Any movie that starts with Morgan Freeman's cask-aged voice, telling us we're screwed, is off to a great start. Many science-fiction movies open with voiceovers, which prepare you for greatness... or bombard you with backstory. Here are 50 of our favorites.
Too bad War Of The Worlds goes downhill a bit after that amazingly portentous opening. No movie could live up to the promise of Morgan Freeman reading H.G. Wells, more or less verbatim, but it's still a sad thing.
The greatest voiceovers tell you what kind of movie you're in for, and also give you the information you need to hit the ground running. Take Sean Connery's iconic voiceover from Highlander, which is so awesome, you need it written out for you to appreciate its greatness:
Sadly, most voiceovers that launch movies either try to pack in way, way too much backstory ("And then there was a man named 92ZorkX, who built a mega-cube in his pants") or go way, way overboard with the cheese. Here are 48 more voiceovers that mostly go way over the top, sorted by type:
In The Year 2727, Some Messed Up Shit Happened!
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Perhaps my favorite kind of opening voiceover is the kind where the narrator starts out by intoning, "In the year 2027, we realized we had gone out of the house without any lower garments, and the Earth was reduced to rubble as a result. The survivors lived in caves, eating scraps of jerky. Until one day, a new hope appeared." Here are ten of the most awesome voiceovers that begin with a date and end with a sad recitation.
Anything Sounds Cool If You Say It In A Creamy English Accent
It's really true. You can narrate anything in a smooth English accent, and it sounds awesome. It's like spreading brie all over your frontal cortex, eliminating all of your B.S.-detectors. Someone with an English accent is saying it, so it must be brilliant. Right?
What The Hell Are You Talking About, Crazy Announcer Guy?
You know a science fiction movie is going to be totally absurd when it starts off with a voiceover that just throws a giant ball of crazy at your head. Someone who is trying not to giggle gives a little speech about how there was a guy named Zaark 795, and he rose up against his brother, the Bishop of Pluto, because they both wanted the power of the Dodecahedron-o-gram. Yeah. Anyway, here are the nonsensical opening voiceovers that make us happy to be alive.
You Can't Have An Apocalypse Without A Gloomy Speech
It's just the law of apocalypses: You can't feature the destruction of all (or most) life on Earth, without throwing in a gloomy monologue explaining exactly how we blew it all to hell. It's the way things work around here. Typically, these monologues include scenes of devastation as well as a droning voice talking about viruses or bombs or people not washing their hands. Here are some of the greatest.
Science Fiction Movies That Start With Deep Personal Monologues
Some science fiction movies start out with a more personal touch — one character giving an internal monologue about their feelings. Either it's a character being introspective, or it's some kind of noir deal, where the person talks about their pain in a hardcore, tough-guy way. Here are some of our faves.
Voiceovers That Turn Into Conversations, And Weird Voiceover Spoofs
This is sort of a catch-all for two categories that didn't quite deserve their own pages: monologues that start out as a voiceover, and then turn into someone talking to the camera; and voiceovers that are just sort of demented, silly or satirical. They're both a bit different from your standard science fiction voiceover, in any case.
Additional reporting by Alexis Brown.