Happy May, Polygon readers!
We’re getting closer and closer to the loaded summer movie calendar, with exciting new releases coming out every weekend. But until then, there are still plenty of great movies we can watch at home to while away the time.
Each month we pick five sci-fi movies for you to watch at home, on Netflix and other streaming platforms. This month we’ve got movies from directors with new movies (or actors with new movies) and the usual list of guaranteed hits no matter the season.
Let’s get into that.
Alita: Battle Angel
Image: 20th Century Fox
Duration: 2h 2m
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Pour: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly
Ben Affleck’s new psychological thriller Hypnotic is not exactly good, but it Is a new film by Robert Rodriguez that is always a cause for celebration. Rodriguez is an experienced director interested in entertaining projects. He’s one of the most enduring names in genre cinema, and one of his finest films is an unjustly maligned adaptation of a legendary manga.
Alita: Battle Angel follows the tried and tested terrain of sci-fi universes with “haves” living in a very segmented society above the “have-nots”. The story revolves around a cyborg (Rosa Salazar, in stunning motion capture) who wakes up with no memories and tries to find her place in a chaotic world. Salazar is truly amazing in this and the film is a feast for the senses with exciting combat and rollerball sequences.
The long-awaited sequel could actually happen Thanks to the financial and technological success of Avatar: The Way of Water, so it’s a good time to catch up on the first one. —pete people
Alita: Battle Angel is available for streaming hulu, fubo, DirecTV and FX Now. It can also be borrowed and purchased digitally
Image: Warner Bros.
Duration: 2h 44m
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Pour: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas
Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking 2017 film Future Noir may not (yet) prove to be a cultural juggernaut like its predecessor, but it’s still considered one of them best sci-fi movies of 2010s.
Set 30 years after the events of the first film, Blade Runner 2049 It centers on the story of KD6-3.7 (Ryan Gosling), a next-generation replicant tasked as an LAPD officer with the task of “retiring” other replicants trying to escape the control of their human creators . When Officer K accidentally unearths a secret that threatens to throw the remnants of civilization into chaos, he must solve a mystery whose answer lies in the whereabouts of one of his predecessors: former LAPD bladerunner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel in the truest sense of the word, a film that portrays the natural progression and inevitable consequences of the hubris and horror first seen in the original blade runner. The burning chimneys have been put out, the tide has risen and landfills have overflowed to retake the cities themselves. The future is bleak to say the least. Still, Villeneuve’s film strikes a chord with Ridley Scott’s, prompting audiences to question what it means to be human and if there is any hope for humanity, a better future for itself and build up their artificial offspring. And with a new TV series at the horizonit certainly wouldn’t hurt to refresh the latest cinematic in the series. —Toussaint Egan
Blade Runner 2049 is available for streaming hulu. It can also be borrowed or purchased digitally
Duration: 1h 48m
Director: Alex Garland
Pour: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Artificial intelligence is the current discourse everyone’s lips So right now, there’s no better time than Alex Garlands (officially) directorial debut about the dawn of machine intelligence? Ex Machina follows Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer working for the world’s largest internet search engine, who gets a chance to spend the week with his boss: reclusive tech-mogul genius Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). When Caleb learns that Nathan is working on creating an artificially intelligent android, he agrees to take on the human component of a Turing test to determine whether or not Nathan’s creation Ava (Alicia Vikander) is truly sentient. Things quickly go downhill from there as Caleb is torn between his budding feelings for Ava and his growing distrust of Nathan’s erratic behavior. As exquisitely elegant as it is frighteningly memorable, Ex Machina is the kind of sci-fi that’s worth watching over and over again. —TE
Ex Machina is available for streaming HBO Max. It can also be borrowed or purchased digitally
Credit: Gramercy Pictures/Universal Pictures
Duration: 1h 49m
Director: David Twohy
Pour: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, and Cole Hauser
Fast Xthe latest adventure with Dom Toretto and his hard-fought family/robbery crew of racers, is in cinemas now. Well, you could use that as an excuse to revisit the first nine entries of the saga (and we wouldn’t blame you). Or visit the beginning of another personal project for Diesel, one of Hollywood’s nerdiest movie stars.
This is pretty well known by now The Last Witch Hunter was inspired by a Dungeons & Dragons character played by Diesel. And pitch black spawned a Passion Project Science Fiction Trilogy like we haven’t seen since.
for my money pitch black is the only one in the whole bunch who is all around good. The combination of veteran sci-fi director David Twohy with veteran horror writers Ken and Jim Wheat is a great way to deliver a gripping sci-fi horror adventure that has a bit of a John Carpenter twist spirit of marswhich would appear the following year.
In pitch black, we meet Diesel’s Richard B. Riddick, who at this point is a dangerous criminal who is being transported to prison. When the transport ship crashes, Riddick and his fellow survivors must work together to survive and escape the planet’s hostile environment. —PV
pitch black is available for streaming Netflix. It can also be borrowed or purchased digitally
Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: 2h 9m
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Pour: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards
The race for the presidency in 2024 is slowly gaining momentum. So why not watch one of the finest films from one of the most insightful (and most misunderstood) commentators on the bizarre world of modern American politics: Paul Verhoeven! Verhoeven’s scathing satire of American foreign policy and the military-industrial complex took its cues from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel of the same name and morphed into a lanky sci-fi war film that somehow blew its audience (and critics) away upon its initial release went over his head.
Set in the 23rd century, Verhoeven’s film is about a group of high school classmates raised under a fascist military government who are pushed to the front lines in an existential war against a race of highly evolved arachnids. Based on the notorious Nazi propaganda films by Leni Riefenstahl, Starship Troopers plays out like an in-universe recruiting movie set in a world where democracy is dead and “service guarantees citizenship”. It’s a subversively brilliant film worthy of reappraisal, and one of the best (and most sinisterly prescient) sci-fi films of its time. Would you like to know more?? —TE
Starship Troopers is available for streaming Netflix. It can also be borrowed or purchased digitally