The 5 best sci-fi movies to watch on Netflix in March 2023

It’s March, Polygon readers. Watching science fiction is a great way to enjoy spring as the weather starts to warm up.

The Polygon curation team selects 5 great Sci-Fi movies for you to watch at home every month. They prioritize the ones that fit the month’s theme. This time around, we have movies from exciting filmmakers attached to fun new projects, movies led by actors with recent theatrical releases, and two can’t-miss anime selections good for any time of the year.

Let’s dive into it.


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Gerard Butler in Gamer squatting down with a machine gun

Lionsgate image

Year: 2009
Run time: 1h 35m
Directors: Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine
Cast:Gerard Butler Logan Lerman Michael C. Hall

Over the past few years, I will often suddenly sit straight up and ask aloud, “What the hell are Neveldine and Taylor up to?” Finally, we have a bit of an answer.

Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine were pioneering filmmaking partners who adopted chaos cinema. They used frenetic editing to create sensory experiences such as the Crank films, which are notoriously underrated. Spirit of Vengeance: Ghost RiderAnd, of course the Gerard Butler-led videogame movie Gamer. They haven’t worked together since Spirit of VengeanceHowever, Taylor directed most parts of the Christopher Meloni Show. Happy!Most recently, he was attached to Hellboy Movie (which has the potential for being good). That’s exciting news for those of us who like the particular visual flair he brings to his projects (or those of us who like Hellboy).

Return to Gamer — it’s a movie not without its flaws (some of the attempts at social commentary with regard to our obsession with virtual worlds miss the mark, especially the movie’s odious relationship with fatness), but it’s a unique visual experience that anticipated many upcoming trends in how we interact in a digital world. The future is near. Gamer’s world revolves around two virtual reality video games: Society (sort of like) Second Life Slayers (sort of like) Duty Call). But here’s the twist: Players’ avatars aren’t virtual, but real people. Society’s avatars are “willing” (read: largely lower-class) participants who get paid for the use of their bodies, while Slayers’ body pool comes from death row inmates.

Slayers This popular TV event is similar to a live sporting event, but without the bloodshed. The most famous participant is John “Kable” Tillman (Gerard Butler), on an unprecedented winning streak under the control of annoying rich teenager Simon (Logan Lerman). Kable, Simon and a resistance group are both contacted to help them escape the system. That’s Hellboy. movie coming up at some point, it’s a great time to sate your anticipation with more Taylor (and Neveldine) chaos. —Pete Volk


An anime man (Killy) with short black hair in an armored suit stands in front of a twisted glowing metal debris in Blame (2017)

Photo by Polygon Pictures/Netflix

Year: 2017
Run time: 1h 46m
Director: Hiroyuki Seshita
Cast: Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Sora Amamiya

Tsutomu Nihei, a well-known name in anime and manga for those who love dystopian worlds that emphasize post-human characters as well as Giger-esque monsters, is an iconic figure. Nihei’s 1997 sci-fi manga Blame! Considered the urtext for this Japanese brand of cyberpunk fiction is that of Hiroyuki Seshita. This story imagines an immense megastructure which has engulfed the entire globe in a network of black spires and utility wires. Director Hiroyuki Seshita’s 2017 adaptation does an admirable job of abbreviating the central storyline of the original series to fit into a feature film, and although its art style can’t really compare to the distinctive monochromatic and maximalist aesthetic of the Nihei’s manga, it still manages to look pretty impressive by its own merit.

Set in a distant future, the Earth has been reshaped by an advanced technological “virus” that has resulted in multi-level city blocks of machinery spanning outward across every inch of the planet’s surface. Most of what we would call “humanity” has died out, replaced by descendants who are neither entirely human nor entirely machine. Killy, a mysterious android wanderer armed with a powerful hand-cannon, rescues a village of these sorta-humans and asks them for their help in finding a mysterious McGuffin known as the “Net Terminal Gene.” Much like the manga, the story isn’t really the point of Blame, nor is it the root of the film’s appeal. Two main reasons are there to see the film. BlameYou can (a) gaze at large, darkly lit megastructures that look like they might collapse, or (b) see Killy fight with the robots. If that sounds like something you’d be into, I highly recommend you give this one a watch. —Toussaint Egan

Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway

Hathaway Noa aims a firearm aboard a spacecraft in Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway

Image: Sunrise/Netflix

Year: 2021
Run time: 1h 35m
Director:Shuko Mura
Cast: Kensho Ono, Junichi Suwabe, Reina Ueda

“How do I get into Gundam?” is a question often asked by avid anime enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Part of the reason why it’s such a common point of discussion is because over the roughly 44 years since series creator Yoshiyuki Tomino’s original anime first aired on Japanese television, the Gundam franchise has grown to encompass several different sequel series and offshoots relegated to their own respective continuities. The question naturally evolves into one of these four prompts: Do you start with the original continuity that started it all (“Universal Century”; 1979’s Mobile Suit Gundam)? Do you start with the first offshoot that drastically revamped the tone and style of the original (“Future Century”; 1994’s Mobile Fighter G Gundam)? Do you start with the continuity widely cited as popularizing Gundam in the West (“After Colony”; 1995’s Mobile Suit Gundam Wing)? Or do you start with one of the other innumerable continuities that have spawned out of the franchise in the years since (2015’s Mobile Suit Gundam – Iron-Blooded Orphans, 2022’s Mobile Suit Gundam – The Witch From Mercury, etc.)?

