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

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And the actual movie gets so much weirder than this image.

And the actual movie gets so much weirder than this image.Image: Warner Bros.

Streaming is more important than ever. As huge numbers of people stay home during the global pandemic, many have turned to the plethora of services for a much-needed escape. At the start of each month, most streaming services do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some off, and we’re here to help with 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 coming to the biggest streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney+ are all ready for July, so let’s get to it.


Spaceballs forever.

Spaceballs forever. Photo: MGM

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Netflix

Available July 1

Batman: Mask of the PhantasmOne of the best Batman movies comes to Netflix, and now’s as good a time as any to rewatch.

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Clash of the Titans – The 1981 version, not the 2010 version. Which is all that really matters. Beyond that though, this fantasy epic is worth it for the incredibly cool Ray Harryhausen work alone.

Cloud Atlas – Now is the time to rewatch this wildly polarizing film that earned reactions from “unbridled masterpiece” to “huge piece of crap.” I land on the former; I love this wild, ambitious, sci-fi epic.

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Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – Since Netflix has the Neil Patrick Harris series, it’s only right that it has the Jim Carrey movie too.

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Paranormal Activity – If The Blair Witch Project started the modern found-footage horror genre, Paranormal Activity revitalized it. The tale of a home haunted by a demon is still scary as hell.

Poltergeist – I recently named Poltergeist one of the best summer blockbusters of the ‘80s, and if you’ve never seen it, now you can find out why it made the list. In short: it’s flat-out excellent.

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Sleepy Hollow – On the spectrum of Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaborations, Sleepy Hollow is admittedly near the bottom. But the effects in this spooky fairy tale are worth a stream.

Spaceballs – Mel Brooks’ hilarious send-up of Star Wars was some people’s post-Return of the Jedi introduction to the franchise. It still holds up, too, as a goofy, lovingly offensive, sci-fi spoof.

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Stardust – Based on the Neil Gaiman work, this unfairly underrated fantasy was directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro. It’s an incredible fantasy adventure that does not get close to the respect it deserves.

Sucker Punch – Before he releases the Snyder Cut, you can now revisit maybe the most Zack Snyder movie of Zack Snyder’s career: the visually stunning, incredibly disappointing Sucker Punch. But hey, Oscar Isacc has a small, creepy role in it!

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Swordfish – Here’s what I want you to do with Swordfish. Put it on, watch the first 10 minutes or so, and after the awesome VFX shot (you’ll know the one) you can turn it off. The rest of the movie, despite its incredible cast, is mediocre, but that opening is straight fire.

The Devil’s Advocate – Really, you can’t go wrong with this excellently trashy movie starring Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves as a couple who have to go up against Al Pacino, a powerful NYC tycoon who is actually Satan. Look at that photo at the top of this article!

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The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part III – In anticipation of the impending debut of Cobra Kai, Netflix is adding the first three Karate Kid films. If you haven’t seen them, what are you doing? If you have, watch them again and get ready for the glory of love.

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The Witches – As we wait for the Robert Zemeckis remake, bask in the malevolent glory that is Anjelica Huston in this Jim Henson-produced adaptation of the Roald Dahl story.

Total Recall – Get your ass to Mars and enjoy the original Arnold Schwarzenegger Total Recall, a kick-ass, sci-fi ride that’s endlessly quotable and tons of fun.

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Available July 3

JU-ON: Origins – This Netflix original series is a new, expanded adaptation of the Japanese horror film series that turned into the U.S. franchise The Grudge. So basically, it’s a Grudge TV show. We haven’t seen it, but we’re intrigued.

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Available July 10

The Old Guard In terms of highly anticipated Netflix original films, it’s hard to get bigger than The Old Guard. In this adaptation of the graphic novel by Greg Rucka, director Gina Prince-Bythewood tells the story of immortal warriors, lead by Charlize Theron, whose powers are suddenly exposed. The trailer looks awesome and we hope the film lives up to our expectations.

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Available July 30

Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy I don’t know much about this series other than it’s being described as an origin story for the whole Transformers universe. Ummm, yeah. That sounds amazing.

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Available July 31

The Umbrella Academy: Season 2 Fans have been waiting and season two is finally here.

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Before he was Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds was Buried.

Before he was Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds was Buried.Photo: Lionsgate

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Amazon

Available July 1

Anaconda – If you’re telling me you haven’t seen this giant snake movie starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, and a very over-the-top Jon Voight, well, you know what you’re doing on July 1. Anaconda is ridiculous and bad, and yet also wildly entertaining.

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Big Fish – Hard to call a big-budget Tim Burton movie “underrated,” but Big Fish probably is. It’s a sad, poignant, gorgeous film about a son dealing with his dying father. Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor lead an incredible cast in this must-see.

