The Nerd's Watch: The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Streaming in April

Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars cartoon is coming to Disney+ this month.
Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars cartoon is coming to Disney+ this month.
Image: Lucasfilm

Though we may have begun turning a corner in the fight against covid-19, viewers are still turning to streaming entertainment more than ever and thankfully, companies are happy to oblige with tons of new content. At the start of each month, most streamers—such as 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.

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Welcome to The Nerd’s Watch, our monthly column where we curate the most interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies (and shows) coming to the biggest streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max all have new content for April 2021, so let’s get to it.


Netflix

Crimson Peak
Crimson Peak
Photo: Universal

Available April 1

2012 - John Cusack stars in this Roland Emmerich disaster film about the Earth’s crust shifting, causing all kinds of chaos, and the families trying to survive. It’s not great but the effects and destruction sure are pretty. (also on Hulu)

Insidious - James Wan and Leigh Whannell have become two of the biggest names in horror and that’s because they created first, Saw, and second, Insidious, about a family who is torn apart when their son is trapped in an alternate dimension. It’s dense, terrifying horror that kicked off a great franchise.

Leprechaun - Yeah, it’s a creepy horror movie about a killer Leprechaun played by Warwick Davis with co-star Jennifer Aniston. But I simply can’t think of this movie without thinking of Mike Myers saying “I’m the Leprechaun” in Wayne’s World 2. 

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The Time Traveler’s Wife - Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana star in a film that fits a personal favorite niche of sci-fi: the time travel romance.

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Available April 9

Thunder Force - One of Netflix’s big original films this month is this superhero comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. It looks like it could be pretty funny. Plus, Jason Bateman has crab arms.

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Available April 16

Crimson Peak - Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance starring Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Hunnam sometimes get lost in the director’s filmography but it’s a beautiful, moody movie that deserves some new attention.

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Synchronic - Enjoying The Falcon and The Winter Soldier? Want to see more of Anthony Mackie in moody sci-fi stories with cool mysteries and stuff? Well, Synchronic is just the thing. Read our review and watch a clip here.

Available April 22

Stowaway - Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette star in this Netflix original about a mission to Mars that goes off course when a stranger ends up on the ship.

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Available April 30

The Mitchells vs. The Machines - The latest animated film from producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who previously brought us Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and The LEGO Movie, won’t be in theaters. It’s on Netflix. And yes, it was meant for theaters originally but this story of a family who has to battle a digital revolution seems pretty perfect for Netflix.

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Amazon

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
Photo: Fox
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Available April 1

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter - I must admit, I wasn’t too familiar with this 1974 Hammer Films production but how can you not be intrigued about a movie about a master sword fighter who hunts vampires? (Also on Hulu.)

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How To Train Your Dragon - A young boy proves his worth to his people when he captures and befriends a dragon in this modern animated classic. Even just thinking about it, I can hear the score in my head. What a film.

Inception - In our mind, Christopher Nolan’s best film. Though, it’s possible that idea was planted in there while we were sleeping.

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The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen - This is not a good movie but it was one of the final films of Sean Connery’s career, the supporting cast is solid, and the comic that it’s based on, written by Alan Moore, is also excellent. So it’s probably worth giving another look, especially now since films of its type are much more prominent.

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Mad Max - Love Fury Road but never gone back to the roots of where that all started? Look no further as George Miller’s original Mad Max film is now streaming. (Also on Hulu.)

Minority Report - Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise team up for this Philip K. Dick adaptation about a man who stops crimes before they happen, and then gets accused of one himself. Good stuff here from some of the best in the business. It also stars Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell.

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Motel Hell - A cult classic horror-comedy about a group of farmers who kill people, plant them, and then serve them as meat. Think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre meets Psycho, but not nearly as good.

The Abyss - James Cameron’s obsession with the ocean, which you can later see in Titanic and soon in Avatar 2, can be traced back to this 1989 hit about a group of people who find a creature in the deep while on a rescue mission. (Also On Hulu)

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The Happening - You know you want to rewatch this So Bad, It’s Good M. Night Shyamalan film starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel about nature destroying humanity. To be honest, it probably does play differently in 2021 than it did in 2008.