The truth is that the person asking the question, as well as their taste and the reasons they were initially drawn to Gundam, will determine the answers. For what it’s worth: I think the 1979 original series (and the reedited movie trilogy), 1996’s Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team Mobile Fighter G GundamThese points are great entry points for Gundam-curious.

Mobile Suit Gundam HathawayShuko Murase directed the feature film 2021 (Witch Hunter Robin, Blade Runner Black Out 2022) and adapted from Tomino’s 1989 light novel sequel to 1987’s Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s CounterattackGundam fans looking for a way to learn about the series should not go there. That said, I will say that — despite the likely confusion that might come out of a lack of prior knowledge of the series’ pivotal events, Murase’s film remains a visually fascinating and narratively provocative espionage thriller by way of a mecha drama.

It was reconstructed 26 years later than the original. Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam HathawayThe story follows Hathaway Noa (an environmental official) who stops an attempt to hostage aboard the Earth Federation shuttle by Mafty. Mafty is an anti-government terrorist organization. However, Mafty’s true leader is Hathaway, who seeks revenge for the destruction of Earth Federation and the unresolved trauma he suffered from serving alongside Amuro Ray in the Seven Year War. As pilot of an experimental, stolen RX-105 Gundam gundam, Hathaway has to stay ahead of Earth Federation officials who are trying to discover his identity and implement his plan to destroy the organisation from the inside. If that sounds interesting to you, don’t let a lack of prior experience with Gundam put you off from checking out this awesome movie. You’ll be glad you did! —TE

Galaxy Quest

Missi Pyle, Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Enrico Colantoni, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell in Galaxy Quest.

DreamWorks Pictures

Year: 1999
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Dean Parisot
Cast: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman

Galaxy QuestFollow the tale of disgruntled cast members from the sci-fi series that was canceled. Galaxy QuestThe Thermians abduct the characters and make them believe the reality. Starring Tim Allen (Toy StorySigourney Weber (AlienSam Rockwell (MoonTony ShalhoubMonk), Daryl Mitchell (New Orleans: NCIS), and the late Alan Rickman (Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince), Galaxy QuestIt is a parody lovingly made of Star Trek and the series’ fandom, and even if somehow you’re not familiar with either one of those things, it’s a hilarious sci-fi comedy that’s earned its status as a cult classic among its own devoted fan base. —TE

Beyond Skyline

Frank Grillo as Mark Corley in Beyond Skyline, killing a large, humanoid alien. The alien’s body is made of overlapping plates of organic armor.

Vertical Entertainment

Year: 2017
Run time: 1h 46m
Director: Liam O’Donnell
Cast: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Jonny Weston

2010: The Brothers StrauseAliens vs. Predator: Requiem() released a brand new Sci-Fi disaster film. SkylineThe story of an alien invasion that occurs in Los Angeles, and how it affects the lives of those who are there to witness it. Eric Balfour is the star (24Crystal Reed (Teen WolfDonald Faison (ScrubsThis movie was filled with television actors from the time, and it is now largely forgotten.

But that wasn’t the end for Skyline. Liam O’Donnell, who wrote the movie, took over the franchise and delivered two banger under-the-radar sci-fi sequels to follow it: Beyond Skyline Skylines. The second and third entries in the franchise have almost nothing in common with the original (besides the general alien invasion premise — Beyond Skyline It takes place simultaneously with Skyline), and benefit greatly from O’Donnell’s love for filming action (and for giant prosthetic alien suits).

Beyond Skyline The TV casting method of the original movie is abandoned and replaced by the use of compelling action stars. Frank Grillo plays the role of a detective leading a group consisting of survivors, including his son who was being picked up from prison when the invasion began. He is supported by Raid YayanRuhian and IkoUwais star. This is an engaging and entertaining sci-fi tale with lots of action that doesn’t require any prior knowledge. Third movie in series. SkylinesAlthough it is no longer available on Netflix, the show is still a great choice and well worth the effort. O’Donnell has a lot of exciting projects in the works, including Skyline Radial, the fourth installment of the series, so there’s no better time than now to catch up with this one. —PV

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