The Quick Report

10 Underrated Sci-Fi Movies You Must See

We dug deep into the vaults of sci-fi movies to introduce you to these classics. Some weren’t big-budget epics upon their release. Others underperformed at the box office, or were panned by critics. 

Too good to linger in obscurity, for anyone who loves sci-fi, these 10 sci-fi movies are a must-see!

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10. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

An oldie but a goodie, this film feels very relevant today given we are only a few years out of a pandemic. Based on the 1969 novel by Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park, Westworld).

The movie centers on a group of top scientists working in a secret, state-of-the-art laboratory. A US satellite crashed near a small town, and now researchers are trying to identify and discover what has killed nearly all the citizens of that town. They suspect the spacecraft brought back an alien organism. They soon discover its implications threaten the entire world.

9. Them! (1954)

Yes, this movie contains some of that cheesy sci-fi that was so iconic to the era. But this earns props for giving some genuine scares and thrills without buckets of blood and gore. This is a great film to introduce younger kids to the sci-fi-horror genre.

In the New Mexico desert, a nest of giant ants is discovered. It grew so large as a result of nuclear weapons testing. Unfortunately, two young queen ants and their consorts have escaped to establish a new nest. After a national search, they were found in the storm drain system of Los Angeles. A battle ensues.

8. Soylent Green (1973)

In a dystopian future, big corporations control everything. The effects of pollution, climate change, and overpopulation have caused ecocide. (Alright, that’s already happening, but let’s continue…) Civilization is on the brink of collapse due to shortages of food, water, and housing.


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Luckily, the Soylent Corporation has introduced food wafers called Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow. But their new food product, Soylent Green, made from plankton, is all the rage, and people are rioting to get it.

Turns out, Soylent Green is too good to be true. And a persistent detective Robert Thorne (Charlton Heston) uncovers the truth. There is an iconic line from this movie that would be criminal to reveal, as it is the shocking twist of the plot, which is revealed as Thorne is dying. This film is impactful because it’s not all that far-fetched.

7. Cube (1997)

A cult classic, Cube blends sci-fi and horror, and its tension and suspense are unrelenting. From a technical standpoint, there isn’t anything quite like this “cube” that has ever been seen on film. The movie was directed and co-written by Vincenzo Natali.

Six people wake up in a bizarre, maze-like structure. It’s part labyrinth, but also a prison. As they move between cubes, from one room to another, they learn that some are booby-trapped. 

They also come to realize that each of them has been chosen specifically to be there. To escape, they’ll need to work together. Of course, things only get more dangerous and challenging as they move on.

6. eXistenZ (1999)

This mesmerizing and mind-twisting science fiction horror film was written, produced, and directed by David Cronenberg. Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is a game designer suddenly being targeted by assassins while playing a virtual reality game she created.

Set in the year 2030, games have taken VR to a whole other level through the use of “UmbiCords” attached to surgically implanted “bio-ports” in the spines of players. The movie is packed with suspense, chills, and plenty of action. The stellar cast includes Jude Law, Willem Defoe, Ian Holm, and Sarah Polly.

5. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

If any sci-fi movie deserves to be called “a lost classic,” it’s this one. It features a cast of well-known actors, starring Peter Weller (you know him from Robocop), as well as Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum, and Christopher Lloyd. Weller plays the eccentric Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, a neurosurgeon, rock star, test pilot, and adventurer.

This sci-fi film has a little bit of everything, including action-adventure, comedy, and romance. It’s directed by W. D. Richter and written by Earl Mac Rauch. Some critics hated the complicated plot, but fans loved it, and it’s developed a cult following over its nutty fun.

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4. They Live (1988)

Only a minor success upon its release, critics hated it They Live, but it’s since gained a cult following. This sci-fi-action-horror classic was written by John Carpenter (Halloween) and blends in a bit of conspiracy. It’s based on a 1963 short story by Ray Nelson called “Eight O’Clock in the Morning.” Wrestler Roddy “Rowdy” Piper stars, along with Keith David, and Meg Foster.

A drifter named Nada (Piper) stumbles across special sunglasses that allow him to see the true reality that is around him. The ruling class and those in positions of authority are all aliens. They are manipulating people to consume, breed, and conform via subliminal messages in mass media. Not knowing who to trust, Nada tries to gain allies to work together to put a stop to the aliens’ domination.

3. Life (2017)

An absolutely chilling film that drips with dread, Life didn’t get the love at the box office it deserved. Director Daniel Espinoza delivers a sci-fi nail biter that delivers riveting tension and squeezes out every possible drop of suspense. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson.

Rather than just another take on Alien, this film postulates a question we seldom consider. What would happen if we really encountered alien life in space? For example, a microscopic sample of life? And what if that life can evolve with lightning speed? That’s where the fun begins.

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2. Her (2013)

Even though this film won an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year, as well as Best Writing, Original Screenplay in 2014, it was only marginally profitable in the US and Canada. It remains a movie that is vastly underrated by the public at large. Director and writer Spike Jonze takes a look at the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence, asking questions that appear quite prescient today.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a man who develops a romance with an artificially intelligent operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). This sci-fi movie plays with isolation, and raw emotions, yet is also beautiful and optimistic.

1. Attack the Block (2011)

This British sci-fi-comedy matchup seemingly only made back half of its budget at the box office. Nonetheless, it’s received international acclaim. The film has garnered a certain cult status as one of the best alien invasion movies ever.

On Guy Fawkes Night, a group of teenage gang members see an object fall from the sky and they go to the crash site. The leader, Moses has his face scratched by a dog-sized alien creature. More objects fall from the sky. However, this gang is soon to let the aliens know they picked the wrong town to land in. 

This was the film debut of director Joe Cornish, as well as lead actor John Boyega, who both received international accolades for their work. What also stands out is the film’s soundtrack by British electronic music group Basement Jaxx, and Steven Price.