The Nerd’s Watch: Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Streaming in July

The first three RoboCop films are streaming this month.
Photo: Orion

Though a lot of movie theaters are once again back to full function, the safer option for entertainment remains streaming, and fans who choose to stay home and take advantage are constantly rewarded with tons of new content. At the start of each month, most streamers—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max—do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some away. io9 is here to help you narrow down your decision-making.

Welcome to the Nerd’s Watch, our monthly column where we curate the most interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies (and television shows) coming to the biggest streaming services. There is lots of new content to be had for July 2021, so let’s get to it.

What’s coming to Netflix in July?

All the Twilight movies are coming to Netflix.
Photo: Lionsgate

Available July 1

Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway – Our own James Whitbrook is very excited about this one. The feature film is described as follows: “After Char’s rebellion, Hathaway Noa leads an insurgency against Earth Federation, but meeting an enemy officer and a mysterious woman alters his fate.”

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Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin Powers in Goldmember – In which both you and Austin Powers travel back to another time and revisit this mega-hit comedy franchise starring Mike Myers.

Charlie’s Angels – McG’s stylized action adaptation of the classic TV show is way more fun than it should be, mostly because of stars Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore.

Congo – While this Michael Crichton adaptation about a hyper-intelligent gorilla (and a whole bunch of other stuff) probably brings up memories both good and bad for many filmgoers, when I think about it all I hear is “Tickle Amy.”

The Game – David Fincher’s underrated crime mystery stars Michael Douglas as a man caught in a very bad situation that may or may not be actually happening.

The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part III – With the upcoming season of Cobra Kai set to focus on the events of Karate Kid Part III, now you can catch up on this legendary movie franchise.

Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2 – Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie Chan are just a few of the people who lend their voices to this excellent, hilarious animated film franchise.

Mortal Kombat (1995) – While the new one is surprisingly good, it’s hard to beat the super cheesy 1995 version (with the incredible techno beats) that came out in the midst of the game’s popularity.

Star Trek – J.J. Abrams’ best Star movie comes to Netflix. Oh, and it’s not even close.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day – One of the best sci-fi films, and sequels, of all time, comes to Netflix just in time for its 30th anniversary. James Cameron, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can’t beat it.

Underworld, Underworld: Awakening, Underworld: Rise of the LycansKate Beckinsale finds herself smack dab in the middle of a war between werewolves and vampires in this dark sci-fi horror franchise. These are three of the series’ five films. (These three are also on Hulu, where you also get Underworld Evolution, which is also on Amazon. But just that one. Streaming rights are weird.)

What Dreams May Come – Robin Williams goes somewhere beyond reality in this sumptuous, Oscar-winning drama.

Zathura: A Space Adventure – There’s too much to say about this Jon Favreau Jumanji spin-off, so head here to read our full Retro Review.

Available July 2

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 The first of three films based on the R.L. Stine book series, all of which are connected and will be released in subsequent weeks. It seems like a super cool, potentially scary, experiment. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is out July 9 and Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is out July 16.

Snowpiercer – Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi masterpiece stars Chris Evans as a man who has to fight his way through a class-divided train that constantly circles around a frozen Earth. It’s beyond great.

Available July 8

Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness Netflix’s new anime series based on the popular video game franchise that’s in no way, at all, political. Seriously. Not at all.

Available July 14

A Classic Horror Story We haven’t seen this Italian horror movie just yet but wow does the trailer look excellent.

Gunpowder Milkshake Described as “the mother of all action movies,” this Netflix original stars Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett, so, yeah. That sounds about right.

Available July 16

Twilight, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2 – The super popular tween franchise will soon be found on Netflix. Let the vampire baseball, creepy CGI babies, and sparkling skin begin.

Available July 21

The Movies That Made Us: Season 2The excellent Netflix documentary series that dives behind the scenes of some of your favorite films is back. It’s unclear what’s coming this season but in the past, it’s covered Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, and more.

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans A mega Netflix animated crossover sees characters from Trollhunters, 3Below, and Wizards team up to save the world.

Available July 23

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Kevin Smith’s fan-service return to Eternia picks up the story of He-Man, Skeleton, and the rest of the Masters of the Universe after the original show.

What’s coming to Hulu in July?

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a sci-fi fantasy movie. You gotta see it.
Photo: Lionsgate

Available July 1

28 Days Later, 28 Weeks LaterTwo of the best modern zombie movies come to streaming, ready to deliver delights and frights with plenty of fast-running undead.

