(Photo by Warner Bros. Thumbnail: Jasin Boland for ©Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection)
150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies to Watch Now
There’s only one place where you can get clones, time travel, simulated realities, irradiated and irritated giant lizards, and space fights and beyond. (Maybe not all at once, but we can dream.) Anything’s possible in this creative nebula known as science fiction, and with its long and historic association with cinema, we present our choices of the greatest science-fiction movies ever: The 150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies!
As they do with horror, filmmakers use science fiction to reflect our aspirations, terrors, and issues of the times. Through genre lens, we can consider our impact on the environment (Godzilla, WALL-E), technology gone berserk (The Terminator, Ex Machina), identity (Blade Runner, The Matrix), and societal breakdowns (Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange). We might even check-in on the current state of the human condition (Gattaca, Her).
Or, maybe we just want to see giant ants wreak havoc across the neighborhood. There may not be a lot of subtext in a big monster movie like Them!, or even crowd-pleasing masterpieces like Star Wars or Back to the Future, but they speak to the one thing that attracts us to movies in the first place: escapism. Science-fiction movies are our tickets to planets far-away (Star Trek, Avatar, Starship Troopers), or a quick hop to a local joint in the solar system (The Martian, Total Recall). They take us just above the atmosphere (Gravity), deep down to the bottom of the ocean (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Abyss), and into the human body (Fantastic Voyage). Limited only 2020by imagination, sci-fi inspires wonder, awe, terror, and hope for alternative mindsets and better futures.
Sci-fi spreads across subgenres, all represented here: the monster movie (Cloverfield), space opera (Serenity), cyberpunk (Ghost in the Shell), and post-apocalyptic (Mad Max: Fury Road) and more. Or it can fuse onto traditional genres like drama (Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), comedy (Repo Man, Idiocracy), and action (Predator, Demoliton Man). Wherever the destination, these movies — each with at least 20 reviews — were selected because of their unique, fun, and possibly even mind-blowing spins on reality.
It’s time to strap in and cue the Theremin for some of the best science-fiction films created: Time to launch the 150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies!
Adjusted Score: 66.72%
Critics Consensus: A frantic and occasional funny adaptation of Douglas Adams' novel. However, it may have those unfamiliar with the source material scratching their heads.
Earthman Arthur Dent is having a very bad day. His house is about to be bulldozed, he discovers that his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.025%
Critics Consensus: The Endless benefits from its grounded approach to an increasingly bizarre story, elevated by believable performances by filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.
Following their Lovecraftian modern cult classic SPRING, acclaimed filmmakers Moorhead and Benson return with this mind-bending thriller that follows two... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.725%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
An ordinary guy takes an extraordinary step through time in this science fiction thriller. Hector (Karra Elejalde) is spending a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.868%
Critics Consensus: Ad Astra takes a visually thrilling journey through the vast reaches of space while charting an ambitious course for the heart of the bond between parent and child.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.695%
Critics Consensus: Yul Brynner gives a memorable performance as a robotic cowboy in this amusing sci-fi/western hybrid.
Welcome to Westworld, where nothing can go wrong...go wrong...go wrong....Writer/director Michael Crichton has concocted a futuristic "Disneyland for adults", a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.794%
Critics Consensus: High Life is as visually arresting as it is challenging, confounding, and ultimately rewarding - which is to say it's everything film fans expect from director Claire Denis.
Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.913%
Critics Consensus: A case study in less-is-more filmmaking, Coherence serves as a compelling low-budget calling card for debuting writer-director James Ward Byrkit.
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.145%
Critics Consensus: Rocky Horror Picture Show brings its quirky characters in tight, but it's the narrative thrust that really drives audiences insane and keeps 'em doing the time warp again.
This low-budget freak show/cult classic/cultural institution concerns the misadventures of Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) inside... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.028%
Critics Consensus: Midnight Special's intriguing mysteries may not resolve themselves to every viewer's liking, but the journey is ambitious, entertaining, and terrifically acted.
Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, and Kirsten Dunst star in writer/director Jeff Nichols' drama about a father and his eight-year-old son... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61.027%
Critics Consensus: Its central metaphor is a bit too on the nose, but Wizards is an otherwise psychedelic, freaky trip into an alternate version of our world.
In this animated futuristic tale, a pair of twins must fight for domination of what is left of the world,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.809%
Critics Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Based on Jeff VanderMeer's best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69.789%
Critics Consensus: Contact elucidates stirring scientific concepts and theological inquiry at the expense of satisfying storytelling, making for a brainy blockbuster that engages with its ideas, if not its characters.
