Although it’s not immediately obvious, you’ll find a wide range of excellent sci-fi films at. Push out the absolute classics, from The Terminator to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as the . One of them is Widely regarded as the best hidden sci-fi gem out there.
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This sci-fi cult gem is riddled with the tire tracks of kids riding bikes around their neighborhood. Explorers, a follower of Stranger Things, follows two teenagers – played by Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix – as they build a spaceship for space exploration. An 80’s flick infused with the spirit of family-friendly adventure.
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It’s hard to leave The Tomorrow War off this list, as it’s Prime Video’s big sci-fi actioner starring Chris Pratt. It follows a school teacher who is drawn into a war with aliens – in the future. An easily digestible flick to watch while looking at your phone.
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Vivarium is interesting. It may frustrate many viewers with its surreal aspects, but it’s still an immersive film. A young couple is trapped in a labyrinthine suburban neighborhood of identical houses. While trying to escape, they take care of a mysterious baby.
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Emile Hirsch stars in this sci-fi horror about a father who keeps his 7-year-old daughter locked in their home for her entire life. Chloe inevitably seeks the great outdoors, which leads to unexplained incidents and a clash with a government agency. An impressive work with a father-daughter relationship at its core.
The sci-fi actioner that made director Neill Blomkamp famous. The hybrid found footage flick takes you straight into the intense action of an alternate 1982, when an alien spacecraft appears over Johannesburg, Africa. A unique, exciting and slightly political classic.
Yes, this is a prequel movie. Yes, this is the fifth in the Alien series. Yes, it’s terrific and its plot doesn’t do justice to its stunning visuals. But Prometheus introduced us to the brilliantly creepy and unnerving android David, played by Michael Fassbender. Its plot might not make complete sense in the end, but that doesn’t detract from the entertainment value of this sci-fi horror.
This low-budget indie has surprisingly high production values, impressive performances and imaginative camerawork to tell the story of two teenagers in 1950’s New Mexico. The resourceful pair hunt the possibly alien origins of a mysterious audio frequency.
Before Amélie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet brought his flair and visual style to a sci-fi fantasy (co-directed by Marc Caro). The City of Lost Children follows an evil scientist who kidnaps children because he believes their dreams are the key to preventing aging.
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For those who miss Black Mirror, this will help fill that gap. Black Box follows a father trying to get his life back on track after a car accident. He agrees to an experimental procedure that takes him into the darkest recesses of his mind.
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For a well-made, thoughtful sci-fi film that is careful not to overdo its meditations on entertainment value, Archive has a great reputation. Gavin Rothery’s British directorial debut sees Theo James as a scientist working to make an AI as human as possible. His reasons are hidden, personal, and sure to throw a spanner in the works. Drawing comparisons to Ex Machina, Archive is safe storytelling with a keen focus on character.
Screenshot from Oscilloscope Laboratories/YouTube/CNET
Coherence doesn’t require an avatar-sized budget to create a compelling story. The low-budget indie film follows friends at a dinner party who notice bizarre events after a comet passes by. Even more unsettling for its down-to-earth setting, Coherence nails the shorthand of a true indie gem.
Screenshot by Alameda Entertainment/YouTube/CNET
Fascinating premise? Check. Low budget? Check. Turn at the end? Check. This indie sci-fi mystery by Travis Milloy cements its spot in Google searches for “best indie sci-fi gems.” Infinity Chamber’s complex story focuses on a man being held in an automated detention center. He must fight against superior technology to escape, an immensely tricky task.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (2020)
How cool and intriguing is this title? Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a budget time travel comedy film directed by Junta Yamaguchi. The Wild Premise: A coffee shop worker discovers that his TV can show him what happens 2 minutes into the future. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, and the results are as creative and funky as one would expect in the constraints of indie filmmaking. A gem.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Remakes are rarely better than the original, but sometimes there’s a notable exception. The 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers builds on the already excellent 1956 sci-fi horror and tells the story of a health inspector and his colleague who realize the people of San Francisco are slowly being replaced by drone-like replicas. Invasion of the Body Snatchers creates an atmosphere steeped in fear and paranoia with Donald Sutherland at the helm and has been hailed as one of the best sci-fi films of all time.
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Not much needs to be said about the first part of the Terminator series. Seemingly born out of a fever dream, James Cameron’s story shows us a cyborg assassin sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor, whose unborn son is destined to save humanity from the robot apocalypse.
Photo credit: Jan Thijs
Before Dune, Denis Villeneuve directed another massive sci-fi classic. Arrival stars Amy Adams as a linguist who suffers a personal tragedy in the past. When a mysterious alien spacecraft hovers over Earth, she is recruited to make contact – with completely unexpected life-changing results. Arrival is a complete package of performances, cinematography and scripts that are out of this world.
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
The second Star Trek film in the rebooted franchise radiates a grandiose adventure with a memorable villain in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan. The gang aboard the USS Enterprise travel to the Forbidden Zone in space to save an endangered species. Though a bit dated – an unnecessary underwear scene and a change of ethnicity for Khan – Into Darkness is a rollicking trip.
The Fifth Element isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a wacky space adventure, it’ll bring all the blue alien operatic performances you could desire. Follow Korben Dallas, a taxi driver involved in the hunt for a mysterious fifth element capable of defeating a cosmic evil force.
Screenshot by 20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET
Oh look, that’s another Roland Emmerich film! This one follows Earth’s Resistance Soldiers as they put up a last-ditch stand against an alien attack, an event they schedule for July 4th.
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Sci-fi comedy isn’t always a hit, and this adaptation by Douglas Adams will either be weird in a good way, given the source material, or weird in an unfunny, confusing way. My 13 year old self loved it.
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