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Available April 3

Blair Witch - Before director Adam Wingard helped Godzilla face off against King Kong, he resurrected one of the most influential horror franchises of all time. Many people don’t love this sequel but I think it’s great. (Also on Hulu)

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Available April 7

High-Rise - Tom Hiddleston stars in this very un-Loki film from Ben Wheatley about an apartment building that is so nice, there’s no need to leave. And so everyone inside goes mad and begins to do horrific stuff. The film is good, featuring a supporting cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss.

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Pulse - Though Wes Craven’s name is attached to this American remake of a Japanese horror film, he didn’t have much to do with it. Which is a shame because most believe this tech-driven ghost story starring Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder could’ve used some of his skills.

Trollhunter - Think Cloverfield, but with trolls in Norway. A super solid, underrated film.

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Available April 9

Them - This Amazon original series looks super promising, as a black family moves to an all-white neighborhood in 1950s Los Angeles and all types of supernatural nonsense begins. From the little we’ve seen, the show feels very much inspired by Lovecraft Country and the films of Jordan Peele.

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Available April 12

Spontaneous - We’ve heard nothing but good things about this 2020 romantic comedy with a horror twist. It’s about two kids falling in love in a world where their peers just start randomly exploding out of nowhere. Having missed this last year, we’re excited to check it out now. (Also on Hulu)

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Available April 28

Arrival - When spaceships randomly show up on Earth, a language expert and her team work out the best way to communicate with them. We think this film was one of the best sci-fi films released in the past decade. You’ll love it. (Also on Hulu)

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Hulu

Dude, Where’s My Car?
Dude, Where’s My Car?
Photo: Fox
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Available April 1

28 Days Later - Danny Boyle changed the zombie game with this visceral, gory, awesome film.

The Dead Zone - David Cronenberg directs an adaptation of a Stephen King novel with Christopher Walken as the star. If you knew nothing else, The Dead Zone is already a must-see. (Also on Amazon)

Dude, Where’s My Car? - Why is this here you’re asking? Well, don’t forget, the weird stoner comedy starring Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, and Jennifer Garner (if you can believe it) does, eventually, become about aliens. Which somehow fits perfectly.

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Hancock - Will Smith and Charlize Theron star in this massive superhero blockbuster that should have been better than it is. We did a recent review here. (Also on Amazon)

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Shrek 2 - My personal favorite of the Shrek films because it’s filled with so many dated pop culture references it’ll blow your mind. There’s an OJ Simpon Bronco chase in it!

Star Trek: Generations - Fans who had long dreamed of seeing William Shatner and Patrick Stewart share a screen got that chance in this 1994 Trek film which isn’t the best, nor the worst, in the franchise.

Virtuosity - Denzel Washington hunts down an AI serial killer played by Russell Crowe. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, what are you doing?

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Available April 12

Paranormal Activity 4 - I like all the Paranormal Activity movies but tend to blend together in my head. Four is the one where we get a better idea of where Katie, the woman from the first movie, has been since that story. (Also on Amazon)

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Available April 28

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4 - Yup. Still going.


Disney+

The Ewok movies are coming!
The Ewok movies are coming!
Photo: Lucasfilm
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Available April 2

Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - Ben Stiller plays a museum security guard who finds out everything in the museum comes to life at night. It’s a fun franchise and, in my mind, part two is even better. Because it has Darth Vader. (Part two is also on Hulu)

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Caravan of Courage, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor , Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume I-II, Star Wars: Ewoks - Season 1-2, The Story of the Faithful Wookiee - For Star Wars fans, this is a day that will be long remembered. It’s when Disney+ adds not just the two Ewok movies, but the original Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars shorts, Ewok animated series, and the animated segment from the Holiday Special. These are the weird pieces of Star Wars lore that Disney forgot when it first took over but are now embracing. Very exciting stuff.

Available April 16

The Kid Who Would Be King - What happened to director Joe Cornish after Attack the Block? He took a few years off, worked on a few things that didn’t come to fruition, and then directed this excellent kid-friendly fantasy that’s finally getting the life it deserves on Disney+.

