Science fiction films are often interestingly received by critics and casual moviegoers. They're typically either loved on a hardcore, fanboy level or they get forgotten about quickly. Remember Blade Runner 2049 a few years ago? It was a tremendous movie and was praised by nearly everyone, yet it barely made money and has kind of been forgotten about since.
That was only two years ago, but we're going back much further for this list. This is all about the 90s. We've taken a look at some of the best and most notable sci-fi flicks from that decade and picked out the ones that are the most overrated from those that are way underrated.
10 Overrated: Galaxy Quest
Let's start by reminding everyone that a movie being overrated doesn't mean it is bad. Galaxy Quest is not a bad movie. It holds a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and made $90.7 million at the box office. Arriving in theaters just days before the decade closed, Galaxy Quest told the story of cast members from a canceled television series.
They remained famous at fan conventions, which is something that has happened to a lot of stars from real shows that were canceled. These people get mistaken by an alien race for the real thing and hijinks ensue. It's a hilarious film with a talented cast including Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Sam Rockwell. But 90%, Rotten Tomatoes?
9 Underrated: Mars Attacks!
We're sticking with the weird world of comedy sci-fi for our first underrated entry. 1996's Mars Attacks! was one of the zaniest films in the entire decade, regardless of genre. It focused on a Martian invasion of Earth, yet it is done hilariously. Mars Attacks! was filled with wacky moments and over-the-top animation.
Tim Burton has always been one of the most unique minds in all of Hollywood. This was one of his coolest creations, yet it registers at just a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It isn't considered one of the best entries within the genre, yet you won't find many movies that are a better time than Mars Attacks!.
8 Overrated: Back To The Future Part III
The Back to the Future trilogy is held in high esteem. The series follows the adventures of eccentric scientist Doc Brown and teenage good guy Marty McFly as they travel back and forth in time. The first two installments are iconic films and this third one is lumped in with them, but isn't nearly as good.
Released in 1990, this entry saw McFly and Brown head a century in the past to 1885. It took things in the direction of a sci-fi western. Though most people agree it is the weakest part of the trilogy, it was still touted as a very good movie and was a box office hit. If you take a moment to think about it, this doesn't hold a candle to the best sci-fi movies of the decade.
7 Underrated: Tank Girl
This is one of those movies that wasn't well-received when it first hit theaters. Tank Girl grossed just $6 million against a $25 million budget. Reviews weren't much better, as this holds a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. By all accounts, it was both a critical and commercial failure.
And yet, there's something to love about Tank Girl. A bunch of genetically-modified supersoldiers battle against an oppressive corporation in a wasteland like landscape? What's not to love? Throw in a rocking soundtrack and the cheesy goodness of a campy movie like this and you've got all the ingredients for a cult classic.
6 Overrated: Independence Day
The definition of a science-fiction blockbuster. Independence Day dominated the box office in 1996 by grossing $817.4 million, which was more than any other release that year. The Will Smith-led smash hit centered around a group of humans who launch a counterattack on an alien race who invades the planet.
Independence Day is great at what it aims to be. As an action movie with lots of explosions and fun moments, it is popcorn entertainment at its finest. But some consider this movie to be an all-time great and that's just not this film's wheelhouse. This is good, but not some kind of classic.
5 Underrated: 12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is an interesting film to consider in this situation. When it arrived in 1995, it did well at the box office by raking in $168.8 million and it scored an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Those are two signs that wouldn't deem this as an underrated gem. But look a little deeper.
Focusing on a reluctant time traveler in a world plagued by a deadly virus, this film was one of the best sci-fi movies in history. Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis are stellar in it. Even with a TV show based on it, this movie is often forgotten about and overlooked when discussing the best of the genre. It deserves better.
4 Overrated: Starship Troopers
Here's a movie that suffers from similar elements that caused Independence Day to land in the overrated camp. Starship Troopers is a 1997 movie with a simple premise: a young soldier is commissioned to join a fight between mankind and spider-like extraterrestrials.
It was met with positive reviews, even if it didn't dominate at the box office. Since its release, Starship Troopers is often brought up when discussing the best sci-fi movies ever. However, it tries too hard on the gory scenes and doesn't exactly blow you away with the performances by the actors. A fine sci-fi flick and nothing more.
3 Underrated: Gattaca
To be fair, critics seemed to be pretty high on 1997's Gattaca. It has plenty of positive reviews, nominations in both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and features the talents of names like Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law. What makes this underrated is the way most casual movie viewers see it.
When Gattaca hit theaters, it ultimately flopped. On a $36 million budget, it grossed a paltry $12.5 million. The tale of a futuristic society where children are conceived through genetic selection of their parents' best traits to be their best selves wasn't one that captivated audiences. That's a shame, because Gattaca should've been bigger.
2 Overrated: Contact
Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey are two Academy Award-winning actors. Robert Zemeckis is an Academy Award-winning director. They all came together for 1997's Contact. This film follows a group of scientists who attempt to make first contact with the aliens they believe exist.
With a strong cast, great director, and intriguing concept, this should have been a masterpiece. It received positive reviews and did well at the box office, yet it wasn't anywhere near the movie it could have been. Contact is overly long, pretty dull, and incredibly underwhelming.
1 Underrated: Dark City
In 1998, fans were introduced to something different from the world of sci-fi. We were treated to a neo-noir take on the genre with Dark City. Director Alex Proyas was known for an impressive visual style and everything else about this film came together to deliver something truly special.
Dark City takes place in a world with no sun and follows a man with little to no memories who is being framed for murder. Boasting a cast of Kiefer Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, and Jennifer Connelly, it should have done better. It barely made back its budget, but is one of the coolest sci-fi movies you'll ever find.