Science fiction is a genre that lets us explore our wildest dreams while still keeping a touch of reality. Unlike fantasy, there are no dragons or magic spells in sci-fi. However, that doesn’t stop it from telling amazing and immersive stories that take us to the ends of the universe and the limits of the human psyche. Of course, that might be a little much for the kids in your house. Science fiction movies can be fun for all ages without the need for super complex scientific theories. With that in mind, here are our picks for the top 10 science fiction movies for kids. We’ll try to keep things rated G or PG for this list:
1. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Whether you’re a “Star Wars” fan or prefer to hang out in the Trek universe, the original “Star Wars” trilogy is the perfect way to get kids interested in science fiction. This iconic space opera gives us a new spin on the age-old story of good versus evil. It follows farmboy Luke Skywalker as he realizes that his destiny is so much bigger than farming water on the desert planet of Tattooine.
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
We have plenty of stories about a boy and his dog, but what about a boy and his alien? Alien stories are one of the backbones of the science fiction genre, and Spielberg does not disappoint. This movie is one of his most well-known films, telling the story of Elliot and the alien he befriends and tries to protect.
We won’t spoil the ending for you, but if you haven’t seen it, make sure you have some tissues on hand. Even those of us who grew up on this story still get a little teary at the end.
3. The Last Starfighter (1984)
Gamers have a bad reputation for being lazy, but what if your video games taught you the skills you needed to save an alien civilization? That’s what happens to Alex Rogan in the 1984 movie “The Last Starfighter.” His arcade game skills serve as more than just a way to pass the time. He ends up being recruited by aliens to help them defend their world!
4. The Iron Giant (1999)
This movie brings the science fiction genre a little closer to home. A giant robot, voiced by Vin Diesel, lands on Earth and makes friends with a little boy. Of course, as the government tends to do, they want to destroy the robot because they don’t understand it.
This is one of our favorite kid-friendly science fiction films of all time, even if it might leave you a little teary-eyed. The movie’s message — that you should always use your powers for good instead of evil — is just as important today as it was over 20 years ago.
5. Galaxy Quest (1999)
As an adult that grew up on science fiction movies and television shows, “Galaxy Quest” is the perfect parody of everything we love. For kids new to the genre, the wonder of watching your favorite show come to life — literally — will enrapture them.
This movie follows the cast of an old “Star Trek”-like show at the end of their careers. They’re ready to retire when an alien race calls on the crew to help them defeat an evil adversary on a life-sized, fully functional replica of the ship from their show!
6. Tron (1982) and Tron: Legacy (2010)
“Tron” made history as one of the first movies to use computer animation. It follows programmer Kevin Flynn who runs afoul of an artificial intelligence (AI) program known as the Master Control Program and ends up getting sucked into a computer. “Tron: Legacy” takes place decades later — Kevin Flynn is missing, and his son ends up on the grid trying to find his dad. Both are fantastic science fiction movies, though you may have your kids begging for light cycles and identity discs for Christmas.
7. Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Time moves differently when you’re in outer space. David Freeman was 12 years old in 1978 when he vanished. He reappeared again in 1986, looking like he hadn’t aged a day. The same day he reappears, an alien spacecraft crashes into a local power line, and David discovers he can talk to it. Science fiction gets really weird when you start playing with time travel, but “Flight of the Navigator” is still a fantastic sci-fi romp through space, even if the graphics are a little dated.
8. Wall-E (2008)
We talk about going green and recycling, but “Wall-E” is the perfect example of what might happen if we don’t. The titular character is a little garbage recycling robot — the last one left on Earth after humanity left the planet behind. It’s a fun and sweet little Disney/Pixar movie. It’s one of our favorites, and its G rating makes it perfect for even the youngest sci-fi fans on our list. Twelve years after its release, it is still one of the best movies Pixar ever made.
9. War Games (1983)
“Would you like to play a game? How about global thermonuclear war?”
Matthew Broderick’s character is a hacker who finds a backdoor into a military supercomputer that houses a game-playing AI. At least, he thinks he’s playing games. There was a reboot of this story in a series of webisodes in 2011, but it’s still a fantastic movie and one that every young sci-fi fan should see once.
“What a strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”
10. Lilo and Stitch (2002)
If you found an alien at your local animal shelter, would you adopt it? That’s exactly what Lilo does in the 2002 Disney classic “Lilo and Stitch.” This film is a fantastic feel-good story that pairs a non-traditional family dynamic with aliens, space travel and intergalactic scientists. You’ll want your own Stitch by the time this movie is over.
So, When Is Movie Night?
You’re never too young to start watching science fiction. There are plenty of movies out there for younger audiences that avoid all the violence and gore you’ll often see in newer genre entrants. So, when is the next movie night? Don’t forget the popcorn!