One of the most important science fiction films of all time, the original Blade Runner, just hit Netflix this February, along with a slew of other exciting titles. While sci-fi fans will have to say goodbye to the Matrix trilogy and District 9 before month's end, there's still a galaxy full of things to enjoy.
If you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow this February (with perhaps just a bit of romance thrown in for Valentine's Day), here are 11 of the best science fiction shows and movies available to stream on Netflix, with a focus on whatever’s new, original, or leaving soon.
Is there any film more important to the science fiction genre than Blade Runner? Probably not. For this version of the classic to land on Netflix February 1, 2020 is a huge deal.
In Ridley Scott's cyberpunk masterpiece from 1982, Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a former policeman tasked with tracking down bioengineered humanoids known as replicants. It's essentially futuristic noir that stacks overlapping mysteries atop each another, making you question the nature of humanity itself.
Ironically, the story takes place in a dystopian 2019 that looks nothing like the actual 2019 did. Blade Runner virtually created an entire aesthetic for the cyberpunk subgenre of sci-fi. For anyone who hasn't seen Blade Runner yet, the "Final Cut" version is the 25th-anniversary version recut by Ridley Scott and released in 2007 that leaves the story's biggest questions vague and adds a surreal dream sequence to further complicate the film's messages in compelling ways.
The final entry in the Back to the Future trilogy, Part III might be the worst of the three. Even so, it's a total classic.
Moments after the end of Part II, Marty McFly learns that Dr. Emmett Brown is trapped in the year 1885. Mary is able to find and repair the time-traveling DeLorean and embarks on a silly adventure involving cowboys, horses, and Native Americans. This entry is the series at its most ridiculous, particularly when they make a time-traveling locomotive train.
9. Starship Troopers
If you love hardcore sci-fi stories about an advanced military fighting an alien threat, Starship Troopers is a must-watch. This satirical film directed by Paul Verhoeven follows a young soldier training for the military amid the outbreak of interplanetary war. There are monstrous bug aliens, telepaths, and all sorts of crazy weaponry.
Action-packed, outrageous, and often hilarious, Starship Troopers is a great film to watch this month.
The same year Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Will Smith starred as a superpowered alcoholic in Hancock, a weird movie concerned with the public image of superheroes in a less-intelligent way than The Incredibles. The explanation for Hancock's superpowers make it seem like he's possibly some kind of alien, but the movie never goes too far to explain it.
The flimsy narrative is mediocre at best, but because Hancock was only just added to Netflix as of February 1, it's worth a watch for any fans of Smith — or even Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman, who play a couple who try to help Hancock sober up and become a real hero.
7. District 9
District 9 is perhaps the one sci-fi movie you need to watch on Netflix immediately on account of the fact that it'll be removed from the library on February 14.
Neill Blomkamp’s debut film was a bonafide sci-fi action hit when it was released in 2009. A surprisingly poignant apartheid allegory, the film explores xenophobia and segregation when a large number of literal aliens wind up stranded on Earth. The surprising final twist is heartbreaking and romantic, so this is a must-watch ahead of Valentine's Day this year.
District 9 will leave Netflix on February 14.
6. The Matrix
One of the earliest and perhaps all-time greatest creative ventures to come from the Wachowski siblings is The Matrix. The full trilogy came back to Netflix in November 2019 but is already leaving again at the end of February. With a fourth film in development, there’s no better time to watch this trilogy before it leaves once again.
When it was released in 1999, The Matrix changed the action genre, inventing a new style of cinematography known as bullet time. It follows a hacker called Neo, who discovers he’s been living inside a simulation hundreds of years in the “future.” Robots with advanced A.I. rebelled against their creators and harvested human bodies as batteries, using the titular “matrix” simulation to keep them complacent. After learning the truth, Neo emerges in the “real world” and ultimately discovers that he’s the hero that can save humanity.
The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions leave Netflix on February 29.
In Her, the always-excellent Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with a disembodied A.I. voice — a hyper-advanced Alexa who sounds like Scarlett Johansson and can learn at an exponential rate. Set in near-future Los Angeles, Her explores the depression of a sensitive guy looking to fill an emotional void following the end of a long-term relationship.
What sounds like a bit of a crazy premise is sold by filmmaker Spike Jonze with delicate tenderness. Her won Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards, making it a must-see for any fan of science fiction, especially those looking for romantic sci-fi options this Valentine's Day — or for anyone who needs a pallete cleanser after seeing Joker this year.
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 action that feels 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 to resemblance to much of the sci-fi that’s come before it, the story feels novel all the same. Now's the time to catch up, mainly because Season 2 is imminent.
Altered Carbon Season 2 will be released on Netflix February 27.
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 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. (The robot is hot now, by the way, so maybe he'll be your Valentine this year.)
This is hard sci-fi set in the far reaches of space, and because it’s about an entire family, it feels like a nice series for your entire family to watch together. Season 2 hit Netflix on December 24, so if you watched Season 1 only, it's time to catch up.
Despite the love, there isn't a lot of romance in this hardcore animated sci-fi series.
Love, Death & Robots is an animated sci-fi anthology series from Deadpool director Tim Miller in collaboration with David Fincher. The episodes vary between five 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 various ways across several alternate realities. The series is wildly entertaining and a visual spectacle, although a few episodes feel incredibly regressive. With Season 2 confirmed and likely out later this year, now’s the time to catch up.
1. The 100
One of The CW’s best non-Arrowverse programs, The 100 is a veritable YA dystopian drama with a hard sci-fi premise and LOTS of steamy romance for the teenaged characters. Following the nuclear apocalypse, a portion of humanity took to a series of connected space stations to survive the radiation. Almost a century later, supplies are diminishing, and a group of 100 delinquent children is sent down to test survivability on Earth’s surface.
That premise doesn’t sound sustainable for six full seasons, yet The 100 still thrives on The CW by evolving in all sorts of unexpected ways as the survivors rejoin with other people from the space station and have to integrate into the society of "Grounders" or people that survived the apocalypse on Earth. The upcoming seventh season will end the series.