Hulu's collection of science fiction films is growing each month. Here we compile the best of the best.
Editor’s Note: This post is updated monthly. Bookmark this page and come back every month to see what other excellent science fiction get added to Hulu.
Updated for September 2019.
Hulu gets science fiction. Science fiction is all about possibility. Will this event happen? Probably not. But could it? Maybe!
That sense of possibility and wonder imbues each and every film on this list of the best science fiction movies on Hulu. The list is relatively small as far as lists on our streaming guides go. But it’s growing as the powers that be behind Hulu understand that having a healthy diet of content also means including some sci-fi roughage.
Check out the list gathered below and let us know what needs to be added.
Back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Alex Garland was an acclaimed novelist who penned the screenplay for the adaptation of his own book, The Beach. Now, some fifteen years later, Garland is suddenly one of our most exciting science fiction directors.
Annihilation is Garland’s follow-up to 2014’s psycho-robo-thriller Ex Machina, and it’s great. Natalie Portman stars as cellular biology professor Lena, who along with her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac) is studying a mysterious, glowing electromagnetic phenomena called The Shimmer. When a very ill Kane returns as the only survivor of an expedition into the Shimmer, Lena elects to make her own journey into the strange phenomenon.
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Repo! The Genetic Opera is evidence of what happens when you get some nerdy theater kids together and then let their minds wander with no supervision. It’s…madness. Just absolute madness.
Repo! is a steampunk vision of the corporate future in which our culture is obsessed with cosmetic surgery and improved organs. Corporations who rent people those organs can decide to repossess them when consumers fall behind on payments. Naturally, this is all a musical featuring Paris Hilton.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is similar to other sci-fi property Repo Men. Both are terrible movies but at least this one is fun about it.
District 9 is part sci-fi, part allegory to apartheid, and all awesome.
In 1982 an alien ship suddenly begins hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa. The ship contains thousands of impoverished aliens soon to be nicknamed “prawns.” The prawns are brough down to the Earth’s surface and housed in impoverished neighborhoods where they have second-class citizen status.
The film follows South African bureaucrat Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who is “infected” by a mysterious alien liquid while doing his job relocating prawns to a new camp. Wikus must then seek the help of the creatures whose life he has helped make very difficult.
1988’s Akira was both a landmark for anime’s expansion into the west and the cyberpunk sci-fi genre, itself. Akira is set in the distant future of…2019. Neo-Tokyo is a military industrial complex wasteland…though the atom bomb that the Japanese government dropped on the city to cover up its experiments with ESP on children certainly didn’t help.
The story picks up with Shōtarō Kaneda, the leader of a local biker gang. Kaneda’s childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires telepathic abilities following a motorcycle incident and suddenly it is up to Kaneda to keep his friend safe from the military and government scientists and also maybe save the world in the process.
Species steps forward to ask the question that too many ’90s movies were loathe to ask: what if alien but hot? The hot alien in question is Sil (Natasha Henstridge). Sil is created by devious scientists working off of a genetic code transmitted to them by aliens. They believe the aliens to be benevolent and they believe women to be more docile hosts to alien DNA. They are wrong on both fronts.
Species is kinda hokey but entirely fun. Featuring Henstridge’s excellent physical performance and some H.R. Geiger monster creations, it’s nothing if not eye candy.
God bless James Cameron’s 1984 action-sci-fi epic The Terminator for introducing us all to a German bodybuilder with a funny name. Oh, and the movie is pretty fantastic too.
After umpteenth sequels, you know the general gist of this. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is a mild-mannered career woman who unbeknownst to her will one day give birth to humanity’s best hope in a future war against the machines. Those future machines, ever proactive, decide to send a humanoid appearing killing machine called a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in time to murder Sarah before John Connor can be born. The future humans counter with…some guy named Kyle.
The eponymous Terminator would become a hero in later films because the human mind is incapable of hating Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here though he makes for a fantastic, seemingly unstoppable villain.
The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element is so sci-fi it’s almost like a parody of a sci-fi film. It’s the kind of sci-fi film that would be playing in the background of a non-sci-fi movie so the characters could point to it and say “you like sci-fi, eh?”
In Luc Besson’s 1997 sort-of classic, Bruce Willis stars as 23rd century taxi driver Korben Dallas. Korben is a no-nonsense kind of dude but through a series of wacky events, the impending destruction of Earth becomes his problem. Korben teams up with mysterious young woman Leelo (Milla Jovovich) to tack down four mystical stones to defend Earth and defeat the villainous Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman).
The Fifth Element is a brightly colored splash of sci-fi joy. Ideally it should be watched on a grainy cable feed with a bag of microwave popcorn.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
After Star Trek the Motion Picture was received less than warmly, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan not only got the Star Trek film franchise back on track but forever established the brand as a science fiction mainstay.
The plot is beautiful in its simplicity. The high-minded thinking of the series and the first movie gives way to a pretty standard revenge plot. The key is how well Khan Noonien Singh and his titular “wrath” is depicted.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The old popular adage says that the even-numbered Star Trek films are the best. With The Voyage Home being Star Trek‘s fourth feature film, that’s hard to argue with.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home works because of its specificity and weirdness. The crew of the USS Enterprise heads back to Earth to face trial for their crimes from The Search for Spock. Once they arrive, however, they find that Earth looks quite different from how they left it. Kirk and the gang must travel back in time to find the only creatures on the planet who can understand a mysterious alien species’ message: humpback whales.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers features a concept so primal and terrifying it’s no surprise the movie has been made no fewer than three times. The 1978 version is the one on Hulu and probably the best. This Body Snatchers takes place in San Francisco and deals with a gelatinous pod of aliens that falls to Earth. Slowly but surely the aliens literally take the place of actual human beings across the city and replace them with copies.
Health inspector Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) is one of the few humans to realize the truth and fight and fight back. Many other movies have tried to capture the feelings of isolation and terror that Invasion of the Body Snatchers instills but very few of them are able to capture the terrifying totality of an alien takeover.
Lost in Space
We’re going to be honest with you. Lost in Space is a mediocre film at best that received apocalyptically bad reviews. Here’s a choice quote from The Washington Post review: “A galactic slump of a movie that stuffs its travel bag with special effects but forgets to pack the charm.”
But we say that perception is unfair. Yes, Lost in Space is a strangely deadly serious adaptation of a fun, campy ’60s family show. Still, it’s kind of…cool? Watch it for yourself and see how advanced the set and costume designs are for a “bad” ’90s film. That’s not even to mention the unexpectedly modern reliance on time travel as a plot point.
Ignore the wooden dialogue as much you can and appreciate a movie that at the very least produced some very cool toys.
Technically the entire Matrix “trilogy” is on Hulu as well so consider this three movies if you will but I imagine most of us will be more interested in The Matrix as a singular entity. The Matrix‘s impact has been diluted by more than a decade’s worth of frail imitators (that could even include the sequels) and that’s a shame because as a science fiction film it’s a masterpiece.
The story of Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his Alice in Wonderland-like journey into learning the truth about reality is endlessly fascinated. Even if it weren’t, however, the spectacular action-filled third act should make< The Matrix a must-watch all the same.
The Matrix Reloaded
The first Matrix sequel,The Matrix Reloaded (that’s a really dumb title now that I think of it) certainly doesn’t reach the highs of the original but is a worthwhile and exciting science fiction yarn in itself. It’s different from the final chapter in the series in that it actually is still invested in depicting events in the Matrix itself.
We get to meet some interesting new characters (or computer programs as it were) within the alternate reality that constitutes the matrix and in the process also get one of the cooler car chases in recent memory. It’s not even so much a chase as it is a full scale war on a highway.