Done right, dystopian films can boast some of the most interesting stories you can find in any medium. Unfortunately, Netflix mustn't have received the memo, because their selection of high-concept dystopian flicks leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Still, we've rounded up some of the best the streaming service has to offer and actually managed to pluck out a few hidden gems we hadn't seen in years. And even if that's not enough for you, we've got one of the best John Carpenter movies ever made included in today's list. That alone more than justifies going with this theme.

Discover: 101 Movies You Should Watch on Netflix


Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble in Little China

"You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn... call the president."

First of all, why hasn't Big Trouble in Little China been on this guide before now? Over 30 weeks I've been writing this series, and I've somehow managed to overlook one of Netflix's greatest movies. John Carpenter's action film is absolutely rocking (and we say that without even a tinge of irony - it's that good), kicking ass like some kind of '70s hair metal song personified. Carpenter's film is just cool; from the score to the plot to the actors, everything comes together to make a ridiculously entertaining film that, on paper, should have bombed. Kurt Russell, in particular, is on form as an all-American trucker who gets himself caught up in a magical martial-arts conflict with an ancient Chinese prince. I'm just going to stop there; if that's not all you need to know then that's all I need to know about you. Watch this damn movie.


Equilibrium (2002)

Equilibrium

"I'm not feeling! He's the one who's feeling!"

Equilibrium's dystopian universe that sees human emotion replaced by a mass of enforcers blindly following government orders at first seems like an absolute drag. But it's not all bad, as it doesn't take too long before Christian Bale decides to put his knowledge of shooting people in increasingly extravagant ways to good use in an attempt to overthrow the world's emotionless dictators. Coming out not long after The Matrix, Equilibrium does feel a bit like a knee-jerk reaction to appropriate everything that made that film interesting, with more than a handful of visuals seemingly ripped straight out of the Wachowski's pop culture definer. But even then it's never really a problem as Equilibrium uses these elements to create a satisfyingly explosive dystopian story in its own right.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

"They'll either want to kiss you, kill you, or be you."

Realistically, you don't want to start on the third part of The Hunger Games series. But because neither the first film nor the superior sequel are on Netflix currently, it means that Mockingjay Part 1 will have to do. Which isn't a big deal actually, because this film more than its predecessors really gives you the chance to explore its young-adult dystopia. While it feels a bit familiar these days (every other teen novel and film has appropriated its stylings over the past few years), the world of The Hunger Games still feels tangible and tactile, boasting well thought out lore and mythology. There's surprising complexity here, even if the films themselves don't always capitalise on it as much as they should have.


Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell

"Your standard-issue Big Gun."

Ghost in the Shell doesn't really do anything with its dystopia theme that we haven't seen before, but it probably does it better. Chronicling a world where everyone lives a life plugged-in to "the network" (the '90s were really scared of the internet), the film never underutilises its setting, creating a richly detailed playground for the bombastic set-pieces that take up much of the running time. A beautifully animated cyberpunk nightmare full of robocops, hackers and faceless internet zombies, Ghost in the Shell is one of the best dystopian flicks you can watch on Netflix.


Robocop (2014)

Robocop

"Dead or alive, you're coming with me."

Even if it wasn't necessary, the 2014 Robocop remake was nowhere near as bad as many of the critics claimed it to be. Although it's not a patch on the absolutely essential original, this reinterpretation retains plenty of the elements that made that first film so intriguing, even if it does sacrifice most of the rougher edges for a wider appeal. However, it does completely nail the atmosphere of a totalitarian dystopia, creating a brilliant backdrop for the bulk of the action. While the rest of the film doesn't quite do this set-up justice, its mere presence elevates what would have otherwise been a rather generic sci-fi action film to higher levels of quality.