Netflix releases original content almost every other day. From comedy series to dark, riveting documentaries, Netflix has something for everyone. However, they seem to be very particular about their Sci-Fi Originals. They are either unanimously loved by critics and viewers, like the latest season of Black Mirror, or they crash and burn a few days after their release. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground when it comes to Sci-Fi Netflix Originals.
Luckily for Sci-Fi fans, there is way more quality content on Netflix of their favorite genre than terrible content. When Netflix gets it right, it really gets it right, no matter what sub-genre of Sci-Fi you are into. That is not to say that there haven’t been some projects that left audiences feeling lukewarm, even if they appeared to have potential. Whether it falls under bad post production or lack of promotion, the critics weren’t very kind to some of these Netflix Originals.
Here is a list of 8 Worst Sci-Fi Netflix Originals, series and movies, and 7 that people can’t get enough of. For the record, we are not saying we personally hate these Netflix Originals, but we understand why their ratings are so low.
15 Bad: Bright
Bright is set in an alternate world in which humanity co-exists uneasily with orcs, elves, centaurs and other creatures they have fought for thousands of years. When LA police officer Daryl Ward is partnered with the first orc officer, he will have to deal with his prejudice in order to work side by side.
Critics tore down the movie, giving it a harsh 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many called it a regular buddy cop movie with a cringe-worthy twist. However, Bright quickly became the most watched program on Netflix with about 11 million Americans streaming it in the first three days after its release.
14 Best: Stranger Things
There is nothing new that can be said about how great Stranger Things is. It became almost an immediate sensation and the praise only grew after season 2.
For anybody who is still on the fence about this show, Stranger Things is a Sci-Fi horror series about a boy who goes missing in the small town of Hawkins. While searching for their missing friend, three boys encounter a nameless girl in the woods who appears to have psychic powers and a connection to their friend.
The first season revolves around the disappearance of Will Byers, but the Sci-Fi tones come with the answers the boys need in order to find him. With Hawkins Labs’ mysterious experiments, a portal to another dimension and a monster the kids call the Demogorgon, Stranger Things tackle science and fantasy in a familiar 80s manner but with a well structured narrative.
13 Bad: The OA
Okay, The OA is not the worst of the worst, but that does not mean it’s without its flaws.
The OA is a science fiction mystery drama (that’s just half of the genres) about a young woman named Prairie Johnson who reappears after being missing for seven years. Prairie calls herself the OA and can now see even though she was blind before she disappeared. She refuses to tell anyone where she has been except for a selection of five locals whom she asks for help to save the other missing people who she believes she can rescue by opening a secret portal to another dimension.
Nipping at the heels of Stranger Things, The OA just felt too familiar. While it has a decent score of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, there have been plenty of reviews that criticize the ‘glacial’ pace, the nonsensical plot holes and the unnatural dialogue.
12 Best: Black Mirror
The Sci-Fi anthology by Charlie Brooker is one of the best things to watch on Netflix. With four complex seasons, Black Mirror offers a view of different alternate worlds and how a specific turn in technology can change or enhance humanity’s worst flaws.
Every episode is a separate storyline, even though some of the shared technologies and a few Easter Eggs might have fans thinking otherwise. In each episode, a piece of technology, not too out of reach from the present day, is slowly revealed and the repercussions it has on the main characters. The showcase its effects on relationships, obsessions, invasion of someone’s mental privacy and society as a whole.
There is something for everyone in this show. Watching just one episode wouldn’t suffice to say if someone liked it or not. Netflix released season 4 last December, which currently has a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
11 Bad: Sense8
Sense8 is either a great show or a great idea for a show, depending who you ask.
The show, created and written by the Wachowskis, revolves around eight people of different nationalities who share a psychic connection. They slowly become aware of this and the danger it poses to their safety.
The Sci-Fi series had many things going for it, like a multinational cast, a wide representation of LGBTQ characters and great action. It also had some flaws that brought its cancellation. For one, the show’s pacing didn’t reveal enough answers to understand the depth of their psychic network. What eventually killed the show was the high cost of production, relying on too many film locations and the majority of the filmmaking on Lana Wachowski alone. The good news is fans will get to see the resolution of the story in a two hour series finale which will stream on Netflix.
10 Best: Travelers
This Showcase and Netflix production creates a world where a select few are responsible for the future of humanity. Referred to as ‘travelers’, these operatives can have their consciousness sent back in time and transferred into individuals whose deaths have deeply impacted the timeline of humanity. The show focuses on five travellers and their individual missions when their consciousnesses are transferred.
Apart from the time travel concept, the other appeal of this show is seeing the characters get used to the past customs and way of living, since they are technically a hundred years from the future. The five separate stories showcase the human nature in the travellers and how out of date or erroneous our current society is.
Netflix released season 2 worldwide last December and there are rumors that season 3 is in the works.
9 Bad: Godzilla
When Netflix released their first part of a trilogy, The Planet Monsters, interest piqued for about 24 hours before it plummeted.
Part I shows whatever is left of humanity roaming in space searching for a habitable planet. Ever since Godzilla appeared, humanity was forced to leave Earth. After twenty years of searching, humanity decides to go back to planet Earth and reclaim it from the monsters.
It takes more than 50 minutes for Godzilla to properly show up. The audience is left with an unlikable human cast that takes way too long to make the decision to go back to Earth and get the action started. While the anime design of Godzilla is menacing, he barely moves apart from some roaring and slow swaying. It either means they didn’t have enough of a budget to mobilize him properly or this version of Godzilla will rely more on atomic breath.
