Can You Name the Sci-Fi Movie From a Single Sentence Summary?


By: Ian Fortey

7 Min Quiz

Image: Lucasfilm

About This Quiz

Science fiction movies are about as old as movies themselves. In fact, the first known sci-fi movie, "Le Voyage Dans la Lun," otherwise known as "A Trip to the Moon," dates back to 1902. You probably have at least seen part of the movie before in which a rocket fired from the Earth hits the man in the moon square in the eye. It was a short film that was more about showing off the novelty of film and what, at the time, would have been some truly awe-inspiring effects. It showed that science fiction was an amazing way to tell stories by speculating about what could be. And it still does that today.

Whether you're dealing with killer robots or friendly ones, alien menaces or sinister computers, journeys to the far reaches of the galaxy, or survival in the post-apocalyptic world of tomorrow, there's plenty to keep you entertained in science fiction. But if you're a true connoisseur, then we feel pretty confident you can identify at least a few of these movies based on nothing more than a single sentence description of them. If you know your Star Trek from your Star Wars, take the quiz and show your stuff! 

In which movie does a powerful young man get enlisted to help a rebellion overthrow a sinister empire and try to save the galaxy?

The first "Stars Wars" ever made, "A New Hope," introduced all the characters that have shaped pop culture for more than 40 years now, including Luke Skywalker, whose original name was going to be Starkiller.


Artificial intelligence keeps human minds captive in a simulation while their bodies are used for energy. What's the movie?

1999's "The Matrix" is a groundbreaking sci-fi flick starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, a hacker who comes to realize he's not who or where or even when he thinks he is. Word is the Wachowskis are hard at work on the fourth part.


A friendly but stranded alien meets a young boy who helps him get back home in which movie?

Steven Spielberg's "E.T." is a classic of the genre and also a rarity since it's one of the few movies about benevolent aliens rather than destructive ones. It almost wasn't that way though was the original plan had a much more sinister E.T. in it.


Which of these movies involves a teenager accidentally traveling to the time when his parents first fell in love?

The movie that took Michael J. Fox from star to superstar, "Back to the Future," almost didn't even star Fox. They actually started filming the movie with actor Eric Stoltz but decided they didn't like him and went with Fox instead.


An elderly billionaire funds an amusement park filled with cloned dinosaurs in which of these movies?

One of the most popular sci-fi movies ever and the first of a multi-billion dollar franchise, the first "Jurassic Park" is based on the book of the same name by author Michael Crichton. He also wrote the book for the first sequel.


A parasitic life form runs amok on a cargo ship killing nearly the entire crew in which creepy sci-fi classic?

The original "Alien" was a masterpiece of terror and featured one of the most amazing scenes ever filmed — the chestburster scene. None of the actors except John Hurt, from whom the alien appears, knew precisely what was going to happen in that scene with the gore and spurting blood. Their terrified reaction was real, and actor Veronica Cartwright literally passed out.


The crew of the USS Enterprise must match wits with a genetically enhanced super-criminal who wants revenge against their captain. What's the movie?

In "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," genetically enhanced superman Khan Noonien Singh wants revenge on Captain Kirk for marooning him on a dead planet years earlier. Rumors have existed for years that said Ricardo Montalban wore a chest prosthetic in the movie, but the film's director insists that was legitimately the 62-year-old actor's real chest.


In a post-apocalyptic future, a woman tries to rescue the wives of a despotic warlord with the help of a mysterious stranger. Do you know the movie?

The fourth film in the franchise, "Mad Max: Fury Road," was hugely popular and featured some fantastic performances from actors like Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Aside from the "Mad Max" films, director George Miller s best known for movies like "Babe" and "Happy Feet."


An advanced cyborg is sent back in time to the 1980s to kill the mother of the human resistance in the future before he's even born. What movie is it?

The James Cameron classic "The Terminator" started a franchise that's still going to this day. The head of the studio originally wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the part of Reese, while OJ Simpson was his choice to play the Terminator.


In what movies does the cast of a sci-fi TV show get mistaken for the real thing by aliens who need their help to save their species?

