But that doesn’t mean you can’t at least pay a fictional visit.
For anyone who gets all shivery at the sight of a star-filled night sky, we’ve rounded up some of the best space movies on Netflix — from timeless classics like Total Recall to the colourful new world of Over the Moon. And if you’d rather remain in space, check out our roundups for Netflix’s and the best alien movies on the streaming service.
You get pretty much exactly what you expect with Doom: a popcorn-munching testosterone storm that’s loaded with guns, gore, and lines of dialogue like, “Let’s see if we can find the body that goes with that arm.” In short, it’s very silly, very messy fun that’s a fitting tribute to the video game series on which it’s loosely based. The plot sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson leading a squad of Marines through a portal to a research facility on Mars that appears to have been overrun by something nasty. Come for the tension and the jumps, stay for the awesome POV section towards the end that’s a direct homage to the film’s first-person shooter roots.* -Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor
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2. Jupiter Ascending
Written and directed by the Wachowskis, Jupiter Ascending is a lavish space opera following an unassuming housecleaner (Mila Kunis) who discovers she’s the heir to an intergalactic dynasty, and that the fate of the universe therefore rests in her hands.
What follows is an unrestrained fantasy that combines soaring action and swooning romance with the sheer WTFery of, say, Channing Tatum as a wolf-man warrior on space rollerblades or a swarm of bees that can recognize royalty. Check your rational thinking at the door and . And if you’re in the mood for still more Wachowski weirdness after this, and the series are both on the service as well.* — Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Editor
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3. Orbiter 9
Orbiter 9 is one of those movies you can’t say too much about without giving the game away. Hatem Khraiche’s slow-burn sci-fi/drama follows Helena (Clara Lago), a solo astronaut who falls for an engineer while travelling in a space pod bound for a distant colony. Any more plot detail than that would be spoiling things, but suffice it to say the movie is as much a futuristic mystery as it is a philosophical meditation on the morality and future of humankind. Just don’t go in expecting any hectic laser shootouts, because it’s not that kind of space film. — S.H.
Space doesn’t have to be scary. If you’re more in the mood for brightly coloured, spectacularly costumed adventure than you are for high-octane peril, then Glen Keane and John Kahrs’ animated musical may be just the right ship to board. Over the Moon sees young Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) struggling with grief and a changing family situation. Her means of escape? Building her own rocket to travel to the moon in order to prove an old legend about a goddess called Chang’e.
Cue plenty of cute characters, some impressively imaginative storylines, and a bunch of songs that’ll be stuck in your head long after the end credits roll. — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor
Futuristic space films often present polarised versions of planetary existence for humans: they either inhabit heaving metropolises filled with the latest high-flying, polished technology, or they’re struggling to survive on distant, harsh planets with basic tech and few friendly neighbours. Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell’s compelling low-budget, small-cast film Prospect shows the latter, a bleak, brutal sci-fi survival thriller that has all the elements of a western — bargaining at gunpoint, searching for fabled treasure, close escapes. But an easy, fun ride into the sunset this ain’t.
Scavenger Damon (Jay Duplass) and his resourceful, tough teen daughter Cee (Sophie Thatcher) find themselves on a prospecting mission for gems on an overgrown moon sparsely populated by ruthless profiteers, among others. With poisonous spores filling the air, oxygen is scarce — as is any kind of safety. There, they encounter The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal as gunslinger Ezra, who becomes an unlikely ally, albeit in violent circumstances. Will this film predict how humans really end up existing in space? It’s gonna be hard times if so. — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor
In Space Sweepers‘ not-terribly-distant future of 2092, Earth has become a polluted wasteland while the wealthiest and most powerful individuals live in a utopian, corporate-owned orbital space station. The film follows a crew of space sweepers, Earth-dwellers who scrape out a living by cleaning up space junk and selling it. Their tough but peaceful existence is shattered one day when, mixed in among the trash, they find a little girl named Dorothy (Park Ye-rin) who, it turns out, may be an android fitted with a powerful bomb. But the plan they hatch to ransom Dorothy off to the terrorists who are looking for her goes awry as she spends more time aboard the ship. It’s not the most original story in sci-fi history, but gorgeous visuals, a strong cast, and careful plotting combine to make this two-plus hour journey — billed as the first space blockbuster from Korea — breeze by.* — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter
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Blasting yourself off to Mars for a couple of years would already be nerve-wracking enough, but now imagine you burned up too much O2 as you were launching out of Earth’s atmosphere and you’ve found an extra passenger on your three-person ship. That’s the nightmare scenario of Joe Penna’s Stowaway, a tense drama that’s part thriller and part moral dilemma. Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette make up the small (but mighty) cast, and the movie mixes stomach-dropping cinematography with plenty of soul-searching. — S.H.
Forget the 2012 remake; we’re talking about the original here. Loosely inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall centers on an ordinary construction worker, Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who buys a memory implant of a secret agent with a mission on Mars, and discovers in the process that he actually is a secret agent with a mission on Mars.
Or…is he? Total Recall has great fun playing with questions of identity and reality while also serving up all bombastic action, sly humor, and one of Schwarzenegger’s most memorable performances.* — A.H.
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9. The Wandering Earth
Humanity relocating to another part of the galaxy isn’t exactly a new trope in space movies, but it’s not often they take the entire planet with them. Based on the novel by Liu Cixin and directed by Frant Gwo, The Wandering Earth sees humans on a mission to relocate the globe to a new (and less imminently deadly) area of space. This one has pretty much everything you’d want in a big budget blockbuster — massive set-pieces, plenty of tension, and the kind of cinematography you’ll immediately want hanging up on your walls. The cast is great, too, and there are more than a few poignant moments that’ll catch you off-guard. — S.H.
Pretty much everybody has heard of Jumanji, the 1995 Robin Williams movie about the board game that’s far too interactive for its own good. But fewer people will have heard of the sequel. Directed by Jon Favreau and adapted from a children’s story by Jumanji author Chris Van Allsburg, Zathura is a 2005 movie about two kids that — you guessed it — stumble across a dusty old board game with some fairly intense gameplay elements. This time, instead of the jungle, we’re off to space, with the kids’ entire house being transported into the middle of a swirling robot-and-alien-filled galaxy. For a 2005 movie the effects are awesome, while the young cast — including a pre-Hunger Games Josh Hutcherson and a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart — do an excellent job of carrying the action. Dax Shepherd also gets a fun cameo as an astronaut, and a certain group of lizard-like aliens are entertainingly monstrous.* -S.H.