The Absolute Best Sci-Fi Movies on HBO Max

HBO Max is absolutely stuffed with sci-fi movies, from the classics to recent blockbusters to underrated bangers more people need to watch. Try little Spanish gem Timecrimes, Moon (starring Sam Rockwell) or Monsters (directed by Gareth Edwards).

Thanks to the recent Warner Bros. and Discovery merger, HBO Max has seen a few casualties, including the removals of Moonshot, Superintelligence, 2020’s The Witches, An American Pickle, Locked Down and Charm City Kings. thankfully, none of those are worthwhile sci-fi flicks. Here’s everything you need to know about the merger.

Scroll down for the extensive options available on HBO Max.

Universal Pictures

A new Jurassic Park movie is headed to theaters this year, so catch up on the (superior) original now. 1993’s Jurassic Park kicked off the franchise, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Spoiler: Original cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum are set to make a return in the upcoming 2022 flick.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Its sequel didn’t reach the same lofty heights, so watch the first monster epic in the Pacific Rim franchise. 2013’s Pacific Rim is helmed by Guillermo Del Toro, so expect a strong brush of visual artistry over the monster mayhem.

Reiner Bajo

The box office of this Roland Emmerich disaster flick bombed harder than the falling moon at its center. Yet, as a cheesy B-movie, Moonfall isn’t a total disaster. Astronauts, conspiracy theories and a falling moon are just some of what you can expect from a story that follows a mission to save humanity.

Summit Entertainment

This smart, tightly packaged sci-fi thriller might have a slightly preposterous setup, but its gripping storytelling quickly shuts off your cynicism. Jake Gyllenhaal is Captain Colter Stevens, an ex-army pilot who wakes up on a train in the body of another man. If you haven’t seen Source Code yet, it’s best to let it carry you along its exhilarating ride, careening down many twists and turns toward a satisfying, emotionally impactful final destination.

20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Roland Emmerich, “master of disaster,” presents The Day After Tomorrow. The director also made this year’s Moonfall, in which the moon falls out of its orbit on a collision course with Earth. You already know what kind of fun this movie is going to be.

A light action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds isn’t always going to hit the spot, but sometimes that’s what you need of an evening. Free Guy follows a bank teller named Guy who discovers he’s a non-player character in a massively multiplayer online game.

Warner Bros. Pictures

If you haven’t seen The Matrix, and somehow don’t know its major plot points, well done for avoiding spoilers for 23 years. The sequels Reloaded, Revolutions and Resurrections are also on HBO Max.

Voltage Pictures/YouTube/Screenshot

Colossal might look like a romantic comedy on the surface, but it has surprisingly dark layers underneath. This black comedy stars Anne Hathaway as an alcoholic out-of-work journalist who moves back home to New Hampshire after her suave British boyfriend (Dan Stevens) dumps her. What happens next is both hugely unexpected and a massive metaphor: She discovers she has a connection with a colossal Kaiju monster destroying Seoul, in South Korea. Yes, Colossal has a ton of soul, a standout performance from Jason Sudeikis and an imaginative, at times thrilling story.

Warner Bros.

Love it or hate it — get it or find its “science” baffling — Tenet is eye-popping entertainment. Best advice: Don’t question Tenet, submit to the Tenet experience.

Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET Screenshot

The superior Christopher Nolan movies on this list.

Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

An ’80s classic, The Fly is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name, just with added gore and Jeff Goldblum. The David Cronenberg film has become a classic in its own right.

Paramount Pictures

A David Cronenberg sci-fi thriller based on a Stephen King novel — what more do you need to entice you to watch The Dead Zone? A plot, maybe? Christopher Walken stars as a school teacher who awakens from a coma to discover he has psychic powers. What he uses them for: Preventing a certain politician from becoming president. Yes, The Dead Zone is an ’80s horror referenced by Stranger Things. It’s also one of the better Stephen King adaptations out there.

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“Alexa, play 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET Screenshot

This sci-fi mystery from one half of the duo that created Westworld (Lisa Joy) is pure mind boggle, but the interesting ideas are worth a gander. Reminiscence follows Hugh Jackman’s Nick Bannister, who uses a machine that can see into people’s memories.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The best Terminator movies? Make your judgment by watching The Terminator sequel.

Katalyst/CNET Screenshot

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

An enjoyable B-movie, The Butterfly Effect sees college student Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) tinker with the past and discover how each change affects the present.

Mosfilm/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

Make it through Stalker’s slow start and you’ll be able to say you’ve watched an existential masterpiece of Russian cinema.

Photo by LMPC via Getty Images

Before Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky made huge leaps for sci-fi cinema, with his complex, character-driven piece about astronauts having wild hallucinations that may or may not be real. The 2002 American remake of Solaris is also on HBO Max, with added George Clooney romance.

Paramount Pictures

Matt Reeves has gone on to big things since directing this slick found-footage monster morsel. See what he was up to before The Planet of the Apes movies and 2022’s The Batman.

Sony Pictures

This immensely low-budget sci-fi starring Sam Rockwell has everything. It has Sam Rockwell. A Clint Mansell score. A claustrophobic retro set and gorgeously moody moonscapes. Hard sci-fi ideas. The basic premise: A man coming to the end of a three-year solitary stint on the far side of the moon suffers a personal crisis. A must-watch.

20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

A routine blockbuster for reliable entertainment.

Manson International

A warning for the body horror-averse before hitting play on this David Cronenberg sci-fi. Scanners follows people with special abilities, including telepathic and telekinetic powers. Not the first in this list to become a cult classic after a lukewarm initial response, Scanners left a lasting impression, not least because of a memorable scene involving a head explosion.

Miramax/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

Robert Rodriguez isn’t the most popular among Star Wars fans at the moment, mainly for making a character do a pointless ballerina twirl in the divisive The Book of Boba Fett finale. The Faculty, directed by Rodriguez, isn’t great, but it isn’t bad either, following teens who investigate mysterious happenings at their high school.

Paramount Pictures

Basically Stranger Things is set in the ’70s. Super 8 follows a group of teens who are filming their own movie when a train derails and a dangerous presence begins stalking their town.

Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi blockbuster is back on HBO Max. The epic based on Frank Herbert’s novel recently scored a host of Oscars, including best original score and cinematography. Catch the sprawling story of the Atreides family, who find themselves at war on the deadly planet Arrakis. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and more stack out a hugely impressive ensemble cast.

HBO Max/YouTube/Screenshot

With the latest season of HBO’s Westworld currently airing on TV, you may as well go back and watch its source material, if you haven’t already. The premise is pretty much the same as the series: An adult amusement park transports visitors to themed worlds, including a Western World. James Brolin plays one of the characters, among the creepy humanoid androids. An excellent sci-fi thriller that’s much easier to understand than the series it spawned.

One of the best Alex Garland films featuring one of the best robot dance scenes.


Prepare to be both deeply unsettled and riveted by this unique sci-fi horror. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien roaming the streets of Scotland, preying on unsuspecting men. With amateur actors, unscripted sequences shot with hidden cameras and a lens capturing the alien’s perspective, this mesmerizing flick is unique in more ways than one.