Science Fiction Movies Streamed on Amazon and Netflix 2019 - 2022
The last 2 and a half years have had a slow, steady stream of science fiction films emerge on streaming services, rather than in the theaters during COVID. Some of these films are big budget epics and others not so much. A number of them are also Chinese or Korean productions or co-productions too, indicating where some big money interest in the non-Marvel sci-fi universe is coming from. It is interesting to note that the number of sci-fi films didn't drop precipitously during COVID, but as usual, most of these films are not worth the minutes of your life they will cost to watch. Many more movies are obviously available on both Amazon and Netflix, but I've kind of cherry picked some of the more action packed ones.
I'm listing nine movies I saw on either Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, and a few of these were premiered internationally on streaming rather than in theaters and they have stayed on streaming for now. These nine films are:
- ADAM Project
- Boss Level
- Free Guy
- Shanghai Fortress
- Space Sweepers
- Wandering Earth
- Evangelion 3.0 +1.0 Thrice Upon a Time
- Tomorrow War
Out of these films, the most entertaining were actually the slightly comedic ones such a ADAM Project, Boss Level, and Free Guy. Ryan Reynolds stars in ADAM Project and Free Guy and it seems like almost anything he touches turns out to be pretty good entertainment due to his personal touch if nothing else. The other films were entertaining, but in many ways were rehashes of old tropes with a new high tech special effects. The characters in these films were quite stereotyped and with standard plots. Moonfall was a little different for story, but wasn't exactly great sci-fi. Evangelion was the long awaited anime conclusion to the Evangelion reboot so it is kind of in a category all by itself. Evangelion was a good conclusion to the series of films, but would only appeal to the existing fan base. For me, it is interesting to note that if I were to buy a blu-ray copy of any of these movies, it would only be for the Evangelion film, as none of the other ones would make the cut.
On Netflix. This is a time travel film, and like Dr. Who, they are almost always timey-wimey to some extent. This movie has Adam Reed (Ryan Renolds), a fighter pilot, travel back in time to save his wife. In the process he meets his 12 year old self and they end up working together to save the world from a dystopian future. I don't want to say too much about the plot as it was fairly well done for a time travel movie and I don't want to spoiler, especially as I said it was the most entertaining/fun movie of the bunch.
On Netflix. This movie has Roy Pulver (Frank Gillo), a retired special operations soldier, who is stuck in a time loop that resets every time he dies to have him wake up again at 7 AM every time. His day usually starts with assassins coming to kill him and he escapes to continue his day and solve the mystery of the time loop. While there wasn't anything that was stunningly new in this movie it was competently done and he was portrayed fairly well as a not so successful ex-military guy and father. There was a nice supporting cast in Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, and Michelle Yeoh. The whole sword fighting shtick in the movie was a ton of fun. I quite enjoyed this movie, a violent take on the Groundhog Day idea.
On Netflix. Free Guy is a tiny bit like a live action Wreck It Ralph, which was also an enjoyable movie about a video game character come to life. This comedy stars Guy (Ryan Reynolds), an NPC known as Blue Shirt Guy in the Free City online game. Guy becomes sentient and developed free will to become Free Guy. He figures out how to play the game and fight against player characters wreaking havoc in his city as they perform missions. Eventually the story involves some external humans who have been victimized by intellectual property theft and everyone has to work together to save Free City from the sequel Free City 2 which would shutdown the original game. This was an entertaining and funny movie that had many good moments and played up the MMORPG tropes.
On Netflix. Shanghai Fortress is a big budget Chinese science fiction about the human race holding out in high tech Shanghai and three other fortress cities against attacking aliens in 2042. The aliens are trying to seize a mysterious power source that mankind has harnessed and eliminating those pesky humans at the same time. Yang Jiang (Han Lu), Hantian Pan, Yu Zeng and Yiyi Lu are new trainees who become elite pilots in the Grey Eagles to fight off the invaders. There is a slow burning romance between Yang and a senior officer, plenty of heroism in the defense of Shanghai, and trainee shenanigans. This movie was entertaining to see once but I wouldn't watch it again as the story felt quite well worn.
