(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: 67429%
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.
A human (Martin Freeman) and his extraterrestrial friend (Mos Def) begin an interstellar journey after the destruction of Earth.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96888%
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 revisit the UFO death cult they escaped as teens, only to find there may have been truth to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90039%
Critics Consensus: Timecrimes is a low-budget thriller that's well-crafted and loaded with dark humor and bizarre twists.
Accidentally traveling backward in time causes unforeseen disasters for a man.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103622%
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 space, but the ship and crew were never heard from again.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89368%
Critics Consensus: Yul Brynner gives a memorable performance as a robotic cowboy in this amusing sci-fi/western hybrid.
Androids go haywire with guests (Richard Benjamin, James Brolin) at an adult theme park of the future.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94265%
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: 90770%
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: 82231%
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.
Square Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) are stranded at Dr. Frank N. Furter's (Tim Curry) mansion with weirdos... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94241%
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: 61517%
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.
Animator Ralph Bakshi's sci-fi vision of the future shows mankind divided by war into tyrants and elves.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104231%
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.
As a biologist searches for her missing husband while on an expedition with a secret agency, she discovers a dangerous... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69484%
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.
A scientist (Jodie Foster) seeks alien beings after receiving mysterious messages from deep space via radio telescope dishes.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76725%
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: 85876%
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.
A Florida boy (Joey Cramer) returns to his parents (Veronica Cartwright, Cliff De Young) in 1986 no older than when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95200%
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.
A clerk (Rick Moranis) in a Skid Row flower shop feeds people to Audrey II, his talking plant from outer... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78513%
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.
Alita is a futuristic cyborg who wakes up in a doctor's clinic with no memory of who she is. She... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96060%
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 creator of a virtual reality universe promises his fortune to the first person to discover a digital... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71253%
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.
Filmmaker Ed Wood Jr.'s laughable tale of alien invaders and resurrected corpses in the San Fernando Valley.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69645%
Critics Consensus: In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.
A corporate dictator (John Houseman) tries to oust the star player (James Caan) of a brutal 21st-century spectator sport.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74038%
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.
A renegade botanist (Bruce Dern) kills his space-station shipmates (Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin) to save his garden of earthly vegetation.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85124%
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.
A New Jersey man (Tom Cruise) and his two children face an epic battle for survival when hostile aliens invade... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87594%
Critics Consensus: A remarkable technical achievement, Metropolis' eye-popping visuals more than compensate for its relatively routine story.
A detective and his sidekick discover a duke's plot to control the world via a humanlike robot.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88770%
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: 83345%
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.
Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew steal the old Enterprise and head for Vulcan to reunite the mind and body... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106548%
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.
Recruited by the Rebel Alliance, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) joins forces with a spy (Diego Luna) and other resistance fighters... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59962%
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) seeks immortality by traveling through the past, present and future; along the way he learns about... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66057%
Critics Consensus: Logan's Run overcomes its campier elements and undercooked plot with a bounty of rousing ideas and dashing sci-fi adventure.
In a society where life ends at age 30, a law enforcement officer known as a Sandman (Michael York) flees... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71178%
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.
Formless red slime lands in Pennsylvania and engulfs people; teens (Steven McQueen, Aneta Corseaut) try to warn scoffing adults.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73273%
Critics Consensus: Scanners is a dark sci-fi story with special effects that'll make your head explode.
A scientist (Patrick McGoohan) sends a "scanner" (Stephen Lack) to hunt others like him with explosive psychic powers.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98300%
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.
William Cameron Menzies' adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel tells of humankind's efforts to rebuild the war-torn planet.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65908%
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.
Civilians (Maurice Dean Wint, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni) find themselves imprisoned in a maze of booby-trapped metallic squares.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68272%
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.
A black-marketeer (Ralph Fiennes) who sells virtual-reality experiences tries to save his ex-flame (Juliette Lewis) from a sadistic gangster in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63610%
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.
Animators from around the world contributed to this anthology of sci-fi stories adapted from the popular magazine.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78645%
Critics Consensus: An offbeat, eccentric black comedy, A Boy and His Dog features strong dialogue and an oddball vision of the future.
A young man and his talking canine set out in search of food, shelter and females in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81804%
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.
In the future a cutting-edge android in the form of a boy (Haley Joel Osment) embarks on a journey to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79281%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
A Navy officer (Howard Keel) and others (Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott) not blinded by meteorites seek a way to stop... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81463%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
A pilot (Richard Derr), his girlfriend (Barbara Rush) and lottery winners escape by rocket to another planet before a star... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82325%
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.