BeetlejuiceTim Burton’s hilarious, gross, genius film stars Michael Keaton as a ghost who goes off the rails as he tries to scare a family out of a house. Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, and Catherine O’Hara co-star.

Galaxy QuestIf J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek is the best Star Wars movie in recent memory, it’s probably safe to say this ingenious comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman is probably the best Star Trek movie in recent memory too.

The Mask Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz star in this loose comic book adaptation about a man who finds a mask that turns him into a green-faced creature with zero inhibitions.

The NaturalIs The Natural just a normal sports movie? I don’t think so. Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, whose comeback as a baseball icon who missed his prime and comes into possession of a magic bat is just about as close to fantasy as one can get without being obvious.

The Polar ExpressSuper duper creepy performance capture technology aside, this Robert Zemeckis/Tom Hanks collaboration is actually a very nice, heartwarming, holiday film. If you can get past its technical oddities.

RoboCop, RoboCop 2, RoboCop 3A franchise of diminishing returns, which is fine when the 1987 Paul Verhoeven original is a stone-cold masterpiece of violence and politics. A film truly ahead of its time. The sequels? Less so.

Rookie of the Year Much in the way The Natural is fantasy if you squint your eyes at it, metaphorically speaking, so is Rookie of the Year, where a kid gets an injury that allows him to pitch in the Major Leagues. So ridiculous, but so great.

Space Jam With the sequel mere days away, the original Michael Jordan hybrid shows up… on a competing streaming service. Odd but at least it’s available somewhere.

Stand by MeRob Reiner directs this incredible, timeless story of friendship from the mind of Stephen King. Kiefer Sutherland, River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell star.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: First Contact One was released in 1986, the other 1996. Might be fun to watch them back to back and see just how far the Trek franchise went in a decade.

SunshineWith 28 Days Later also coming to Hulu, you can have yourself an excellent Danny Boyle sci-fi marathon, especially if you pair that with this heady, awesome deep-space journey co-starring Chris Evans and Cillian Murphy.

Take Shelter Michael Shannon stars in this slow-burn psychological thriller about a father who pleads with his family that the world is coming to an end. The question becomes, is it? Or is he just going mad? Jessica Chastain co-stars.

The TerminatorA film of huge historical importance in the careers of everyone involved, as well as just being an all-around engaging, exciting, terrifying sci-fi action film. Cameron, Arnold, Hamilton, Biehn, the best.

Universal SoldierJean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren star in this solid 1992 sci-fi action film as soldiers who are killed during Vietnam and then brought back in the future to continue to do battle. Check out our Retro Review.

Available July 2

Bill & Ted Face the MusicIf you missed out on of 2020’s hidden gems, a film decades in the making that finally got made, and made well, you’ll have a chance to catch up with Bill and Ted on Hulu soon.

Available July 9

Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar On the surface, this Kristen Wiig comedy seems pretty straightforward. When you watch it though, so much wild, weird, borderline unbelievable stuff happens, well, it’s an io9 movie for damned sure. And it’s hilarious. Highest possible recommendation.

Available July 15

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever MadeA highly entertaining documentary about a couple of friends who set out to make a shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark when they were teenagers, and the struggle it takes to finally finish their lifelong dream.

What’s coming to Amazon in July?

Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy is coming to Amazon.
Photo: Sony

Available July 1

Across the Universe – A beautiful, lyrical, romantic film set to the music of the Beatles. Great to watch and enjoy, but even good to just put on in the background.

Alien – If you’re reading this and don’t know what Alien is, I don’t know what to tell you. Well, except that you should go to your calendar app and make a note that on July 1, it’s time to have your mind blown with one of the best movies ever, over on Amazon.

Green Lantern – Oh sure, most people consider Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern movie to be one of the worst superhero movies ever, but if you go in with that mindset, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised. It’s bad but it’s not that bad. Some parts are actually kind of great.

HellboyHellboy feels like a movie way ahead of its time. It’s a freaking Guillermo del Toro Hellboy movie. And it’s super great. But it came out in 2004 and maybe the world wasn’t ready for it yet. Imagine 15 years later though if someone today said “Guillermo del Toro is making Hellboy!” It would be huge international news. And yet it already exists and barely gets mentioned.

I, Robot – Will Smith, killer robots, pretty good action, worth a watch.

Only Lovers Left Alive – Tom Hiddleston co-stars with Tilda Swinton in this atmospheric, funny, truly interesting vampire movie directed by Jim Jarmusch. Totally worth seeking out if you’ve never seen it.

