Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

30 Most Underrated Space Movies You Need To Watch

Ever since the 1902 short film "A Trip To The Moon" saw a rocket smash into the face of the lunar surface, Hollywood has been enamored with stories set amidst the stars. While science fiction movies can encompass many different kinds of remarkable stories, from time travel tales to futuristic dystopian post-apocalypses, stories set in outer space hold a special fascination for the audience and are a touchstone of the genre. Whether they're grounded tales of astronauts seeking out intelligent life or fantastic alien battles between good and evil, some of the biggest films of all time have taken place far from Earth among the vast and endless reaches of the cosmos.

But for every "Star Wars," there's a forgotten, underrated space movie that was swallowed up by the bigger box office hit. For ever "Interstellar," there's another unheralded independent drama about an astronaut that deserves more attention. You've seen "Guardians Of The Galaxy" and "The Martian," and now it's time you take a look at some more movies you may have missed, overlooked because they weren't lighting up the box office charts, or buried in an avalanche of streaming titles. From a 1972 ecological sci-fi thriller to a 2021 Netflix original, here are underrated space movies that you need to watch.

1. Sunshine

The 2007 sci-fi thriller "Sunshine" was directed by Danny Boyle ("28 Days Later") and features one of the best casts on this list. The story chronicles the crew of the starship Icarus II, who've departed a devastated Earth on a critical mission to reignite the sun, which is dying and has left the planet slowly withering away in increasing darkness. A previous mission to save the world had been tried and failed under mysterious circumstances, but when this new crew find the abandoned starship Icarus I along the way, they go aboard to salvage supplies. Looking to find out what went wrong the first time, they bring back a bigger mystery, and soon new problems begin to plague their own ship. It quickly becomes clear that someone is trying to sabotage their mission to save the sun — and doom Earth forever.

A haunting science fiction thriller with a heartbreaking climax, it takes a shocking turn midway through the film that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Largely overlooked on its release, it was a flop at the box office in the middle of a crowded blockbuster summer, but eventually gained some attention after its home video release and later on streaming sites like Netflix. Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh headlined the cast, while a pre-MCU Chris Evans and Benedict Wong appeared alongside Hiroyuki Sanada and Rose Byrne.

2. 2010: The Year We Make Contact

The 1984 sci-fi sequel "2010: The Year We Make Contact" has long lived in the shadow of its predecessor, the groundbreaking science fiction epic "2001: A Space Odyssey." This sequel, released 15 years after the original, and based on Arthur C. Clarke's sequel novel, "2010: Odyssey II," picks up nearly a decade after Dave Bowman's disastrous showdown with the artificially intelligent computer called HAL 9000. 

The film sees the launch of second expedition into space, this time a joint effort between American and Soviet space programs, to determine what happened aboard the Discovery before the ship's orbit decays and it collides with one of the planet's many moons. Finding both Discovery and the mysterious monolith that was at the center of its earlier mission, Discovery Two uncovers the truth behind HAL 9000's behavior, and gets closer to the secrets of the monoliths. Their mission is complicated by events back on Earth, where relations between the United States and the Soviet Union have begun to break down. 

Despite a stellar cast that includes Roy Scheider and Helen Mirren, the film can't quite live up to the 1969 classic that preceded — but if we're honest, few science fiction films do. On its own merits, though, "2010: The Year We Make Contact" is a less cerebral sequel that might even satisfy those who felt the first film was a bit too slow. In some respects, it could even be seen as more effective sci-fi mystery with a clearer message and a warning about our own future, in the truest tradition of the genre.

3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The sixth and final "Star Trek" film to feature the cast of "The Original Series," "The Undiscovered Country" brings Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew back to the bridge of the Enterprise for one last adventure. Ready for retirement, the destruction of a Klingon moon draws them back out into space, with Kirk reluctantly leading a diplomatic mission to escort the Klingon Chancellor to Earth. With their bitter rivals in crisis, there are calls for peace, and the Federation hopes to negotiate a once unthinkable alliance. But when the Chancellor Gorkon is assassinated and Kirk is blamed, he and McCoy are put on trial. 

