20 Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Canada That Will Blow Your Mind
From hallucinatory tales of time travel to eye-opening space sagas, these sci-fi movies on Netflix Canada offer the most captivating visions of our present and future.
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South Korean master Bong Joon-ho’s first English-language film transports viewers to Snowball Earth, a post-climate-collapse society where the few remaining humans subsist on a train that perpetually circles the globe. Onboard, brutal class warfare rages with those at the top—or, in this case, front—violently suppressing attempted uprisings by the lower-class passengers living in the tail section. As with his Academy Award-winning 2019 film Parasite, here Bong proves that he doesn’t make films for passive audiences. Snowpiercer is sure to provoke strong opinions, especially as the real-world climate crisis accelerates like a speeding train.
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If you were offered a brain-enhancing pill that promised to turn you into a genius with boundless mental capabilities, would you take it? The hero of this stylish thriller, lackadaisical writer Eddie (Bradley Cooper), shoots his shot. Soon, he begins work on a new book, wins big on Wall Street and becomes the protégé of a ruthless tycoon (Robert De Niro). But Eddie’s new life is too good to be true, and a gaggle of thugs and government agents also want their taste of his all-powerful pills.
Pacific Rim (2013)
When a portal opens up at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, bringing with it droves of monstrous alien creatures, humanity’s counterattack comes in the form of giant robots, each controlled by two co-pilots. But when the machines prove inadequate, mankind’s real last hope for survival lies with a washed-up soldier (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi). Brazenly silly but always exhilarating, Pacific Rim is one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix Canada.
Anchored by a ferocious performance from French film icon Melanie Laurent, Oxygen boldly subverts sci-fi tropes while being a formidable entry in the “real time” genre. When Liz Hansen (Laurent) wakes up in a cryogenic pod with no memory of who or where she is, she must find out the truth about her identity before she runs out of oxygen. For viewers concerned about this Netflix original taking place almost entirely in a futuristic box, rest assured: this is edge-of-your-seat entertainment.
There’s been much debate about the true lesson of Passengers, but one thing is certain: here is a $150-million sci-fi flick that manages to be genuinely disturbing… even if it wasn’t meant to be. Chris Pratt stars as Jim Preston, a mechanic who, while on a 120-year journey to a new planet with thousands of other travellers, is awakened from his hibernation pod 90 years too early. Does Jim spend the rest of his days alone on a vast ship, or does he wake someone else up to keep him company? Passengers’ twist is easy to spot, but it’s still admirably bonkers.
Decidedly not for the faint of heart, Splice is nevertheless laudable for going where most films wouldn’t dare tread. Sick of their employers’ focus on profits over innovation, genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) go forward on an experiment they hope will kickstart a medical revolution. The result: Dren, a creature comprised of animal and human DNA, and who resembles a young girl. Clive and Elsa disagree over Dren’s moral implications, but nothing can prepare them for what transpires in the film’s bonkers third act. In a film filled with Cronenberg-style body horror and dysfunction, the scariest realization is that some people just aren’t cut out to be parents.
Men in Black (1997)
As it turns out, humans made contact with extraterrestrials in 1961. What’s more, the United States created the titular organization to monitor these aforementioned aliens, who use Earth as a galactic neutral zone. In fish-out-of-water fashion, NYPD officer Jay (Will Smith) is recruited into this secret society, and what follows is one of the strangest blockbusters of the ’90s. Men in Black could easily have been a hyper-serious commentary on xenophobia and the universe. Instead, it’s one of the best sci-fi comedies of its time—and still manages to be profound, too.
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Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
It’s not often that a sequel lives up to an original, but Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a rare exception. Reuniting Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton with writer-director James Cameron, T2 again follows Sarah Connor, who’s now tasked with saving herself and her son (Edward Furlong) from a next-gen T-1000 Terminator model (Robert Patrick) with the ability to shape-shift into anything it fancies. With nothing less at stake than the future of the entire human race, it’s Terminator vs. Terminator in this thrilling, immensely re-watchable classic.
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Adapted from Veronica Roth’s 2011 novel of the same name, Divergent presents a world in which society is divided into five factions, each based on virtues. In this dystopia, 16-year-old Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) learns that she is Divergent—an offshoot faction whose members are marked by supreme intelligence and supposed powers. Filled with slick action and romance, this sci-fi tale is much more than a new take on The Hunger Games.
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Cloud Atlas (2012)
The power of science-fiction lies in its ability to answer the universe’s grandest questions: Is the soul immortal? Can an evil person be reincarnated as a good one? What would Hugh Grant look like as a cannibal? Cloud Atlas, the Wachowskis’ most polarizing film to date, takes place across five centuries and boasts a plethora of stars—Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Grant, to name a few—who take on multiple roles. Its thesis—that little actions can have an impact hundreds of years from now—is sometimes shaky, but one thing is certain: the time-bending, genre-hopping Cloud Atlas is like nothing else you’ve seen.