She's known it since she was a young girl, when she would magically connect with distant voices on her father's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75.748%
Critics Consensus: The Congress rises on the strength of Robin Wright's powerful performance, with enough ambitious storytelling and technical thrills to overcome its somewhat messy structure.
More than two decades after catapulting to stardom with The Princess Bride, an aging actress (Robin Wright, playing a version... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.214%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by impressive special effects and a charming performance from its young star, Flight of the Navigator holds up as a solidly entertaining bit of family-friendly sci-fi.
The year is 1978: 12-year-old David Freeman (Joey Cramer), playing in the woods near his home, is knocked unconscious. He... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.184%
Critics Consensus: Remixing Roger Corman's B-movie by way of the Off-Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors offers camp, horror and catchy tunes in equal measure -- plus some inspired cameos by the likes of Steve Martin and Bill Murray.
It started as a 1960 Roger Corman horror comedy, filmed in two days; it then inspired a lavish 1982 Broadway... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75.066%
Critics Consensus: Alita: Battle Angel's story struggles to keep up with its special effects, but fans of futuristic sci-fi action may still find themselves more than sufficiently entertained.
From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (AVATAR) and Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY), comes ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, an epic adventure of hope... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.282%
Critics Consensus: Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg's strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.
In the year 2045, people can escape their harsh reality in the OASIS, an immersive virtual world where you can... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71.771%
Critics Consensus: The epitome of so-bad-it's-good cinema, Plan 9 From Outer Space is an unintentionally hilarious sci-fi "thriller" from anti-genius Ed Wood that is justly celebrated for its staggering ineptitude.
Based on a true tale of horror from a noted American television psychic, this low-budget sci-fi epic tells the chilling... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68.829%
Critics Consensus: In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.
In a future world ruled by industrialists, "civilized" society has removed violent activity and a new sport, rollerball, has emerged.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74.356%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't fulfill the potential of its ambitious themes, butSilent Running stands as a decidedly unique type of sci-fi journey marked by intimate character work and a melancholic mood.
After the end of all botanical life on Earth, ecologist Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) maintains a greenhouse on a space... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.191%
Critics Consensus: Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds delivers on the thrill and paranoia of H.G. Wells' classic novel while impressively updating the action and effects for modern audiences.
This is a contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells' seminal sci-fi classic. The adventure/thriller reveals humankind's extraordinary battle against an extra-terrestrial... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.209%
Critics Consensus: A remarkable technical achievement, Metropolis' eye-popping visuals more than compensate for its relatively routine story.
Playing like a candy-colored hybrid of Fritz Lang's film of the same name and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Osamu Tezuka's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.115%
Critics Consensus: Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi -- and altogether entertaining -- return to the monster's classic creature-feature roots.
Make way for the ultimate homage to one of the most enduring legends of the big screen-Godzilla! The King of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.295%
Critics Consensus: Though it may be short on dazzling special effects, The Search for Spock is still a strong Star Trek installment, thanks to affecting performances by its iconic cast.
Star Trek II ended with Spock presumed dead, but this film reveals that his consciousness survives within McCoy. Spock's body... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.373%
Critics Consensus: Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," an all-new epic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 58.967%
Critics Consensus: The Fountain -- a movie about metaphysics, universal patterns, Biblical symbolism, and boundless love spread across one thousand years -- is visually rich but suffers from its own unfocused ambitions.
Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky switches gears from drug-induced urban malaise to abstract science fiction with this time-tripping... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65.161%
Critics Consensus: Logan's Run overcomes its campier elements and undercooked plot with a bounty of rousing ideas and dashing sci-fi adventure.
One of the last pre-Star Wars science-fiction extravaganzas (based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71.979%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its chortle-worthy premise and dated special effects, The Blob remains a prime example of how satisfying cheesy B-movie monster thrills can be.
In his first starring role, Steve McQueen plays a typical oversexed, car-lovin' highschooler who can't get anyone to believe his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72.425%
Critics Consensus: Scanners is a dark sci-fi story with special effects that'll make your head explode.
The title of this David Cronenberg sci-fi horror film refers to a group of people who have telekinetic powers that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.289%
Critics Consensus: Eerily prescient in its presentation of a dystopian future, Things to Come's special effects may be somewhat dated, but its potent ideas haven't aged at all.