The chancellor's daughter goes forward with the peace talks, but Spock — now in command of the Enterprise — believes her father's death was part of a bigger plot to sabotage the coming treaty. While "The Undiscovered Country" is recognized as one of the better "Trek" films, it's often overshadowed by "The Wrath Of Khan" and the more crowd-pleasing "Voyage Home." But the sixth film is more than just a space adventure, and it rarely gets the recognition it deserves as a first-rate political thriller that was intended as an allegory for the fall of the Berlin Wall

Impeccable direction, nail-biting suspense, and a chilling performance by actor Christopher Plummer — not to mention a climactic starship confrontation — help make it the franchise's most underrated film.

4. Moon

A terrifying psychological thriller, the 2009 film "Moon" is another movie that received more recognition after its original theatrical release, though it proved short-lived. Since that brief window when it was the talk of sci-fi circles, the movie has fallen back into the pack of underrated sci-fi classics, and deserves to be brought back out for another viewing. Essentially a one-man play, Sam Rockwell ("Iron Man 2") stars as engineer Sam Bell, an astronaut assigned to an extended solitary mission aboard a lunar-based mining installation. 

For three long years, Sam has had no company aboard the station but for a robotic assistant named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). But as his rotation on the moon draws to a close and he prepares to head home, he suddenly begins to lose his grip on his sanity. Seeing visions of a strange woman and a young girl, Sam is forced to question reality itself. Is what he seeing a hallucination or a nightmare, and what is his real mission? These are the questions that Sam and the audience must ponder, and the answers will shock you. Carried solely by Rockwell's powerful singular performance, "Moon" proves a story about a lonely man searching for his soul. A stunning debut for writer and director Duncan Jones, the filmmaker has struggled to live up to his opening masterpiece.

5. Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension

Before he had his career-defining turn as Alex Murphy in "Robocop," star Peter Weller took the title role in W.D. Richter's 1984 cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the 8th Dimension." As weird as you'd expect from the title, the eclectic title hero is a scientist/doctor/rock star/test pilot turned dimension-hopping superhero crimefighter. It all starts when Banzai and his scientist mentor Dr. Tohichi Hikita create a device that sends him and his jet-powered Ford F-350 briefly into another dimension. But while there, he draws the attention of alien overlords who are building an army and plan on attacking New Jersey.

Alongside his bandmates in the Hong Kong Cavaliers, Banzai has to save the Garden State from being overrun by warriors from another dimension. While the movie's plot is needlessly complicated, that's part of the zany, off-the-wall fun of it. Dismissed in its day for being too ridiculous even for the '80s, it proved well ahead of its time, where with more modern SFX it would fit right in today alongside colorful comic book comedies like "Guardians Of The Galaxy," "Thor: Ragnarok" or DC's "Peacemaker." Its all-star cast included Weller, Clancy Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Ellen Barkin, Carl Lumbly, and John Lithgow, too. If you can get past the dated visuals, "The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai In The 8th Dimension" delivers a raucously silly good time.

6. Screamers

Also starring Peter Weller, the 1995 film "Screamers" was based on a story by Philip K. Dick (whose others works were adapted into "Blade Runner," "The Man In The High Castle," "Total Recall," and "Minority Report"), and was written by Dan O'Bannon (who wrote the original "Alien"). Appearing in a more serious action thriller this time around, Weller plays Commander Joseph Hendricksson, leader of a group of former laborers on a distant colony who are embroiled in a brutal war with the mining company. The mining union have fought back and created an army of robotic sentries called "screamers" to hunt and kill the mercenaries the company brought in to crack down on labor strikes.  

But when a company soldier arrives with an offer of peace — and is gunned down by a screamer before he can deliver it — Hendricksson must figure out if the message is true. Does the company really want to end the war? Meanwhile, screamers themselves seem to be growing minds of their own, and have gained a shocking new ability that adds a new dimension to the conflict. A creepy, action-packed thriller that not-so-coincidentally recalls the gritty tone of "Alien," "Screamers" deserves to be dusted off and watched again in the 21st century.

7. High Life

When Robert Pattinson was still struggling to be taken seriously as an actor post-"Twilight," he took a turn in a sci-fi horror film to show his chops in a more cerebral setting. With French filmmaker Claire Denis in the director's chair, the 2018 film "High Life" follows an astronaut named Monte. He is all alone on a journey through deep space aboard an otherwise empty starship, with only what appears to be his infant daughter as company. Told in a nonlinear fashion, the movie flips back and forth from the past and the present as we learn more about what brought him aboard, what caused the loss of the rest of the ship's crew, and where he is headed with a baby in tow.

