Mucho buzz is building for the new alien invasion flick, Arrival, slated to arrive in a theater near you on November 11. Director Denis Villeneuve, whose credits include Prisoners, Sicario, and the highly anticipated Blade Runner reboot, has brought to the screen a thoughtful, cerebral, and emotional sci-fi epic, according to just released reviews from Venice (warning: review contains spoilers). Check out the trailer for yourself:
Such "grown up" alien flicks are not the norm, since most involve slimy baddies from another galaxy blowing up all our famous buildings real good and plotting to take our natural resources to ensure their survival. Yes, I'm looking at you, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Battleship, and countless others. Sadly, most of the genre consists of mindless action films with little or no plot or character development. So, it is telling that this flick is being released in November, which IMO means that it has much more to offer than your standard summer popcorn disaster movie. That got me thinking about the other, more cerebral, extraterrestrial contact films of the past. So if this type of movie floats your boat, then your helpful author has a few suggestions for other "grown up" sci-fi for you to take a gander at.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
The granddaddy of the sprawling, thinking man's sci-fi movie. At times enthralling, sometimes confusing and frustrating (but never boring), this epic from Director Stanley Kubrick raised the bar from all the bargain basement spaceship B-movies from the '50s and '60s. From the "Dawn of Man" to space flight and beyond, Kubrick challenged our preconceived notions of space, time, death, and the meaning of life itself. Add to that the cray cray ship's computer HAL trying to kill the crew, and you have one barn-burner of a story! Don't have three hours to spare? Then watch 2001: A Space Odyssey in just five minutes:
Seriously though, my suggestion is to watch the movie in all it's glory. You won't be disappointed. Next on the hit parade we have:
Contact might not be as well known as other alien movies, but Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future Trilogy, Tales from the Crypt, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) did a bang-up job adapting the Carl Sagan novel of the same name into a thought-provoking treatise on religion, the universe, and just who else is out there. Jodie Foster plays a scientist who found alien signals 26 light years away from Earth during her work on the international SETI project, and makes contact with the alien species (with surprising results). At times, the movie gets mired in PC religious foolishness, since Foster's character is an avowed atheist, but the overall tone of the movie effectively looks at what it means to be a human being in this vast universe, and where we fit in it. Oh, and there are definitely some whiz-bang sequences like this one:
So this leads us to the ultimate "grown up" alien contact movie of all time:
1. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, is the template for all alien invasion movies that followed. It forever changed the fundamental cinematic belief that all aliens are bad and bent on the destruction of humanity. Spielberg accomplished this by having ordinary people inexplicably attracted to the location of the alien landing, and their compulsive journeys struck a chord with audiences worldwide. The notion that there are other good and kind beings elsewhere in the universe was, believe it or not, a radical idea when the movie came out. For changing the collective mindset of his audience, Spielberg deserves major kudos. Check out the spine-tingling contact scene from this one-of-a-kind work of art:
So there you have it — 3 "grown up" extraterrestrial movies to tide you over until Arrival. Your turn: Are you stoked to see Arrival? Do you have your own list of movies that I missed?