Best Sci-Fi Movies on Max to Watch Right Now

In the streaming wars, it’s hard to find a service that’s still reliable in regard to genre films. Excessive original content and franchises have rendered the biggest names generic when viewers try to find something of value, and some of them aren’t that extensive in content. After HBO evolved to Max, we were afraid the change was going to have a negative effect on what titles they offered in the past.

That’s why we went through the Max catalog and picked some of the best science fiction titles you can stream today. It’s one of the most popular genres out there but ironically, the catalogs are constantly fed with fantasy and horror as cousins of science fiction. Even so, we were able to find great sci-fi gems for you to watch.

Updated on September 19th, 2023 by Neville Naidoo: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information aboutthe best science fiction films currently streaming on Max.

33 Transcendence (2014)

Depp in Transcendence
Alcon Entertainment

Johnny Depp’s great versatility was on full display when he starred alongside Rebecca Hall in the thought-provoking sci-fi, Transcendence. Given the chilling debates that rage on in the tech world today about the impact of artificial intelligence on the future, the movie now takes on greater significance than ever.

It saw Depp and Hall play a husband and wife team of scientists at the forefront of tech innovation. However, when an extremist protestor tries to kill Dr. Will Caster, they’re able to download his consciousness into an A.I. program that effectively keeps him going. His wife, initially ecstatic to still have a part of him live on, has to watch in horror as his new machine consciousness seems to be hell-bent on advancing — even if that advancement may come at the expense of humanity.

32 The Fly (1986)

20th Century Fox

This sci-fi classic became an unforgettable film for its special effects and a story that creeps under the skin. The Fly stars Jeff Goldblum as an eccentric scientist named Seth Brundle. When he invites a journalist, played by Geena Davis, to witness the creation of his groundbreaking teleportation machine, neither realizes what a nightmare they’re in for.

Brundle decides to test it on himself, not realizing that a fly is in the machine with him. As the device splices his molecules to realign them in the other pod, it does the same for the fly but realigns them together on a generic level on the other side. Soon after, Brundle starts experiencing horrific emotional and physical changes as he slowly transforms into a human fly.

31 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Toby Kebbell as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
20th Century Fox

The franchise has been around for decades but Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continued ushering in the modern take on the classic story. Now with some amazing effects and a fresh cast driving it, the film followed up the first film from the new era of the beloved universe.

This one takes place 10 years after the apes’ rise. The world has been left devastated after a pandemic known as the Simian Flu wiped out most of humanity. The apes, led by Caesar, have now established a colony in the Muir Woods of San Francisco. Their existence and that of the remaining humans are left in a tentative balance where any spark could start a war between the two species at any time.

30 Limitless (2011)

Cooper in Limitless
Relativity Media / Lionsgate

In a trope that tugs at the heart of human fantasy, Limitless sees Bradley Cooper in the lead as a struggling writer named Edward who discovers a mysterious pill that changes his life. The film deals with the amazing potential of what can be achieved if the full capabilities of the human brain could be unlocked, effectively giving us superhuman intelligence. However, as power tends to corrupt, this pill also comes with some staggering side effects.


After using the pill to enhance his brain, although initially capable of mind-bending feats of intelligence, Edward soon learns there’s a chilling catch. Once started, usage of the pill cannot be stopped or the user will die. Now in a race for time to save his own life, Edward has to use his new-found super intellect to figure out a way to save himself or find a viable way to never stop taking the pill.

29 The Host (2013)

Poster for The Host
Open Road Films

Amid all the phenomenal success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novels on-screen, many people may not have realized that the famous author also wrote another book. This one was a sci-fi novel and, in 2013, also resulted in a movie adapted from it. The Host saw Saoirse Ronan in the lead as Melanie, one of the survivors after an alien race colonizes Earth.


The aliens have all but captured the minds of most humans, turning them into hosts for the aliens who use their bodies like conduits and control their minds. When Melanie is caught by a ‘Seeker’ and has to host an alien, she resists the control of her mind, enamoring herself to the alien in the process. A very creative story, with romantic undertones, this one deserves far more love since it was overshadowed by the Twilight Saga despite being a pretty great standalone film.

Related: 33 Best Horror Movies on Max to Watch Right Now

28 Spaceballs (1987)

Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in Spaceballs (1987)

Those who love science-fiction films owe it to themselves to see Spaceballs. Originally released in 1987, this classic Mel Brooks comedy primarily parodies the first trilogy of Star Wars films, though it incorporates references to just about every other big science-fiction franchise under the sun. The film sees Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his sidekick, Barf (John Candy), tasked with rescuing Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the nefarious Spaceballs.

Not a big Star Wars fan? No problem! Spaceballs, like all great parody films, works just as well in a vacuum. The film is home to some of Mel Brooks’ most popular jokes, and there’s a general sense of absurdity throughout that you can’t help but enjoy. With characters like “Pizza the Hutt” and “Dark Helmet,” you’re bound to have a fantastic time.