As the film peels back the layer's of Monte's past, we discover not all is as it seems, and a larger tapestry is at play. An understated performance from Pattinson helps focus the film, which earned it good reviews on its release. Unfortunately, it came and went quickly from theaters. But with Pattinson ascending to Hollywood heavyweight in the aftermath of "The Batman," this is one film that deserves to be given new life, and should be appreciated as one of the most underrated sci-fi films of the decade.

8. Enemy Mine

A science fiction drama from 1985, Dennis Quaid ("Inner Space") and Louis Gossett Jr. ("Iron Eagle") starred in "Enemy Mine," a story of two men — one human, the other alien — who must overcome their biases and distrust of each other's peoples in order to survive on a desolate world in the far reaches of outer space. As the film opens, we find Earth at war with a deadly alien race of reptile-like humanoids called the Dracs some time in the late 21st century. The war has been devastating for both sides, and each has developed a violent intolerance of the other. Fighter pilot Will Davidge (Quaid) has an almost blind hatred for the Dracs, and during a brutal outer space battle, finds himself and an enemy soldier both crashed on a nearby planetoid.

While they at first try to kill one another, it becomes clear that to survive, they'll have to put aside their hatred and work together. As Davidge and the alien attempt to communicate, they learn about each other, and find that they are not so different after all. Using science fiction the way the genre intended, the film provides a social and moral message about looking past our differences to find common ground. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen ("Das Boot"), it's criminally overlooked, and one of the best forgotten sci-fi films of the '80s.

9. Pandorum

Speaking of Dennis Quaid, years after his '80s hayday he would star in "Pandorum," an independent horror movie released in 2009, set aboard a mysterious interstellar starship. Quaid co-stars with Ben Foster ("X-Men: The Last Stand") as Peyton and Bower, a pair of astronauts who awaken from cryogenic stasis and find themselves aboard what seems to be a empty starship. They have no memory of who they are, why they are there, or what the purpose of the vessel might be. As they begin to explore the ship, they realize that they are not alone: they are being stalked by a bizarre and deadly alien creature. But the bloodthirsty beast may or may not be real, as they could be suffering from pandorum — a form of space psychosis — as a result of their extended time in stasis.

But the stakes are raised when they learn that their mission is nothing less than the preservation of the entire human race itself: The ship hauls the last vestiges of mankind on an voyage to a new world after the devastation of Earth. Though the film was barely seen when released in theaters, it garnered a cult following when it found a home on Netflix not long after. Newly discovered by horror and sci-fi enthusiasts who passed it around as a hidden streaming gem, it saw new life, but remains an underrated sci-fi "never-was."

10. Solo: A Star Wars Story

A "Star Wars" movie that's underrated? Look no further than the prequel film "Solo: A Star Wars Story." Savaged by its critics and called the spin-off nobody asked for, the film gives admittedly unnecessary backstory to  the lovable thief Han Solo, once played by Harrison Ford. 

Set some 15 years before the original "Star Wars," it finds the young wayward Han on the run from a criminal syndicate. Separated from the woman he loves, Han joins a group of smugglers led by a seasoned gangster named Tobias Beckett. Taken under the wing of a notorious scoundrel, Han becomes a crafty young hustler himself. But when a job goes wrong and Han finds himself on the wrong end of intergalactic kingpin Dryden Voss, he'll have to get help from a former Wookie slave and a charismatic rogue if he wants to stay alive and reunite with his lost love. 

Though it may not have been a story that needed to be told, and it's certainly not a perfect movie — bogged down by some bizarre attempts at political commentary — it's a high class, glossy spectacle of an adventure that deserves to be appreciated for its own unique charms. With top notch, awe-inspiring action, and some impressive performances from its cast — including star Alden Ehrenreich and renaissance man Donald Glover — it's definitely the most underrated "Star Wars" story, one that doesn't deserve the hate it often gets.

11. Silent Running

Science fiction of the 1970s before "Star Wars" was harder on the science, and in 1972 Douglas Trumball, VFX supervisor on the landmark "2001: A Space Odyssey" three years earlier, took the helm of one of the most under-appreciated hard science fiction films of the decade, "Silent Running." The film opens in a future where Earth has been devastated by environmental disaster and unable to maintain lush plant life. As a result, large space cruisers have been converted to carry massive bio-domes that contain the last remnants of the planet's florae and fauna. Aboard one such vessel is Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), a man who believes in their noble mission, and who is stunned when they are ordered to jettison the forests and return home.

