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When it boils down to it, sci-fi may be the most entertaining genre in cinema for me. Maybe this is because of my love for “otherworldly” stuff or maybe it’s because science fiction films are so unique. Either way, though, sci-fi movies always seem to be great, but there are always those films that don’t get the love they deserve. Or maybe they’re sci-fi films with flaws, but are still really enjoyable watches that don’t get enough credit for what they do right.
Here are some of my favorite underrated sci-fi movies that you should see as soon as you can:
- Godzilla – 1998
Godzilla will undoubtedly be the most controversial entry on this list due to it being panned by critics. Let me preface by saying that I don’t think this is a great movie. However, I still think it’s better than what the consensus will tell you. One of the primary reasons that Godzilla is not well-received is because Godzilla looks like more of a lizard in this movie. While I can’t disagree that he doesn’t look as good as he did in earlier films, I think it’s blown out of proportion.
To summarize the plot, a nuclear test goes wrong and a lizard nest becomes inadvertently mutated. Years later, a massive lizard (Godzilla) comes to New York City and wreaks havoc on the metropolis. However, it’s later determined that Godzilla is just preparing to feed its young. Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) then joins forces with the military to try and stop the mutated monster. Overall, it’s a simple but effective plot.
Trust me, I know that Godzilla is far from perfect. This can be attributed either to Matthew Broderick proving he is one of the worst actors of his generation or to the fact that the majority of the cast is generally unlikable. The big reason I think this movie is worth a watch is because the destruction is exciting and extraordinarily well-done. If you’re a fan of that kind of ‘90s carnage, give it a watch.
- Terminator Salvation – 2009
I don’t know if people were thinking Terminator Salvation would be as good as the first two installments in the series. If they were, then this movie was doomed from the start. Let’s get one thing straight, Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day are two of the greatest movies ever made. It’s impossible to live up to those expectations, especially considering that the immortal James Cameron directed them. However, I thought that Terminator Salvation did a pretty good job. If you compare it to the disaster that was Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, it becomes a masterpiece!
At this point in the series, the plot had officially stopped making sense. In Terminator Salvation, John Connor meets a stranger named Marcus Wright. Together, they attempt to uncover a secret that could end up leading to their annihilation. The plot is not as strong as the previous installments, but that’s not too big of a deal. The action is what truly makes this movie worth watching. It may be cliché, but who doesn’t like watching machines annihilate everything?
- Men in Black II – 2002
Men in Black is widely considered a cult classic and one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. The same cannot be said about Men in Black II, and quite frankly that’s a shame. The only edge I give to the first installment is that it had a better villain, but that’s it. Everything else was done just as well as the first installment. Also, the new dynamic of Will Smith being the leader while Tommy Lee Jones was the protégé was wonderfully done.
As everyone who watched Men in Black knows, at the end of the movie Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), loses all of his memories. This made Jay (Will Smith) the new leader. However, as Men in Black II progresses, it becomes clear that the world needs Kay. Overall, what makes this movie so fun to watch is the new relationship dynamic between Kay and Jay. Additionally, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones make up one of the greatest cinema duos ever. This alone makes the movie worth watching as you get to see two masters of their craft work their magic.
- Reign of Fire – 2002
Christian Bale is one of my favorite actors, but Reign of Fire (which leans into fantasy as well as apocalyptic sci-fi) is never talked about when discussing his greatest movies. While I wouldn’t say it’s one of his very best movies, it’s still worthy of recognition.
At the beginning of the movie, a huge dragon is awakened. Years after this event, most of the city is scarred and people are only focused on survival. They have to be extremely cautious every time they go outside because of the overwhelming power of the dragons. The entire point of Reign of Fire is for the characters to try and figure out how to kill these beasts. The joy of this movie comes from watching the cast of characters use their wits and combat skills to fight these monsters. The movie magic used to create the dragons is outstanding!
- Pacific Rim – 2013
You may be wondering why Pacific Rim is on a list of underrated movies when it received good reviews. The reason for this is because I think it deserved an even higher score from critics. Pacific Rim is one of the most entertaining movies that I have ever seen. Every second of its two-hour run time is entertaining. There are not too many other movies that I can say that about.
The plot of this movie can be summarized by this one sentence: giant beasts called Kaiju start attacking the population of Earth and mankind creates giant robots named Jaegers to stop them. As a matter of fact, this is exactly how explained via voiceover at the very start of the movie. Straight from the get-go, you know what you are getting, and that’s great. Pacific Rim is a movie that will make your inner nerd come out and cheer for joy!
Thanks to the proliferation of technology and digital content, all of these movies mentioned are available for streaming. This means there’s nothing stopping you from checking them out today. If you decide that you would like to stream them but you are outside of the US, though, you may need a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It will probably give you access as if you were at home and allow you to enjoy these films.
I am sure that some of these selections are going to be met with controversy, but this is part of the deal! Overall, do you think that I am out of my mind with this list? What other sci-fi movies do you feel are underrated? Please, let us know in the comments section below.
I would like to thank Just Plain Something for publishing this article on their site. I’ve found it to be a great resource for movie reviews and I would specifically recommend their review on Captain America: Civil War to anyone interested in the film.