10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (2024)

Sci-fi movies are known for consistently pushing boundaries, bringing stories to life that never felt possible before. For the most part, studios tend to get their target audience correct with their age ratings with sci-fi films. The result of this is a wide array of worlds to choose from, suitable for a variety of different ages to enjoy.

However, there are some instances where sci-fi films have been watered down to cater towards a more family-friendly tone. Because of this, there are some films that have missed out on their true potential, afraid to venture into darker territory. Here are some sci-fi films that definitely should have been R-rated.

Divergent (2014)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (1)

Divergent was one of the most popular movie franchises of the 2010s, with teens all over the globe falling in love with Veronica Roth's work. Yet, if you were to go from the movies to Roth's novel, you might be in for a bit of a shock. Compared to the films, the novels are significantly darker, with the films either cutting out or toning down a lot of the content. Of course, this is all done for a good reason, as many fans of the books wouldn't have been old enough to see the films otherwise.

However, Divergent probably would have felt a lot more effective had it been rated R. Given the fact that it's set in a dystopian society, the leading characters are often facing high stakes. The DVD and Blu-ray of Divergent does feature some gorier scenes, such as a Dauntless initiate's eye being stabbed, but these were all sacrificed for the rating. While the film is still a faithful adaptation of the book, an R-rating likely would have helped to highlight the brutal nature of the society they live in.

The Meg (2018)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (2)

Compared to most shark movies, The Meg takes on a more fun, action-packed approach. For this reason, the film was never going to be rated R. The film takes society's unwarranted fear of sharks and doubles it by introducing the prehistoric Megalodon to audiences, a 75-foot shark. This should be enough to terrify audiences, and yet it never seems to fully work due to the goofier nature of the film. It's fun to see Jason Statham take on the beast, reducing a lot of risks that the leading characters would have had to have faced.

While it was clear that The Meg was always aiming for a PG-13, an R-rated cut of the film does exist. Director Jon Turteltaub has stated that while the cut does still use the movie's humor over horror, it is significantly more gory. Considering its mixed responses from critics, the film probably could have benefited from showing more blood and guts. It would have made the Megalodon feel more like a threat, rather than something for Statham to play around with for 1 hour and 53 minutes.

World War Z (2013)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (3)

Similarly to The Meg, World War Z also takes a popular horror concept and waters it down for it to be more family-friendly. In fact, it doesn't actually seem possible for there to be a zombie film that's not rated R, and yet World War Z managed to avoid it at all costs. Because of this, the film loses out on a lot of the aspects that make zombie movies so scary, opting to be more political and action-based. It feels like a waste in some ways, considering the zombies featured in the film are quite different to anything seen on screen before.

Additionally, the film's PG-13 rating still doesn't feel appropriate. While there's definitely no heavy blood or gore to be worried about, the zombies are still terrifying in their own right. Scenes such as the opening zombie transformation and plane scene feel like they'd be too intense for younger teens, and yet their age certification still remained. It's definitely a great introduction into the genre for younger audiences, but it could have been so much more.

Terminator: Genisys (2015)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (4)

The Terminator movies are known for their violence, yet there was a brief stint where the movies were avoiding an R-rating. Both Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys received PG-13 ratings, moving the franchise further away from its roots. The franchise became iconic because of its violence and grittiness, yet its main priority was to open it up for younger audiences. Interestingly enough, Terminator Genisys does feature scenes that would have gotten it an R-rating back in the day, but due to changes in the MPAA, it wasn't what you'd consider an R-rated movie by today's regulations.

Related: 10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Get a Prequel

The Hunger Games (2012)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (5)

Like Divergent, The Hunger Games was one of the most popular franchises of the 2010s. Given the fact that the film is quite literally about children being forced to fight each other to the death for entertainment, it wouldn't be unfair to expect more violence. Of course, given the film's heavy political themes, too much violence may have taken away from the story it was trying to tell. Yet other films with similar messages, such as Battle Royale, have shown it's possible to effectively combine the two.

