ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!"
Ricky Derisz

Should aliens ever land on Earth, there are two distinct possibilities of what the outcome will be. The first, all-out war. The second, peace. Considering humanity's track record, it's probably a safe bet to err on the side of the former, but that doesn't mean an attempt at mediation would be futile.

Denis Villeneuve's centers around the fragility of such a mediation, the unthinkably high-stakes stand-off between human and extra-terrestrial. It's a scenario that has played out on cinema screens numerous times for decades, with the results a mixture between both extremes of harmony and violence.

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Below are some of the best imagined scenarios of what would happen if us humans ever encounter an entirely different, non-Earth bound sentient race. Seen Arrival? Move on to these next. Not seen Arrival? These will whet your appetite. It really is win-win.

7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Director: Steven Spielberg

Legendary director dabbles in multitude of genres, with almost everything he touches turning to box office gold. Two years after he revolutionaized horror with Jaws, his directorial follow-up turned to science fiction.

Close Encounters is an alien contact story with a twist; rather than a hostile, serious threat — which was common for movies around that era — our intergalactic neighbours are depicted as humane and peaceful.

As well as eight Oscar nominations (winning one), many aspects of the movie are now ingrained in pop-culture, including the iconic theme tune.

6. Alien (1979)

'Alien' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
'Alien' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Director: Ridley Scott

From peaceful alien encounters to... not so peaceful. Alien is one of the most defining movies of both horror and the sci-fi, spawning a host of face-hugging sequels that continue to present day, with the release of Alien: Covenant next year.

The story centers around the crew aboard the spaceship Nostromo, and their subsequent hapless battle with a deadly extra-terrestrial who cunningly infiltrates the ship. It's a film that has aged incredibly well, relying on old-school tension building techniques to get under (and burst out of) the audience's skin.

5. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

'E.T' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
'E.T' [Credit: Universal Pictures]

Director: Steven Spielberg

I'm not saying that there are aliens living amongst us, integrating into society in stealth-mode, gaining intelligence, understand the way we function, collecting data to either annihilate or fix all the world's problems, but, if there were, I wouldn't rule out Steven Spielberg being one of them.

On top of Close Encounters, the director produced more pro-alien propaganda with E.T., the story of the lovable (see: also a bit terrifying) alien who befriends a school kid in his request to return home. As alien encounters go, it's one of the sweetest and arguably one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.

4. Independence Day (1996)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Alien contact receives the Emmerich treatment in Independence Day, a movie focusing on the colossal battle against an extra-terrestrial attack that threatens to ruin humanity.

It's undeniably fun, features larger-than-life effects that were way ahead of its time, and features and at the top of their collective, alien destroying game. If nothing else, it's worth a watch to see Will Smith's Captain Steven Hiller punch an alien in the face.

Note: If you've seen this too many times already, it could be worth checking out this year's belated sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.

3. Contact (1997)

'Contact' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Contact' [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Director: Robert Zemeckis

From one extreme to the other, Contact— based on a novel by cosmologist Carl Sagan — is much more subtle in its execution than Emmerich's in-your-face blockbuster, perhaps making it suitably similar to Arrival's delicacy.

Jody Foster stars in the lead role as Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a scientist who is later chosen to make first contact with extra-terrestrial life. The film is bursting with compassion for other life forms, while also tackling the philosophical grey areas between religion and science.

2. District 9 (2009)

Director: Neill Blomkamp

South African directing sensation Blomkamp exploded onto the scene with District 9. It's a forward-thinking and unique alien invasion story that places a social framework around the question: What would happen if aliens became a part of our society?

The premise centers around District 9, a government camp in Johannesburg that has housed an alien community for almost three decades. Sharlto Copley's charisma in the lead role — memorable for his reference to said aliens as "fooking prawns" —combined with tackling serious themes of xenophobia and social segregation, make it a must watch.

1. Under the Skin (2013)

'Under the Skin' [Credit: A24]
'Under the Skin' [Credit: A24]

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Alien contact films such as Arrival provide a great platform to explore serious issues that can be applied to society. Under the Skin is a great example, using 's enigmatic and lustful extra-terrestrial to tell the story of an alien being on a path of self-discovery.

It's not an easy watch, with a fair share of hard-hitting scenes, and it's a film that'll leave you reflecting days after viewing. However, there aren't many movies that play with our perception of beauty, femininity and racism in such a unique and compelling way.


Will you be watching 'Arrival'?

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