Underrated Sci-Fi Movies From Across the Globe: Sci-Fi is a genre that operates on “What If?”. It questions morals, navigates philosophies, investigates technologies, and creates new realities and exciting possibilities. And sci-fi films gained popularity in the 1950s, following World War II and the rumored alien visitations. There were some big-budget, intense sci-fi silent films in the 1910s & 20s. However, after the Great Depression in 1929, these serious films started to bomb as people were already going through a lot in their real lives.

Hence, breezy rom-coms became the flavor of the season. In the 50s, Hollywood, and subsequently the rest of the world, re-started investing a lot in sci-fi films. The connecting thread that binds sci-fi films all across the globe is the exploration of the socio-political environment of the respective country. Almost all sci-fi films make political statements.

This particular list is an attempt to zoom out of the universe of the biggest, most successful, and celebrated sci-fi films/ franchises and explore some uncharted paths. A few underrated, genius sci-fi films across the globe that deserve your attention and, hopefully, some appreciation. 

1. The End of August in The Hotel Ozone (1967) (Czech)

Also known as Late August at the Hotel Ozone, the film is a journey through a bleak, barren landscape, a hazy blur of abandonment, and nameless violence, albeit an oblique reference to the nuclear calamity. A troupe of young women on post-apocalyptic earth are led around by a mistress born before the war, eventually stumbling into the company of a lonely old man.

Many might view the film as a veiled indictment of the Eastern Bloc Communist belief, which tells us that for a new, post-holocaust world to emerge, our history needs to be annihilated. But, director Jan Schmidt gives a completely contradicting perspective of no history, which actually leads us to the death of civilization and the creation of savages with no higher conscience.

It’s terrifying how relevant and closer to the reality The End of August… is, even in 2023. A must-watch for any serious aficionado of sci-fi. Just a warning for animal lovers: there are scenes of actual animal cruelty in the film. Shot in 1966 in a non-Western nation, standards were pretty different back then.  

2. The Cell (2000) (US)

A serial killer sci-fi film that takes artistic inspiration from artists like Damien Hirst, Odd Nerdrum, H. R. Giger, and the Brothers Quay – how often do you get to hear that? The Cell is truly unprecedented. What The Matrix was for the 90s, The Cell could have been for the 00s only if the writing was not a bit tepid. Nonetheless, it’s nothing like you’ve seen before or after in a mainstream Hollywood production. Director Tarsem Singh has always been a visionary while being accused of style over substance (mostly true). However, the style of The Cell is so magnificent that you would want to ignore the slightly rough edges in the writing. To give a reference to the younger generation, imagine Lady Gaga’s 911 music video (also directed by Tarsem Singh) as a feature film.

There are no easy answers, and The Cell doesn’t pretend to offer any. Though far from perfect, the film is nightmarishly good and one of the most underrated sci-fi films. We almost never discuss it as much as it deserves to be. A must-watch.

3. Sexmission (1984) (Poland)

Two male scientists who participate in a 3-year cryogenic study in 1984 wake up 50 years later to find an underground world run by women. Men have been biologically removed from existence as a societal stigma. Director Juliusz Machulski’s Communist-era film pierces through gender politics and decadence of totalitarian regimes, prudery, and fascist idiosyncrasies through a utopian, campy sci-fi lens.

Sexmission also questions sexuality and the meaning of equality in contemporary society. Biting and bleak, it is a hilarious glimpse into a possible future. Sexmission is the rare film with genuine teeth, cleverly hiding its scathing judgment under a heavy veil of absurdity. Even though it was commercially highly successful in Poland during its release, the world never sort of woke up to this comedy classic. Sexmission is light and hopeful. You’ll laugh, you’ll wince, and you’ll think. This film is funny, even with subtitles. One of the most underrated sci-fi films; you cannot miss it.

4. Sputnik (2020) (Russia)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Sputnik

Sputnik is always familiar but never stale. It’s a throwback, both in time & genre. Director Egor Abramenko makes a commanding debut with the sensibility of the great Andrei Tarkovsky and an homage to Ridley Scott. The film’s moody cinematography and sublime score make it a claustrophobic character study. This creepy monster movie requires a bit of patience, but those who stick it out will be rewarded as Sputnik grabs you by the neck without insulting your intelligence.

