The space movies that discourage leaving Earth include Event Horizon, Ad Astra, and The Martian.
Space has always fascinated mankind, and films like 2001: A Space Odyssey have brought that fascination onto the silver screen. Despite recent scientific discoveries and advancements in technology, space travels into the unknown can be treacherous, with dangerous accidents just a second away. From terrifying aliens to unexpected malfunctions, these space movies will make viewers think twice about venturing into the great beyond.
10. Armageddon (1998)
In Armageddon, when a meteor shower hits Earth and causes havoc, scientists soon realize that an asteroid is on a pathway of collision with Earth. NASA executive Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) recruits driller Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) and his blue-collar crew of oil riggers to drill into the asteroid’s surface and detonate a nuclear bomb to throw it off its course and save humans from extinction. Stamper’s crew consists of some recognizable faces, including Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, and Owen Wilson.
Armageddon is one of those space movies with large stakes, some comedic moments, and real star power, making it a thrilling watch that forces viewers to reckon with the harrowing danger that comes with protecting the world from the various things that the vast unknown of space has to throw at it.
9. Life (2017)
Although space movies often explore the discovery of new life forms, 2017’s Life has a thrilling depiction that may make viewers think twice about wanting to discover extraterrestrial life somewhere else in the universe. Life follows a group of astronauts on the International Space Station that intercepts a vessel carrying an organism that is a new life form from Mars. As the organism shows its fast-growing capabilities, it starts to overwhelm the group, who soon realize that they’ve stumbled upon what could be one of humanity’s biggest threats.
Life, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson, warns viewers against playing God with other lifeforms and assuming that humans are the most advanced in the galaxy. Unlike many space movies that often have humans ultimately outsmarting their extraterrestrial counterparts, Life’s ending is certainly not all rainbows and butterflies.
8. Event Horizon (1997)
After the success of 1979’s genre-pushing classic Alien, many space movies have borrowed elements from the horror genre. Event Horizon is a horror science fiction film that follows a rescue team sent to investigate the reappearance of a spaceship that went missing over seven years earlier. Despite the time gap, they discover something very present and dangerous awaiting them on the derelict ship, one that threatens to consume them like the ship’s previous crew.
Event Horizon blends science fiction and horror perfectly, with the ship’s eery backdrop lending the perfect atmosphere for the ensuing horrors that overtake the crew. Performances from familiar actors like Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Jason Isaacs make this film a rewarding experience and one of those space movies that holds up decades later.
7. Europa Report (2013)
Europa Report is a science fiction film that chronicles a group of six astronauts sent on a privately funded mission to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa, after recent research indicates that there may be signs of life. After various crises and technical equipment failures, the crew must decide whether they want to continue following the mounting evidence of life on Europa or return home before it’s too late.Europa Report is one of those suspenseful space movies that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and smartly prolongs revealing all of its cards until the time is right. It makes viewers second guess the risks of exploring the unknown and possibly making contact with alien life forms that may not be as friendly as many hope.
6. Ad Astra (2019)
Ad Astra is a father-son tale packaged as a space thriller. When astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is told that his space explorer father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) who went missing decades earlier may still be alive and still searching for signs of other intelligent life in the galaxy. As Roy travels the solar system searching for his father, he soon learns that his father’s unrelenting quest may have put him and all life on Earth in danger.
Ad Astra explores the psychological impact of being committed to a mission and truth-finding to the point of self-destruction. Clifford McBride is dogmatic in his search for signs of other intelligent life, and it ruins his relationship with his son and his overall psyche. Ad Astra is one of those space movies that will make viewers think twice about how important it is to find out if we’re alone in the universe.
5. Sunshine (2007)
Sunshine is one of several space movies that deserves more recognition. In 2057, the Sun is dying, the Earth is freezing over, and eight international astronauts have been tasked with the gargantuan mission of delivering a bomb to help jumpstart the Sun and save humanity. When they pick up a mysterious distress signal from the ship that preceded them on their mission, it brings up unexpected obstacles and calamity that could put their lives and the lives of the rest of humanity in danger.
Starring Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, and Benedict Wong, Sunshine features a star-studded ensemble. Although it bombed at the box office, many viewers who revisit Sunshine will find that it’s an underrated science fiction piece with some unexpected twists and turns that make it compelling from start to finish.
4. The Martian (2015)
In The Martian, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is part of the crew of the Ares III on an exploratory mission to Mars. When an unexpected dust storm hits them, Watney’s equipment malfunctions as the mission goes haywire. Presumed dead, his crew leaves him stranded on Mars, and Watney must use his training and resourcefulness to survive on the arid planet while NASA figures out a plan to retrieve him.
The Martian shows the toll that prolonged isolation and mental exhaustion can have on someone, and how deep space conditions exacerbate that. In a time when most viewers are just a swipe away on their phones from being in contact with other people, this and other space movies remind viewers how terrifying it is to be truly alone.
3. Interstellar (2014)
Unlike the historical concern of the next entry, Interstellar is one of several space movies that look at some of space travel’s fringe and currently theoretical elements. It focuses on a group of astronauts led by Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) who must traverse a wormhole in order to find a new home for mankind.
The film delved into aspects of wormhole travel and the bending of time using concepts from theoretical physics and has been praised for its scientific accuracy. Nevertheless, its bleak depiction of the human race and the unforgiving tolls of space travel may make viewers think twice about hopping on a space trip toward the nearest wormhole anytime soon.
2. Apollo 13 (1995)
Unlike many other space movies on this list,Apollo 13 is a historical fiction drama that retells the real-life Apollo 13 mission with some embellishments. The movie documents the struggles of astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), whose mission to the moon is thrown awry when an oxygen tank explodes on their spacecraft. Left with little oxygen and electricity, the three astronauts must work with NASA’s flight controllers to return home safely.
Popularizing the phrase “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” Apollo 13 shows that even the most meticulously planned missions can go wrong in an instant. The smallest malfunction can be the difference between life and death in space.
1. Gravity (2013)
Gravity is a tense science fiction thriller that has moments suspenseful enough to make viewers themselves forget to breathe. The space movie’s plot is simple enough: Gravity follows astronauts Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) on a space mission gone awry. When they are left stranded with no communication back to Earth and a fast-dwindling store of oxygen, they must use their wits and intelligence to make it back home.
Gravity is not a space opera or a grand intergalactic journey like some of the other space movies on this list. Rather, the film highlights the terror of being confronted with the quiet indifference and vastness of space.
- GFR Score calculated using averages of audience and critical reactions across multiple platforms.