Top sci-fi movies and TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime in July

A veritable treasure trove of sci-fi is available to watch on Amazon Prime; much is free to view with your standard subscription and even more is available if you feel like paying a little more. So settle back and soak up some superb sci-fi from the safety of your sofa. 

Movies1. Æon Flux

Æon Flux is an assassin working for the Monicans, a group of rebels trying to overthrow the government. (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Synopsis: Four centuries after a virus nearly annihilated the human race, only five million survivors remain in a utopian city called Bregna, a dystopian, walled futuristic city-state ruled by a congress of scientists. A mysterious assassin known as Æon Flux is struggling to destroy the Goodchild regime led by its namesake, Trevor Goodchild, the ruler of Bregna and a descendant of the man who found a cure for the deadly virus. But there are deeper secrets to be discovered and conspiracies to be foiled.

Why you should watch: Originally an American avant-garde sci-fi adventure animated television series that aired on MTV from 1991 to 1995, this is the live-action movie released in 2005 starring Charlize Theron. It’s loosely based on the original story, but the real reason why this suffered so in the box office is studio interference. Constant changes made mostly during the editing process meant that a promising R-rated version eventually became this PG-13 and consequently several integral scenes were left on the cutting room floor. It’s still entertaining though and if you haven’t seen it, you should really give it a go, even if it’s just once.

Free with Amazon Prime

2. Alien

The crew of the Nostromo commercial towing vehicle, Kane, Parker, Dallas, Brett, Ripley, Brett and Ash. (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: The crew of a deep space commercial hauling ship is unwittingly re-routed while in hypersleep to investigate the origins of a mysterious transmission. Once awake, they travel to the surface of a desolate planet and discover a giant derelict spacecraft…and a thoroughly unpleasant alien parasite. Things get progressively worse after that.

Why you should watch: Simply put, “Alien” is not only one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, it’s one the best movies ever made. Period. The production design is extraordinary, the story is simple but brilliantly effective, the tension is built up flawlessly and the performances from every member of the cast are incredible. Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton and Ian Holm star in what is probably Ridley Scott’s finest film. 

Free with Amazon Prime

3. Alien 3

The confined setting of the double-Y chromosome prison facility sets up some impressive chase sequences. (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: Written as a direct successor to the epic sequel “Aliens,” this picks up the story of the USS Sulaco survivors, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Hicks (Michael Biehn), Bishop (Lance Henriksen) and Newt (Carrie Henn). Unfortunately — and er, somehow — an alien facehugger made it aboard the Conestoga-class troop transport ship, causing an electrical fire the automatic emergency escape procedures to activate. Consequently, Ripley et al crash land on Fiorina 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, she realizes that she too has unwittingly brought along another unwelcome visitor.

Why you should watch: The production of this movie was fraught with problems, to say the least, so much so that director David Fincher wanted his name removed from the credits. And despite some slightly suspect events in the first few minutes that weren’t necessary really, if there was actually going to be a third “Alien” movie, it actually has a mostly solid story, strong cast and ingenious set pieces. The special edition features an extended chase sequence through the maze of tunnels within the prison facility, but this theatrical release is still worth a watch.

Free with Amazon Prime

4. Alien: Resurrection

Despite going off the rails a bit at the end, this movie is worth watching once if you haven’t already seen it. (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: Two hundred years after the events of Alien 3 and [spoiler alert] Ripley’s death, she is cloned onboard a military vessel, outside of any borders or jurisdiction, from blood samples taken from Fiorina 161, specifically to grow a Ripley that has the alien queen inside her. It’s surgically removed and lays eggs. Since this grand experiment hasn’t exactly been authorized, a band of smugglers provides the hapless crew of a hijacked commercial transport in stasis as fodder for the facehuggers. Needless to say, the aliens get loose and the military ship begins its automated return back to Earth. 

Why you should watch: This foray into the “Alien” franchise is by far the weirdest. The third act climax is pretty…out there. A great cast — including, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Michael Wincott, Winona Ryder and Sigourney Weaver — sadly can’t stop this from also being the weakest entry into the anthology (we’re not including the disappointing prequels in that assessment). There are however, some nice set pieces and the production design is of the high standard we’ve come to expect from “Alien” movies. 

Free with Amazon Prime

5. Alien Vs. Predator

The first entry into the combative creature crossover is by far the best; they get progressively worse after. (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: When a private satellite encounters an unidentified source of heat in Antarctica and it’s found to be a pyramid buried deep underground, a team of archaeologists and engineers is sent to find out more. Once there, they come across signs that indicate it’s inhabited by an unknown alien species being deliberately bred so they can be hunted. Before long, the team is caught in the crossfire and it quickly becomes a battle just to survive. 

