The 10 Most Underrated Sci-fi Films of The 21st Century

6. Dredd

Dredd is included on practically every underrated sci-fi list. Frankly, its frequent inclusion might put it at risk of being overrated, but who cares? It’s still not appropriately rated. It still hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. As a result, it seems as though another website has decided to include it on a very familiar list. Sorry, but it had to be done.

Nobody could have predicted that a Judge Dredd movie would end up being this good, especially after the abysmal movie starring Sylvester Stallone. That thing was a turd, so why should this movie be any better? Two words: Karl Urban.

It’s clear from the get-go that Urban is really passionate about this. Sure, he’s playing a pretty one-note character, but he plays the hell out of it. His dedication to the performance adds to the breakneck action sequences scattered throughout the film. This combination results in a killer experience that sticks with viewers after the credits roll.

Urban’s dedication remains evident because he won’t shut up about a follow-up, but can you blame him? He loved playing the character, and we loved watching him play the character. Dredd is, for lack of a better word, badass. Pray that it gets the follow-up it deserves.


7. The Fountain

This is perhaps the only entry on the list that really took a critical beating. The other films did well critically while failing to find an audience. Unfortunately, Aronofsky’s The Fountain flopped critically and commercially. After receiving lukewarm reviews, it stumbled at the box office. Sure, there’s a small cult following, but The Fountain remains just as divisive as you might expect from someone like Darren Aronofsky.

Okay, so it never approaches mother! territory in terms of the public’s response, but there were still plenty of haters who felt like maybe the director bit off more than he could chew, and that’s a fair criticism. To some degree, The Fountain lacks focus. It has a lot on its mind and it occasionally stumbles due to its lofty ambitions, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker.

On the contrary, this grandiose sci-fi epic is actually rather admirable. Even if its gargantuan scope does just as much harm as good, it’s still bolder than the average Hollywood production. That alone makes it worth a peak, even if it’s imperfect for countless reasons.


8. Radius

Back in 2017, a pair of nobody directors released a micro-budget sci-fi flick that failed to find a sizeable audience. The people who saw it loved it, but it didn’t break through to the mainstream like several other comparable movies. With a unique concept and a surprising amount of craft behind the camera, one might assume that audiences would have flocked to see Radius following strong word-of-mouth. Alas, the film ultimately came and went.

Radius revolves around a car crash survivor who kills anyone with a certain (wait for it) radius of him. He then meets a woman who has a direct effect on how his newfound abilities work. The premise is unique by itself, but it needed to be well-executed in order for it to really work. Great premises are sometimes wasted on B-movies, but Radius is anything but that.

This is an indie flick with a heart of gold. It has a lot on its mind, and it uses all of those thoughts to its advantage. It doesn’t lean particularly heavily into the “science” aspect of “science fiction,” but it doesn’t need to. It sets up its sci-fi premise and proceeds to create magic. Honestly, it’s a can’t-miss movie that has, unfortunately, been missed by millions.


9. The Survivalist

The Survivalist

Post-apocalyptic movies are a dime a dozen, which means that many of them go unnoticed. Take The Survivalist, for example. Something stopped it from achieving the same kind of worldwide success as Birbox, A Quiet Place, and World War Z.

Okay, maybe it’s unfair to act like its failure to catch on is some kind of mystery. The Survivalist was quietly dropped onto streaming platforms with no word-of-mouth or marketing. To make matters worse, the cast of nobodies likely didn’t draw in many viewers. This thing was dead on arrival.

It turns out that people weren’t yearning for a slow-paced character study with a miniscule budget and overall lack of large setpieces. This is a niche indie movie made for a specific audience. The problem is that it still really hasn’t found any audience yet. Sure, the critics loved it, but the rest of the world hasn’t really discovered it.

That’s precisely why it has earned a spot on this list. The Survivalist needs to find an audience because, to put it bluntly, it’s damn good. Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but it’s still something that everyone should look into at some point in time. There’s a lot to appreciate here.


10. Solaris (2002)


Solaris’s release was a disaster. Soderbergh’s poorly marketed take on Stanisław Lem’s novel flopped hard. It didn’t recoup its budget, it didn’t impress critics or casual viewers, and it didn’t do justice to the source material. With that in mind, some may struggle to label 2002’s Solaris as anything other than a failure. At the same time, is it fair to label this a failure now that the dust has settled?

From a financial standpoint, yes, Solaris is still a failure. In terms of critical reaction, things get a little dicier. On one hand, this new take on Solaris clearly fails to measure up to Tarkovsky’s original. On the other hand, there’s a lot to love when you isolate it and view it as its own separate entity. The performances are strong, the subject matter is ambitious, and the themes are complex.

Overall, Solaris feels trapped because it doesn’t really appeal to fans of the original or mainstream audiences. As a result, it has to be viewed as its own product. Honestly, it’s a really impressive movie when you sit back and shed the biases. That just might be too difficult for certain viewers.