While many science fiction films are full of things that most children would appreciate — such as bizarre aliens, futuristic spaceships, and sentient robots — the genre is generally not considered family-friendly. After all, this is a genre that includes everything from the chest-bursting critters in Alien, to the city-destroying mutant monsters of Godzilla. While most kids would probably love to meet a robot, a murderous cyborg with an inexplicable Austrian accent from The Terminator should probably not be their first introduction to robots in movies. Fortunately, there are some family-friendly sci-fi films out there that are still entertaining to watch, but won’t psychologically scar your children.
Earth to Echo, a Walt Disney-produced movie that lands in theaters on July 2, appears to fit squarely into the family-friendly niche of sci-fi films. Using a “found footage” narrative format similar to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project or 2008’s Cloverfield, Earth to Echo tells the story of a group of teenagers who investigate a series of garbled messages they begin receiving on their cell phones. Eventually the friends discover a robotic alien that sounds like R2-D2, but looks somewhat like Bubo, the mechanical owl from 1981’s Clash of the Titans. Based on the alien’s tendency to mimic what it hears, the friends dub the creature “Echo.”
While it remains to be seen if Echo will prove as popular a character as R2-D2, or even the incongruous Bubo, there are plenty of other age-appropriate sci-fi films for kids to enjoy today without making a trip to the movie theater. Here are five great sci-fi films that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.