Why you should watch: This is the first crossover movie of the two popular sci-fi franchises, although it had been happening in the comics for a while. And this is really rather watchable as a popcorn flick. The cast isn’t exactly A-list, but solid performances from the likes of Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova and Ewen Bremner help make the movie an enjoyable experience. 

Free with Amazon Prime

6. Apollo 13

Additional astronautical tension has been added to heighten the drama, but otherwise this is a great movie. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Synopsis: The world watched in wonder as Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface. However, now that the Russians had been beaten to the Moon, public interest in the Apollo program began to fade. But that all changed when the crew of Apollo 13 suffered a near-catastrophic oxygen tank explosion that crippled their spacecraft while en route to the Moon. Everyone at Mission Control and the astronauts themselves worked tirelessly to improvise a solution that could return them safely back to Earth.

Why you should watch: Despite being forced to include some Hollywood-style over-dramatization (Apollo astronauts were super composed and that just wouldn’t make for a thrilling movie), this Ron Howard-directed movie starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon is extremely enjoyable and the culture and atmosphere of 1970s NASA is faithfully reproduced, not to mention how accurate the production design is, including the environment suits and spacecraft interiors. The soundtrack to this movie is another delight and features the angelic vocals of Annie Lennox. 

Free with Amazon Prime

7. Battle Beyond the Stars

This big-budget B-movie from 1980 plays an important part in the history of science fiction cinema. (Image credit: New World Pictures)

Synopsis: In what is to all intents and purposes “Seven Samurai” set in space, a young farmer, Shad (Richard Thomas) sets out to recruit a band of mercenaries to defend his peaceful planet, which is under threat of invasion by the evil tyrant Sador (John Saxon) and his army of Malmori mutants. Sador possesses a deadly “stellar converter” beam weapon on his formidable warship and threatens to use if the people of Akira don’t surrender to his rule. 

Why you should watch: This B-movie with a bigger budget than most has an important part to play in the history of sci-fi cinema. It launched the career of James Cameron, who was working in the art department and this is where he met his future production partner and wife Gale Anne Hurd, which resulted in “The Terminator” and “Aliens.” Producer and director and B-movie maestro, Roger Corman, sadly had to use much of his budget just to pay overpriced stars George Peppard and Robert Vaughn, but the end result is still good fun, plus the James Horner soundtrack is great (this was his first major motion picture score).

Free with Amazon Prime

8. The Blackout

Written by Ilya Kulikov and directed by Egor Baranov, this is an action sci-fi thriller that’s worth a watch. (Image credit: TV3/Central Partnership Sales House)

Synopsis: The Earth has been attacked by a mysterious force from space, but it’s not like any attack you might imagine. The whole planet has been robbed of power and plunged into darkness; nothing works, anywhere…with the exception of a random circular area of eastern Europe, encompassing part of western Russia, southern Finland, Belarus and northern Ukraine. It turns out that the position of the Moon relative to Earth shielded this part of the world from the deadly energy weapon fired from far outside the range of lunar orbit. Now, as the actual alien invasion begins, military forces gather inside the “circle of life” in a desperate effort to save all life as we know it.

Why you should watch: This is a Russian indie sci-fi flick that is extremely enjoyable. It has high production values despite not having a blockbuster budget, the performances are good, and an unusual story with a good twist at the end makes this a solid sci-fi movie worth making time for. 

Free with Amazon Prime

9. Cowboys & Aliens

Given Craig’s dreadful American accent, this benefits from his character being the “strong, silent” type. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Synopsis: Set in 1873 in the New Mexico Territory, a stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. He quickly discovers that the townsfolk don’t welcome strangers and everyone lives under the ruthless rule of Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the town is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. 

Why you should watch: Based on 105-page graphic novel published in 2006, this is an entertaining mix of two very disparate genres. Despite being well worth a watch, with Harrison Ford possibly giving his best performance since “The Fugitive,” this movie didn’t exactly set the box office on fire. It has however, slowly gathered a cult following since its theatrical release in 2011. Jon Favreau directs a strong cast including Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde and Daniel Craig, who tragically, still hasn’t mastered an American accent. 

Free with Amazon Prime

10. District 9

They came here 28 years ago. Coexistence has never been easy. Why won’t we let them leave? (Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

Synopsis: Nearly 30 years after a giant spacecraft appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa, the alien refugees are still suffering and have been forced to live in in squalor a militarized ghetto called District 9. When a powerful munitions corporation is contracted to evict the refugees, one of their lowly employees is accidentally exposed to an alien biotech chemical and his body begins to change.

