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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.

Arrival

Based on a short story by award-winning author Ted Chiang, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is a heartfelt meditation on human connection, facilitated by aliens. Amy Adams plays a linguist who’s been recruited to make contact with aliens who’ve landed on Earth, and as she learns their complex language, she gains insight into the past and future of her own life. There’s suspense and excitement to the story, but the core of the movie is about coming to terms with the fleeting nature of life on Earth.

Barbarella

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.

Fast Color

Director and co-writer Julia Hart tells a different kind of superhero story in Fast Color. Set in a desolate future, Fast Color is more focused on emotion than action. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as a woman with telekinetic powers who returns to her family home to reunite with her mother and daughter.

The characters come to terms with their fantastical abilities while also healing their family bonds. Hart uses special effects sparingly, but she makes every demonstration of superpower count.

Inception

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.

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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.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The best movie featuring the original Star Trek cast, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, brings back Ricardo Montalban as megalomaniacal villain Khan Noonien Singh from a memorable TV series episode. Khan proves to be the perfect foil for Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) as well as a formidable threat to the Enterprise crew.

Mixing suspense and action with Star Trek‘s trademark philosophical questions, The Wrath of Khan is an excellent representation of the franchise and a wonderfully entertaining sci-fi adventure.

Super 8

J.J. Abrams crafts a tribute to the movies of his youth (particularly the early work of Steven Spielberg) in Super 8, which is named after the film stock preferred by amateur movie-makers. In 1979, the Super 8 camera being used by a group of teens working on their own homemade film production accidentally captures something that no one was supposed to see.

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Those teens get caught up in a government conspiracy to hide alien activity, and Abrams treats the story with a sense of wonder that is lovingly Spielbergian.

The Terminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger began his ascent to superstardom by playing a killer cyborg from the future in James Cameron’s The Terminator. Schwarzenegger’s T-800 travels back in time to kill unsuspecting waitress Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) to prevent her from giving birth to the future savior of humanity.

It’s a simple yet brilliant premise that allows for plenty of suspense and some strong character development, especially regarding the relationship between Sarah and time-displaced freedom fighter Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn).

The Vast of Night

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.

Josh Bell Josh Bell
Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and the former TV comedies guide for About.com. He has written about movies and pop culture for Syfy Wire, Polygon, CBR, Film Racket, Uproxx and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.
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