Underrated/Underseen

Stream These Underrated & Underseen Quarantine-Themed Sci-Fi Films

We highlight some lesser known (and particularly timely) sci-fi gems that might have slipped beneath your filmic radar

Sometimes films don't get the critical praise or audience attention they deserve right away. Now, easily viewable across a variety of streaming platforms, we're able to reassess their quality, or catch up on those we might have missed the first time around. Here we've gathered up some of the more underrated and underseen quarantine and isolation-themed sci-fi films, available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the UK, from the cosmically sublime to the ridiculously pulpy…

 

Netflix

Annihilation (2018)

Underrated or Underseen: Underseen

Watch it on Netflix

Alex Garland has a particular knack for making brilliant films that do very little money at the box office. It's a result, perhaps, of his unwillingness to pander to his audience, choosing intelligence over accessibility. This mind-bending sci-fi riff on Apocalypse Now, bought by Netflix after its initial studio panicked, sees Natalie Portman on a mission into an alien-addled quarantine zone and explores themes of self-destruction and regeneration. Watch it, then watch it again.

 

Lockout (2012)

Underrated or Underseen: Both

Watch it on Netflix

Forget lockdown: try Lockout. This ridiculous but mostly self-aware space thriller has big John Carpenter vibes and stars Guy Pearce as a scenery-chewing hero tasked with breaking into a giant, maximum security floating space prison. It's less than 90 minutes long and quickly forgotten, but kind of a blast to sit through if you're in the mood for meaningless space frolics.

 

Total Recall (2012)

Underrated or Underseen: Underrated

Watch it on Netflix

“Get your ass to Mars!” Nobody showed any love for this 2012 remake of Total Recall, perhaps on account of it being inessential in every single way. But get past the fact that it's a subpar rehash of a better film and there's a lot of fun to be had. The action scenes are thrilling, Colin Farrell is totally game, and the film at least tries to make some interesting diversions from the original. Not all of them work, mind you, but the effort's there.

 

The Thing (2011)

Underrated or Underseen: Underrated

Watch it on Netflix

Another non-essential remake that never got its due, The Thing tells the story of the bloody incident that occurred at the other research station, prior to the events of the original film. It's not anywhere near as good as John Carpenter's classic (what is?), but it's a film that is at least respectable of connecting the dots and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a great lead. Viewed as a separate beast, it's good, pulpy fun.

Prime Video

Monsters (2011)

Underseen or Underrated: Underseen

Watch it on Prime Video

Filmmaker Gareth Edwards would eventually graduate to bigger (but not necessarily better) things with Star Wars spin-off Rogue One. But he made his striking debut with the strange and minimalist Monsters, as Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able attempt to make it back to the United States through an off-limit, alien-infested Mexico. The sequel, Monsters: Dark Continent, isn't half bad, either.

 

Snowpiercer (2013)

Underrated or Underseen: Both

Watch it on Prime Video

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho shot to international fame when Parasite won basically every Oscar at this year's award ceremony, but his 2013 movie Snowpiercer – dismissed upon first released – now feels like a minor sci-fi classic. Set entirely on a moving train in a frozen dystopian future where the rich and the poor are kept in separate carriages, it unfolds as half class meditation, half action movie, as Chris Evans (he of Captain America fame) leads the inevitable revolt. Crazy, inspired fun.

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Reviews

The County review – bleak class struggle in the Icelandic hinterlands

This Nordic drama can be drab and dour, but it raises interesting questions, anchored by a compelling lead performance

Take Me Somewhere Nice review – strange and stylised trip through Bosnia

Ena Sendijarević's impressive debut follows a teenager on a transformative trip through Bosnia in a bid to meet her dying father

The Lovebirds review – shouty murder-mystery settles for generic

Despite the efforts of its leads, Michael Showater's follow-up to The Big Sick falls victim to a slapdash story and familiar beats

Cassandro, The Exotico! review – entertaining portrait of a lucha libre wrestler

Marie Losier's brief documentary deals with some heavy topics but works best as a good-natured look at a unique athlete