The best sci-fi movies on HBO Max

HBO Max is full of great sci-fi movies, from classics like The Matrix and Blade Runner to newer titles including Pacific Rim and an awesome little Spanish gem called Timecrimes.

Scroll down for the extensive options available on HBO Max.

Catalyst/CNET screenshot

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

College student Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) tinkers with the past and discovers how every change affects the present in The Butterfly Effect, an entertaining B-movie.

Mosfilm/YouTube/CNET screenshot

Make it through Stalker’s slow start and you’ll be able to say you’ve seen an existential masterpiece of Russian cinema.

Photo by LMPC via Getty Images

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

Paramount Pictures

Matt Reeves has come a long way since directing this slick found-footage monster. See what he was up to before the 2022 movies Planet of the Apes and The Batman.

Sony images

This immense low-budget sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell has it all. It has Sam Rockwell. A score by Clint Mansell. A claustrophobic retro set and wonderfully atmospheric moonscapes. Hard sci-fi ideas. The basic premise: A man, standing on the other side of the moon at the end of a three-year solitary sojourn, suffers a personal crisis. You must have seen that.

Screenshot by 20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET

An experienced blockbuster for reliable entertainment.

Manson International

A warning to body horror averse before playing this David Cronenberg sci-fi. Scanner follows humans with special abilities, including telepathic and telekinetic powers. Not the first on this list to become a cult classic after a tepid initial reaction, Scanners made a lasting impression, not least for a memorable head-explosion scene.

Screenshot by Miramax/YouTube/CNET

Robert Rodriguez isn’t the most popular among Star Wars fans right now, mostly for making a character spin a mindless ballerina in the controversial finale of The Book of Boba Fett. Directed by Rodriguez, The Faculty isn’t great, but it’s not bad either as it follows teenagers investigating mysterious happenings at their high school.

Paramount Pictures

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

Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi blockbuster is back on HBO Max. The epic, based on Frank Herbert’s novel, recently picked up a string of Oscars, including Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. Experience the sprawling story of the Atreides family as they find themselves at war on the deadly planet of Arrakis. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and more make up a most impressive ensemble cast.

Universal images

A new Jurassic Park movie is hitting theaters this year, so get the (superior) original now. 1993’s Jurassic Park launched the franchise, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Spoilers: Original cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum will return in the upcoming 2022 film.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Its sequel didn’t reach the same lofty heights, so check out the first monster epic in the Pacific Rim franchise. Pacific Rim 2013 is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, so expect strong visual artistry over monster mayhem.

Screenshot by Karbo Vantas Entertainment/YouTube/CNET

This truly stunning Spanish sci-fi is a wild card to gamble on if you’re in the mood. With all the trappings of a budget thriller, Timecrimes follows a middle-aged man who finds himself stuck in a time warp. A stream of twists and turns will keep you on your toes.

Screenshot by 20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Roland Emmerich, “Master of Disaster,” presents The Day After Tomorrow. The director also shot this year’s Moonfall, in which the moon falls out of its orbit on a collision course with Earth. You already know how fun this movie is going to be.

Universal Pictures/YouTube/CNET screenshot

Oblivion came from the workshop of building a sci-fi movie. Starring Tom Cruise, it follows humans at war with aliens and pays homage to ’70s sci-fi movies, including The Omega Man and Silent Running. A love letter in the form of a halfway decent sci-fi action-adventure.

Jaap Buitendijk

Based on the popular novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is a nerd’s feast that features over 100 references to popular culture from various eras including Minecraft, Batman and Back to the Future. There’s even a story about a dystopian society finding solace in virtual reality.

Vertigo Releasing/YouTube/CNET screenshot

This solid British sci-fi film comes from Gareth Edwards, who went on to direct ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and 2014’s ‘Godzilla’. His mastery of atmosphere, wonder and beauty is on display here, and all on a tight budget. Monsters follows a couple trying to traverse an “Infected Zone” filled with giant tentacled monsters.

Warner Bros. Pictures

If you haven’t seen The Matrix and somehow don’t know the main plot points, well done for avoiding spoilers for 23 years. The sequels Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions are also on HBO Max.

Stephen Vaughan

Watch two and a half hours of atmospheric, sumptuous spectacle, but don’t expect any conclusions on 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 be lost in time like tears in the rain.

Warner Bros.

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

Screenshot by Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET

The superior Christopher Nolan film on this list.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

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

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“Alexa, play 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Screenshot by Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET

This sci-fi mystery from one half of the duo who created Westworld (Lisa Joy) is absolutely stunning, but the interesting ideas are worth a look. Reminiscence follows Hugh Jackman’s Nick Bannister, who uses a machine that can see into people’s memories. The best sci-fi movies on HBO Max

Chris Barrese

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