18 Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Love Star Wars

18 Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Love Star Wars

There are many iconic pieces of cinema that connect with audiences on a fundamental level, but it’s hard to surpass the level of fandom that’s associated with Star Wars. George Lucas’ influential sci-fi film birthed a massive universe and inspired countless other movies that engage in similar storytelling.

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There’s a level of freedom with science fiction that can often be absent in other genres of cinema. Sci-fi continues to push boundaries and make the impossible feel possible. Constructing its own rules and traveling to unseen places, the genre has produced some excellent movies sure to satisfy Star Wars fans looking for their next cinematic adventure.

Updated January 23, 2023 by Daniel Kurland: Every decade ushers in phenomenal new science fiction films that push the boundaries of what’s possible in genre cinema. Star Wars still has a prolific legacy that’s expanded beyond film into television, video games, comic books, and beyond, yet the versatile space epic is still viewed as one of the most satisfying sci-fi stories of all time. Star Wars knows how to please both the die-hard genre fans as well as those who weren’t interested in science fiction before they visited the galaxy far, far away. The magic of Star Wars has proven to be quite difficult to recapture, even by subsequent entries in the growing franchise. That being said, there are still some satisfying sci-fi films that will please any Star Wars fan.

18 The Fifth Element Is A Wild Space Adventure That Feels Ripped Out Of Star Wars

Release Date: May 9, 1997

Luc Besson is a visionary filmmaker who delivers some of his best work in The Fifth Element, a radical action-adventure set in 23rd century New York City. Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich make an iconic screen couple as Korben Dallas and Leeloo, two unlikely strangers who become the key to stopping the end of the world.

The Fifth Element has an electric tempo that’s too fun to deny. Furthermore, its depiction of a futuristic world full of aliens easily feels like it could be a Star Wars planet.

17 Starship Troopers Turns A War Against Big Bugs Into Something Special

Release Date: November 7, 1997

Both Star Wars and Starship Troopers chronicle vicious campaigns against extraterrestrial threats, but Paul Verhoeven was much more interested in tongue-in-cheek social commentary than George Lucas. Verhoeven turned Starship Troopers into something far more special than just a loud action/sci-fi hybrid where space soldiers hunt down giant bugs.

Verhoeven filmed Starship Troopers like a piece of war propaganda and crafted a shockingly poignant project in the process. It’s an exciting adventure for anyone who wants to watch a different type of space war than what’s present in Star Wars.

16 Galaxy Quest’s Pitch Perfect Parody Of Sci-Fi & Fandom Holds True

Release Date: December 25, 1999

Galaxy Quest is a thrilling satire of the intense fandom around series like Star Wars and Star Trek that’s able to sustain massive conventions and keep actors afloat through this fan-driven circuit. Galaxy Quest brilliantly takes the washed-up cast of a canceled 1970s sci-fi show and forces them to become their heroic television counterparts after they’re abducted by actual aliens and turned to for help.

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Galaxy Quest is way ahead of the curve when it comes to obsessive fandom. It’s also just delightful to watch actors like Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman indulge in such silly caricatures.

15 Planet Of The Apes Creates An Ecosystem Of Curious Conflict

Release Date: April 3, 1968

Scripted by acclaimed sci-fi writer Richard Matheson, Planet of the Apes is an iconic piece of cinema that also has one of the medium’s boldest twist endings. Matt Reeves’ modern take on an ape uprising that overthrows humanity is arguably a better-made series of films, but the original movies from the 1960s and ‘70s have their own charms that aim for a more mainstream appeal that’s appropriate for the entire family.

The Planet of the Apes franchise features a growing universe that is likely to resonate with certain Star Wars fans. The sequels also explore some compelling, but simple, sci-fi stories.

14 Metropolis Presents A Haunting Vision Of A Futuristic Dystopia

Release Date: March 13, 1927

It’s always interesting to look at cinema’s different depictions of the future, especially from movies that are from so far in the past. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927 has become a science fiction touchstone that effectively comments upon class, status, and the inherently corrupt nature of society.