8 Best: 3%
Another dystopian futuristic Sci-Fi series, 3% is about the opportunity for civilians to move on to the ‘better side’ of a world divided between progress and devastation. It is the second non-English production by Netflix.
In this Brazilian series, people either live Inland or Offshore, in poverty or in paradise. This divisive world gives everyone a chance to go through The Process and become part of the Offshore. However, only 3% of the candidates make it to the ‘better side’. The first season follows protagonist Michelle and friend Bruna as they make their way through every rigorous test in order to make it to the other side.
The show received generally positive reviews and it announced last year a second season which should premiere in 2018 on Netflix.
7 Bad: Neo Yokio
It’s not very clear what Netflix was trying to go for when they released this American-Japanese concoction. Part science fiction, part fantasy and all too much from Jaden Smith, the six episode season left a lot to be desired.
Neo Yokio, created by Ezra Koenig in collaboration with Production IG and Studio Deen, is set in a futuristic alternate timeline New York. The Magicians saved the city from the demons in the 19th century. Because of their victory, they became a higher class and are known as Magistocrats. The series follows Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith), a vain Magistocrat by day and a demon hunter by night.
The series was widely criticized because of its unlikeable main character. On top of that, the show lacked direction, quality voice acting, animation and writing. In other words, all the elements necessary to make a quasi-anime series watchable.
6 Best: Dark
The German Sci-Fi series revolves around the disappearance of children in the town of Winden. But the question is not where the children are but when. The situation escalates when the youngest son of a policeman, Ulrich Nielsen, goes missing and he will stop at nothing to find him.
The series shows how the disappearances affect five different families who have lived in Winden for decades. It becomes evident certain events keep repeating themselves every twenty odd years and it is up to these characters to discover what it all means and why it keeps happening in this town.
Dark deals with time travel theories, the role destiny plays in the characters’ lives and the paradox of setting a chain of events in motion when their actions are meant to avoid it.
5 Bad: The Discovery
The Discovery takes place in a world where the afterlife has been scientifically proven by Dr. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford). This new scientific information has changed the meaning of death for humanity and many are opting for suicide as a way to reset. Others, like Dr. Harbor’s son, Will (Jason Segel), opt for life and trying to figure out what it means. When Will visits his father’s facilities and looks up to him for answers, he must decide if he will find peace in this world or in the afterlife.
While the concept appealed to many, critics found it was a ‘what if’ story the writers never figured out how to resolve. A lot seems to happen, but without any organic urgency and the interesting concept dissipates as the film continues.
4 Best: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return
Netflix released the revival of this late 80’s show in 2017 by Joel Hodgson. The quirky Sci-Fi series is about the human subject, Joel Robinson, who is captured by two mad scientists of the Satellite of Love spacecraft. Joel is forced to watch a series of bad movies in order to understand how much the human mind can withstand before going insane.
This cult classic came back with 14 episodes starring Patton Oswalt, Felicia Day, Baron Vaughn and the creator Joel Hodgson. It was the fan’s passion that brought back this show with a Kickstarter of about 6 million dollars, the largest Kickstarter for Film & Video. Audiences gave it a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes, calling it a fun invitation to enjoy the oddest pockets of film history.
3 Bad: Between
It was a few years back when it would’ve been a smart idea to invest in a series about a dystopian society where young adults are the main protagonist. For better or worse, Insurgent killed that cold, but Netflix didn’t get the memo when they released this Canadian science fiction drama.
Between takes place in a town called Pretty Lake, which is dealing with a mysterious disease that has killed everybody over the age of 21. Quarantined and left to fend for themselves, the young protagonists must find a way to cope with their situation, possibly escape and use their teenage angst as the guiding force of their survival. Unfortunately, they don't really hit the mark and the first season of this show managed a mark of 22% of Rotten Tomatoes.
2 Best: Knights of Sidonia
If your favourite sub genre is Anime Sci-Fi, don’t let Netflix’s Godzilla dissuade you. They have done a few other shows right, like Knights of Sidonia.
The anime, based on the manga series of the same name, is set in the year 3394, a thousand years after humanity was forced to flee Earth after an alien attack. Whatever is left of mankind, due to human cloning and asexual reproduction, lives in the Sidonia spacecraft. The series follows the pilot Nagate Tanikaze, a boy who was raised by his grandfather in the undergrounds of Sidonia. He spends his life in solitude, training himself in an old pilot simulator until he masters it. When he finally emerges to the surface, he is chosen as a Guardian pilot just as the Sidonia is under attack once again.
The anime series received critical acclaim from many members of the Japanese anime and game industry.
1 Bad: iBoy
Book adaptations can go in any direction. In this case iBoy, adapted from the book of the same name by Kevin Brooks, stays almost at the very middle without causing too much anger or joy.
iBoy tells the story of Tom who wakes up from a coma after being shot. Tom quickly finds the fragments from his phone have been encrypted into his brain. This causes Tom to develop certain superpowers that make it impossible for him to go back to normal teenage life.
The Netflix Original film tries too hard to stand out in the Sci-Fi genre especially when, at its core, it’s really just another superhero movie. While critics have given it an overall 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences disliked it way more, giving it a 40%.
Do you disagree with any of these entries? Let us know!