Buried – Do you like being scared? Do you like Ryan Reynolds? Then you should probably check out Buried, an intense thriller about a man who is buried alive. So, yes, it all takes place inside a coffin. Not really “genre” as we define it here but it’s super unique and worth seeing. (Also on Hulu.)

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Hollowman – Audiences just fell in love with a modern remake of The Invisible Man and this film, from 2000, tells a similar story. It’s not as socially conscious but the effects are cool and it has Kevin Bacon in it.

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The Devil’s Rejects – Personally, I can’t say I love Rob Zombie’s brand of gritty, grindhouse horror movies, but I know lots of people do, or at least might want to give them a shot. Now, streaming will allow that. (Also on Hulu)

The Forbidden Kingdom – Both Jackie Chan and Jet Li star in this 2008 martial arts epic, and while that doesn’t make it automatically “good” by any means, we’d watch anything either of those stars are in. (Also on Hulu)

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Available July 11

Vivarium – It only got a VOD release due to the ongoing pandemic, but here’s your second chance to check out this super creepy, ultra interesting sci-fi film starring Jesse Eisenberg. Watch a clip here.

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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is coming.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is coming.Photo: Warner Bros.

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Hulu

Available July 1

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The one that started it all. Kristy Swanson plays the vampire killer in a comedic way writer Joss Whedon didn’t really intend, so he just rebooted it on TV years later. But that doesn’t take away from the fun of this Buffy, which also stars Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, and the late Rutger Hauer and Luke Perry.

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The Devil’s Candy – Movies like this are why I write this column. Odds are you haven’t heard of this 2017 film starring Ethan Embry (currently featuring in season two of the new Twilight Zone) as the father of a family who moves into a haunted house. But it’s intense, scary, and surprising. Think The Shining if Jack Torrence was Mick Jagger. Such a rad movie. Read more here.

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Freddy Vs Jason and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare – Most horror fans would say the early Nightmare films are the best ones and that’s 100% accurate. But growing up, I was always a little partial to the cheesy later ones, and you don’t get cheesier than these two. I love them.

House of 1000 Corpses – Rob Zombie’s horror coming-out party is gory and gross and not all that great, but it’s become something of a staple of the genre so, it’s certainly worth a stream. Follow it up with the aforementioned sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, also coming to the service.

Liar, Liar – Jim Carrey’s 1997 hit comedy may not seem like a typical genre movie, but is it actually possible to make a magic wish that stops a person from lying? No? Then, yeah, we’re talking genre.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – “Everything I do, I do it for you.” Words that reverberated throughout the ‘90s thanks to the Bryan Adams song from this Kevin Costner epic. It’s a great adventure film with an excellent cast and was so popular Mel Brooks made his own parody of it. That’s the mark of success.

Spider-Man 3 – Dark Spider-Man dancing. That’s it. That’s the write-up.

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Available July 10

Palm Springs – Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti co-star in a time-loop romantic comedy that’s even better than that sounds. Think Groundhog Day meets Wedding Crashers with a whole lot more romance and heart. We’ll have more on this one soon but mark your calendar. You won’t regret it.

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Available July 10

Bolt – When people talk about Disney animated classics, the film Bolt never comes up. But, this 2008 action-comedy starring John Travolta as a famous spy dog is wonderful. Miley Cyrus voices his handler, the music is great, and the fact it’s coming to Hulu when it’s already on Disney+ is kind of funny.

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Punch it on Disney+.

Punch it on Disney+.Photo: Disney

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Disney+

Available July 3

Hamilton – Obviously Hamilton is not sci-fi or fantasy, but the fact that the wildly popular Broadway musical is coming to streaming in a matter of days is such incredible news, it feels like it’s coming from another galaxy, so, here you go.

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Available July 10

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Two years after its release and a few days after its departure from Netflix, the most debated Star Wars Story finally comes to its home on Disney+. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Either way, it’s time to rewatch the origins of a young Han Solo.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past – Yes, the X-Movies are coming to Disney+. Yes, that’s awesome, just like this excellent, mind-bending sequel.

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Available July 17

X-Men: Apocalypse – One week Disney gives you maybe the best X-Men movie. The next week, you get maybe the worst. This one. Just so bad.

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Available July 24

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Maybe I’m alone in this (in fact I’m pretty sure I am) but I think Pirates 5 is right up there with parts two and three. And if you didn’t see it, now you can check it out on Disney+.

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Available July 31

Incredibles 2 Picking up minutes after the first film, Brad Bird’s excellent sequel is among the best Pixar movies in recent memory.

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Muppets Now – The first original Muppets series on Disney+ takes a peek behind the curtain of the famous entertainers, much in the way the new movies did. If the show is half as good as those (well, the first one mostly), it’ll be a must-watch.


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