27 The Blob (1958)

The Blob (1958) Cast
Paramount Pictures

Are you wondering what The Blob is about? The title is a subtle hint. Released in 1958 and starring Steve McQueen in his first leading film role, The Blob is a surprisingly inventive science-fiction film from the late 1950s. McQueen, along with Aneta Corseaut (Matlock), plays a pair of teenagers living the dream in a picturesque Pennsylvania town. However, when a monstrous blob-like alien crash lands on Earth, their lives quickly turn into a nightmare as the creature wreaks havoc, growing in size with each and everything it consumes.

While the 1988 remake of The Blob would really ratchet up the grotesqueness of our gelatinous villain, the original is no slouch in comparison. Inventive practical effects to showcase the growing scale of the blob, particularly with the use of miniatures, are surprisingly effective for the time. The film’s success and popularity would even lead to the creation of “Blobfest,” which is held annually in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

26 The Iron Giant (1999)

The Iron Giant by Brad Bird
Warner Bros.

Before he would direct The Incredibles, Brad Bird’s feature film directorial debut, The Iron Giant, dazzled audiences of all ages. Set in the midst of the Cold War, a young boy named Hogarth makes the discovery of a lifetime when he finds a gargantuan robot in the woods surrounding his home. However, when an uneasy U.S. government agent starts asking questions, Hogarth’s ability to keep our titular giant a secret may ultimately come to a head.

The Iron Giant was a box office bomb, to put things mildly. In lieu of bringing in the big bucks, however, the film raked in critical acclaim both during its original release and in the years since, becoming a beloved staple of many childhoods across the country. It continues to be a highlight of Brad Bird’s humble filmography, as well as being one of the most fantastic directorial debuts out there.

25 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayo Miyazaki
Studio Ghibli

While Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind isn’t technically a Studio Ghibli film, it may as well be. Nausicaä, based on director Hayao Miyazaki’s own manga series of the same name, was originally released in 1984. Set in a future post-apocalypse, the film sees our titular teenage girl caught in the middle of a power struggle, with the Valley of the Wind kingdom now surrounded by a vast jungle littered with monstrous insects. To preserve the lives of those in the Valley, and of nature itself, Nausicaä will have to rise to the challenge to prevent another disastrous cataclysm.

An anti-war story at its core, Nausicaä is also one of the few times Miyazaki would venture into science-fiction territory instead of traditional fantasy. Combine that with psychedelic artwork and a focus on environmentalism, and you have a terrific animated film that would lay the foundation for more to come.

24 Signs (2002)

A man and two children wearing tinfoil hats from Signs
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Signs is a movie that feels eerily appropriate, given how aliens have seen a resurgence in the news cycle. Originally released in 2002, this M. Night Shyamalan venture sees Mel Gibson play a former priest living on a rural Pennsylvania farm. He and his family seem to have an idyllic life. That is until a group of crop circles makes themselves known in their cornfield. From there, the family’s paranoia grows as evidence of extraterrestrial life starts to invade their home.

Despite focusing on aliens, Signs shows great restraint in making the space-faring threat visible. It preys on the audience’s imagination, painting a terrifying picture of an all-encompassing invasion. When our little green men do show up, you may not be ready for it.

Related: 15 Obscure Sci-Fi Movies That Should Be Remade

23 Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009) Cast
HBO Films

An HBO and BBC co-production released in 2009, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is an underrated sci-fi gem in Max’s streaming library. Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) and Dean Lennox Kelly (Shameless) star alongside Marc Wootton in a unique take on time travel. When our trio spends a regular evening in a typical British pub, someone arrives from the future to fix a “time leak.” What follows is a mess of crossed timelines and jumbled realities as the three just try to set things straight.

Time travel is always a tricky thing to get right. Thankfully, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel keeps its internal logic consistent. Being a comedy film as well, you can also expect oodles of jokes in between the jumps in time.

22 A Trip to the Moon (1902)

The moon in Trip to the Moon (1902).
Star Film Company

A Trip to the Moon is arguably one of the earliest examples of science-fiction film-making. Released more than 120 years ago, this brilliant short film directed by Georges Méliès follows a group of astronomers who undergo a dangerous journey. Their curiosity takes them to the moon, where they’ll undergo a brief adventure filled with strange creatures, fantastical set designs, and early examples of cinematic trickery.

A Trip to the Moon is a landmark film in the medium’s brief history. Aside from being an early example of fantastical science fiction, its usage of theatrical set designs, paintings, and lavish costumes racked up an incredible production budget for the time. If you’re at all interested in the history of film, A Trip to the Moon is an essential pick in Max’s science-fiction library.

21 Godzilla (1954)

Original 1954 Godzilla

The one and only Godzilla is a prime example of the kaiju genre. Originally released in 1954, this science-fiction classic starts with an investigation into a set of ships missing at sea, with large military vessels meeting a similar fate. Obviously, we all know who’s really behind it all. Sooner or later, our titular radioactive monster rises from the depths, towering above the islands of Japan. If the beast isn’t stopped soon enough, it may just set its sights on the rest of the world.

Directed by Ishirõ Honda, Godzilla is the center of a monstrous media franchise encompassing dozens of films and multimedia projects. However, this beast’s first outing is no slouch in the entertainment department. A technical marvel during its original release, Godzilla is still an exciting time for science-fiction fans everywhere.

