Aliens have visited Earth for a number of different reasons in movies. Sometimes for war, other times for exploration and in a few moments they are just creatures that have come down to the blue planet.
In this list, I’ll share some great flicks where aliens visit Earth, regardless of their intent and whatever the genre.
10. The Faculty – 1998
This late 90s horror flick took an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” idea and placed it in a high school setting, making for a fun and creepy picture. The film has some great ‘creature feature’ effects and mixes it with teen characters that are actually more intelligent than an average horror movie would have.
The film seems to fly under the radar and it seems like not many people have seen it. If you haven’t watched it, check it out. Yes, the plot used by the aliens (taking over human bodies) has been done before, but this was an interesting take.
9. Evolution – 2001
Another underrated picture, this early 2000s film was goofy, cheesy and silly in all the best ways. The movie stars David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott and Julianne Moore. The film follows their characters in a sort of ‘rag-tag group of heroes’ sort of way, where they are all different but can still work together.
While the CGI is rather outdated now, the movie is still a blast to watch as a fun throwback to old B-movies.
8. War of the Worlds – 2005
Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” is one of the more intense alien movies from recent memory. It’s a survival picture where so many things keep happening to the point where you never feel quite safe. The protagonists make it somewhere and immediately another problem occurs, leaving the audience on the edge of their seat.
Along with Spielberg’s skills, the movie also features solid performances from Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning.
7. Super 8 – 2011
Directed by J.J. Abrams, “Super 8” was a film that captured a lot of childhood wonder and adventure the same way “E.T.” did a few decades before. The movie featured good performances all around from its young cast and there were plenty of thrills and mystery from start to finish.
This is one of those movies where the conflict is actually a launching point to explore the characters themselves and Abrams found the right balance with taking a look at the protagonists while still featuring the alien element.
6. Pacific Rim – 2013
Instead of coming from the sky, aliens come from the sea in “Pacific Rim.” To fight the giant alien creatures that come from the ocean, humanity builds huge robots in this 2013 film, and seeing the two clash is pure popcorn movie bliss.
The designs of the robots and the invading monsters in this movie are incredible. Plus, the cast featuring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman and Charlie Day make it worth watching.
5. District 9 – 2009
The debut feature for Director Neill Blomkamp remains his best work. “District 9” is able to do so many things on an emotional and political level and still manages to be an exciting sci-fi flick to boot.
The movie features a phenomenal performance from Sharlto Copley and also accomplishes the difficult task of making an emotional, sympathetic connection with the alien species, despite them not speaking a human language. This makes the political message of the film have more of an impact and the action in the climax much more engaging.
4. Edge of Tomorrow – 2014
“Edge of Tomorrow” is a brilliant sci-fi action flick and it’s really a shame that it didn’t do better at the box office. The film features an interesting character arc for the lead protagonist, played by Tom Cruise, and fantastically uses the “Groundhog Day” format of reliving the same day in an action setting.
Rounded out with an awesome performance from Emily Blunt, a story that can keep an audience guessing and action that leaves a person on the edge of their seat, “Edge of Tomorrow” is easily a sci-fi classic.
3. Independence Day – 1996
I’ve heard all the complaints. Some say it has too many characters, other say the way the humans overcome the aliens is too preposterous. Despite it all, I love this movie. From Will Smith’s energetic performance to Bill Pullman’s delivery as the President of the United States and even Jeff Goldblum’s computer tech genius. All of the performances seem to mesh and work well together.
Also a strong point for “Independence Day” is the action, bolstered by solid special effects for their time. The film has so many memorable moments from the time the ships arrive, to the time they attack major cities and the sequences of air combat. It all adds up to an exciting blockbuster.
2. E.T. – 1982
Spielberg really worked his magic in “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” Remember what I said about “Super 8?” “E.T.” was the movie that did it first.
This is a film that really has it all, good characters, smart writing, a range of heavy emotions, thrills, excitement and an amazing score.
1. The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is still my favorite movie where an alien race comes down to our planet. The film was very much a product of the post-World War II era, just as the Cold War was starting up.
In that sense, it does what a sci-fi film is supposed to do: tell an interesting story while delivering a point and making an audience think. Michael Rennie’s performance as Klaatu was also on point and Gort is one of the all-time memorable sci-fi creatures.