Why you should watch: It’s not often that a sci-fi director makes such an impact with his or her debut feature film, but that’s exactly what Neill Blomkamp did with “District 9.” It’s nothing short of brilliant; an extremely well-directed, powerful statement on persecution and prejudice in South Africa through the filter of actual aliens. A sequel has been written, but fans of the original are still waiting, me included.

Moving to Amazon Freevee

District 9

11. Encounter

Synopsis: Malik Khan, a decorated Marine (Riz Ahmed), goes on a rescue mission to save his two young sons from an strange, alien threat. As their journey takes them in increasingly dangerous directions, the boys will need to leave their childhoods behind. However, is this this threat real, or is it all in Khan’s mind?

Why you should watch: If you have a thing for extreme close ups of insects, then this movie is definitely for you. If you enjoyed Invasion then you’ll probably enjoy this; it’s a beautifully filmed, character-driven sci-fi. OK, it has a few plot holes, and it even suffers from a few clichés, but thankfully, these can be fairly easily overlooked. You’ll soon get drawn into the enthralling “is-he, isn’t-he” plot, which is boosted further by phenomenal performances from Ahmed and Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada, who portray his two sons.

Free with Amazon Prime

12. The Fly (1986)

This movie is a sci-fi/horror masterpiece and the scene shown above is definitely not for the squeamish! (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: A brilliant but eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) invents teleportation, but keeps it a secret from the world while he refines the technology. A news-hungry science journalist (Geena Davis) befriends him and learns of his work. The first test with a human subject seems to go well, but unbeknown to him, a tiny housefly was in the teleportation pod when he goes through and his DNA begins to rewrite itself turning Brundle into a hybrid of both creatures.

Why you should watch: This is a remake by David Cronenberg of the 1958 movie, which itself is based on a short story by George Langelaan and it’s a sci-fi/horror masterpiece. The casting is excellent and every actor delivers truly believable performances in a story that has a strong emotional plot in addition to the obvious fun and games had with transforming a strapping, six-foot man into an equivalent-sized humble housefly.

Free with Amazon Prime

13. Futureworld

The logical next step for any tech corporation is to replace the humans who don’t agree with your policies. (Image credit: American International Pictures)

Synopsis: Set several years after the disaster at Delos seen in the movie “Westworld” (oh, yes, the dreadful series on HBO is actually based on a 1972 screenplay written by Michael Crichton) and the resort is ready to reopen, with the addition of the new “Futureworld.” However, one of the corporation’s most well-known critics, reporter Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) suspects foul play, especially after an informant with inside information is murdered. Chuck teams up with another reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner) and what they discover is beyond any of their imaginations.

Why you should watch: If you haven’t watched the 1973 movie “Westworld” then you need to remedy that immediately. It is vastly superior to HBO’s trainwreck-of-a-TV-series plus it spawned this not-terrible sequel and even short-lived television series titled “Beyond Westworld.” This movie underperformed at the box office, but it still managed to take the ingenious premise of the first movie to the next logical level and it’s still more thrilling than half of the crud that gets churned out these days. Peter Fonda excels, because he’s Peter Fonda, and we get to see the magnificent Yul Brynner once more time. Arthur Hill and John P. Ryan round out a solid cast.

Free with Amazon Prime

14. Galaxy Quest

A rare treat this month is to have both “Galaxy Quest” the movie and the documentary on Amazon this month. (Image credit: Dreamworks)

Synopsis: The cast of an old, 80s based syndicated science fiction television series (based very loosely on “Star Trek: The Original Series”) survive on fan conventions, personal appearances and superstore opening ceremonies. With little or no acting work, they dwell on what their lives once were. But at one particular convention, a group of desperate aliens recruit the former cast for a real adventure in space and they find themselves playing their characters for real in a game of death with a particularly unpleasant alien warlord.

Why you should watch: Often called one of the best “Star Trek” movies ever made, this is a wonderfully creative and hilariously funny sci-fi comedy. Based loosely on a real incident that happened to William Shatner, this entertaining story covers many sci-fi tropes in an endearing and amusing way. An out-of-this-world cast includes Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell and the late, great Alan Rickman. Watch this and then watch the documentary about the movie “Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary.”

Free with Amazon Prime

15. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Despite a near-perfect cast, the tweaks made to bring this epic story to the big screen end up letting it down. (Image credit: Touchstone Pictures)

Synopsis: Arthur Dent’s house has been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new bypass, but this is the least of his problems as it turns out that the planet Earth has been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new hyperspace express route. Thankfully though, it also turns out that his friend Ford Prefect isn’t from Guildford after all, but in fact from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and has been long aware of the Earth’s impending demise. Together they manage to escape and along the way learn the true history of the universe.