On a mission to revive Earth's dying sun, a spaceship crew encounters a distress beacon from a ship that disappeared... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97025%
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: 79726%
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: 86703%
Critics Consensus: Director Alejandro AmenÃ¡bar tackles some heady issues with finesse and clarity in Open Your Eyes, a gripping exploration of existentialism and the human spirit.
A former womanizer (Eduardo Noriega), disfigured in a car crash, has trouble distinguishing dreams from reality.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87037%
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 woman who works as a scientist by day and a dream detective by night probes the theft of a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87880%
Critics Consensus: Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.
Crew members (Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk) aboard a transport vessel get caught in a deadly conflict in the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91791%
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: 93187%
Critics Consensus: George Lucas' feature debut presents a spare, bleak, dystopian future, and features evocatively minimal set design and creepy sound effects.
George Lucas' nightmarish vision of a dehumanized future where mankind has been reduced to emotionless zombies.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96811%
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: 97894%
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.
An artificial intelligence implant called STEM gives a paralyzed man superhuman strength and agility -- skills he uses to seek... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94834%
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.
Picard (Patrick Stewart), Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the others set off to stop the half-robot Borg from sabotaging the first... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99579%
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.
An immature 40-year-old convinces his childhood pals to join him in an epic pub-crawl, but as they make their way... [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.
San Francisco health inspectors (Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams) find alien pods are taking over people as they sleep.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97639%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
A South Korean family (Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong) must save a daughter (Go Ah-sung) from a horrible monster that emerged... [More]
Adjusted Score: 115843%
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.
A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. Knowing that even the slightest whisper... [More]
Adjusted Score: 113471%
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, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his young allies face a new... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101117%
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.
Punker Otto (Emilio Estevez) tries to repossess a Chevy Malibu with something alien and atomic in the trunk.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69480%
Critics Consensus: A fun movie...if you can accept the excessive gore and wooden acting.
Members of Earth's space fleet (Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards) battle a vicious army of gigantic insects bent... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74565%
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.
A New York City cabdriver (Bruce Willis) tries to save 2259 Earth from impact with an onrushing anti-life force.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83247%
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.
After world war leads to a fascist government, a vigilante known as V (Hugo Weaving) uses terrorist tactics to fight... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86413%
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.
In a violent, futuristic metropolis, a law-enforcement officer (Karl Urban) and his rookie trainee (Olivia Thirlby) become caught up in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91179%
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.
A gentle extraterrestrial with mystical healing powers lands in New York Harbor and embarks on an odyssey through Harlem.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71560%
Critics Consensus: Sci-fi parodies like these usually struggle to work, but Buckaroo Banzai succeeds through total devotion to its own lunacy.
A space hero (Peter Weller) and his team of do-gooders battle Dr. Lizardo (John Lithgow) and his army of Red... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81336%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.
A demented genius (Kiefer Sutherland), a sympathetic detective and a group of ominous beings are drawn to an amnesiac (Rufus... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96569%
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: 88102%
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.
A visitor (David Bowie) from an arid planet creates a global corporation to make billions to get water to his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99441%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
David Cronenberg's remake of the 1958 classic about a botched experiment that transmutes a man into a monstrous insect.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86178%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares.
A video camera records the horrific events that unfold as a monstrous creature attacks New York, leaving death and destruction... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98284%
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.
A veteran agent (Tommy Lee Jones) and a rookie (Will Smith) protect mankind from dangerous extraterrestrials roaming the Earth.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79294%
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 video-game programmer is trapped in a computerized world where survival rests on his mastery of electronic games.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103167%
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 finds refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72102%
Critics Consensus: The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.
A fighter pilot (Will Smith), a computer whiz (Jeff Goldblum) and others fight back after 15-mile-wide alien ships zap Earth's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78779%
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: 90308%
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.
An unusual teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) follows the instructions of the 6-foot-tall rabbit which saved his life.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86157%
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.
A washed-up ex-pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) must drive an old, obsolete robot in a last-ditch... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75197%
Critics Consensus: Frustratingly uneven yet enjoyable overall, Idiocracy skewers society's devolution with an amiably goofy yet deceptively barbed wit.
Selected for a human hibernation project, an average soldier (Luke Wilson) awakens 500 years in the future, where society is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84574%
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.
A fireman (Oskar Werner) of the future burns books until he meets a book lover (Julie Christie) and becomes an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63837%
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 police defrost an imprisoned ex-officer (Sylvester Stallone) to catch an escaped convict (Wesley Snipes) in 2032 San Angeles.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74249%
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 Orange County, Calif., a drug-addicted cop (Keanu Reeves) who works under cover receives orders to spy on his housemates... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101225%
Critics Consensus: Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.
