Travel to a new dimension with these bizarre sci-fi movies on Netflix
Sci-fi movies generally allow us to use our world as a springboard to jump into a reality that’s not ours. The beauty of a good science fiction story is that no matter how alien its environment & characters may appear on the surface, they can always be traced back to our current situation. Sci-fi movies hypothesize about potential journeys for humankind, and use those journeys to hold up a mirror to our society.
Now, that metaphorical mirror can turn out to be pretty weird sometimes. Case in point: the sci-fi movies on this list, which are all head-scratchers in their own way. That doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining though, and isn’t that why we watch movies above all?
We’re talking about the 1990 OG here, not the watered-down 2012 remake. Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall – loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story – features Arnold Schwarzenegger taking the acid trip of a lifetime. Arnie’s attempt at escaping his h0-hum life via harmless implanted memories somehow leads to him becoming embroiled in high-stakes espionage on Mars.
Are Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid’s action-packed misadventures really taking place? Or is it all part of the implanted memories “vacation” he originally paid for? The film never offers a definitive answer, which is one of the reasons it’s endured as a conversational piece. That, and the off-the-wall visuals, like the alien leader that lives in some dude’s stomach.
Calm down, nobody’s saying you have to like Doom. But let’s acknowledge the movie’s merits as a video game adaptation and as a sci-fi film. First of all: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl “Judge Dredd” Urban, Rosamund “Gone Girl” Pike, and Doug “Creature Guy” Jones, all together in a sci-fi romp? Sign us up.
Secondly, this is about a team of marines going through a wormhole and battling monsters on Mars. That’s a setup that’s beautiful in its simplicity, while also casually highlighting America’s increasingly violent worldview. The characters in Doom aren’t concerned about scientific breakthroughs – they just want to blow s#!t up and prevail. Intentionally or not, it can be seen as a commentary on our current society.
Finally, there’s a glorious extended sequence shot in the same POV style as the games. That’s the kind of stuff most gamers live for: a faithful recreation of a key element in the franchise. No wonder Doom actually got a sequel (which, admittedly, skipped a theatrical release.)
And now for a much more recent addition to Netflix’s sci-fi movies stable . . . a South Korean space western! Set in a world where Earth has become almost inhabitable (think WALL-E levels of pollution) and only the privileged are able to live off-world, Space Sweepers provides us with a pulse-pounding adventure while also touching on the conflicts of class division.
The film follows a team of titular space sweepers – space debris collectors & resellers – who accidentally become wards of a powerful robotic girl and must decide what to do with her. While their initial plan is to profit from returning the girl to the terrorist organization she belongs to, the plot gets a lot more complicated very quickly. The good, fun, kind of complicated.
The Cloverfield Paradox
Let’s bring it home with another controversial pick. In a way, Netflix set The Cloverfield Paradox up to fail thanks to a genius marketing move – as contradictory as that may sound. Anyone who watched the 2018 Super Bowl remembers how we were all treated to the surprise announcement that the new Cloverfield movie would be available on Netflix right after the game! No previous trailers or marketing campaign.
So, of course, The Cloverfield Paradox didn’t live up to expectations. While everybody checked it out thanks to that Super Bowl ploy, most people were disappointed it wasn’t another Cloverfield or even another 10 Cloverfield Lane. The film was crucified for not being what we wanted, what we assumed it’d be, instead of being appreciated for what it actually was: a solid, trippy sci-fi movie.
A creepy space station, parallel universes, and a cast including Daniel “Baron Zemo” Brühl, Elizabeth “Best part of Widows” Debicki, and Chris “All-around funny guy” O’Dowd. How can you not have a good time watching The Cloverfield Paradox? In a sea of half-baked sci-fi movies, you could do a lot worse.