Paycheck (2003, dir. John Woo)

An industrial spy leaves himself clues to solve the crimes of which he’s now accused. An SF twist on a Hitchcock plot (based on a Philip K Dick story), this lumpen chase thriller gets bogged down early and doesn’t relax into what Woo – when unrestrained – does best.

Downsizing (2017, dir. Alexander Payne)

A man is forced to re-evaluate his life after volunteering to be miniaturised. Quirky fantasy which can’t work out if it’s social satire, science fiction, or romance, but has a go at all three. Defiantly odd, though, which is no bad thing.

Contact (1997, dir. Robert Zemeckis)

A young astrophysicist decodes a signal from an alien intelligence. Good-hearted SF thriller from the Carl Sagan novel held together by fine performances and a positive outlook on space.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

An alien civilisation makes a series of contacts with life on Earth; one provokes a space mission. Still-extraordinary piece of mainstream SF with philosophical ambitions, plus a technical marvel. Essential viewing, even if it remains impenetrable to some.

Galaxy Quest (1999, dir. Dean Parisot)

The former stars of a Star Trek-like TV show are mistaken for genuine space heroes by an alien race searching for saviours. Three Amigos! / A Bug’s Life redux, perhaps, but with excellent casting, a sense of fun, and affection for genre and conventions (of both kinds) throughout.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018, dir. Ron Howard)

A Han Solo origin tale. After a clunky and stagey first act, this heist western SF hybrid finds its feet, even though its nominal lead is a black hole around which much more interesting support stuff occurs. Inconsequential.

The Beyond (2017, dir. Hasraf Dulull)

A wormhole appears near Earth; a solo mission into the anomaly is planned. Found-footage/mock-doc low-budget SF which has impressive CG, but a talky script happy to recycle Interstellar, Arrival, Avatar and many others rather than tell a story of its own.