Why you should watch: For decades, fans of the works of Douglas Adams ached for a “Hitchhiker’s” movie as until this attempt in 2005, there had only been the underrated 1981 TV mini series (see TV Shows below) and the radio drama adaptations. Tragically, despite a dynamite cast including Martin Freeman, Yasiin Bey, Zooey Deschanel and Sam Rockwell, many of subtleties and nuances of the source material — that the 1981 series manage to capture — are lost. However, it’s good fun and Stephen Fry is almost as good as the legendary Peter Jones as the Voice of The Book. Hulu was rebooting this series, but has since learned that sadly is no longer the case.

Moving to Amazon Freevee

16. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

This classic sci-fi movie is mandatory viewing and frankly, should be taught on the national curriculum. (Image credit: Allied Artists Pictures)

Synopsis: Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. At first he’s skeptical, especially when the alleged doppelgangers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives, but he’s eventually persuaded that something peculiar is going on and becomes determined to find out what it is.

Why you should watch: This is truly classic science fiction and should be held in similar regard to other epic, groundbreaking sci-fi movies of the late 50s, including “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” and “The Thing From Another World.” It’s actually based on a serialized story by Jack Finney that appeared in Collier’s magazine in November 1954 and was published in book form the following year. An uncomplicated plot together with incredible performances from McCarthy and the angelic Dana Wynter make this a case study in how to produce a thrilling sci-fi/drama screenplay featuring an early and extremely effective example of flashback storytelling.

Free with Amazon Prime

17. Moonraker

Cinema’s first, and not too shabby, depiction of EVA combat. Just think about all that orbital debris though… (Image credit: Amazon/MGM Studios)

Synopsis: For no real reason other than he believes mankind has squandered its chance for life on Earth, billionaire bad guy Hugo Drax, plans to kill off all of humanity — no animals would be hurt — with the super-deadly toxic nerve gas. Mass-produced from a rare orchid, the gas would be launched in torpedoes-of-sorts from an orbiting space station, which forms part of Drax’s new space empire. Naturally, perfect physical human specimens would later return to Earth and form the foundation of a new race that will worship Drax as their god. British Secret Service agent James Bond must do everything in his power to prevent this.

Why you should watch: Roger Moore is arguably the weakest Bond out of the bunch and many of his seven servings as Britain’s super spy look somewhat dated upon rewatching. That said, if you’re Gen X or older, they do occupy a unique and special place in cinematic culture. “Moonraker” marked the first outing to space for James Bond as the franchise fell over itself to capitalize on the sudden interest in everything sci-fi following the recent runaway success of “Star Wars.” (Although Sean Connery nearly made it to low Earth orbit in “You Only Live Twice.”) Incidentally, all of the Bond movies are now on Amazon Prime…because they own them now.

Free with Amazon Prime

18. Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary

“Galaxy Quest” is truly an epic, multi-layered movie that succeeded as much by accident as by design. (Image credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

Synopsis: Filmmakers and stars discuss the filming and social effects of “Galaxy Quest,” a parody-of-sorts of “Star Trek: The Original Series” with insightful and entertaining commentary not only on science fiction, and the success of “Star Trek” itself, but on the real-life actors themselves.

Related: ‘Galaxy Quest 2’ is ‘a fabulous script’ according to Tim Allen

Why you should watch: Who isn’t a fan of “Galaxy Quest”? It’s often called the second best “Star Trek” movie ever made (after “The Wrath of Khan” of course) and you might think you know all the trivia connected with the making of “Galaxy Quest,” but this documentary made by the Screen Junkies team will still surprise you. The cast talk about their experiences making the movie and how close the TV series actually came, before the tragic, untimely departure of the great Alan Rickman. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry a little bit, but most of all, you’ll enjoy the best movie about fandom in another, new way as a result of watching this documentary. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, Justin Long, Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Rainn Wilson, Missi Pyle and Dean Parisot, all share their thoughts on this epic sci-fi comedy.

Free with Amazon Prime

19. Predator 2

A rare example where the sequel is as good as the original, it’s a fun, adrenaline-fueled action movie. (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: Set in the near future against the backdrop of a sweltering summer and a relentless turf war between Jamaican and Colombian street gangs, someone is picking off people from both sides. It’s been 10 years since the events of “Predator,” but the LAPD and a specialized military unit find themselves both searching for the ultimate alien warrior as the concrete jungle of Los Angeles replaces the jungle of South America as the hunting ground.

