7 great free sci-fi movies you should stream right now

7 great free sci-fi movies you should stream right now

Paramount Pictures

Streaming prices continue to increase, but luckily for viewers, there’s a growing number of free streaming services out there. From Amazon Freevee to Tubi, Pluto TV, and even no-cost options on Peacock, there’s tons of free content to be enjoyed. In recent years, the free content has also gotten a lot better now that major companies are investing in free streaming services.

This is especially great news for sci-fi fans since lots of fantastic new and classic sci-fi films have made their way to these free streamers. Whether you want a big box office hit, an award-winning indie film, or a legendary cult classic, you can find them for free. Here are seven of the best sci-fi movies you can stream right now without paying a dime.

The Thing (1982)

The shapeshifting alien in The Things
Universal Pictures

These days, The Thing is considered one of John Carpenter’s best movies, but upon its release in ’82, the movie was critically despised and failed at the box office. The Thing is an updated take on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? and centers on an Antarctic research base that’s been invaded by a parasitic alien that can consume and mimic organic lifeforms. Trapped in the bleakness of Antarctica, the team must figure out how to stop the alien before it kills them and overtakes all life on Earth.

Despite its lackluster performance in the ’80s, The Thing has gone on to earn a reputation as one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. The film is also heavily praised within the horror community thanks to its suspense and terrifying practical effects. The Thing is proof that sometimes a movie just needs the world to catch up with it to be fully appreciated.

Watch The Thing for free on Tubi.

Mimic (1997)

Doctors research cockroaches in Mimic
Dimension Films

Director Guillermo del Toro is now known as an Oscar winner and master storyteller, but earlier in his career, he was especially known for his love of horror. In 1997, he blended horror and sci-fi together in his film Mimic. In the movie, New York City’s cockroaches are spreading a deadly disease that’s killing hundreds of children. To stop the spread, scientists bioengineer an insect called the “Judas breed” that secretes an enzyme that effectively kills off the city’s roaches, eradicating the disease.

But after a few years, the Judas breed insects have rapidly grown and evolved while living beneath the city in sewers and subway tunnels. They also have a new prey: humans, and they’ve evolved to mimic us to remain hidden. The movie had a mixed response from critics and audiences upon its release. Some critics bashed the film, while others praised it. Roger Ebert even gave Mimic 3.5 out of 4 stars. The movie gained a lot more popularity in the home video market (del Toro told Inverse that Mimic earned about $60 million in video sales alone) and received two straight-to-video sequels. Nowadays, Mimic is firmly considered a classic by many, and is still a blast to watch in 2024.

Watch Mimic for free on Pluto TV.

Cube (1997)

A victim is trapped in a cube in Cube
Cube Libre

In Cube, a group of strangers wake up in a giant cube made of smaller, ever-shifting cubes. The movie never fully explains who made the cube or why the group has been trapped in it. Instead, it focuses on the desperation and paranoia that arises as they try to escape. The group is also forced to deal with another dilemma: some of the cubes are rigged with traps, and the only way to know which rooms are trapped is by solving a secret code within each cube’s room numbers.

Cube was praised by critics and even won Best Canadian Feature Film at its Toronto Film Festival premiere. Many have also noted its similarities to Saw, calling it a spiritual precursor to that movie thanks to its gritty, confined spaces and morbid traps. Cube‘s popularity has also led to two sequels and a 2021 Japanese remake. In 2022, Bloody Disgusting reported that Lionsgate was also in the early stages of working on an American remake.

Watch Cube for free on Tubi, Pluto TV, and Freevee.

Stargate (1994)

The stargate is uncovered in Egypt

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you probably already know about the Stargate franchise. In the original film, archeologists uncover a mysterious circular structure in Egypt that’s revealed to be a portal to other worlds. After activating the stargate, a team travels through a wormhole and finds themselves on an alien planet with structures that resemble those found in ancient Egypt. They also discover the Egyptian god Ra is actually an alien with malicious intent.

Stargate became an unexpected hit, grossing more than $71 million in America and over $196 million globally. It also launched one of the most high-profile fandoms in sci-fi history and spawned the insanely popular spinoff series Stargate SG-1. If you love sci-fi, Stargate is a must-watch.

Watch Stargate for free on Freevee and The Roku Channel.

Arrival (2016)

Amy Adams makes contact in Arrival
Lava Bear Films

Amy Adams stars in 2016’s Arrival, a first-contact movie that flips all the tropes and stereotypes and presents the aliens as innocent and benevolent. But with all the preconceived notions humans have about aliens and our endless political conflicts amongst each other, it’s humans who risk destroying everything.

Its unique premise makes Arrival a great alien movie. It also feels much deeper than most alien films thanks to its questions about language and time, and its underlying message about grief. Arrival was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, and Adams received a Golden Globe nomination for her role. If you want a smart and engrossing sci-fi movie that was both a blockbuster hit and a critical success, you need to check out Arrival.

Watch Arrival for free on Pluto TV.

Mars Attacks! (1996)

An alien attacks the president in Mars Attacks
Warner Bros.

The same year that Independence Day hit theaters, another sci-fi epic also made its way into cinemas: Mars Attacks! While Independence Day was a serious action hit, Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! was more of a chicken-fried, trailer-trash take on an alien invasion. The result is a movie that’s pure camp and absolutely hilarious.

In the film, an army of martians arrives on Earth pretending to come in peace, but in reality, they want to take over the planet. Throughout the entire film, humans are portrayed as bumbling morons who do everything wrong, creating absolute chaos that has a cartoon-like charm. Mars Attacks! also has an all-star cast, with Jack Nicholson playing both the U.S. president and a crooked casino owner, and Martin Short playing the preident’s sleazy press secretary. Also, Pierce Brosnan gets chopped up by aliens and Sarah Jessica Parker has her head attached to a chihuahua. Mars Attacks! presents one of the funniest and most riotous alien invasions in cinematic history, and it’s not to be missed.

Watch Mars Attacks! for free on Tubi.

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia collides into Earth
Zentropa Entertainment

Provocative auteur Lars Von Trier brought clinical depression to poetic life in 2011’s Melancholia. In the film, a young bride (Kirsten Dunst) becomes consumed by ennui on her wedding night. The situation becomes even more dire when it’s discovered that a rogue planet named Melancholia will likely become trapped in Earth’s orbit and eventually collide with our planet, destroying everything. Everyone deals with the news differently: some panic and commit suicide, others believe the events are somehow part of a cosmic destiny, and some solemnly accept their impending death.

Melancholia isn’t an easy film to watch. It leaves a haunting, empty feeling inside you, but it’s so incredibly gripping and well-made that you can’t look away. Dunst was even awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival that year for her work, and she deserved it. It’s the best performance of her career (sorry, Bring It On fans), and one that deserves to be watched by the widest possible audience.

Watch Melancholia for free on Peacock and Pluto TV.

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Keith Langston