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The best sci-fi TV and movies to watch on HBO Max: From 'Free Guy' to 'Starship Troopers'

There's a whole heckuva lot to stream these days, especially on HBO Max, but we're here to make it easier on you.

Free Guy

For those about to watch, we salute you. And fortunately, we help guide you, because there’s a whole lot to watch on streaming these days. What a world!

Adding to that great big world of streaming is HBO Max, one of the better streamers out there, for genre watching or even other stuff (apparently there are other things to watch besides sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero stories). That said, we prefer genre, but there’s a lot of really good choices to sift through on HBO Max, so much so that it can be overwhelming at times.

But worry not, for SYFY WIRE is here for all your viewing needs. Don't get stumped thinking about all the myriad multiversal choices you're faced with, and simply read on for our recs of some of the best genre titles currently streaming on HBO Max.

Free Guy

Why just have a good day watching TV when you can have a great one? Ryan Reynolds slays as Guy, a non-playable character in an open-world video game called Free City, which is basically a stunning mix of Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite that makes for a boring yet terrifying life for a background player. With a little inspiration from Jodie Comer’s Millie/Molotov Girl and some super enhanced sunglassed vision, a great day is guaranteed as Guy sheds his background identity to become the hero of his own open world.  

Starship Troopers

If the world's on the line against gonzo insectoid alien occupiers, you sure as shinola want Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside on your side. Two of the toughest character actors of the day anchor Paul Verhoeven's (Total Recall, Robocop) stellar cast of (then) fresh faces Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, and Neil Patrick Harris: the rah-rah recruits of the Federal Service, who heroically train for worst bug case scenarios, and then encounter far worse in the actual war.  


If it's been about 40 years since you've watched the original Smurfs animated series, wait no longer, because it will trip you the heck out nowadays. Nostalgia and streamers go hand in hand, of course, but it's hard not to raise a little blue hand and wave you're Smurf flag all around while re-watching this '80s gem. So sit back and ponder the glorious wonders of this strange, wacky world, like why is Grouchy so smurfing grouchy when everything is so blue and wonderful and he lives in a mushroom house?

Resident(s) Evil

New to the streamer recently are a neighborhood full of Resident Evil films, including 2002's original Capcom game adaptation directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich as amnesiac Alice, who heroically joins a surly band of commandos in an effort to contain a deadly T-virus outbreak at the Hive, a secret underground facility overrun with zombified former employees and Lickers, experimental creatures made with the virus that make for great cannon-fodder. Once you finish the initial round of fun, you can kill many further hours watching many further and more creative kills in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), and Resident Evil: Retribution (2012). That's a whole lot of at-home evil!

True Blood

When's the last time you went back and binged all seven seasons of Alan Ball's groundbreaking take on Charlaine Harris' blood-soaked novel series, The Southern Vampire Mysteries? Or perhaps you never finished it all, after the witches and fairies came into town and started stealing the vampires' and werewolves' thunder? Now's a great time to remedy that. Sure, it got a little ridiculous as things went on there, but it never stopped entertaining, tapping right into the vein of what we mere humans bingeingly long for: sex, blood, and vampires.

Our Flag Means Death

Debuting March 3 on the streamer is Taika Waititi's pirate comedy starring Rhys Darby, aka Murray Hewitt, aka the ever adept lawyer for New Zealand super-duo Flight of the Conchords. Sure, you had us at pirates, but that's two great comedic talents right there too. Throw in the fact that HBO doesn't generally make bad originals, and a premise based on the true 18th century tales of would-be pirate, Stede Bonnet, and we're more than a little intrigued to see how this ship sails.  

Donnie Darko

High school is hard enough without a giant, manipulative rabbit telling you the world is ending in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, while encouraging you to do awful things to your fellow community members. It doesn't matter how many times you've seen Jake Gyllenhaal power his way onto the scene in Richard Kelly's time-bending cult classic, odds are good you'll never really understand it all. But the hypnotic mystery of it is the reason it's so can't-look-away captivating, and so worth re-watching again and again.

F9: The Fast Saga

Justin Lin's ninequel somehow make an even bigger action movie than its eight action-packed, gravity defying predecessors (even you, Tokyo Drift). Vin Diesel's family man Dom is happy living his life more than a quarter-mile at a time, at least until his non-peacemaking little brother Jakob (John Cena) tries to take over the world. Of course, Dom and his real family go to the ends of the Earth (and beyond) to make sure that doesn't happen. It's a long road to F10 on May 19, 2023, so may as well buckle up for as many high octane streaming thrills as you can get now.

Clash of the Titans

Long before the 2010 remake tried to modernize Perseus' ancient myths, Desmond Davis's 1981 swords and sandals classic showcased, among other high points, effects wizard Ray Harryhausen's epic final work in all its stop-motion glory; Burgess Meredith as boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill's Ancient Greek equivalent; steaming Harry Hamlin dealing with Laurence Olivier's Zeus "unleashing the Krakken"; and an inexplicably omniscient golden owl. Some remakes just can't recreate that time-and-a-place eccentricity that made the original so ... well, original.

The Witches of Eastwick

Has there ever been a man more suited to playing a devilish character than Jack Nicholson? No, no there has not, and nowhere is that more apparent than in George Miller's (Mad Max) adaptation of John Updike's 1984 novel. But even Nicholson's satanic powers can't hold a nipple-dripping candle to the power that comes about when Eastwick's finest witches -- played by superstars Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer --  get together for some not-so-innocent conjuring. It's a spellbinding lesson in the dark arts, set against the doldrums of the suburbs, with some of the best actors of the day having the wicked time of their life.