Is there a child in your life that you want to spark a love of science fiction? If so, then here are a couple of starting movies to make sure they’ve seen. These aren’t the best sci-fi, or the most foundational, but simply the ones that children are most likely to enjoy, and ease them into the genre, before watching Star Trek or even E.T.
A lot of these are Disney movies, because not only does Disney make good kids movies, but also Walt Disney himself had a love of the Utopia world of tomorrow, as you can see in his parks, both with Tomorrowland and Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). I have a strong feeling that Walt Disney would have been a huge Star Trek fan, if only it hadn’t come out only three months before he died.
These are ordered in a way that I think would be a good first time viewing order.
Meet the Robinsons
This fun movie helps kids to open their minds to imagination in a science fiction setting. The movie follows a small boy, Lewis, who dreams of becoming a world-class inventor. However, it seems that his ambition makes it so he doesn’t get adopted as soon as he could have. Until one day, he is taken to the future, a future full of amazing technology, by another young man who believes that Lewis’ genius is real, and his inventions are being sought after by villains of the future. The idea that the future can be however great you can make it is an inspiring story for children, and puts their imaginations into the endless landscape that science fiction often requires.
Another fairly easy to understand concept, this movie is a spin-off of the popular Jumanji. In it, two young brothers find an old board game to play, while their older sister baby sits them. Unfortunately, this board game is more than they bargained for, as it shoots their house into space, where they must fight off evil lizard aliens, and try to make it back home before a murder-robot kills them first. It’s a fun movie that’s easy to follow, and reminds us that we are not alone.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
The last common setting of science fiction, behind space or the future, is the great technology of the forgotten past. This movie follows a team of mercenaries who discover the Lost City of Atlantis. Once they arrive, they find that after the city sunk, all of the inhabitants survived through amazing technology that is still centuries ahead of our own. This Verne-inspired story is a fantastic entry way into that genre of sci-fi, with a fun cast of characters, and a lot of adventure.
This fantastic Pixar film follows a garbage cleaning robot, who has been left on Earth, after the humans abandoned the planet due to it’s extreme pollution. Eventually he finds himself on the space-cruise-ship that humanity has been living on for the past few centuries, in utter laziness. This movie expands on the ideas from Meet the Robinsons, in that it’s all about the incredible technology of the future. It does, on a low level, introduce the idea that what might seem like a utopia, could actually be a dystopia, which is a common sci-fi theme.
Lilo & Stitch
For the most part, this movie is not overly science fiction, as it’s about a broken family living in Hawai’i, trying to make ends meet. However, the premise of a failed genetic experiment from an evil scientist alien, who has been jailed for his crimes against the Galactic Federation, arriving on Earth to wreak havoc, is a sentence that is extremely sci-fi. Between the “humans living in space” of WALL-E with the “interplanetary Galactic Federation” of Lilo & Stitch, suddenly the premise of shows like Star Trek aren’t too far fetched for new, younger, audiences.
Possibly the most underrated movie on this list, a science fiction retelling of the classic story Treasure Island, a young boy finds a map to a hidden planet that is filled with treasure. However, he must survive the pirates that are aboard his ship who want the treasure for themselves, and are willing to kill anyone along their path. This movie is full fledged sci-fi, between Verne’s style technology, humans and aliens living side-by-side, and the endless expanse of space-based adventures, even if you aren’t a kid, you need to see this movie if you haven’t already.
Star Wars: A New Hope
The last step to making a life-long sci-fi fan, is reintroduce them to the first Star Wars film. It’s unlikely that they don’t know what Star Wars is, or have seen any of the movies. However, with the backdrop that these previous movies set up, the gravity of A New Hope is given much more context in terms of what science fiction is and could be. Of course, once you’ve gotten here, you can continue their sci-fi journey in a million different directions, but they finally have a context of what this genre is, and how to talk about it and enjoy it.