A helicopter pilot (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes part in a secret government program that enables him to assume someone's identity and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92959%
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.
Oil-platform workers, including an estranged couple (Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), and a Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) make a startling... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91567%
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 scientist's (James Franco) quest to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease unintentionally results in a highly intelligent chimpanzee, which... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88953%
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.
A psychophysiologist (William Hurt) experiments with drugs and a sensory-deprivation tank and has visions he believes are genetic memories.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87632%
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: 89830%
Critics Consensus: A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter.
When two men (Roddy Piper, Keith David) put on special sunglasses they see aliens and subliminal messages.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92434%
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.
A sinister company turns a plain client (John Randolph) into a tall, dark and handsome Malibu artist (Rock Hudson).... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75073%
Critics Consensus: While admittedly melodramatic and uneven in spots, Soylent Green ultimately succeeds with its dark, plausible vision of a dystopian future.
Future New Yorkers live on a trademarked food, which two detectives (Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson) find has a secret... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91923%
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.
Jules Verne's Captain Nemo (James Mason) sinks a ship and brings survivors (Kirk Douglas, Paul Lukas) aboard his luxury submarine,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98674%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
A resourceful teen (Jennifer Lawrence) takes her younger sister's place in a brutal contest in which youths from each of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93169%
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 an alien planet, a former Marine (Sam Worthington) falls in love with a blue-skinned warrior (Zoe Saldana) and sides... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97933%
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.
A policeman (Tom Cruise) tries to establish his innocence in a future where law enforcement can arrest killers before their... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97274%
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.
Secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) wrecks the main computer in a futuristic city on another planet.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99201%
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.
Bug experts (Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon), a state trooper (James Whitmore) and an FBI agent track giant mutant ants from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83472%
Critics Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.
A programmer at a TV station that specializes in adult entertainment searches for the producers of a dangerous and bizarre... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105675%
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: 105332%
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.
A couple (Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter) discover that plant-life pods from space are replacing ordinary citizens.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85419%
Critics Consensus: Predator: Part sci-fi, part horror, part action -- all muscle.
A sneaky alien monster attacks commandos (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura) on a jungle mission in South America.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93694%
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.
An astronaut (Charlton Heston) and his team crash on a world ruled by intelligent, talking simians who treat humans like... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97984%
Critics Consensus: The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.
Loner lawman Mad Max (Mel Gibson) fights barbarian bikers for gasoline in the wasteland of the future.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107470%
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.
Young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew embark on a collision... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92553%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, Escape from New York is a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.
A hardened criminal is offered a pardon if he rescues the president from convicts in the prison city of Manhattan.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92732%
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.
Indestructible Martian war machines threaten Earth in George Pal's Oscar-winning adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109189%
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.
After discovering a long-buried secret that jeopardizes what's left of society, a new blade runner (Ryan Gosling) embarks on a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95249%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and humorous satire with an excellent cast -- no previous Trekkie knowledge needed to enjoy this one.
Aliens, believing actors to be real heroes, enlist cast members (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman) of a sci-fi TV... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94109%
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.
A surgical task force is reduced to microbe size to perform a delicate operation inside the brain of a dying... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100102%
Critics Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.
A Soviet psychologist (Donatas Banionis) probes the unknown at a space station on a strange planet.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106593%
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.
In Los Angeles, a heartbroken writer (Joaquin Phoenix) develops a unique, loving bond with a computer operating system, an intuitive... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102170%
Critics Consensus: The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.
A malevolent government agent threatens to destroy the friendship between a boy and a huge alien robot.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93305%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
The 39-foot-tall pastel Draags keep leashes on the Oms, their tiny pets descended from humans.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88261%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
Recurring nightmares of the planet Mars lead a confused earthling into the center of an intergalactic conspiracy.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95933%
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.
As his three-year shift draws to a close, the sole human (Sam Rockwell) at a lunar mining facility encounters a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109478%
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.
Left behind by his crew, a stranded astronaut (Matt Damon) must find a way to survive on Mars, while NASA... [More]
Adjusted Score: 112353%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso CuarÃ³n's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
The destruction of their shuttle leaves two astronauts (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney) stranded in space with no hope of rescue.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90453%
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.
As mankind's time on Earth comes to an end, a group of explorers (Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway) begins the most... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100181%
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.
A doctor's invention allows a couple (Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet) to erase the memories of their tumultuous relationship.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104521%
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.
A mob hit man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) comes to the chilling realization that his latest assignment is his older self (Bruce... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100461%
Critics Consensus: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.
