With most people stuck at home during the ongoing pandemic, streaming and video games have offered a welcome distraction, and there are no stories better at giving us a sense of escapism than science fiction.
June is a bit of a tumultuous month for Netflix this year, what with the streaming platform losing major blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War and The Matrix while gaining some timely classics like E.T. and V for Vendetta.
If you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow this June, 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.
11. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Steven Spielberg’s classic story about a gentle alien befriending a young boy in California suburbia is a must-watch for any and all generations. When E.T. falls ill and the government catches wind of the alien, it becomes a race to find a way to get E.T. home.
E.T. landed on Netflix June 1.
10. V for Vendetta
People didn’t talk enough about how the activist revolution of Joker felt reminiscent of V for Vendetta, one of the most important action films of the early 2000s. If Joker is an agent of chaos and madness seeking to destroy the world that tortured him for years, then V in V for Vendetta exemplifies how heroes rise above trauma to build a new world — villains just want to burn it all down.
In this dystopian political thriller fueled with sci-fi elements, a masked vigilante and anarchist freedom fighter seeks to undermine the neo-fascist totalitarian regime that's taken over the U.K. Though labeled a terrorist, his controversial — and yes, often terribly violent — actions inspire a much-needed revolution in an action-packed and thoughtful adventure based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore.
The V for Vendetta revolution returned to Netflix on June 1.
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 an interplanetary war. There are monstrous bug aliens, telepaths, and all sorts of high-tech weaponry.
Action-packed, outrageous, and often hilarious, Starship Troopers is the perfect kind of brainless entertainment you need right now — with a subtle meta-commentary on the military's fascist tendencies.
Starship Troopers began their fight on Netflix June 1.
8. Avengers: Infinity War
Netflix still clings to a select few Marvel Studios films, but for Avengers: Infinity War to make the full migration over the Disney+ truly marks the beginning of the end. As a two-parter with Avengers: Endgame, this wildly entertaining sci-fi adventure is the culmination of more than a decade's worth of big-budget superhero storytelling.
After years of making threats through post-credits scenes and various teasers, the Mad Titan Thanos finally enters the orbit of the Avengers in a big way, pursuing a quest to claim the Infinity Stones that would allow him to eradicate half the universe's population. It's up to Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and other mighty heroes to stop him. But you probably know all of this already, right? Unless you have a Disney+ subscription or own Infinity War outright, June is your last chance to watch it on Netflix.
Thanos (and Avengers: Infinite War) leaves Netflix forever on June 24.
J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield was a veritable phenomenon in 2007. Billed as Godzilla meets Blair Witch Project, it's an exciting story told through found footage of a massive monster wreaking havoc on New York City. "Set during one night in New York when a gigantic and disgusting creature attacks, Cloverfield succeeds by withholding its monster for as long as possible and then delivering the motherload when we finally see it face-to-face," Inverse's own Jake Kleinman writes.
Like so many titles this month, Cloverfield is one you ought to watch before it leaves the platform.
Cloverfield will be removed from the Netflix library on June 30.
After the genre-defining Batman trilogy that included The Dark Knight, acclaimed director Christopher Nolan surprised fans with a bizarre movie about a technology that allows people to enter dreams. A star-studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio takes us through a mind-bending heist movie that explores the nature of consciousness in compelling ways.
This isn't a dream: Inception leaves Netflix on June 30.
5. Minority Report
Starring expert movie sprinter Tom Cruise as a "PreCrime" cop in the mid-21st century when predictive technology allows the police to stop crimes before they happen, Minority Report is a genuinely compelling and provocative cyberpunk thriller that grapples with similar themes to Devs on FX. What is the nature of free will when we know what's going to happen? Does free will even exist?
Aside from asking these kinds of profound questions, Minority Report is also an exciting action movie without the trappings of its cyberpunk world. Directed by Steven Spielberg based on a story by Philip K Dick, what's not to love?
Minority Report will be removed from the Netflix library June 30.
4. The Matrix
One of the earliest and perhaps all-time greatest creative ventures to come from the Wachowskis is The Matrix. The full trilogy just came back to Netflix as of November 1, and with a fourth film in development, there’s no better time to rewatch.
When the original was released in 1999, The Matrix changed the cinematic landscape for action movies, redefining the genre and inventing a new style of cinematography known as bullet time.
In The Matrix, a hacker called Neo discovers that 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 “matrix” simulation to keep them complacent. After learning the “truth,” Neo emerges in the “real world” and works with the human resistance to ultimately discover that he’s the hero that can save them all.
Netflix will take the blue pill on June 30 when the Matrix trilogy is removed.
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
What if Brad Pitt aged in reverse? Based on a short story of the same name, David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) is only adjacent to sci-fi on account of its bizarre premise of a baby who ages backward over the course of his eventful life. We never know explicitly why the titular Benjamin Button is born as a tiny ancient man and becomes progressively more youthful as he ages, but we're led to assume it's some kind of fantastical genetic mutation.
At an epic 166 minutes, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a sweeping love story that lasts a lifetime, and if the premise is enough to hook you, you'll be sold on the strong performances from Pitt and co-star Cate Blanchett.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leaves Netflix on June 30.
2. Limitless Season 1
You might remember when Bradley Cooper's 2011 film Limitless in which he plays a man who uses a drug called NZT-48 to unlock his "limitless" potential by accessing every single neuron in his brain for 12 hours. Rather than remaking a similar story to television, the CBS comedy-drama series of the same name is an extension of the same narrative universe.
A millennial burnout gets an immunity shot from Bradley Cooper's character, allowing him to repeatedly use NZT-48 without suffering from the fatal side effects and help the FBI solve all sorts of high-profile crimes. It's like Chuck but with drugs!
Limitless will be removed from the Netflix library on June 30.
1. DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Season 5
Despite a middling first couple seasons, The CW's Legends of Tomorrow has low-key been perhaps the single best Arrowverse show set in the DC Comics Universe for several years now. A rotating cast of formerly B-list heroes and anti-heroes band together to pilot a time-traveling spaceship throughout history, righting wrongs and pursuing all sorts of villains.
Season 5 picks up during the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover, so all of these new adventures coming to Netflix on June 5 take place in an entirely new merged reality. Always weird, often funny, and utterly unpredictable, Legends of Tomorrow is also the one Arrowverse show with the most sci-fi.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 hits Netflix on June 5.