The best sci-fi/fantasy TV and film coming in 2024
On the back of COVID-related production delays and massive Hollywood strikes, the next 12 months will be a strange mix of long-awaited content and out-of-the-blue oddities. More than half of last year’s list has yet to appear, so there is likely to be a lot of interesting film and TV to come.
I’m ignoring most of the big franchise stuff as it has recently proved to be utterly disappointing. Instead, we have lots of strange, creative and original work to look forward to including an apocalypse musical, an android exploring human emotions, and a story about a clone who lives forever.
Constellation (Apple TV)
Someone at Apple is a big fan of sci-fi as the burgeoning streamer continues to produce ambitious interesting genre shows (Foundation, For All Mankind, Silo, Invasion). The latest, to premiere in February, is Constellation. Starring Noomi Rapace, all we know so far is the brief teasing synopsis stating the series is about “an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space – only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing.”
The series features a strong behind-the-scenes crew, penned by English screenwriter Peter Harness (Doctor Who, Wallender) and directed by superstar Canadian filmmaker Michelle MacClaren (you name the best episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Westworld or Better Call Saul and I bet she was behind them). If sci-fi conspiracy thrillers are your jam, then this could be a winner.
Murderbot (Apple TV)
What did we say about Apple loving weird, interesting sci-fi? Here is another bold series. Based on an award-winning series of novels called The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, the story follows a security android that is both horrified and fascinated by human emotion.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this series is the casting. Alexander Skarsgård will star as the titular Murderbot, and we couldn’t think of a better actor to play a cold, calculating android learning to understand human emotion.
Dark Matter (Apple TV)
I promise this is the last Apple show on the list. Dark Matter stars Joel Edgerton as a physicist who is pulled into a parallel dimension while his doppelganger takes over his life in his world.
The series is from author Blake Crouch, based on his own 2016 novel. Crouch is probably best known for his short-lived, but absolutely bonkers, TV series Wayward Pines. The novel has been described as “madly fast-moving” and a “fun ride.” So this is likely to be more on the wildly entertaining and stupid end of the sci-fi spectrum.
Dune: Prophecy (Max)
Originally titled Sisterhood of Dune, this TV companion to Denis Villeneuve’s big-screen Dune films has been through a rocky development process over the past few years. The series is set 10,000 years before the events of Frank Herbert’s Dune. It explores the origins of the novels’ fabled superhuman sisterhood, the Bene Gesserit.
The series is co-produced by Frank Herbert’s son Brian, and granddaughter Kim, alongside experienced TV writer Alison Schapker (Fringe, Lost, Westworld). Villeneuve couldn’t direct due to scheduling conflicts but the style of the series is sure to follow the incredible scale and scope of the feature films.
The Alien franchise is exploding with new films and series this year but the most promising title is a prequel TV show from writer Noah Hawley (Legion, Fargo). The series will be the first Alien story set on Earth, exploring the origins of androids and the mysterious Weyland-Yutani corporation.
How do the titular “aliens” get into the story? Who knows, but Hawley has proved himself to a surprising and creative writer so this is certainly going to be the most interesting entry into the franchise we’ve seen in a long time.
Mickey 17 (Warner Bros)
Bong Joon-ho conquered the world in 2019 with his magnificent film Parasite. Earning a blank check to make whatever he wanted, the filmmaker decided to adapt the bizarre sci-fi novel Mickey7.
The story follows an essentially immortal character who enters a new cloned body every time he dies. The film stars Robert Pattinson, who has described this as the weirdest thing he has ever made. Big words from an actor who has recently made some pretty strange movies (High Life, The Lighthouse, Good Time, Cosmopolis).
Civil War (A24)
From Ex Machina to Annihilation to Devs, Alex Garland has been making some truly innovative and original stuff, but Civil War looks to be his biggest project to date. Described as an action-war film, it’s set in a near-future US that has collapsed into civil war after an authoritarian government takes over and half the country decides to secede.
Looking frighteningly prescient, this film will certainly make some headlines when it premieres. Garland knows what he is doing here, so you will likely be hearing lots more about this one.
The End (Final Cut For Real)
This is the weirdest film to be made in years. It is the first fiction film from renowned documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, best known for his devastating masterpiece The Act of Killing. It is also a musical starring Tilda Swinton and Michael Shannon.
What is this film about? All we know is it features the richest family in the world who have been living in a bunker for the last 20 years after the world ended. Did we mention this is a musical?
The Electric State (Netflix)
Ever since the Russo brothers made Avengers: Endgame, the highest grossing film of all time, they’ve been floundering, making massive-budget disappointments for streamers (Citadel, The Gray Man). Will this continue the trend or have they found fresh inspiration in a well-reviewed graphic novel from 2018?
The story is simple. It’s a post-apocalyptic alternate timeline 1997 and a teenage girl travels across a dystopian US with her toy robot. Netflix undoubtedly spent a truckload of cash on this one so it will certainly look impressive. Let’s hope there is a decent story to hold it together.