Though it plays with very structured, formulaic genre tropes, the film anchors deep in people, and that makes it profoundly effective. The film has more intelligence and thematic depth than you might expect. It never leans too hard into camp or sincerity. Just lay back and don’t overjudge the movie. Sputnik is a grisly sci-fi thriller, of course, but it is also a piercing cultural statement. 

5. Trollhunter (2010) (Norway)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Troll Hunter

Trollhunter takes a unique approach to the sci-fi genre with a blend of myth and folklore. It follows a group of students who are investigating strange occurrences in the countryside. Amongst the herd of found-footage films, Trollhunter stands out because of its observational, journalistic ethos. The satiric amalgamation of government conspiracy and Norse mythology is truly alluring. The unexpected and often unsettling, dryly subversive Nordic humor makes it surprisingly engrossing on its own terms.

If you’re willing to surrender to it, the film is extremely fun, wry, and highly enjoyable. Trollhunter‘s proud cultural identity is its strongest suit. It’s not a sci-fi film or a horror or a comedy; it’s just a very Norwegian film. It’s rare that a genre film can support actual intelligence and characterization through a lovely tale of endearment and exploration.

A slice of brilliance, Trollhunter is a must-see for fans of unique and imaginative sci-fi. A surprise and a delight.


6. Chronicle (2012) (US)

As is the case with almost all science fiction, a lot more can be read into Chronicle than what is happening on the surface. The film makes a social commentary on domestic violence, bullying, postpubertal triumphs and tragedies, and much more, without going overboard. After gaining telekinetic powers from an unknown celestial object, three teenagers’ lives change. Aside from the excitement of sci-fi, there is a very real human story at work. It’s dynamic, arresting, and realistic. The film has no original score, only using sources such as radio and iPods to generate music.

The well-drawn characters and convincing performances give the film a rare amount of energy and confidence. Chronicle abandons the clichés of superhero/ sci-fi films and offers a comforting hand in understanding post-pubescent psychology and even lightly traffics in philosophy. One of the most underrated sci-fi films, Chronicle grounds itself in the messy reality.

7. High Life (2018) (US)

Sci-Fi Movies - High Life

This underseen Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche film focuses on a group of criminals sent on a space mission toward a black hole while taking part in scientific experiments. It was also legendary director Claire Denis’ English language debut. High Life is esoteric and poetic and DEFINITELY not for everyone.

For an average moviegoer, it might be boring and/ or pretentious, but a goldmine for a cinephile. The film is utterly and completely isolating, and it will leave you a blubbering mess in search of tissues. It’s a film about human identity. It’s about the progress or the devolution and what’s really at the heart of human beings. The black hole here becomes a great narrative way of confronting ourselves.

With a difficult and almost problematic theme, High Life is so heartbreaking that you might need a hug immediately after the movie is over. Once again, not everyone’s cup of tea, but a ballsy approach for the genre.

8. Ikigami (2008) (Japan)

Director Tomoyuki Takimoto tells a classic dystopian tale. There’s an authoritarian society and violent political rituals for the safeguarding of the status quo. Of course. Ikigami has a somber, downbeat tone and an extremely emotional narrative. This is a sci-fi film which is surely going to make you cry a bucket.

The film gives an idea of how insidious totalitarian ideology can be in an overly passive society. Ikigami is a relentlessly pessimistic film with no intention of giving the audience even fragile hope. It’s often the suggestions and juxtapositions that make me turn away from the screen as it taps into our primal fears. The film is intended to fan the flames of our lofty aspirations and existential dreams, and it uses the genre to highlight humanity’s most valuable qualities, such as love, grief, and empathy.

The micro & macro observations of an authoritarian state are truly terrifying and heartbreaking. Ikigami is a hidden gem in the vast treasure of sci-fi films. Truly underrated. 

