The best sci-fi movies to watch on Netflix this February

A man (Don Lee) points a shotgun through a hole while a young man and a woman stand behind him in a darkened hallway in Badland Hunters.
Photo: Cha Min-jung/Netflix

From post-apocalyptic brawlers to kaiju-stompin’ mecha thrillers

Greetings, Polygon readers!

We’re mere weeks away from the premiere of Dune: Part Two, the second installment in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic adapted from Frank Herbert’s acclaimed book series. You don’t have to wait that long to enjoy some great sci-fi, though, as we’ve pulled together a list of the best sci-fi movies available on Netflix in February. This month, we’ve got a post-apocalyptic action thriller starring Ma Dong-seok of Train to Busan fame, a dystopian drama about a father and son living in an occupied estate co-directed by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Nope), and a classic kaiju mecha action drama from Guillermo del Toro!

Let’s dive in and see what this month has to offer!

Editor’s pick: Badland Hunters

Ma Dong-seok fires a pistol in a hallway full of slumped bodies in Badland Hunters Photo: Cha Min-jung/Netflix

Director: Heo Myeong-haeng
Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Lee Hee-joon, Lee Jun-young

When you’re looking for a great sci-fi movie to watch, sometimes you’re looking for a thoughtful meditation on humanity’s role in the galaxy, with hard science elements and beautiful, almost fantastical cinematography. Other times, you’re looking for Ma Dong-seok absolutely laying into fools in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Badland Hunters is for those other times.

A (bizarre, tonally speaking) sequel to the serious apocalyptic earthquake drama Concrete Utopia, Badland Hunters is a Mad Max-esque story of a hulking man looking out for his found family and destroying anyone who gets in his way (including a mad scientist up to some twisted experiments). While it doesn’t reach the high heights of Ma’s work in Train to Busan or the Roundup movies, he is such a reliably entertaining and charismatic movie star that you can’t help but enjoy this B-movie experience. (And director Heo Myeong-haeng, a former stuntman who will helm the upcoming The Roundup: Punishment, knows exactly how to shoot the big man’s action sequences.) It’s one of Netflix’s standout international releases of 2024 so far, and a fun time for people looking for some popcorn-worthy sci-fi. —Pete Volk

The Kitchen

(L-R) A man in a black tracksuit (Kane Robinson) atop a futuristic motorcycle stands in front of a young boy in a white hoodie (Jedaiah Bannerman) and black pants in The Kitchen. Photo: Chris Harris/Netflix

Directors: Kibwe Tavares, Daniel Kaluuya
Cast: Kane Robinson, Jedaiah Bannerman, Hope Ikpoku Jnr

Despite being Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya’s feature directorial debut, The Kitchen premiered on Netflix last month to little more than a handful of reviews. Which is a shame, because the film itself is awesome. Actor-songwriter Kane Robinson stars as Izi, a man living alone in an occupied estate known colloquially as “the Kitchen” in a dystopian London where social housing has all but been eradicated.

Working at a funeral service, Izi crosses paths with Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), a young boy grieving the recent loss of his mother. Suspecting the boy may in fact be his own estranged son, Izi reluctantly takes Benji in right as the estate is about to be assailed by the police. A poignant, character-driven sci-fi drama about a father and his son living in a world crumbling at its foundations, The Kitchen feels like a film that’s in direct conversation with the austerity politics of present-day London. Robinson and Bannerman give tremendous performances, and the world-building of the Kitchen itself feels believable and full of nuance and dimension. —Toussaint Egan

Pacific Rim

 Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi

If you’re a fan of kaiju and giant robots, you have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. Dawnrunner, the new sci-fi comic series from writer Ram V and artist Evan Cagle about a mecha pilot fighting interdimensional creatures in Central America, is set to debut its first issue in late March. Right after that, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, the latest installment in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, will be released in theaters, followed closely by the streaming premiere of Kaiju No. 8, the new sci-fi action anime from Production I.G about a man who gains the ability to transform into a superpowered humanoid kaiju.

If you’re looking for a way to kickstart The Season of Kaiju earlier, there’s no better way to do so than by watching Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 love letter to the genre. Pacific Rim has amassed a sizeable cult following in the decade-plus since it premiered, largely on the strength of the film’s spectacular mecha designs and equally jaw-dropping action sequences. It’s a visually impressive and unabashedly fun sci-fi action drama that’s charming and awe-inspiring to behold. —TE

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