While there are many streaming services to choose from, Netflix has a global presence and extensive catalog that makes it appeal to viewers of every kind—even science fiction geeks.
Indeed, Netflix has a wonderful collection of science fiction movies for fans of the genre. Here are some of the best modern sci-fi movies on Netflix, which, taken together, could make for another of those geeky movie marathons.
1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
IMDb: 7.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Rogue One is one of the newer films in Disney’s revival of the Star Wars franchise. But rather than being a sequel or a prequel to the original trilogy, it is its own spin-off tale.
Instead of focusing on the Skywalker family and the Jedi order, Rogue One centers around the landmark mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The underdog team who carried out the surprise attack played an integral role in destroying the giant superweapon, but their story was never told until now.
While a film that doesn’t directly affect new events in the franchise might seem like a boring addition, Rogue One is anything but. Instead, it is a compelling tale of unlikely heroes changing the course of the war against The Empire. New characters not linked to the Skywalker family breathe some fresh air into the series, with Rogue One’s protagonists carving their own place in viewers’ hearts.
2. Cargo (2018)
IMDb: 6.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Based on a short film of the same name, Cargo tells the tale of a father trying to keep his infant daughter safe after a pandemic turns most of humanity into mindless, violent creatures. While it never uses the terms “zombie” or “undead” to describe the infected, the film includes creatures that have many of the same hallmarks of zombies. But instead of rehashing the same tropes and themes, Cargo adds some new ideas and tells a refreshing and emotional tale.
While keeping a toddler safe in an apocalypse is hard enough, it’s much more difficult when you’re infected with a deadly virus. Martin Freeman’s character has only 48 hours before he is set to completely turn and needs to quickly find a way to save his little girl. Stranded in the Australian outback, he tries to find someone who will keep his daughter safe. Not an easy task when most of humanity is wiped out and those who remain are just as desperate.
3. Moon (2009)
IMDb: 7.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
One of the older inclusions on this list, Moon’s plot and twists still manage to surprise new viewers years after its release. Starring Sam Rockwell, the film follows the story of an astronaut stationed alone at a lunar mine.
Nearing the end of this three-year contract, the astronaut looks forward to seeing his family and ending his lonely solitude. However, he starts experiencing hallucinations and things start going awry in a multitude of confusing ways.
What seems like a traditional space movie soon turns into a complex and unexpected story.
4. Okja (2017)
IMDb: 7.4 | Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Okja is a lot of things: a drama with comedy elements, an environmental statement, and a coming-of-age tale showing the precious relationship between a girl and her genetically modified super-pig.
Rather than focusing on a far-away future for inspiration, this science fiction film is very much grounded in current trends in the food industry. The result is a tale that feels all the more realistic and probable.
The titular character, Okja, is raised in the mountains with her caretaker and best friend Mija. However, the 10-year contract through which Mija’s grandfather acquired Okja comes to an end. Soon after, the multi-national corporation which bred her and other super pigs reclaims their property, separating Mija from her closest friend.
What follows is an endearing tale, with some particularly heart-wrenching moments. Mija does everything in her power to save Okja becoming the latest addition to the Mirando Corporation’s new pork food products range.
5. Spectral (2016)
IMDb: 6.3 | Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Spectral is an action sci-fi that combines the thrill of intense battle sequences with the wonder of futuristic technology and unexplained anomalies. The story takes place in a war-torn country in eastern Europe, where the US military is fighting against the local regime.
While the fighting has generally been business-as-usual, new ghost-like apparitions suddenly appear on the battlefields. These deadly specters can only be detected using specialized hyperspectral imaging goggles and getting too close means instant death. After a soldier is killed in action by one of these unknown anomalies, the weapons engineer who designed the goggles is called in to find out exactly what is happening.
Despite the popular appeal of gun-toting action, Spectral also manages to incorporate some high-brow scientific theory into the story. Are the apparitions ghosts of war? Are they enemy combatants wearing advanced camouflage? The answer will surprise you.
