There is no limit to man’s imagination. It’s why people are able to create stories like James Cameron’s Avatar that go beyond our world. If you love narratives that allow you to enter a fictional universe, then you need to check out the 13 best movies like Avatar.
Getting To Know The Movie: Avatar (2009)
It took many years before people got the chance to watch Avatar on the big screen. James Cameron started the initial development of Avatar around 1994.
However, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that things were finally taking shape. There were a lot of things causing the pushback, including the lack of technology that would make Cameron’s vision come to life.
Avatar started filming in April 2007 and premiered in December 2009. When it came out, the film got great feedback from the critics and the box office. It became the highest-grossing film of the year and for the next decade. It remains one of the modern cinema marvels.
If you love the mix of fantasy and science fiction, then you will find Avatar interesting. For some people, it goes beyond the visuals. There are some serious themes like imperialism, greed, spirituality, and many more that you can draw from it.
The story is set in the year 2154. The natural resources on Earth have been exhausted, leading to an energy crisis. A mineral, unobtanium, is mined from a planet called Pandora. It’s inhabited by the Na’vi – blue-colored giants with golden eyes.
Humans can’t survive on Pandora. Hence, they came up with human-controlled avatars who can emulate the Na’vi. One of the men controlling an avatar is a former Marine and now paraplegic, Jake Sully.
His avatar is attacked by a large land predator. He tries fleeing to the forest of Pandora. He is saved by a Na’vi, Neytiri, whom he takes a liking towards.
A lot of things happen after that including Colonel Miles Quaritch, the head of the security force, ordering the destruction of Hometree. It’s a tree that sits atop the richest deposit of the mineral unobtainium. Quaritch destroys Hometree, killing some Na’vi.
Jake and others are captured by the Colonel but are freed. Jake then reaches out to the surviving Na’vi and convinces the clans to join forces to defeat the Quaritch and his forces. Despite losing valuable members of the clans, the Na’vi end victorious since the planet’s wildlife help out to defeat the invaders.
1. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
English 2h 1m IMDb
Director: George Lucas
Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
You can’t talk about stories from galaxies far away without mentioning Star Wars. It’s such a classic and iconic film, paving the way for the rest of the franchise and other sci-fi movies. While it’s the fourth film in the series chronologically, it was the first to come out.
Star Wars: A New Hope centers on Luke Skywalker’s adventure to rescue Princess Leia, who was kidnapped by Darth Vader, and restore order and freedom in the Galaxy.
The film’s director, George Lucas, managed to put together a creative story. The celebrated characters from the movie were written and developed well. And the actors who played these characters played them magnificently.
2. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
English 2h 1m IMDb
Director: James Gunn
Stars: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel(voice), Bradley Cooper(voice)
If you are looking for an action-comedy film set in the galaxy, then check out Guardians of the Galaxy. This film is an amazing add-on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you are a fan of MCU, then you shouldn’t miss this.
The film is about intergalactic criminals joining hands and stopping an evil warrior’s plan to destroy the universe.
The heroes of the film aren’t like the typical ones. But they are certainly interesting to watch. They drop one-liners that would make you laugh! The film balances a lot of elements together like the story, action, humor, and a whole lot more. It makes an entertaining and engaging movie that’s a great addition to the roster of Marvel films.
3. Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
English 1h 41m IMDb
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard
What happens when two brothers are transported into an intergalactic escapade after playing a mysterious board game? Well, you get Zathura! It’s a space adventure unlike any other!
Zathura is an action and adventure movie that kids and adults will like. There’s a Jumanji connection, but this film is not its sequel or anything like that. Think of Zathura as the underappreciated sibling.
The movie’s main characters might be children, but their story unfolds maturely. The brothers, played by Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo, were great. Jon Favreau, the film director, should be recognized for opting to use practical effects in the movie.
4. Interstellar (2014)
English 2h 49m IMDb
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
Interstellar is a film by critically-acclaimed director Christopher Nolan. It’s about a team, led by Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who has to traverse through space to find a habitable planet before humankind runs out of resources on Earth and meets their doom.
If you have a penchant for science particularly about astrophysics and space, you will find this movie very interesting.
This movie has a depth and complexity you can expect from a Christopher Nolan movie. Interstellar’s plot is compelling. And it’s further amplified by the film’s sharp visuals. And even if you might not be familiar with the subject covered by the movie, it will still leave you intrigued and captivated.
5. The Martian (2015)
English 2h 24m IMDb
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
Matt Damon plays an astronaut stuck on Mars and finds a way to survive the Red Planet in The Martian. This movie is based on a book of the same name by Andy Weir.
The movie, directed by Ridley Scott, came pretty close to the book. While the things that the main character had to do were more intense in the book, it doesn’t take away from the strong interpretation of the story onscreen. There’s still suspense, realism (to an extent), humor, and everything else in between.