It's Christmas 1940, and Everytown resident John Cabal (Raymond Massey) fears that war is imminent. When it breaks out, the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65.5%
Critics Consensus: Cube sometimes struggles with where to take its intriguing premise, but gripping pace and an impressive intelligence make it hard to turn away.
Six people are inexplicably imprisoned in a booby-trapped system of boxes, with no hope and fewer means of escape. A... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66.56%
Critics Consensus: Strange Days struggles to make the most of its futuristic premise, but what's left remains a well-directed, reasonably enjoyable sci-fi fantasy.
This epic thriller is set in a hellish Los Angeles during the last days of the 20th century. The tale... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61.777%
Critics Consensus: It's sexist, juvenile, and dated, but Heavy Metal makes up for its flaws with eye-popping animation and a classic, smartly used soundtrack.
Based on the popular magazine of the same name, this animated cult film interweaves six visionary stories of science fiction... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78.948%
Critics Consensus: An offbeat, eccentric black comedy, A Boy and His Dog features strong dialogue and an oddball vision of the future.
Based on the novella by Harlan Ellison, A Boy and His Dog is set in a post-apocalyptic future where canned... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.556%
Critics Consensus: A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism, A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.
Based on the 1969 short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss, this science fiction fantasy bears similarities... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77.769%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Adapted from the novel by John Wyndham, this intelligent British monster movie begins with a meteor shower so intensely bright... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.939%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
First published in 1932, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's speculative novel When Worlds Collide was immediately purchased by Paramount as... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.563%
Critics Consensus: Danny Boyle continues his descent into mind-twisting sci-fi madness, taking us along for the ride. Sunshine fulfills the dual requisite necessary to become classic sci-fi: dazzling visuals with intelligent action.
As the sun begins to dim along with humankind's hope for the future, it's up to a desperate crew of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.335%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
A glitzy updating of Andy Warhol's Trash with aliens, this campy, stylish, but ultimately depressing film is one of the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.317%
Critics Consensus: A loopy 2001 satire, Dark Star may not be the most consistent sci-fi comedy, but its portrayal of human eccentricity is a welcome addition to the genre.
John Carpenter directed this wigged-out spoof of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film originally began as a 45-minute U.S.C. student... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.406%
Critics Consensus: Director Alejandro Amenábar tackles some heady issues with finesse and clarity in Open Your Eyes, a gripping exploration of existentialism and the human spirit.
In this Spanish-French-Italian co-production, a man deserts women after sleeping with them just once, a lifestyle that becomes his ultimate... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.554%
Critics Consensus: Following its own brand of logic, Paprika is an eye-opening mind trip that is difficult to follow but never fails to dazzle.
A machine allows therapists to enter patients' dreams. When it's stolen, all hell breaks loose, and only a woman therapist... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.218%
Critics Consensus: Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.
A band of renegades on the run in outer space get in more hot water than they anticipated in this... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.319%
Critics Consensus: A nostalgic ode to kids' movies of yesteryear, Turbo Kid eyes the past through an entertaining -- albeit surprisingly gory -- postmodern lens.
Set in a post apocalyptic year of 1997, this retro-futuristic and nostalgic tribute to 80's action-adventure films follows an orphaned... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.516%
Critics Consensus: George Lucas' feature debut presents a spare, bleak, dystopian future, and features evocatively minimal set design and creepy sound effects.
'THX 1138' is a chilling look at a 25th-century totalitarian state where mankind is stripped of any individuality. People are... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.557%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, briskly-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block follows a gang of tough inner-city... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.876%
Critics Consensus: Like its augmented protagonist, Upgrade's old-fashioned innards get a high-tech boost -- one made even more powerful thanks to sharp humor and a solidly well-told story.
After his wife is killed during a brutal mugging that also leaves him paralyzed, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green, SPIDER-MAN:... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.027%
Critics Consensus: While fans of the series will surely appreciate it, First Contact is exciting, engaging, and visually appealing enough to entertain Star Trek novices.
Capt. Picard and his crew pursue the Borg back in time to stop them from preventing Earth from initiating first... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.49%
Critics Consensus: Madcap and heartfelt, Edgar Wright's apocalypse comedy The World's End benefits from the typically hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, with a plethora of supporting players.
The third installment of director Edgar Wright's trilogy of comedies starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, following the successes "Shaun... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.303%
Critics Consensus: Employing gritty camerawork and evocative sound effects, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a powerful remake that expands upon themes and ideas only lightly explored in the original.