Why you should watch: A truly worthwhile sequel to the original, Danny Glover replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger as the protagonist, with strong support from the late, great Bill Paxton, Gary Busey and Maria Conchita Alonso. This is an all-round entertaining and enthralling movie that nicely balances the action and suspense and does the “Predator” franchise proud. 

Free with Amazon Prime

Predator 2

20. Predators

“Those who’ve hunted armed men long enough, and like it, never really care for anything else thereafter.” (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: A seemingly random group of eight elite soldiers suddenly find themselves in freefall over a jungle. With no clue where they are of how they got there, they reluctantly team up and discover they are not only no longer on Earth, but they are also in some kind of planet-sized game preserve and they are the game. One by one, they are picked off by invisible alien hunters as they struggle to survive and attempt to find a way home.

Why you should watch: While “Predator 2” was entertaining and at least the first “Alien v Predator” movie was mediocre, this is by far the best entry into the franchise, aside from the original. Producer Robert Rodriguez went to great lengths to be as faithful to the first film as he possibly could. This time, an impressively buff Adrien Brody takes on the alien assassins in a different approach to this interstellar safari. He’s joined by the likes of Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Topher Grace and Laurence Fishburne.

Free with Amazon Prime

21. Prometheus

Sadly, style wins big over substance in this disappointing so-called prequel to “Alien,” but it looks really nice. (Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox)

Synopsis: Upon discovering evidence in a cave in the Hebrides that life here began out there, an accomplished archaeologist (Noomi Rapace) along with her partner (Logan Marshall-Green) and a 17-man crew embark on an ambitious, deep-space scientific expedition funded by Peter Weyland himself (played to perfection by Guy Pearce). The team sets foot on the rocky terrain of a desolate exomoon to investigate the existence of the extraterrestrial species known as the “Engineers.” But a terrifying discovery threatens not only the outcome of the mission but also the very future of humankind.

Why you should watch: Ridley Scott’s “Alien” prequel looks incredible, but sadly, a terrible story sucks all the substance from the stunning visuals and incredible production design that one has come to expect from Scott. As a standalone movie, it’s enjoyable, but as far as actually making any sense whatsoever within the “Alien” or universe or timeline…well, forget it. Despite their best efforts, the phenomenal cast can’t save it either. Along with those already mentioned, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba also star and Benedict Wong once again plays Benedict Wong.

Moving to Amazon Freevee

22. Runaway

This is Michael Crichton’s second set-in-the-near-future, out-of-control robots story after “Westworld.” (Image credit: Tristar Pictures)

Synopsis: Set in the near future, robots are commonplace in society, in every home and working in factories and on farms. John Ramsey (Tom Selleck) works in a special division of the police department called the Runaway Squad that solely deals with malfunctioning droids. He and his new partner, Officer Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes) stumble onto the homicidal plot of an insane scientist (played deliciously by Gene Simmons) to create killer robots. 

Why you should watch: Still enjoying the success of “Magnum PI” on TV, this was an interesting move by Selleck and he carries it off very well. The 80s were an exciting testbed for sci-fi — and in fact Amazon has a number of classic examples available to watch — and this is fun, action-adventure romp, with some creative ideas. (It’s written and directed by Michael Crichton.) Rather than simply being an overelaborate robot repair team, it seems every time a domestic droid malfunctions, it somehow threatens a human life. Simmons’ evil scientist character also has a cool handgun that locks onto a target and fires target-seeking projectiles. 

Free with Amazon Prime

23. Stargate

The original 1994 movie that spawned no less than three equally amazing sci-fi spin-off TV shows. (Image credit: MGM/Amazon)

Synopsis: A down-on-his-luck archaeologist, whose unusual theories about aliens and ancient Egypt are ridiculed by his peers, is recruited to decipher an ancient hieroglyph on mysterious giant ring-like device found in Giza in the 1920s. It turns out that his theories were actually correct and he’s able to unlock the device, which then activates a wormhole portal between worlds on different sides of the galaxy.

Why you should watch: This is the movie that spawned one of the most successful television sci-fi spin-off franchises in history. Kurt Russell stars as Colonel Jack O’Neill and James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson, two roles that were perfectly filled by Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks in the TV show.

Free with Amazon Prime

24. The Thing (2011)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead takes the lead of “The Thing” in a more Ripley from “Alien” direction, which is nice. (Image credit: Universal Studios)

Synopsis: A paleontologist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joins a Norwegian Antarctic research expedition following the discovery of an alien spacecraft that has been buried under the ice for 100,000 years. Even more extraordinary is that not far from the site of the spacecraft, they find the remains of the occupant. It’s cut out of the ice and taken back to their camp, but as the ice melts, the creature reanimates and begins to attack the team by absorbing and eventually replicating them one at a time. Eventually, no one knows who is the alien and who isn’t.

