Netflix February 2019: The 11 Best Sci-Fi Movies and Shows to Watch
Disney seems to be dominating science fiction on Netflix these days, recently adding hits like Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, Pixar’s The Incredibles 2*, and Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Wow, that company owns everything, huh?)
Netflix is, in fact, probably the best place to stream sci-fi related to superheroes, but that won’t last very long. As more and more people catch on to DC Universe as a viable service and eventually commit to Disney+ later this year, what will Netflix have left in terms of superheroics? There’s only so much time left!
Also be on the lookout for Russian Doll, a new Netflix original series that recycles the Groundhog Day time loop concept in a totally novel way.
The next time you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow, here are the 11 best pieces of science fiction on Netflix with a focus on the new, exciting, and original — but more importantly, we’ll deliver you all of the very best recommendations.
The first Marvel Studios film to follow the monumental Avengers: Infinity War was always in a tough position, but Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp thrived as a lighthearted and genuinely funny action movie with superheroes that can get super-small.
What happened to Scott Lang after Captain America: Civil War? Why wasn’t he in Infinity War? How awesome is Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp?
All of these questions are answered and more in one of my personal favorite MCU movies.
For awhile, it felt like Brad Bird might never make a direct follow-up to Pixar’s excellent animated superhero family feature, The Incredibles. But 14 years after the first was released, the second picks up moments later. The Incredibles 2 builds upon many of the key themes and ideals presented by the first, exploring what a world with superheroes might really be like, especially in how they’d coexist with all of the normies.
But we shouldn’t need to sell anyone on a Pixar film. They’re all fantastic.
Despite almost making $393 million globally, Solo: A Star Wars Story was dubbed a monumental flop by Lucasfilm and Disney’s standards. But even though the film’s lack of success is the reason why all Star Wars spin-offs were unceremoniously terminated, there’s no denying that Solo delivers a refreshing Star Wars adventure that feels unlike anything that’s come before it.
Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich in the origin story for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo from the original Star Wars trilogy, detailing how the character met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, and even how he came to own the iconic Millennium Falcon.
8. Ex Machina
I didn’t know what “edge of your seat” really meant in terms of thriller movies until I saw Ex Machina in the theater. Anyone who enjoyed Alex Garland’s Annihilation from earlier this year will probably like his last feature Ex Machina even more.
A programmer from a massive tech company wins a contest and gets to visit the company’s brilliant, billionaire founder. But on the founder’s remote compound, he’s been developing synthetic A.I. robot technology and wants someone to help … test them. Ex Machina goes from quirky, to strange, to creepy, to horrifying with enough cerebral tension to make you question whether you’re a human yourself.
In Her, the always excellent Joaquin Phoenix plays a man that falls in love with a disembodied voice akin to Siri or Alexa. Set in the near-future of Los Angeles, he’s a sensitive guy mourning the end of the long relationship. What sounds like a bit of a crazy premise is sold by filmmaker Spike Jonze with nothing short of delicate tenderness.
Considering Her won Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards, it’s basically a must-see for any fan of science fiction.
What is there to say about Christopher Nolan’s iconic and undeniably excellent second Batman movie? No DC Comics film will ever match this outing in terms of gravitas and thematic potency. Christian Bale plays an excellent conflicted protagonist here, convincing us that Batman is his real identity and Wayne is the mask he wears. But the film is worthy enough just on the merit of Heath Ledger’s unnerving performance as the Joker.
5. Russian Doll
Netflix explored a middling rehash of the Groundhog Day time-travel concept in When We First Met, a movie starring Adam Devine and Alexandra Daddario, but with Russian Doll, the streaming service finally found something great.
Netflix fans will recognize Russian Doll star Natasha Lyonne from her work on Orange Is the New Black, but here she’s Nadia, a woman who dies on the night of her 36th birthday party and begins a series of never-ending time loops. Russian Doll delivers a delicious blend of comedy, satire, and drama all stemming from its familiar core concept.
Russian Doll doesn’t feel quite like sci-fi, but it has time travel, so that counts, right?
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is another entry in Netflix’s popular sci-fi horror/thriller anthology series, except it’s also kind of a standalone movie — and it’s also a visual choose-your-own adventure, allowing viewers to make choices as the story progresses. Is it a movie? Is it an episode? I really don’t know, but I do know that it’s 100 percent science fiction.
The story follows a young programmer, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), who questions the nature of reality in the year 1984 as he creates a video game based on a branching narrative novel, Bandersnatch. The book’s author, Jerome F. Davies, went insane and murdered his wife. Will Stefan do something similar? Maybe!
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch can last anywhere between 40 and 90 minutes and has five possible endings.
3. Z Nation
Syfy’s Z Nation offers a different look at the post-apocalyptic zombie genre. It’s an antidote to The Walking Dead’s grim hyperviolence, instead offering a touch of comedy to lighten the zombie action. It’s totally ridiculous much of the time and even made fun of Sharknado once with a Z-Nado (yeah, it’s a tornado full of zombies).
Season 5 just hit Netflix towards the end of January, so for anyone who’s already into the show, now’s the time to catch up. Or maybe it’s the perfect time to try it out? Especially when there won’t be a Season 6.
2. Neo Yokio
Neo Yokio is best described with one potent question: What if Wes Anderson made a star-studded magical fantasy anime that was a satire of commercialism and the upper class? To be clear, Wes Anderson has nothing to do with Neo Yokio, but the series has the same colorful pallet and dry sense of humor.
In the future of an alternate history, a drowned New York becomes “Neo Yokio.” Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith) is the pink-haired “magistocrat” tasked with protecting the city from supernatural (mostly demonic) threats. Neo Yokio celebrates anime tropes, upper-class society, and classism just as much as it criticizes such things. If you delight in the truly weird, then don’t hesitate watching the hilarity that is Neo Yokio.
Season 1 debuted in September 2017, but a December 2018 holiday special kept Neo Yokio alive.
Travelers, a sci-fi series where time travelers send their consciousnesses back in time to prevent the downfall of society, is criminally underrated.
It becomes something of a spy thriller with a sci-fi twist as each Traveler communicates with the Director in the distant future to go on specific missions while maintaining their “cover.” In Season 3, released in December, the titular Travelers have to work with the FBI after their existence is exposed to the world.