The constantly refreshed Netflix library offers plenty of incredible movies to choose from and it caters to all different kinds of movie fans. That includes the ever-popular sci-fi genre. Cyberpunk, steampunk, space opera, superheroes, science fantasy, dystopian, utopian, time travel — all science fiction genre’s greatest hits are represented on Netflix. But what are the best sci-fi movies on Netflix?
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As with horror films on Netflix, however, there are plenty of duds out there that aren’t worth your viewing time. To help you choose the perfect celluloid escape to other worlds and dimensions, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best sci-fi movies on Netflix that are streaming right now.
Best sci-fi movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will update this post as more great Netflix sci-fi movies are added to the service’s catalog and others are removed.
1. Total Recall
Forget about that recent remake and watch the 1990 original Total Recall. It still holds up as a great near-future sci-fi action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger has one of his best performances as “Douglas Quaid,” a man who dreams about going to Mars. However, when he decides to go to a company that offers virtual vacations, he finds out that his life, and even his name, is a lie. It’s a great mind-bending movie, but with lots of explosions and guns. It’s great fun.
2. Starship Troopers
This 1997 sci-fi epic has achieved a cult following. What would happen if the military controlled the Earth? We see a possible future where that could happen in this movie. On the surface, it looks peaceful, but when an intelligence alien bug race threatens the planet, it’s time for all-out war. In between the big action sequences where the Mobile Infantry is fighting the bugs, we see lots of World War II-styled propaganda that encourages even more people to join up. It’s one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix.
3. The Wandering Earth
The China-made film The Wandering Earth may be the most epic sci-fi movie on Netflix, just in terms of its visuals and themes. In the far future, humanity learns the sun is dying. It is about to expand in its last stage to a red giant, which will destroy the Earth. So what do the nations of the world do to avert humanity’s extinction? They put a bunch of really big rockets on the Earth and start moving it to another solar system.
Is it a little goofy? Yes. Is it one of the most spectacular films you might ever see? You bet. It’s definitely one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix.
4. See You Yesterday
A Netflix original, See You Yesterday is a story of time travel. But if you’re thinking “Back To The Future,” think again. The film is not the fun, adventurous ride you’re imagining. Instead, it’s a tale of desperation that’ll make you feel sorry for the protagonists — two teenagers who happen to invent a time-traveling backpack. Instead of using their invention for something fun, the duo has to take it upon themselves to save a friend and a brother who dies in a wrongful police encounter.
5. I Am Mother
I Am Mother is a sci-fi thriller about a young girl (Clara Rugaard) who is being raised in isolation by Mother (Rose Byrne), a robot tasked with the responsibility of repopulating the Earth after the near extinction of humankind. Things go horribly wrong when a stranger (Hilary Swank) enters the mix and challenges everything the robot has taught the young girl about the outside world.
This 2013 movie from famed Korean director Joon-ho Bong has an unusual setting: a train that is traveling on what seems to be an endless track around the world, through a snowy post-apocalyptic Earth. The train’s lower class passengers, led by Chris Evans, are trying to get their way into the upper-class portion of the train, where the rich and privileged people, like the character played by Tilda Swinton, reside.
This is a movie that offers up commentary about class, poverty, and more inside an entertaining movie, and that makes it one of the best sci-fi films on Netflix.
7. Bird Box
A strange force eliminates the population of the world. If you see it, you tend to kill yourself. So what must Malorie (Sandra Bullock) do to get herself and her two toddlers to safety? Her last option is to flee to the only safe place left and seek sanctuary from the deadly force. But to survive, she and her kids must undertake a perilous two-day journey blindfolded. Will they survive? Watch this Netflix original sci-fi thriller to find out.
8. District 9
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2009, this film is definitely one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix. It’s also a very pointed allegory about racism. In this alternate present, an alien space ship arrives and starts hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa. On board are over a million large, insect-looking alien refugees. The aliens are repopulated in the country in an area called District 9, but most humans hate and fear them. Things start to change when one human gets infected with an alien substance and starts to turn into one of them. While it has some lofty themes, it doesn’t forget that it’s also a sci-fi action movie with lots of great sequences.
9. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror is one of the best original TV shows on Netflix, but its creator and writer Charlie Brooker decided to release a great Black Mirror feature film in late 2018 on Netflix as well. This is great news on its own, as we get to watch how developing a fictional video game starts to affect the reality of its programmer.
This movie is an interactive experience, as you will be asked in the middle of the narrative to make choices that will affect the storyline. There are several different ways the storyline can end, and once you reach it, you can always start over again and make different choices to see if you can get to all of the endings.
Director Mel Brooks send-up of the Star Wars movies has achieved a cult following since its release. That’s why it’s on our best sci-fi movies on Netflix list. If you are a Star Wars fan, or even if you just love broad comedy, there are tons of things that will make you laugh in this movie. Rick Moranis is especially good as the evil Darth Helmet, who doesn’t see to have this “evil villain” thing down pat yet.
These are our choices for the best sci-fi movies on Netflix. We’ll update the list with new titles once they hit the streaming service.