All the A.I., aliens, and trippy alternate realities you can handle. Here's a quick guide to the most must-see sci-fi movies on Netflix.
'Ex Machina' (2015)
Garland wrote some great sci-fi films, like 2012's underrated “Dredd” and the zombie revival movie “28 Days Later” but it was his 2015 directorial debut that really established Garland as a major voice in science fiction -- and won him his first Oscar for writing. The strong cast certainly helped, particularly Alicia Vikander as a humanoid robot determined to assert her independence.
'Black Panther' (2018)
Wakanda is not (as the world thought), some third-world country, but a nation with highly advanced tech. And a genius named Shuri (Letitia Wright) who invented a lot of it.
It's not easy to craft a compelling sci-fi story when you're dealing with one human character, one robot with limited emotional range (voiced by, er, Kevin Spacey), and a remote moon-base setting. But director Duncan Jones, in his very first movie, and star Sam Rockwell, are more than up to the challenge, crafting an intimate, high-concept thriller.
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' (2017)
Rebels and Jedi (that's plural, you know) face off with the First Order in this epic that set the box office (and the Internet) on fire.
'The Fifth Element' (1997)
It's up to Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis to save the universe in this over-the-top Luc Besson sci-fi classic.
'Avengers: Infinity War' (2018)
The Avengers need all the might, magic, science and luck they can get to defeat Thanos in this epic showdown where everyone brings their A game. Except for that jerk Star-Lord. Seriously, dude.
'Ant-Man and the Wasp' (2018)
Sure, all the Marvel movies are sci-fi, but the Ant-Man movies actually feature scientists doing science-y things, like shrinking people to the size of insects. In a laboratory that also shrinks! And the landscapes of the Quantum Realm are wonderfully surreal.
'Thor Ragnarok' (2017)
Thank you, sci-fi films for giving us Jeff Goldblum as a furry alien, a man tragically morphing into a fly, a cynical chaos theory mathematician, a cigar-smoking genius who defeats aliens, and the Grandmaster in"Thor: Ragnarok.” As the capricious Grandmaster, he’s like Commodus from “Gladiator," if he held sway in the decadent Capitol in "The Hunger Games.”
'Cloud Atlas' (2012)
Widely considered a major misfire, this ambitious, multi-character, nearly-three-hour sci-fi epic from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer also has its share of staunch supporters. Time for a reassessment? We think so.
Love it or hate it, it's pretty impressive what this Canadian independent horror film was able to accomplish on a shoestring budget. And in this post-“Saw” climate, we have to imagine there would be a sizable audience for a big-budget remake.
Based on the graphic novel of a frozen-over world where the only humans in existence live on board a train that never stops circulating the globe: The super train has everything necessary to sustain life, but only for the elite in first class. The rest of the desperate have-nots (led by Chris Evans) decide to take over the train in this apocalyptic sci-fi thriller.
In the near-future, a man (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his computer's operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Spike Jonze somehow makes this crazy sci-fi premise work wonderfully.
'A.I. Artificial Intelligence' (2001)
Steven Spielberg's take on what was originally a Stanley Kubrick project follows a boy robot (Haley Joel Osment) who is abandoned by the human family who activated him. The result is probably more Spielbergian sentimentality than Kubrickian detachment, but its visual FX (which were Oscar-nominated) can't be denied.
'Under the Skin' (2013)
Scarlett Johansson plays a predatory alien in this trippy sci-fl flick. Warning: Nudity and arthouse pacing.
Equal parts "THX 1138 and "The Matrix," this dystopian action film stars Christian Bale as a high-ranking "cleric" who goes from censoring society to freeing it. All thanks to the magic of "gun kata."
'I Am Mother' (2019)
In this smart Sundance entry, a girl is raised by robots to repopulate the earth. But then there's a "10 Cloverfield Lane" kind of twist.
'Bird Box' (2018)
In this Netflix original, the only way to survive a strange entity that makes you want to kill yourself is to never look at it. Which lead to a lot of people doing the "Bird Box" challenge of driving while blindfolded. If these creatures ever come in real life, the human race is doomed.