Entertainment

8 Sci-fi Movies You Need to Watch After the Eclipse

sunshine
Sunshine | Fox Searchlight
Sunshine | Fox Searchlight

So you just witnessed an epic celestial event that hasn't occurred in 99 years. Now what?

While Hollywood special effects and speculative cosmology can't match the natural majesty of a total eclipse of the sun, they can come pretty damn close. Science fiction has gone to great lengths to bring the expanse of the universe to the screen, and thanks to a network of satellites beaming digital information across Earth's exosphere, you can watch the greats from the comfort of your couch (where you may or may not have spent Monday's once-in-a-lifetime event -- we won't tell). So keep the high of lunar blackout going with these eight eclipse-friendly movies.

pitch black starring vin diesel
Universal Pictures

Pitch Black (2000)

Every few years, when the rubber's worn thin on the Fast & the Furious franchise's tires, Vin Diesel returns to a scrappy sci-fi series following his blind alter ego Richard B. Riddick, a galaxy-traveling mercenary whose surgically enhanced eyes allow him to see in the dark. Later movies (2004's The Chronicles of Riddick and 2013's Riddick) expanded the "mythology" of the character to give him a Chosen One background, but the original installment was just a grisly B-movie with Diesel in antihero mode. After crash-landing on a desolate planet, the ship's crew recruit Riddick, on his way to space jail, to save their asses during an eclipse -- the only time the world's underground monsters can infest the surface and feed.
Where to watch it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube

sunshine
Fox Searchlight

Sunshine (2007)

From Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting director Danny Boyle comes one of the most underrated sci-fi movies in recent years. Set in the year 2057, a stacked cast (including Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Cillian Murphy, and Michelle Yeoh ) stars as the scientific crew tasked with reigniting our dying sun with a city-sized atomic bomb. The Icarus II mission goes off course when the astronauts discover the remains of the Icarus I, the ship that was supposed to bomb the crap out of the nearby star years before. When they board the ship, all hell breaks loose. In Boyle's hands, we mean that almost literally -- with stunning images and life-or-death stakes, Sunshine becomes something of a religious rumination on classic science-fiction twists. You will want to stare at its sun.
Where to watch it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube

hellboy
Revolution Studios

Hellboy (2004)

Crimson Peak director Guillermo del Toro's charming-as-hell superhero movie stars Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) as a grown-up demon from an alternate dimension. Under the watch of an aging professor, Hellboy, Abe Sapien, a creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon-type, and Liz Sherman, a firestarter, bust up otherworldly crimes around New York City and beyond. In this first installment, their "Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense" takes them to Russia to stop the Nazi mystic Rasputin, who intends to open a portal through Earth's moon and free an apocalyptic load of Lovecraftian tentacled beasts. Hopefully that's not what happens during this eclipse and you'll actually get to watch this movie.
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix; rent on Amazon and YouTube

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
Universal Pictures

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969)

For their first big live-action effort, the team behind the puppet-filled action series Thunderbirds launched this equally kitschy drama about the discovery of a new planet orbiting on the far side of the sun -- exactly opposite the Earth. Steeped in pseudo-science and geekery, Journey is less about the special effects spectacle than the joys of speculating on the possibilities of our uncharted universe. Anyone who spent the weeks leading up the eclipse hungry for every astrophysical detail on the phenomenon should turn to this movie for a comedown.
Where to watch it: Journey to the Far Side of the Sun: Rent on Amazon

Event Horizon
Paramount Pictures

Event Horizon (1997)

Horror movies are typically fast, lean, and cheap. Event Horizon, the gruesome and unsettling haunted spaceship movie from Paul W. S. Anderson, clocks in at a meager 95 minutes but it feels like a larger, more ambitious movie -- and it certainly wasn't cheap. With killer turns from Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, the film creates a moody sense of creeping dread then unleashes the terror in its second half as it slowly becomes a Fangoria-friendly version of Tarkovsky's Solaris. For horror fans, it's bliss. 
Where to watch it: Stream on Starz; rent on iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube

The Eclipse, or the Courtship of the Sun and Moon (1907)

In celebrated moviemaker and turn-of-the-century special effects guru Georges Méliès is the eye behind this 9-minute short film about an anthropomorphized Sun and Moon making sweet, sweet love in the sky. Modern film scholars debate whether Méliès's protagonists are meant to be a male-female or male-male pair, which would make the film one of the earliest examples of homosexuality on screen. You can decide for yourself by staring directly into the public domain YouTube version embedded above.

moon 2009
Sony Pictures Classics

Moon (2009)

The attention-getting debut from Warcraft director Duncan Jones is basically a one-man show for star Sam Rockwell, who plays the lone operator of a moon-based mining outpost. Nearing the end of his three-year shift, the guy starts to have problems. Not just the loneliness and stunning boredom you'd expect from solo life on the moon; more like big fractures in his life, which reveal far more troubling facts about his existence. The brilliant Rockwell is aided by the voice of Kevin Spacey as the outpost's A.I. helper, and by a minimal but effective score from Clint Mansell. Facing death alone on a cold rock in space shouldn't be this appealing.
Where to watch it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, and VUDU

2001 a space odyssey
MGM

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A work of boundless inventiveness and imagination, Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film aims at nothing less than depicting the process of human evolution. Crafted in an era of crude special effects, the movie looks incredible, even now, with artificial images of spaceflight compelling enough to convince conspiracy theorists that Kubrick helped fake the moon-landing footage. With a big-picture view of human existence that sees little practical difference between a bone cudgel and a space station, 2001 envisions our biggest evolutionary leap as one that leaves technology behind to enter a realm of pure consciousness. And it all begins with an eclipse.
Where to watch it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, and VUDU

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Matt Patches is the Executive Entertainment Editor of Thrillist. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, and Vulture. Find him on Twitter @misterpatches.