When Space Goes Wrong: a List of Sci-fi Disaster Movies

Image credit: Legion-Media

Outer space is a dangerous place, and here are 12 films that prove it.

Don't Look Up (2021)

If you haven't seen Adam McKay's social and political satire film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep, be sure to fill the gap! The movie follows two astronomers who, after they discover a comet on its way to destroy the Earth, try to convey the news to the authorities, but those in power are far more interested in political intrigue and enrichment and remain deaf to the scientists' pleas.

Greenland (2020)

Once again, the film centers on a comet approaching Earth. Initial assumptions prove wrong, and now the comet is expected to cause a major catastrophe. Engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) and his family have a chance to escape to a government bunker in Greenland. But the Garrity family has to overcome plenty of obstacles to get there.

The Wandering Earth (2018)

Set in the not-too-distant future, the Chinese movie depicts humanity on the verge of a disaster: the Sun is about to die out. Scientists develop an escape plan dubbed "Wandering Earth," which involves building giant plasma thrusters to move the planet away from the Sun into a new star system. However, an unforeseen calamity occurs just as the Earth reaches Jupiter.

Arrival (2016)

Denis Villeneuve's philosophical sci-fi drama stars Amy Adams as a linguistics expert whose task is to interpret the language of alien visitors to our planet and establish first contact. The character has plenty of mysteries to unravel: are the aliens friends or enemies? Why don't they attack humans? How is their language different from ours, and what stunning discoveries can its interpretation lead to?

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

A film adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. The Earth is attacked by an alien race, and Major William Cage dies in a battle with the invaders. However, Cage gets caught in a time loop and returns to live through the fateful day over and over again — until he finds a way to overpower the enemy and regain his life.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

If a disaster is inevitable, you can at least try to find happiness in the remaining time. That is exactly the thinking of Steve Carell's character in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World who set out to find his first love when the world was about to get hit by an asteroid. His companion is a charming neighbor girl who's also going through a personal drama.

Melancholia (2011)

In Lars von Trier's breathtakingly beautiful movie, a giant planet called Melancholia threatens to collide with Earth. Sisters Justine and Claire respond to the coming catastrophe in very different ways: one is suffering from depression, and the other takes care of her. But on the threshold of death, the sisters switch roles.

Before the Fall (2008)

A spanish sci-fi thriller co-produced by Antonio Banderas. Thirty-year-old Alejandro isn't particularly worried about a giant meteorite that's coming to crash into the Earth in just three days. However, the approaching catastrophe heightens all feelings, and Alejandro is faced with a man from the past who seeks revenge.

Sunshine (2007)

The Icarus II spaceship travels to the fading sun to deliver a nuclear charge to save our planet from freezing. The crew members receive a distress signal from a ship that went missing seven years ago after it was sent on the same mission. They decided to take a side trip to see if there are any survivors, but that rescue attempt comes at a high cost.

Signs (2002)

The sci-fi drama starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix was directed by M. Night Shyamalan — an acclaimed master of mystical thrillers and surprise endings. Former priest Graham Hess, living with his children and brother in a farmhouse, discovers circles in their cornfields, which suggest that the Earth is under attack by aliens. Trying to protect his family, Hess will have to face serious ordeals and challenges to his beliefs.

Deep Impact (1998)

The disaster movie focuses on how different people behave in anticipation of imminent doom. After receiving the news that all life on the planet will be extinct in a year after colliding with a giant comet, people try to avert the threat and send a mission to blow up the comet. When the initial plan fails, humanity has to come up with new ways to prevent the approaching disaster.

Independence Day (1996)

Aliens threaten to annihilate life on Earth. People throw all their forces to stop the invasion but can't damage the aliens' warcraft protected by special force fields. Pilot Steven Hiller and scientist David Levinson go right up to the enemy base to infect their ships with a computer virus, which will make the invaders vulnerable to human attacks.