The best sci-fi movies on HBO Max

HBO Max is absolutely jam-packed with sci-fi movies, from classics to recent blockbusters to little gems more people need to watch. Try Spanish gems Timecrimes, Moon (starring Sam Rockwell) and Monsters (directed by Gareth Edwards).

Scroll down for the many options available on HBO Max.

Miramax/YouTube/CNET screenshot

Robert Rodriguez isn’t the most popular among Star Wars fans right now, mostly for turning a character into a useless ballerina in Boba Fett’s controversial book finale. The faculty, led by Rodriguez, isn’t great, but it’s not bad either, following teenagers who investigate mysterious happenings at their high school.

Paramount Pictures

Basically, Stranger Things is set in the 70s. Super 8 follows a group of teenagers making their own movie when a train derails and a dangerous presence begins stalking their town.

Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi blockbuster is back on HBO Max. The epic based on Frank Herbert’s novel recently won a host of Oscars, including Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. Discover the sprawling history of the Atreides family, who find themselves at war on the murderous planet Arrakis. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and many more make up an extremely impressive ensemble cast.

HBO Max/YouTube/Screenshot

With the latest season of HBO’s Westworld now airing on TV, you might as well go back and watch its source material, if you haven’t already. The premise is much the same as the series: an amusement park for adults transports visitors to themed worlds, including a Western world. James Brolin plays one of the characters, among the creepy humanoid androids. An excellent sci-fi thriller much easier to understand than the series it spawned.

Universal images

A new Jurassic Park movie hits theaters this year, so catch up on the (superior) original now. In 1993, Jurassic Park launched the franchise, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Spoiler: Original cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum are set to make a return in the upcoming 2022 film.

Pictures from Warner Bros.

Its sequel didn’t reach the same heights, so check out the franchise’s first monster epic Pacific Rim. 2013’s Pacific Rim is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, so expect a strong visual art twist on the monster mayhem.

Karbo Vantas Entertainment/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

This truly mind-blowing Spanish sci-fi is a wild card to try if you’re in the mood. With all the trimmings of a low-budget thriller, Timecrimes follows a middle-aged man who finds himself stuck in a time loop. A flow of twists will keep you on your toes.

20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

The Day After (2004)

Roland Emmerich, “master of disaster”, presents The Day After Tomorrow. The director also made Moonfall this year, in which the moon falls out of orbit on a collision course with Earth. You already know what kind of fun this movie is going to be.

Universal Pictures/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

Oblivion comes from the construction workshop of a science fiction film. Starring Tom Cruise, it follows humans at war with aliens, paying homage to ’70s sci-fi films including The Omega Man and Silent Running. A love letter in the form of a half-decent sci-fi action adventure.

Vertigo Release/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

This solid British sci-fi comes from Gareth Edwards, who went on to direct Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Godzilla in 2014. His mastery of atmosphere, wonder and beauty is on display here, all with a minimal budget. Monsters follows a couple trying to cross an “infected zone” full of giant tentacled monsters.

Pictures from Warner Bros.

If you haven’t seen The Matrix and don’t know its main plot points, kudos for avoiding spoilers for 23 years. Sequels Reloaded, Revolutions and Resurrections are also on HBO Max.

Stephen Vaughan

Watch two and a half hours of atmospheric and lavish spectacle, but don’t expect any conclusions to the question posed by the original Blade Runner: Is Rick Deckard a replicant?

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Forever the pinnacle of neo-noir visual art, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner will never fade in time, like tears in the rain.

Voltage Images/YouTube/Screenshot

Colossal may look like a romantic comedy on the surface, but it has surprisingly dark layers underneath. This black comedy stars Anne Hathaway as an unemployed alcoholic journalist who returns home to New Hampshire after her suave British boyfriend (Dan Stevens) dumps her. What happens next is both wildly unexpected and a massive metaphor: she discovers she has a connection to a colossal Kaiju monster destroying Seoul, South Korea. Yes, Colossal has a ton of soul, a stellar performance from Jason Sudeikis, and an imaginative and sometimes thrilling story.

Warner Bros.

Love it or hate it – get it or find its confusing “science” – Tenet is mind-blowing entertainment. Best Advice: Don’t question Tenet, submit to the Tenet experience.

Screenshot Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET

The best Christopher Nolan movie on this list.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

A dystopian thriller starring Charlton Heston and set in a year 2022 plagued by overpopulation, pollution and climate catastrophe. This is not a documentary.

Paramount Pictures

A David Cronenberg sci-fi thriller based on a Stephen King novel – what more do you need to entice you to watch The Dead Zone? A conspiracy, perhaps? Christopher Walken stars as a school teacher who wakes up from a coma to find he has psychic powers. What he uses them for: Preventing a certain politician from becoming president. Yes, The Dead Zone is an 80s horror referenced by Stranger Things. It’s also one of Stephen King’s best adaptations.

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“Alexa, play 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Screenshot Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET

This sci-fi mystery of one half of the duo that created Westworld (Lisa Joy) is pure mind-blowing, but the interesting insights are worth a look. Reminiscence follows Hugh Jackman’s Nick Bannister, who uses a machine that can see into people’s memories.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The best Terminator movie? Make your judgment by watching the sequel to The Terminator.

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The Butterfly Effect (2004)

An enjoyable B-movie, The Butterfly Effect sees college student Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) tinker with the past and discover how each change affects the present.

Mosfilm/YouTube/CNET screenshot

Walk through Stalker’s slow start and you can say you’ve watched an existential masterpiece of Russian cinema.

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Before Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky made huge strides for sci-fi cinema, with his complex, character-driven play about astronauts having wild hallucinations that may or may not be real. The 2002 American remake of Solaris is also on HBO Max, with the added romance of George Clooney.

Paramount Pictures

Matt Reeves has done some great things since directing this monster piece of found footage. Find out what he was doing before 2022’s Planet of the Apes and The Batman movies.

Sony Pictures

This huge, low-budget sci-fi starring Sam Rockwell has it all. He has Sam Rockwell. A score by Clint Mansell. A claustrophobic retro setting and beautifully moody moonscapes. Difficult sci-fi ideas. The basic premise: a man who comes to the end of a solitary three-year stay on the far side of the moon suffers from a personal crisis. An essential watch.

20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

A routine blockbuster for reliable entertainment.

International Manson

A warning to the horror-averse body before playing on this David Cronenberg sci-fi. Scanners track people with special abilities, including telepathic and telekinetic powers. Not the first on this list to become a cult classic after a lukewarm initial response, Scanners left a lasting impression, not least because of a memorable scene involving a headshot explosion.

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