Starship Troopers (1997)
As the demented mind behind classic sci-fi satires RoboCop and Total Recall, few understand American jingoism quite like Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven. But despite his pedigree, this 1997 shoot-em-up, which tells the tale of a global military organization’s war against giant alien bugs, still managed to leave audiences and critics baffled. It’s a shame too, because Starship Troopers, with its brilliant insights on fascism, xenophobia and fake news, looks less and less like make-believe as the years go by.
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In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)
Interested in a new spin on the time travel genre? In 1988, Philadelphia detective Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) investigates his most confounding case yet: a number of seemingly unrelated people have hemorrhaged to death, and all have the same three puncture wounds on the backs of their necks. Lockhart’s main suspect? A mysterious young woman (Cleopatra Coleman) who may or may not be from the future. Gripping, gruesome and very original, In the Shadow of the Moon only gets better with repeat viewings.
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Don’t Look Up (2021)
Netflix is no stranger to star-studded original movies, but few of its in-house productions have been as divisive as the satirical sci-fi Don’t Look Up. When two astronomers (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) discover that a comet is on a collision course for Earth, their grave findings are greeted with…indifference, jeers and opportunism. Viewers may have passionately debated the film’s characters (is Meryl Streep’s President Janie Orlean a stand-in for Trump or Clinton, or both?), but that’s missing the point. Don’t Look Up is not so concerned with left and right as it is about institutional corruption and the power that the elite few have on the masses. If a pandemic wasn’t enough to bring us together, what chance do we stand against a comet?
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Like Groundhog Day but with more explosions, this shoot-‘em-up stars Tom Cruise as U.S. Army Major William Cage, a public relations officer in France who is thrown into a never-ending battle against aliens after getting stuck in a time loop. Each time he’s killed, events reset and he’s forced into the melee all over again. Fate, however, leads him to Emily Blunt’s character, a war hero whose previous victory came thanks to the same ability to reset time. Working together, they criss-cross Western Europe in search of the seat of alien power. Featuring vanguard production design and special effects, clever twists and turns, and plenty of end-of-the-world gallows humour, Edge of Tomorrow is a late-career stunner by Tom Cruise.
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Following the familiar trope in which the machines revolt against their human masters, Mother/Android sees our robot friends develop a will of their own, turning smartphones into incendiary devices (not just the Galaxy Note 7 this time) and androids into attackers. An expecting couple (Chloë Grace Moretz and Algee Smith) must now travel cross-country to a tech-free safe haven in order to give their child a chance at a future. A low-budget production, Mother/Android succeeds in looking like an expensive sci-fi movie while offering something fresh to say about our overreliance on technology.
The Colony (2021)
What happens when the few survivors to escape a dying planet Earth find that they can no longer procreate outside of our planet’s atmosphere? In Tides, there are only two options: return and face possible death or stay put and face eventual extinction. Things back on Earth are not as expected, though. Somehow, a small group of people have continued to manage life on the planet—and they aren’t terribly welcoming to the returnees. Tension between the two factions build and loyalties waver, posing the question: when dire circumstances threaten humankind’s survival, is it possible for us all to work together to survive? Watch Tides—or keep reading the news—to find out.
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Bird Box (2018)
Netflix’s popular post-apocalyptic horror is led by Sandra Bullock but features an eclectic ensemble cast that includes Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes and Jacki Weaver. As a mysterious entity drives all those who glimpse it to suicide, a group of survivors pull through by blindfolding themselves whenever they need to leave the security of the blacked-out home they’ve taken shelter in. The effects, however, mutate and they turn against one another. With safety far out of reach and escape seeming impossible, Bullock’s character must find a way to save herself and her two small children. While Bird Box leans heavily on common tropes, it still succeeds in taking audiences on a twisty, unexpected ride.
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The Discovery (2017)
Scientist Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) has made the most important discovery in human history: definitive proof of the afterlife. His findings, however, come at a horrifying cost: global suicide rates drastically increase in the aftermath of the news. Two years after Harbor’s breakthrough, his son (Jason Segel) and a mysterious woman (Rooney Mara) join Thomas at a secluded mansion, where he and a group of followers have made yet another discovery: the ability to record one’s afterlife. But as The Discovery shows, some questions to the ways of the universe shouldn’t necessarily be answered.
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I Am Mother (2019)
After an unnamed extinction event, a teenaged girl (Clara Rugaard) is raised by a robot Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne) in a bunker with a mission to repopulate the Earth. Their unique bond, however, is threatened when a mysterious stranger (Hilary Swank) arrives with alarming news: there are many human survivors, and robots like Mother hunt them down and kill them. Relying on suspense and weighty ideas, I Am Mother is an uncommonly intelligent work of sci-fi.
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The Midnight Sky (2020)
This post-apocalyptic tale follows Lofthouse (George Clooney, who also directed the film), a scientist in the Arctic and one of the last surviving humans on Earth. Lofthouse spends his days searching for outstanding crewed space missions. When he finally does locate surviving astronauts, it’s a race against time to stop the ship’s captain (Felicity Jones)—who’s unaware that the Earth has been destroyed by a mysterious catastrophe—from returning home. Adapted from Lily Brooks-Dalton’s acclaimed 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight, The Midnight Sky co-stars David Oyelowo (Selma) and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights).
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