In this elaborate remake of the 1956 horror classic, health inspector Donald Sutherland is dispatched to investigate the curious behavior... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.949%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
When a young girl is snatched away from her father by a horrifying giant monster that emerges from the River... [More]
Adjusted Score: 112.799%
Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
In the modern horror thriller A QUIET PLACE, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.682%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series' former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.
In this thrilling continuation of the epic space opera, ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), scrappy desert dweller Rey (Daisy Ridley), and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.204%
Critics Consensus: Repo Man is many things: an alien-invasion film, a punk-rock musical, a send-up of consumerism. One thing it isn't is boring.
A down and out young punk gets a job working with a seasoned repo man, but what awaits him in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68.717%
Critics Consensus: A fun movie...if you can accept the excessive gore and wooden acting.
Paul Verhoeven has fashioned a visually spectacular, morbidly funny comic book adventure that seems to merge the fresh-faced youths of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74.86%
Critics Consensus: Visually inventive and gleefully over the top, Luc Besson's The Fifth Element is a fantastic piece of pop sci-fi that never takes itself too seriously.
Good and evil battle for the future of 23rd century Earth in this visually striking big-budget science fiction epic. In... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81.998%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and thought-provoking, V For Vendetta's political pronouncements may rile some, but its story and impressive set pieces will nevertheless entertain.
Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, V for Vendetta takes place in an alternate vision of Britain in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.032%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd 3D does a remarkable job of capturing its source material's gritty spirit.
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.559%
Critics Consensus: Featuring director John Sayles trademark humanity and an expressive performance from Joe Morton, The Brother from Another Planet is an observant, dryly comic sci-fi gem.
Filmmaker John Sayles' first bonafide box-office success, Brother from Another Planet centers on a black escaped slave from a faraway... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70.655%
Critics Consensus: Sci-fi parodies like these usually struggle to work, but Buckaroo Banzai succeeds through total devotion to its own lunacy.
Neurosurgeon, nuclear scientist, and rock 'n' roller, the multi-talented Buckaroo Banzai is called upon save the world from a hostile... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.092%
Critics Consensus: With World on a Wire, Fassbinder imprints his unmistakable mark on a science fiction mystery that, through fascinating philosophical discussions and deep psychological questions, presents a timely reflection on humanity.
A dystopic science-fiction epic, World on a Wire is German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder's gloriously cracked, boundlessly inventive take on... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.449%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.
From the director of "The Crow," an atmospheric melange of styles and substance about aliens, night and unspeakable acts. Interesting,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.256%
Critics Consensus: Its message may prove elusive for some, but with absorbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin is a haunting viewing experience.
From visionary director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) comes a stunning career transformation, a masterpiece of existential science fiction that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.709%
Critics Consensus: Filled with stunning imagery, The Man Who Fell to Earth is a calm, meditative film that profoundly explores our culture's values and desires.
Space alien (Bowie) crash lands on Earth, seeking help for his drought-stricken planet. By securing patents to advanced technology, he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.74%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
Considered fairly gruesome in its day, the original 1958 The Fly looks like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood compared to this 1986... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.104%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares.
Producer J.J. Abrams teams with writer Drew Goddard and director Matt Reeves for this frenetic tale of a powerful destructive... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.361%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.
For his fifth effort as a feature-film director, one-time cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld brought his cartoonish visual style and darkly humorous... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77.678%
Critics Consensus: Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.
A computer programmer is trapped in the game he's creating.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.498%
Critics Consensus: Bumblebee proves it's possible to bring fun and a sense of wonder back to a bloated blockbuster franchise -- and sets up its own slate of sequels in the bargain.
On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71.101%
Critics Consensus: The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.
A group of intrepid humans attempts to save the Earth from vicious extraterrestrials in this extremely popular science-fiction adventure. Borrowing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78.476%
Critics Consensus: Unevenly paced and thoroughly cheesy, Barbarella is nonetheless full of humor, entertaining visuals, and Jane Fonda's sex appeal.
A voluptuous outer space agent travels to another galaxy in search of a missing inventor in this science fiction send-up.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.549%
Critics Consensus: Richard Kelly's debut feature Donnie Darko is a daring, original vision, packed with jarring ideas and intelligence and featuring a remarkable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled title character.
Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a bright and charming high-school student who also has a dark and willfully eccentric side; he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.692%
Critics Consensus: It may sport more style than substance, but Pacific Rim is a solid modern creature feature bolstered by fantastical imagery and an irresistible sense of fun.
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74.953%
Critics Consensus: Frustratingly uneven yet enjoyable overall, Idiocracy skewers society's devolution with an amiably goofy yet deceptively barbed wit.
In 2005, average in every way private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is selected to take part in a secret military... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.049%
Critics Consensus: Fahrenheit 451 is an intriguing film that suffuses Truffaut's trademark wit and black humor with the intelligence and morality of Ray Bradbury's novel.
Based on the famous book by Ray Bradbury, this film portrays a future society where books and reading are forbidden... [More]
Adjusted Score: 62.872%
Critics Consensus: A better-than-average sci-fi shoot-em-up with a satirical undercurrent, Demolition Man is bolstered by strong performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock.
The plot of this action film begins in 1996, with Los Angeles in a violence-crazed conflagration. One of the LAPD's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73.303%
Critics Consensus: A faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, A Scanner Darkly takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the author's conception of a drug-addled and politically unstable world.
Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, an undercover cop, Fred, is one of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.423%
Critics Consensus: Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.
When decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.153%
Critics Consensus: The utterly gorgeous special effects frequently overshadow the fact that The Abyss is also a totally gripping, claustrophobic thriller, complete with an interesting crew of characters.
The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is called into action to investigate a mysterious nuclear submarine crash. A series... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.709%
Critics Consensus: Led by Rupert Wyatt's stylish direction, some impressive special effects, and a mesmerizing performance by Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes breathes unlikely new life into a long-running franchise.
A single act of both compassion and arrogance leads to a war unlike any other -- and to the Rise... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.758%
Critics Consensus: Extraordinarily daring for a Hollywood film, Altered States attacks the viewer with its inventive, aggressive mix of muddled sound effects and visual pyrotechnics.
In this 1980 sci-fi horror film, William Hurt plays Eddie Jessup, a scientist obsessed with discovering mankind's true role in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.681%
Critics Consensus: Fun genre fare with uncommon intelligence, Predestination serves as a better-than-average sci-fi adventure -- and offers a starmaking turn from Sarah Snook.
PREDESTINATION chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.666%
Critics Consensus: A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter.
A homeless drifter discovers a reason for the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor: a conspiracy by non-human... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.908%
Critics Consensus: Featuring dazzling, disorienting cinematography from the great James Wong Howe and a strong lead performance by Rock Hudson, Seconds is a compellingly paranoid take on the legend of Faust.
Fifty-ish Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) is approached by a secret company that promises to provide him with a fresh start,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74.351%
Critics Consensus: While admittedly melodramatic and uneven in spots, Soylent Green ultimately succeeds with its dark, plausible vision of a dystopian future.
This 1973 film, based on the novel by Harry Harrison, won a Nebula Award for "Best Science Fiction Film" and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.329%
Critics Consensus: One of Disney's finest live-action adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings Jules Verne's classic sci-fi tale to vivid life, and features an awesome giant squid.
This 1954 Disney version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea represented the studio's costliest and most elaborate American-filmed... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.059%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.793%
Critics Consensus: It might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but Avatar reaffirms James Cameron's singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking.
"Avatar" is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.467%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller.
Based on a short story by the late Philip K. Dick, this science fiction-thriller reflects the writer's familiar preoccupation with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.632%
Critics Consensus: While Alphaville is by no means a conventional sci-fi film, Jean-Luc Godard creates a witty, noir-ish future all his own.
In Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard fuses a hardboiled detective story with science fiction. Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), a hero Godard borrowed... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.699%
Critics Consensus: One of the best creature features of the early atomic age, Them! features effectively menacing special effects and avoids the self-parody that would taint later monster movies.
In this film, a girl is found wandering in the desert in a state of complete shock. When she finally... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.177%
Critics Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.
Videodrome is a pulsating science fiction nightmare about a world where video can control and alter human life.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.256%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters.
In this sci-fi epic from director Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Mother), a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.275%
Critics Consensus: One of the best political allegories of the 1950s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an efficient, chilling blend of sci-fi and horror.
Director Don Siegel's thinly-veiled examination of McCarthy-era hysteria stars Kevin McCarthy (no relation) as Miles Bennell, a California doctor who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.447%
Critics Consensus: Predator: Part sci-fi, part horror, part action -- all muscle.
Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has a code of honor which he will not violate, even when his life depends on it.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.024%
Critics Consensus: Planet of the Apes raises thought-provoking questions about our culture without letting social commentary get in the way of the drama and action.
Originally intended as a project for Blake Edwards, the film version of Pierre Boule's semisatiric sci-fi novel came to the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.828%
Critics Consensus: The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.
Director George Miller's follow-up to his own 1979 hit Mad Max is proof that not all sequels are inferior to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106.047%
Critics Consensus: Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.
Mission: Impossible III director and Alias creator J.J. Abrams resurrects the classic science fiction franchise created by Gene Roddenberry with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.017%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, Escape from New York is a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.
It's 1997 and Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison. When the United States president crash lands into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.229%
Critics Consensus: Though it's dated in spots, The War of the Worlds retains an unnerving power, updating H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi tale to the Cold War era and featuring some of the best special effects of any 1950s film.
Earth is under attack in the chilling Cold War classic "The War of the Worlds" (1953). In one of the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107.073%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right.
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.45%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and humorous satire with an excellent cast -- no previous Trekkie knowledge needed to enjoy this one.
For four years, the courageous crew of the NSEA Protector donned their uniforms and set out on thrilling and often... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.628%
Critics Consensus: The special effects may be a bit dated today, but Fantastic Voyage still holds up well as an imaginative journey into the human body.
Stephen Boyd heads a team of scientists sent on a bizarre experimental mission. Through a revolutionary and as-yet-untested process, the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.709%
Critics Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.
Based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem, Solaris centers on widowed psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donata Banionis), who is sent to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.217%
Critics Consensus: Sweet, soulful, and smart, Spike Jonze's Her uses its just-barely-sci-fi scenario to impart wryly funny wisdom about the state of modern human relationships.
Spike Jonze takes the helm for this comedy about a withdrawn writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.269%
Critics Consensus: The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.
"Iron Giant" is based upon the 1968 story,'Iron Man,' by the British poet laureate Ted Hughes. The film is about... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.664%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
This futuristic story takes place on a faraway planet where giants rule, and oppressed humanoids rebel against the machine-like leaders.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.106%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
In Paul Verhoeven's wild sci-fi action movie Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a 21st-century construction worker who discovers that his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.15%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Sam Rockwell's intense performance, Moon is a compelling work of science-fiction, and a promising debut from director Duncan Jones.
An astronaut miner extracting the precious moon gas that promises to reverse the Earth's energy crisis nears the end of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106.068%
Critics Consensus: Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.368%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.092%
Critics Consensus: Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp.
With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.276%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by Charlie Kaufman's smart, imaginative script and Michel Gondry's equally daring directorial touch, Eternal Sunshine is a twisty yet heartfelt look at relationships and heartache.
The second feature from director Michel Gondry (Human Nature) finds the filmmaker reteaming with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for this off-the-wall... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.259%
Critics Consensus: As thought-provoking as it is thrilling, Looper delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action.
In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.175%
Critics Consensus: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.
Steven Spielberg followed Jaws (1975), his first major box-office success, with this epic science fiction adventure about a disparate group... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111.52%
Critics Consensus: Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team--lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)--are brought together... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.85%
Critics Consensus: Ex Machina leans heavier on ideas than effects, but it's still a visually polished piece of work -- and an uncommonly engaging sci-fi feature.
Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.113%
Critics Consensus: Wall-E's stellar visuals testify once again to Pixar's ingenuity, while its charming star will captivate younger viewers -- and its timely story offers thought-provoking subtext.
After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.664%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Both a classic movie for kids and a remarkable portrait of childhood, E.T. is a sci-fi adventure that captures that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.125%
Critics Consensus: More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.
One of the longest-running series in film history began with Ishiro Honda's grim, black-and-white allegory for the devastation wrought on... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.533%
Critics Consensus: Shakespeare gets the deluxe space treatment in Forbidden Planet, an adaptation of The Tempest with impressive sets and seamless special effects.
In the 23rd century, Cmdr. J. J. Adams guides a rescue mission to faraway planet Altair-4. Twenty years earlier, Earth... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.454%
Critics Consensus: The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience.
An intense film about time travel, this sci-fi entry was directed by Terry Gilliam, a member of the comedy troupe... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.705%
Critics Consensus: Jurassic Park is a spectacle of special effects and life-like animatronics, with some of Spielberg's best sequences of sustained awe and sheer terror since Jaws.