Why you should watch: 
Much like “Rogue One,” this prequel to John Carpenter’s 1981 epic original had a defined window of space and time to exist in and the idea to even write a prequel focusing on the demise of the Norwegian expedition is bold and brilliant. However, what could’ve been a tour de force of sci-fi/horror was spoiled by studio interference. Ron D. Moore wrote a script back in 2009, but Universal rejected it and director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the set exactly matched the one seen in Carpenter’s movie. But the studio demanded extensive reshoots, which included new CGI effects, re-editing and an entirely different climax. Ultimately resulting in a spectacular missed opportunity. It is still worth watching though of course and the scene with the teeth fillings is a masterstroke in serving as a similar-but-different method of simplistic detection, exactly like the petri dish scene in the original.

Free with Amazon Prime

25. The Time Machine (2002)

0 to 800,000 years in 1.2 seconds. Guy Pearce dips his pinky into the realm of science fiction once more. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Synopsis: Based on the classic sci-fi novel by H.G. Wells, scientist and inventor, Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce), is determined to prove that time travel is possible. His determination soon becomes desperation as he’s beset by a personal tragedy that now drives him to want to change the past. Testing his theories with a time machine the he creates, Hartdegen is hurtled 800,000 years into the future, where he discovers that mankind has become both the hunter and the hunted.

Why you should watch: This is a not unreasonable adaptation of the original novel. Yes, one or two small elements have been tweaked or changed, but all things considered, this is quality, classic sci-fi. A stellar cast led by Guy Pearce helps as he’s joined by Jeremy Irons and Samantha Mumba to name just two. Perfect Sunday afternoon science fiction.

Free with Amazon Prime

26. The Tomorrow War

Synopsis: Set in the present day, a group of time-travelling soldiers from the future appear during the Qatar World Cup final and announce that in just 30 years in the future, all of mankind is on the brink of annihilation by race of particularly unpleasant aliens. Among those chosen to travel forward in time is former soldier (naturally) and schoolteacher Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) who teams up with both seasoned veterans and raw recruits to save the human race.

Related: ‘The Tomorrow War’ won’t win any awards, but it’s watchable

Why you should watch: This is very much a popcorn sci-fi blockbuster, equal to the likes of “Independence Day” or “Battle: Los Angeles,” and in fact you will notice the influence of other sci-fi movies like “The Thing” or “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Millennium” throughout. And while this won’t win any awards for the story writing, it’s wanton destruction on a massive scale. 

Free with Amazon Prime

27. What We Left behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Writers from “DS9” including Ira Steven Behr and Ron Moore create a hypothetical new series first episode. (Image credit: Paramount+/455 Films)

Synopsis: Showrunner Ira Steven launched the fundraising campaign a couple of years ago and what followed was an incredible tribute documentary looking at the history of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” that features interviews with almost every member of the cast, including Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Rene Auberjonois, Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson. Sadly though, Avery Brooks’ contribution is limited to archive footage.

Why you should watch: If you’re a fan of “DS9” than this is a must-watch; not only are the insights intriguing and often emotional, but the fictional first episode of a hypothetical new series, crafted together in a writers room packed full of the best writers in “Star Trek” is inspired. There’s a look back at the early reviews (and how negative they were), the casting decisions and the issues faced throughout production. This documentary also marks the first time any footage from “DS9” has been remastered in high definition including a portion of the main battle sequence from “Sacrifice Of Angels” (S06, E06).

Free with ads via IMDB TV

TV shows1. The Expanse

Synopsis: A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter, and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth’s rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Along the way, evidence of alien life is discovered and a series of ring gates located near Uranus are unlocked that lead to totally new locations through the universe. Meanwhile, the major factions in the Solar System (Earth, Mars, the Outer Planets Authority and the Belters) fight amongst themselves and ultimately threaten all life on Earth.

Why you should watch: “The Expanse” has well and truly earned its place among the titans of TV sci-fi, up there along with “Battlestar Galactica” and “Babylon 5.” It’s by far the most cerebral sci-fi currently on television. You can catch up on everything that happened in Season 1 to 3 here, and a lot happened. Then you can catch up with everything that happened in Season 4 here. Personally, we believe seasons 1 and 2 were ever so slightly better than 3 and 4, but that doesn’t in any way mean they’re not worth watching. Then along came Seasons 5 and 6 and blew everyone’s socks off. It is brilliant. The plot is incredibly complex and engaging and the individual performances are exceptional. 