Unwilling to go along with his orders, Lowell rebels and kills the rest of his crew, intent on saving the bio-domes from destruction. Now on the run from the authorities, it's up to him — and a trio of service robot assistants — to preserve the last remnants of Earth's once beautiful environment from annihilation. An outer space ecological adventure with a powerful environment message, it shows one man's sacrifice and conviction, who is willing to stand up and to do what's right, no matter the cost.

12. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Based on the sci-fi radio play-turned-novel series of the same name, "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" may have upset longtime fans of the books who preferred the faithful — if low budget — BBC TV series from the early 1980s. Released in 2005, this big budget Hollywood production deviated from the source material in places, but original creator Douglas Adams co-wrote the screenplay, making it tough to complain. 

Featuring a cast full of big names, some before they were stars, Martin Freeman ("Sherlock") played bumbling everyman Arthur Dent, Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl") was quirky space girl Tricia "Trillian" McMillan and Sam Rockwell ("Iron Man 2") was the President Of The Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox. Rapper Mos Def and actors Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Alan Rickman rounded out the all-star cast. Like the original, it introduced Dent as perpetually beleaguered man whose house is being bulldozed to make way for a highway when he learns aliens are about to blow up Earth for an interstellar bypass. Dent becomes an unwitting adventurer aboard a bizarre spaceship called the Heart Of Gold, alongside a depressed android called Marvin.

A strong adaptation — faithful in tone and spirit if not entirely in story — its very British sense of humor may have put off wider audiences, leaving it to languish in theaters, never receiving its promised sequels. But on its own, it's a big budget sci-fi laugher worthy of becoming a comedy classic.

13. Dark Star

The debut film from celebrated horror director John Carpenter ("Halloween"), it's long been overshadowed by his bigger and better films. Like "Screamers," the 1974 film "Dark Star" was written by Dan O'Bannon, but this one was before his breakout script "Alien" made him a name in Hollywood. Sure to evoke the look and feel of bigger films you've seen many times before, this forgotten cult classic predates them all. It became incredibly influential in the genre, with a style and tone that can still be felt in sci-fi film's today: its gritty, workman-like visual aesthetic, and grounded realism that made space men more like cynical, exhausted blue collar workers than dashing, brave heroic figures. 

Set aboard the exploratory vessel Dark Star, the worn-down crew has been in space for decades, searching for rogue planets that might cause trouble for Earth's interplanetary colonization efforts. Long since settled into their humdrum daily life aboard the broken down starship, their long journey has left Lieutenant Doolittle and his crew with not much to do but continually make repairs thanks to increasingly common maintenance problems. Their situation get worse, though, when the ship is hit by an electromagnetic storm that causes their artificially intelligent weapons to malfunction. Surprisingly sardonic and bitterly acerbic, "Dark Star" is a clever science fiction workplace adventure that may not be the best on this list, but deserves to be better remembered than it is.

14. Galaxy Quest

The third film on this list to include Sam Rockwell, "Galaxy Quest" was a loving homage and quasi-parody of the original "Star Trek" series. Instead of being about a futuristic starship and its crew though, it tells the story of a group of actors form a popular sci-fi television series. Said cast gets mistaken for their characters by a group of alien refugees attempting to escape from an army of insidious villains. Now, thanks to a case of mistaken identity, the cast of eccentric Hollywood thespians finds themselves battling real-life monsters from outer space, and they might just be the only hope of turning the tide of an interstellar struggle.

Often seen as merely a mockery of "Star Trek," the truth is that "Galaxy Quest" is that and so much more. A razor sharp comedy with one of the finest casts a '90s comedy could assemble, it starred Tim Allen as the William Shatner-esque hero (two years before he'd voice the heroic space man Buzz Lightyear), Sigourney Weaver as his bombshell castmate and fictional first officer, plus Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub ("Monk"), Alan Rickman ("Harry Potter"), Justin Long ("Live Free Or Die Hard"), and Rainn Wilson in his pre-"The Office" days. The truth is, "Galaxy Quest" works as a hysterical sci-fi romp even if you don't get all the "Star Trek" jokes, and it deserves to be ranked among the best '90s comedies.

