Sure, sci-fi can educate, provoke debate about important political and social issues, and present compelling allegories. But, it can also give us sweeping time-travel epics, show desperate struggles against acid-bleeding aliens, and fill jungles with an opera of useless gunfire in search of an invisible hunter. Amazon has all different flavors of science fiction, some better than others. So you don’t have to bother yourself with the lesser stuff, we’ve put together this list of the best sci-fi movies on Prime Video that you can stream right now.
Sigourney Weaver in a mech suit/forklift hybrid making like Pacific Rim with the xenomorph queen. Bill Paxton in one of his signature roles, freaking out at every turn. Paul Reiser in the part that would make everyone who saw it later think, “What is Helen Hunt thinking?” Lance Henriksen bleeding ranch dressing. A horrific army of the H.R. Giger-designed aliens, a desperate battle with futuristic weapons, and a body count that makes The Suicide Squad look like The Backyardigans. What more do we need to say? It’s Aliens. It’s classic James Cameron sci-fi. Watch it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser
Director: James Cameron
Runtime: 137 minutes
You may often hear pundits talk about “fighting for our future,” but what happens when that gets literal? That’s the task the heroes face in Amazon Studios’ The Tomorrow War, starring Chris Pratt as Dan Forester — a present-day soldier who agrees to a trip across time. When soldiers from 2051 arrive in the present to warn of a future in which unbeatable aliens lay waste to humanity, Forester and other brave souls sacrifice their todays to save all our tomorrows. With an exciting premise and a great cast featuring Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, and more, The Tomorrow War is a fun, explosive adventure with just a dash of Edge of Tomorrow.
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Stars: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons
Director: Chris McKay
Runtime: 140 minutes
The quality of its many sequels leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s a reason why so many have tried — even if they’ve failed — to copy the success of 1987’s Predator. Set in a dense Central American jungle, Predator begins like so many Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicles with one difference — he’s got a lot more company than usual. When Dutch (Schwarzenegger) is sent to the jungle leading a rescue team, he’s accompanied by an elite group of soldiers played by Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Shane Black — future director of the 2018 sequel The Predator — and more. But in spite of CIA cover-ups and an explosive battle with guerillas, the true enemy is not of this earth. Soon, Dutch, his comrades-in-arms, and their lone prisoner Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) find themselves stalked by the true threat: A ruthless hunter from another world who begins cutting them down, one by one, for sport.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall, Elpidia Carrillo
Director: John McTiernan
Runtime: 107 minutes
In a post-apocalyptic landscape, a man only referred to as Dad (Casey Affleck) shepherds his pre-teen daughter named Rags (Anna Pniowsky) through a ravaged British Columbia, an unrelenting hellscape devoid of women. It turns out a plague vanquished nearly the entire world’s female population approximately 10 years before the events of the film. Disguising Rags as a boy, the two must constantly be on the move from bandits looking for female stragglers. A survivalist sci-fi thriller penned and directed by leading man Casey Affleck, Light of My Life explores familiar end-of-the-world terrain but through a matured and philosophical lens that Affleck’s layered script provides.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Casey Affleck, Tom Bower, Elisabeth Moss
Director: Casey Affleck
Runtime: 119 minutes
One of the joys of Amazon Prime is discovering movies that may have otherwise fallen through the cracks. Case in point: Vivarium, a sci-fi/horror film that only had a limited theatrical release. Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star as Gemma and Tom, a young couple who are looking for a new home. However, their experience quickly becomes a nightmare when they are trapped in a seemingly infinite row of identical houses. Something otherworldly is in play, and neither Tom nor Gemma will be happy to learn what they have to do in order to break free.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Stars: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Runtime: 97 minutes
What if you could bring back the dead without resorting to the supernatural? Archive presents a near future in which scientist George Almore (Theo James) is haunted by the loss of his wife, Jules (Stacy Martin). Fortunately, George happens to be one of the foremost experts on artificial intelligence, and he sees his research as a way to reunite with Jules by creating more human-like machines. But George’s problems begin to mount when his J2 robot senses that he is far more enamored with his upgraded J3 model, despite both robots sharing Jules’ personality traits.
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Stars: Theo James, Stacy Martin, Rhona Mitra, Peter Ferdinando
Director: Gavin Rothery
Runtime: 105 minutes
Frank Lerner (Christopher Soren Kelly) wakes up in a futuristic prison cell after being arrested for unknown reasons. His only company within this sealed chamber is a ceiling-mounted A.I., which calls itself simply Howard (Jesse D. Arrow). Herein lies the entire premise of Infinity Chamber, a story about one man’s confused isolation in his attempt to escape. It saddles itself among the best sci-fi movies currently on Amazon Prime Video by not being typical, straying away from the overused science fiction premises of yesteryear with a host of twists and turns that would leave even some of the best chess players scratching their heads. From the reasons for Frank’s incarceration to how exactly he will get out, and then even into questioning the real functionality of this accompanying artificial intelligence, theories abound leaving the viewer strapped in, not unlike Frank himself.