The Hunger Games not being R-rated meant that a lot of the novel's scariest moments had to be cut from the script. One of these scenes includes Peeta, who is sent to finish off a girl who has been stabbed by a spear. Removing scenes like this is actually a disservice to his character, who is a lot less complex in the films and more flight than fight. Peeta also loses his leg in The Hunger Games novel, whereas it's slightly injured in the film, despite this being a huge turning point for his character.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (6)

The Battle Angel Alita manga series is exceptionally violent, so it's safe to say that Alita: Battle Angel's PG-13 rating was shocking. While the film features some incredible fight scenes, they're notably less bloody in order to make the film more accessible for a younger audience. In many ways, it works, but ultimately, it drastically changes a lot about why fans love the manga so much. Cyberpunk is a genre that's supposed to be dark and gritty, and yet the film lacks this in ways. It didn't need to feature scenes such as heads getting blown off, but it could have been more faithful to its source with an R-rating.

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (7)

The live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell has far more to worry about than its age rating, but not being rated R definitely didn't do it any favors. While both the anime and manga of the same name don't rely on violence, the story is far too complex to risk being watered down. Because of this, it becomes another generic, action-fueled sci-fi, losing a lot of its thriller and cyberpunk elements. Because of this, the live-action Ghost in the Shell doesn't have a grittier, more adult approach to the movie's overarching themes of identity and artificial intelligence. As a result, the film is left feeling hollow, with the films more accessible PG-13 rating still not being enough to bring in a larger audience.

Alien vs. Predator (2004)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (8)

Considering that films in both the Alien and Predator franchises are rated R, it makes no sense for a film pitting the creatures against each other to be a PG-13. Yet Alien vs. Predator did just that, and like most films on this list, sacrificed gore and horror for action. The Xenomorphs and Yautja are easily two of the most brutal killers in cinema, and yet Alien vs. Predator didn't use any of this to its advantage. Instead, it cared more about pointlessly retconning both universes, confusing moviegoers even more.

It's a shame, as Alien vs. Predator is a highly promising premise. In fact, it probably would have been a lot better had it followed the 1989 Dark Horse comic run of the same name. Instead, both creatures lose each of their franchise's hard Rs in exchange for less violence and a terrible plot. Even profanity is censored heavily out of this film, which feels totally alien in respect to both the Alien and Predator franchises. Even though an R-rating might not have completely saved this film from itself, it definitely would have made it more entertaining.

Related: 10 Sci-Fi Movies That Are Better Than Their Source Material

RoboCop (2014)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (9)

RoboCop's (2014) leading actor, Joel Kinnaman, previously came under fire for falsely claiming that the reboot would be R-rated. In fact, he was even quoted as saying that "only an idiot would make RoboCop a PG-13 movie." Of course, the reboot ended up being exactly that. Compared to the original RoboCop trilogy, the reboot significantly toned down a lot of the violence. Instead, it wanted to focus more on the growing fears most moviegoers today have about artificial intelligence.

If the plan was to make RoboCop more sanitized, then the studio would have been better off creating a new film altogether. While 2014's RoboCop isn't the worst film in the world, it doesn't feel like a RoboCop film at all. The whole point of the original films is that RoboCop is supposed to be an allegory for Jesus Christ, saving a crime-ridden Detroit. Because of this, violence is critical to the plot, not just by showing the 'crucifixion' of Alex Murphy, but to also critique the ways in which society is desensitized to violence.

Jurassic Park (1993)

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (10)

Jurassic Park is easily one of the best films ever made, but it should have been R rated. While its PG-13 rating is largely why the franchise is so popular, it's become too derivative from its source material. Michael Crichton's novel is essentially a horror story, really emphasizing the danger of bringing these creatures back into existence. The film obviously focuses on this, but there's no true evil or greed at the heart of the story. Instead, many characters, such as John Hammond, come across as simply misled, rather than being driven by profit and ambition.

As a result, its watered-down story removes a lot of the key themes that Crichton explored in his work. The Jurassic Park novel itself is loosely based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, using the mathematical concept of chaos theory to warn the world about genetic engineering. The result is a complete bloodbath that sees Isla Nublar become napalmed, which is all left out of Spielberg's adaptation. While it's a shame that Jurassic Park was toned down, it's likely that an R-rated version could appear later down the line due to the franchise's popularity.

10 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Have Been Rated R (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Duncan Muller

Last Updated:

Views: 6285

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duncan Muller

Birthday: 1997-01-13

Address: Apt. 505 914 Phillip Crossroad, O'Konborough, NV 62411

Phone: +8555305800947

Job: Construction Agent

Hobby: Shopping, Table tennis, Snowboarding, Rafting, Motor sports, Homebrewing, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Duncan Muller, I am a enchanting, good, gentle, modern, tasty, nice, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.