OMSI’s film festival returns with Sci-Fi classics

The screen inside the Empirical Theatre advertising OMSI's Sci-Fi Film Festival.

By Jackson Arterberry

A/V Editor


Entertaining, inspirational and thought-provoking — science fiction cinema offers both art and insight into popular thinking about the approaching future. Currently, the science fiction genre is being celebrated at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s (OMSI) 2024 Sci-Fi Film Festival from March 29 to May 24.

Film Fest attendees can purchase tickets starting at $6 or a Festival Pass for $95 that includes admission to all film screenings, priority seating, and closing events. Both passes and individual movie tickets are available for purchase online at

After a four-year hiatus following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, OMSI is bringing back the festival with sci-fi classics such as “The Thing” (1982), “The Iron Giant,” “The Fifth Element,” “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Dune” (1984), and many more. The film festival will conclude with a Closing Night Festival Celebration featuring the premiere of “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.”

I wanted to attend this year’s film festival to see some of my favorites on the big screen as well as see some new films I haven’t seen before. I started with “The Thing,” John Carpenter’s 1982 horror/sci-fi masterpiece. The film depicts a team of research explorers in Antarctica. After facing an attack, they uncover a destroyed Norwegian research facility. Papers from the facility lead them to a crashed ship under the ice where non-human life forms have escaped. They then learn that the alien can mimic other life forms. After copying a crew member, the alien proceeds to hunt the crew with the goal of taking over the world. 

These authoritative films continued when I chose to see the sci-fi/comedy classic “Starship Troopers.” This movie follows high school athlete Johnny Rico played by Casper Van Dien. After graduating high school, Johnny decides to join his girlfriend, played by Denise Richards, and serve in the federation in the war on bugs. With an unstoppable bug army on the rise, they fight to defend their planet.

Seeing “The Thing” and “Starship Troopers” in the way they were made to be viewed gave me a new appreciation for the films. From the old practical effects to the timeless soundtracks, there wasn’t a boring minute. The complex nature of the films’ open-ended stories makes them great films to rewatch and rethink your interpretations. After watching these films, it made perfect sense to me why OMSI chose to screen these films during their festival. 

One great part of the experience was the fans. With their laughs at corny lines and the discussions about what they have been doing since the festival last took place, they were certainly a memorable part of the experience.

The OMSI staff were amazing. Helping guide new visitors to the theater and happily answering any questions fans had about the movies or festival.

“Science Fiction films have always been a staple in our culture, reflecting both our anxieties and our hopes for the future,” said Russ Repp, the vice president of marketing and retail at OMSI, in the event’s press release. “This film festival is a celebration of the genre, of its range, its craft, and its place at the heart of modern storytelling.”

For more information about OMSI’s Sci-Fi Festival visit their website.

Jackson Arterberry