Streaming guide: Six mind-melting sci-fi films to help you escape this bleak reality

The best sci-fi movies to stream in New Zealand.
Photo credit: Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Artisan Entertainment, Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Let's face it, Earth in 2020 is pretty disappointing. There's no personal jetpacks, no flying cars and while you can buy self-tying shoes, they cost $600 and don't come with a hoverboard.

I reckon we should be aiming higher.   

As New Zealand endures the COVID-19 alert level 3, many Kiwis are enjoying streaming more movies at home than usual. But what should you watch? Newshub is here to help.

We're bringing you streaming guides with advice on what to watch and where to watch it. 

In this edition, I've put together six of the best brain-bending sci-fi to transport you to versions of Earth with a much more interesting timeline.   

Pi.
Photo credit: Artisan Entertainment

Pi

An extremely low budget, black and white film focused on the absurd complexity of the number pi and how it could predict the stock market. Wait, don't click out of this tab, I promise it's really good. It's testament to the skills of director Darren Aranofsky that he makes a story about math thrilling, frightening and darkly funny all at once. This one works best if you go in blind, so just know that what starts with a man attempting to scam Wall St evolves into something which will make you question your relationship with both science and God. Have fun!
Where to stream: Apple / Amazon Prime Video


 

Ex Machina.
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Ex Machina

A lonely software engineer (Domhall Gleeson) is invited to an eccentric tech CEO's home and asked to apply the Turing test, an experiment which gauges whether a machine could be considered sentient. The machine, in this case, is an android named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Sci-fi often questions what it means to be human but Ex Machina wraps that premise in a simmering psycho-sexual tension, making this as effective a thriller as it is an exploration of humanity. The special effects are restrained but incredibly sophisticated, as is Vikander's performance.
Where to stream: Hire from Google / Apple / Microsoft


 

Arrival.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Arrival

A movie which takes the well-explored subject of 'first contact' and expands it to the much more interesting 'first conversation'. When aliens arrive on Earth, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called to find some method of communicating with them. While an analysis of interstellar grammar may not exactly sound heart-pounding, when what could be lost in translation is galactic peace, the stakes are high enough to keep things interesting. Watch this and then get excited for the Director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Dune, one of the few blockbusters still on track for its original theatrical release later this year.
Where to stream: Hire from Google / Lightbox / Apple

 

Blade Runner.
Photo credit: Warner Bros

Blade Runner

Released in 1982 (but set in November last year, hilariously) Blade Runner was Ridley Scott's gritty rebuttable to the shiny optimism of Star Wars and Star Trek. Harrison Ford puts in his career best performance as an ex-cop specialising in hunting down rogue 'replicants', androids so detailed they may not even realise they're machines. The late Rutger Hauer's turn as a ruthless replicant desperate to prolong his life is both terrifying and tragic. His legendary and allegedly improvised final monologue is essential cinema. The sequel, Blade Runner: 2049 is also available to stream and is an underrated masterpiece.
Where to watch: Lightbox / Microsoft / Apple


 

The Animatrix.
Photo credit: Warner Home Video

The Animatrix

Since you're reading this list I'm assuming you've already seen the original Keanu Reeves-led classic. This 2003 animated short film anthology, however, flew under too many radars. The Animatrix tells much smaller stories about the billions of other people living out their lives in both the Matrix and the ruins of the real world. As with any anthology, quality can dip between installments but taken as a whole, it's a fascinating look at the lives of all the non-chosen ones in pop culture's most iconic digital dystopia.
Where to watch: Apple / Microsoft / Amazon


 

2001: A Space Odyssey.
Photo credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer

2001: A Space Odyssey 

The eighth film from legendary director Stanley Kubrick was a defining moment in cinema as a whole, but science fiction in particular. Even after more than 50 years the sheer scope of 2001 is mind-boggling. It's been spoofed, parodied and referenced so many times that you may feel like you've already seen it even when you haven't. Do yourself a favour; watch the original film, remember it was made before humans even set foot on the moon and have your mind pleasantly blown.
Where to watch: Apple / Amazon / Microsoft 

 

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