9. Solaris (1972) (Russia)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Solaris

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris might not be as underrated as the rest of the sci-fi movies on this list, but it definitely needs a reintroduction to the younger audience, who have heard and known only 2001: A Space Odyssey as an ultimate sci-fi classic masterpiece. Solaris is a meditation on existence, memory, and humanity’s place in the universe. Director Andrei Tarkovsky questions how much we know about the people we have relationships with. The film grapples with the question of what gives a person their identity. It is also profoundly spiritual and healing for me, personally.

The glacial pacing is almost enough to drive most viewers’ patience beyond the brink, and it’s deliberate. The film will alter how you view options and the audacity it takes to find comfort in loss and grief. Solaris has a hypnotic pull that beckons audiences to delve deep into the enigmatic recesses of their own lives. It is addictive and serenely maddening. Watch it now.

10. Sonchidi (2011) (India)

Half fantasy, half meditative sci-fi film, Sonchidi is a highly underseen Indian film by Indians! With its philosophical themes and stunning visuals, the film is more meandering than usual. It has a very unusual sci-fi concept with zero VFX or grand set pieces. The avant-garde filmmaker Amit Dutta celebrates life, humanity, and Earth through beautiful shots of nature in the film.

The film’s exploration of the nature of reality and the limits of human understanding is not easily comprehensible. Its unusual sci-fi concept operates almost on a trance-inducing, repetitive optical illusion revolving around ideas of time, memory, and dreams.  The movie is a tumultuous maze of choice or perhaps the lack of it. While watching Sonchidi, you are going to feel the desolation, and your body is going to permeate the residue of human connection. Sonchidi is an appreciation of life and humanity over the use of cold, sterile, and ultimately limiting science. 

11. The 13th Bride of the Prince (1987) (Bulgaria)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - the 13th

A sci-fi comedy set in the Middle Ages, coming from Bulgaria! The 13th Bride of the Prince offers a hilarious social commentary on the class divide, human greed, lies, and manipulation. While a silly prince is trying to marry a beautiful peasant girl against her will, a UFO lands in the kingdom, and aliens witness human nuisances, extreme materialism, lies, and court intrigues.

Of course, the film doesn’t offer any fascinating, spectacular special effects, but the powerful script and performances make it a hilarious watch. With many references to the Star Wars series, The 13th Bride of the Prince is a unique blend of fantasy, adventure, comedy, and sci-fi, all in a period set-up. Once seen – never forgotten, it is a very stately, elegant film, and the irresistibly cheesy music makes it seem like sci-fi for lounge lizards. The 13th Bride of the Prince is a fun and vivacious sci-fi comedy with a biting social critique.

If you can find this rare piece of dazzle online anywhere, don’t miss it.

12. 2046 (2004) (China)

Underrated sci-fi movies - 2046

A loose sequel to the director Wong Kar-wai’s films Days of Being Wild (1990) and In the Mood for Love (2000), 2046 has sci-fi themes and elements rather than being a typical sci-fi film. The hazy intensity of the saturated images, the blend of nostalgia & sci-fi futurism, and the seductive and luscious soundtrack create a dense aura of loneliness. 2046 is a languid, shimmering mood piece where past & future echo each other with some of Asia’s finest actors at their peak, especially Zhang Ziyi. Her performance and screen presence is so strong and captivating that the film should actually be about her. 

The film gives many a form of mental resonance because of the concurrent representation of nationalistic and traditional Confucian values. It’s a mind-bending film that is very hard to relate to or explain, but you won’t be able to stop watching once you start. It’s an explosive achievement of filmmaking.

Unfortunately, 2046 remained just a festival favorite and never got the due recognition in a larger forum. A sublime study in heartache, 2046 is definitely an underrated sci-fi movie we don’t discuss enough.

