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The Best Sci-fi Movies Streaming on Peacock: Get Out, Ghostbusters, The Matrix & More
The bird app is where sci-fi's at!
Stories are the way we talk about the things we’re not good at talking about: love, death, fear, hope... We build proxies for ourselves that are better-looking, braver, or cleverer than we are, and we put them in the situations we can only imagine in order to explore the world as it is or as we wish it could be. Science fiction, more than perhaps any other genre, extends this unique form of cultural meditation to our own possible future.
Through science fiction, we see the ways the world might one day be, and we can make mistakes on page or screen in the hope that we don’t make them when they really come knocking. Because we can only build what we can first imagine, we’d serve ourselves well by sampling the many different potential futures available in our fictions.
If you’re looking for inspiration, Peacock’s collection of science fiction movies and television series might be the perfect place to start. To be sure, not all sci-fi flicks present an ideal future, and they might serve you better as a warning than a blueprint, but you’re sure to have a blast along the way. There are scores of movies and hundreds of episodes of science fiction to choose from, these are but some of our favorites.
What are the best sci-fi movies now streaming on Peacock?
This simply named horror film is the 2019 follow-up to Jordan Peele’s breakout hit Get Out. The simplicity of its title, however, hides a delightfully complex and horrifying story. It begins in 1986, when a young Adelaide Thomas visits the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with her family.
During a visit to the house of mirrors she finds a copy of herself, not a reflection but something much more sinister. The event was so traumatizing that Adelaide didn’t speak for years after. Decades later, we return to find an adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) on her way to another vacation with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their two children.
That’s when Adelaide’s double returns, only this time she’s not alone. The doppelganger, known as Red, has a family of her own and they want the life Adelaide and her family have. More than that, there are doubles for everyone on Earth. They call themselves the Tethered… and they are mad.
GHOSTBUSTERS (AND GHOSTBUSTERS II)
Ghostbusters is one of the most recognized and enduring franchises in movie history and this is the movie that started it all. Released in 1984 and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters follows the hilarious and world-defining exploits of four ghost hunters in New York.
While the premise of the movie is undoubtedly supernatural — a closer fit for the fantasy or horror genres — the way they handle their spectral adversaries plants them firmly in science fiction territory. Capturing ghosts, it turns out, requires the use of some of science fiction’s most iconic gadgets, including the proton pack (basically a miniaturized particle accelerator), the ghost trap, and the Ecto-1 itself.
When ghosts break out all over New York, it’s up to this rag-tag group of jumpsuit wearing ding-dongs with highly dangerous, experimental equipment to save us from a literal Hell on Earth. If you’re looking for a double dose of ghosts and ghoulies, queue up a double feature with Ghostbusters II.
THE MATRIX (AND SEQUELS)
The year was 1999 and humanity was counting the days to a new millennium. The tone was a mixture of hope for a brave new future and fear of impending doom. Those feelings aren’t uncommon any time we experience the turning of a page, but the Wachowskis grabbed hold of it and created The Matrix, one of the most definitive cyberpunk stories of all time.
Our story begins with Neo (Keanu Reeves) a white collar worker by day and semi-famous hacker by night. He suspects there is more to this world than meets the eye, suspicions which are confirmed when Neo follows a mysterious message, first to a nightclub, then down the rabbit hole.
Until now, Neo has lived inside the Matrix, a digital recreation of our world at the turn of the millennium, inside of which all of humanity is imprisoned. The resulting narrative is an entertaining and mind-bending philosophical examination absolutely armed to the teeth. The Matrix was a breakout hit, launching the Wachowskis into directorial superstardom and garnering two sequels, both released in 2003. Nearly two decades later, in 2021, Lana Wachowski returned to the world of the Matrix for a final(?) installment, The Matrix Resurrections. Catch the entire series streaming on Peacock!
Before Get Out, Jordan Peele was mostly known for being one half of the comedy duo Key & Peele. Together, they delivered their signature style of comedy for years in places like MADtv, the music video for Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy,” and their own self-titled show on Comedy Central. After Get Out, Peele became known as one of the most consistently inventive and impressive voices in modern horror.
Peele’s directorial debut stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams (M3GAN) as Chris and Rose, a young couple on their way to a short vacation in Upstate New York. They’re going to meet Rose’s parents and Chris is concerned about how they might react to their daughter’s interracial marriage. It turns out, they’re excited about it. A little too excited. And things get weird when Chris notices all of the employees, including the housekeeper and groundskeeper, are black. Not to mention that Rose’s parents keep making racist and generally inappropriate comments.
As the story unfolds, and the motives of Rose and her family are revealed, Chris sinks into a shadowy world merging cutting-edge medical technology and centuries-old, entrenched racism.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
Okay, this is technically a TV show, but it's a TV show about watching movies, in full. That counts!