This older German sci-fi film may not immediately bring Star Wars to mind, but it was a major influence on George Lucas and his iconic science-fiction universe. It makes for a fascinating watch for those who have endlessly memorized the iconography of Star Wars.

13 The Star Trek Reboot Blazed A New Trail And Went Where No One Had Gone Before

Release Date: May 8, 2009

The Star Trek franchise is nearly 50 years old, yet it continues to forge ahead with a wealth of new television series. The modern Star Trek movies, headlined by J.J. Abrams, are an interesting counterpoint to the Star Wars saga. Of course, any Star Trek movie should engage most science-fiction fans.

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The modern Star Trek movies don’t shy away from sprawling action scenes in space. However, they still break down philosophical and personal dilemmas, which remind the audience that these stories are about the unique people who travel across space. Star Trek and Star Wars fans are sometimes opposed, but there is a lot to love in both franchises.

12 Paul Atreides From Dune Found Himself On A Journey Comparable To The Skywalkers’

Release Date: December 14, 1984

Frank Herbert’s Dune is an incredibly dense collection of sci-fi books and comics. The 2021 adaptation of Dune made quite a splash, but the 1984 movie was a curious experiment beloved by some fans.

David Lynch’s Dune isn’t perfect, but it excels with the world that it creates and the epic journey that Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) tackles. Lynch was briefly considered for directing Return of the Jedi,and Dune might be the closest look into what his take on Star Wars could resemble.

11 Jupiter Ascending Crafted A Rich Universe That Hoped To Launch An Extended Franchise

Release Date: February 6, 2015

The Wachowskis are some of the most exciting and ambitious visual filmmakers in recent times. The Matrix franchise continues to receive acclaim, but each of their movies has developed equally fascinating worlds. Jupiter Ascending tells a story about unexpected royalty and the beauty in the mundane. It also feels like the filmmaking duo’s own version of Star Wars.

Jupiter Ascending established a comprehensive galaxy of planets and the bureaucracy that governed them all. The Wachowskis are sometimes guilty of giving in to excess, and Jupiter Ascending is no different. However, it still has a fanbase and could appeal to Star Wars fans.

Release Date: July 29, 1983

1983’s Krull is a sci-fi swashbuckling fantasy film and a must-see for fans of Star Wars. While it follows similar themes, Krull is a bit darker and more sophisticated. Prince Colwyn and his band of outlaws attempt to bring down the Beast on planet Krull in order to save a princess and carry out an ancient prophecy.

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Krull followed the blueprint introduced by Star Wars and other films like Seven Samurai. However, it felt more rooted in fantasy than Star Wars, which could appeal to fans of other genres. Krull was a largely undiscovered gem that will hit with fans of the original trilogy more than the modern continuations of Star Wars​​​​​​.

9 Guardians Of The Galaxy Is The Perfect Mix Of Sci-Fi, Comedy, And Adventure

Release Date: August 1, 2014

James Gunn’s introduction of Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians has been one of the biggest successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy are unlikely heroes who travel all across the universe to accomplish their goal and take down the bad guys.

A similar sense of adventure and action can be found in both Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy. However, Guardians deliberately inserts more humor, is connected to a much larger franchise, and explores the cosmic side of the Marvel universe.

8 Spaceballs Filtered George Lucas’ Classic Through Mel Brooks’ Incomparable Comedy

Release Date: June 24, 1987

Mel Brooks has built a reputable career out of his absurdist, fearless sense of humor. Many of Brooks’ movies have become instant classics. However, it’s easy to forget that most of his films are extreme exercises in genre parody.

Spaceballs is Mel Brooks’ deconstruction of the science fiction genre. He specifically sets his sights on Star Wars for most of the movie’sstory. Spaceballs isn’t Brooks’ best work, but it’s full of incredible sight gags and some of his silliest characters. It’s a ridiculous and satisfying change of pace for those who love George Lucas’ movies.

Release Date: May 25, 1979

While Star Wars is more of a family film, there are a few great sci-fi options for adults. 1979’s Alien by Ridley Scott is a sci-fi horror that follows the crew of a mining vessel. After answering a distress call, they struggle to survive an attack from a deadly extraterrestrial that would become known as a Xenomorph.