The film’s main star, Matt Damon, deserves a standing ovation for being amazing in this movie. The other members of the cast also delivered stellar performances.
6. Valerian And The City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
English 2h 16m IMDb
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen
Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is a movie based on a comic series by Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières called Valerian and Laureline.
The film, set in the 28th century, is about special agents Valerian and Laureline sent to Alpha, a city where different species from around the universe have gathered. They must protect Alpha and the rest of the universe from threats brought by rapacious raiders.
If you love Luc Besson movies, you might find this interesting. While it might not have done well at the box-office, Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is still a movie that can transport you to a fantasy universe.
Besson’s passion for the source material is evident throughout the movie. The CGI and the rest of the visuals are amazing.
7. Monster Hunter (2020)
English 1h 43m IMDb
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman
Milla Jovovich heads a group of troopers transported to another world (The New World), where they fight various large-scale monsters.
The movie is based on a video game. However, Monster Hunter the movie is nothing like the game. The story is intriguing, and it holds up more or less. But perhaps one of the most outstanding features of this movie is the excellent CGI work, especially the monsters!
You will find this film entertaining and cool if you don’t mind the deviation from the game’s storyline. And it’s always great to see a kickass female at the helm of an action-packed film.
8. Star Trek (2009)
English 2h 7m IMDb
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg
There are now about 13 Star Trek movies made. While this might sound overwhelming, you can watch them at your own pace. You can start with the 2009 version of Star Trek. The story brings you back to the beginning where you meet the younger version of the beloved Star Trek characters like Spock, Kirk, and others.
Star Trek fans might have been nervous with the idea of this reboot. However, JJ Abrams, the director of the film, did very well. He was able to balance his own directorial style with the Star Trek elements that people are more familiar with. This version is a great reintroduction of the Star Trek franchise and its characters.
9. Prometheus (2012)
English 2h 4m IMDb
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender
If you are a fan of Ridley Scott’s Alien series, you might want to add Prometheus to your list. This movie is said to be some sort of prequel to the Alien movies. However, according to Scott, this movie has its own set of ideas.
The movie, set in 2093, is about a group of explorers venturing into the depths of the universe after finding out clues about the origin of man on Earth. When they get to their destination, a planetary body, they are in for a surprise.
As a movie, Prometheus has great filming and acting. There’s a bit of suspense and mystery that leaves the viewers to ask questions. While some scenes might be too graphic for some, it’s just a testament to how good the visual effects of this movie are.
10. Sunshine (2007)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans
Sunshine is a movie set in 2057 about astronauts on a mission to revive the sun and avoid the extinction of humanity. If you want a movie that does not involve hopping from one planet to another, then this might be your cup of tea!
If you are looking for a fast-paced film, then Sunshine is not for you. However, this film is very well executed. It seems the different aspects of the film – from the acting, writing, directing, etc. – mesh together wonderfully.
The visuals of the film are also extraordinary. There’s an intensity to this film, especially when tensions rise between the characters.
11. After Earth (2013)
English 1h 40m IMDb
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Jaden Smith, David Denman, Will Smith
Real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith star in After Earth. In the movie, humans have left the Earth a millennium ago to live on another planet called Nova Prime. And the father and son duo have crash-landed on Earth and must find ways to survive.
When this film came out, the reception was not that kind, especially for Jaden Smith. However, you have to see this M. Night Shyamalan movie for yourself. The director managed to weave a creative and imaginative story.
He was also able to translate this plot well through the movie’s visuals. Will and Jaden were perfect for their roles as father and son. If you are considering a sci-fi movie for the family, then try After Earth.
12. Passengers (2016)
English 1h 56m IMDb
Director: Morten Tyldum
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen
Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim (Chris Pratt) are among 5,000 passengers on their way to another planet they will be calling home. However, due to some mishaps along the way, the two wake up earlier than scheduled, and they must find a way to save everyone on board.
There is intrinsically to the story and the characters. The movie has some action and suspense here and there. And we see the two main characters developing feelings for each other while everything else is going on.
Despite some plot holes that some people might find, the movie is a visual experience. The great acting from the cast also adds something extra to this film.
13. Dune (2021)
English 2h 35m IMDb
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya
If you are a fan of the Dune novel by Frank Herbert, then this 2021 adaptation might be something you would like. The newer version, which is not perfect by any chance, stays closer to Herbert’s work if compared to the 1984 adaptation.
Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, must make his way to a dangerous corner of the universe where Spice, the drug that makes it possible to travel through space faster than light, can be found.
Dune is such an ambitious project, given the source material. But the overall production of Dune is impressive. If you are a fan of science fiction, this film adaptation might leave you enamored.
Binge Watching Avatar-like Movies
Science fiction movies, especially ones that go the extra creative mile, can leave lasting impressions on people. It drives them to continue watching such movies. So the next time you are wondering what film to watch, consider the 13 best movies like Avatar.