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The best streaming sci-fi movies in the UK right now

Written by  May 17, 2018
We'll leave the arguments about what the best sci-fi movies of all time are to someone else, so here are the best ones currently available on UK streaming services.

Midnight Special

Warner Bros.

Roy Tomlin (Michael Shannon) is on the run with his son from a cult who worship the boy's incredible powers, and the government who are investigating the strange incidents that follow him. It's a suspenseful, emotional ride that touches on the lengths people will go for their faith and the intense bond between father and son. Certified 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, this indie sci-fi flick is a classic genre film. It's available on Netflix now.

Elysium

2012 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group

Following the stunning sci-fi meets social commentary breakthrough District 9 (see below) was always going to be tricky for director Neill Blomkamp. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster joined him in this riff on the super rich – Elysium being the ultimate gated community in orbit around a dying earth. Injured in a work accident, earthbound Damon smuggles his way on board for medical treatment and battles Foster’s ruthless commander. It is, to be fair, a film of two halves. Even Blomkamp criticised the script ‘once the shooting begins,’ – the scriptwriter in this case being... well, Neill Blomkamp. Now available on Netflix.

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Annihilation

This visual treat from writer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and former soldier who travels into The Shimmer, a slowly expanding zone of rapidly mutating flaura and fauna, looking for an answer to what happened to her critically ill husband. It's a tense, thought-provoking feature deemed too cerebral for cinema audiences, but it's a gift to any sci-fi fan. It's exclusive to Netflix.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Warner Bros

Fury Road is a manic, eye-popping blockbuster that stands out against the tedious, CGI-filled brethren that dominate the genre. The inventiveness and scale of the costume and set design combine with an unrelenting pace to create an achingly epic spectacle. Turn up the sound and let the madness wash over you. Watch it on Netflix.

Oblivion

Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise plays an engineer left behind on post-apocalypse Earth, maintaining the tech that powers the humans' colonies on Titan. But his curiosity for relics, and some confusing memories lead him to discover what really happened to humanity. The mystery that the plot rides on is not the most difficult to work out, but the visual style, combined with good performances from Cruise and his co-stars, even out the film into an entertaining piece of sci-fi drama.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has nearly arrived. It's released in the UK on December 15 and ahead of this Netflix has added the last installment to its streaming service. The Force Awakens, released in 2015, is set 30-years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire and features Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. There's also the reappearance of Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

District 9

This sci-fi thriller will blow you away with its originality and stunning visuals, and is further evidence that you don't need a big budget to be a hit. District 9, director Neill Blomkamp's debut, racked up four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and has high ratings on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.

In the film, which is a clever metaphor for the horrors of the South African apartheid, Alien refugees land on Earth - only to be isolated from humans in a slum in Johannesburg, a place called District 9. After 30 years of exile and forced labour, a government worker is exposed to their biotechnology; and so the resistance begins. Watch it on Netflix

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Gravity

Incredibly, Gravity came out all the back in 2013, but it feels as fresh now as it did then. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play astronauts who must find a way back to earth after their craft is destroyed by space debris. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, it's a stunning combination of visual effects and tense action. It won a glut of Academy Awards, including Best Director, Cinematography, Visual Effects and Original Score. Don't miss it on Amazon Prime.

Inception

Netflix

This 2010 blockbuster thriller tells the story of a group of thieves who enter into people’s subconscious whilst they dream and steal their secrets. The group is led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who is offered a way out of his job and sends the group on one last assignment. Featuring other well-known names such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, and Ellen Page, this is a very engrossing watch. The ideas presented are sometimes puzzling, but the highly original concept will impress and leave a lasting impression - even if you have to watch it a couple of times to wrap your head around the unraveling plot. Watch it on Amazon Prime.

Interstellar

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan's epic takes place in a worryingly close dystopian future where crops are dwindling and humankind must look to distant planets for any chance of survival. Matthew McConaughey acts his space boots off as an astronaut tasked with tracking down a potential new home for the inhabitants of Earth. Backed up by some sound science, with a more than a little artistic flair, this is worth an afternoon in front of the TV. Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve is science-fiction’s new hope and Arrival was the film that earned him that tag. The Blade Runner 2049 director’s hit 2016 film stars Amy Adams as a linguist enlisted to translate communications from aliens who have arrived on earth in massive floating crafts.

A 94% Rotten Tomato rating says everything you need to know about this thinking person’s sci-fi, which makes its solitary Academy Award (for sound editing) all the more galling. Catch it on Amazon Prime Video now for first and repeat viewings: it’s worth both.

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Looper

Rian Johnson is directing the upcoming Star Wars film and his 2012 film Looper was what brought him mainstream recognition. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a Looper, a hitman who kills people sent back in time from the future by criminal gangs who can't dispose of bodies in their time. Also starring Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, it's a fun and smart sci-fi film with a few mind-bending plot points that stand up to repeat viewings. Watch it on Amazon

Citizen in the Temple

Citizen in the Temple is a pretty unknown short sci-fi / horror film available to watch with Amazon Prime Video. Directed and written by Jason Huls, it centres around one man on a desert wasteland planet, a scientist who is both working to preserve life and conspiring to bring down the big-brother like tyranny of The Consortium. Yet another dystopian view of the world which makes you shudder. Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

Blade Runner

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This is the original version of the film, shorter than the 1992 director's cut and the final cut from 2007, but still with all the major plot points intact. This 1982 version contains the voiceover of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). For the uninitiated, Deckard is an ex-cop and former Blade Runner who is responsible for hunting down replicants (human clones) that have been outlawed from Earth. A fresh landing of replicants leaves Deckard with his hands full. Watch it on Now TV here.

Children of Men

Given the recent success of The Handmaid’s Tale, now’s a good time to revisit this classic dystopian sci-fi movie with a similar theme. After 18 years of global infertility, Children of Men sees a young, black immigrant with a miracle pregnancy caught between the opposing forces of an oppressive anti-immigrant UK government and a fanatical pro-immigrant group, both bent on claiming her child to advance their agendas.

Alfonso Cuarón directs masterfully, perfectly balancing social commentary and drama with incredible single-shot action sequences. It’s available to stream on Now TV and Sky Cinema until April 2019.

 

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Gattaca

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who would go on to write the Trueman Show, Gattaca is set in a future where eugenics is not just accepted, but encouraged. A database files the genetically modified as “valids” and the naturally conceived as “in-valids”, the latter given no chance in anything outside blue collar work.

Ethan Hawke plays Vincent, an in-valid with designs of travelling to space and focuses on his relationship with his “valid” brother and his attempts to make it to the space by impersonating a wheel chair bound valid played by Jude Law. Gattaca is a thoughtful provocation on the implications of genetic selection, a commercial flop and a cult classic. You can watch it on Now TV and Sky Cinema.

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