Science-fiction and casino games seem to work rather well with each other. Almost every famous sci-fi story has featured some form of gambling in its lifetime. If sci-fi gambling scenes tickle your fancy, have a look at five of the most notable stories where gambling gets its own share of the limelight.
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
No matter which way you look at it, The Last Jedi tends to be a contentious topic among both fans and critics alike. Some liked it; some hated it. However, one of the things both camps tend to agree on is that the casino segment of the storyline was mostly a waste of time, mainly due to its arbitrary placement and the fact that it seemed to fill little purpose other than being a momentary diversion.
It’s a pity that the casino segment of the movie is so haphazardly juxtaposed with the rest of the film. If the film had made more of an effort to establish a coherent narrative for the casino chapter, things might have turned out entirely differently. As it stands, however, The Last Jedi remains one of the most contentious movies in the Star Wars universe. Whether that’s a good thing is debatable, but one thing’s for sure, no one seems to be able to forget just how eclectic the quality of the movie is.
2. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Back when Mel Gibson was in the prime of his acting career, he starred in a number of world-famous movies such as Braveheart and Gallipoli. Mad Max was the first series where Gibson filled the role of the action hero, a casting that would go on to define his career.
Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome is the third entry in the Mad Max trilogy. Gibson plays Max Rockatansky, a road warrior who has to fight for his life in an arena known as the Thunderdome. With his odds of survival dwindling by the minute, and the crowded arena betting on the odds of his demise, Max must do anything he can to survive.
The film has influenced popular culture significantly, to the point where the word ‘Thunderdome’ is now used in various contexts. The word and the film itself point to situations of desperation, where the loser of any contest faces extreme consequences. Can you imagine spectating such a contest? Would you bet on Max’s survival? At the very least, this aspect of the film is an interesting concept to unravel.
3. The Hunger Games
The lethal nature behind The Hunger Games is what sets it apart from similar stories. Putting a bunch of youngsters in a battle to the death is nothing short of horrific but, as gruesome as the idea is, audiences can’t help but relate to the themes of feudalism and inequality on display.
To bet on a game is one thing, but to bet on the lives of human beings is an entirely different matter. Watching The Hunger Games, seeing how carelessly the public decides on a child’s odds of survival, is a stark reminder that sometimes we can be a fairly ruthless species, one that treats human life as a commodity rather than giving it the respect every life deserves.
Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the main character, Katniss Everdeen, is near flawless. She is tough yet compassionate, deadly yet hesitant to take a life unnecessarily. Lawrence won the Saturn Award and the Empire Award for Best Actress, as well as the Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actress. The film itself received over 50 award nominations in total, winning 28 of them, including Favorite Movie at the People’s Choice Awards.
4. Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica is military science fiction at its finest. The universe, created by Glen Larson, is incredibly granular in detail, which has led to a cult following unlike that of any other show. It also received critical acclaim, winning several awards for its writing, directing, costume design, visual effects, and sound editing.
The show’s influence on popular culture is indisputable. For example, a fictional card game first featured in the series eventually became a real card game. Named Triad, the game is similar to poker but uses hexagonal cards as opposed to regular playing cards. Interestingly, seeing as there are no rules or standard of play, the game wasn’t ever meant to be played for real. Instead, fans of the show created their own rules in line with the lore of Battlestar Galactica’s universe.
Not many shows can boast over 30 years of pop culture relevance, and fewer still have led to fictional card games becoming real ones. In fact, Battlestar Galactica is the only TV show that has led to the development of a real card game.
5. Star Trek
Often compared to Star Wars, Star Trek is one of the biggest science-fiction franchises ever created. Since 1960, the show has expanded into several films, television series, video games, and other forms of entertainment media. Due to its progressive stance on civil rights, the franchise is also well-known for its cultural influence beyond science fiction.
Star Trek fans will know exactly why the series is featured on this list. Poker is a regular feature throughout the show. Senior staff of the USS Enterprise, including Captain Picard, had a weekly poker game scheduled for every Tuesday. Although Picard (played by Sir Patrick Stewart) isn’t as regular a player as the rest of the crew, the game is nonetheless a major element of ‘R & R’ aboard the Enterprise.
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