Steven Spielberg's phenomenally successful sci-fi adventure thriller is graced by state-of-the-art special effects from the team of Stan Winston, Phil... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75.303%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
The debut feature from filmmaker Shane Carruth -- who wrote, directed, photographed, edited, scored, and stars -- Primer is a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.156%
Critics Consensus: Stalker is a complex, oblique parable that draws unforgettable images and philosophical musings from its sci-fi/thriller setting.
Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, an allegorical science fiction film like his earlier Solaris, was adapted from the novel Picnic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.574%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
In a futuristic society where commerce has overridden more humanistic concerns, the rich and successful, eager to obtain physical and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.826%
Critics Consensus: A stunning feat of modern animation, Ghost in the Shell offers a thoughtful, complex treat for anime fans, as well as a perfect introduction for viewers new to the medium.
In the year 2029, the world has become interconnected by a vast electronic network that permeates every aspect of life.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.281%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam's visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
Terry Gilliam's 1985 film is a surrealist nightmare of a low-level bureaucrat in a dismal world of the near future.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.575%
Critics Consensus: Considered by many fans to be the best of the Star Trek movies, Khan features a strong plot, increased tension, and a sharp supporting performance from Ricardo Montalban.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is fondly regarded as being the closest in spirit to the 1966-69 TV... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.572%
Critics Consensus: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.
Director Neill Blomkamp teams with producer Peter Jackson for this tale of extraterrestrial refugees stuck in contemporary South Africa. It's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.59%
Critics Consensus: Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor.
Stanley Kubrick dissects the nature of violence in this darkly ironic, near-future satire, adapted from Anthony Burgess's novel, complete with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.486%
Critics Consensus: While over-the-top and gory, Robocop is also a surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture.
In near-future Detroit, a murdered police officer is resurrected as an experimental crime-fighting cyborg named Robocop. Tormented by memories of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.762%
Critics Consensus: Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.
All of Washington, D.C., is thrown into a panic when an extraterrestrial spacecraft lands near the White House. Out steps... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.363%
Critics Consensus: Akira is strikingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime.
One of the best-known examples of contemporary Japanese animation, this cyberpunk adventure takes place in the post-apocalyptic city of Neo-Tokyo.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.959%
Critics Consensus: Children of Men works on every level: as a violent chase thriller, a fantastical cautionary tale, and a sophisticated human drama about societies struggling to live.
A futuristic society faces extinction when the human race loses the ability to reproduce. England has descended into chaos, until... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.94%
Critics Consensus: With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks.
A Cyborg has been sent from the future on a deadly mission, it has been programmed to kill a young... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.289%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
The epic action of "Edge of Tomorrow" unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.88%
Critics Consensus: While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.
Big-budget special effects, swiftly paced action, and a distinct feminist subtext from writer/director James Cameron turned what should have been... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.756%
Critics Consensus: Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.
The second entry in George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy finds Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the green-as-grass hero from the first... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.089%
Critics Consensus: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter's The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.
John Carpenter's The Thing is both a remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 film of the same name and a re-adaptation... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114.008%
Critics Consensus: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller's post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
Filmmaker George Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with Fury Road, the fourth outing in the Mad Max... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109.772%
Critics Consensus: A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
"In space, no one can hear you scream." A close encounter of the third kind becomes a Jaws-style nightmare when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.118%
Critics Consensus: T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters.
A sequel to the sci-fi action thriller that made him and star Arnold Schwarzenegger A-list Hollywood names, writer/director James Cameron... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.504%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.935%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects.
What if virtual reality wasn't just for fun, but was being used to imprison you? That's the dilemma that faces... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.798%
Critics Consensus: A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.
Nineteen years after the formation of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is thrust into the struggle of the Rebel Alliance when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108.222%
Critics Consensus: A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.431%
Critics Consensus: Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott's mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece.
A blend of science fiction and noir detective fiction, Blade Runner (1982) was a box office and critical bust upon... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.252%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.
Contemporary high schooler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) doesn't have the most pleasant of lives. Browbeaten by his principal at... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.452%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential of all sci-fi films -- and one of the most controversial -- Stanley Kubrick's 2001 is a delicate, poetic meditation on the ingenuity -- and folly -- of mankind.
A mind-bending sci-fi symphony, Stanley Kubrick's landmark 1968 epic pushed the limits of narrative and special effects toward a meditation... [More]