6. iBoy (2017)
IMDb: 6.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
One of the earlier Netflix Original movies, iBoy follows the story of a teenage boy who is shot while attempting to make an emergency call after he finds his friend being assaulted. The bullet hits his phone and shattered pieces of the device become embedded into his brain.
Not long after the incident, he starts developing abilities which allow him to monitor and control any machine or internet-connected device. Imagine the augmented reality vision seen in the Watch Dogs game franchise, but instead of using a device to control technology, iBoy can simply use his mind.
He dons the vigilante identity iBoy and uses his newfound powers to bring retribution to the criminals who attacked him.
The movie proves to be a unique entry into the superhero film genre, embracing the power of technology rather than the usual foray of superpowers. While it didn’t receive much critical acclaim, the film has proved popular, and is definitely worth the watch for its unusual premise.
7. Circle (2015)
IMDb: 6.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
The 2015 sci-fi thriller Circle’s premise is simple, but incredibly engrossing and effective. Fifty strangers wake up inside a room, with no immediate recollection of where they are or why they’re there. Within a few moments, they see that whoever (or whatever) is controlling the circular room is killing off one person every two minutes.
It’s not long before they realize that they can vote on who should die next. As each person tries to ensure their own survival, prejudices and judgments begin to emerge.
The less said about the story the better, as the fast pace keeps you guessing who’s next. It has the atmosphere of the classic film 12 Angry Men. However, there is a lot more danger and a lot more at stake when everyone person is at risk.
8. Mr. Nobody (2009)
IMDb: 7.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
While the sci-fi genre is often associated with space operas and alien-killing action, this doesn’t mean you don’t get high-brow titles that will have even the most cultured science nerds contemplating what just happened.
Mr. Nobody is one such film. Before the mind-bending surrealism of Annihilation, Inception, and Interstellar, this was the sci-fi movie that kept people guessing throughout. The film incorporates the butterfly effect with a unique artistic style and the complex science of quantum theory. Starring Jared Leto, the movie is about the last mortal human as he nears his death. Every other human, who enjoy quasi-immortality thanks to cell renewal technology, watches on with macabre awe at the old man’s final days.
As a 113-year-old man, Mr. Nobody doesn’t remember who he is or what his life during the era of mortality was like. As a psychiatrist tries to get him to remember his past, for the enjoyment of viewers, Mr. Nobody begins to recount multiple contradictory memories. It soon becomes apparent, that for some reason, he recalls several different timelines which branch off from choices made during vital moments in his life.
The non-chronological narrative adds to the viewers’ confusion. However, the story and the desire to find out Mr. Nobody’s real story keep you thoroughly engaged.
9. V for Vendetta (2005)
IMDb: 8.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
V for Vendetta has become somewhat of a modern classic, with its dystopian tale and spirit of rebellion making it another of those cult films everyone should watch. The movie is set in an alternative future where a totalitarian government takes power in Britain following a deadly viral outbreak. The familiar themes of chaos versus order, freedom versus safety, and resistance versus force are explored artfully in the enthralling tale.
The main character, V, is a mysterious, masked figure who decides to take on the Big Brother-style regime. He is accompanied by an unwitting citizen (portrayed by Natalie Portman), who accidentally gets swept up in V’s mission to inspire rebellion among the people of Britain.
10. Europa Report (2013)
IMDb: 6.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
What would happen if we sent a team of astronauts to explore the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa? Well, according to the sci-fi thriller Europa Report, nothing good.
The movie follows an exploratory mission to discover whether the moon holds the potential to support simple alien life. The film uses the found footage style which you’ll know from films like Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield; but with the unique setting of space.
This heightens the intensity and drama as things continually go wrong for the explorers. To add to their troubles, more evidence that they’re not alone starts to emerge…
Netflix Has Movies for Every Type of Sci-Fi Fan
One of the great benefits of Netflix is its large and varied catalog. You’ll find different flavors for everyone, even within specific genres such as science fiction. This is only set to improve, as plans to expand the Netflix Originals lineup are well underway.
While you wait to see what the streaming service has in store in the future, you should take a look at our pick of the best original movies on Netflix.