15. Life

Though it was heavily marketed as a big budget sci-fi drama — with a big name cast that included Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal – the 2017 film "Life" came and went quickly, and was unfavorably compared to classics like "Alien." But come at it with different expectations — or, better yet, no expectations — and you'll find a compelling science fiction thriller all its own. The sci-fi horror film begins aboard an International Space Station, where a crew of astronauts has just received soil samples from Mars that may contain living organisms. But the crew is unprepared when the organism grow at an exponential rate, and start attacking and feeding off them.

But when the creature damages the station, causing its orbit to decay, it becomes a race against time to destroy it before it can reach Earth. A tense, action-packed horror movie set in space, early promotion included a cryptic first trailer, leading to speculation that it might somehow be tied to the "Spider-Man" franchise of all things. This confusion led to people misjudging it, and ultimately overlooking it when it turned out to be something else. A victim of lofty expectations, it was quietly buried after disappointing somewhat at the box office, but in many ways is a better "Alien" sequel than anything produced since James Cameron's first sequel.

16. Final Voyage (Das letzte Land)

"Das letzte Land" ("Final Voyage") is a German science fiction drama from 2019 that's never really made its way stateside. Thanks to streaming, though, it's available for those interested in dark psychological sci-fi. If you can track it down, you're in for a treat — especially if you like your space movies slow, dreary, haunting, and enigmatic. At its heart, "The Final Voyage" is a mystery, beginning with an escaped prisoner who discovers an abandoned, run-down space vessel. Paired with one of the prison's former guards, he gets it up and running to escape the hellish planetoid.

But out in deep space, it becomes a ceaseless struggle to keep the craft up and running. Described by Rabbit Reviews as "atmospheric and immersive," the film finds the two desperate explorers on a search for a safe harbor. Drawing inspiration from films like "Dark Star" and "Alien," this modern international sci-fi indie movie deserves a look. Though not a perfect movie, its use of practical effects and its sweeping cosmic vistas make it a visual treat, while its tone and story are a fresh take on the genre that still evoke the look and feel of older classics.

17. Solaris

Starring George Clooney, the 2002 sci-fi drama "Solaris" was based on a classic novel by legendary Polish author Stanislaw Lem. A remake of the previous adaptation, a 1972 Russian film of the same name, it was a passion project of co-producer James Cameron, and was ultimately written and directed by Stephen Soderbergh. The film tells the story of Dr. Chris Kelvin, a psychologist brought in by a corporation that runs a deep space orbital station above the planet Solaris. The crew onboard suffered a series of bizarre mental breakdowns and since disappeared. Kelvin is tasked with investigating and ultimately determining if the station's mission should continue.

But once there, Kelvin himself begins to succumb to the same strange phenomenon, including receiving visions of his long-dead wife. After learning that something similar had happened to the crew, Kelvin must figure out if the visions of their loved ones are real, and if they could in fact be some form of alien contact.

Fresh off their collaboration on the previous year's remake of "Ocean's Eleven," Soderbergh and Clooney made "Solaris" a prestigious, high profile project, but it failed to deliver at the box office. Though recognized by critics for its stirring drama and thought provoking ideas, "Solaris" unfortunately had to contend with the specter of the pioneering original version, which still holds up today. But this new version is more than a retread — it forges its own path, and is sure to impress fans of contemplative science fiction psycho-dramas.

18. Event Horizon

Director Paul W.S. Anderson may be known as a purveyor of schlock action movies — producing the "Resident Evil" series, "Alien Vs. Predator," and the first "Mortal Kombat" film — but in 1997, he made arguably his best work with the sci-fi horror movie "Event Horizon." Assembling a stellar cast that included Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, and Jason Isaacs, the film is about a starship called the Event Horizon that disappeared in deep space, and the crew of a second exploratory vessel sent to investigate it when it suddenly reappears a decade later. 

The mission is led by Miller (Fishburne), a military commander and pragmatist, and Weir (Neill), the inventor of the starship's power drive that supposedly folds space time, and who is obsessed with finding the truth. But as the crew begins looking for clues, they realize that the horror isn't over, and that the disaster that killed the crew of the Event Horizon may soon consume them too. Given Anderson's later catalog of disappointing flicks, it's easy to dismiss "Event Horizon," but with an strong cast and some clever concepts, it's a joyous guilty pleasure sure to satisfy anyone who loves science fiction, action, and horror.

