Whenever we think of sci-fi films, the first film that pops in our head is Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Fritz Lang’s Metropolis pa groundbreakingly paving the way for sci-fi films, it is Kubrick’s film that stirred our interest in the genre as the film dealt with the infinite possibilities and theories regarding evolution.
Netflix has recently garnered acclaim for their sci-fi series, Stranger Things which deals with far more profound and more impactful themes than their usual fodder. Some of those motifs include human experiments, interdimensional travel and more otherworldly experiences, albeit capped with a flappy monster with petals for the head.
Netflix has released a wide variety of content over the years, and with Stranger Thing continuing its interest in the sci-fi genre, the streaming giant has gone ahead and released a vast range of content under the same genre name.
The sci-fi genre is brimming with Netflix content, from series such as Love Death+Robots, Altered Carbon, and more to a heap of various recent releases. Besides some of the more popular sci-fi films on Netflix on our list, there are the more underrated ones that deserve our time and attention too.
Here are ten great sci-fi films that streaming on Netflix right now:
The 10 best sci-fi films to watch on Netflix right now
10. Orbiter 9 (Hatem Khraiche, 2017)
Helena has spent all her life ever since birth in a space pod with only a computer as her companion. After she arrives in a space station before meeting other space colonials, she meets and falls in love with a repairman named Alex, haunted by his traumatic past, he soon becomes somewhat dangerous for Helena.
With palpably good chemistry, the lead actors manage to play their parts with compelling confidence. The sci-fi elements act as a perfect backdrop for the blossoming romance. Although the Spanish film is not devoid of cliches, certain tender moments and the happy ending makes up for it. Comparing it to The Platform’s likes is especially unfair to the film as the latter is a spine-chilling thriller sci-fi while Orbiter 9 focuses on the budding romance between the two leads.
9. Extinction (Ben Young, 2018)
A devoted father plagued by recurrent nightmares of losing his family. Those dreams turn out to be prophetic as ominous forces that set out to destroy humanity completely invade the planet. In a desperate attempt to save his family, he comes to terms with a hidden strength that can help him keep his loved ones safe.
Regarding the mixed reviews, Young said, “With Extinction, it was not a movie that I intended to make nor a movie I have on my laptop. So it’s hard to read reviews that are shitting all over you when you’re like, ‘I know.” Young emphasised how he was not able to produce what he wanted to due to certain obstructions. Although many reviews tend to look down upon the film, it is a good exploration of a father’s undying love and his desperate struggle for survival to protect his family.
8. Tau (Federico D’Alessandro, 2018)
After being held captive, Julia is subjected to an exploitative and deadly experiment. Created by her captor, the sociopathic Alex, TAU, an advanced AI, stands in the way of her gaining freedom from this personal hell. Before she is resigned to the despairing fate like her other six predecessors subjected to the same experiment, Julia races against time to find ways in which she can convince TAU to let her go.
Starring Malika Monroe and Ed Skrein, TAU is voiced by Gary Oldman. Monroe, who is no stranger to having enacted as the survivor in horror films such as It Follows, delivers an excellent performance. Stein, as the sociopathic and charismatic Alex, is scary and intimidating. The film is a good blend of sci-fi and suspenseful horror. Watch out for the use of a Wilhelm scream in the movie!
7. Stowaway (Joe Penna, 2021)
After a three-person crew embarks on their designated mission to Mars, they discover a stray stowaway hiding in the spacecraft that might jeopardise all their lives due to the dwindling resources. Despite their goodwill, the crew makes a grim decision to increase their chances of survival, much to the chagrin of the medical researcher.
This nerve-wracking sci-fi film stars a great ensemble, including Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, Toni Collette and more. “I love that the movie does not devolve into us trying to get each other and trick each other. Like all of us have this goal of how do we survive this, how do we get through this together, because I think those are the most interesting problems where you show your character, your integrity,” said Kendrick about the film, commenting on how the film has no concrete villain while Dae Kim repeated her thoughts and said the film was more like “real-life”.
6. Europa Report (Sebastian Cordero, 2013)
Potential evidence shows how life might survive on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. An international crew comprising talented and driven astronauts is sent on a privately funded research manned mission to support such claims. The crew have to make severe sacrifices and brutal choices to help make the mission successful.
