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10 of the Most Overrated Science Fiction Movies

These movies aren't bad. But are they really as good as everyone says?

11 of the most overrated science fiction movies
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  • Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

We’ve all been there. We watch an amazing trailer and hear nothing but praise from both critics and early viewers. Finally, we enter the theater or press play—and instead of walking away raving, we’re left scratching our heads.

There’s nothing quite so disappointing as an overrated movie. Especially if a good friend, respected critic, or the entire world is convinced that we should we blown away too. But not every movie hits for everyone. 

Such is the case with these 10 sci-fi movies which, to some of us, are overrated. Opinions may vary. In fact, some of these films are even included on other Portalist recommendation lists! That's because they're not necessarily bad; for some folks, they just don't match the hype. It's all subjective. And isn't that part of what's great about art?

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Ad Astra


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  • Photo Credit: New Regency Productions

For a movie that was advertised as a story about discovering aliens, Ad Astra is significantly lacking any extraterrestrial activity. Maybe that could be forgiven, but the science veers towards outlandish at times, and the plot moves at a glacial pace towards an unsatisfying end. 

Maybe it’s the eternal father-son struggle that won critics over—but we wish there had been more science, more aliens, and a lot less emotional angst.

2001: A Space Odyssey


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  • Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

There are people who are going to tell us we just didn’t understand this movie. And maybe they’re right. But even people who generally love the film admit that the middle sags quite a bit. 

Space Odyssey is genre-bending and groundbreaking, but it’s also a journey into a strange, psychedelic plot that doesn’t make sense or come together in a tangible storyline.

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  • Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

What starts as a very cool concept quickly gets lost in a confusing jumble of space-time continuum threads. 

Even though Intersellar is based on actual physics, the execution takes complicated concepts and slaps a surface explanation on them, which makes them difficult to grasp in relation to the plot. 

All of this could be overlooked for the pure vibes the movie gives, but the emotional character arcs fall flat, taking the whole movie with them.

RELATED: Time Travel Movies Ranked by How Much Sense the Time Travel Makes

Blade Runner 


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  • Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

There is a lot to love about Blade Runner. In many respects, it's a classic. The gritty future is beautiful to look at, the visual effects are stunning to watch, and Harrison Ford does an impeccable job bringing a lackluster character to life. But the plot moves so painfully slow, it’s difficult to sit through. There’s also the problem of so many versions being released. Which one is the best? Depends on whom you ask. 

And that’s why we think for all it does right, the movie itself just doesn’t live up to the expectations critics set.

Donnie Darko


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  • Photo Credit: Pandora Cinema

An angsty teen and a weird rabbit named Frank take you through a journey that feels more like a dream than a coherent plot. With a cult following and an ending that you have to seek out answers to understand, Donnie Darko may be considered a trippy masterpiece to many, but it leaves too many unanswered and unsettling questions to feel complete.

Mad Max


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  • Photo Credit: Mad Max Films

This may be a case of a movie not aging well. But given how it continues to garner high reviews, we decided to include it on this list. 

Mad Max renders the bleak, dystopian future spectacularly, but the same low-budget quality that creates these stunning effect also detract from the film. For all the adrenaline-fueled car chases, the pace is maddeningly slow. 

Combined with a disjointed plot full of weird scenes that go nowhere, strange over-the-top characters, and an extremely unsatisfying ending, the entire experience is interesting but not all that compelling.

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  • Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

There is no questioning the high quality of the stunning visual effects in Gravity, but that’s about where the positives end. There is a decent amount of tension that being in space while facing life-or-death obstacles naturally creates, but that can’t carry an entire movie. 

And as Gravity ends, the plot starts to feel repetitive, and riddled with inaccuracies. It also overly relies on saccharine sentimentality to convey the themes and messaging in an impactful way.



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  • Photo Credit: Annapurna Pictures

The idea behind Her is intriguing, especially in our increasingly technological world. What could happen with smarter and smarter AI interfaces? And how could over-reliance on virtual reality impact who—or what—we interact with? But instead of giving us a unique exploration of these questions, we get a relationship that plays out like most typical dysfunctional love stories. 

Maybe that was the point. But the ending felt forced and predictable, which made the entire movie flatter and more lackluster than memorable.

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The Invisible Man


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  • Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Being stalked by an abusive ex wearing an invisible suit should be absolutely terrifying to watch. And Elizabeth Moss does a fantastic job showing the psychological distress being gaslit on such an extreme level would cause. We feel her suffering as she becomes isolated and pushed to desperation. 

But rather than let the story build with natural tension and tightly held reveals, The Invisible Man bludgeons us over the head with a predictable plot where things are explained too easily, unveiled too soon, and happen in a rush. There are many horror remakes that breathe fresh life into the source material. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.



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  • Photo Credit: Embassy International Pictures

This dark comedy does a lot of things right. The visual effects create a vivid and jarring view of an overly bureaucratized dystopia, and it ends with a brilliant twist. But everything that is wonderful at the beginning of the film begins to wane until it simply becomes tedious mundanity the longer the movie plays. 

The attempt to infuse comedy into a dark theme misses the mark, coming across as more ludicrous than alarming. 

It does a reasonable job of creating memorable scenes filled with poignant messaging, but the erratic plot does little to tie these moments together in a meaningful way.

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