Five Science Fiction Movies to Stream Now

by The Technical Blogs


Rent or buy it on most major platforms.

In this Junta Yamaguchi film, the staff and clients of a quaint Japanese inn find themselves stuck in a short time loop: Every 120 seconds, they all rewind. This premise makes it sound as if Yamaguchi himself is stuck on repeat since his previous feature, “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” (2022), was about a loop of the same length. But “River” — once again made in collaboration with the Kyoto theater company Europe Kikaku and the writer Makoto Ueda — feels very different. The often broad humor is still present, but the new movie also effectively creates a wistful mood that can make it feel as if you’re watching a live-action Studio Ghibli feature. Dominating the ensemble is Riko Fujitani’s Mikoto, a young employee who eventually convinces herself that she may have caused the temporal disturbance. After kicking off as a goofy comedy as we meet all the characters and watch them try to process their situation in exactly two minutes, “River” slides into a bittersweet romance. Even the intervention of a deus ex (tempus) machina to resolve the plot doesn’t spoil the film’s whimsical charm.

Stream it on Tubi.

The agoraphobic Patrick (Andrew Riddell) hasn’t left his apartment in over a month, working remotely and ordering delivery food. Stepping outside to pick up a prescription sets off a near-meltdown; an invitation to a high school reunion triggers feelings of inadequacy. So when Patrick is offered a miracle new app called Refresh, he jumps on the opportunity. He finds himself immersed in an enhanced reality in which his field of vision essentially becomes a screen on which prompts are overlaid, as well as bonuses and rewards. He can even buy booster packs for things like X-ray vision. Overnight, his life becomes a video game in which he is a triumphant He-Man instead of a loser. He even wins over his old crush, Emily (Nova Gaver).

Daniel Lazo and Eran May-Raz’s “Sight: Extended” suffers from an affliction plaguing many of the free fare streaming on Tubi: The acting is perfunctory at best, so don’t go in expecting Actors Studio fireworks. But the movie makes up for it by offering a scarily convincing version of an interface so seductive and so toxic that surely it must be just a few days away from becoming available in real life.

“What if dreams are rehearsals?” Jeff (Ferdy Roberts) ponders. “Rehearsals for experiences that are too strange for us to accept.” You can see why Jeff is questioning the fabric of reality, because he is in a film named after a “hyper-evolved, shape-shifting jellyfish” that talks in unmistakably feminine tones (voice by Eva Magyar).

Some science-fiction movies don’t feel so much set in an alternate universe as having been filmed in one. You know the type: willfully eccentric, immersed in surreal logic, low budget, often in black and white. Such is the writer and director Keith John Adams’s “Ozma,” a sci-fi noir oddity set in London that glances toward Luis Buñuel and early David Lynch, albeit with a looser attitude, a generally more benevolent disposition and a jazzbo score performed by an array of British alt veterans that includes the saxophonist Terry Edwards. I can’t pretend that I entirely followed the plot, but it’s hard not to be at least intrigued by a story in which a man deals with absence by accepting those strange experiences.

Stream it on Hulu.

It’s been at least [checks watch] a minute since we’ve seen an action movie or series in which a solitary hero must protect the precious cargo upon which hangs the fate of humanity. In the case of “The Creator,” that loner is Joshua (John David Washington) and his charge is Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), a simulant, or android, who looks like a little girl and holds the key to the peace between humans and artificial intelligence. With the United States hellbent on eradicating artificial intelligence after robots took it upon themselves to nuke Los Angeles, most of the action takes place in New Asia, where men and machines live in harmony, and where Joshua tries to evade pursuers led by a relentless commander played by Allison Janney.

The director, Gareth Edwards, was responsible for “Rogue One,” so it’s tempting to underline connections to the “Star Wars” universe (Alphie is basically Grogu, and the American superweapon satellite, NOMAD, is the Death Star). A more useful reference is the Vietnam War-movie genre, with a troubled American hero unable to tell friends and foes apart while desperately searching for an elusive target (in this case Nirmata, the genius behind A.I.), and with harrowing scenes of the U.S. military attacking villages.

While “The Creator” does not dig very deep into its subject’s metaphysical import — androids may be sentient, but we are not told what they dream of — it suggests, almost in passing, intriguing tidbits, as when it shows some simulants working as monks, for example.

Rent or buy it on most major platforms.

How to put this delicately? For a movie that has been described as patriotic, Kim Yong-hwa’s “The Moon” sure makes the staff of the Korean space program look completely inept. After a space shuttle explodes mid-flight in its initial attempt to reach the moon, the country takes a whopping five years to try again, only to almost immediately lose two of the new shuttle’s three crew members after solar winds wreak havoc on the mission.

The last one standing, Seon-woo (Do Kyung-soo), appears woefully unprepared to survive in space on his own. We are told Seon-woo is a hardcore military guy, but K-pop boot camps must be more rigorous than any military training this character received. Which brings me to the key to enjoying this movie: Do is, in fact, in the K-pop group Exo in his other life as a singer, and so it’s hard not to think of “The Moon” as a parable in which a handsome young man must do some growing up, real fast, in order to overcome trials that mere mortals can’t even fathom. It helps that while the scenes set on Earth can be leaden, Kim displays impressive dexterity as soon as the action is set in space. There, everything that could go wrong does in a relentless avalanche of catastrophes, and Seon-woo somehow rises to the challenge every time. By the end, I, too, believed in him.


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