14 of the best sci-fi films on Netflix for total escapism

An impressive cast of Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne and Hilary Swank brings this new sci-fi thriller film to life.

1. I Am Mother (2019)

Following the mass extinction of humankind, ‘Daughter’ (Rugaard) is the first of a new generation of humans raised by ‘Mother’ (Byrne), a robot designed to repopulate the planet. But when another human turns up (Swank), everything Daughter has ever been told is thrown into question.

2. The Terminator (1984)

You don’t get much more classic sci-fi than The Terminator, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s breakthrough film. In a post-apocalyptic 2029, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cyborg assassin (natch) sent back to 1984 to kill a woman whose unborn son will be John Connor, who will lead the human rebels against the machines that have taken over the Earth.

The Terminator was such a hit that it spawned sequels (Netflix, please add Terminator 2: Judgement Day!), a TV version and a host of copycat flicks.

3. Ex Machina (2014)

One for the fans of more cerebral, psychological sci-fi flicks, Ex Machina follows Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young coder at a tech company who participates in a ground-breaking experiment, where he must investigate the human qualities of Ava (Alicia Vikander), a remarkably advanced robot.

The film picked up the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects at the 2016 Oscars, so you know this is an AI movie worth your time.

4. Inception (2010)

An absolute must if you’ve never seen it, and a cult classic that’s definitely worth a revisit on movie night. Directed by Christopher Nolan (plus a score by Hans Zimmer), Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, a thief who runs an espionage business in ‘extraction’, whereby he enters a target’s dreams to steal valuable information and plant ideas.

Inception was a massive cinematic success, winning over critics and raking in four Oscars at the 2011 Academy Awards.

5. Jurassic World (2015)

If terrifying genetically-modified hybrid dinosaurs are more your thing, look no further than record-smashing, top-earning Jurassic World. Build on the original site of Jurassic Park, a new theme park attracts tourist with the ‘Indominus Rex’, but spoiler alert: it escapes. Cue tons of fast-paced action and dino-loaded chases.

Plus, it’s Chris Pratt in a tanned leather waistcoat riding a motorbike. You know, just in case you needed any more convincing.

6. Star Trek (2009)

This reboot of Gene Roddenberry’s beloved franchise is well worth a watch for sci-fi fanatics and newcomers to the genre alike.

Star Trek follows the early days of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) as he tries to live up to his father’s legacy on the starship USS Enterprise.

Leonard Nimoy, who passed away in 2015, returns to his role as Spock – a character he played across TV and film for almost 50 years – for this J.J. Abrams reboot.

7. Children of Men (2006)

If you’re after the dark, gritty dystopian kind of sci-fi, this critically acclaimed film should definitely be on your list.

In 2027 (which now doesn’t seem that far away, hey), things are looking bleak for humanity as women are rendered infertile and can no longer reproduce. Until one woman miraculously falls pregnant. Now a former activist must fight to protect her, and help her reach sanctuary at sea.

With Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Caine, this should definitely be at the top of your ‘to-watch’ list.

8. Looper (2012)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Joe, a hired killer for the mob known as a ‘looper’, whose job it is to assassinate people who are sent back 39 years from the future.

The ‘loop’ is eventually closed when an assassin’s future self is sent back to be killed, but when Joe is confronted with future Joe (played by Bruce Willis), he fails to finish the job, and future Joe escapes.

For the fans of Inception and other time-warping, mind-bending sci-fi movies.

9. The Martian (2015)

One for the outer space and Ridley Scott lovers.

Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded on Mars when his fellow astronauts assume him dead. Now, he must struggle to survive on a hostile planet while trying to figure out how to send a message home that he is still alive.

This seriously gripping film was nominated for seven Oscars, and we guarantee it’ll have you hooked to your screen right until the credits roll.

10. District 9 (2009)

You can’t call yourself a fan of the genre until you’ve seen District 9. Forced to live in slums and undertake forced labour, a stranded race of aliens find an unlikely ally in a rogue government agent who, once exposed to their families and biotechnology, helps them to revolt.

It brilliantly balances the typical gory special effects and gun-toting action of sci-fi with social commentary and themes of prejudice and segregation.

11. A Quiet Place (2017)

This edge-of-your-seat dystopian thriller follows a family living in an adapted bunker, where terrifying alien creatures track the human race by sound.

The film stars real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt.

12. The First Purge (2018)

A new addition to Netflix’s sci-fi offering, The First Purge is perfect for sci-fi fans looking for a suspenseful horror movie to scare themselves witless.

America’s third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, are in power and make all crime legal on Staten Island for 12 hours. Anyone who stays on the island receives $5000, which is what a drug kingpin decides to do.

13. Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist and former soldier, who is desperate to find out what happened to her missing husband.

Her longing leads her on a secret and dangerous mission into Area X, a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. A smart psychological sci-fi film that’ll stay with you long after the credits roll.

14. Total Recall (2012)

It’s a shame the 1990 original Total Recall isn’t on Netflix, but the premise is so captivating that we had to include this 2012 remake, starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston and Jessica Biel.

Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is on the run after a procedure at Rekall – a company that implants fake memories into clients’ brains – goes horribly wrong, and he thinks he’s a secret agent. One for the sci-fi action fans.

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