Take a look at the highs and lows of extra-terrestrial movies
UFOs, extra-terrestrials, little green men – call them what you like, but the idea of life beyond our own planet has made for some amazing films. This summer a flurry of extra-terrestrial films like Transformers, UFO Uprising and Earth to Echo land on our cinema radars, so we took the opportunity to look over some of the best and worst alien films ever committed to celluloid. UFO Uprising in cinemas across Dubai from July 31.
The best Alien (1979). Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, John Hurt, We don’t think it’s possible to have a conversation about alien films without mentioning Ridley Scott’s ground-breaking Alien. In 1979 they didn’t have the CGI technology we see in films now, but Scott managed to create a film that terrified audiences, created a tangible sense of paranoia and fear without even showing the whole ghastly alien in a shot. In Alien, the crew of a commercial space ship, Nostromo, receive an SOS from an unexplored planet. The crew respond and, after finding nothing, they leave the planet but with an uninvited visitor aboard their ship.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote Not all aliens are frightening, some are so cute that you want to wrap them up in blankets and help them to the nearest phone. E.T. was the highest grossing film of all time for ten years, until Spielberg outdid himself again with Jurassic Park in 1993. Spielberg based E.T. on an imaginary friend he had when his parents separated, and perhaps that’s why there’s a heartfelt energy in this film that makes bug-eyed E.T. seem a little bit human – in his own way.
Men in Black (1997). Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino This one might seem like a weird inclusion, but it’s jam packed full of weird and wonderful aliens. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones star as members of Men in Black, a secret non-governmental agency that monitors alien activity on Earth. This film is full of family-friendly humour from both Smith and Jones, and a host of wise-cracking aliens. In the film, the duo from MiB are charged with finding the ‘Bug’, a cockroach-like alien, and stopping him from wreaking havoc across the galaxy.
Predator (1987). Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall Arnie might be all brawn but he and his crew get picked off one-by-one by an extra-terrestrial killing machine. As a sci-fi film, Predator works with the right amount of tension, action and gore to keep audiences glued. Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, a commando leading his team through the South American jungle on a mission to find survivors of a helicopter crash. As the crew realise they’ve been sent on a goose chase, the hunters become the hunted in the jungle. The Predator is an ugly piece of work when he finally reveals himself in the final scenes.
The worst Critters (1986). Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush A bunch of furry creatures from outer space descend on a small mid-western American town and essentially eat their way through everything in sight. When the comedy sci-fi film was released it was considered New Line’s answer to Gremlins, but we think Gizmo and co would have given the Critters a run for their money.
Alien vs. Predator (2004). Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova When this film was released ten years ago, there was a real buzz around it – two of the most fearsome aliens on celluloid pitted against each other in an inter-galactic, extra-terrestrial death-match. Fans may have hoped for the best of both – ruthless aliens facing off against skilled tech-savvy warrior Predators. Well, the premise is good but it doesn’t really deliver the all-out skirmish that was expected.
Starship Troopers (1997). Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer In the distant future the planet’s youth are encouraged to join the military, but what they don’t know is that they’ll be sent to war to fight a colony of killer alien bugs. The young hero, Johnny Rico, enlists to fight in the inter-galactic battle and gets through numerous bloody skirmishes with some help from his friends. The best part of an hour is dedicated to a messy battle that makes the stomach churn.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates Keanu Reeves plays an alien called Klaatu, a cold expressionless being, which seems to suit him down to the ground after his Matrix trilogy stint. The film is a remake of the 1951 classic about an alien visitor on Earth who has come to save the planet from its human inhabitants. Reeves gives a decent lead performance, but the film lacks the power of the original, so it makes you wonder why they bothered to remake it at all.