On Netflix. Space Sweepers is the first Korean sci-fi blockbuster that was released on Netflix in February 2021. This movie has the now standard trope about the Earth becoming uninhabitable due to pollution/global warming and the big UTS Corporation is building clean new habitats in space for the lucky few. There is a thriving industry of rag tag space sweepers who clean orbital debris to sell to UTS for a pittance. One crew, of misfits rescues a young girl from some wreckage and becomes involved with the coverup /evil plot being put on by UTS. This movie could have been more engaging, but suffered from a overly misfit crew who have to pull together in the end to possibly save the little girl and save humanity. This movie was basically a space opera but it tried to almost put too much into the story, slowing it down.
On Netflix. The Wandering Earth is a big budget and pretty successful, Chinese science fiction film that is loosely based on the novella The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin. The movie is about a team of workers trying to keep these giant planetary-scale engines working in the face of natural disasters and man made obstacles. These engines are moving the Earth away from our Sun which is expanding to engulf our orbit. It is pretty far fetched for a 2061 future tech humanity to be able to move a planet to another star. There are many science flaws to this puppy and the movie did feel like it was trying to fit in every possible misfortune and sci fi trope again. The production values are very high and there are great special effects, but I did feel the characters came out really flat. I enjoyed watching this movie once and wouldn't watch it again.
Evangelion 3.0 +1.0 Thrice Upon a Time
On Amazon. Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time is the fourth and concluding film in the Rebuild of Evangelion film series. I'm a big Evangelion fan, but the reboot movies after the second movie went off in a new direction. I didn't particularly like the third film but did feel that this film did provide a satisfying ending to the films. However, this movie can only be watched if you have seen the other three movies and it is even better if you have seen the series.
In this film, you finally find out what Gendo Ikari is really up to, what Misato and their super-battleship the Wunder are really trying to do to stop Gendo. The best part of this film is the interactions of Rei with a surviving pocket of normalness in the post-apocalyptic world of Evangelion. Her character finds her humanity (she is a clone with no family) and Shinji even grows up. Can't say much more other than there are great visuals and fantastic fight scenes between Evas and Angels.
On Amazon. This movie bombed at the box office and while it is big budget, the story doesn't reflect it. Two former astronauts and a conspiracy theorist must save the world from a moon that has destabilized from its orbit and will collide with the earth. The mysteries behind this destabilization seem to include aliens and the theories of the conspiracy nut. Anyhow a last ditch effort is mounted with an old space shuttle and there is a massive sub-plot that involves saving the children of the astronauts on earth. They could have just focused on saving the Earth, but the families allowed the film to showcase cataclysms on the Earth in more detail. This movie had absolutely terrible science, and ripped off Armageddon (which I like a hundred times more) and the story wasn't all that great as a whole. Nice special effects though.
On Amazon. Time travel again, if Marvel didn't fix it, this movie can't either. The future needs soldiers from the present to fight against an alien invasion of nasty critters (like in Edge of Tomorrow). Humanity is losing the war against the alien Whitespikes, but this is the biggest budget film to ever debut on a streaming platform. Former Green Beret Dan Forester, now a really good science teacher, is drafted to go fight this war in the future and uncovers the truth behind how the aliens arrived on Earth, and a possible way to prevent humanity from going extinct. I really wanted to like this movie more as it stars my favourite velociraptor tamer, but it didn't come through. There is plenty of good action in this movie, parts of it are pretty good, but overall execution is kind of lacking in story cohesion with the time travel element. The human element with Dan, who left his young daughter behind to go to the future, and his now grownup daughter in the future isn't bad, but it doesn't save the movie either. It is rarely a good idea to draft people from the past even if they are not going to contribute to the future timeline, but then time travel movies are rarely all that good except as a microcosm (e.g. Time After Time). The idea behind this movie was basically use soldiers from the past to fight in the future, but if you can time travel, why not stop the aliens at an earlier point before they took over most of the planet. I doubt I'd watch this again, but I hear there is a sequel...
Well, that's all for now, so catch ya later.
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