7 New Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movies to Watch in December 2021

December is often a big month for movie releases hoping to be fresh in mind for Oscar contention, usually bringing a large number of high-cost, high-polish films to the screen even for genre storytelling. This year is no different, with some long-awaited science fiction movies finally seeing release alongside some lesser-known films that look as if they're swinging for the fences. This includes everything from the next Spider-Man movie and the long-awaited follow-up to The Matrix franchise to some unexpected movies that combine sci-fi and fantasy with comedy and Christmas stories.

The big surprise, however, is just how many sci-fi and fantasy movies are skipping a theatrical release to come straight to streaming networks, with many movies airing simultaneous on-demand and in theaters while others heading directly to veiwers' televisions for at-home watching. Here are the science fiction and fantasy movies to watch out for in theaters and streaming this December.

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Encounter

Encounter follows a marine and father, played by Riz Ahmed, whose latest mission is to rescue and protect his children from what looks to be a pod people-esque alien invasion. While trailers have revealed little about the science fiction threat within the movie or much about the plot, Encounter promises to use aliens only as a backdrop for a more family drama-focused film. The movie is sure to worm its way into viewers' hearts by taking the best from multiple genres and focusing on the personal connections between the characters.

Directed by Michael Pearce and starring Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Rory Cochrane, Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada, Encounter will have a limited theatrical release Dec. 3, 2021 prior to a full release on Amazon Prime Video Dec. 10.

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Portal Runner

One of the less splashy releases for December, Portal Runner follows Nolan, a teenager who has discovered that he can use mirrors as portals to travel to worlds that are similar to his own but always slightly off. But things turn grim for Nolan when he realizes he's being followed by an evil monster from one world into the next. When Nolan stumbles into a world with a quirky version of his own family, he enlists the help of his older sister to put a stop to the monster for good and save Christmas. Portal Runner is an unassuming holiday sci-fi story that just might be the perfect thing to watch this season.

Directed by Cornelia Duryée and starring Elise Eberle, Sloane Morgan Siegel, Carol Roscoe and Brian S. Lewis, Portal Runner will be available on streaming platforms and on-demand Dec. 10.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home

The third of the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home ensures that the superhero film falls solidly in the sci-fi/fantasy realm. This time around, the teenage superhero tries to deal with his newfound fame after his secret identity is revealed. After enlisting the help of sorcerer Doctor Strange, he accidentally opens up the gates to the multiverse bringing villains from previous iterations of his own stories. Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of the most anticipated releases of December and is sure to be a delight for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe looking for things to get a little weird.

Directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau and Marisa Tomei, Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters Dec. 17.

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Mother/Android

In a world where androids are common and helpful, Mother/Android asks the expected question: what happens when they turn against us? One pregnant woman, determined to survive the android uprising along with the father of her child, must journey to Boston in order to give birth in the only safe place available. While escaping the robot apocalypse may not be a new plot device, the almost zombie-like actions of these androids provides a fresh take. With human appearances torn to reveal robo-skeletons, the androids of Mother/Android promise something new for the genre, while Moretz, Smith and Castillo bring a welcome humanity into the story.

Directed and written by Mattson Tomlin and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Algee Smith and Raúl Castillo, Mother/Android is scheduled for release on Hulu Dec. 17.

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The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections is the long-awaited fourth installment in the Matrix series that set the world aflame in 1999. The unsuspecting Thomas Anderson, Neo's pre-awakening name from the original movie, must reconnect with his love Trinity and choose to once again follow the white rabbit and enter the Matrix, which has become more dangerous than ever before. The details of the plot have been kept hush, though star Keanu Reeves has called it a love story first and foremost, with some of the expected mind-bending action. But honestly, the plot doesn't particularly matter -- The Matrix has been part of the zeitgeist for so long that new stories in the beloved universe like The Matrix Resurrections are sure to draw a crowd.

Directed by Lana Wachowski and starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Jada Pinkett Smith, The Matrix Resurrections premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 22.

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Don't Look Up

With a star-studded cast headed by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, Don't Look Up follows two scientists who have discovered a planet-destroying comet on a trajectory to demolish the Earth. When the scientists try to share their news and warn the public, they're met with disbelief and ridicule. It's a funny idea, made even funnier (perhaps) by how close to home it hits. Don't Look Up looks to be a must-watch for December but perhaps also makes funny and palatable the idea of scientists faced with an apathetic, capitalistic public.

Written and Directed by Adam McKay and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, Don't Look Up will have a limited theatrical release Dec. 10 ahead of its streaming debut on Netflix Dec. 24.

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Hilda and the Mountain King

The full-length Hilda and the Mountain King is the follow-up to Netflix's animated series Hilda, based on the graphic novel of the same name. Though Netflix has kept quiet about the specifics of the movie, it likely stars the cast of the series and follows the story of the graphic novel. The young Hilda must negotiate the neighboring worlds of humans and trolls in order to regain her own human form but also save the Troll city of Trolberg. Hilda and the Mountain King is a family-friendly fantasy story that is the perfect way to ring in the end of 2021.

Hilda and the Mountain King is slated for release on Netflix Dec. 30.

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About The Author
E.L. Meszaros (271 Articles Published)

E.L. is a writer who unironically believes that most things are games. She is currently a graduate student in the history of the exact sciences in antiquity, and *has thoughts* about ancient math and modern astrology alongside good tutorialization and immersion. She has shared these thoughts (and her writing) with digital venues like Eidolon, Lady Science and First Person Scholar. In her downtime, E.L. enjoys puzzle games, ARGs, lyric TTRPGs, handstands and trapeze. You can follow her (and recommend GM-less storytelling games) on Twitter.

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