Related to Underrated Sci-fi Movies – All Wong Kar-wai Movies Ranked from Good to Best

13. Moon (2009) (UK)

Underrated Sci-Fi Movies - Moon

Claustrophobic. Alienated. Underrated. A throwback to the golden era of 1970s sci-fi, Moon is an antidote to the overblown sci-fi extravaganza we see now (I cannot explain the plot without spoilers). Director Duncan Jones wanted to cast Sam Rockwell in a different film, but both of them could never come to an agreement on which part he should play. Because he wanted to work with Rockwell so much, he created this film only for him. After reading the script, Kevin Spacey agreed to voice GERTY—but only if he enjoyed the finished product. He recorded his lines in a half-day since he enjoyed the film so much.

A clear homage to Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon is a complete film, if not a groundbreaking one. This thematically ambitious yet intimate movie with a low-key conviction has been set in a very large space: the Moon! It is a morally relevant, alien-free, dense of moods and ideas film from that threatened genre of sci-fi. One of the most underrated sci-fi films ever.

14. Timecrimes (2007) (Spain)

The film follows a man who unwittingly becomes part of a causal time loop and must stop his other selves from continuing to exist. Timecrimes is a well-crafted thriller with dark humor and bizarre twists. Director Nacho Vigalondo managed to create urgency and disorientation out of nowhere. With meticulous plotting, breathless pacing, and paradoxes aplenty, it’s a time-travel film with no special effects.

There is not a dull moment in the film. Even with five minutes left, you wouldn’t know which way the film can turn. Commencing with a false sense of a highly intelligent slasher film, Timecrimes soon settles into a darkly funny and mildly disturbing sci-fi thriller. Even when the plot grows increasingly convoluted with each minute, the film always remains easy to decipher and fast-paced. Timecrimes is a triumph of ideas over budget. Highly recommended.

Related to Underrated Sci-fi Movies – 10 Best Time Travel Movies Ever Made

15. *batteries not included (1987) (US)

Aliens help a feisty old New York couple in their battle against the ruthless land developer who’s out to evict them. Yes, *batteries not included is sentimental and silly. Nevertheless, it still works when you watch it, even today, because of its great characterizations. All five main characters have their own story arcs. The subplot of dementia gives it a bittersweet adulthood, which is often missing in kids/ family entertainers. The cast is unerring; Jessica Tandy is a given (when has she ever given a bad performance anyway?).  Not sure why it was a critical failure at the time of its release, but *batteries not included is an earnest and exceedingly well-acted endeavor. 

Fun fact: a horror film was going to be titled Batteries Not Included but was forced to change its name when this film was being written. That movie turned out to be Child’s Play. If you are 35 plus, *batteries not included is a nostalgic sci-fi trip that will swell your heart.

Quickest way to ruin a miracle is to ask why it is or why it is not.

16. Okja (2017) (US/South Korea)

Sci-fi Movies - Okja

It takes more talent to get the audience to emotionally invest themselves in a movie than to create eye candy. And Okja gets both right. The film is about a young girl who raised a genetically modified “super pig” (the titular Okja). She goes on a mission to rescue Okja from mistreatment at the hands of the meat industry in the United States. Okja is a whirlwind mash of genres – heist movie, activist polemic, coming of age, buddy comedy, and, of course, sci-fi. 

The tonal mismatching has the potential to throw you off, but that’s the beauty of it. You cannot label it in a specific box or genre. A scathing indictment of capitalism, Okja is the kind of story that will render audiences silent. It also has the potential to turn you into a vegetarian or at least force you to give it a pause. The film is ‘everything everywhere all at once’ – hilarious yet disturbing, violent yet quite warm and cozy, and fun but also thought-provoking. We always appreciate director Bong Joon-ho’s resume, but Okja remains under-appreciated. Outrightly audacious, it is a miracle of imagination and technique.

Related to Underrated Sci-fi Movies – All Bong Joon-ho Films Ranked

17. Aniara (2019) (Sweden)

“There is protection against almost everything, but there is no protection against humanity,” said Nobel Prize winner Harry Martinson, upon whose poem this film is based. A spaceship carrying settlers to Mars is knocked off course, causing the consumption-obsessed passengers to consider their place in the universe. Aniara is an acquired taste, and though little of this is new, it’s delivered with refined enigma and grace. It is a moving, elegiac piece that leaves its metaphorical and allegorical elements open for us to pick up as the narrative progresses. There is no lack of oxygen in Aniara. It is using all of its brain and a sizable chunk of its heart to work. 

