The best sci-fi movies on HBO Max right now

It’s a common mistake to assume that science fiction stories are all about killer robots, aliens, time travel, and space battles. Those are all elements of sci-fi, as well as aspects of numerous blockbuster films over the years. But sci-fi isn’t just about the future or the past — it’s about the present. Or rather, it’s a way for storytellers to address the issues of the present through the lens of fiction. Of course, there’s always room for sci-fi blockbusters that let you turn off your brain at the door. Those do tend to make more money than more contemplative science fiction tales.

Regardless of what kind of sci-fi movie you want to watch, HBO Max has a very large selection to choose from. The only problem is that Max’s clunky interface mixes fantasy and comic book movies into its sci-fi library, which can be quite annoying when you only want to watch something in a specific genre. That’s why we’re making it easy for you by selecting the best sci-fi movies on HBO Max right now.

In need of some more streaming recommendations? We also have guides to the best movies on HBO Max, the best shows on HBO Max, and what’s new on HBO and HBO Max that are worth looking through.

Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in Edge of Tomorrow.
Warner Bros.

Year: 2014
Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Director: Doug Liman

It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a decade since Edge of Tomorrow hit theaters, but it remains one of the best modern sci-fi films. In the near future, Earth has been invaded by aliens that are steadily conquering the world. Cruise stars as William Cage, an officer who is demoted to private and sent into a doomed battle against the aliens. However, Cage soon discovers that exposure to the aliens’ blood has given him the ability to relive the same day over and over again. This often means that Cage has to die to reset the day, usually in painful ways.

The legendary warrior, Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), takes it upon herself to help Cage use this newfound ability to become a true soldier. But much to Cage’s horror, he and Vrataski are seemingly always doomed to die long before they can defeat the alien threat.

2001: A Space Odyssey

An iconic scene from 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Year: 1968
Runtime: 2 hours, 23 minutes
Director: Stanley Kubrick

The word “masterpiece” tends to get thrown around a lot in film criticism. But 2001: A Space Odyssey more than lives up to the hype even decades later. director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke crafted an unforgettable sci-fi epic that is told more through visuals than anything spoken aloud.

Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood star respectively as Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole. Together, David and Frank are part of a deep space mission to investigate a massive alien monolith that may be connected to the origins of humanity millions of years earlier. Unfortunately for David and Frank, their onboard artificial intelligence, HAL 9000, is developing some very dangerous and paranoid tendencies that may threaten more than just their mission.

Ex Machina

The cast of Ex Machina.

Year: 2015
Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Director: Alex Garland

You’ll find that machines turning on humans is a common theme in sci-fi, and so too is the idea that machines can be almost indistinguishable from humans. Ex Machina plays with both notions by giving the AI known as Ava (Alicia Vikander) a human face and a very feminine demeanor. Ava is also a lot better at being human, or at least pretending to be human, than her creator, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) suspects.

Domhnall Gleeson also stars in the film as Caleb Smith, an ordinary employee of Nathan’s who is invited to examine Ava to determine if she genuinely has a humanlike consciousness. Almost immediately, Ava manipulates Caleb and tries to turn him against Nathan.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.

Year: 1982
Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Director: Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott has delivered a few different cuts of his sci-fi classic Blade Runnerbut The Final Cut represents his last word on the world envisioned by writer Philip K. Dick. In an alternate vision of Los Angeles in 2019, replicants are androids that can almost pass as human. As a Blade Runner, it falls to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) to “retire” rogue replicants like Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and Pris (Daryl Hannah).

However, Deckard is shocked when he is introduced to a replicant named Rachael (Sean Young), who is so humanlike that Deckard finds himself falling for her and questioning everything he believed about replicants.

District 9

An alien in District 9.

Year: 2009
Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Director: Neill Blomkamp

Neill Blomkamp’s debut film, District 9was so good that it has overshadowed everything he has done since. Using an obvious metaphor for humanity’s racism, District 9 presents an alternate present where aliens known as Prawns have been living on Earth for decades in the slums of South Africa.

One of the Prawns, Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope), has plotted for years to make his escape and find justice for his people. When a bureaucrat named Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) stumbles on Johnson’s plan, he finds himself slowly being transformed into a Prawn himself. And the only hope that Wikus has to restore his humanity is to help Johnson leave Earth.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek II.

Year: 1982
Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Director: Nicholas Meyer

All of the Star Trek films are currently on Max, but Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan not only remains the gold standard for the franchise, it’s also a great sci-fi movie in its own right. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this film saved the franchise, and William Shatner has never been better as an aging James T. Kirk, who realizes that the universe has passed him by.

Ricardo Montalbán reprises his role as the superhuman conqueror Khan Noonien Singh from the original STar Trek series. Kirk finds himself caught off guard by Khan’s bloodthirsty desire for revenge, as well as by the personal revelations that will change Kirk’s life forever. In the final battle, not even the legendary crew of the Enterprise can escape unscathed.


Jodie Foster in Contact.

Year: 1997
Runtime: 2 hours, 29 minutes
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Unlike many of the other movies on this list, Contact is a very grounded science fiction movie that feels like it could happen in our world. Jodie Foster stars as Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Ann Arroway, a woman who has made it her life’s mission to monitor signals from the stars in the hope of receiving transmissions from intelligent alien life forms.

One day, Ellie’s dream comes true, and it thrusts the world into an intense debate about what should happen next. Within the alien signal is a way for a single person to make an impossible journey to meet the sender. And this is a trip that Ellie is determined to take no matter the cost.

The Terminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.

Year: 1984
Runtime: 1 hour. 47 minutes
Director: James Cameron

Terminator 2 is also on Max, and it is visually superior to its predecessor, but in terms of story, The Terminator blows it away. This was only James Cameron’s second theatrical film in the director’s chair, but it set the stage for everything he did after while also making Arnold Schwarzenegger into a star.

Linda Hamilton stars as Sarah Connor, an unassuming waitress who has no idea that she’s been marked for death by machines in the future. That’s why the relentless T-800 (Schwarzenegger) has been sent back in time to murder her. To save Sarah, a man named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) travels from his future to her present in order to keep the Terminator from altering history.

The Matrix

Trinity and Neo in The Matrix.

Year: 1999
Runtime: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Director: The Wachowskis

The Matrix was such a game-changing film that it’s surprising that none of its sequels are anywhere near as good as the original. No one can tell you what the Matrix is, and it’s worth the surprise in the off chance that you haven’t seen it yet. Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a hacker by night and a lowly programmer by day.

After years of searching for the hacker known as Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an enigmatic woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) arranges for Neo to finally meet the man he has been looking for. And the choice that Morpheus presents to Neo remains one of the greatest surprises in cinema history … especially if you don’t know what’s coming.

Total Recall

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.

Year: 1990
Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Total Recall is so ’90s and so Arnold that it’s impossible not to love it if you grew up in that era. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who decides to give himself a virtual vacation by having fictional memories of a secret agent on Mars implanted into his brain. But much to the shock of the memory facility, Quaid’s true identity may actually be a secret agent from Mars.

With his mind once again wiped, Quaid has no idea why his wife, Lori (Sharon Stone), and other people he knows are suddenly trying to kill him. The answers lie somewhere on Mars, if Quaid can make it off of Earth and elude the assassins on his trail.

Editors’ Recommendations

Source link

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.