There’s nothing quite as exciting (or terrifying) as science fiction, which provides windows into potential, often cataclysmic futures and fictional universes. Over the years, Netflix has amassed quite the collection of content, including hundreds — nay, thousands — of shoddy sci-fi movies that feature poorly animated hybrids of sharks, crocodiles, giant squid, and the like. Still, it’s not all bad; sift through the waste for long enough, and you’re sure to find something of value. Nobody wants to spend hours scrolling through a combination of movies they’ve seen and movies they never want to see, however, so we took the liberty of doing it for you. From big-budget dystopias to independent time travelers, these are the best sci-fi movies on Netflix.
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Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Minority Report” offers up the best of two seminal creators. In Washington, D.C., in 2054, police use a psychic, predictive technology to arrest and convict murderers before they actually commit their crime. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the head of this Precrime unit, but when he is himself accused of the future murder of a man he’s never met, he’s forced to go on the run from the people he helped groom and the system he helped establish. Of course, this makes him uniquely suited to outsmart it. Minority Report is psychologically provocative, action-packed, and suspensefully gripping throughout, showing Spielberg in his element bridging sci-fi and action-adventure genres.
One of the most popular sci-fi movies of recent memory, The Matrix burst into the world with special effects never before seen. While the story is relatively familiar (humans lose control of artificial machines and stumble into the brink of extinction), the innovative setting brought the idea of simulated reality into the mainstream in a newly digital world on the dawn of Y2K. Keanu Reeves plays a man who lives a normal, pencil-pushing life by day and works as a computer hacker called Neo by night. Through his digital investigations, he meets Morpheus, a man with the knowledge and power to take Neo “all the way down the rabbit hole.” That rabbit hole reveals that Neo has been living in a simulation called The Matrix, designed by machines to keep humanity complacent so that their bodies may be harvested for energy. Neo joins the war against the machines and realizes his destiny in an epic sci-fi trilogy, all of which is now on Netflix.
Bong Joon-ho earned Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for Parasite, but he was making remarkable movies well before that recognition (Okja isn’t his only entry on this list). Okja is one of his most polemical films, taking on the meat industry and capitalism at large in this touching sci-fi drama for Netflix. The story follows Mija, a young girl who has grown up in the mountains of South Korea with a fictional super-pig best friend named Okja. But when the multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation kidnaps Okja and transports her to New York to launch an entirely new meat industry, it’s up to Mija to save her best friend. A caustic satire of the greed and grotesqueness of American food processing, Okja pokes fun at everyone from self-obsessed CEOs to bumbling, naive activists in a sci-fi romp that hits close to home.
It didn’t blow anyone away at the box office — though it didn’t necessarily do poorly, either — but Snowpiercer proved to be a thrilling ride through a future where the remaining population of the world takes refuge in a train, one that barrels through the snow-covered wasteland that used to be civilization. A class system rises up from within the train, with a Chris Evans-led back of the vessel staging a rebellion against Tilda Swinton’s first-class rule. Directed by Bong Joon Ho, Snowpiercer makes for an enticing and original look at a post-apocalyptic society.
Before he was the Joker, Joaquin Phoenix played Theodore Twombly in this sci-fi/romance mash-up, written and directed by Spike Jonze. In the throes of an impending divorce, Phoenix develops a relationship with a female operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) in a touching story that takes a different approach to what intimacy and love can look like. It was also well ahead of its time in depicting a heightened level of interaction with technology. Apple’s Siri had already been available by the time Her was released, but Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant were years away from entering the market as voice assistants capable of helping with everyday tasks.
Picture this: A buddy cop film starring Will Smith opposite Tommy Lee Jones, except they’re not really cops. They’re two agents as part of a secret society dedicated to protecting the world from extraterrestrial threats while maintaining the peace between aliens on Earth and the humans unknowingly cohabitating with them. They had us at Smith and Jones, but we’re down for the alien stuff, too. The sequel, the less successful Men in Black II, is also on Netflix.
A Christopher Nolan-directed heist movie with an all-star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and more? We’re intrigued. Throw in the mind-warping concept of entering other people’s dreams to steal their secrets, then entering another dream within that dream, all with huge stakes on the table? Count us in. Inception made more than $800 million at the box office and garnered four Academy Awards for a story that many viewers had to watch twice to fully understand. Fortunately, Netflix will let you rewatch to your heart’s content.
Consider the plot: A mad titan from across the galaxy is collecting magical stones in order to annihilate half of all living creatures, and the only force standing in his way is a group of enhanced individuals, including a wizard (Benedict Cumberbatch) who can control time, a talking tree (voiced by Vin Diesel) and a man (Robert Downey, Jr.) in a suit made of nanotechnology. Add in Joe and Anthony Russo as directors and one of the larger cliffhangers in modern cinema, and it’s got all the pieces for a remarkably exciting sci-fi adventure. Marvel movies have their critics, but it’s hard to deny how fun this is to watch.
The artificial intelligence we know and love today — from Alexa to Siri, to Google Assistant, and even Bixby — are helpful little tools that can automate daily tasks for us. The A.I. in Ex Machina is a much, much different story, as Ava (played by Alicia Vikander) is a robot built by the CEO of a coding company (Oscar Isaac). She’s a fully humanoid creation, and one of Isaac’s employees (Domhnall Gleeson) is invited to the CEO’s mansion to spend the week performing a live “Turing Test.” It’s an intense exploration of what it means to be living, and the twists and turns throughout this film are unexpected and powerful.
When 78-year-old Harrison Ford is trotted out for Indiana Jones 5 in 2021, here’s an important reminder. Back in the day, Ford was every action star’s favorite action star. A year after the original Indiana Jones was released, Ford starred in Blade Runner as a former police officer hired to hunt a rogue group of clones (or replicants) while living in a dystopian Los Angeles. Several different versions of this movie have surfaced over the years, and right now Netflix has The Final Cut, widely considered to be one of the best editions. For Ford’s role in Blade Runner (plus a lot more, including those Star Wars movies), he’ll get us in the seats when he reprises his role of a heroic archaeologist. Though this is arguably one of the best sci-fi movies of all time.
While the popular saying that we only use 10% of our brains isn’t entirely true, it is true that there are parts of the human brain that are more or less dormant. Limitless explores what would happen if you could access 100% of your brain. Facing unemployment, writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is deep in a morass of self-pity when an old friend gives him an experimental drug that enhances mental acuity. Turns out, it really enhances mental acuity, and Eddie soon finds that he can remember everything, derive instant insight from complicated data, and practically predict the future — all of which drives him to the top of the financial world. However, the drug isn’t without side effects, and a limited supply threatens to burn Eddie’s newfound glory down to the ground in ashes.
Published at Tue, 14 Apr 2020 15:42:00 +0000