They go together like peanut butter and chocolate. They are venerated genres that have, individually, produced dozens of beloved classics. So why don't more filmmakers try melding Western stories with science fiction settings? Why not imagine how tales of the Old West will fly in the future?
It turns out that it's a lot trickier than it looks. Take a look at Jonah Hex, which crashed and burned over the weekend. Truth be told, it's not a very good movie (see Brad Trechak's SciFi Squad review or mine at Cinematical). But it was trying something a little different, adding supernatural elements to a Western, and the mix didn't work at all. So someone who wants to mix a Western with science fiction has to be a master chef, balancing the ingredients just right to avoid having the thing blow up in his face. Here are the Top Ten Most Notable Sci-Fi Westerns -- not necessarily the best, but the biggest successes and/or flops.
1. Firefly / Serenity
Surely the series, created by Joss Whedon, is the most obvious attempt to merge the two genres into something new. All the stereotypical characters are present -- the gunfighter, the trusty lieutenant, the doctor, the school marm, the prostitute, the priest, the bartender -- freshened up for the future and placed in a post Confederate War era (basically, just like Jonah Hex and innumerable TV shows and movies). Spaceships and horses want to run free in the new frontier. Serenity gave precedence to the sci-fi aspects of the concept, but the Western elements were still proudly on display.