(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: 68619%
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.
Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is trying to prevent his house from being bulldozed when his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98580%
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.
Two brothers receive a cryptic video message inspiring them to revisit the UFO death cult they escaped a decade earlier.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92322%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
Nacho Vigalondo's time-travel thriller opens with Hector spying on a beautiful woman undressing in the woods near his property. Investigating,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107105%
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.
Thirty years ago, Clifford McBride led a voyage into deep space, but the ship and crew were never heard from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88281%
Critics Consensus: Yul Brynner gives a memorable performance as a robotic cowboy in this amusing sci-fi/western hybrid.
Westworld is a futuristic theme park where paying guests can pretend to be gunslingers in an artificial Wild West populated... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96703%
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 and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90367%
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.
Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81728%
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.
In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), stuck with a flat tire during a storm,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98326%
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.
The government and a group of religious extremists pursue a man (Michael Shannon) and his son (Jaeden Lieberher), a young... [More]
Adjusted Score: 62212%
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.
After the death of his mother, the evil mutant wizard Blackwolf (Steve Gravers) discovers some long-lost military technologies. Full of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108259%
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.
Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70787%
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.
In this Zemeckis-directed adaptation of the Carl Sagan novel, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) races to interpret a possible message... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76985%
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.
An aging actress (Robin Wright) agrees to preserve her digital likeness for a studio to use in any future films... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85364%
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.
This 1978 Disney adventure tells the story of 12-year-old David (Joey Cramer) who lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94546%
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.
Meek flower shop assistant Seymour (Rick Moranis) pines for co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). During a total eclipse, he discovers an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81864%
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.
Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100061%
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 2045, the planet is on the brink of chaos and collapse, but people find salvation in the OASIS, an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66924%
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.
Residents of California's San Fernando Valley are under attack by flying saucers from outer space. The aliens, led by Eros... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70598%
Critics Consensus: In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.
The year is 2018 in a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries. A violent futuristic game known as Rollerball... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73057%
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: 86908%
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.
Dockworker Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) struggles to build a positive relationship with his two children, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87653%
Critics Consensus: A remarkable technical achievement, Metropolis' eye-popping visuals more than compensate for its relatively routine story.
Visually stunning Japanese anime interpretation of Fritz Lang's classic film, also based on Osamu Tezuka's outstanding 1945 illustrations. A Japanese... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90865%
Critics Consensus: Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi -- and altogether entertaining -- return to the monster's classic creature-feature roots.
A mysterious monster emerges from Tokyo Bay and wreaks havoc upon Japan.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80089%
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.
Adm. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) has defeated his archenemy but at great cost. His friend Spock has apparently been... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114496%
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.
Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61059%
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.
A man (Hugh Jackman) travels through time on a quest for immortality and to save the woman (Rachel Weisz) he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63707%
Critics Consensus: Logan's Run overcomes its campier elements and undercooked plot with a bounty of rousing ideas and dashing sci-fi adventure.
In the year 2274, young residents enjoy an idyllic, hedonistic lifestyle within the protective confines of a domed city. The... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70273%
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.
A drive-in favorite, this sci-fi classic follows teenagers Steve (Steven McQueen) and his best girl, Jane (Aneta Corseaut), as they... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70563%
Critics Consensus: Scanners is a dark sci-fi story with special effects that'll make your head explode.
Scanners are men and women born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. There are many who exercise the benefits of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94642%
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: 65746%
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.
Without remembering how they got there, several strangers awaken in a prison of cubic cells, some of them booby-trapped. There's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68003%
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.
Former policeman Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) has moved into a more lucrative trade: the illegal sale of virtual reality-like recordings... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67035%
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.
Adventures from deep space to futuristic New York, and beyond. Each world and story is dominated by the presence of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78495%
Critics Consensus: An offbeat, eccentric black comedy, A Boy and His Dog features strong dialogue and an oddball vision of the future.
Vic (Don Johnson) is a libidinous 18-year-old traversing the post-apocalyptic desert of 2024, in the company of his telepathic dog,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83043%
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.
A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67031%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
After meteors enter Earth's atmosphere, blinding much of the planet's population in the process, plantlike creatures known as Triffids emerge... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79193%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
After Dr. Bronson (Hayden Rorke) discovers Zyra, a new planet, fellow astronomer Dr. Hendron (Larry Keating) checks Bronson's data and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83406%
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.
In the not-too-distant future, Earth's dying sun spells the end for humanity. In a last-ditch effort to save the planet,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92625%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
An alien creature invades New York's punk subculture in its search for an opiate released by the brain during orgasm.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78285%
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.
A satiric look at the problems experienced by a crew of bumbling astronauts on a mission to destroy rogue planets.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88168%
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.
Handsome 25-year-old Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) had it all -- a successful career, expensive cars, a swank bachelor's pad, and an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88981%
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.
Dr. Atsuko Chiba works as a scientist by day and, under the code name "Paprika," is a dream detective at... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89088%
Critics Consensus: Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.
