The 90s was a decade that brought us some of the biggest and most important science fiction films of all time. There were massive blockbusters like Jurassic Park. There were game-changing films like The Matrix. The decade even saw the return of Star Wars. However, there are some great science fiction films from the decade that were overlooked.
For whatever reason, these science fiction films failed to find their audiences when they were released, or have not stayed in the public eye as much as some other films from the genre. However, it's never too late to seek out these hidden gems. Here are some science fiction masterpieces from the 90s that movie lovers really owe it to themselves to check out.
10 Event Horizon
Space exploration is a key component of many science fiction movies, usually leading to amazing discoveries or horrifying terrors (often both). Event Horizon falls into the latter category, as the sci-fi horror film centers on a spaceship that returns to Earth's orbit after years of being missing. Though it is seemingly abandoned, it carries a chilling presence.
The film was not well-received upon its release, but has gained a new appreciation in subsequent years. The eerie feel of the movie and tension throughout are effective, while the material is elevated by a strong cast including Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne.
9 The Faculty
There are not too many science fiction films set in high schools, but The Faculty is a fun and wild entry in the genre. From director Robert Rodriguez, the film follows a group of students who, after a series of bizarre occurrences at their school, suspect their teachers are actually aliens.
While the film is not as polished and complex as some of the other films on this list, it is a fun B-movie. Never taking itself too seriously, this alien invasion film is filled with fine actors, great humor and enough suspense to make it a wild ride.
8 Strange Days
It's funny to think there was a time when 1999 was considered the year of the future. Despite the dated setting, it doesn't take anything away from Strange Days, which established itself as an inventive and wild sci-fi thriller. The film stars Ralph Fiennes as a street hustler who sells virtual memories to people, who soon uncovers a massive conspiracy on the eve of the new millennium.
The film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow so it shouldn't be surprising that there are a number of intense and thrilling sequences throughout the film. It makes for a surreal thrill ride from beginning to end.
Cube is a clever and suspenseful Canadian sci-fi horror film that feels like a predecessor to films like Saw. The movie involves a group of strangers who wake up in small cells in a strange facility. They soon find that while they can access other rooms in this facility, they face booby traps at every turn and are inside a deadly, elaborate puzzle.
The small film actually uses its size to its advantage. The claustrophobic feel of the movie adds to the tension of the story. It's impossible not to get sucked into this engrossing and strange mystery.
6 Dark City
The Matrix was one of the biggest and most influential science fiction movies to come out in the 90s, but Dark City is a film that may have influenced it. It follows a man who wakes up with no memory and finds himself wanted for murder. As he tries to piece together his past, he stumbles onto a dark underworld that is controlling the city.
The film flopped on its release, but has since become a cult favorite with loyal fans. Still, it is a strange and intriguing film that has yet to find a wide audience.
Great science fiction movies are able to address relevant and topical issues in our modern society even while exploring the future. Such is the case in Gattaca, which presents a future in which people deemed genetically superior are given a better life while others are considered second-class.
Ethan Hawke stars as a second-class citizen who attempts to change his path by switching places with a 'genetically superior' man. The film is a gorgeous and thought-provoking tale that boasts great performances from an impressive cast.
The quest to discover whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe has been the subject of many science fiction films. However, Contact makes it a much more human story, rather than going the normal route of aliens versus humans.
The film stars Jodie Foster as a scientist who detects a signal from an unknown source in space. As the world deals with this communication in a variety of ways, she seeks to make the first contact with this new life. It is an intriguing story about exploration at all costs.
3 The Iron Giant
Disney wasn't the only studio making amazing animated films in the 90s. The Warner Bros. animated film told the story of a young boy who finds a gigantic iron robot from another planet. As the two new friends form a bond, the boy teaches the Iron Giant about the world while trying to keep him out of the hands of the government.
From film-maker Brad Bird, the movie is a fun and comical family adventure filled with great animated sequences. However, it also has an incredible amount of heart, making it one of the most touching and emotional films of the 90s.
Darren Aronofsky started his acclaimed and eclectic filmmaking career with this small science fiction mystery. The surreal film follows a paranoid mathematician who becomes obsessed with discovering a number that will unlock the secrets of the universe.
The film is an amazing example of what can be done with even the smallest budgets. Aronofsky showcased his considerable talents in a frenetic and compelling look at how troubled brilliant minds can be. Like most of his movies, it can be uncomfortable to watch but hard to look away from.
1 12 Monkeys
Time travel movies can often be mind-bending experiences, but that is especially true when they're in the hands of a film-maker like Terry Gilliam. 12 Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as a prisoner living in the future, a time in which the surface world has been abandoned after a virus outbreak. He is selected for a mission to travel back in time and find out what caused the outbreak.
The movie is a surreal and fascinating journey, a story told in Gilliam's signature strange style. Willis is great in a role that's completely unlike the action heroes he typically portrays, while Brad Pitt is excellent as a dangerous man he meets on his journey.