19. Black Hole

After the success of "Star Wars," everyone was looking for the next big sci-fi blockbuster, and the Walt Disney Company was no exception. Nearly 35 years before they'd simply buy the whole enterprise, Disney tried their hand at their own outer space adventure, and the result was the 1979 adventure "Black Hole." Starring Maximillian Schell, Joseph Bottoms, Anthony Perkins, and Robert Forster, the movie follows the crew of the USS Palomino, on a deep space exploratory mission when they encounter an older starship, the USS Cygnus, thought lost 20 years before. 

Now orbiting a black hole, they find one man aboard: Dr. Reinhardt, one of Earth's most brilliant minds, who says he's the last man alive after the ship became damaged. Along with a crew of human-like robot drones he claims to have built himself, he has continued to study the titular black hole. But while exploring the Cygnus, the crew of the Palomino realizes that Reinhardt is hiding something, and there's more to his robot army than meets the eye. A surprisingly disturbing sci-fi adventure for a Disney picture, never became as well known as "Star Wars," nor did it ever become it spawn a franchise, but — thanks to its impressive special effects and intriguing story — it has since become a cult classic.

20. Zathura: A Space Adventure

The 2005 family film "Zathura: A Space Adventure" has been largely forgotten, but in retrospect, it's an important stepping stone on a number of Hollywood journeys. Directed by Jon Favreau just before "Iron Man," the film was also a quasi-sequel to "Jumanji," and there have been calls more recently to reincorporate it back into that franchise. The movie follows a pair of brothers who leave home alone and try to pass the time by playing space adventure board game called Zathura. But every move they make and every situation they encounter in the game comes to life, sending them on an incredible journey into space.

With the help of a heroic astronaut, the two brothers — and their older sister, who becomes trapped with them — must find a way to use the game to make their way back to Earth. A fun family adventure, its lack of success was blamed on poor promotions that confused audiences. But with Favreau at the helm, and a cast that included a young Josh Hutcherson ("The Hunger Games") and Kristen Stewart before "Twilight," the first "Jumanji" sequel is an underrated outer space adventure.

21. Aniara

International sci-fi films are easy to miss in the States, where some of the best gems receive little promotion and can disappear on sites like Netflix or Hulu, buried under mountains of bigger titles. One such gem that shouldn't be miss is the 2018 Swedish science fiction dystopian drama "Aniara" from co-directors Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja. Set in the not-too-distant future, the Earth has become nearly uninhabitable, devastated by climate change that has seen non-stop natural disasters and rising ocean levels. Humanity is colonizing Mars and has begun a mass migration, with massive vessels regularly ferrying large numbers of colonists to the Red Planet. 

One such vessel is the Aniara, a large cruise-liner equipped with a Mima — an artificially intelligent, virtual reality simulator — that provide immersive experiences for the migrants during their long journey. But when the ship is struck by space debris, it loses navigation and may no longer be able to reach Mars. As the journey is extended by years, and the Mima breaks down, the delicate balance of society aboard the star-liner breaks down. Chaos erupts. A wave of despair sweeps the ship, and as chances for rescue dwindle, all hope may rest with the Mimarobe, the Mima's engineer who has been trying to recreate the Mima's functions. A bleak, haunting drama in space, it's not for the faint of heart, but comes highly recommended if you can track it down. 

22. The Last Starfighter

Another attempt to capture the sci-fi adventure of "Star Wars," this time by Universal Studios, the 1986 film "The Last Starfighter" similarly a teenaged boy fulfill his dreams of going into outer space after he is recruited fight in an interstellar war. Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is a high school kid on Earth who becomes the highest scoring player of an arcade game called The Last Starfighter, which he learns was secretly designed to find the best pilots in the cosmos. Brought into outer space and trained by an alien fighter named Grig (Dan O'Herlihy), Alex learns about the war between the Rylan Star League and the Ko-Dan Empire.

The Star League's home planet Rylos has successfully fended off an invasion, but the Ko-Dan's leader, a vicious tyrant named Xur, has a new weapon that can breach their defenses. Now Alex must find the courage to join the war and stop an invasion that threatens to engulf Earth, as well. Criminally under-seen, "The Last Starfighter" is a memorable sci-fi actioneer that any child of the '80s likely has fond memories of, even if it hasn't become a classic.