In this continuation of the television series "Firefly," a group of rebels travels the outskirts of space aboard their ship,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91515%
Critics Consensus: A nostalgic ode to kids' movies of yesteryear, Turbo Kid eyes the past through an entertaining -- albeit surprisingly gory -- postmodern lens.
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, an orphaned teen (Munro Chambers) must battle a ruthless warlord (Michael Ironside) to save the girl... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91312%
Critics Consensus: George Lucas' feature debut presents a spare, bleak, dystopian future, and features evocatively minimal set design and creepy sound effects.
In the future, mankind lives in vast underground cities and free will is outlawed by means of mandatory medication that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97367%
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.
South London teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones) defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99613%
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.
A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife dead. A billionaire inventor soon offers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95470%
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.
The Enterprise and its crew follow a Borg ship through a time warp to prevent the Borg from taking over... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98366%
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.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) is an immature 40-year-old who's dying to take another stab at an epic pub-crawl that he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98564%
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.
This remake of the classic horror film is set in San Francisco. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) assumes that when a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98757%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
Careless American military personnel dump chemicals into South Korea's Han River. Several years later, a creature emerges from the tainted... [More]
Adjusted Score: 119156%
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.
If they hear you, they hunt you. A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111488%
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.
Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101174%
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.
After being fired from his job, Los Angeles slacker and punk rocker Otto (Emilio Estevez) lands a gig working for... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69787%
Critics Consensus: A fun movie...if you can accept the excessive gore and wooden acting.
In the distant future, the Earth is at war with a race of giant alien insects. Little is known about... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73787%
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.
In the 23rd century, a New York City cabbie, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), finds the fate of the world in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84500%
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.
Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86216%
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.
Mega City One is a vast, violent metropolis where felons rule the streets. The only law lies with cops called... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90338%
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.
"The Brother" (Joe Morton) is an alien and escaped slave on the run from his home planet. After he lands... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67674%
Critics Consensus: Sci-fi parodies like these usually struggle to work, but Buckaroo Banzai succeeds through total devotion to its own lunacy.
Buckaroo Banzai is caught with his trusted allies, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, in a battle to the death between evil... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79186%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95332%
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.
Disguising herself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland and tries to lure unsuspecting men into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87070%
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.
Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is an alien who has come to Earth in search of water to save his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98721%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87074%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares.
As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97406%
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.
They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76221%
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.
When talented computer engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) finds out that Ed Dillinger (David Warner), an executive at his company,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105383%
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 the Autobot seeks refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71605%
Critics Consensus: The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.
In the epic adventure film "Independence Day," strange phenomena surface around the globe. The skies ignite. Terror races through the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77833%
Critics Consensus: Unevenly paced and thoroughly cheesy, Barbarella is nonetheless full of humor, entertaining visuals, and Jane Fonda's sex appeal.
Barbarella (Jane Fonda) roams 41st-century space with her blind guardian angel, Pygar (John Phillip Law).... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91374%
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.
In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84599%
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.
Long ago, legions of monstrous creatures called Kaiju arose from the sea, bringing with them all-consuming war. To fight the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72539%
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: 82676%
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.
Adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel about a future society that has banned all reading material and the job of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61800%
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.
With innocent victims caught in the crossfire in Los Angeles' intensifying war on crime, both cop John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76229%
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.
In the near future, as America virtually loses the war on drugs, Robert Arctor, a narcotics cop in Orange County,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102045%
Critics Consensus: Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.
Helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is part of a top-secret military operation that enables him to experience the last... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90389%
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.
Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92325%
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.
Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist in San Francisco, is experimenting with a drug that he hopes will cure his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88625%
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.
Respected scientist and psychology professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) decides to combine his experiments in sensory deprivation tanks with powerful... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87122%
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.
A temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) embarks on a final time-traveling assignment to prevent an elusive criminal from launching an attack... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88150%
Critics Consensus: A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter.
Nada (Roddy Piper), a wanderer without meaning in his life, discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85391%
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.
Banker Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) gets a call one day from a friend he thought was dead. It turns out... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72082%
Critics Consensus: While admittedly melodramatic and uneven in spots, Soylent Green ultimately succeeds with its dark, plausible vision of a dystopian future.
In a densely overpopulated, starving New York City of the future, NYPD detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92394%
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.
In 1866, Professor Pierre M. Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre), stranded in San Francisco by reports... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98358%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95180%
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.
On the lush alien world of Pandora live the Na'vi, beings who appear primitive but are highly evolved. Because the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98139%
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 story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report" is an action-detective thriller set in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97331%
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.
Government agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) is dispatched on a secret mission to Alphaville, a dystopian metropolis in a distant... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97332%
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.
While investigating a series of mysterious deaths, Sergeant Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) finds a young girl (Sandy Descher) who is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82074%
Critics Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.
As the president of a trashy TV channel, Max Renn (James Woods) is desperate for new programming to attract viewers.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104572%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters.
A post-apocalyptic ice age forces humanity's last survivors aboard a globe-spanning supertrain. One man (Chris Evans) will risk everything to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103841%
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.
