10 Movies like The Martian

This is a list of movies that are in some way similar to the movie The Martian (check out my review here). I specifically choose movies that try to make space exploration as realistic as possible. With this list I stayed away from movies like Alien, Star Trek or Star Wars because they all use technologies that we either don’t have yet, are really far in the future, most importantly, don’t try to make space a realistic place (and that’s not the point.


The first list of movies all have one thing in common, the point is to make space as realistic as possible with technology close to what we have now, not too far in the future (or even some in our past with technology that is outdated) and that is the point of it, and the challenge and central conflict. No aliens, magic, parallel universes, warp drives, clones, AI or anything like that. In these movies, space IS the conflict, and if the things that are keeping the heroes alive in space fail, they die.






1: SpaceCamp (1986)spacecamp


A great little movie about a group of students enrolled in NASA’s space camp at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, are accidentally sent to actual space where they have to use the skills they learned in camp to survive.


I saw this when I was a kid a LONG time ago, so I don’t know if it still holds up. But I do remember not completely understanding that “Space Camp” isn’t actually when you get to go to space. That could be a reality sometime soon though, wouldn’t that be amazing!


There a few big names and actors you might not recognize their names, but you’ll recognize their faces in this old gem: Lea Thompson (Back to the Future, Caroline in the City), Kelly Preston, Tom Skeritt (Alien, Top Gun), Terry O’ Quinn (Lost, Alias), Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and apparently still married to Steven Spielberg, what do ya know),  Tate Donovan (Argo, Shooter, The OC, .


A quick check on my new favotie site: CanIStream.it, says that it’s available on Netflix DVD.


apollo132: Apollo 13 (1995)

You can’t go wrong with Ron Howard directing, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Bill Paxton.


Here’s a little excerpt from wikipedia about the mission:

"Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the AmericanApollo space program and the third intended toland on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13CST from theKennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling theService Module (SM) upon which theCommand Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely toEarth on April 17.” (hey, that’s my birthday! also the anniversary of the Bay of Pigs...I like the return to earth of Apollo 13 better). (hey, that’s my birthday! also the anniversary of the Bay of Pigs...I like the return to earth of Apollo 13 better).

Apollo 13 won two Oscars, one for Film Editing and another for Best Sound, and was nominated for seven others.


spacecowboys3: Space Cowboys (2000)

Directed by and Clint Eastwood and starring Clint, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner, Space Cowboys is about a group of aspiring astronauts that are recruited to fix an old satellite that broke and prevent it from crashing to Earth.


The movie was nominated for one Oscar, for sound editing and was received well by critics, it holds 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.





gravity4: Gravity (2013)

Gravity is one of a few great movies that maintain your attention and excitement without having much of a story. This is not to say that it lacks a story or plot, yet the point of the movie is to watch the incredible visuals and experience the intensity of trying to survive space.


If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look, it is quite the ride.   A company called Framestore developed the special effects over three years and these scenes comprise over %90 of the screentime of the movie.


Gravity was nominated for ten Oscars and won seven.


The following movies are definitely in space and make it a point to be as true to current space exploration technology as possible, or not too distant future technology, to remain believable.


20015: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

If you’ve never heard of 2001: A Space Odyssey, then...you’re probably not a fan of film and therefore, you’re probably not reading this.


The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on a the book by Arthur C. Clark. Clark also helped with the screenplay co-written by Kubrick as well.  The film made cinema history by depicting space in the most realistic way possible given the technology at the time. It had mixed responses, with many being excited for the technical accuracy of how space exploration might be in the near future, while others complained about the lack of dialogue. And it’s true, there is very little dialogue in the movie with much of the focus of the film being centered on the photography and beauty of space.


It was nominated for four Oscars and received one for Best Visual Effects.


While 2001: A Space Odyssey does make every effort to remain in the realm of technical accuracy of space exploration, it also tackles other, more fantastic plot lines such as artificial intelligence (that goes horribly wrong) and aliens. It’s a must among sci-fi fans.


At the time of writing this article, it is available for streaming on Netflix.


redplanet6: Red Planet (2000)

Starring Val Kilmer, Red Planet was a surprisingly satisfying fun space adventure. The movie attempts to combine a realistic Mars exploration story with a futuristic artificial intelligent robot and Martian life, and it does this mostly successfully. Haven’t seen it in a while, but when I did I remember it being pretty fun. Not a perfect movie by any means, but a fun watch.


It only gets %14 on Rotten Tomatoes, unfortunately, but I think it deserves a bit more than that.


CanUstream.it says you can watch with Netflix DVD or rent it digitally with Apple, Vudu, etc...








sunshine7: Sunshine (2007)

Uh oh, the sun is gonna die and there’s only way to fix it, blow it up with just a crap ton of nukes. Sounds like a good idea.


I’m torn on this one. Although I like Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins) and the director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, Steve Jobs), I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Sunshine. In part because I like space sci-fi movies and this one didn’t quite hit the spot for me. No aliens making things difficult, just humans freaking the hell out. I don’t know,


Eh, I just didn’t care too much about any of it.


Canustream.it says it’s available for rental on lots of stuff.




moon8: Moon (2009)

This is one I need to see again and one I should own, actually. Moon starts out very similar to The Martian. One dude just sitting there, doing his daily routine, no one around, recording videos to his loved ones.


Directed and written by Duncan Jones (Source Code and the upcoming Warcraft movie) and starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey (he’s the robot), Moon is has a nice way of making you feel very uncomfortable about the claustrophobia of one man sending back resources to Earth...and things get a little complicated, and unnerving. Definitely take a look.


Moon holds an %89 on RottenTomatoes and can be rented on a few different platforms and Netflix DVD:





europareport9: Europa Report (2013)

I was intrigued by the plot.  Astronauts venture out into space in an effort to explore Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, to see if life might exist. Side note: when scientists talk about the possibility of life on other planets or moons, they’re not talking about sentient species that we can hold a conversation with. They’re not even talking about animals that walk around or even things like our weird deep sea creatures that look like they should be from another planet. They’re talking about single cell organisms, amoebas, algae, things like that. This would still be incredible because this has not yet been found.


The movie takes its time to GET to the moon....like, most of the movie, so it suffers from bad pacing. It also greatly suffers from a really low budget compared to other space movies. If it had came out, say, twenty years earlier we might think it to be amazing, but given other movies with similar plots...eh, it’s just not that interesting, at least to me.


Other critics disagreed, apparently, and gave it %80 on Rotten Tomatoes. However, viewers give it only %56. You can watch it on Netflix streaming if you really want to.



lastdaysonmars10: The Last Days on Mars (2013)

As a fan of sci-fi flicks and a fan of another genre that I won’t mention because it gives away the ending, I was surprised at how fun this flick was.


It stars LievSchreiber as an astronaut with a team of Martian explorers run into a bit of trouble. It’s unclear what the heck is going on at first as their team mates begin to die, but the true nature of what they discovered becomes clear as survival and the need to leave Mars becomes more dire.


I liked it, you should take a look. Others didn’t agree with me though.


It got only %20 on Rotten Tomatoes andviewable on Netflix streaming



Did I miss one of your favorite sci-fi space movies? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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