23. Europa Report

Another sci-fi movie about an exploratory mission that proves a disaster from almost the moment it leaves Earth's atmosphere, the 2013 indie drama "Europa Report" used a mix of found footage, fictionalized news reports, documentary interviews, and gonzo style filmmaking. The end result? A grounded, realistic look at what a real space mission to search for life among the stars might be like. It follow the crew of a privately funded space flight to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, to search for evidence of life. But even before the vessel arrives at its destination, they lose a crew member, who sacrifices himself to save their mission after pass through devastating solar storm.

When they finally get to Europa, they encounter more problems drilling through the moon's icy shell, with their first probe mysteriously lost. A series of unexplained occurrences rattle the group, before disaster strikes, and their entire mission is in jeopardy. Will they discover life on Europa, and if they do, will it be more than they bargained for? An intense and gripping tale of scientific discovery, its unique filmmaking style brought something fresh to the genre that made it worth the watch, even if the story itself wasn't anything groundbreaking.

24. Ad Astra

The thoughtful character drama "Ad Astra" was an ambitious and high profile project for star Brad Pitt, but was mostly seen as a disappointment. It wasn't a flashy sci-fi epic like "Interstellar" nor a dramatic survival story like "The Martian." Instead, "Ad Astra" was a thoughtful, introspective character drama about a family, faith, and legacy. Pitt stars as Roy McBride, commander of SpaceCom, whose father Clifford had manned a mission to Neptune years before, but had been lost somewhere in out there along the way. Now, with a series of unexplained power surges on Earth that are traced back to his father's last known location in deep space, Roy is sent on a mission to find his father and discover the cause of the phenomenon that threatens to destroy the world.

Set in a future world where humanity's obsession with technological progress has led to disaster, the film is sci-fi at its finest, taking a hard look at today's problems through the lens of tomorrow. Punctuated by impeccable performances from its all-star cast — which also includes Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland — "Ad Astra" does more than look great, it explores real issues both broadly profound and intensely personal. Seldom cited as one of Pitt's best, it deserves attention, and remains one of his strongest, most understated performances, despite the movie's lower profile.

25. Cargo

Another lesser-seen international standout, the innovative Netflix original "Cargo" from 2019 comes courtesy of Indian writer and director Arati Kadav. A disturbing space-based tale, it explores the prospect of reincarnation and the afterlife — not to mention other-worldly deities — being discovered in the depths of outer space. It introduces us to scientist Prahastha (Vikrant Massey), who works for a company that runs post-death transition, where — in an orbital station — he prepares recently deceased people for a new life. His monotonous job is just fine as far as he's concerned, and he seems to enjoy his solitary duties. But his routine is disrupted when he's assigned a new assistant.

With the arrival of the young and beautiful Yuvishka (Shweta Tripathi), Prahastha finds his job and life becoming far more complicated. We also learn that Prahastha is something much more than a mere scientist. A compelling and unique blending of Hindu faith and high concept science fiction, "Cargo" impresses with a rare new take on a classic idea: the lone astronaut on a tedious, prolonged mission. Though there are some common themes and ideas at play, "Cargo" at least gives them a sardonic twist with a religious bent, making the film an innovative and imaginative offering that deserves the spotlight.

26. Treasure Planet

When someone mentions an excellent Disney sci-fi film, you probably think of Pixar's "WALL-E," but there's another that's almost entirely forgotten today: the 2002 outer space adventure "Treasure Planet." One of their rare forays into the genre, the film was a clever twist on Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." It focuses on Jim Hawkins, who runs an inn on the planet Montressor. All his life, he has heard stories of intergalactic treasure hunter Nathaniel Flint and his search for the fabled "Treasure Planet." When a starship crash lands nearby, and its pilot leaves him with a mysterious star map, Hawkins discovers that Treasure Planet is no fable, and sets out to find the greatest prize in the galaxy.

A mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and steampunk before it was popular, "Treasure Planet" may just have been a little too ahead of its time. Full of fun visuals, likable heroes, and dastardly villains, it's everything you could want from a Disney animated feature, and it's a real shame it hasn't become a classic. As a good old pulp adventure in space, it succeeds, and deserves to be remembered alongside the best the animation giant has to offer.

