Trinity. (Let us ignore what happens to this couple later, and in particular let us ignore the existence of Matrix Revolutions entirely. Recalling it can only bring us pain.)
3. Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor
The Terminator (1984)
Played by Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton
Subgenre: Post-Apocalyptic/Time Travel
You may think that The Terminator is all action film, replete with Arnie at his most muscle-bound and impassive, but what this movie is, above all else, is a love story. Kyle Reese is sent back from a hellish future to save the life of his commander’s mother, and therefore that of the commander himself. “Come with me if you want to live,” he says to the flounce-haired, naïve Sarah Connor, and at some point in the next twenty-four hours the two fall passionately, completely in love with one another while on the run from an unstoppable android bent on their destruction. In the end, Kyle sacrifices himself for his love, but not before he fathers that very commander who had sent him back in time in the first place. Meanwhile, if anyone truly understands the vagaries of Terminator chronology, I would appreciate your insights.
2. David Herdeg and Allison Hayes
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)
Played by Michael Paré and Nancy Allen
Subgenre: Time Travel
The third entry on this list coming from 1984—it was a good year for sci-fi romance, it seems; this was also the year that gave us Buckaroo Banzai, Dune, Starman and Electric Dreams!—this one is also probably the most heartache- inducing. It all starts aboard the good ship USS Eldridge in the year 1948, aboard which is sailor David Herdeg. An experiment in advanced stealth technology manages to somehow send the ship, and its crew, through time to 1984; coming to terms with the then-modern world, David meets then abducts the ebullient Allison, and throughout the next few fraught days of capture, escape, evasion and eventual saving of the world as we know it, Stockholm Syndrome sets in and the couple fall in love. (Of course. ) The movie ends with one of the cheesiest quips of all time, but is nevertheless an exciting tale, at the core of which is a wonderfully timeless romance.
1. Korben Dallas and Leeloo
The Fifth Element (1997)
Played by Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich
With the end of the world approaching courtesy of a ball of cosmic debris that apparently hates all life for no reason we can fathom, a perfect being is somehow mystically created in order to save the universe from annihilation. Her name is long and unpronounceable, but is shortened to Leeloo by the former Special Forces soldier into whose flying cab she fortuitously falls one day. Korben Dallas by name, he is soon embroiled in the battle of Good vs. Evil of which Leeloo is such an integral part, and in the end these two attractive and talented warriors manage to save the day through the power of love alone. Oh, along with some big stones they fished out of a dead blue opera singer’s stomach. (How romantic.)
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.