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11 Best Sci-Fi Movies On HBO Max [August 2021]

HBO Max is quickly becoming the most competitive streaming service when it comes to feature films, boasting an impressive library of Warner Bros. classics, contemporary favorites licensed through their cable service, new releases fresh from theaters, and a sampling from the Criterion Collection. No slouch in the science fiction department, HBO Max is currently home to some of the greatest films in the history of the genre, as well as some cult favorites. Our picks for the 11 best sci-fi movies currently streaming on the site run the gamut from cerebral social satire to bombastic action-adventure, as well as some films that are a little of both. Whatever your tastes, we hope you'll find something to your liking.

Updated on July 26, 2021: As HBO Max changes its selection, we'll keep this list updated to reflect the changes in its streaming catalog. Be sure to check back each month for films that will spark your imagination, as we'll be keeping this list current with the latest and greatest sci-fi films to hit the app.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Could the advent of practical space travel jumpstart humanity into the next phase of its evolution? In this meditative journey through time and space, witness three quantum leaps in the history of consciousness — one by our primordial ancestors, one by an artificial intelligence, and one for the generations of human beings to come. And in addition to the film's Oscar-winning special effects (which still hold up to this day), "2001: A Space Odyssey" features one of cinema's all-time villains and some of the trippiest visuals you'll ever see in a sci-fi film.

Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Year: 1968

Runtime: 145 minutes

Rating: G

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Best friends Bill and Ted are benign high school slackers whose ambitions of rock stardom are endangered when Ted's dad threatens to send him away to military school. The pair has one hope for staying together: Ted has to ace his final history report. Luckily, they receive some unexpected help from a time traveler who tells them that their band is the key to bringing about a utopian future. Bill and Ted leap back and forth through the ages to assemble an all-star cast of historical figures and deliver the most excellent school project of all time.

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin

Director: Stephen Herek

Year: 1989

Runtime: 89 minutes

Rating: PG

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

In this futuristic neo-noir, weary detective Rick Deckard is assigned to track down and "retire" a group of rogue replicants — bio-engineered humanoid servants. The replicants, led by the brilliant Roy Batty, will stop at nothing to find a way to extend their pre-programmed four-year lifespan. But during his investigation, Deckard encounters Rachel, a replicant who believes she's human, and as a result, he's forced to question whether there's really a difference between himself and the machines he's been ordered to destroy. 

With its breathtaking visuals and unique atmosphere, this landmark sci-fi film set the stage for movies like "Akira" and "The Matrix." And if you believe that directors should have the last word on their films, you'll be happy to know that HBO Max features the beloved "Final Cut," widely considered the best version of the film.

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young

Director: Ridley Scott

Year: 1982

Runtime: 117 minutes

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Demolition Man

In the year 2032, the city of San Angeles is a utopia where even the police are nonviolent, but they're caught totally unprepared when psychotic supervillain Simon Phoenix is awakened from cryo-freeze and goes on a rampage. To stop his killing spree, they'll need to thaw out John Spartan, a cop who Phoenix once framed for mass murder. Can Spartan adjust to this bizarre new world where they don't punch, swear, or even wipe their butts same the way they used to? And can this sunny future really be as bright as it seems?

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock

Director: Marco Brambilla

Year: 1993

Runtime: 115 minutes

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The delicate balance of the Cold War is upset when a ranking American officer goes hopping mad and orders a first strike on the Soviet Union. Unbeknownst to him, the Soviets have equipped a doomsday weapon that will automatically retaliate with equal force. There may still be a slim chance of avoiding a total nuclear holocaust, but it depends on the competence, delicacy, and benevolence of the president of the United States and his military brain trust. In short, we're all doomed. Well, except moviegoers, who get to revel in the film's ice cold satire while watching comedy legend Peter Sellers play three wildly different (and just plain wild) characters.

Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Year: 1964

Runtime: 94 minutes

Rating: PG

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%


Nuclear weapons testing has reawakened a giant prehistoric monster that now threatens life in post-war Japan. The beast, Godzilla, lays waste to coastal cities, immune to conventional weapons and indifferent to human suffering. One scientist may have found a way of putting a stop to Godzilla's rampage, but can he justify bringing yet another weapon of mass destruction into the world? Find out by witnessing one of the all-time great monster movies, which also happens to be one of the best critiques of nuclear warfare and an iconic film that launched a legendary franchise.

Starring: Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi, Akihiko Hirata

Director: Ishirō Honda

Year: 1954

Runtime: 96 minutes

Rating: Not Rated

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

The Matrix

A computer programmer who moonlights as the criminal hacker Neo suspects that there's something intrinsically wrong with the world in which he lives. His search for answers leads him to Trinity and Morpheus, soldiers in a revolution against an invisible but omnipresent system that has enslaved humanity — a system that Neo himself may be the key to dismantling. To save the future, Neo will have to learn to fight on a battlefield where all rules, even the laws of physics, are made to be broken. 

The result is one of the most groundbreaking sci-fi films of all time, a movie that gave us cinematic techniques like "bullet time," incredible quotes like "I know kung fu," and some of the best shoot-outs and martial arts battles you'll ever see. Take the red pill, and check out "The Matrix."

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss

Directors: Lana and Lilly Wachowski

Year: 1999

Runtime: 136 minutes

Rating: R

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Planet of the Apes

Astronaut George Taylor becomes stranded on a planet ruled by a society of intelligent apes who treat humans like mindless beasts of burden. Captured, imprisoned, and rendered mute by their abuse, Taylor must now depend on a pair of sympathetic apes to either help him escape bondage or to convince his simian captors that he and his fellow human beings are people.

"Planet of the Apes" won makeup artist John Chambers an honorary Oscar for his amazing effects work, and the film — with a screenplay co-written by Rod Serling of "The Twilight Zone" — features one of the greatest endings you'll ever see. Plus, if you're a fan of the first film, it's just the beginning of a philosophical, timey-wimey, action-packed franchise.

Starring: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

Year: 1968

Runtime: 112 minutes

Rating: G

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%


Psychologist Dr. Kris Kelvin is dispatched to a space station orbiting a strange ocean planet to investigate an apparent mental health crisis among the crew. At first, Kris believes that the scientists living there in isolation are having hallucinations of loved ones, but soon, he's confronted by a lifelike apparition of his late wife, Hari. What does her appearance mean, and what does it have to do with the planet below? Can their love be real, even if she's not? Widely hailed as one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, "Solaris" is a strange and fascinating journey into the heart of the genre and one of the finest films from the Soviet Union.

Starring: Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

Year: 1972

Runtime: 167 minutes

Rating: TV-14

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%


Dominic Cobb is a corporate spy who uses advanced technology to enter his targets' dreams and extract their secrets. Now, he's been tasked with doing the reverse — to dive into someone's mind and plant the seed of an idea so deep in their subconscious that they believe it to be their own. To do this, he'll need to put together an elite team of dream thieves and to defeat the demons hiding in his own dreamspace. The result is a cerebral thriller set in the malleable reality of imagination, boasting uniquely cool visuals and action.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 148 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Jurassic Park

"Jurassic Park" is a milestone in both digital and practical creature effects, depicting dinosaurs both large and small through a lens of awe, wonder, and terror that's yet to be matched even by its own sequels. As for the plot, geneticists in the employ of industrialist John Hammond have discovered how to clone dinosaurs from fossilized DNA samples. Hammond wants to share this miracle of science with the world at a new island attraction, Jurassic Park, and invites a group of experts (plus his own grandchildren) to be its first visitors. Soon, they'll learn that when you mess with nature, nature tends to mess right back.

"Jurassic Park" comes to HBO Max on August 14th.

  • Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 126 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%