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Rio - Two birds fall in love in this well-received hit animated film from Blue Sky. (Also on Hulu)

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Available April 30

Assembled: The Making of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier - The show itself ends the week before but afterward you’ll get this behind-the-scenes documentary about the Marvel show. Then it’s a few months wait till Loki.

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HBO Max

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider
Photo: Sony
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Available April 1

Dante’s Peak - Pierce Brosnan takes on a volcano in what, we think, is the better of the two volcano movies that came out around the same time.

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Dark Shadows - The team of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp reunited in 2012 for this remake of the cult TV series. It’s...okay, I think. Very weird. Good characters. But not all that memorable.

Dead Silence - Remember about 1500 words ago when I talked about James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s horror legacy? Well, in-between Saw and Insidious came the film that didn’t do as well, Dead Silence. It’s still pretty good but not quite those two films.

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Ghost Rider - I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, but that Nicolas Cage played Ghost Rider before the inception of the MCU is a travesty. Imagine if this franchise was part of that? Oh my god.

Green Lantern - Speaking of bad superhero movies that aren’t part of larger franchises.

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King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword - I thought this Guy Ritchie take on the classic tale was actually pretty good. While I’m definitely in the minority I feel like it deserves a little love. It stars Pacific Rim’s Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, and Eric Bana.

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The Mask of Zorro - Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are both sexy as all hell in this entertaining action-adventure film.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend - None other than Ivan Reitman directed this fairly unique film about a superhero, played by Uma Thurman, who gets a little too clingy with her boyfriend (Luke Wilson) forcing a whole bunch of wackiness to go down. This is one of those films you either love or hate.

Space Jam - With the sequel coming to the streamer in the next few months, it only makes sense that the Michael Jordan original finally makes its way home. The film is dated as all hell but still pretty fun.

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Stuart Little - The adorable mouse gets into some wild adventures in the film written by M. Night Shyamalan. This is only funny in retrospect because the family-friendly adventure is actually pretty sweet and nice.

The Warriors - Warriors! Come out and stream! (This is the director’s cut of Walter Hill’s gang classic)

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Available April 3

Ted - I very much enjoyed this R-rated teddy bear movie from Seth MacFarlane when it was released but something tells me it’s probably a little rough by today’s standards. Nevertheless, the Flash Gordon stuff is so, so great.

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Available April 10

The New Mutants - Let’s face it. You probably did not see the final mutant movie from Fox, which went through years and years of complex delays and controversies. Now you can and, frankly, it’s not bad (it’s not great either). There’s some good stuff but you wish for more from this team.

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Available April 16

Mortal Kombat - Not the first movie. This is the new, ultra R-rated one from director Simon McQuoid that hits HBO Max the same day it hits theaters. We have high hopes for this game adaptation.

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Available April 17 

The Dark Knight Rises - Who would have thought in 2012 it would be ten years between this film and the next solo Batman movie? Wild right? Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of Rises but it does bring Christopher Nolan’s story to a close in a satisfying way.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo. Formerly of Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and Slashfilm. AP Award-Winning Film Critic and CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.

DISCUSSION

ertorre
E. R. Torre

The Warriors - Warriors! Come out and stream! (This is the director’s cut of Walter Hill’s gang classic)

Ack...!

Stick with the theatrical cut, if you can find it.

The Director’s Cut is just not anywhere near as good. It’s the one that features the comic book-y chapter breaks and... man, much as I love director/writer Walter Hill and much as I consider The Warriors one of his very best films, the Director’s Cut is a big disappointment.

(For what it’s worth, my second favorite Walter Hill written/directed film is The Driver -no relation to the Ryan Gosling film- but it would have been so much more awesome had Hill managed to coax Steve McQueen to play the protagonist, as he originally wanted.  Just the thought of seeing McQueen go up against Bruce Dern at his most unhinged is enough to make me wish I could visit the alternative universe where that film exists... having said that, Ryan O’Neal isn’t horrible in the titular role)