Free with Amazon Prime

2. Farscape

Out of the blue came this interesting, innovative and slightly insane sci-fi series from Australia and it rocked. (Image credit: Jim Henson Television)

Synopsis: During an experimental test flight in low Earth orbit, astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) is catapulted through a wormhole and into a different galaxy and a distant part of the universe. He finds himself part of a crew of fugitives aboard a living, biomechanical spaceship called Moya, running from a tyrannical military force, called the Peacekeepers, all the while hoping that one day, he might figure out a way to get home.

Why you should watch: “Farscape” was unlike anything that had come before it; the show was bold, brilliant and a little bit barmy. In a time where computer generated VFX were entering a new chapter, “Farscape” relied heavily on practical effects, especially where alien creatures were concerned and the result was amazing. A solid cast of characters, some spaced-out plots, well-placed humor and for the most part, good writing, makes this sci-fi show extremely enjoyable. 

Free with Amazon Prime

3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Still one of the most quoted sci-fi shows ever, watch this, then read all the books. You owe it to yourself. (Image credit: BBC)

Synopsis: Arthur Dent’s house has been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new bypass, but this is the least of his problems as it turns out that the planet Earth has been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new hyperspace express route. Thankfully though, it also turns out that his friend Ford Prefect isn’t from Guildford after all, but in fact from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and has been long aware of the Earth’s impending demise. Together they manage to escape and along the way learn the true history of the universe.

Why you should watch: This one is a real treat and will unquestionably appeal to fans of British humor and more specifically, the epic humor of Douglas Adams. Made in 1981, this is still (tragically) the best adaptation that’s been brought to either the big or small screen. The visual effects certainly haven’t stood the test of time, but that’s not why you’re watching it; you’re watching it because it shows beautifully how the relationship between Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) and Ford Prefect (David Dixon) develops. 

Free with Amazon Prime

4. Humans

The quality of writing, high production values and stellar casting makes “Humans” an enjoyable sci-fi thriller. (Image credit: Channel 4 Television)

Synopsis: Set in a parallel present, the latest must-have gadget for any middle-class family is a “synth” — a technologically advanced, a highly-developed robotic servant, eerily similar to its human equivalent. In the hope of transforming the way they live, one strained suburban family purchases a refurbished synth only to discover that sharing life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences. 

Why you should watch: Based on the Swedish science fiction drama Äkta människor, this was an adaptation written by the British team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, that lasted for three, eight-episode seasons before it was sadly cancelled. The concepts in this show aren’t particularly groundbreaking, but what makes it compelling viewing is the quality of writing, high production values and stellar casting. It’s a compelling analysis of human nature and our reactions to technology and it beautifully reflects so many issues facing us, in the real world, today. 

Free with Amazon Prime

5. The Man in the High Castle

Rufus Sewell, who plays Obergruppenführer John Smith, is a highlight in “The Man in the High Castle.” (Image credit: Amazon)

Synopsis: Loosely based Philip K. Dick’s novel, this alt-history story looks at what the world might look like if World War II had ended differently. In this dystopian scenario, the Axis powers won the war, leading to the USA being divided into three zones: Imperial Japanese, Nazi and a buffer zone between the two. Despite the oppression, hope emerges when some mysterious cans of film turn up that seem to show a parallel world — and even more bizarrely, footage of different versions of the same people. A woman, Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) believes the films contain the key to freedom and is determined to find their elusive guardian — the man in the high castle.

Why you should watch: Alt-history is a difficult genre to perfect without descending into a cascade of clichés. If you’re a fan however, you should definitely check out the works of Harry Turtledove (opens in new tab), a writer who nails it every single time. This show can be hard going at times and the Juliana Crain character can be extremely frustrating. That said, Rufus Sewell, who plays Obergruppenführer John Smith, is magnificent to watch. There are four seasons, and yes, the show does dip a little bit in the middle, but it picks up in the fourth season. Stick with it.

Free with Amazon Prime

6. Night Sky

Synopsis: The series centers around Franklin and Irene York, a couple who years ago discovered a chamber buried in their backyard which inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. They’ve carefully guarded their secret ever since, but when an enigmatic young man enters their lives, the Yorks’ quiet existence is quickly upended, and the mysterious chamber they thought they knew so well turns out to be much more than they could ever have imagined.

Why you should watch:  It’s very much a character driven story, with almost all the focus on Sissy Spacek’s and J.K. Simmons’ characters as they struggle with getting old. If you enjoyed “Invasion” on Apple+ last year, then you’ll definitely enjoy this. It’s slow paced, but the incredible performances easily carry this and it will be interesting to see where exactly the writers take us.