It’s a provocative, morally complex, and aesthetically impressive spiral of insanity. Humanity here is darker than the depths of space. With underdeveloped characters and a few sluggish moments, Aniara is not a perfect adaptation, but it is unrelentingly despairing. It’s brutalizing yet fascinating and a highly underrated sci-fi film.

18. Sunshine (2007) (UK)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Sunshine

Sunshine is a sci-fi of melancholy near-brilliance. Director Danny Boyle uses the Sun as a visual effect, and it’s beautifully industrial. The film traces the journey of a team of international astronauts who are on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb in 2057. It’s a slow-building fable of frailty, ego, idealism, guilt, hope, insanity, desperation, and self-sacrifice with a stellar ensemble of actors.

I think Sunshine was released ten years too early and wasn’t given the love and accolades it deserved. Your mileage of the film might vary; it’s a hit or a miss for many, but the film’s glorious ambition cannot be denied. Personally, I’ve some bones to pick with the film in the last act. The closer we got to the sun in the film, the farther I moved away from it. However, the film is esoterically fascinating and delights our senses. 

Sunshine outshines its flaws. This existentially challenging sci-fi film needs to be seen and discussed more.

19. Coherence (2013) (US)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Coherence

If you haven’t seen it yet, stop right here and watch it, knowing as little about it as possible. Coherence explores the themes of paranoia, fear, mystery, and metaphysics. Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

With a low budget of $50K, the movie was shot over five nights in a single location with dialogue that was largely improvised. In fact, instead of the script, each actor was given a small paragraph every day. It helped the story to unfold naturally and get genuine reactions from actors. The internal logic, fascinating choices, and a chilling conclusion make the film incredibly entertaining from beginning to end, even though the plot becomes ‘incoherent’ at times.

The film never loses you in the complicated story. The grounded setting and minimal effects of Coherence make it even more unsettling. However, keep your ears open and your eyes peeled because if you miss even a diminutive detail, the film becomes even more complex. One of the most underrated sci-fi movies, Coherence, is going to rearrange your brain.

20. Three Lives and Only One Death (1996) (France)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Three Lives and Only One Death

It’s NOT a hardcore sci-fi film; rather, it has elements of sci-fi that explore the fragmentation of self. The same characters experience different realities across four separate stories in this experimental exploration of truth and identity. Three Lives and Only One Death is a bit confusing but a wholly satisfying film. Director Raúl Ruiz maneuvers the film with some great dark humor. It’s like a funny, often unsettling dream, a very Fellini-esque film.

This visually stunning, highly stylized narrative requires complete attention at all times. It’s a mood as much as a movie. It is also the last film of the iconic actor Marcello Mastroianni before his death in 1996. Ruiz’s speculative visions enfold the mysteries of death and rebirth with moral complexities. Three Lives and Only One Death is not for everyone, but for the lover of cinema, there is much to appease the appetite. 

21. Stalker (1979) (Russia)

Another Andrei Tarkovsky film on this list; another masterpiece. He was an artist who allowed his audience to interpret his sculptures in their own distinctively personal way. And Stalker is no exception to the rule. 

A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes. If I give you more details of the film, it would appear very heavy-handed on paper, but it flows like a calm river on screen. Tarkovsky’s relentless pursuit of creating something transcendent is visible in each frame. The philosophical musings from its sci-fi setting are Stalker’s finest achievement. An oblique, complex, paradoxical, and cinematic smorgasbord of melancholy delight. It also serves as an emotional study of solitariness while deceptively wrapped around the sci-fi genre.

Upon release, the film garnered negative reviews. It’s only decades later that Stalker was recognized for its inspired vision. One of the most underrated sci-fi movies. 

22. The Witch Part 1 – Subversion (2018) (South Korea)

Director Park Hoon-jung’s two-part sci-fi thriller is bloody violent and scrumptiously unhinged. Though there’s almost too much stuffing, it is enormous fun, especially the absolutely pitch-perfect final half-hour. A high school student with amnesia tries to uncover what has happened to her. All leading her into deeper troubles, ultimately revealing a darkness she could not have imagined.

