Netflix May 2019: The 11 Best Sci-Fi Movies and Shows to Watch
Now that May is here, Netflix is getting an onslaught of the latest seasons from The CW’s extensive programming block. A week after series like Legacies, Supernatural, and Roswell end, they land on the streaming platform for optimal binge-viewing. That includes Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and the rest of the Arrowverse.
Netflix continues to be a great place for the zombie apocalypse, with the latest addition being the excellent Zombieland. But there’s also I am Legend and Black Summer, the Z Nation spin-off. For those more into superheroics, you can still check out Umbrella Academy or Legacies, an offshoot of The Vampire Diaries.
You won’t find any of Disney’s sci-fi movies on this month’s list, but Netflix still has Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Incredibles 2. It’s only a matter of time before these movies leaves Netflix forever to exist solely on Disney+ later this year, which is where Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame will land.
If you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow this May, 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 always have the very best recommendations.
After a decade away from home, Liz Ortecho returns to her hometown of Roswell, New Mexico. But after reuniting with her high school crush, Max Evans, Liz learns that he and his siblings were aliens with supernatural abilities all along. Their romantic chemistry is positively electric, but the truth behind the mysterious death of Liz’s sister years prior threatens to destroy their blossoming interspecies romance.
Based on a young adult book series called Roswell High, this is the second adaptation of the story for television. The CW version ups the ante on the drama in a way that fans of Riverdale might love. Season 1 just hit Netflix on May 1.
Set in a dystopian near-future Los Angeles, Colony follows a family reeling in the aftermath of an alien invasion that led to a regime of military occupation. Most viewers will recognize the lead, Josh Holloway, from his role as Sawyer in Lost. In Colony, he’s a former FBI Special Agent who just wants to find his lost son, Charlie, amidst the horrific circumstances.
Season 3, which hits Netflix on May 2, picks up with the Bowman family six months after they fled from the LA Bloc with the alien artifact called the Gauntlet. But a nearby crash threatens their solitude and safety.
Ultraman is a revered icon in Japanese anime culture, and a new animated series from Netflix looks to continue that legacy. Shinjiro Hayata, the son of the original Ultraman, is a teenager trying to find his place in the world as the new superhero humanity needs. Ultraman offers an exciting new story that can introduce this hero to a new generation of fans. As far as Netflix original anime goes, this one’s rather good.
Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy adapts the comic series from My Chemical Romance frontrunner Gerard Way in a way that’s engaging, action-packed, and sometimes hilarious. In 1989, 43 women around the world spontaneously gave birth to babies — despite never being pregnant. An eccentric billionaire buys seven of the children, and after they begin to develop superpowers, he becomes convinced they’re the key to saving the world.
Much of the series focuses on six of the surviving kids in the present day as an apocalypse looms in the near future. The Umbrella Academy is delightfully weird and, despite some derivative plot points, remains a really compelling watch.
For fans of Sense8, The Umbrella Academy is the perfect show to fill that hole in your heart.
Love, Death & Robots is an animated sci-fi anthology series from Deadpool director Tim Miller in collaboration with David Fincher. These short episodes vary between 5 and 15 minutes and use different animation styles to tell stories within the realms of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and comedy.
In one episode, three robots go sightseeing in a post-apocalyptic city long after humanity is gone. In another, Hitler dies in a bunch of different alternate realities. The series is wildly entertaining and a visual spectacle, although a few episodes feel incredibly regressive.
From visionary South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Okja), Snowpiercer is a brutally violent and incredibly grim piece of dystopian sci-fi in which an impossible train that never stops hurdles through the apocalyptic wasteland of the Earth. A failed climate change experiment plunged the world into this second Ice Age, and the only survivors are those lucky — or unlucky — enough to have made it aboard this train.
Snowpiercer stars Captain America (Chris Evans) as a grizzled survivor from the back of the train leading a violent uprising against the aristocrats in control of the train, and utter insanity ensues.
The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions might not have felt nearly as groundbreaking as the Wachowskis’ first cyberpunk dystopia, but 20 years after The Matrix’s initial release feels like the perfect time to revisit all three of these movies.
Set in a future, where A.I robots rebelled against humanity and destroyed the world, the surviving humans live deep into the Earth. After they block out the sun to cut off the robot’s source of energy, they resort to harvesting human bodies for bioelectric fuel, placing them inside a massive simulated reality called “The Matrix.” With action sequences that redefined the genre at the time, The Matrix was probably the last great film of the 20th century.
Zombie films in the early 2000s were at their best when they blended horror with black comedy, and while Shaun of the Dead might be the pinnacle of that, Zombieland is the best American entry in this delightful subgenre. Four strangers in the zombie apocalypse travel the wasteland of the United States in search of salvation, but what they find instead is an unlikely, wacky family.
A direct sequel a decade in the making — called Zombieland: Double Tap — is coming out later this year, so there’s no better time to rewatch the excellent original.
3. I Am Legend
Will Smith’s I Am Legend (2007) is a thrilling and fun zombie adventure that’s not like all the other zombie stories that exploded in popularity in the late 2000s. To call it an adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel is absurd, but the film is set in a comparable universe that, in some ways, is more interesting and better suited to the big screen.
In the movie version, a genetically re-engineered measles virus created as a cure for cancer mutates horribly and wipes out 90 percent of the world’s population. The other 9.8 percent become horrifying zombie-vampire hybrids with the remaining 0.2 percent immune. Smith plays a military scientist among the 0.2 percent struggling to develop a cure with his only companion being a loyal German Shepherd.
2. Ex Machina
I didn’t know what “edge of your seat” really meant in terms of thrillers until I saw Ex Machina in the theater. Anyone who enjoyed Alex Garland’s Annihilation will probably like his previous feature even more.
A programmer from a massive tech company wins a contest and gets to visit the company’s brilliant billionaire founder. But that founder’s been developing an A.I. with a realistic synthetic body on his remote compound, and he 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 who falls in love with a disembodied A.I. voice similar to an advanced Siri or Alexa. Set in the near-future of Los Angeles, Her explores the depression of a sensitive guy mourning the end of a long-term relationship. He fills an emotional void with an A.I.
What sounds like a bit of a crazy premise is sold by filmmaker Spike Jonze as 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.