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’ve 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? The vast expanse of outer space. And we love that.
So we’ve gone through and picked out the best movies set in outer space. These movies will have you traveling all over galaxies, fighting aliens, exploring wormholes, meeting other civilizations, and doing everything else you can 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!
13. 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!
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.
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!
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.
Space movies tend to be serious. In fact, every other movie on this list is a drama of sorts, so this one definitely sticks out.
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.
8. 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!
Gravity has a lot of haters because, on the surface, it feels like Avatar in space: dazzling visuals that seemingly prop up a simplistic story.
But if you look at Gravity for what it really is—an eerie thriller wrapped in top-notch storytelling and solid acting—it’s an excellent cinematic experience.
There’s a lot of tension throughout that succeeds at making you feel like you’re lost in space without much hope.
6. 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 fantastic film.
Interstellar is a breathtaking movie.
Yeah, it tends to get overhyped as a groundbreaking and unequaled masterpiece of science fiction, and it might be disappointing if you go into it thinking it’ll be an experience like never before.
But as long as you temper your expectations and suspend your disbelief, Interstellar may just convince you that it’s one of the better sci-fi movies ever made—even just for its amazing soundtrack.
Arrival mostly takes place on Earth so it may not technically fit as an “outer space movie”—but it also mainly takes place in an alien spaceship that lands on Earth, so in that sense it definitely feels like outer space!
Not to mention its uniquely engrossing take on the “aliens arrive on Earth” trope that’s so commonly used in science fiction. This movie has depth, which is to be expected from a director as skillful as Denis Villeneuve.
3. The Martian
The Martian is easily the most “hard science fiction” of all sci-fi movies, given that all of the science actually checks out and there are very few fantastical elements at all.
The Martian is also a contender for funniest sci-fi movie of all time, with just the right kind and right amount of humor throughout, allowing the film to stay grounded and suspenseful without being overly serious or dramatic.
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 shows 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.