This week’s Top 5 Friday category was chosen by @BSchwarz95, give that page a follow!
The science-fiction genre has always been popular in books and movies, and with the current CGI possibilities, these movies have the potential to be better than ever. In celebration of the release of Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival, we’re taking a look back at our favorite movies with aliens. Note: these aren’t the movies that I think use aliens the best or the most, but simply have aliens in them. So, without further adieu, let’s get to it…
5) Edge of Tomorrow. Doug Liman‘s adaptation of a Japanese manga called “All You Need Is Kill” (glad they changed the title) was a marketing disaster. First of all, the movie was marketed repetitively with the tag line “Live. Die. Repeat.” and such an emphasis was placed on those words that many thought it was the title. The movie bombed at the box office, losing a bunch of money, and was released on DVD and Blu-ray with two different titles. All of that is a shame because this movie is a love letter to classic sci-fi alien films. I was reminded a lot of Aliens in this film, which I’ll get to later, with the blending of war and sci-fi together, and a kick-ass female lead. The story is about a military officer who is sent on the front line when the planet goes to war against an alien force. He dies on the battlefield, getting alien blood into his system, which allows him to restart the day and live it over again, learning from his mistakes until he is a good enough warrior to defeat them. This movie was so much fun to watch, and although it’s about restarting the day over and over again, it never feels redundant or dragged out; everything moves in a fast pace, all to a climax that is just breathtaking. These aliens were just nothing that we have seen before on film, and not just about how they’re able to restart the day, but the way they look is terrifying and beautiful, and they’re as intimidating as a xenomorph. This film as of now is an underappreciated gem that is just a must-watch for any fans of alien films, or sci-fi, or movies in general.
4) Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel makes a movie about a talking alien raccoon and a walking alien tree, and it destroys the box office… this would have sounded like a joke a decade ago, but looking back on this film, it’s very easy to see how this is so beloved. There’s nothing better in an alien film than an alien that the audience can love, such as E.T. or Chewbacca, and we are given so many of those characters in this film to appreciate. This film is mostly reminiscent of Star Wars, as we see a blended cast of characters who begin as strangers, but must team up to defeat a force that threatens to take over and rule the galaxy. Even down to some of the specific personalities and skills of these characters is very much like Star Wars, but this film manages to stay original and exciting the entire time, and I never felt like I had seen any part of this movie before. Best of all, the soundtrack that accompanies the score is catchy and invigorating, and absolutely worth buying on it’s own. I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel, and am excited to see how these movies will tie in even closer with the rest of the MCU.
3) The Empire Strikes Back. This film set an extremely high bar for franchise sequels, as The Empire Strikes Back raised the stakes and took the story to heights that the first film wouldn’t have ever dreamed of. In this film, we continue following Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the rest of the gang as they fight with the rebel forces to defeat Darth Vader and the rest of the Imperial forces that threaten to destroy planets in order to rule. At this point, this movie is just a classic work of art, and part of the cultural experience; very few franchises are as popular or timeless as Star Wars, and this being the best movie in that ever-growing saga means it’s a necessity to watch, and that’s no understatement. The spectacle is great, but what stands out about this film is the story, which revolved around some of the most richest characters in screen history, and Empire changes them to their core in ways that effect the story of every film that follows. Plus, there are SO many quotes from this movie that I hear on a semi-daily basis, and a movie this quotable is definitely notable.
2) Avatar. James Cameron‘s Avatar is the highest grossing films at the box office, of all time, and it is also one of the most beautiful and impressive films that you can possibly watch, and I mean that in just about every way. The story is just as beautiful as the visual effects, and the way that James Cameron combined the best parts of a few different stories, and added so much of his own original material, made this film one that is not easily forgotten. Seeing this film in IMAX back seven years ago as a great experience for 14-year-old me, but now, seeing it as an adult who has studied film for a few years now, I think I am finally able to appreciate this film, to at least some degree more than I used to. James Cameron had the first full draft of the scriptment ready in 1994, and planned to start filming soon after he finished Titanic so that Avatar could be released in 1999. Well, the technology just wasn’t as advanced as his mind, so he had to wait years for VFX to catch up- and good thing he did. The visuals in this film are still life-like after seven years, and I’m sure they will still look amazing for years to come. Really, nothing in this film seems sloppy, lazy or rushed; this movie is a masterpiece and a marvel in every single aspect- and it’s one of the greatest film experiences that I’ve ever had. The cast, director, and VFX team did a glorious job in making this monster of a film, and along with Terminator 2, Titanic and the next film on my list, James Cameron plants another of his films into my Top 10 of all time. If you’d like to read my full review for this film, you can find it here.
1) Aliens. Now this is my second film of all-time, and for many reasons. If you read my King Kong post, you’d know that I first watched this film when I was 11, but I didn’t give much detail as to what that experience was like. I was with my step-sister and my step-mom’s step-father (I have a big family), and he recommended that we watch Aliens. In hindsight, I’m not sure that I would let an 11-year-old watch that movie, but I’m happy that he let us, because I had one of the best movie experiences of my entire life (James Cameron is good at that kind of stuff). From the very first scene, I was terrified but my younger step-sister didn’t seem frightened, so I didn’t think I was allowed to say anything. I was scared shitless for the entire film; the xenomorphs induced nightmares, and the film never let up for its 150 minute run time. The xenomorph IS the all-time greatest alien in sci-fi movie history, and this film showcases that monster from space perfectly (read my essay about why this alien is better than the alien in Predator right here). Man, what a film, and to think that it’s a sequel to another film that’s just as great is an amazing accomplishment. James Cameron is a God of cinema, and I cannot wait to see Avatar 2, as well as Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott.
Well, these are my favorite movies with aliens! There were a couple that I had to leave off to make 5, such as any other Star Wars film, Predator, Alien, Super 8, or Prometheus, but 5 films isn’t a lot; which would be on your list? I’m interested in hearing what you think about this topic. As always, thanks for reading, share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!