The 10 Best Movies Set in Outer Space

These movies will have us traveling all over the galaxy fighting aliens, exploring, meeting other civilizations, and doing just about everything else you could think of in the great unknown.

If there’s one location that has been fully explored in films, it’s outer space. While science has only managed to travel a relatively short distance in the grand scheme of things, movies have explored the farther reaches of the galaxy and beyond.

Seriously, there’s been a lot of movies set in outer space. There are somewhat realistic space movies that see us exploring areas that we can actually get to, and there are fanciful movies that see humans traveling at the speed of light to reach destinations we can only see through telescopes.

But the one thing all of these movies have in common is the vast expanse of outer space. Today, we’re going to take on the daunting task of picking out the best movies set in outer space. These movies will have us traveling all over the galaxy fighting aliens, exploring, meeting other civilizations, and doing just about everything else you could think of in the great unknown.

Note: For franchises with multiple movies, I’m just going to cite the franchise as a whole. Otherwise, 90% of the movies here would be Star Wars and Star Trek!

10. Space Jam

Space Jam is far from a conventional space movie. It’s not about exploring the far reaches of space or fighting aliens with high-tech spacecraft. Instead, it’s a basketball movie featuring characters from Looney Tunes and real actors and athletes like Billy Murray and Michael Jordan. There are aliens, though, but instead of fighting them, the cast must beat them in basketball. It’s an odd movie, but it’s an absolute classic!

9. Armageddon

Armageddon is one of those movies that you either love or hate. Personally, I think it’s a fantastic space movie (even though the majority of the film takes place on Earth as the characters prepare for the big mission). The movie does a fantastic job of character building, and when the climax comes, you really feel for the entire crew.

8. Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t the first movie most people think of an outer space movie, but it should be! Sure, it’s a superhero movie, but it has all the key aspects of the great space adventures. There are all kinds of alien species, intergalactic travel, and attempts to save the world!

7. 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 is a classic when it comes to space movies. You could argue that the movie, which came out in 1968, actually defined what the space movie could be. Stanley Kubrick created a fascinating universe before some of the more popular space epics hit the silver screen. If you want to see the film that inspired a whole other type of science fiction, you need to sit down and watch 2001.

6. Independence Day

Independence Day actually takes place mostly on Earth, but it’s still a space movie seeing as there are aliens attempting to eliminate all life on our planet. Fortunately, Will Smith and company are on the case. This film features some of the most epic space battles in any movie, and the climax is one of the more heart-wrenching moments in any action movie. If you somehow haven’t seen Independence Day, it’s an absolute must-watch.

5. Spaceballs

Space movies tend to be serious. In fact, every other movie in the top 10 is a drama of sort. Spaceballs throws all that seriousness out the window and the result is an absolutely hilarious comedy that rips on just about every popular space movie of out at the time.

4. Star Trek

Star Trek is more known for its TV show, but there have been quite a few fantastic movies released under the Star Trek banner over the years. The modern movies are solid, and the movies based on The Original Series and The Next Generation are even better. If you like your space filled with drama, interesting races, and deep world-building, Star Trek is the franchise for you!

3. Apollo 13

Apollo 13 is a bit different than most other space movies on the list because it’s based on reality. Rather than traveling at light speed, this movie is all about the fight for survival that the Apollo 13 crew went through while trying to make it to and from the moon. The fact that the events in the movie really happened makes it even more interesting. With fantastic performances from Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris you have a recipe for a fantastic film.

2. Alien

Alien is one of the greatest horror movies ever made, and it also just so happens to be set in space. There have been plenty of other movies released in the same universe as Alien, but the first one is really where it peaked. The tension in the first Alien is hard to match, and there’s a genuine sense of terror in each passing minute.

1. Star Wars

Is there a more iconic space franchise than Star Wars? After countless films, video games, comics, books, and all other forms of media you can think of, Star Wars is still going strong. With Disney now at the helm, the franchise is showing no signs of slowing down. If I had to pick one movie, I’d say Empire Strikes Back, but there have been so many good ones (and some mediocre releases) that it’s hard to choose.

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  1. You missed out a couple I think should be there, Outland (High Noon set in space) and Dark Star (Bombed out in space with a spaced out bomb). The rest I agree with although I’d put 2001 at the top of the list.

  2. Had to comeback and make the best recommendation yet…
    Silent Running with Bruce Dern and his three robots, Huey, Dewey and Louie. A very timely movie that was made before it’s time!!!

  3. Right off the bat, remove Star Wars from this list. I admit to not watching this joke of a movie ten years after it was released and was so disappointed. SW was released in 1977 and even in the early ’60’s the USAF had radar controlled machine guns in the tails of their B-52’s, so when Luke jumped behind some “cannon firing” guns and had to manually take aim, it really turned me off to the writing!!!
    While Alien is a great movie and rightfully deserves to be on this list, most of it did not take place in outer space but mostly indoors on another planet. So I guess another planet is considered “outer space”?
    More so then Alien though, Aliens 2 should be on this list. It cannot be beat as an action/adventure movie!
    Remove Space Jam and Spaceballs, jokes of movies to be on this or any other list!
    A more suitable satiric film would be Dark Star by John Carpenter.

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