(WARNING: This post contains multiple SPOILERS, so proceed with whatever caution your respective world leaders advise.)
With Denis Villeneuve's #Arrival hitting theaters this week, now seems like the perfect time to look at one of the most entertaining sub genres in sci-fi: alien invasion movies.
As a species, we crave knowledge of what other life lurks out there among the stars, but we're ready to go to war with any extraterrestrial beings that come to our planet as a threat. These are the 12 best movies that feature aliens invading our home turf.
12. War Of The Worlds
#StevenSpielberg's version of H.G. Wells' story is a genuinely scary #TomCruise-lead sci-fi film. Spielberg focuses on one family, the Ferriers, as they struggle for survival when aliens come down to Earth and begin to harvest human beings. The film does have its downfalls, such as the really questionable decision to have Ferrier's son abandon his family and join the army halfway through the film and the undeniably poor ending that should have been scrapped immediately. Still, the first half of War of the Worlds is solid and terrifying.
Say what you will about #MichaelBay and his #Transformers franchise, I believe the first film was great and should have been the start of a fantastic series, but we know how the sequels turned out. #ShiaLaBeouf stars as Sam Witwicky, a high school kid who accidentally gets stuck in the middle of an ancient alien war between the Autobots and the Decepticons — two rival factions of a race whose planet was destroyed by war. The Autobots serve to protect life in all its forms, the Decepticons' mission is to rebuild their home no matter the cost. The first film in the infamous franchise was action-packed, funny and visually stunning. Michael Bay set this larger-than-life war in a realistic setting, the characters fit into the world and the stakes felt high. Unfortunately, the sequels didn't pan out as well.
10. Pacific Rim
Aliens from another dimension have sent large and terrifying monsters to our world in hopes of destroying it. Thankfully, we have a counter measure: gigantic, mechanical, battle robots called jaegers. A portal opened up in the Pacific ocean, and these kaiju monsters come through in many different forms, and our military are on standby to prevent these beasts from wreaking too much havoc. The story for #PacificRim is undeniably simple, but the action and world building is where this film succeeds. Guillermo del Toro breathed so much of his unique style into this world, that it's disappointing to hear he won't be returning to direct the sequel.
9. The World's End
Edgar Wright's final film in the Cornetto Trilogy saw Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return as high school friends, who, along with three other of their old buddies, go on a pub crawl that they failed to complete in their youth. However, when they return to their old town of Newton Haven, things aren't what they should be. As the night progresses, the gang discover that everyone in the town has been impersonated by an army of alien robots, and they must fight to escape, but also finish their mission and make it to the World's End pub. This final entry in Wright's unofficial trilogy was filled with great action, effective humor and a brilliant performance by Simon Pegg.
8. Man Of Steel
Again, this is another controversial pick. #ManOfSteel was the first film in #DC's cinematic universe — a darker and more emotional take on the character of Superman. Kal-El a.k.a. Clark Kent was sent to Earth as a newborn child as his home planet was on the brink of destruction. The hope of his father was that he could unite two worlds, but when General Zod and his army come down to Earth, they aren't so diplomatic. They want to retrieve the Kyrptonian codex from the body of Clark, terraform Earth and create a new Krypton. Man of Steel is a highly controversial superhero film, many like myself believe the film to be absolutely wonderful and a great reboot of a classic DC character, but other's believe it to be Zack Snyder yet again going overboard with CGI action and betraying many characteristics of Superman. To those naysayers I say, this is the beginning of a new #Superman story. He needs to evolve and grow into the classic hero that we know from the old films and comic books.
7. The Avengers
Obviously, we think of The Avengers as more of a superhero ensemble piece as oppose to an alien invasion film, but a big, blue portal opens up in the sky and an intergalactic army of Chitauri fly down and open fire on the city of New York. The #Avengers assemble and fight these aliens and save the world, but it won't be the last time their world is threatened. The galaxy knows of them know, and they will be challenged again. What Joss Whedon did with the first Avengers film was nothing short of remarkable. He brought together six different superheroes, four of which had previously had their own standalone films, in a cohesive and instantly classic entry in the superhero genre.
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Yes, 10 Cloverfield Lane is, in fact, an alien invasion film. What appears to be an intense kidnap drama surprisingly transformers into a sci-fi movie within the final act. When Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) escapes Howard's (John Goodman) bunker, she realizes that the world has not been ravaged by a chemical attack like Howard believed, but aliens have come to Earth. In the final minutes of this brilliantly intense drama, Michelle singlehandedly takes down an alien ship and drives into the city to help fight off the alien invaders.
5. The Thing
#JohnCarpenter's sci-fi horror classic is an absolute staple of the genre, thanks to its intense character stakes and brilliant use of practical effects. Many of you might not know that #TheThing is actually a remake of the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, hence why we all shouldn't bash the idea of movie remakes, because sometimes they're better than the original. The Thing is a snowbound horror film that plays on claustrophobia, paranoia and mystery. The alien in this film has the power to take on the form of others, so we never know which member of the expedition crew has been killed off and is being impersonated by the alien. For an extension of the story and the lore, check out the 2011 prequel film.
M. Night Shyamalan's Signs is one of the films that still make me believe there's a quality filmmaker inside him somewhere. Mel Gisbon stars as Graham, a farmer and priest who wakes up to mysterious crop circles on his farm. As he investigates the mystery, he discovers things that will alter the lives of his family forever. Signs is a brilliant film that delves into the real-world phenomena of crop circles. Yes, the ending does unfortunately let the film down, but up until the point where the aliens are defeated with water, #Signs is absolutely gripping and Gibson is great in the lead.
3. Edge Of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise is back on this list again in the 2014 film that featured him as Colonel William Cage, a military deserter who is forced to go into the heat of battle against a technologically advanced alien race. When Cage kills an Alpha Mimic, the blood of his foe kills him, but gives him the ability to die and restart the day, which might just be the key to defeating this alien enemy. With the help of Rita Vrataski, Cage becomes a perfect soldier and the only hope of saving the world. #EdgeOfTomorrow is the rare action film that successfully (and effectively) plays like a video game. Through trial and failure, Cage slowly learns how to defeat the enemy in this Groundhog Day-style scenario. It's action packed, visually fantastic and it's one of Cruise's best performances.
2. District 9
Neill Blomkamp's real-world feeling alien invasion film is unique in the way it presents the story. It begins as a documentary and evolves into an intimate character study of a man who is becoming an alien. #District9 succeeds because it proudly brings up social concerns. Set in an alternate reality South Africa where aliens are confined to slums, this brilliantly witty film offers heroes and villains on both sides of the conflict.
Sure, it may be too soon to tell, but upon leaving the preview screening of #Arrival last week, I knew that this my absolute favorite film I'd ever seen in the genre. What Arrival does is not open gunfire on the strange alien objects floating in the sky. In fact, we barely see any of the actual aliens. Instead, it focuses on an expert linguist who is hired by the military to decipher and learn this alien language in hopes of learning why they've come to Earth. Amy Adams plays that linguist and it's one of the best performances of her career. The film is stunning to look at, entertaining from beginning to end and the most emotional film I've seen in 2016 so far. It's an absolute masterpiece that you must see when it hits theaters later this week. Check out my full review of Arrival.
What's your all-time favorite alien invasion movie? Let me know in the comments! Don't forget to check out Arrival when it hits cinemas on November 11th and make sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest news, reviews and lists!