The Witch operates on bone-crunching, blood-spurting mayhem and revels in it. Once it gets its groove, there is not a single minute of respite from the untiring chaos. The film is cold and calculating, and the deliciously creepy & sadistic lead character just makes it even more irresistible.

Don’t try to look for layered plotlines or allegories of human consciousness; watch it for what it is – a bloody, entertaining, thunderous ride. (The sequel might disappoint you a bit, though)

The Witch is that sci-fi film no one told you about. You cannot afford to miss it.

Similar to Underrated Sci-fi Movies – The 37 Best South Korean Movies of the 21st Century

23. The Quiet Earth (1985) (New Zealand)

A man named Zac Hobson awakens to find himself alone in the world. In a desperate attempt to search for others, he finds only two who have their own agenda. The Quiet Earth is refreshingly free of the Hollywood gloss. One of New Zealand’s most prolific directors, Geoff Murphy, kept the film minimal, slow-paced, relaxed and utterly charming.

The film flirts with greatness, but the aftertaste of a slightly frustrating second half is bitter. The Quiet Earth floats on the interweaving of fantasy, psychosis, and subjective imagery. Moreover, it’s a captivating meditation on love and what it is to be human. The film’s wit & wisdom transcends the confines of the premise.

The ambiguous denouement is invigorating, mainly because of the splendidly singular and stunning final imagery before the end credit rolls. It has become a cult classic now. With all its flaws, The Quiet Earth is a very non-sci-fi sci-fi film, #iykyk. 

24. Kin-dza-dza! (1986) (Russia)

Sci-fi Movies Underrated Kin-dza-dza

It is a dystopian sci-fi black comedy in which two male humans from Earth accidentally travel through space, meeting two aliens from the Kin-dza-dza star system and their post-apocalyptic world. Kin-dza-dza effectively underlines the absurdity of social and racial discrimination via humor. With a very witty and pointed script, the film is whimsical and poignant with a minimalistic approach towards sci-fi.

The self-possessed silliness and sense of straight-faced absurdity make it an instant classic. With a great sense of humor, pantomime, and sarcasm, Kin-dza-dza is a sharp commentary on capitalism. The film flopped at the box office upon its release and has been fairly unknown outside Russia as there was no official release of the movie with English subtitles for a long time. It’s only almost three decades later international press, and cinephiles unearthed this unknown classic. 

Kin-dza-dza is irreverent, unrestrained, and hilarious. It certainly is one of the most underrated sci-fi films of all time. Highly recommended. 

25. Colossal (2016) (US)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Colossal

Okay, so it might not be the best film ever, but Colossal does convey a deep examination of interpersonal dysfunction with a very funny, dark humor. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, an out-of-work girl gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon while struggling with alcoholism and an abusively controlling colleague. Coming from a non-fan, Anne Hathaway is nothing short of fantastic in it. 

It is a surprisingly dark rumination on interpersonal possessiveness and personal responsibility. Colossal peels the layers of alcoholism, relationships, and coercion, and it’s a beautiful mess. The story swerves to the left when you expect it to veer to the right.

Even though it never really delivers on its gigantic (literally) ambition, Colossal is a wonderful, genre-hopping, eclectic piece of cinema. A true joy to ones who see it. Another underrated sci-fi film by the director Nacho Vigalondo that no one talks about. 

26. Metropolis (2001) (Japan)

Akira is the sci-fi anime from Japan that the world knows and adores, and rightfully so. However, there’s this lesser-known anime from the genre that has been criminally overlooked. Metropolis follows a Japanese detective and his young nephew on the trail of a dangerous scientist, who they discover has created the beautiful robot girl, Tima, destined to control humanity’s future. A rather routine storyline that gets compensated by the film’s eye-popping visuals and technical achievements. Director Rintaro’s world isn’t just a playground for his characters to romp in; it’s a menacing labyrinth where viewers can also get lost.

