Aliens have been frightening cinema audiences ever since the mighty Klaatu visited our planet in The Day The Earth Stood Still back in 1951. And yet, despite their superior technology, strong starts (aliens always win the first battle with humans) and baffling insistence on landing in America, their plans for global domination tend to be thwarted with remarkable ease.
Will new alien flick Skyline, out in UAE cinemas on December 2, break this mould? On this evidence, it’s unlikely.
Superman II 1980
General Zod escapes from the Phantom Zone, visits Earth, realises he possesses incredible powers and decides to become Total Ruler of the Planet. He achieves this somewhat lofty ambition by knocking down the flag above the White House. Easy.
Alien’s superior strength: Everything Superman has, plus two sinister sidekicks, Ursa and Non.
Random battle dialogue: ‘They’ve killed Superman! Let’s go get ’em ourselves! C’mon, I know some judo!’
How we won: Sheer cunning. Superman fools Zod into sacrificing his super powers. Then he punches him really hard. Then he puts the White House flag back up. In your face, Zod!
Fear factor: 0/10
The Blob 1958
The Blob (probably not real name) arrives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania determined to eat all the townsfolk. They respond to this threat by pointing and screaming, until Steve McQueen discovers that the creature has an aversion to cold fire extinguishers. From there, it’s really just a simple matter of scooping it up and dropping it on the North Pole. Which they do. With a helicopter.
Alien’s superior strength: Size. It grows when it eats.
Random battle dialogue: ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!’
How we won: Pay attention – Steve managed to drop Blob onto the North Pole.
Fear factor: 3/10
Arriving from a faraway planet of big game hunters, the 7ft 2in Predator is here to bag human trophies. It’s not his first visit, either: locals say ‘the jungle who walks’ often pops over during a drought. Sadly, despite being a battle-hardened killer who travels through space just for a fight, he’s defeated by Dutch, an Austrian beefcake with a penchant for camo face cream.
Alien’s superior strength: Infra-red vision, cloaking device, plate armour, shoulder-mounted plasma gun, huge bomb and very ugly face.
Random battle dialogue: ‘Come on! Do it! Do it! Come on! Come on! Kill me! I’m here! Kill me! I’m here! Kill me! Come on! Kill me! I’m here! Come on! Do it now! Kill me!’
How we won: Quick fist fight, followed by a counterweight dropped onto its head.
Fear factor: 6/10
War Of The Worlds 2005
Men on Mars, envious of our world, decide to fit their battle tripods out with really loud horns and – you guessed it – attack! What do they want? They want to grow their red vines on Earth. What’s the harm in that? Well, only the fact that they use human blood as fertiliser. Good point. Let’s kill them!
Aliens’ superior strength: They drive fully submergible, heat-ray-packing tripods that harvest humans. Curiously, the aliens themselves are small and rubbish.
Random battle dialogue: ‘Maybe you will survive… Maybe they’ll take you as a pet or something. Teach you how to do tricks.’
How we won: We didn’t. Nature did. The Martians couldn’t cope with our bacteria. Think hay fever, but on a massive, head-explodes-every-time-you-sneeze scale.
Fear factor: 9/10
Independence Day 1996
Perhaps learning from Blob and Predator’s mistakes, these aliens came heavy-handed: one large mother ship, smaller attack ships (15 miles wide), fighter craft and a really powerful beam of light. If nukes can’t stop them, F18 interceptors can’t stop them and, indeed, everything the army has at its disposal can’t stop them, then what can? Will Smith can, apparently just via the medium of being funny and looking real good.
Aliens’ superior strength: Sheer size of numbers, plus their light beam, which they use to destroy the White House.
Random battle dialogue: Smith, after punching alien in the head: ‘Welcome to Earth!’
How we won: Good old-fashioned soldiering: interrogating captured aliens, using Morse code and being very, very brave. Oh, and the nuke they planted on the mother ship.
Fear factor: 10/10