"Galaxy Quest" is a great take on "Star Trek" and a good sci-fi movie in its own right. In the year 2013, it was actually voted the seventh greatest "Star Trek" movie of all time at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.


Humanity ventures into space to discover the origins of a mysterious object found buried beneath the surface of the moon in what movie?

A classic of the genre, "2001: A Space Odyssey," is considered one of the best sci-fi films ever made. Stanley Kubrick allegedly tried to take out an insurance policy in case aliens were discovered before the movie was finished so he wouldn't lose money.


In which movie does a young boy get abducted and raised by aliens before joining a ragtag group of intergalactic misfits to save the galaxy from sinister forces?

One of the surprise hits in the MCU, "Guardians of the Galaxy" was based on a pretty obscure comic book. In the movie, Vin Diesel provides the voice of Groot and actually did the voicework for numerous alternate language versions of the film as well.


Astronaut Matt Damon gets stranded on another planet and must fend for himself until help arrives in what movie?

"The Martian" proved to be a hugely popular film and was one of the few science fiction movies made in recent memory that tales an entirely realistic approach to the topic. No aliens or speculative concepts, just the basic premise of what happens when an astronaut gets stuck on Mars.


In what movie does a man who can enter people's dreams use his technology to try to implant a thought in someone's head?

Christopher Nolan's 2010 "Inception" is one of those movies fans and critics love because aside from being well-written and acted, it's also mysterious. The ending is ambiguous, and people still debate whether it's a dream or reality, or whether the main character is even alive.


Antarctic researchers discover a terrifying alien capable of changing shape and hiding in plain sight. Do you know the movie?

John Carpenter's "The Thing" is horror/sci-fi at its best. It's actually a remake of sorts, based on the '50s classic "The Thing From Another World." As David Cronenberg did with "The Fly," Carpenter updated the story from corny to terrifying.


After an attempt to stop climate change failed, the last humans on earth live together on a massive train that never stops running. What's the movie?

The sleeper hit "Snowpiercer" is based on a graphic novel and stars Chris Evans, best known as Captain America as well as Tilda Swinton, who played the Ancient One in "Dr. Strange." The movie has also been adapted into a TV show.


In which film would you find a police officer specially trained to hunt down elusive criminal replicants that look and act just like real people?

The classic sci-fi "Blade Runner" featured Harrison Ford as a cop whose job it is to hunt down replicants. Since the film's release, fans have been debating whether or not Ford's character Deckard is a replicant. Ford has stated he thinks no, while the director has at times said yes and at other times left it for the viewer to decide.


Alien refugees are exploited and mistreated by the government until a random accident empowers one man to help one of them escape in which film?

"District 9" was filmed in South Africa and became hugely popular while stirring up some political controversy for the way it depicted some characters, for instance, the Nigeria criminals. Director Neil Blomkamp has said he wants to make a sequel someday.


In which movie does a scientist experimenting with teleportation become a freakish mutant when his DNA is crossed with an insect by mistake?

David Cronenberg's "The Fly" is a masterpiece of sci-fi/body horror in which Jeff Goldblum accidentally teleports with a fly, and his computer merges their DNA into a new and terrifying life form. The sequel was somewhat less successful and starred Eric Stoltz as the son of the Fly.


Extra-dimensional aliens attack Earth until humans create massive robot warriors to fight them off in which movie?

Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" was a bit of a love letter to the old Godzilla movies, especially in terms of how language is used in the film. The monsters that appear are called "kaiju," which is the same term monsters in films like Godzilla are called in Japanese cinema.


Mysterious alien seed pods arrive on Earth and begin replicating all humans. Do you know the movie?

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is a classic of sci-fi that has actually been made several times. The first movie dates back to 1956, but the 1978 remake is likely more well known. It was made again in 1993 and then again in 2007 and, believe it or not, it's being developed yet again.


Do you know which movie involves space marines being sent to investigate the disappearance of a terra-forming colony and encountering very hostile life forms?

"Aliens" is one of those few movies that manage to rise above the original film in the franchise and presents a near-perfect sci-fi action horror movie. The little girl who plays Newt never acted again and went on to become a teacher.


