In June we had to say a sorrowful goodbye to Netflix’s Sense8 because the series ended with a huge finale. But here in July the streaming service is moving forward with a ton of new science fiction additions, including both classic films and television shows and new, original programming.
Perhaps most noteworthy are two entries in the dino-riffic Jurassic Park franchise. Netflix probably scooped up the first three Jurassic movies because Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom just hit theaters in June.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is yet another big, excellent blockbuster that hit the streaming platform recently, so be on the lookout for that next time you want to dabble in some science fiction.
But obviously, sci-fi is about so much more than dinosaurs and the final adventure of Luke Skywalker. It’s also about some pulpy Lovecraftian horror set aboard a massive spaceship in which the inhabitants have no memory of recent events.
So the next time you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow, here are the 11 best pieces of science fiction that Netflix has to offer right now, with a focus on the new, exciting, and original but more importantly, good recommendations.
- Jurassic Park
You probably saw this one coming. If Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom left a nasty, ash-flavored taste in your mouth, then there’s no better palate cleanser than rewatching the incomparable original Jurassic Park movie. Under the direction of Steven Spielberg, this first dino-flick captured a captivating kind of natural majesty that we really haven’t seen since. If you can’t get enough, Jurassic World III is indeed also on Netflix this July, but it’s nowhere near as good.
10. How It Ends
This one could be the sleeper hit of science fiction in July. A Netflix original film, How It Ends stars Theo James as a man whose pregnant wife is across the country when the apocalypse happens. He has to team up with his aggro father-in-law (Forest Whitaker) for a chaotic, violent road trip to try and save her. Civilization seemingly collapses overnight in this post-apocalyptic movie.
The excellent trailer vaguely reminds me of the indie zombie film Carriers (2009), but also The Cloverfield Paradox to some extent.
- How It Ends hits Netflix on July 13.
Another potential sleeper hit in terms of apocalyptic Netflix programming, Extinction stars the always-excellent Michael Peña and Lizzy Caplan.
“Plagued by dreams of an alien invasion, a family man faces his worst nightmare when an extraterrestrial force begins exterminating Earth’s inhabitants.”
Peña plays the “family man” and we’re assuming Caplan is his wife. Universal was originally going to release the film in January but pulled Extinction from its release calendar in November for some reason. That could be cause for concern, but we’re happy that Netflix scooped it up and are intrigued to see where this original sci-fi might go.
- Extinction hits Netflix on July 27.
Rian Johnson’s Star Wars movie might be the most controversial ever in that it defies all your expectations while drawing the ire of many fanboys. Episode VIII picks up right where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey meeting Luke Skywalker and the remaining members of the Resistance on the run from the First Order.
If you had Luke-warm feelings about The Last Jedi on your first viewing, then it’s time to give it another show. Or, you know, just rewatch that badass fight scene in which Rey and Kylo Ren fight Snoke’s guards over and over again.
7. Thor: Ragnarok
One of the best Marvel movies in recent memory is director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, which resembles something much closer to a fun-loving Guardians of the Galaxy movie on the cosmic scale than it does anything like the first two Thor movies. Waititi basically fixes Thor’s character in the MCU by infusing him with charm and a genuinely hilarious sense of humor. Along the way, he makes Thor’s world feel way more sci-fi than fantasy, which is great for the character.
Thor has to face an enemy more powerful than any he’s ever faced: his sister Hela, the goddess of death. The god of thunder loses his hammer, gets blasted half-way across the universe, and has to form his own small team of heroes to save his people. It’s just too bad that at least half of them wind up dying in Infinity War anyway.
In this zombie film set in southern Australia, a father has 48 hours to save the life of his baby daughter before something absolutely terrible happens. It’s essentially an Australian Children of Men with zombies that pays special attention to how society responds to the pandemic, assessing the disease itself. Rest assured, this zombie virus is caused by people messing up science and not by hellish beings from the underworld.
5. Iron Giant
If you haven’t seen this Nineties animated classic just yet, then you need to immediately. Writer-director Brad Bird recently released his long-anticipated sequel to The Incredibles, but Iron Giant might be his best work.
After a young boy from Maine befriends a giant made of iron who crash-landed near his home, the two of them work together to avoid the government — which wants the giant as a weapon — and ultimately save the day in an inspirational story that understands the nature of Superman better than anything Zack Snyder has produced.
Arguably Duncan Jones’s best film, sci-fi thriller Moon is a bonafide modern classic from 2009 that sees a lonely astronaut mining the moon by himself. Over time, he realizes the startling truth about his mission that’s just too good to spoil here. Do yourself a favor and watch this one as soon as you can.
In June, we had to say goodbye to tis weird yet totally delightful globetrotting sci-fi adventure from the Wachowskis. After two seasons and one Christmas special, Netflix Sense8 ended forever on June 8.
The series follows a “cluster” of “sensates,” a subspecies of humans that form unbreakable psychic connections in groups of eight that transcend physical distance. The series follows eight strangers from around the world on a journey of self-discovery and romance as they each discover who — and what — they are. Since the beginning of the show, the eight core characters have been on the run from a mysterious organization trying to use sensates as weapons. Along the way, they’ve met other sensates and formed more human connections, and the explosive series finale close the story of these eight characters for good.
2. Lost in Space
This Lost in Space reboot is a classic spacefaring adventure reinvented for a contemporary audience. The Robinson family goes into space to write a new chapter in human history when the Earth is in crisis. This family of pioneering space colonists literally gets “lost in space” after their ship enters a rip in spacetime that sends them to an alien planet. The results are thrilling, gripping, and a lot of fun.
1. Black Mirror
Though it dips into the realm of horror and satire, Black Mirror is consistent with one question: What can technology do to us when it’s taken to extremes? Some episodes have more to do with social media or YouTube obsessions, but others dive deep into the implications of many hard sci-fi concepts, including the cyberization of the human mind, technological surveillance, and human-like A.I. machines. It’s provocative and exciting at its best and downright disturbing at its worst — but even then, it’s still high-quality science fiction.
Season 4 offers bleak and oftentimes disturbing analyses of not just the startling things technology might be able to do in the future, but also the dark and horrific things people choose to do with it. The episode everyone will probably talk about looks like a Star Trek parody, but in Black Mirror fashion it’s a much more sinister meditation on the dark wish fulfillment of technology.