20 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Donald Sutherland in the final scene of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
United Artists

The first of what would become multiple remakes, the 1978 edition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is easily the most recognizable of the bunch. Directed by the great Phillip Kaufman, this sprawling invasion film sees the town of San Francisco targeted by a series of mysterious plantlike pods: when Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams investigate these pods, they discover a horrifying plot to replace the world’s population with cloned, listless “pod people.”

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is timeless. While this film would examine the ending of the counterculture movement, as well as directly critique consumerism at the time, the concept of a subtle, growing invasion manifesting itself with “pod people” can be applied to just about any cultural issue you can imagine. However, it certainly helps that this version of the film is particularly iconic, with the film’s final shot being memorably terrifying.

19 Predator (1987)

A scene from Predator
20th Century Fox

The original Predator film is revered for a reason. Originally framing itself as a macho action flick, a group of mercenaries led by Arnold Schwarzenegger are sent to the jungles of Central America on a typical gun-toting rescue mission. But, after the mission’s completion, something goes terribly awry. Something is watching them as members of the team are picked off one at a time. Originally chalked up to more nefarious guerrillas, the mercenaries soon realize that they’re being hunted — and that whatever is doing it is not of this earth.

From the same director of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, this octane science-fiction thriller seamlessly blends horror, action, and tension into the start of the monolithic Predator franchise. It certainly helps that it’s endlessly quotable, with most of the film’s memorable lines attributed to an increasingly manic Schwarzenegger.

Related: 34 Best Movies on Max to Watch Right Now

18 Under the Skin (2014)

Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin

Leaning more towards experimental horror than high-concept sci-fi, Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson in a significant departure from her typical work. Prowling the streets of Scotland, a woman walks alone in search of isolated targets. Underneath the guise of human flesh, however, is a being not of this Earth. Under the Skin is a brilliant film that’s open to interpretation, with abstract sequences, minimal dialogue, and a lack of exposition forcing you to fill in the gaps yourself.

Under the Skin isn’t for everyone: it may be a little too “out there” if you’re looking for a more straightforward film in general. However, there’s something incredibly captivating about Under the Skin’s candid cinematography, its bizarre effects, and otherwise surreal moments. Director Jonathan Glazer spent over a decade conceptualizing and developing the film, leading to a final product that’s sure to mystify.

17 Armageddon (1998)

The 1998 science fiction disaster film Armageddon
Buena Vista Pictures 

Directed by Michael Bay, this 1998 disaster film still holds a firm place in many people’s hearts despite its mixed critical reception. Armageddon sees a group of individuals sent by NASA into the depths of space, in an effort to prevent a giant asteroid from colliding with Earth. How can this be done? It’s simple: all they have to do is drill a deep hole in the asteroid and plant a nuclear bomb inside.

Contemporary opinions of Armageddon jump all over the place. Some feel that its absolutely brilliant moments are capped off with the same kind of Michael Bay tropes you’ll find in his other films. Others, however, have declared Armageddon as the absolute peak of Bay’s career, with the film’s sentimentality heavily working in its favor. Combine that with big names like Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, and Liv Tyler, and you have a dazzling sci-fi disaster flick.

16 Fantastic Planet (1973)

A scene from the animated Fantastic Planet (1973)
New World Pictures

Originally released in 1973, Fantastic Planet is an experimental animated film directed by the late René Laloux, and it’s easily one of the most visually-striking films in Max’s vast catalog. Taking place in the distant future, humanity is nothing more than a set of playthings for the “Traags,” a race of gigantic, blue-tinted humanoids with vivid red eyes. It focuses on the relationship between an orphaned human, Terr, and their caretaker, Tiwa, as a newfound exchange of knowledge may lead to a cultural and technological revolution between the two groups.

Considered to be an allegorical story about the rights of human beings and animals, Fantastic Planet is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It’s a film that perfectly captures the eerily alien experience of being in an unfamiliar world. Even if you’re not a huge science-fiction or animation fan, it’s still worth watching just for the beautiful animation on display.

15 Dune (2021)

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Dune
Warner Bros. Pictures

We’ll start right off with one of the best sci-fi films in recent years, Dune. Don’t pay attention to its detractors. This is a science fiction movie that managed to capture the spirit that many deemed impossible to film.

Denis Villeneuve’s epic is only the first chapter of a series of movies about a young warrior who must participate in the galaxy’s war for a precious substance. Do yourself a favor and see this one on the biggest screen you have, with the sound mashing down your brain.

14 Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow.
Warner Bros.

One of Tom Cruise’s films that doesn’t get talked about enough. 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow is incredibly good fun, and it puts Cruise alongside a fantastic Emily Blunt. They both play soldiers who gained the incredible ability to relive the same day in time over and over again every time they die or fall asleep.

Blunt’s character dealt with the time loop situation first, making her an expert in the field. Tom Cruise relived multiple days of training to be able to pull off his mission, though it didn’t come without pain and hardship. The visual effects on this one are fantastic, and fans were left wishing for a sequel to live, die, and repeat once again.

Related: The Best Sci-Fi Movies According to Rotten Tomatoes

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