Best Netflix sci-fi movies: fantastic films to stream right now

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Movie nights are built on hope.

Date: December 2016 | Director: Gareth Edwards | Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk | MPAA rating: 12A/PG-13 | Runtime: 133 min

Fills in the gaps perfectly
Introduces great new characters
None of whom you'll see ever again
All the characters you like are CGI

As the first film outside of the saga and the first prequel since Jar Jar Binks, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had a lot riding on it. It had to strike a balance between originality and familiarity that could have easily backfired and been rejected by old and new fans alike. Thankfully, Rogue One was a rousing success all across the board. 

Taking place before the original Star Wars, Rogue One tells the tale of the brave band of rebel spies led by the tenacious Jyn Erso who risked everything to steal the plans to the fearsome Death Star. The forces of evil, led by Director Krennic, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Darth Vader himself meet the rebels in combat to prevent their plans from falling into the wrong hands. 

The final result of Rogue One was a gritty war film that wasn’t perfect, but stands as an excellent entry into the already expansive Star Wars universe. From a visual perspective alone, this is well worth the stream.

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Take a trip with the Doctor.

Date: November 2016 | Director: Scott Derrickson | Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams | MPAA rating: 12A/PG-13 | Runtime: 115 min

Bright and ultra-colorful
Cumberbatch can do no wrong
Strange is just a little too good
He knows more than a god

As Marvel’s cinematic success has expanded, so has their creative sandbox. A Doctor Strange movie would have been a fool’s dream just a decade ago, but now the master of mystic arts has his own film with top-notch special effects, a dream team cast, and a talented director to helm it. What a time to be alive! 

For those not in the know, Doctor Strange follows the story of Stephen Strange, a talented surgeon with an ego to match his skillset. After a car accident, Strange loses the use of his hands and loses his sense of purpose. On his journey to find healing, Strange stumbles into the mystic arts and finds a deeper purpose in magic, spirituality and sorcery. 

While formulaic at times, Doctor Strange is a blast from start to finish, riddled with humor and enough sci-fi and sorcery babble to make your head spin. 

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Anyone can save the galaxy once.

Date: 2017 | Director: James Gunn | Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista | MPAA rating: 12A/PG-13 | Runtime: 136 min

More expansive than the original
Great to see all the characters back
Doesn't quite flow
Really big lull in the middle

Lightning doesn't quite strike twice for The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. It's great to watch and has the similar thrills and spills of the original but something is just that little bit off. 

Maybe it's because the storyline goes a bit too big, focusing on Peter Quill's true parentage, and because of this it splits the team up for most of the movie. A half-decent Guardians, though, is better than most movies so it's still well worth a watch.

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

Everything Is Connected.

Date: 2012 | Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant | Rating: 15/R | Runtime: 172 min

Weaves all the stories effortlessly
Plus points linking the actors
Far too convoluted
Stylistically all over the place

The book was always seen as unfilmable, so the fact a movie of Cloud Atlas got made at all is a win. It's a movies that weaves six interconnected stories together that are as disparate as a ship's voyage in the 19th Century, a nuclear power plant conspiracy and clones in Korea. Each story has a ripple effect for the next and the really clever thing about the movie is the same actor plays myriad characters that are connected in some way - essentially joining the dots that the book alludes to. It may not always work but Cloud Atlas is bold, visually arresting storytelling.

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

What would you do if you knew the future?

Date: 2001 | Director: Richard Kelly | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell | Rating: 15/R | Runtime: 113 min

Highly original slab of sci-fi
Fantastic direction
Hard to follow
Too obscure for some

A timey wimey tale of time travel shot through the prism of teenage angst, Donnie Darko is a deliciously dark, mopey movie that tries its hardest to be obscure and infuriating but ends up being a wonderful piece of filmmaking. It will take a few watches to figure out just what is going on but this is a movie that gets better the more you unfold its secrets. Stunning stuff.

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Ghost Busters

Ghost Busters

Who you gonna call?

Date: 1984 | Director: Ivan Reitman | Stars: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver | Rating: PG | Runtime: 105 min

Endlessly quotable
Funny and spooky
The FX have aged
More jokey than sci-fi

A monster hit in the 80s and for good reason, Ghost Busters (more commonly known now as Ghostbusters) is a brilliant character comedy that sees four hapless friends go from fake ghost hunters to real ghostbusters. Blessed with a script by an alumni of Saturday Night Live greats, this is as much an adult showcase as it is a kids movie. The brilliant thing about Ghostbusters, however, is that it enjoys being both so much.

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Metropolis


Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece.

Date: 1927 | Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich | Rating: PG | Runtime: 153 min

One of the greatest pieces of cinema
Is the blueprint for many sci-fi movies
Takes too much time telling the story
There are many versions of the movie

Every single sci-fi movie of the past 75 years or so owes a massive debt to Metropolis. This silent showcase is a blistering portrayal of science fiction, as seen by German director Fritz Lang in the 1920s. Using special effects that still impress today, it's a wonderfully weird watch that shows the clash between the rich and poor, workers and city planners, and what drives someone to try and create the ultimate utopia. Metropolis is a movie that isn't complete - there are many versions of the film out in the world. But that doesn't stop it from being one of the most influential films ever made.

Best sci-fi movies on Netflix: Moon


250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to yourself.

Date: 2009 | Director: Duncan Jones | Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott | Rating: 15/R | Runtime: 97 min

Great central performance
Superb twist
Too low budget
Slow paced

Director Duncan Jones' debut is sharp low-budget sci-fi that may wear its influences on its sleeves, but the rest of the shirt fits so well you won't care. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is an astronaut who has to spend three years on a moonbase. This is all fine until the isolation makes Sam start to hallucinate and start to wonder if his sidekick computer GERTY is as nice as it seems to be. With a great central performance and some superb twists, Moon is a tight, twisty sci-fi thriller.