A mere mention of a sci-fi film takes us back to the foundational stones of the genre. Whether it is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis —the first-ever sci-film, according to records, and the film that ground-breakingly paved the way for the genre. With Lang paving the way and Kubrick garnering further interest in the genre, sci-fi films have since then become an integral part of every film buff’s list of favourites.
With their Original series, Stranger Things, created by the Duffer brothers, Netflix has garnered quite the acclaim for revitalizing interest in the sci-fi genre and successfully weaving in more impactful and profound themes within their usual fodder. These themes include human experiments, supernatural monsters (albeit with flappy petals for the head), interdimensional travel, psychokinesis and more.
The streamer’s tryst with sci-fi content has been relatively successful. While the streaming service has hordes of well-known titles adorning its shelves that touch upon various themes, including time travel, evolution, apocalypse, human extinction, artificial intelligence and more, some of the underrated films remain pretty overlooked.
With Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo and Walker Scobell gearing up for their upcoming sci-fi Netflix film release in March, The Adam Project, directed by Shawn Levy, we decided to bring a few underrated titles to the fore that deserve the unhinged attention of enthusiasts of this genre.
Here are the give underrated sci-fi films on Netflix that you must stream now:
5 underrated sci-fi films to stream on Netflix now:
5. Spectral (Nic Mathieu, 2016)
While battling the insurgents in Moldova, special ops US soldiers face a new kind of threat with supernatural elements associated with them. They have to fight these apparitions, which are highly elusive and pose destruction to society.
An effortless mix of supernatural elements, horror and sci-fi, the film prompted the release of a prequel graphic novel by the streamer. With its high-strung action sequences and top-notch special effects, the film offers an intense and visually thrilling ride that sees actors performing with an essential gusto.
4. The Door Into Summer (Takahiro Miki, 2021)
One of the most underrated time-travel sci-fi flick on Netflix, the film contains elements of romance and adventure. Set in two different timelines, namely 1995 and 2021, the film is a Japanese adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s eponymous novel. Androids, space-time paradox and other time travel hijinks galore, the film sees a perfect balance between the dramatic tension and the hardcore sci-fi elements.
The film sees a scientist escaping his despairing reality by putting himself to cryosleep for three decades after being cheated and spurred. He is taken aback by the changing world and the glaring differences when he wakes up.
3. Oxygen (Alexandra Aja, 2021)
Set in a futuristic premise, a young woman finds herself confined in an isolated medical cryo unit where the purpose of her entrapment is unknown. Panic-stricken, while she struggles to escape and save herself, her actions are thwarted by an AI’s sinister motives.
Claustrophobic, intense and alienating, Alexandra Aja’s sci-fi thriller film explores the various facets of human consciousness when posed with the threat of survival. According to Aja, the film went from an “interesting survival story: to an “existential quest of who we are” due to the pandemic and its ravaging effects.
2. The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo, 2019)
Based on Cixin Liu’s eponymous award-winning novel, the film revolves around the impending doom that awaits humanity as it soon is on its way to engulfing the Earth. Desperate to save humanity, a group of scientists forge an escape plan to a faraway star’s orbit, nearly 4.5 light-years away.
The biggest Chinese sci-fi blockbuster, the film’s Netflix deal, according to Gwo, would help the global audience recognise more about Chinese cinema and culture. The director was so disturbed by the massive gap between the Chinese film industry and Hollywood that he made a film that contained sci-fi elements, the overall anxiety regarding an apocalypse and the inevitable chaos.
1. Synchronic (Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, 2019)
Extremely underrated, this indie sci-fi thriller flick stars Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie as best friends, Dennis and Steve. Living in New York, the two paramedics find themselves caught in a bizarre misadventure when an eponymous designer drug, with strange effects, begins to alter minds and ravage lives. The duo chances upon a shocking and gruesome death in a house that leads them to tumble down the rabbit hole.
Dar and twisted, the film plays on the trope of a buddy movie and adds a tinge of intense tension to the plot. Despite the initial incoherent and mind-boggling narratives, the film makes sense with its witty and exciting progression. As a jaded playboy, Mackie is brilliant as a deadpan humorist whose presence makes the slow yet gripping sci-fi film even more refreshing.