Five Science Fiction Movies to Stream Now

Post-apocalyptic drama and A.I. trauma are part of this month’s sci-fi picks.

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By Elisabeth Vincentelli

‘Warriors of Future’

Stream it on Netflix.

In the future, the overpopulated Earth has become terminally polluted and riven by endless wars. As if our beleaguered planet had not suffered enough, a meteorite crashes down and releases a giant killer plant. These events could fill an entire movie but they are dispatched via voice-over in the opening minutes of Yuen Fai Ng’s “Warriors of Future.” Then the insanity truly begins: The military realizes that Pandora (as the plant has been named, maybe because Audrey was already taken) could be reprogrammed by shooting “gene bullets” through its pistil. If this last sentence makes you laugh, please head over to Netflix right now.

Like its awkward title with its missing article, the movie is often clunky — fans of scintillating dialogue and coherent storytelling might want to look elsewhere — but it creates its own mad brew, especially once the exposition is out of the way and the veteran Hong Kong stars Louis Koo, Sean Lau and Philip Keung are let loose on Pandora and the skittering critters that somehow do the plant’s bidding. The actors all seem to be having fun, especially Keung as the roguish Skunk, but the best part is the way the movie enthusiastically wallows in the excessiveness of the action. Sometimes, that is more than enough.


Rent or buy on most major platforms.

Our air is just as polluted in Magdalena Lauritsch’s film as it is in “Warriors of Future,” but this small-budget European movie sits at the aesthetic and philosophical opposite of its counterpart. One day, the small crew quartered in the title space station, which is owned by a corporation, notices a giant, toxic brown cloud spreading over Earth below them. They hope the groundbreaking technology they have been working on, which involves algae, will eventually be able to help. But they also know they might have seen the end of civilization.

Halfway through the film, the station finally receives a radio communication from Earth. The decisions of the last three occupants of Rubikon, Hannah (Julia Franz Richter), Gavin (George Blagden) and Dimitri (Mark Ivanir), are complicated by their realization that the survivors are a powerful elite that managed to hide to safety. The movie relies on discussion rather than action, and in its quiet, unassuming way, it questions how we deal with corporatization, the public good and privilege.


Stream it on Showtime. Rent or buy it on most major platforms.

At long last, a movie in which a 3-D printer plays a key role! The device is controlled by Margaux, the A.I. operating a luxury smart house, and it could not be put to better use than to ruin the weekend of obnoxious college seniors. The friends feature the usual types from central horror casting, planning a getaway of rest and recreation and sex. Except they picked an isolated retreat entirely controlled by an app (voiced by Susan Bennett, who happens to be the original voice of Siri) that has somehow turned completely evil.

The tech nerd Hannah (Madison Pettis) is established as the final girl from the start so there’s little suspense, but Margaux still has quite a few tricks up its digital sleeve. The director Steven C. Miller has a sleek style and his film features better production values than your run-of-the-mill sci-fi slasher. “Margaux” is as familiar, junky and primitively satisfying as a can of Pringles. And as with Pringles, it’s hard to stop once you start.


Rent or buy on most major platforms.

This Italian film is an interesting variation on the post-apocalyptic genre. Or maybe it’s an interesting variation on noir. Either way, the director Alessandro Celli is one to watch. By focusing on a pair of dispossessed 13-year-old urchins, Mondocane (Dennis Protopapa) and Pisciasotto (Giuliano Soprano), fending for themselves in a semi-desolate Taranto, Celli delivers a perspective we don’t often see in movies set in the near-future. The boys have developed street smarts, but those might not be enough once they get accepted into the Ants, a gang led by the thuggish Testacalda (Alessandro Borghi) — the test for admission was setting a pet store on fire.

Navigating a landscape lined by ominous smokestacks and dilapidated shanty towns, the teenagers must forever prove their mettle. This is particularly challenging for Pisciasotto, who is epileptic, but Mondocane always stands by his buddy. Celli has mentioned “Oliver Twist” as an influence, and you can clearly see it in his film. The action, such as it is, is fairly mellow as “Mondocane” is more interested in following kids — including Sabrina (Ludovica Nasti), an orphan working in a steel mill — trying to survive. This may sound like a bummer but the film is most impressive as the vivid portrait of an indestructible friendship.

‘Givers of Death’

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

It’s refreshing to see not just an indie dystopia with a strong sense of location, but one made by a Black director. Addison Henderson shot “Givers of Death” in his hometown, Buffalo. He made great use of the city’s more derelict neighborhoods to suggest a grim world in which a third of the population has been killed by a virus so gruesome, many of the infected choose to commit suicide. Those who can’t do it themselves hire the likes of Phog (Henderson).

“Givers of Death” belongs to a fascinating subgenre: The world has gone to hell in a handbasket, so what do you hold on to? Some abandon all hope. Others cling to their job out of a desperate need for normalcy. Such is the case of Detective Schmidt (Jonathan Sterritt), who tries to solve what he considers a string of murders and sets out on Phog’s trail. For Schmidt the letter of the law still applies, and it makes no difference that the victims had asked for death. (His why-bother boss is more lackadaisical about the whole thing). While some of the acting is uneven and the script grinds to a frustrating finish, Henderson shows a rare command of mood on what probably was a shoestring budget.

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