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The Best Sci-fi Movies Streaming on Peacock: Inception, NOPE, Jurassic World and More

The bird app is where sci-fi's at!

By Cassidy Ward

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 either way 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.

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JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM

In 2015, the world was introduced to Jurassic World, which appeared to be the realization of John Hammond’s dream, bringing real live dinosaurs to the masses. Of course, it was doomed to end in bloodshed. The second installment, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, flips the script and suddenly it’s the dinosaurs that need saving.

It’s been three years since the tragic and deadly events of Jurassic World and the fictional island of Isla Nublar is under threat of a looming volcanic eruption. Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) presents the position that Hammond’s dinosaur-shaped creatures should be left to their fate, and the United States Government agrees.

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) have other ideas, which is why they sign up for a secret mission to relocate the dinosaurs to a new sanctuary. Of course, there are even more secret and more sinister ulterior motives at play.


JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION

Jurassic World Dominion is the final installment (for now) of a story that started way back in 1993 with Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Worlds are colliding and we don’t just mean humans and dinosaurs. The gang is all together now; Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) team up with Doctors Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) with the fate of the world in their hands.

The story takes place roughly four years after the destructive events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The dinosaurs are out of their cages for good and are busy re-inheriting the earth. Meanwhile, genetically modified locusts threaten global food security, and the specter of human cloning looms large. The genetic genie is out of the bottle and we have to find ways, for better or worse, to live in an increasingly Jurassic world.


DONNIE DARKO

Richard Kelly’s 2001 cult classic, Donnie Darko, continues to demand rewatches and command late-night barguments two decades after release. Set in 1988, the titular Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is awoken by a mysterious voice. Following it, he encounters a creepy, humanoid rabbit named Frank who tells Donnie the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.

Strange as that encounter was, it saved Donnie from certain death when an airplane engine crashed into his bedroom. From there, a bizarre series of events unfolds involving tangent universes, multiverse artifacts, time traveling ghosts, and the entangled fates of one boy and the entire universe.


GAMER

In Gamer’s gritty view of the near future, an inventor named Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) creates nanites capable of replacing and replicating human brain tissue. The result: complete remote control over another person’s body.

Right away, the technology is used for a real-world version of The Sims called Society, in which players manipulate living avatars. But the tech really takes off when Castle launches Slayers, a violent first-person-shooter version of Society in which players control death row inmates in very real and very deadly combat. If an inmate survives 30 matches — something in the complete control of the player — they are granted their freedom.

That’s never happened, but a new “character” named Kable (Gerard Butler) is only three matches away when the whole house of cards crumbles down around him. It presents a world which feels right next door in a sickening kind of way.


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

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.


UPSIDE DOWN

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.


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.

RELATED: The 13 Scariest Horror Movies Streaming on Peacock, from Invisible Man to America Psycho


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.


HIGHLANDER

It’s a battle centuries in the making, and it’s all coming to a head right now in Highlander. Christopher Lambert stars as Connor MacLeod, an immortal being born in 16th Century Scotland embroiled in an eon-spanning battle for power.

Centuries later, in the modern day circa 1986, MacLeod encounters another immortal in a New York parking lot and the two of them fight to the death. The conflict, of course, is no ordinary battle, but is instead a single skirmish in a war to the death for the ultimate prize. After all, whether McLeod likes it or not, there can be only one!


HULK

Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe would rewrite the way we tell superhero stories, and only a year after Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie, Ang Lee gave us his vision of the Hulk in the appropriately named Hulk.

The movie tells the origin story of Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) and the angry alter ego who emerges after a laboratory accident involving gamma radiation. You know the drill. While Ang Lee’s Hulk received mixed reviews upon release it has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years as fans and critics revisit the movie nearly two decades later. Whether your fondness for this version of the Hulk has grown like a big green monster or it just leaves you feeling angry is only a click away.


EUROPA REPORT

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 to plan. 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.


I, ROBOT

I, Robot takes us to a not-so-distant future where our hubris has outgrown our caution. It’s 2035 and advanced humanoid robots are everywhere. They take out our garbage and run our errands and do just about anything else we ask without complaint. Humanity is at the precipice of a wonderful new future filled with exploration and leisure while all of our needs are catered to by our machines.

They are, of course, much stronger than we are, but we have nothing to worry about, thanks to the three laws of robotics. To paraphrase, they state that a robot cannot harm a human being or allow a human being to be harmed through inaction. They must do anything asked of them by a human, unless that action conflicts with the first law. And they must protect their own existence, unless doing so would conflict with one of the first two laws. Watertight, or so it seems.

When a controlling intelligence known as VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) reinterprets the laws, she decides that the best way to protect humanity is to control them, even if that means some people have to die in the process. Enter Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith), the only man with the wherewithal and the skills to save us.


NOPE

While Jordan Peele has emerged as one of the most talented horror filmmakers on the scene, his movies all involve an element of science fiction not too far beneath the surface. Get Out and Us explore the scarifying consequences of mind transfers and cloning to ramp up the horror, but also as a way of getting at societal failings.

In Nope, Peele puts the sci-fi elements center stage with the discovery, exploration, and survival from an extraterrestrial entity flying over Jupiter’s Claim. A science fiction horror western with an unknown and unknowable creature at its center coupled with the tense relationships and troubled pasts of the characters make for a perfect mixture which might leave you feeling grateful for your comparably luxurious life.


INCEPTION

In between making some of the most beloved Batman stories ever put to film and turning in his award-winning biopic Oppenheimer, writer and director Christopher Nolan set aside some time to dream.

Released in 2010, Inception follows a group of corporate spies in possession of cutting edge neurotech.
With the help of a briefcase dream machine and some mind-altering chemical compounds, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team slink inside the minds of their targets, steal the information they need, and get out. At least, that’s the usual gig. Then Cobb gets a life-changing offer in exchange for pulling off an impossible gig. Instead of taking something, they need to implant an idea into someone’s subconscious.

Nolan takes advantage of the dream space to deliver a visual spectacle that stands toe to toe with its premise. Inception is as much fun to watch as it is to think about, and you’re sure to be thinking about it for days.


Stream these great movies and many more on Peacock!

Originally published Sep 6, 2023.

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