Shot in a way that makes one think of recovered footage, the film is indeed fascinating. Cordero, a sci-fi enthusiast, said, “What we see at the end… we expect to find single cellular beings or something simple or beginning of life at Europa…. So we took the approach of saying okay what’s the more extreme”. However, Cordero also said that there is nothing in the film that might be “unreal”. Cordero talks about Rosa’s “final sacrifice”, which is supposed to trick the audience into thinking she escaped.
5. The Space Between Us (Peter Chelsom, 2017)
On a mission to Mars, an astronaut gives birth to a child who is the first human born on Mars. When he grows up, Gardner Elliot wants to experience the various wonders of Earth that he has only heard of. In an attempt to discover his roots and the story behind his existence, he teams up with a Colorado girl and goes on an incredible adventure.
Starring Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino and Britt Robertson, among others, in an interview, Butterfield talks about how he related to his character because of their shared “natural curiosity”.
“There were some films I watched for doing this role. I mean there were some that we reference,” continues Butterfield, “Wings of Desire was a beautiful movie.” The actor also revealed how Peter Sellers’ character of Chauncey Gardiner from Being There was an inspiration for his character’s name. Elliot was “the guy who’s been in his home his entire life and finally leaves it and experiences the outside world”.
4. The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo, 2019)
Based on the eponymous award-winning novel by Cixin Liu, the film revolves around the impending doom that awaits humanity as the dying sun will soon engulf the Earth. Scientists forge an escape plan in their attempts to save humanity that involves making the planet escape the solar system in its entirety to reach a star’s orbit that is nearly 4.5 light-years away.
Gwo said, “When I was only 15 years old, my dream was to make a Chinese sci-fi film. That’s why I began to make movies. And then in 2014, a group of Chinese directors and I had the chance to visit Hollywood. I realised that there was a big gap between the Chinese film industry and Hollywood. Hence, I wanted to close this gap and make our own sci-fi film”. This is China’s biggest sci-fi blockbuster and the director, who thinks that there is a lot of things they need to catch up for, emphasised the importance of Netflix deal as it would help “people abroad to learn more about the Chinese films and to realise that there is another culture”.
3. Oxygen (Alexandra Aja, 2021)
Set in a futuristic backdrop, a young woman wakes up to find herself confined in an isolated medical cryo unit. With no memories about her past existence, or about the purpose of her entrapment, she finds herself accompanied by a computer that has sinister motives. The film explores human consciousness and the struggle for survival while being pursued by an AI with ill motives.
Aja who always looks “for reasons to fall in love with the script”, loved the script. He went “from the exploration of the mental maze to the big exploration. It was a very interesting survival story, and then the pandemic came, and everything took a different light. The movie became like way more deep and intense introspection into exploring that existential quest of who we are”, said Aja in an interview.
2. Passengers (Morten Tyldum, 2016)
An exploration of the desperation and despair that emanates from insufferable human isolation and loneliness, the film focuses on how a man wakes up almost 90 years early on a 120-year voyage to a distant colony due to a malfunctioning sleeping pod. Incredibly lonely, he decides to wake up a female passenger to help him kill time onboard the spacecraft.
Starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in the lead roles, the film sees incredible chemistry between the two protagonists. Lawrence said that her role as an “interesting emotional concept” attracted her, while Pratt attributed the multifacetedness of the film as one of the main reasons that drew him. “These kinds of movies are nice as they have elements of action and drama and romance and suspense and because of that you get the opportunity to try different things as an actor”.
1. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman, 2014)
Overrun by dangerous aliens, the Earth, and humanity is close to the brink of extinction. Major William Cage and Special Forces agent Rita Vrataski might engage in relentless combat over and over again, caught in a loop of life and death before they figure out ways in which they can defeat the aliens and help save humanity.
Happy Death Day with a twist where aliens, instead of an overgrown serial killing man child, plagues the earth and the two leads, played by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, are forced to relive the day over and over again as it restarts right from the point of their deaths. Wearing heavy exosuits, the actors shared great chemistry, and they revealed how they had a lot of fun shooting together in this “collaborative film”. Cruise gushed over Liman, saying, “Doug has such a unique take, and I love the characters in his films”.