HBO Max: The absolute best sci-fi movies to watch
is one of the heaviest sci-fi streamers out there, at least when it comes to movies. From classics to recent blockbusters and the streamer is decently generous with speculative fiction.
Thanks to the recent merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery, HBO Max suffered a few casualties, including the removals of Moonshot, Superintelligence, 2020’s The Witches, An American Pickle, Locked Down, and Charm City Kings. Luckily, none of these sci-fi movies are worth watching. Here is.
Scroll down for the many options available on HBO Max.
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An 80s classic, The Fly is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name, just with more gore and Jeff Goldblum. David Cronenberg’s film has become a classic in its own right.
A David Cronenberg sci-fi thriller based on a Stephen King novel – what more do you need to entice you to watch The Dead Zone? A conspiracy, perhaps? Christopher Walken stars as a school teacher who wakes up from a coma to find he has psychic powers. What he uses them for: Preventing a certain politician from becoming president. Yes, The Dead Zone is an 80s horror referenced by Stranger Things. It’s also one of Stephen King’s best adaptations.
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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
“Alexa, play 2001: A Space Odyssey.”
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This sci-fi mystery of one half of the duo that created Westworld (Lisa Joy) is pure mind-blowing, but the interesting insights are worth a look. Reminiscence follows Hugh Jackman’s Nick Bannister, who uses a machine that can see into people’s memories.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The best Terminator movie? Make your judgment by watching the sequel to The Terminator.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
An enjoyable B-movie, The Butterfly Effect sees college student Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) tinker with the past and discover how each change affects the present.
The sci-fi actor who put director Neill Blomkamp on the map. The hybrid found-footage film takes you straight into the intense action of an alternate 1982, when an alien spacecraft appears above Johannesburg, Africa. A unique, exciting and slightly political classic.
Gravity is the ultimate spooky and dizzying space movie, featuring zero aliens altogether. It follows Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Ryan Stone, an astronaut stranded in space, as she attempts a seemingly impossible return to Earth.
Walk through Stalker’s slow start and you can say you’ve watched an existential masterpiece of Russian cinema.
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Before Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky made huge strides for sci-fi cinema, with his complex, character-driven play about astronauts having wild hallucinations that may or may not be real. The 2002 American remake of Solaris is also on HBO Max, with the added romance of George Clooney.
This huge, low-budget sci-fi starring Sam Rockwell has it all. He has Sam Rockwell. A score by Clint Mansell. A claustrophobic retro set and beautifully moody moonscapes. Difficult sci-fi ideas. The basic premise: a man who comes to the end of a solitary three-year stay on the far side of the moon suffers from a personal crisis. An essential watch.
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A routine blockbuster for reliable entertainment.
A warning to the horror-averse body before playing on this David Cronenberg sci-fi. Scanners track people with special abilities, including telepathic and telekinetic powers. Not the first on this list to become a cult classic after a lukewarm initial response, Scanners left a lasting impression, not least because of a memorable scene involving a headshot explosion.
Don’t Worry Honey (2022)
This tentative entry in a list of sci-fi movies makes a difference as it includes elements of sci-fi thrillers. Set in a utopian company town in what seems like the 1950s, a housewife (Florence Pugh) begins to suspect that the place’s founder (Chris Pine) is hiding a dark secret. It may not be a 10 out of 10 movie, but Don’t Worry Darling is an absorbing mystery in more ways than one.
Rabbits have never been so scary. Donnie Darko is as dark as the title suggests, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular high schooler whose sleepwalking sees him inadvertently escape a fatal accident. Donnie has visions of Frank, a creepy character in a bunny outfit who tells him the world will end in 28 days. Manipulated by Frank, Donnie begins to commit crimes.
Robert Rodriguez isn’t the most popular among Star Wars fans right now, mostly for turning a character into a useless ballerina in Boba Fett’s controversial book finale. The faculty, led by Rodriguez, isn’t great, but it’s not bad either, following teenagers who investigate mysterious happenings at their high school.
Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi blockbuster is back on HBO Max. The epic based on Frank Herbert’s novel recently won a host of Oscars, including Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. Discover the sprawling history of the Atreides family, who find themselves at war on the murderous planet Arrakis. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and many more make up an extremely impressive ensemble cast.
With the latest (and final) season of HBO’s Westworld just airing on TV, you might as well go back and watch its source material, if you haven’t already. The premise is much the same as the series: an amusement park for adults transports visitors to themed worlds, including a Western world. James Brolin plays one of the characters, among the creepy humanoid androids. An excellent sci-fi thriller much easier to understand than the series it spawned.
One of Alex Garland’s best movies featuring one of the best robot dance scenes.
Prepare to be both deeply disturbed and mesmerized by this unique sci-fi horror. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien wandering the streets of Scotland, preying on unsuspecting men. With amateur actors, unscripted footage shot with hidden cameras, and a lens capturing the perspective of the alien, this riveting film is unique in more ways than one.
A new Jurassic Park movie hit theaters this year, so catch up on the (superior) original now. In 1993, Jurassic Park launched the franchise, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Spoiler: Original cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum make a return in the 2022 film.
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Its sequel didn’t reach the same heights, so check out the franchise’s first monster epic Pacific Rim. 2013’s Pacific Rim is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, so expect a strong visual art twist on the monster mayhem.
The box office for this Roland Emmerich disaster movie bombed harder than the falling moon at its center. Still, as a corny B-movie, Moonfall isn’t a total disaster. Astronauts, conspiracy theories, and a falling moon are just a few of what you can expect from a story that follows a mission to save humanity.
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This smart, well-packaged sci-fi thriller may have a slightly absurd setup, but its gripping storytelling quickly quenches your cynicism. Jake Gyllenhaal is Captain Colter Stevens, a former Army pilot who wakes up on a train in another man’s body. If you haven’t seen Source Code yet, it’s best to let it transport you through its exhilarating journey, winding through plenty of twists and turns to a satisfying and emotionally impactful final destination.
A lighthearted action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds won’t always hit the mark, but sometimes it’s what you need for a night out. Free Guy follows a bank teller named Guy who discovers he is a non-player character in a massively multiplayer online game.
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If you haven’t seen The Matrix and don’t know its main plot points, kudos for avoiding spoilers for 23 years. Sequels Reloaded, Revolutions and Resurrections are also on HBO Max.
Colossal may look like a romantic comedy on the surface, but it has surprisingly dark layers underneath. This dark comedy stars Anne Hathaway as an unemployed alcoholic journalist who returns home to New Hampshire after her suave British boyfriend (Dan Stevens) dumps her. What happens next is both wildly unexpected and a massive metaphor: she discovers she has a connection to a colossal Kaiju monster destroying Seoul, South Korea. Yes, Colossal has a ton of soul, a stellar performance from Jason Sudeikis, and an imaginative and sometimes thrilling story.
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The best (and only) Christopher Nolan movie on this list.
Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more
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