This time of year is generally a wasteland lacking in interesting movies — January and February have long been considered the "dump months" where low budget horror can thrive, but otherwise where bad movies go to die. But the times, they are a changing.
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have upped their game, bringing viewers new high-quality TV and movies all throughout the year. And thanks to the massive success of the February-released Deadpool, movie studios are finally starting to realize that bigger films at this time can still make gobs of money, too. Luckily for all us movie lovers!
Here are the best SFF movie and TV picks to watch this February...
TV to Watch Now:
Altered Carbon (Netflix)
Based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent. Takeshi Kovacs is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned – on ice – for centuries until Laurens Bancroft, an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder … that of Bancroft himself.
Watch this if you... loved the Richard K. Morgan novel on which this is based, you love Joel Kinnaman, cyberpunk and cool futuristic sci-fi worlds in general, or if you're still up tonight at midnight Pacific time, which is when this actually hits Netflix.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Black Mirror is an anthology series that taps into our collective unease with the modern world, with each stand-alone episode a sharp, suspenseful tale exploring themes of contemporary techno-paranoia. Without questioning it, technology has transformed all aspects of our lives; in every home; on every desk; in every palm - a plasma screen; a monitor; a Smartphone – a Black Mirror reflecting our 21st Century existence back at us.
Watch this if you... don't mind being too freaked out to use social media or most modern technology ever again. I dare you to watch this and not come away from it certain the ads that stalk you across the internet are, in fact, reading your mind (although that could've just been me... this will make you paranoid either way).
Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams (Amazon Prime)
"Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams" is a 10-episode science-fiction anthology series that journeys into unique worlds beyond the reach of the imagination. Based on short stories written by Dick, each stand-alone episode is inspired by a different story, adapted by a team of leading British and American writers. The all-star cast changes with each episode and includes Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Greg Kinnear, Timothy Spall and Anna Paquin.
Watch this if you... love Philip K. Dick or you want to watch a techno-dystopian kind of thing, but aren't yet ready for the disturbing level of paranoia that will creep into your soul if you were to watch Black Mirror instead.
Movies Coming Soon:
Black Panther (In Theaters February 16)
After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king -- and as Black Panther -- gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
Watch this if you... want to see a comic book movie that is, in the words of a friend who was lucky enough to attend the premiere (a fact which I am not salty about at all, oh no), "...the best Marvel movie ever OMG OMG!!! ...Yes bitch, even better than Winter Soldier! This movie cleared my skin and watered my crops and nourished my soul! SO MUCH BLACK GIRL MAGIC OMG!!!"
Annihilation (In Theaters February 23)
A group of soldiers enters an environmental disaster zone and only one soldier comes back out alive, though he is grievously injured. In an attempt to save his life, his wife Lena, a biologist, volunteers for another expedition into the zone to figure out what happened to him. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac. It was written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later).
Watch this if you... are a fan of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach series (or VanderMeer in general), Natalie Portman or writer/director Alex Garland, or if you just love a good sci-fi horror flick as much as I do.
Mute (On Netflix February 23)
Berlin, the future, but close enough to feel familiar: In this loud, often brutal city, Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) – unable to speak from a childhood accident – searches for his missing girlfriend, the love of his life, his salvation, through dark streets, frenzied plazas, and the full spectrum of the cities shadow-dwellers. As he seeks answers, Leo finds himself mixed up with Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux), a pair of irreverent US army surgeons on a mission all their own. This soulful sci-fi journey from filmmaker Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code, Warcraft) imagines a world of strange currencies in which echoes of love and humanity are still worth listening to.
Watch this if you... loved the movie Moon and want to see more from its director, you're a fan of Alexander Skarsgård or Paul Rudd, you love movie scores by Clint Mansell, or you're just in the mood for a hypnotic sci-fi noir and don't want to leave the comfort of your own home.