6 Scientifically Accurate Sci-Fi Movies - The Solihull Observer

6 Scientifically Accurate Sci-Fi Movies

Solihull Editorial 18th Aug, 2023   0

Science fiction has captivated humans for more than 200 years. Popular sci-fi films conjure up worlds where time travel paradoxes, emotional AI systems, or looming UFOs threaten humanity as we know it.

Although the science in these films may appear convincing, it’s rarely accurate. Still, some sci-fi films draw upon scientifically-accurate principles, such as genetic manipulation, the power of AI, and the reality of space travel.

Read on to learn about six sci-fi films that got the science—or at least some of it—right.

1. GATTACA (1997)

Andrew Niccol’s “GATTACA,” tells the story of Vincent Freeman, a man who is born naturally in a world where most humans are conceived through eugenics, or the manipulations of genes to create the “perfect human.” Although just as capable as his peers, Freeman is seen as inferior due to his genetics. The film explores the concept of human gene editing and its potential to cause systematic discrimination.




Scientific Accuracy: Although the movie takes some creative liberties in portraying humanity’s technological progress, aspects of the film’s portrayal of genetic engineering are backed by scientific principles. The film also elicits a necessary conversation about the ethics of genetic manipulation and its effects on society.

2. Contact (1997)

In the 1997 film “Contact,” directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on Carl Sagan’s novel, astronomer Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway receives a radio signal sent by extraterrestrials. When the message is decoded, Arroway is sent on a whole new kind of quest.


Scientific Accuracy: “Contact” addresses the broader implications of humanity’s search for intelligent life while depicting the complexities of radio astronomy. The film’s portrayal of radio telescopes and the process of analyzing radio signals for any contact with extraterrestrials is also scientifically accurate.

Although the concept of wormholes remains speculative, the film does display wormholes in a way that aligns with some existing theories in physics.

3. Her (2013)

Spike Jonze’s “Her” is set in a futuristic world in which a heartbroken man falls in love with an AI operating system. The operating system, called Samantha, is thoughtful and empathetic and ultimately feels the same way. The film explores the interactions between humans and artificial intelligence and the potential for a computer-human emotional relationship.

Scientific Accuracy: The AI depicted in “Her” is much more sophisticated than any AI operating system that currently exists. Still, the film portrays an emotional bond that could potentially develop between humans and AI.

In depicting this relationship, the film also alludes to an AI’s ability to mimic, or even feel, emotions and the way in which this may harm humanity. Understanding the risks of using AI is particularly timely, as 91% of leading organizations are currently investing in AI activities.

4. Gravity (2013)

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” follows the journey of two astronauts left stranded after a catastrophic satellite collision. Their only chance at returning to Earth hinges on their ability to reach another space station using the resources they have at hand.

Scientific Accuracy: Although the film’s storyline is sprinkled with drama, it does paint a realistic depiction of space. The characters must navigate space, orbiting debris, and microgravity, all of which are portrayed with scientific accuracy. The film also accurately highlights the effects of microgravity on human physiology.

5. The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott and based on Andy Weir’s novel, “The Martian” follows astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) after he is stranded on Mars. To stay alive, Watney must learn to grow food and create water using the resources he has.

Scientific Accuracy: The steps Watney takes to cultivate food are rooted in real science. Additionally, some of the chemical reactions shown in the film are grounded in real chemical principles.

While a Mars mission like the one Watney experienced is unlikely to occur, we are gathering more information about the planet every year, such as this study about the origins and composition of Mars. Who knows how these studies will inform a future Mars mission?

6. Arrival (2016)

The 2016 film “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, tells the story of linguist Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) as she tries to communicate with aliens and prevent global conflict. Adams uses her knowledge of linguistics and code-cracking to understand their purpose on Earth.

Scientific Accuracy: Characters in “Arrival” discuss the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, a linguistic theory that states the languages we speak inform the way we see the world. The movie also shows the complexities of linguistics and the potential for misunderstandings.

In the movie, the aliens also have a non-linear perception of time. This theory draws on principles from Einstein’s theory of relativity.

How to Safely Access Geo-Restricted Content

If your favorite science fiction film is not available in your country, it’s probably because that movie is geo-restricted or limited based on location. This often occurs because different countries have different distribution rights for movies.

To safely circumnavigate a geo-restriction, install a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which establishes a secure connection between your laptop or phone and a server in another country. For example, if a film is unavailable to you, try connecting to a United Kingdom VPN server and see if that lifts the restriction.

Unfortunately, not all VPNs are created equally. Before installing a server, make sure it is reputable and offers security as well as privacy.

With these sci-fi films at your fingertips, dive into the world of artificial intelligence, extraterrestrials, and futuristic inventions. And while you’re watching, remember there’s still room for science in the world of fantasy.

“Written by Stephen Rogers

Stephen has a BSc in computer science with a focus on cryptography and worked in a range of London tech startups in data security for five years before turning his hand to writing. His goal is to educate and inform people about the often opaque world of cybersecurity and help everyone be a little bit safer online. When not saving the world from hackers and fraudsters, he’s a gamer, esports fan, and avid TV binger.”

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