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The Nostromo features the same lived-in feeling as all of the ships and tech in Star Wars. This helps separate films like Alien and Star Wars from other flashier entries in the genre. Alien also introduced a dark future affected by the military-industrial complex that would appear in every entry in the hit sci-fi franchise.

6 Moon Is A Methodical Character Study That Embraced Hard Sci-Fi

Release Date: July 3, 2009

Duncan Jones is a progressive filmmaker who’s increasingly taken on bigger stories. Moon is his initial foray into science fiction and remains one of the director’s best films. The isolating, claustrophobic story almost plays like a piece of theater.

Moon is set on a space base where Sam Rockwell’s Sam Bell carries out his lunar duties alone. This dynamic shatters when Sam receives a very unexpected visitor, forcing him to deal with harsh questions about his identity and the nature of individuality. Moon is a smart, restrained sci-fi film that will appeal to fans of multiple genres.

Release Date: July 13, 1984

Successful children’s films need to have a hero the young audience can properly picture as themselves. Star Wars features a ragtag and affable crew that took on the Empire, but they still feel somewhat removed from any ordinary kid.

The Last Starfighter is one of the best sci-fi movies from the ’80s and gives tremendous power to an unassuming hero. The hero in this case is a boy who’s particularly good at video games. The Last Starfighter is an excellent subversion of a fish out of water story, but it’s also gleefully steeped in the decade’s sci-fi and action tropes.

4 2001: A Space Odyssey Beautifully Explored The Wonders Of The Cosmos

Release Date: April 2, 1968

It’s difficult to talk about important science fiction films without paying service to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick’s entire filmography is full of groundbreaking cinema that covers diverse genres and subject matter.

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Kubrick’s approach to sci-fi is deeply cerebral. It prides itself on confounding visuals and philosophical queries that provide a very different perspective on the infinite nature of space and how humanity fits into the equation. 2001 is a much more high-minded experiment than Star Wars,but there’s still common ground between the two movies.

3 Blade Runner Highlighted Harrison Ford’s Versatility As A Sci-Fi Leading Actor

Release Date: June 25, 1982

Ridley Scott has helmed dozens of contrasting movies, but his forays into science fiction are some of his most successful works. One of Ridley Scott’s best sci-fi movies is Blade Runner. It often feels like a long sci-fi poem with stunning production design.

Blade Runner’sworld feels as deep as the one in Star Wars. The futuristic environment might win over Star Wars fans, but they should also find solace in Harrison Ford’s stoic performance as the conflicted Rick Deckard. The character is a different kind of sci-fi hero thanHan Solo from Star Wars, but he has just as many fans.

2 THX-1138 Was George Lucas’ Directorial Debut That Became A Cult Hit

Release Date: October 28, 1977

Prior to the release of Star Wars, creator George Lucas brought a dystopian sci-fi thriller to the big screen called THX-1138. The film was much darker in tone than Star Wars but also featured familiar elements. The titular worker known as THX-1138 saw his dark future for the first time when he stopped taking mind-controlling drugs and attempted to escape the dystopian society.

Fans of the faceless Stormtroopers from Star Wars will notice the army of android police who oversee the future world look quite familiar. While THX-1138 lacks some of the refined special effects work seen in Star Wars, it still impressed fans. The movie wasn’t a huge success initially, but fans of Lucas’ work have since made the film a cult hit.

1 James Cameron Created Magic And Awe Through Avatar’s Pandora

Release Date: December 18, 2009

James Cameron has been quite selective with his filmography. Each of his new projects features groundbreaking technology that genuinely helps the medium evolve. Cameron is no stranger to science fiction, and the past decade has seen him focus almost exclusively on his aesthetically pleasing Avatar universe.

Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is the first sequel that expands Pandora and beyond, and many fans consider it to be an improvement from its predecessor. The magic of Avatar and the dazzling worlds and creatures that inhabit it don’t connect with everyone, but the movie’s success is undeniable.

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