The best sci-fi/fantasy TV and film coming in 2023
In the world of TV and film, producers are always looking to adapt or remake a successful property. And while most big titles have been covered in recent years 2023 looks set to showcase some weirder intellectual property. From a TV remake of a classic 1980 film to Adam Sandler playing an astronaut who befriends a giant alien spider, the next 12 months are set to deliver some interesting science fiction and fantasy titles.
Some big titles are missing here, and that's because you can find them on prior year's lists. Still anticipated titles including 65, Wool and Distant can be found on our 2022 list, and we've been waiting even longer for shows such as The Last of Us and another Battlestar Galactica reboot.
Time Bandits (Apple TV)
Terry Gilliam's second solo feature film post Monty Python was Time Bandits, a beloved family flick following a young boy who travels through time with a group of thieves. Forty years later Taika Waititi has turned the film into a TV series, co-written with UK writer Iain Morris (The Inbetweeners) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).
So far, the series is perhaps most notable for a casting controversy. Early casting announcements suggested one of the most iconic features of the film, its band of six dwarf thieves, had been removed from the series and the titular bandits had been replaced with normal statured actors.
Kaos (Netflix series)
Jeff Goldblum stars as the Greek God Zeus who, after getting his first wrinkle, worries that this sign of aging foreshadows the looming end of the world. The series also stars Janet McTeer, Cliff Curtis and David Thewlis, and apparently follows six humans who discover they are part of an ancient prophecy.
It's hard to guess what kind of show will emerge from such a strange pitch, but the general synopsis feels very reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's Good Omens (recently turned into an Amazon series with a second season expected in 2023). Kaos is written by Charlie Covill, best known for her Netflix series The End of the F***ing World, which may give some indication of the possible dark comedy tone we could expect from the series.
Spaceman (Netflix film)
Stick with me here. Adam Sandler stars as an astronaut from the Czech Republic sent into space, alone, to investigate a mysterious cloud of dust near Venus. On the eight-month mission he progressively loses his mind and begins talking to a giant telepathic spider that claims to be an alien from another planet.
Based on a book titled Spaceman of Bohemia, this story is not a broad comedy but more of an absurdist drama with humorous undertones. One critic described the book as "Solaris with laughs," and the film is directed by Swedish filmmaker Johan Renck, best known for working on HBO's recent Chernobyl series.
Fallout (Amazon series)
Fallout is another of those big video-game franchises that has long been mooted for film or TV adaptation. After 20 years of failed film development, the video game will finally make it to our screens as a TV series thanks to the big pockets of Jeff Bezos and Amazon Prime.
Continuing the partnership between Amazon and Westworld creators Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan, Fallout follows the pair's 2022 William Gibson series The Peripheral. There's not a lot of detail on specifics of what to expect from a Fallout series, after all, the games are set in a huge open world with the player largely setting their own path through a 1950s-styled post-armageddon landscape.
In a 2021 interview Joy described the series as, "a gonzo, crazy, funny adventure… like you've never seen before." There is definitely that potential in the bizarro source material, although to be fair, "funny" isn't really Joy and Nolan's strength given their past work is pretty humorless.
The Three-Body Problem (Netflix series)
Arguably one of the biggest science-fiction novels of recent years, it was huge news when the series was announced back in 2020. Netflix spent a truck-load of cash to lure Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and let them assemble an international team for this massive adaptation.
The series started filming over a year ago so hopefully we will see it sometime in 2023 and finally get an idea of how Benioff and Weiss grappled with adapting the novel's complex narrative, which jumps between three different time periods and spans thousands of years. Despite fumbling the ending of Game of Thrones (mainly when the show's timeline progressed past its source material), Benioff and Weiss initially showed themselves to have a great ability in adapting massive novels to the screen. Can they pull it off again with one of the most immense sci-fi stories of the 21st century?
After directing legendary 70s films such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola started working on an epic sci-fi drama titled Megalopolis. For 40 years the infamous filmmaker tried to get this ambitious movie made but for various reasons it stayed stuck in development hell.
Now, at the ripe old age of 82, Coppola has said it's now or never. He sold a chunk of his valuable wine estate to fund the US$100-million project entirely with his own cash, and filming finally started in November with a massive cast including Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman, Shia LaBeouf, Dustin Hoffman and Giancarlo Esposito.
What is the film about? No one is entirely sure. The best description to come so far is, "It's a love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man; it's set in New York, but a New York steeped in echoes of ancient Rome."
Leave The World Behind (Netflix Film)
Based on a novel that was written before the pandemic but published in the thick of 2020, Leave The World Behind has been described as a story that perfectly captures, "what it was like to live through the nightmare of 2020." It tells the tale of a two families living at an isolated country house while an unexplained "end-of-the-world" event plays out.
According the reviews of the book, the story illustrates the ways human beings obsessively continue "normal behaviors" in the face of catastrophic world-changing events. Sound familiar? The film stars Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali and Kevin Bacon, and was written and directed by Mr Robot creator Sam Esmail. Knowing Esmail's prior work there is no doubt this will be a weird, hallucinatory and unsettling take on apocalyptic stories.
Mrs Davis (Peacock series)
A nun joins forces with her ex to fight a nefarious artificial intelligence dubbed Mrs Davis. Sounds absurd but considering creator Damon Lindelof's near-perfect strike-rate (Watchmen, The Leftovers, Lost) there are high hopes for this one.
A recent announcement regarding the show's April premiere date was accompanied by a message from the show's AI character Mrs Davis. The statement reminds us Mrs Davis is our friend and only wants to make us happy.
"… despite being the most popular Algorithm in the world – there are those actively plotting my demise. One such detractor is a nun – a Sister Simone of Reno who rejects my very existence. Something about my intention to enslave all of humanity…or whatever… Which is utter nonsense – as I desire no such thing. I only desire to make humans happy. I want to make YOU happy. And that is why I highly recommend you become a User yourself. Yes, your life could use some adventure, some escape – a hearty laugh and a cathartic cry. All of which you will experience if you join me on this Quest. And what do you have to lose?"
Rebel Moon (Netflix Film)
A few years ago every major franchise was jockeying for Zack Snyder's input. Ultimately DC took him in, and after a few disastrous movies he was unceremoniously dumped (although the infamous black-and-white Snyder cut of Justice League ultimately was released to mixed critical reaction).
Rebel Moon is a reworking of a Star Wars trilogy Snyder apparently pitched to Lucasfilm before Disney bought the whole thing and turned it into what it is today. Netflix, never one to miss an opportunity, snatched up the idea and gave Snyder $100 million to make his dream space opera. The first film will premiere sometime in 2023 but its sequel has already been shot and Snyder says the idea could expand into its own larger Star Wars-like franchise.
Black Mirror (Netflix series)
It's back! After an absence of nearly four years the blackly comic futurist anthology returns with at least three new episodes. Back in 2020 co-creator Charlie Brooker publicly questioned whether he would do more Black Mirror stories after the world basically became a real-life extended pandemic-themed episode.
As per usual, very little info has been leaked about the upcoming episodes, despite several already having completed filming. Aaron Paul, Zazie Beets and Josh Hartnett have all been announced as starring in episodes that have been described as each being a small movie.