Science fiction covers much broader ground in popular culture than it used to. A genre that was once seen as the home of nothing more than little green men and their intergalactic dreams of conquest is now just as likely to feature hilarious comedy, cutting satire, powerful drama, and jarring horror. And, hey, for good measure, sci-fi movie makers haven’t forgotten about those laser-happy invading aliens either. If you have a monthly Hulu subscription, you can enjoy a diverse crop of science fiction films, including a growing number of Hulu originals. We’ve gone through all the sci-fi flicks the service has to offer to find you all the best of every stripe.
Boss Level (2021)
Every morning is the same morning for Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) in Boss Level, and each of those mornings he wakes up to the same assassin burying a machete in his headboard and a small army of colorful killers waiting for him outside. No matter what he does, Roy can’t manage to survive past 12:47 p.m., and that doesn’t change until a clue from his estranged wife puts him on the right path. Time loop movies are nothing new. Films like Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, and even Hulu’s own Palm Springs have turned the idea of living the same day over and over again into a subgenre all of its own. What sets Boss Level apart is the dark humor and perfectly over-the-top violence with which the story is told. It’s an action-packed and fun way to spend an hour and a half, with lots of blood and lots of laughs.
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts
Director: Joe Carnahan
Runtime: 94 minutes
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)
When it comes to science fiction films, you don’t get much better than Blade Runner. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner gives us a picture of the future that looks different enough from our own to intrigue us, but not so different as to be unrecognizable. Harrison Ford stars as Deckard, a Blade Runner tasked with hunting and executing four escaped replicants — artificial people who aren’t allowed on Earth and live in slavery everywhere else. Suspenseful, brilliant, and poignant, Blade Runner is a sci-fi classic that everyone should experience at least once.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Director: Ridley Scott
Runtime: 117 minutes
Save Yourselves! (2020)
The 2020 Hulu original Save Yourselves! is one of the funniest and most timely sci-fi films you’ll ever see. Su and Jack are desperate to curb their shared addictions to the internet and social media. When a friend offers them the use of his wilderness cabin, they think they’ve finally found an opportunity to unplug. Unfortunately, because the pair are cut off from the rest of the world, when fuzzy, watermelon-sized aliens — which they refer to as “poofs” — start falling from the sky, they have no idea it’s happening until the poofs start filling the place.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Sunita Mani, John Reynolds, Ben Sinclair
Director: Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson
Runtime: 93 minutes
Anyone who suffered through 1995’s Judge Dredd should be forgiven if they feel hesitant about giving 2012’s Dredd a try, but the reboot is a much different kind of movie. As satirical as the 2000 AD comic strips upon which it’s based, most of the film’s 95 minutes take place in a massive slum tower with the ultraviolent Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) pursuing the ruthless drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Unapologetically violent and stylized, Dredd is a worthy adaptation of its source material and a great introduction to the character for the uninitiated.
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Director: Pete Travis
Runtime: 95 minutes
John Carpenter got famous directing ’70s and ’80s horror and action flicks like Escape from New York, The Thing, and Assault on Precinct 13. So it was a pleasant surprise to audiences and critics when the same director took a romantic turn with 1984’s Starman. Jeff Bridges plays the eponymous alien, who is shot out of the sky and forced to clone and inhabit the body of Jenny Hayden’s (Karen Allen) dead husband. Together, Starman and Jenny take a road trip across the country in hopes of meeting Starman’s alien rescuers in Arizona. Along the way, they form a connection to each other that spans worlds.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith
Director: John Carpenter
Runtime: 115 minutes
The Shape of Water (2017)
More romantic and tender than any of Guillermo del Toro’s other films, The Shape of Water is arguably his most visually unique creation as well. The film tells the story of Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman judged harshly by just about everyone she meets because of her disability. When Elisa gets a job as a cleaning woman at a clandestine government lab, she meets someone who looks at her like no one else — but he’s an amphibian creature imprisoned in the lab and subjected to horrible experiments. This unconventional love story was nominated for 13 Oscars and took home four of them, and when you watch it, you’ll find out why.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Runtime: 123 minutes
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Few Star Trek films come close to the level of drama and suspense of the classic Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. A transplant from a 1967 episode of Star Trek: The Original Series called Space Seed, Ricardo Montalban reprises the role of one of the most ruthless villains in Trek history — Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically enhanced tyrant from the late 20th century who blames James Kirk (William Shatner) for the death of his wife and his years spent on a desolate planet. With a portrayal of a ship-to-ship duel that has yet to be improved upon in Trek lore and a powerful ending, The Wrath of Khan is some of the best the franchise has to offer.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Ricardo Montalban
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Runtime: 113 minutes
Demolition Man (1993)
The critics may not like this one, but we think it’s a sci-fi classic worthy of this list. Demolition Man is a sci-fi action flick that proves you can go too far in trying to create a better world. Both the mass murderer Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) and the cop who pursues him, John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), are cryogenically frozen in 1996 and wake up in 2032 to find a bizarrely “civil” world. Eating meat is outlawed, physical contact is so taboo even sex doesn’t involve touch anymore, and saying the wrong four-letter word gets you fined by Big Brother. Filled with great action and often hilarious moments, Demolition Man is a must-see.
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock
Director: Marco Brambilla
Runtime: 115 minutes
Sometimes a movie’s concept is such that it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible. The 2013 sci-fi thriller Coherence is such an animal. At first, nothing appears to be from the world of the fantastic at a get-together between friends, but then the story gets more interesting after a comet passes overhead. In the wake of the comet, strange and unexplainable things begin happening to the characters, and their normal dinner party turns into a surreal mystery. If you enjoy a story that challenges you to figure it out until the very end, Coherence is definitely for you.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
Director: James Ward Byrkit
Runtime: 89 minutes
Sometimes less is more. In the case of 2018’s Bumblebee — focusing on the titular Autobot rather than a whole bunch of them — it’s a lot more. When Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) gets a yellow Volkswagen Beetle for her 18th birthday, she has no idea she’s taking home the first of the Cybertron’s Autobot resistance to reach Earth. Unfortunately, the Autobot, whom Charlie soon names Bumblebee, has no idea either. More emotionally tangible than the previous live-action Transformers films and giving audiences a much more coherent storyline, Bumblebee is an exciting, family-friendly gem.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena
Director: Travis Knight
Runtime: 114 minutes
Attack the Block (2011)
Attack the Block is Joe Cornish’s acclaimed fusion of comedy, science fiction, and horror. When gang leader Moses (John Boyega) mugs trainee nurse Samantha (Jodie Whittaker), they both probably think nothing more violent will happen that night. But they’re both very wrong. The mugging is interrupted by a meteorite crash, and soon after, waves of hostile aliens pour into the neighborhood. While neither of them expected to be joining forces to save their home from an army of extraterrestrials, that’s exactly what follows in this funny, U.K.-flavored alien invasion flick.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail
Director: Joe Cornish
Runtime: 80 minutes
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