Mankind goes to war with arachnids from outer space after the bugs destroy Buenos Aires in what movie?

Part tongue-in-cheek and part sci-fi action, "Starship Troopers" features a whole lot of bugs being destroyed and a whole lot of over the top violence. It also featured Neil Parick Harris as a psychic in the military.


A police officer is saved from near death by an experiment that makes him more machine than man. What's the film?

"Robocop" was a biting satire wrapped up in a brutal sci-fi film about commercialism, capitalism, and free enterprise. Although Peter Weller moved convincingly as a robot in the movie, that wasn't entirely by choice. The costume was so stiff and hard to deal with he didn't have much maneuverability.


Alien invaders can warp time until humans exposed to their power manage to reset the same day over and over by dying repeatedly. Can you guess the movie?

First released under the name "Live Die Repeat," "Edge of Tomorrow" featured Tom Cruise replaying the same day again and again in an attempt to defeat an alien scourge. As you should have come to expect from Tom Cruise, the actor did most of his own stunt work.


A cab driver from the future must help a mysterious woman save the entire universe in which of these movies?

The highly stylistic "The Fifth Element" featured Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis. It also featured Chris Tucker in a role that was written for Prince, but Prince turned it down after calling the costumes too effeminate.


Exposure to a bizarre drug causes a woman to tap into the full potential of her brain with incredible results in what movie?

Starring Scarlett Johansson, the movie "Lucy" was soundly criticized for featuring some horrible science as it relates to how much of your brain you actually use. Oddly, director Luc Besson admitted he knew it made no sense; he just liked the idea anyway.


Aliens arrive on Earth and a group of people tries to communicate with them in this film. What is it?

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" had to go through a heck of a lot of actors before Richard Dreyfus got the role. No one wanted to be in the film for whatever reason, and it was turned down by Steve McQueen, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino and more.


An astronaut returns to Earth only to discover man is no longer the dominant species. What movie is it?

"Planet of the Apes" inspired numerous sequels and a very popular remake trilogy, plus a less popular single remake as well. Most people don't remember the Tim Burton version of the movie that starred Mark Wahlberg that had a baffling ending in which the Lincoln Memorial was a chimpanzee.


A soldier inhabits the body of an alien to study the indigenous life and ends up fighting with them against humanity to save the planet. What's the movie?

James Cameron's "Avatar" was an unprecedented success and, for years, was the highest-grossing film of all time. There are several sequels currently in the works that Cameron has been working on for quite a while.


In which movie do invaders from another world lay waste to the Earth until a young man fights them with the music of Slim Whitman?

The movie "Mars Attacks" was based on a series of trading cards, one of the few films to ever be able to make that claim. They came out in the year 1962 and were extremely controversial thanks to their gruesome imagery.


Small, furry, carnivorous aliens run amok on a farm until intergalactic bounty hunters come to destroy them in which movie?

The movie "Critters" is one of those cult classic B-movie gems that is still around today as a new installment in the franchise came out in 2019. The movie was actually written before "Gremlins" came out and then had to be rewritten to get rid of some similarities so audiences wouldn't think it was a rip-off.


An alien comes to Earth and warns humanity that they must learn to live in harmony in the universe or be destroyed. What's the movie?

The 1951 movie "The Day The Earth Stood Still" was also remade with Keanu Reeves in 2008. The Army refused to be involved in the film after reading the script since it depicted them in a poor light. The National Guard was more than willing to help out, though.


A robot designed for war is struck by lightning and comes to life then escapes to save himself in what movie?

The sci-fi comedy "Short Circuit" introduced the world to Johnny 5, the loveable robot who comes alive and wants to stay that way. In the original story, Johnny was supposed to have been a human who had all his biological parts save for his brain stripped away and replaced by robotics, but that was scrapped for being too creepy.


In which movie does a computer engineer get downloaded into a virtual world run by a sinister program?

1982's "Tron" was cutting edge stuff when it first showed up, but it didn't get much credit for it. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts disqualified it from the running for a visual effects Oscar because using computers was "cheating."


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