The Best Space Opera Movies, Ranked

With so many sci-fi genres, it can be difficult to fit certain movies into just one category. Space opera films are a good example. There are, fortunately, several criteria that separate them from other sci-fi genres. For one thing, space opera films tend to focus on futuristic adventures set in space.


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Unlike films set on Earth, space opera films feature multiple planets and alien species. More often than not, heroes are forced to face a threat that has the power to kill millions. At the same time, the real space opera retains a sense of comedy, adventure, and the excitement of experiencing space. The best space opera movies contain all the basics of the genre and make for a memorable watch.

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5/5 Galaxy Quest (1999)

Alexander Dane

When someone mentions a space opera, most people don’t usually think of Galactic Quest. However, the film fits the definition as it takes a group of different characters on an adventure through space that has them battling bad guys. What makes this movie different is that the heroes in question aren’t actual heroes, but rather actors who rose to fame playing heroes in a space opera television series.

As such, Galactic Quest has the ability to poke fun at the genre in a clever way, and he makes the most of it. It also serves as a parody of star trek as well as other science fiction films. The more familiar viewers are with the sci-fi genre, the more likely they are to enjoy everything Galactic Questjokes. Even without any prior knowledge, the movie still provides viewers with a fun story and a solid cast that includes names like Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Tim Allen.

4/5 The Fifth Element (1997)

The Fifth Element LeeLoo reaches out his arm

A common element to many space opera films, regardless of their story, is the ease with which they introduce new species and planets. The fifth Element again features the plan to save the day and defeat the villain, but at its core it’s also a story about exploring space and discovering all it has to offer. The sense of adventure and discovery is what separates space opera from other sci-fi films.

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The fifth Element has a unique visual aesthetic that reflects both the clothing and hairstyles of the characters as well as the settings in general. After the likes of star wars, it was also one of the first space operas to feature a prominent female heroine, Leeloo played by Milla Jovovich. With Bruce Willis’ Korben Dallas, the duo sets out to take down Gary Oldman’s villainous Zorg, and it’s a journey heroes and viewers alike are unlikely to forget.

3/5 Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 groot

After a series of MCU films mostly shot on Earth, the first guardians of the galaxy presented a journey to another genre: a space opera. A group of criminals join forces to embark on an epic adventure and save the universe in the process. Just like in some of the best space opera movies, the heroes have to find each other first before they can face off against the villain. They’re unlikely heroes because most of them are motivated by something other than saving everyone.

Their interactions along with the film’s action sequences and the inclusion of multiple alien species make for a colorful whole that MCU fans were happy to check out. The movie did well, so it got a sequel in 2017 that follows its overall mood and brings even more emotions to the table thanks to an unexpected death scene.

2/5 WALL.E (2008)

WALL-E

The space opera genre is most often associated with live-action movies. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule, and WALL.E is the highest rated of all. Like many space opera heroes, little robot WALL.E has no idea he’s about to embark on an adventurous journey. Instead, he lives his daily life until something happens that changes him forever.

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The film is visually stunning and allows audiences to explore many corners of the world in which it is set. Even though it doesn’t portray the future of mankind in the most positive way, it still contains hope, which is one of the important elements of space operas. which present the universe as a sometimes dangerous, but ultimately fascinating place, worth exploring and saving.

1/5 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

star wars a new hope

the star trek shows may have sparked the space TV opera craze, but when it comes to movies, star wars revived the genre and made it much more popular. The first film in the series contains all the necessary elements of a space opera: an action-packed and emotional adventure story, a budding romance, a (not so much) princess in distress and even a cowboy space (Han Solo).

The lighthearted vibe the film managed to maintain despite the high stakes worked on audiences who immediately grew to love star wars. The series also introduced one of the most important on-screen villains of all time in the form of Darth Vader. It is undeniable that without star warsthe world of space opera and science fiction in general would be very different from what it is today.

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