The use of ’60s Western jazz and borderline ragtime music makes it even more dreamy and evocative. The climax will leave you thrilled as well as emotionally stunned. It smoothly blends outrageously diverse visual styles and emotional tones. With elements cribbed from Fritz Lang’s absolute masterpiece of the same name from 1927, Metropolis is a hallucinatory triumph of visuals, color, and scale.

Related to Underrated Sci-fi Movies – List of 100 Best Movies by Japanese Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa

27. Le Dernier Combat (1983) (France)

It depicts a post-apocalyptic world where people have been rendered mute by some unknown incident. The few remaining humans fight over resources in order to survive. Probably the most quirky (or gimmicky?) sci-fi film on the list in terms of the concept, Le Dernier Combat was shot in black and white and contains ONLY two words of dialogue. The minimalism is what allows this film to transcend the stereotypical sci-fi labeling.

A film like Le Dernier Combat could easily be a soul-sucking pessimistic whiff, but the film exudes a glimmer of hope. Hopelessness is never at the fore. It’s a mood piece that would keep you engaged all through. Director Luc Besson got the inspiration for the film from an abandoned cinema hall he saw in Paris.

It catches you in a silent web and doesn’t let you loose. Le Dernier Combat is, of course, underrated, but also one of the most outré sci-fi films, if not amongst the best.

28. On the Silver Globe (1988) (Poland)

Director Andrzej Zulawski started to work on his ambitious project in 1975. After eighty percent completion, the film’s production was halted by the Polish Ministry of Culture in 1977 because its themes were critical of the communist establishment. After the democratization of Poland in 1986, Zulawski completed this astonishing film, which is unlike any other movie you’ll ever see. The story follows a team of astronauts who land on an inhabitable planet and form a society. Many years later, a single astronaut is sent to the planet and becomes a messiah.

The amputated form of On the Silver Globe was finally released in 1988, with voice-overs completing the missing scenes. It’s riddled with so many themes and so many unique visuals that it doesn’t feel like a sci-fi film. At its most radical peak, the film deals with the ethos of existence, the elucidation of freedom, and the power and hazard of belief & ideology.

On the Silver Globe is the best sci-fi film never made! Highly influential, incredibly underrated. 

29. Dark City (1998) (Australia)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - Dark City

Dark City tells the story of an amnesiac man who, finding himself suspected of murder, attempts to discover his true identity and clear his name while on the run from the police and a mysterious group known as the “Strangers.” A striking blend of genres and motifs, the film is a testament to the power of art to define the identity, of the menace of science as destructive vanity. Though somewhat garbled, Dark City is always on the right side of farcicality.

Blending elements of classic film noir with a sci-fi drama, it is a tense, unpredictable thriller. Many critics noted that Dark City was a huge influence on the Matrix film series, whose first installment came out a year later. In fact, a number of pieces of the set were sold to the production of The Matrix at the end of the shooting. Despite the critical acclaim, it was a box-office bomb at the time of its release. Much like one of the best vampire films, Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987), that you’ve probably never seen, Dark City is one of the best sci-fi films that you’ve never seen. A legit underrated gem. 

30. I’m Your Man (2021) (Germany)

Underrated Sci-fi Movies - I'm Your Man

It is the story of a scientist who, in order to obtain research funds for her studies, accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment: for three weeks, she is to live with a humanoid robot created to make her happy. With a polished aesthetic and gentle handling, I’m Your Man flows like a soothing poetic melody. It never tries to be a sci-fi extravaganza with colossal plot twists but rather stays an emotional study of love, loneliness, and a delightful sense of discovery. 

It’s so evident from the first frame itself that it was written & directed by a woman. The intricate nuances and a keen philosophical reflection on modern love can only be achieved by a woman on celluloid. The film is incredibly witty, entertaining, and, most of all, deep without being didactic. Like someone aptly said, it’s Blade Runner, directed by Woody Allen! I’m Your Man has a warm, cozy, comfortable chaos in it while absurdly being a sci-fi movie. You cannot miss it.

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