Your Netflix account gives you flat-rate, unlimited access to some thought-provoking, high-concept, brilliantly filmed, brilliantly directed — and, yes, sometimes silly — sci-fi flicks, so why not take advantage? Here are 10 science fiction masterpieces for you to enjoy over the weekend. If you haven’t watched these movies, you totally have to. If you already have, well, watch them again.
Gizmodo’s weekly Netflix movie night is presented by the new HP Spectre x360. Any way you bend it, the Spectre x360 delivers. With four modes, lightning-fast performance, and impressive battery life, this convertible PC has the best of all worlds and the shortcomings of none.
And, yes, all of these movies are available on Netflix Australia. Enjoy!
Dredd is, cinematically, a masterpiece. It looks amazing. It’s chock-full of slow-mo, too — pretty fitting since the film hinges around the titular supercop Dredd’s takedown of an entire apartment block full of gang-bangers on a mega-drug, unironically called SLO-MO. Karl Urban is an undisputed badass in this popcorn-chewing cult action hit. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: In a catastrophic future, the remaining population is crowded into megacities, where all-powerful and ultraviolent cops are hunting for terrorists.
IMDb: In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.
Watchmen centres on a band of superheroes. It’s a superhero movie. Ex-superheroes, actually, since they live in a world that does not want them. A parallel Earth, still in the grips of Cold War fervour and fighting a renewed and strengthened Soviet Union, is filled with murder and intrigue and it’s the Watchmen that have to solve the murder of one of their own. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: Prohibited from using their powers in a parallel Earth in 1985, a band of superheroes unites to defend themselves when one of their own is murdered.
IMDb: In an alternate 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.
The Matrix. Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss. A team of rag-tag real-world rebels fight against sentient computer overlords both inside the Matrix and out. Kinda like Hackers, but with higher stakes. This is the movie that kickstarted the ’00s sci-fi renaissance. This is the movie that sold a lot of black trenchcoats. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: A computer hacker learns that what most people perceive as reality is actually a simulation created by machines and joins a rebellion to break free.
IMDb: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
Tron: Legacy is the sequel, reimagining, revitalising of a science fiction cinematic classic. The spiritual successor to 1982’s TRON sees the return of the world of The Grid, of Jeff Bridges — in both his actual wizened, older human form and a smooth-skinned face-changing CGI thing — and Olivia Wilde, as the most attractive computer program you’re ever likely to meet. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: While probing his father’s disappearance, Sam Flynn lands in a computerized world of enslaved gladiators, where his dad has been living for 20 years.
IMDb: The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father’s corrupted creation and a unique ally who was born inside the digital world.
12 Monkeys has to be one of Bruce Willis’ best roles. In it, he’s a scungy convict sent back in time to stop a virus from ravaging the entire planet. But the movie is about much more than that, and it’s a concept interesting enough to have launched a TV series 20 years after the 1995 movie initially aired. Our editor’s advice: skip the TV series, watch the movie 12 times back-to-back. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: In the year 2035, a convict volunteers to travel back in time to determine the origin of a deadly virus that wiped out the population decades earlier.
IMDb: In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.
Monsters is an interesting one. It was director Gareth Edwards’ first project; he’s the guy that has gone on to direct Godzilla and is now in the process of directing Star Wars: Rogue One — some pretty massive titles. It’s especially interesting if you watch it knowing that it was shot on an absolute shoestring budget, and the two actors holding up the film’s heady concept aren’t household names like you’d expect. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: Six years after aliens invaded Earth, a photographer is documenting a war-torn region when he’s interrupted by an unexpected rescue mission.
IMDb: Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.
Metropolis is for the massive movie nerds out there, anyone struggling through their year of uni, and for the armchair chinstrap-beard-stroking intellectuals. It’s silent, which gives it a lot of street cred, and it’s about class warfare, but at its core it’s an absolutely amazing look back at what the filmmakers of 1927 thought that 100 years in the future would look like. This is what sci-fi used to be. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: In the year 2026, when the populace is divided between workers and the rich, a man abandons his privileged life to join oppressed workers in a revolt.
IMDb: In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
Pacific Rim doesn’t deal with a lot of the potentially amazing sci-fi lore that make up its post-Kaiju-apocalypse world. It just dumps you straight into the movie’s 80-metre-tall missile-and-plasma-cannon-and-sword-equipped fighting robot world, and delivers a genuinely gripping rollercoaster ride of a story, with some memorable characters — Idris Elba’s Marshal Pentecost, Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chau — including some genuinely stunning CGI. (Oh, and a terrible Aussie accent or two.) Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: When the world’s defenses fail against the threat of alien sea creatures, the task of saving the planet falls to a former pilot and a raw trainee.
IMDb: As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.
Robocop is one of those sci-fi stalwarts that any ’70s or ’80s kid grew up on; it’s almost required reading if you want to enjoy newer movies like Dredd and TRON: Legacy. This Paul Verhoeven-directed powerhouse introduces the concept of resurrection through cybernetics, and it’s also incredibly brutal watching for any cinema newbie. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: A monolithic corporation controlling a futuristic, crime-riddled Detroit transforms a dead cop into a cybernetic law-enforcement unit called RoboCop.
IMDb: In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories.
Dune is not a brilliant movie. But it is a seminal one in the world of sci-fi. Watch this only to see the very first H.R Giger designs, and to see Sting in a nappy. And dream of a beautiful past where Alejandro Jodorowsky directed a Dune masterpiece starring Mick Jagger and Orson Welles. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: In the year 10,191, two factions vie for control of planet Arrakis aka Dune — home to the most valuable substance in the known universe, Spice.
IMDb: A Duke’s son leads desert warriors against the galactic emperor and his father’s evil nemesis when they assassinate his father and free their desert world from the emperor’s rule.
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