In Santa Mira, California, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is baffled when all his patients come to him with the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83792%
Critics Consensus: Predator: Part sci-fi, part horror, part action -- all muscle.
Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92479%
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.
Complex sociological themes run through this science-fiction classic about three astronauts marooned on a futuristic planet where apes rule and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97509%
Critics Consensus: The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.
After avenging the death of his wife and young son at the hands of a vicious gang leader, Max (Mel... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109793%
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.
Aboard the USS Enterprise, the most-sophisticated starship ever built, a novice crew embarks on its maiden voyage. Their path takes... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89983%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, Escape from New York is a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.
In 1997, a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding, and the entire island of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91205%
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.
Scientist Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) are the first to arrive at the site of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 121598%
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.
Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94315%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and humorous satire with an excellent cast -- no previous Trekkie knowledge needed to enjoy this one.
The stars of a 1970s sci-fi show - now scraping a living through re-runs and sci-fi conventions - are beamed... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93615%
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.
The brilliant scientist Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) develops a way to shrink humans, and other objects, for brief periods... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98640%
Critics Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.
A psychologist is sent to a space station orbiting a planet called Solaris to investigate the death of a doctor... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106676%
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.
A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101167%
Critics Consensus: The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.
In this animated adaptation of Ted Hughes' Cold War fable, a giant alien robot (Vin Diesel) crash-lands near the small... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90640%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
This animated tale follows the relationship between the small human-like Oms and their much larger blue-skinned oppressors, the Draags, who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87029%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a bored construction worker in the year 2084 who dreams of visiting the colonized Mars.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97257%
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.
Astronaut Sam Bell's (Sam Rockwell) three-year shift at a lunar mine is finally coming to an end, and he's looking... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107561%
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.
When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110608%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88807%
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.
In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102492%
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.
After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104252%
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 a future society, time-travel exists, but it's only available to those with the means to pay for it on... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99572%
Critics Consensus: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.
Science fiction adventure about a group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) witnesses an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 122714%
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.
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103945%
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.
Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106241%
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.
WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109720%
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.
After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100480%
Critics Consensus: More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.
A fire-breathing behemoth terrorizes Japan after an atomic bomb awakens it from its centuries-old sleep.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99450%
Critics Consensus: Shakespeare gets the deluxe space treatment in Forbidden Planet, an adaptation of The Tempest with impressive sets and seamless special effects.
In this sci-fi classic, a spacecraft travels to the distant planet Altair IV to discover the fate of a group... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91612%
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.
Traveling back in time isn't simple, as James Cole (Bruce Willis) learns the hard way. Imprisoned in the 2030s, James... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102569%
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.
In Steven Spielberg's massive blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77017%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
Intellectual engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102899%
Critics Consensus: Stalker is a complex, oblique parable that draws unforgettable images and philosophical musings from its sci-fi/thriller setting.
In an unnamed country at an unspecified time, there is a fiercely protected post-apocalyptic wasteland known as The Zone. An... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84505%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97647%
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 this Japanese animation, cyborg federal agent Maj. Motoko Kusanagi (Mimi Woods) trails "The Puppet Master" (Abe Lasser), who illegally... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101611%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam's visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
Low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) escapes the monotony of his day-to-day life through a recurring daydream of himself as... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91685%
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.
As Adm. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Capt. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) monitor trainees at Starfleet Academy, another vessel from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102848%
Critics Consensus: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.
Thirty years ago, aliens arrive on Earth -- not to conquer or give aid, but -- to find refuge from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95281%
Critics Consensus: Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor.
In an England of the future, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his "Droogs" spend their nights getting high at the Korova... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96893%
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 a violent, near-apocalyptic Detroit, evil corporation Omni Consumer Products wins a contract from the city government to privatize the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102438%
Critics Consensus: Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.
When a UFO lands in Washington, D.C., bearing a message for Earth's leaders, all of humanity stands still. Klaatu (Michael... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93041%
Critics Consensus: Akira is strikingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime.
In 1988 the Japanese government drops an atomic bomb on Tokyo after ESP experiments on children go awry. In 2019,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102099%
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.
When infertility threatens mankind with extinction and the last child born has perished, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104595%
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.
Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104931%
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.
When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104680%
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.
After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103406%
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 adventure continues in this "Star Wars" sequel. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88012%
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.
In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114944%
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.
Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108366%
Critics Consensus: A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98118%
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.
In this sequel set eleven years after "The Terminator," young John Connor (Edward Furlong), the key to civilization's victory over... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101194%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with the rare ability to enter people's dreams and steal their secrets from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95069%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106487%
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.
The Imperial Forces -- under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110532%
Critics Consensus: A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.
This influential German science-fiction film presents a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98791%
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.
Deckard (Harrison Ford) is forced by the police Boss (M. Emmet Walsh) to continue his old job as Replicant Hunter.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102775%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.
In this 1980s sci-fi classic, small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the '50s when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105577%
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.
An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short... [More]