10 Best Space Movies That Don’t Feature Aliens

Filmmaking allows creative minds to explore all the fantastical worlds they can conjure up, though no setting is as mesmerizing as the endless space that surrounds our planet. Although efforts to explore the universe continually exist, we as a species still know little about the rest of the universe. This makes it prime storytelling material, as the unknown void of space is ripe for inventive ideas.

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While a lot of space movies feature aliens (star wars, Extraterrestrial) as villains or secondary characters, there is a section of the genre that wishes to explore humanity and its experiences with the vastness of space. The following films are mostly set in space but don’t feature any aliens, using the setting to develop, terrorize, or simply fascinate its characters.


“Interstellar” (2014)

A slower supply of Christopher Nolan after the blockbusters Creation and The black Knight trilogy, Interstellar places the discussion of humanity and our extinction above the action sets. When it becomes clear that Earth will no longer be hospitable in the future, a team of astronauts head into space to find a new home for humanity.

The film features an excellent cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastainand Nolan’s favorite Michael Cain. Matthew McConaugheyHowever, Cooper is the anchor of the film, and his decision to leave his young children behind for the chance to save their future leads to one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the genre. Interstellar is available to stream on Paramount+.

“The Martian” (2015)

After a freak accident caused his crew to leave him for dead, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) remains stuck on Mars. In an effort to stay alive, Watney is forced to develop the necessary food, water, and living conditions while those on Earth scramble to mount a rescue operation.

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Like the novel Andy Weier, The Martianstrives for scientific precision, with all of Watney’s survival solutions being realistically achievable. This realistic approach was praised by both critics and the scientific community, and the film went on to receive seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

‘WALL-E’ (2008)

One of Pixar’s best movies, WALL-E follows the titular robot as it does its lonely job of cleaning up Earth after humanity has fled to live among the stars. When he finally meets another robot, named EVE, Wall-E is smitten and he begins a journey of love across the universe.

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In typical Pixar fashion, WALL-E is a film that appeals to both children and adults. While its dazzling visuals will appeal to younger viewers, its focus on real-world issues such as climate change and environmentalism appeals to those looking for deeper meaning in their films.WALL-Eis available to stream on Disney+.

‘Apollo 13’ (1995)

Based on the actual space mission, Apollo 13 details the true story of three astronauts (tom hank, Bill Paxtonand Kevin Bacon) whose spaceflight to the moon is abruptly cut short after sustaining damage to their spacecraft. The film then follows the astronauts and the NASA team as they attempt to get the men home safely.

As The Martiandirector Ron Howard tried to make the film as realistic as possible. He consulted real NASA personnel, and the film depicts his characters solving problems with realistic solutions. This attempt at realism paid off, because Apollo 13 proved to be a critical and commercial success and remains a highlight of Howard’s distinguished career.

“Sun” (2007)

Directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Sunshine follows the crew of a spaceship tasked with rekindling the sun. The second voyage given this duty after the failure of the first, the mission is the only hope to save the Earth from freezing.

The film begins as a hard-hitting sci-fi flick, with the ship’s diverse crew accepting what will most likely be a one-way ticket before it eventually turns into a thriller as new threats emerge. Sunshine is notable for its stacked cast, which includes Cillian Murphy, michelle yeo, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Benoit Wongand Hiriyuki Sanada.

“Event Horizon” (1997)

A rare space horror movie that doesn’t feature killer aliens, Event horizon instead focuses on the titular spaceship that opened a portal to hell. When the missing ship reappears seven years later, the crew of the Lewis and Clark is sent to investigate, with nightmarish results.

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With science fiction legends Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neilthe movie is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson before releasing his series of resident Evilmovies. While the finished film is still unsettling, Event horizon is known to have been heavily edited to meet the demands of studio executives due to an excessive amount of gore. Unfortunately, the nearly forty minutes of cut footage has apparently been lost forever. Event horizon is available to stream on Paramount+.

“Total Recall” (1990)

An attempt by Arnold Schwarzenegger to move away from his action hero persona, Total recall finds the former Mr. Universe playing Doug Quaid, a construction worker plagued with dreams of living on Mars. Seeking adventure, Quaid takes part in a procedure that implants false memories like a “fake vacation”, which leads him to head to Mars for real as he finds himself in an unfolding plot.

Directed by a science fiction legend Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Starship Troopers), the film continues its great combination of sci-fi and action. Total recall stands as one of the finest films in Schwarzenegger’s filmography, and the fact that his true end is still being debated over thirty years later shows the mark he left on the genre. Total recall is available to stream on HBO Max.

“Gravity” (2013)

Taking the popular trope of a lonely character forced to survive and placing it in the endless void of space, Gravity follows astronaut Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) as she attempts to return home alive after her ship is destroyed by debris. The film hinges on Bullock’s performance, and thankfully, she’s up to the task as Stone overcomes every obstacle space throws at her.

Visually stunning, GravityThe effects of still hold nearly ten years later and the director Alphonse Cuaron masterfully captures the lone astronaut’s seemingly futile quest for survival. George Clooney also features in a memorable supporting role as one of Stone’s fellow astronauts.

‘Moon’ (2009)

Another film about a lonely astronaut, Moon tells the story of Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), the only employee working in a space station on the moon. With only his computer talking for company, Sam nears the end of his three-year shift that will allow him to return home. However, events soon unfold that cause Sam to question everything.

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Director’s debut Duncan Jones, Moon tackles themes such as identity and purpose as Sam struggles with the suffocating loneliness of life in space. Rockwell is terrific in the lead role, and as the only major character in the movie, he takes the movie to the next level with his performance. Moon is available to stream on HBO Max.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Regularly cited as one of the greatest films of all time, Stanley Kubrickit is 2001: A Space Odyssey is a unique visual experience. Forgoing conventional cinematic techniques, Kubrick instead shows the narrative through visuals and their accompanying effects, with dialogue used sparingly throughout the film.

The story itself follows two astronauts and their supercomputer HAL who are sent to Jupiter to investigate a mysterious monolith. Along with the possibility that the monolith could be evidence of extraterrestrial life, the film also touches on themes such as evolution and technology, with much of the debate left up to the viewer’s interpretation. 2001: A Space Odyssey is available to stream on HBO Max.

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