An Indiana lineman (Richard Dreyfuss) and other UFO-sighters, beleaguered by earlier incidents, finally have documented contact with space aliens.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 115412%
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.
A linguistics professor (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators in a race against time to communicate with extraterrestrial... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105257%
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.
A young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) at an Internet company is chosen to evaluate the capabilities and consciousness of a beautiful... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106424%
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 years of tidying up an Earth devoid of humanity, a robot janitor (Ben Burtt) meets a mechanical scout and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 113972%
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.
A boy's close encounter with an alien stranded on Earth leads to a unique friendship in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102817%
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: 100578%
Critics Consensus: Shakespeare gets the deluxe space treatment in Forbidden Planet, an adaptation of The Tempest with impressive sets and seamless special effects.
An astronaut (Leslie Nielsen) and crew land on Altair-4 in 2200 and find a mad doctor (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93265%
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.
A psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) finally believes a patient (Bruce Willis) who claims to be a time-traveler sent to 1996 to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104675%
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.
An entrepreneur invites scientists (Sam Neill, Laura Dern), a mathematics theorist (Jeff Goldblum) and others to his jungle theme-park featuring... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75765%
Critics Consensus: Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.
Four young men (Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden) experiment with a device that allows them to travel back in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103916%
Critics Consensus: Stalker is a complex, oblique parable that draws unforgettable images and philosophical musings from its sci-fi/thriller setting.
Three futuristic travelers (Aleksandr Kajdanovsky, Nikolay Grinko, Anatoliy Solonitsyn) pass through a forbidden zone to a place where fantasies are... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86244%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
An outcast (Ethan Hawke) takes part in a complicated and perilous scheme to assume the identity of a genetically engineered... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99517%
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.
A cybernetic agent must stop a potent form of artificial intelligence before it can attain human form.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101401%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam's visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
A bureaucrat (Jonathan Pryce) in a future megalopolis notes a fatal error over one man, named Tuttle (Robert De Niro),... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94048%
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.
Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and the Enterprise crew battle an old foe (Ricardo Montalban) who blames Kirk for... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100840%
Critics Consensus: Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.
A field operative (Sharlto Copley) for a company that oversees extraterrestrial refugees contracts a mysterious virus that begins to change... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95508%
Critics Consensus: Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor.
Young Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his droogs commit barbaric acts in a near-future, dehumanizing society.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96744%
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.
Scientists use the mangled remains of a dead police officer to create the ultimate crime-fighter -- an indestructible cyborg.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104633%
Critics Consensus: Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.
Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and his guardian robot, Gort, come from afar to warn Earth about nuclear war.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94409%
Critics Consensus: Akira is strikingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime.
A Japanese teenager learns that his newfound powers of telepathy are more powerful than he suspected.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101203%
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, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the unlikely champion in the fight for the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106236%
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 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the future arrives in 20th-century Los Angeles to kill the woman (Linda Hamilton) who will... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106227%
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.
A soldier (Tom Cruise) who was killed in action gets caught up in a time loop, in which he repeatedly... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105604%
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.
On planet LV-426, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and a dwindling number of Marines battle an almost-unstoppable army of monstrous predators which... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106553%
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.
Yoda teaches Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to be a Jedi knight, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) woos Princess Leia (Carrie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92735%
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.
Antarctic outpost men (Kurt Russell, A. Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter) fight a slimy alien able to assume the form of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 116962%
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.
Fortified in a massive, armored truck, loner Mad Max (Tom Hardy) joins Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and her band of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111092%
Critics Consensus: A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
Crewmembers (Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver) aboard an interstellar freighter encounter a merciless monster that crawls around their ship's dark corridors... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99379%
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.
Two cyborgs from the future battle over the life of a teen (Edward Furlong) who will someday lead humanity against... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100466%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
A thief (Leonardo DiCaprio) who enters people's dreams and steals their secrets gets a shot at redemption when he is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94918%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects.
A computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) joins forces with rebel warriors (Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss) to battle a malevolent cyberintelligence.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108201%
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.
Robots and other allies help a youth (Mark Hamill) and a space jockey (Harrison Ford) rescue a rebel princess (Carrie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109469%
Critics Consensus: A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.
An industrialist (Alfred Abel) rules a 21st-century city where the rich play above and slaves toil below.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104440%
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 specialized detective (Harrison Ford) in 2019 Los Angeles receives an order to terminate obsolete android slaves (Rutger Hauer, Sean... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104149%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.
A teen (Michael J. Fox) takes a crackpot's (Christopher Lloyd) DeLorean time machine to 1955 and sees his parents in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107652%
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.
Supercomputer HAL 9000 guides astronauts (Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester) on a trip to find the origins of humans.... [More]