10 Sci-Fi Movies That Get Better The Deeper You Go

Complex movies that actually reward you for digging...

2001 A Space Odyssey
MGM

To a certain extent, sci-fi is the perfect genre to encourage multiple viewings and varied interpretations. It is a world of stories governed mostly by one single proposition - "What If...?" - that blends rich, high-concept narrative with a sense of imaginative wonder that other genres cannot be quite so overt about. Sure, there's an element of realism (hence the "science"), but it fundamentally has to be married to something that pushes the boundaries of possibilities and truth.

Take Star Wars as an example. George Lucas' galaxy far, far away is built on a simple premise at its heart - the idea of balance - which defines absolutely everything, no matter how much fans complain about things changing. It always comes back to balance. But the longer you spend watching those movies, drinking in the rich lore and examining character motivations, archetypes and hidden details and meanings, the more reward there is. That's why they've generated so much debate over the years. The same can be said of Blade Runner, which we've covered as part of a similar list recently.

But which other sci-fi movies belong in the same bracket? Which films are enjoyable in surface level terms, but then become even more rewarding - and often more entertaining - the more you look into them?

10. Alien

Face Hugger
20th Century Fox

On the surface, Alien is your run-of-the-mill monster stalker movie with some of the most recognisable pillars of horror movies, like jump scares, atmospheric building, tension and a Final Girl sort of ending. But it's WAY more than that once you start reading it a little more specifically. Look beyond the monster as a shapeless fear and you have both the idea of the xenomorph being the personified fear of rape and the idea of the male fear of penetration and also healthy anxieties about our bodies turning on us.

That's why the iconic alien is a biomechanical monstrosity that somehow still retains humanoid characteristics, that's why there's such a focus on birth, that's why the face-huggers are both phallic and yonic. The crew aren't just being stalked by an external force, but something inherently seeded in the human condition and once you start to watch on that level, it changes everything. And arguably makes it all even more terrifying.

The same goes for the sequel, which appears to be a less cerebral movie than the first - given that it's more overtly action-led - but which reads as a Vietnam War allegory once you break under the surface. That coupled with masculine anxiety fears makes for even more compelling viewing.

Executive Editor
Executive Editor

Executive Editor, chief Gunter and the most read writer on WhatCulture. Like ever.