Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Like Dune: Part Two? Then watch these 5 great sci-fi movies right now

A man experiences pain while locked into a machine in Total Recall.
Tri-Star

The first two months of 2024 have been slow at the box office. There have been far more misses than hits. It’s a bad sign when Madame Web is the most memorable film of 2024, but for all the wrong reasons. These negative feelings are about to change with Dune: Part Two on March 1. The sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s Dune continues the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mission to unite the Fremen people of Arrakis in a war against the Harkonnens.

After watching Dune: Part Two, are you craving more sci-fi adventures? Below, we selected five great sci-fi films to explore after your trip to Arrakis. Our picks include a Christopher Nolan spy thriller, one of the greatest sequels ever, and an earlier film in Villeneuve’s filmography.

Tenet (2020)

Two men look at each other in Tenet.
Warner Bros.

When it comes to blowing the audience’s mind, Nolan is as elite as it gets. From The Dark Knight and Inception to Interstellar and Oppenheimer, Nolan is one of one in terms of eventizing films and creating cinematic experiences. I mention this to say Nolan outdid himself with Tenet, his 2020 sci-fi spy espionage thriller. A CIA operative known as the Protagonist (John David Washington) is recruited to join a secret organization, Tenet, that practices time travel to alter the course of history and prevent global war.

The Protagonist teams up with the mysterious Neil (Robert Pattinson) to travel backward through time to stop a future attack that could lead to Armageddon. To say Tenet is confusing would be an understatement. Tenet requires multiple viewings to fully understand the science and plot. Once you realize the details, Tenet becomes an entertaining, James Bond-esque thrill ride.

Stream Tenet on Prime Video, Apple, YouTube, or Google.

Arrival (2016)

A man helps a woman in Arrival.
Paramount/Sony

Villeneuve is on an impressive run of critical hits. Since 2013, Villeneuve has directed seven beloved films with near-universal acclaim. If you have to pick one of the seven that best represents Villeneuve, I’d go with Arrival, 2016’s Academy Award-winning sci-fi mystery starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. Extraterrestrial creatures have arrived in giant spaceships in 12 global locations. One of the spacecraft is hovering over Montana.

Linguist Louise Banks (Adams) is recruited by the U.S. Army to establish communications with the aliens on the Montana spaceship. With the help of physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner), Banks makes progress with the aliens as she begins to decipher their symbols. With several countries on the brink of war, Banks is running out of time and needs to figure out what the aliens want immediately. With stunning cinematography and a memorable twist, Arrival is a terrific sci-fi drama packed with emotion, grief, and love.

Stream Arrival on Peacock or Paramount+.

The Creator (2023)

John David Washington points a gun while on the ground in The Creator.
Glen Milner / 20th Century Studios

Gareth Edwards brings the war between humanity and AI to the battlefield in The Creator. Set in 2070, the world is still reeling from a nuclear warhead dropped by AI over Los Angeles 15 years prior. Most of the world has turned against AI, while several Asian countries choose to embrace it. After losing his wife (Gemma Chan) in an attack, Joshua (John David Washington), a jaded ex-special forces agent, is recruited by the U.S. Army to hunt and kill the Creator, the architect behind a weapon that could end the war by destroying mankind.

Joshua reluctantly accepts and joins a team of elite operatives for a mission in enemy territory. Joshua survives an enemy attack and reaches the weapon. Much to his surprise, the all-powerful weapon is an AI in the form of a young girl, “Alphie” (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). Like GodzillaThe Creator features two great acts and one act littered with problems. However, The Creator is a technical marvel with breathtaking visual effects from Edwards. The Creator was made for around $80 million, yet it looks better than 90% of films that cost over $200 million.

Stream The Creator on Hulu.

Aliens (1986)

Ellen Ripley, gun in hand, bracing herself for a Xenomorph ambush in Aliens.
20th Century Fox, Brandywine Productions

If Avatar: The Way of Water taught us one thing, never bet against “Big Jim,” aka James Cameron. Many doubted Cameron’s ability to bring in an audience for a sequel 13 years in the making. Yet, Big Jim delivered as The Way of Water became the third-highest-grossing film of all time. It’s not the first time Cameron defied expectations. In 1986, Cameron wrote and directed Aliens, the sequel to 1979’s groundbreaking sci-fi horror, Alien. How could Cameron follow up on one of the most influential science fiction films ever?

Once again, Cameron exceeded all expectations. Aliens is arguably the superior Alien film, a credit to the writing, direction, and visual effects of the Oscar-winning filmmaker. After being in stasis for over 55 years, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is rescued in space. After waking up, Ripley is recruited by the Marines to join a mission to LV-426 and investigate a colony believed to be overrun by aliens. Upon arrival, Ripley’s worst fears are confirmed as the aliens destroyed the entire colony except for a young girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). Ripley defeated one Xenomorph before. Is she capable of defeating an army of aliens?

Stream Aliens on Max.

Total Recall (1990)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone in Total Recall.
Tri-Star Pictures

If you’re looking to experience another red, sandy planet that resembles Arrakis, head to Mars in Total RecallPaul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi action feature based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. In 2084, people live on Mars under the rule of Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox). On Earth, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) dreams of heading to Mars, but he can’t afford the expensive trip. If he can’t go to Mars, Quaid signs up for the next best thing, Rekall, which is a company that implants false memories into people’s brains.

Quaid chooses to set his memories on Mars. However, the procedure goes haywire as Quaid learns his life was a false memory. With his sense of reality blurred, Quaid must evade the people who want him dead long enough to discover the truth about his life. If you prefer more action in your sci-fi adventure, Total Recall is for you, a film that packs a Schwarzenegger-sized punch.

Rent Total Recall on Prime Video, Apple, YouTube, or Google.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
The best sci-fi movies on Max right now
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as Bill and Ted in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.

Max has a very good lineup of sci-fi movies right now, with one big drawback: It's stagnant. The science fiction movies that are on Max in March are the same ones that were there in February, and there haven't been any notable additions since. That's not very sustainable since some of the best sci-fi movies on Max are on loan from other studios. Eventually, those films will leave, and there's no guarantee that something better will come along.

In the meantime, we're throwing this month's spotlight on Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, the 1984 version of Dune, and the 2014 remake of Godzilla. For the rest of the best sci-fi movies on Max, just keep scrolling down.

Read more
Don’t miss these 5 movies leaving Max in March that you have to watch right now
Gene Wilder standing and tilting his head slightly in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

March is winding down as we head into spring. But as the end of the month draws near, Max is set to lose some of its very best movies. Fortunately, March is also one of the months that has 31 days, so that's going to give you extra time to catch some of your favorite movies before they depart.

Our choices for the five movies leaving Max in March that you have to watch right now include three classic films that rank among the all-time greats, a ghostly romance, and an unlikely toy movie adaptation.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Read more
Like Netflix’s hit series 3 Body Problem? Then watch these three underrated sci-fi shows now
The cast of 3 Body Problem.

It took the better part of four years for Netflix was able to bring Liu Cixin's sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem to life. The 3 Body Problem series was announced in September 2020 as the first post-Game of Thrones project for David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, who co-created the new show with Alexander Woo. Now that 3 Body Problem has finally arrived, it's already near the top of the most popular shows on Netflix.

Anyone with the time to watch all eight episodes of 3 Body Problem doesn't have to worry about spoilers. But for the benefit of those who haven't yet, we'll refrain from ruining the story for you. It's enough to say that aliens are real in this world, and humanity has to deal with the implications of what that means for their collective future.

Read more