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Stars: Cassandra Clark, Christopher Soren Kelly, Jesse D. Howard
Director: Travis Milloy
Runtime: 103 minutes
At first blush, Coherence seems like an ordinary bottle movie about a dinner party. But when a comet passes overhead, it inexplicably creates infinite realities, causing the characters to undergo countless, near-identical experiences over and over. As time continues, the science fiction and psychological horror accelerate as eight individuals begin to question the nature of reality and whether or not the people they’re with are who they say they are. The film is low-budget sci-fi at its best, shot almost entirely in one house, using mostly improvised dialogue and a severe external threat that you feel but never really see. If you like to sit on the edge of your seat, Coherence is for you.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Emily Baldoni, Hugo Armstrong, Nicholas Brendon
Director: James Ward Byrkit
Runtime: 89 minutes
Time travel movies are typically convoluted and filled with unnecessary plotlines that confuse more than they engage. Except, of course, 2014’s The History of Time Travel, which actually conveys a cohesive narrative in the form of a fictionalized documentary. It was written and directed by newcomer Richard Kennedy, who showcases the birth of the world’s first time-travel machine through various reports and experts. Of course, despite appearing like a godsend, time travel always comes with consequences, many of them now altering some of the most renowned events in human history.
Rotten Tomatoes: Not rated
Stars: Elizabeth Lestina, Daniel W. May, Krista Ales
Director: Richard Kennedy
Runtime: 71 minutes
The late David Bowie has always been regarded as otherworldly. Now that the Pentagon has come clean about the existence of UFOs, it shouldn’t be long before we learn the truth that Bowie was sent here from another galaxy to blow our minds. In a role tailor-made for the prolific musician and artist, Bowie (in his first feature film) stars as Thomas Newton, an alien who crashes on Earth in search of water to save his drought-stricken planet. Using his superior intellect and knowledge of advanced technology to sell (mainly, a self-developing Polaroid-like camera), Thomas builds a multimillion-dollar global corporation to raise money to construct a spaceship so he can transport water home to his family. But Thomas’ gentle and naive nature is no match for our corrupt world, and he soon finds himself distracted from his mission in a gin- and sex-filled affair with Mary-Lou (Candy Clark). Rip Torn and Buck Henry help round out the cast in this avant-garde cult classic.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Runtime: 139 minutes
If you’re working your way down our list and enjoyed The Man Who Fell to Earth for the cryptic art-house film it is, then chances are you’ll appreciate High Life as well. Fifteen years in the making, renowned French filmmaker Claire Denis’ (Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum) dark and unsettling journey through deep space will mess with your head. Told largely through flashback, we first meet Monte (Robert Pattinson) on a ship floating through space, far outside our solar system, alone except for his infant daughter. We learn that Monte is an inmate aboard a kind of prison ship, on a suicide mission toward a black hole in the hopes of extracting energy from it to save humankind. We also learn that the inmates were part of a deep-space human reproduction experiment led by a slightly unhinged and sexually depraved doctor called Dibs (Juliette Binoche), who has been extracting sperm and eggs for her twisted plot. André “3000” Benjamin also stars as the greenhouse-tending Tcherny.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin
Director: Claire Denis
Runtime: 113 minutes
The Vast of Night, a low-budget film self-funded by first-time director Andrew Patterson, is the best sci-fi gem you’ve never heard of. Written by newcomers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger, this old-school period piece manages to build a gripping sense of looming panic without the aid of big-budget special effects, mouth-dripping aliens, or explosions — it’s all on the characters. Cleverly framed as an episode of a Twilight Zone-style show called “Paradox Theater,” we’re transported to Roswell-era Cayuga, New Mexico, where small-town radio DJ Everett Sloan (Jake Horowitz) and town switchboard operator Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) try to get to the bottom of a strange audio frequency that’s interrupting calls during Fay’s nightly shift. Turns out they may be emanating from a UFO hovering over the town. The Vast of Night opened to critical praise at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival and later that year was named first runner-up for the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Sierra McCormick Bruce Davis Jake Horowitz
Director: Andrew Patterson
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blade Runner-alum Rutger Hauer returns to his roots in the 1992 horror sci-fi Split Second as a veteran detective named Harley Stone. Still suffering from the loss of his partner, Foster, coupled with the guilt of having an affair with Foster’s wife, Stone now must saddle up with junior officer psychologist Dick Durkin (Neil Duncan) on a case that could very well end his suffering. Together, Stone and Durkin must learn to come together in an investigation of mass serial killings perpetrated in the same vein as Foster’s own demise. Set in a far-future 2008 London now flooded due to extreme rainfall and global warming, made all the more downtrodden with a gruesome killer on the loose, Split Second is a sci-fi movie that takes heart in the noir mystery without being too cheesy with its horror tropes.
Rotten Tomatoes: Not rated
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Kim Catrall, Michael J. Pollard
Directors: Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp
Runtime: 90 minutes
The 1986 sequel — with its catchphrases and a heavier focus on action — often eclipses the original in terms of popularity, but you cannot deny that Alien laid a solid foundation for the epic franchise that followed. When the crew of the deep-space starship Nostromo answers a distress call from a ship on a nearby moon, boarding the vessel exposes them to an advanced alien species that uses a crewmember’s body as a host to reproduce. As the newborn alien hatches, all hell breaks loose as they try desperately to survive against the unkillable, fully-grown creature that is picking them off one by one. Like the best horror films, Alien is at least as much about the characters facing the monster as it is about the beast itself. Director Ridley Scott uses the isolation of deep space to not only highlight the creeping terror of the alien but the paranoia and mistrust that spreads throughout the crew, which proves to be just as instrumental in its doom.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Director: Ridley Scott
Runtime: 117 minutes