Amazon’s extensive library of sci-fi movies includes everything from major blockbusters to low-budget curiosities. Here are 10 of the best sci-fi movies to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
A young couple discovers that moving to the suburbs can turn into a bizarre nightmare in sci-fi horror movie Vivarium. Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) just want to take a tour of a new housing development, but they’re left stranded in the seemingly endless and abandoned subdivision, with no means of escape. They eventually form a sort of pseudo-family with a mysterious, fast-aging child left in their care, even as their efforts to break free from their inexplicable predicament become more desperate and chaotic.
Mel Gibson plays an ex-priest whose faith is tested during an alien invasion in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Shyamalan brings his somber take on genre material to this film about crop circles and UFOs. The story remains intimate and personal even as the world is under attack, sticking to a single farm and its adjacent family home. Although Shyamalan deploys one of his trademark plot twists, it’s delivered more subtly and organically, all in service of the movie’s themes about faith and redemption.
French arthouse icon Claire Denis puts her own unique spin on sci-fi in High Life. An impressionistic journey into the twisted psyches of a crew of death-row prisoners sent into deep space, High Life is less about scientific exploration and more about the limits of human experience. Robert Pattinson stars as the crew’s most seemingly stable member, with Juliette Binoche as the demanding scientist experimenting on the prisoners. Denis takes viewers on a surreal, dreamlike voyage full of twisted sexuality and existential dread.
Mike Mignola’s comic book character comes to life in Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Hellboy. Ron Perlman plays the title character, a demon left stranded on Earth as a baby, who’s grown up to work alongside other paranormal creatures as part of a secret government agency. Teamed up with the amphibious Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Hellboy must stop an evil plot by the resurrected sorcerer Rasputin.
Del Toro captures the pulp-adventure tone of Mignola’s comic books, adding in exciting, effects-driven action set pieces.
Ridley Scott launched a multifaceted sci-fi franchise with Alien, which is a deceptively simple beginning to such a pop-culture juggernaut. The crew of a rickety transport ship accidentally picks up a deadly creature from a mysterious planet, and the alien proceeds to tear through the crew one by one.
Sigourney Weaver went on to anchor several sequels as Ellen Ripley, but here she’s just one member of the crew, trying to stay alive by keeping one step ahead of the alien as it stalks its prey. Within the confined, cramped setting, Scott generates terror and suspense and provides the building blocks for a whole sci-fi world.
Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick may seem like incompatible filmmakers, but Spielberg expertly brings one of Kubrick’s unrealized visions to life in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Haley Joel Osment plays David, a lifelike android child who goes on a Pinocchio-like quest to become human after his “mother” discards him.
Along the way, David teams up with an android prostitute played by Jude Law and is subject to harsh treatment by humans who view him as nothing more than a disposable piece of technology. Spielberg eventually finds some hope in David’s bleak existence, but it’s only after a long series of sacrifices and setbacks.
Jane Fonda stars as the title character in the psychedelic space odyssey Barbarella, which is based on a classic French comic book. Barbarella is an intergalactic explorer who’s just as interested in exploring sexual liaisons as she is in completing her mission from Earth. The movie is an eye-popping series of colorful set pieces, with gorgeous sets and costumes. The plot doesn’t make much sense, but Fonda is playful and charming, and the dialogue (full of puns and double entendres) is consistently amusing.
There are dreams within dreams within dreams in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which turns the mind into another corporate battlefield. Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play experts at invading the dreams of other people to steal and/or implant ideas. Their latest job traps them in a web of descending dream worlds as rival factions attempt to disrupt their mission.
The dream setting allows Nolan to stage action sequences completely divorced from reality, and the mind-bending plot will leave you guessing past the closing credits.
The first version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (based on Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers) is still the best. Don Siegel’s 1956 take on the story is a powerful allegory for societal tensions in the 1950s, and it’s also a riveting suspense film. Kevin McCarthy plays one of the only residents of a small California town who realizes that people are being replaced by alien replicas. He attempts to avoid his own replacement so that he can escape and warn the world of the impending invasion.
The low-budget sci-fi drama The Vast of Night gets a lot of mileage out of its characters for just talking about strange things happening. Director Andrew Patterson’s debut feature is framed as an episode of a Twilight Zone-style TV series and often plays out like a radio drama. The movie follows two teenagers in a small town in 1950s New Mexico over the course of one uncanny night.
Patterson uses long takes and elaborate tracking shots to place the audience right alongside the characters as they investigate mysterious phenomena.