You never know what a new day might bring. If you’re very unlucky you might be kidnapped by a group of mad scientists, shuttled aboard an interstellar spacecraft, and forced to watch bad movies until your connection with reality shatters. If you find yourself in that situation, it helps to have a few friends. When Joel Robinson found himself in this exact unlikely but hilarious situation, and without any friends, he built some from scratch using pieces of the ship. Those friends are known as Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and GPC. And they, along with the human test subject, watch bad movies and crack wise to make them a little less painful. The great thing about Mystery Science Theater 3000 is it isn’t just one bad movie, but so many. So many, that eventually, they start to look pretty good. Not every episode is streaming on Peacock, but several classics, including Mitchell, Pod People, and Hercules Against the Moon Men, are.
Turbo Kid isn’t, strictly speaking, a vision of the future, but we’ll let it slide because it’s INCREDIBLE. It takes place in an alternate reality 1997, in a world struggling for water. The tyrannical overlord Zeus (played perfectly by Michael Ironside) captures people from the Wasteland and crushes them to get their water. It’s a tough world to live in when you’re a kid who just wants to ride his bike and read comic books.
When The Kid meets Apple, a friendship model robot, the two of them embark on a coming of age story like none you’ve ever seen. It’s equal parts Napoleon Dynamite and Mad Max, with a disturbingly hilarious amount of blood splatter. It’s a post-apocalyptic fever dream as imagined by a Power Glove-wearing teenager from the ‘80s. It’s perfect.
Europa is one of Jupiter’s four largest moons (the so-called Galilean moons) and it’s covered in a global sheet of ice. Beneath that ice, thanks to the tidal forces between Europa, Jupiter, and its dozens of other moons, is a world-spanning ocean of liquid water. Research suggests activity at the surface transports oxygen and salts into the water, and seafloor vents could provide a source of nutrients and heat. With a bit of luck, life could spring up there and thrive in a lightless ocean world.
Europa Report imagines the sort of mission we dream of, sending brave explorers to an alien world to see it for themselves. Sadly, things don’t go as planned. That’s clear from the jump, because the story is narrated not by any of the crewmembers, but by the CEO of Europa Ventures, Dr. Samantha Unger. A crewed mission is sent to the icy moon, looking for life. In space, you should be careful what you wish for.
Upon landing, they drill through the ice and release a probe. One crew member sees a blue light in the distance but is dismissed as being sleep deprived. All doubt evaporates when the underwater probe sees a similar light just moments before being destroyed. There’s life on Europa, alright, and it isn’t happy.
Juan Diego Solanas’ 2012 film, Upside Down, blurs the lines between science fiction and fantasy to tell a cosmic love story only possible in our imaginations. We enter the worlds of Upside Down through the eyes of Adam (Jim Sturgess). He’s an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances, a citizen of a binary planet system with an impossible gravitational relationship.
The two worlds, known only as Up and Down, share a gravitational field, allowing them to orbit in incredibly close proximity to one another. But that doesn’t mean that residents of the two worlds travel freely between them. On these worlds, matter adheres to a few seemingly inalienable rules. First and most important: All matter is only attracted to the gravity of its home world. Second: Matter can be counterbalanced by “inverse” matter from the opposing world. Finally: Contact with inverse matter is temporary and results in spontaneous combustion after a few hours.
Adam might have been satisfied to live out his life on one world, but when he meets Eden (Kirsten Dunst), a woman from Up, they set about rewriting both the laws of their society and the laws of physics.
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
Beyond the Black Rainbow, from writer-director Panos Cosmatos (Mandy), takes place largely inside the walls of the fictional Arboria Institute, a research facility dedicated to exploring the intersection between science and spirituality. Those studies are carried out by Dr. Barry Nyle, protégé of Mercurio Arboria, the institute’s founder. And the focus of those studies is a single subject, tucked into the facility’s lower levels.
There, Elena, a young girl with incredible psychic and psychokinetic abilities, is kept prisoner by an advanced suppressive technology. The story abandons many of the usual narrative stylings in favor of something more visceral. That’s resulted in some mixed reviews, with critics citing unusual pacing and story structure. But if you’re willing to go for the ride, Beyond the Black Rainbow is a feast of visual storytelling you’re not likely to soon forget.
THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020)
From 1931 until 1956, Universal Pictures released 41 movies in their classic monster series. The popular image of creatures from Dracula and the Wolfman to Frankenstein and the Mummy are defined in large part by those films. Unlike other creatures from the Universal pantheon, the Invisible Man is the result of science gone wrong.
In H.G. Wells’ original story and the 1933 adaptation, his character relies on chemistry to render himself invisible. The 2020 adaptation, directed by Leigh Whannel (Upgrade, Insidious: Chapter 3) and starring Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House) replaces chemistry with advanced optics.
