What better way to escape the trials and tribulations of every day life than by letting your imagination run wild with an adventure involving aliens, robots or unthinkably advanced technology?
From the campy classics to cerebral thrillers set aboard claustrophobic spaceships, here are the best of them on NOW!
While you’re here, why not also check out our list of the best horror movies on NOW?
1. Flash Gordon (1980)
A true cult classic, Flash Gordon – a movie based on based on Alex Raymond’s King Features comic strip of the same name – was directed by Mike Hodges.
It stars Sam J. Jones as the titular star quarterback, as he and his allies Dale Arden and Hans Zarkov inadvertently end up in space, where they unite the warring factions of the planet Mongo against the oppression of Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow), who is intent on destroying Earth for his own amusement.
This movie is pure flamboyant joy from start to finish – and it’s so 80s you’ll feel like you should be wearing legwarmers to watch it!
2. Star Trek (2009)
J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek is the eleventh movie in the Star Trek franchise. A reboot of the original series, it features the main characters of the original Star Trek show portrayed by a brand new cast. It was the first movie in what would become a rebooted franchise.
Starring Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, alongside the likes of Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg, the story takes place in an alternate reality that sees Kirk trying to live up to his father’s legacy, as a vengeful Romulan from the future (Captain Nero, played by Eric Bana) creates black holes in an attempt to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.
With a strong plot, great action and lots of humor, this movie pleased everyone from fans of the original series to people who’d never even heard of Star Trek before watching it.
3. Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report is set in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where Precrime – a police department with foreknowledge provided by three psychics called “precogs” – apprehends criminals before the crimes they are due to commit even occur.
Loosely based on the 1956 short story “The Minority Report” by Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg’s superb offering stars Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton.
It’s an incredibly thought-provoking and visceral movie that’s jam-packed with action and thrills – and it sees the stunt-tastic Mr. Cruise at his brilliant best.
4. Interstellar (2014)
Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar – which stars the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine – is an epic movie set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive.
It follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new home in an attempt to ensure the survival of humanity.
One of Nolan’s more thrilling movies, Interstellar is typically ambitious and visually gorgeous. It might try to be a little too intellectual for its own good at times, but its exceptional ensemble cast ensures it’s a brilliant watch regardless.
5. Total Recall (1990)
The original Total Recall movie (not the massively inferior 2012 remake) is a sci-fi action classic. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger alongside the likes of Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside.
Loosely based on the 1966 Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, it’s about a construction worker (Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid) who inadvertently ends up embroiled in espionage on Mars – and mysteriously unable to determine if the experiences are real or the result of memory implants.
It’s got everything – from action and violence to humor and gore – and it’s definitely one of Arnie’s finest offerings.
6. Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, based on yet another Philip K. Dick story – this time the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – is one of the most iconic sci-fi movies ever made.
Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos, it’s set in Los Angeles in 2019 – in a dystopian then-future where synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work at space colonies, with some of the more advanced replicants going rogue.
Visually stunning, Blade Runner has become more important and beloved with age – and its influence is felt in countless modern sci-fi movies.
7. Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow – also known as Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow on home media, or simply Live Die Repeat – is a brilliant sci-fi movie directed by Doug Liman, based on a screenplay adapted from the 2004 Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.
Starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, it’s set in a future where most of Europe is invaded by an alien race. Cruise’s Major William Cage – a public relations officer with no real combat experience – is forced to join a landing operation against the aliens, only to find himself experiencing a time loop, which he uses to his advantage in an attempt to defeat them.
A funny and clever movie, with great acting from its stars, Edge of Tomorrow’s highlight is arguably its brilliantly-designed alien characters.
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most influential movies ever made, period. Written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, it was inspired by Clarke’s 1951 short story “The Sentinel” and other short stories by the same man.
Starring Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, it depicts a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of an alien monolith. Themes it explores include existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.
Although it divided opinion upon release, Space Odyssey is now regarded as one of the finest movies in cinematic history – and it still looks absolutely incredible.
9. District 9 (2009)
District 9 is the feature movie debut of director Neill Blomkamp. A co-production between New Zealand, the United States and South Africa – and filmed partially in the found footage format – it was adapted from Blomkamp’s 2006 short film Alive in Joburg.
Starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope and David James, District 9 is set in an alternate 1982, when an alien spaceship appears over Johannesburg, South Africa – and, ultimately, a population of sick and malnourished insectoid aliens get confined to an internment camp called District 9.
It explores themes of humanity, xenophobia and social segregation – and it’s both technically brilliant and an emotional hard-hitter.
10. Back To The Future (1985)
It had to be here, didn’t it?
Back to the Future is one of the most popular movies of all-time. Robert Zemeckis’ fun-filled time-traveling adventure stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson in a number of iconic roles.
It sees Fox’s Marty McFly accidentally sent back to 1955 in a time-traveling DeLorean built by his pal – Lloyd’s eccentric scientist Doctor Emmett “Doc” Brown. Whilst trapped in the past, McFly inadvertently prevents his future parents from meeting, threatening his very existence. He has to both reconcile them and somehow get back to the future (or, errr, his present, which is now very much our past).
Universally loved, Back to the the Future is funny and action-packed, with a great story and an emotional core. A must-watch for everyone.
To really highlight the impressive selection of sci-fi movies on NOW, here’s a fairly hefty list of honorable mentions: Transformers, Event Horizon, Gattaca, Elysium, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minor Premise, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III, I Am Legend, Knowing, Men in Black, Men in Black II, Men in Black 3, Flatliners, Oblivion, The Core, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Star Trek: Nemesis. Impressive, right?!
For some more wholesome viewing experiences, why not check out our list of the best family-friendly movies on Netflix or our piece on the best YouTube videos to brighten your day?