April has some seriously great sci-fi bangers for you to enjoy in both film and television, and yes, it includes a totally rad reboot of Lost in Space. We even get a beloved, classic animated feature film and this author’s second-favorite shark movie of all time.
If you’ve never seen The Iron Giant, then you need to do so ASAP, especially considering how important the Giant is to Ready Player One.
Across this list of Netflix’s sci-fi best, you’ll find a modern sci-fi classic from David Bowie’s son along with his new film that isn’t quite as good but still pretty decent. You also get the latest film in the Cloverfield universe (no, it’s not A Quiet Place).
There are frighteningly dark futures, cautionary tales, and fantastical feats of technology to be found in these titles.
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 with a focus on the new, exciting, and original.
11. Lost in Space
Perhaps April’s flagship sci-fi property from Netflix, this Lost in Space reboot is yet another version of a classic spacefaring adventure. 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.
In this dystopian sci-fi drama, the competition isn’t like the murder-filled Hunger Games. Instead, it’s a battle of intellect to join the three percent of the population who thrive in the lavish Offshore, while 97 percent live impoverished. Rebellious forces seek to undermine the structure of this society in Season 2 as the next Process draws near, which will induct a new group of students into the exclusive utopia.
- Season 2 hit Netflix April 27.
9. Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon is Netflix’s sci-fi television alternative to Blade Runner with a premise that might as well be an “altered carbon” copy: The lone survivor of an elite group of soldiers is resurrected into a new body 250 years after his last death to solve a murder. Most people have their consciousness put into a chip — called a “stack” — in their spine. After death, the stack can be inserted into a new “sleeve” body, which looks and feels just like a humanoid Cylon or Replicant.
Whereas Blade Runner might opt for brooding, contemplative sequences absent of dialogue, Altered Carbon explodes into Matrix-esque high-tech action sequences that feel almost too good for a TV show. Rest assured, protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is a total badass, even in a new body.
Plagued by hallucinations of his former companions, Kovacs explores his own distant future, seeking the truth in a show that’s stylistic and surreal. Despite bearing a striking resemblance to much of the sci-fi that’s come before it, the story feels novel all the same.
8. 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.
Released in December 2017, 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.
7. Orbiter 9
This Spanish sci-fi film feels a lot like Netflix’s answer to Duncan Jones’s Moon and 2016’s lackluster blockbuster Passengers. A woman who’s lived her entire life alone on a spaceship suddenly becomes enamored with an engineer who enters her life. File this one under “solitary romance in space.”
6. The Iron Giant
If you haven’t seen this Nineties animated classic just yet, there’s never been a better time, because the Iron Giant plays a pretty important role in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. 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.
5. Deep Blue Sea
This oceanic sci-fi horror film is like Jaws on steroids — literally. The sharks in this movie were experimented on, and it made them super-intelligent, so when a research facility is damaged during a storm, a bunch of scientists are totally screwed. A true highlight in this film is spoiler Samuel L. Jackson’s epic inspirational monologue that ends in his grisly death by a brilliant shark attack.
4. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
In 2003, it was great to see Arnold Schwarzenegger step into the Terminator boots once more, but this middling entry in the franchise is a tired version that feels like more of the same but somehow less. The absence of Linda Hamilton as an amazing Sarah Connor means the film rests on Nick Stahl, who is perhaps the worst version of John Connor we’ll ever see. Still, consider rewatching this because there’s a better Terminato coming from James Cameron.
The third film set in the sci-fi universe built by Duncan Jones with Moon and then Source Code, Mute stars Alexander Skarsgård as a mute bartender investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend in 2052 Berlin.
A deeper mystery brews as he comes up against the city’s gangsters and a strange pair of AWOL U.S. Army surgeons. Paul Rudd, who plays one of the surgeons, called Mute “Casablanca with a Blade Runner setting,” and he couldn’t be more accurate. The story feels tragic and romantic, and the sci-fi world feels more like a backdrop rather than the main conceit it could have been, which sort of makes it even more interesting.
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.
1. The Cloverfield Paradox
This third film set in the Cloverfield universe tells the story of a team floating out in space trying to get a particle accelerator to work so it can solve the energy crisis on Earth. Instead, they sort of shatter reality and cause all sorts of disasters across the multiverse (which means what happens here caused the monsters and aliens that appear in other movies). The plot itself winds up feeling a bit disjointed, but the hard sci-fi elements of horror are pretty rad.
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