When Cecilia Kass (Moss) leaves her abusive partner Adrian Griffin (Jackson-Cohen) she thinks she’s finally free. That feeling is reinforced when Griffin is found dead, apparently of a self-inflicted injury. But when Cecilia starts suspecting an invisible presence in her home, there’s only one explanation. Griffin isn’t dead, and he’s bent on continuing his campaign of control until one or both of them are dead.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
You might be tempted to argue that Night of the Living Dead belongs in horror, not science fiction. To that, we say, “Yeah, but also no.” There’s no arguing that zombies are scary, and that Night of the Living Dead holds a crucial position in their narrative evolution. But you can’t divorce the horror of the shambling dead from the weird and wacky science that creates them.
George Romero’s 1968 classic practically defined the modern zombie and influences everything from The Walking Dead to The Last of Us, even today. While survivors hole up in an abandoned farmhouse, they secure themselves against the ravenous corpses at their door and listen to radio broadcasts about the developing global incident.
Scientists speculate that the strange behavior is a consequence of a downed space probe. On its way back from studying Venus, the probe exploded in the atmosphere over Earth, scattering its cosmic cargo far and wide. They might be spooky decaying monsters at the end of the day, but they are alien spooky decaying creatures. And they are very cool.
Most of us aren’t really comfortable with the concept of our own death. Throughout history, people have tried everything from elixirs and fountains to enchanted stones in an attempt to forestall their inevitable demise.
These days, we’ve mostly discarded magical solutions in favor of technological ones. And if you’re an enterprising billionaire keen on living forever, you might be willing to do some truly questionable things. Self/Less follows the activities of one Damian Hale, a billionaire with terminal cancer, played by both Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds.
As Hale’s clock is counting down, he is sent to a Professor Albright, who specializes in a process known as shedding, during which a person’s consciousness is transferred from their existing body into one which is younger and healthier. Old Damian (Kingsley) transfers into a younger body (Reynolds) and warned of possible hallucinations.
Those hallucinations, of course, turn out to be memories from the life he stole. Now Damian has a choice, and not a very good one.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Director Edgar Wright adapted Brian Lee O’Malley’s famed Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series in the feature film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Michael Cera stars in the title role, alongside a packed cast of co-stars including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Ellen Wong, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Brandon Routh, Alison Pill, and Jason Schwartzman.
Canadian twenty-something Scott is dating 17-year-old Knives Chau (his fake high school girlfriend) to the derision of his friends and acquaintances. He quickly jumps ship, however, when he meets Ramona Flowers, a delivery-person from the States with home he becomes enamored. But to be with Ramona, Scott must fight and defeat her seven evil exes in a series of increasingly dramatic battles.
If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like if ordinary life was a video game, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has your answer and it rules.
John Carpenter’s 1988 science-fiction classic They Live presents a world in which all of our most feared conspiracy theories are true. Our avatar to the story is a drifter named Nada (Roddy Piper) looking for work in Los Angeles. During his search, he encounters a street preacher warning of the wicked machinations of a nebulous “They.” It’s the sort of thing you see in most major cities and usually disregard. Nada may have disregarded it too, if not for what happened later.
A strange television broadcast claims that subliminal messages and hidden signals are controlling our behavior. Nada becomes embroiled in a secret plot to save humanity and gains a pair of special sunglasses which reveal the subliminal messages and the skull-faced aliens living among us.
They are making us overconsume, pollute our planet, and fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases in an attempt to transform our planet into something closer to their own. The more we think about it, the more this is starting to make sense. If it isn’t aliens, then we must be making all of those bad decisions on our own.
The 2000 science-fiction thriller Hollow Man is loosely based on the H.G. Wells story The Invisible Man. It stars Kevin Bacon as Dr. Sebastian Cain, a stand in for Wells’ Griffin character. Cain and his team are working on a secret government project to create an invisibility serum for use by the military. As the story begins, they’ve just succeeded at turning a gorilla invisible and returning it to visibility.
Cain should report the success to his superiors, but he doesn’t. Instead, he lies, and pressures his team to begin human testing. Their first subject: Dr. Cain himself. Their serum succeeds in making Cain invisible, but when they try to make him visible again something goes wrong.
The longer Cain remains invisible, the more he separates from reality, thinking himself a god. And he’s loose in the lab — nay, loose in the world — and no one outside even knows he exists.
There’s something inherently frightening about Antarctica. Going there, to the fringes of our world, the only place too cold for our species to set up permanent residence, means stepping outside of our domain. It’s off the map, as it were, the sort of place you might find monsters.
John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror, The Thing, explores that concept in terrifying detail. The story follows helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) on an Antarctic expedition, when the crew finds a downed alien spacecraft buried in the ice. Only, the ship wasn’t empty and an alien organism escapes, infecting anything living and taking its place.
Now, MacReady and his colleagues are all that stand between the ravenous body-snatching alien and the rest of humanity. And they don’t know who, if anyone, they can trust.
Stream these great movies and many more on Peacock!