11 Space Movies to Watch In 2016

The U.S.S. Enterprise appears to be torn apart in this scene from the first trailer of "Star Trek: Beyond," which arrives in theaters in July 2016
The U.S.S. Enterprise appears to be torn apart in this scene from the first trailer of "Star Trek: Beyond," which arrives in theaters in July 2016 (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The year 2016 won't be much of a year for realistic space movies, but apocalypse, beloved franchises like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek," and romance on an interstellar stage will make for a year of epic adventure. And frankly, we can't wait to see them all. 

Here is our guide to the most intrguing space movies of year, and maybe some surprising sci-fi finds:

"Moonwalkers" (Jan. 15)

Start off the year with this weird satire (based on a real conspiracy theory, apparently): A CIA agent is directed to hire Stanley Kubrick, legendary director of "2001: A Space Odyssey," to fake the moon landing in case the Apollo astronauts don't make it. When the real director proves elusive, the filming must go on — and hijinks ensue. 

"The Fifth Wave" (Jan. 22)

A young woman fights to save her younger brother and survive an alien invasion after four waves of alien attacks have destroyed much of the Earth. The film is based on a popular science fiction novel published in 2013 — it's one in a series, so if all goes well, you'll likely see more from this franchise.

"Lazer Team" (Jan. 27)

Humanity is sent a superpowered suit to defend against an incoming alien threat. The only problem is, instead of a highly trained "Champion of Earth" getting his hands on the suit, it's four random guys, each sporting a single piece of the high-tech armor. The online comedy group Rooster Teeth funded the project (the team's first full-length film) through the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. It will have a limited theatrical release and will also be released through YouTube's new paid subscription service.

"The Last Man on the Moon" (Feb. 26)

A new documentary follows the life of Gene Cernan, commander of NASA's Apollo 17 mission and the last man to walk on the moon. The film features new interviews with Apollo 12 crewmembers Alan Bean and Dick Gordon, Apollo 13 Cmdr. Jim Lovell, former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, and Chris Kraft, founder of Mission Control. Those interviews and rare archival footage are interspersed with Cernan's own recollections of the Apollo program and his life. (Space.com reported on the film's creation in December.)

"The Little Prince" (March 18)

A retired aviator describes his adventures with a little boy who lives on an asteroid to a young girl on Earth. Later, she is drawn into the story herself. The movie is inspired by the famous 1943 novella of the same name. The segments of the movie drawn from that classic story are filmed in stop-motion animation, while the rest is computer animated.

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (March 25)

Everyone's favorite Kryptonian alien, Superman, squares off against Batman in an epic-scale DC Comics crossover blockbuster. Plus, Wonder Woman joins the fight against a bigger threat. 

"Independence Day: Resurgence" (June 24)

Twenty years after aliens attacked Earth in the 1996 blockbuster "Independence Day," they're coming back — and the next generation of heroes prepares to fight them off. Although "Independence Day" star Will Smith won't be in the new movie, it will feature his character's stepson and about half of the original cast. Perhaps a line from the trailer referring to a looming alien ship best reflects this movie's main goals: "That is definitely bigger than the last one." The film features Joey King, Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth and Bill Pullman.

"Star Trek Beyond" (July 22)

The new generation of "Star Trek" heroes sets out again in their third movie. This time, they're stranded on an alien planet that doesn't seem to appreciate the Federation's incursion. It's the first of the new movies not directed by J.J. Abrams, so it'll be interesting to see what the new team brings to the table. (Screenwriter Simon Pegg, who also plays Scotty, and director Justin Lin have said they hope to recapture the spirit of the original show.) Plus, Idris Elba is cast as an original villain. 

"The Space Between Us" (July 29)

An online romance blooms between the first human born on Mars, played by Asa Butterfield, and a teenage girl living on Earth. He seeks her out, and the duo race to understand the mystery of his birth and secret upbringing (while dealing with the life-threatening embrace of Earth's gravity on the space-raised protagonist).

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (Dec. 16)

The first of Disney's stand-alone spinoffs of the "Star Wars" franchise is set in between the prequel trilogy and before "A New Hope" — following the rebel fighters who stole the Death Star's secret plans, which Luke later used to blow up the moon-size superweapon. Confirmed cast members include Felicity Jones, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen and 40 British soldiers. Stories like "Rogue One" will alternate with Disney's entries into the main series on a yearly basis.

"Passengers" (Dec. 21)

Jim Preston (played by Chris Pratt) wakes up from cryogenic sleep 90 years early on an interstellar voyage. Stuck awake among thousands of hibernating travelers, he decides to wake up another passenger, too (played by Jennifer Lawrence).

Some others to watch for:

"400 Days" (Jan. 12):In this movie produced by Syfy films, four astronauts make their way underground for a simulated deep-space mission. Then, things get scary.

"Terminus" (Jan. 22): A mysterious alien organism gives a man visions showing him how to prevent the Earth from destroying itself.

"Ratchet & Clank" (April 29):This film was originally slated for last year, but the galactic origin story of the beloved PlayStation video game characters is back with a new release date.

"A Beautiful Planet" (April 29):This vivid documentary made for IMAX screens will show Earth as seen from space.

"Captain America: Civil War"(May 6): These Avengers-focused Marvel movies often have space cameos one way or another, although this fight between Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) about superhero accountability seems particularly Earth-bound.

"Ice Age: Collision Course" (July 22):The fifth "Ice Age" installment ventures to space after a frozen flying saucer activates and the series' animals have to stop an incoming threat to Earth.

"Trolls" (Nov. 4):In this upcoming flick starring Justin Timberlake, the famous troll dolls from the '80s are aliens.

So which space movie are you looking forward to most this year? Let us know in the comments below and happy watching!

Email Sarah Lewin at slewin@space.com or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.