27. Stowaway

With a flood of movies landing every month on any number of streaming sites, it's easy for some films to get lost in the crowd. One such movie that disappeared was "Stowaway," a 2021 Netflix original starring Anna Kendrick ("Pitch Perfect"), Daniel Dae-Kim ("Hawaii Five-O") and Toni Collette ("Knives Out"). Despite the cast, it came and went with little fanfare. It's a shame, because it's a first rate space movie about a mission to Mars whose crew runs into a complicated moral dilemma. 

Embarking on a multi-year journey to the Red Planet, three space-faring scientists are thrown for a loop when they discover an unintended stowaway aboard, trapped in the module before takeoff. He's also damaged the ship's CO2 scrubber, making it impossible for the crew to survive. With an unintended companion and malfunctioning equipment that can't sustain so many passengers, the mission seems doomed, and the crew are forced to improvise. But with time running out, and mission control offering no solution, they decide one of them may have to die for the rest to survive. A surprising psychological thriller packed with compelling characters forced into impossible decisions, it's a tense personal drama in outer space that provides some of the best sci-fi suspense on this list.

28. Explorers

The 1985 film "Explorers" featured a surprisingly star-studded cast for a movie with child actors. The film starred Ethan Hawke ("Moon Knight") and River Phoenix ("Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade") in their movie debuts, and also co-starred James Cromwell ("Babe") and Robert Picardo ("Star Trek: Voyager"). Directed by Joe Dante ("Gremlins"), with special effects by Industrial Light & Magic and a score by "Star Trek" composer Jerry Goldsmith, it has a classy pedigree in all facets of the production, yet is somehow hardly remembered.

A classic childhood adventure, the film centers on three friends — Ben, Wolfgang, and Darren — who are obsessed with outer space. When Ben receives a vision of a circuit board in a dream, he and his friends use it to build a small spacecraft in their backyard. Against all odds, the ship flies and takes them on a journey, where they meet a pair of aliens much like them: youngsters looking for adventure. Think of it as "The Sandlot" in space. Unfortunately, the movie was swallowed up in a busy summer that included "Back To The Future" and "Goonies," but if you love those movies, or the similar "Flight Of The Navigator," check out their lesser-seen cousin "Explorers."

29. Space Station 76

What "Austin Powers" did for '60s spy movies, the R-rated 2014 outer space comedy "Space Station 76" does for '70s sci-fi. A retro send-up that mocks classic science fiction films and tropes, including a couple from this list, the film stars Patrick Wilson ("Watchmen"), Liv Tyler ("The Incredible Hulk"), Matt Bomer ("Doom Patrol") and Jerry O'Connell ("Star Trek: Lower Decks"). Set aboard the Omega 76 space station, we meet Jessica Marlow (Tyler), the incoming first officer of the Omega 76 space station. She arrives at her new assignment and clashes with the oddball crew, each dealing with their own personal issues.

Captain Glenn Terry (Wilson) is forced to hide his sexuality in the repressed retro future, while Ted (Bomer) struggles with being a single father who wants nothing more than to get back together with his unstable ex-wife Misty (Marisa Coughlan). A delightful throwback that is as much a '70s comedy as it is an homage to the era, it boasts appropriately primitive VFX and is full of clever sight gags, incisive social commentary, and big laughs mined from the oddity of disco sci-fi. Whether you love that decade's best or just enjoy seeing someone poke fun at them, "Space Station 76" will leave you laughing all the way to Alpha Centauri and back.

30. Love

The directorial debut of filmmaker William Eubank (whose further science fiction films "The Signal" and "Underwater" also come highly recommended), the curiously titled 2011 space drama "Love" once again tells a tale of loneliness and madness in space. It focuses on a singular astronaut, Lee Miller, who has been sent on a one-man mission to the previously abandoned International Space Station in the year 2039. After he arrives however, a massive global war breaks out on Earth, devastating the planet and leaving him all alone in orbit, possibly the last man alive.

As he deals with both a physical and existential crisis, Miller slowly begins to lose his grip on his sanity. But while trying to stay alive, he discovers a strange and antiquated journal aboard the station. Written during the Civil War by a Union captain, it recounts the soldier's fantastic journey to investigate a strange, unearthly object that had been reported during the conflict. Miller will soon discover that he and the Union captain have more in common than he ever could have imagined. Though "Love" explores common themes the genre has touched on before, the low-budget indie film embraces them with a certain spirituality that makes it unique, and should appeal to fans of more thought-provoking space-based science fiction.