The Mask of Zorro – Antonio Banderas stars in this awesome period action film based on the classic character, Zorro. It’s got a great blend of that 1950s style and 1990s charm.

Available July 2

The Tomorrow WarBefore the pandemic, this was going to be one of Paramount Pictures’ big 2020 holiday releases, but then the world changed and Amazon bought it. And despite lackluster trailers, we’re hoping this Chris Pratt time travel action film will at least be worth a watch.

What’s coming to Disney+ in July?

Black Widow is here. Finally.
Photo: Marvel

Available July 2

The Sandlot, The Sandlot 2 – OK, so I’m on a kick of sports movies mixing fantasy in this column—and because there’s a mythic, killer dog in The Sandlot, I’m going to put it here. The fact it’s probably my favorite sports movie of all time has nothing to do with it. Also, there’s a sequel, but I’d never subject myself to that.

Available July 7

Monsters at Work – When Disney+ was announced, one of the big selling points was the promise of Pixar TV shows. And while Pixar has provided some solid, short-form original content for the streamer, this show— the first one set after the events in Monsters Inc.—fulfills that promise. Sort of. Pixar didn’t make it, it’s just the company’s characters.

Available July 9

Black Widow – On July 9 you can go to the theater, or you can spend $30 and watch the latest film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow, from the comfort of your own home. Or you can do both! And good news, it’s a solid MCU film with huge action and some great reveals as well. Keep an eye out for our full review.

Available July 21

Behind the Attraction – This should be awesome. It’s a multi-part documentary show talking about the history of a bunch of classic Disney theme park rides, and it’s produced by Dwayne Johnson because of a film two entries down from here.

Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making of Loki – As has been Disney’s pattern, when Loki ends, the next week the studio will drop an hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary in its place. These have been great and we hope this one is too.

Available July 30

Jungle Cruise – July brings two big Disney theatrical films to the streamer. First is Black Widow, the second is this long-in-development adaptation of the Disney ride starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The trailer gives off big-time Pirates of the Caribbean vibes and if it’s half as good as that film, it’ll be worth the extra $30 to get it on the service.

What’s coming to HBO Max in July?

Demolition Man is just the best.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Available July 1

Demolition ManGrab some Taco Bell and enjoy one of the best sci-fi action films of the 1990s featuring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, and Denis Leary.

Firestarter – This film, based on a Stephen King novel, is currently being remade, so why not catch up on the Drew Barrymore original? She plays a girl who can start fires at will. If you didn’t guess from the title.

Joe Versus the Volcano – Tom Hanks agrees to throw himself into a volcano before falling in love with Meg Ryan in this cult 1990 comedy.

Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes – Several of the original Apes films are coming to Max. I’ve only ever seen the original so now I have a chance to dive into some of the rest.

Pleasantville – Two teenagers get stuck in a 1950s sitcom in this pre-WandaVision film from 1998 starring Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. It’s very good.

Punisher: War Zone, The Punisher – The 2008 and 2017 films respectively. The former has lots of fans, the latter not as much, but I’m almost obligated to put them on here since Marvel is such a huge deal these days.

Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3 – But not Scream 4? Come on now! It’s great! (The others are as well. Yes, even part three.)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – This 2003 Michael Bay-produced remake, obviously, isn’t as good as the original. But in terms of Michael Bay-produced remakes, of which there are many, this is definitely on the better end of the spectrum.

Trick ‘R Treat – This Halloween anthology story featuring the creepy kid Sam continues to rise the charts in terms of must-watch horror films. Now you can check it out and get freaked if you haven’t seen it yet.

Westworld – Now you can watch either the show, or the original Michael Crichton film it’s based on starring Yul Brenner.

Available July 8

Wellington Paranormal, Season 1What We Do In the Shadows fans, rejoice. As you wait for the next season of that show, this spinoff is now available on HBO Max.

Available July 16

Space Jam: A New Legacy – Decades after Michael Jordan teamed up with Bugs Bunny, LeBron James is going to do it in this long-awaited sequel. It’ll also be in theaters but, if you pay for Max, it’ll be free the day of.

Available July 24

Freaky – Another gem from 2020 you may have missed features Vince Vaughn playing a serial killer who swaps bodies with a high school girl, played by Kathryn Newton. Bloody, funny hijinks ensue in this better-than-it-should-be film.

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Germain Lussier