Free with Amazon Prime

7. Space: 1999

Aside from the magnificent Martin Landau, the other star of Space: 1999 was the Eagle transporter. (Image credit: Gerry Anderson)

Synopsis: Moonbase Alpha is a research colony nestled in the Lunar crater Plato. Along with scientific study, it also monitors silos of atomic waste from Earth stored on the Moon’s far side. On September 13th 1999, disaster strikes; a build up of magnetic energy causes an explosive chain-reaction of the waste, blasting the Moon out of Earth’s orbit and off the plane of the ecliptic, out of the Solar System. The inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha are trapped, unable to return to Earth and wander the galaxy on their unique celestial spacecraft. 

Why you should watch: From the mind of Gerry Anderson, who also gave us “Thunderbirds,” this one benefitted from an amazing cast, including the phenomenal Martin Landau, together with Barbara Bain and Nick Tate. The first season is currently available to watch and while many of the practical effects look dated today, don’t forget that this show — and especially the first season — contained some pretty horrific scenes, in particular, “Dragon’s Den” (S01, E08), that mentally scarred many young sci-fi fans at the time. 

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8. Tales From the Loop

The visual style of the show has been influenced by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag and it works effectively. (Image credit: Amazon)

Synopsis: A small backwater town has a scientific research facility built underneath it, exactly like the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility that lies on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. But the people of this town experience all kinds of weird events and strange phenomena. Each episode follows one townsperson, or a particular group of townspeople, and their experiences with “the loop.”

Why you should watch: What an incredibly brilliant idea. Why wouldn’t a super-accelerated particle smasher designed to uncover the mysteries of the universe not create super-weird events and interdimensional portals?! The premise of this show is quite possibly one of the most simple and effective we’ve ever seen. Using the existing notion of a sub-atomic research facility, which we’re all already familiar with, as a frame for a “Twilight Zone”-style, “X-Files”-esque, episodic show featuring stories about the “strange and unexplained” is genius. Strong writing and exceptional casting make the week-by-week adventures of the fictional town of Mercer, Ohio addictive viewing. 

Free with Amazon Prime

9.  Thunderbirds

Thunderbird 2, a gigantic, gravity-defying aircraft that can carry all manner of specialized rescue machinery. (Image credit: Gerry Anderson)

Synopsis: In the near future, a billionaire philanthropist has used his extensive knowledge, resources and wealth to create a non-profit, independently operated rescue organization. Using specifically designed, technologically advanced vehicles, including two supersized aircraft, two space vehicles and a submarine, the father — Jeff Tracey and his five sons, Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan — constantly monitor events around the world and then selflessly rush to the scene, wherever it might be, to save lives and avert total disaster. 

Why you should watch: The man behind “Thunderbirds,” Gerry Anderson, also gave the world “Space: 1999,” “UFO,” “Captain Scarlet” and “Space Precinct.” Some of his shows were live action and others, like “Thunderbirds,” were made using puppets. This was done largely to make the demanding special effects scenes possible and as a result, this show features some of the very best model work ever seen on either the large or small screen. The original “Thunderbirds” show is a classic and should be enjoyed as such. 

Free with Amazon Prime

10. Upload

A straightforward premise, with some, simple well-placed VFX, make “Upload” compelling viewing. (Image credit: Amazon)

Synopsis: When a computer programmer Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) dies prematurely, his socialite girlfriend pays the expensive fee to have his consciousness uploaded to the exclusive Lake View resort for the recently deceased. However, depending on what she chooses to accept to pay for, he finds some simple elements of his life are restricted. As Nathan adjusts to digital heaven, he begins to develop feelings for with his customer service representative in the real world, Nora (Andy Allo). She is struggling with the pressures of her job, her dying father who does not want to be uploaded and her own growing feelings for Nathan while slowly coming to believe that Nathan was murdered.

Why you should watch: “Upload” was with a doubt one of the highlights of last year; creator Greg Daniels (“Parks and Recreation” and “The Office”) did a phenomenal job of creating a believable, dark comedy, set in the very near future, with so many worryingly realistic plot elements. Sadly though, the second season lacks the less-is-more magic that Season 1 had and takes the story into a very different place. If you were a fan of the first season, this is still worth a watch…but it’s not quite as good. 

However, the show has been picked up (opens in new tab) for a third season, so fingers crossed now that the pandemic isn’t affecting production schedules quite so much and that the writers can tap into the magic that made the first season so good.

So there you have it! A look at our picks for the best sci-fi movies and TV shows on  Amazon Prime. You can sign up for Amazon Prime here (opens in new tab). After the 30-day free trial, a subscription costs $12.99 per month or $119 for the year.

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