The best sci-fi movies for your family might be on Netflix (they were at the time this was written) but if you can’t find them there, be sure to check out the JustWatch streaming search engine to help you find them.
Even if you’re family insists they don’t like sci-fi in general, just Star Wars, maybe this will change their minds.
Maybe it’s the merchandising or the nostalgia or maybe it’s because they’re just really damn good movies, but your whole family is hooked on Star Wars, right? The boys like everything about it and the girls are watching General Leia (Princess Leia to our generation) and Rey in strong female roles. Now that you’ve got them hooked, it’s time to take your family beyond Star Wars.
I’m definitely a sci-fi fan myself. I love the space movies and the superhero movies and even the really bad SyFy movies. And you’ll find something for everyone streaming on Netflix. In case you need a little guidance, here’s a sampling of some of the sci-fi movies I found on Netflix just waiting for your family this weekend.
For the Younger Sci-Fi Fans
Kids have such an imagination that if you tried to explain sci-fi to them, they’d think you were simply describing an imaginative story. Here are some pretty tame entries into the field for elementary school-aged kids.
What you need to know: Rated PG, 2015; When a lovable misfit from another planet and a human girl form an unlikely friendship, they embark on an incredible journey that changes their lives.
I thought it was okay and so did my son when we saw it in the theater. Definitely good for younger kids.
What you need to know: Rated G, 2009; The puppies of Air Buddies are back in this family-friendly. But this time they’re setting their sites even higher– as in, the moon!
We never saw this one but my son is a fan of Snow Buddies and Spooky Buddies. Pretty sure it’s the same idea here.
The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl
What you need to know: Rated PG, 2005; A young boy is recruited by his imaginary friends Sharkboy and Lavagirl to help save their planet.
I’ve seen this movie more times than I can count and while it’s weird, it totally appeals to a kid’s mind. And you get a chance to see Taylor Lautner when the Twilight saga was just a glimmer in someone’s eye.
What you need to know: Rated PG, 2005; Their board game comes to life! Two bickering brother wind up having an out-of-this-world adventure!
We recently watched this for the first time. It’s like a less stressful version of Jumanji and you get to see both Kristen Stewart (pre-Twilight) and Josh Hutcherson (pre-Hunger Games).
Earth to Echo
What you need to know: Rated PG, 2014; After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.
While some people don’t like the shaky camera action (it’s supposed to be a documentary from the kids’ point of view), I thought it was cute, clever, and creative, reminiscent of The Goonies.
For the Sci-Fi Film Buffs
For those people who took Film Appreciation in college and fancy themselves movie experts, these are the movies you’ll want to add to your “oh, I’ve seen that list.”
A Trip to the Moon
What you need to know: Rated G, 1902; A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the moon!
One of the earliest films, even my son watched this with a running time of only 12 minutes.
What you need to know: Rated NR, 1927; In a futuristic city with two different types of people, no one really cares until a wealthy man heads underground.
Another early filme – so early, in fact, it’s silent. This is the restored version but I’ve still never been able to sit through the whole thing.
What you need to know: Rated NR, 1958; A man thinking he’s created a way to teleport finds he’s created a monster – himself.
I’ve only seen the remake with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis but this is freaky science hard at work!
The Day the Earth Stood Still
What you need to know: Rated G, 1951; An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.
I’ve not seen the original or the 2008 remake but I like the description enough to want to watch it.
What you need to know: Rated R, 1968; In the far future, a highly sexual woman is assigned with finding and stopping the evil Durand-Durand. Along the way, she encounters various unusual people.
This is NOT a movie to watch with your kids but I thought I’d include it in my sci-fi list so you can see Jane Fonda well before On Golden Pond. She’s come a long way, I guess.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
What you need to know: Rated PG, 1961; They must save the earth from a meteor shower. In a submarine. Under the ocean. Surrounded by a squid.
This one definitely has 8 year old boy written all over it. The squid was the clincher.
For Fans of the New Sci-Fi Classics
I’ve dubbed these the “new” classics because these movies, or their series, has pretty much defined the genre for me.
What you need to know: Rated TV-PG, 1968; Explorers in space with a single mission: to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Technically not a movie but when the entire three seasons are available on Netflix, I can’t just ignore that! Time to show your kids so they get the characterizations in the newer movies.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
What you need to know: Rated PG, 1986; To save Earth from an alien probe, Admiral Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to 20th century Earth to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it, humpback whales.
A little cheesy but one of my absolute favorite Star Trek movies of all time. Plus, thar be whales!
Men in Black II
What you need to know: Rated PG-13, 2002; The aliens are still among us but until these two top secret agents are back together, no one is safe.
The aliens are always a little freaky but we love this one just as much as the first.
What you need to know: Rated R, 1984; An unstoppable cyborg travels back in time to kill a waitress and her unborn son.
What can I say about this movie? It’s Arnold. It’s The Terminator. And it’s Skynet. I’m counting the days until my son is actually old enough to watch this.
Escape from L.A.
What you need to know: Rated R, 1996; Snake Plissken is once again called in by the United States government to recover a potential doomsday device from Los Angeles, now an autonomous island where undesirables are deported.
I never saw the original, Escape from NY, but my husband assures me this one is just as cheesy and predictable as the first. A must-see.
What you need to know: Rated R, 1997; Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival.
I was interested when I found out this was based on a Robert Heinlein novel. And then lost interest when I found out it was about big bugs.
And Now For Some Cheesy Sci-Fi
Sometimes cheesy is good, especially when you know what you’re in for. You’ll find plenty on Netflix but these are three of my personal favorites.
What you need to know: Rated TV-14, 2013; When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.
Lots of blood and sharks and ridiculous plot lines. If you don’t mind the ridiculous death sequences, you just might laugh along with this.
Sharknado 2: The Second One
What you need to know: Rated TV-14, 2014; A freak weather system turns its fury on New York City as a deadly Sharknado in unleashed on the Big Apple.
If one sharknado is good, a second sharknado is even better! Just as cheesy but this time, we’re all in on the joke.
What you need to know: Rated TV-14, 2015; They wanted a white Christmas but this isn’t what they bargained for.
One meteor splits and half of it causes an icetastrophe. Cheesy graphics, blood, and plenty of people dying. So bad, we watched it twice.
Strange Sci-Fi Films I Might Watch
I’ve never seen them. Don’t know much about them. But the description looked strange and interesting. A perfect choice for sci-fi. Since most of these are rated R, unless your kids are older, you might want to put them to bed first.
What you need to know: Rated R, 2013; Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.
What you need to know: Rated R, 2002; In the future, feelings are punishable by death. But some feelings can’t be suppressed.
What you need to know: Rated NR, 2015; It’s hard enough to get through this Earth. They have to get through a bunch of Earths, some even more messed up than ours.
What you need to know: Rated R, 2009; We choose between different paths in life. But what if we traveled them all? He’s had 120 years to do it.
Last Days on Mars
What you need to know: Rated R, 2013; They’ve overstayed their welcome on the Red Planet. Now the local mutative microbes are getting restless.
Have you see any of the movies above? What are your favorites and what would you add to this list if it was streaming on Netflix?
This post was written as part of my role on the Netflix Stream Team. Topics, selections, and all opinions are my own.