To have a summer without an alien-race invading the world just wouldn’t feel right. Luckily, the long awaited sequel to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996) is finally here. With Independence Day: Resurgence right around the corner, (releasing June 24th) summer couldn’t have come quickly enough. If you’re like me and can’t wait these few days for Roland Emmerich’s latest take on the upcoming apocalypse, I’ve compiled a list of five must-see modern alien invasion movies, all with very different approaches to the genre.
To make this list the movie must be a modern (1990 and beyond) film about a large group of aliens coming to earth. Earth must also not know about alien-life or at least have very little knowledge about it before the invasion. So sorry, but Men in Black (or any of its sequels) will not be on this list. Anyhow, here are the five must-see modern alien invasion movies.
5. Attack the Block
A movie about a street gang of south London teenagers who accidentally pick a fight with an alien race, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block could have gone wrong in so many ways. Surprisingly though, this small-budgeted alien invasion flick has been hailed a future cult classic and honestly it’s plausible it will become so. Sure, it helps that the lead would end up a star in one of the biggest franchises of all time (John Boyega who plays Finn in the new Star Wars trilogy). Yet, even if John Boyega never became Finn, Attack the Block is still a fun movie with memorable characters and some pretty scary aliens, despite not having any discernible features other than a mouth. The dialogue between the characters is fast and sometimes impossible to understand, yet each character feels different from the other. John Boyega as the lead shows glimpses of why he should become a major film star in the future and Jodie Whittaker is as fun as all of the teenage boys she has to compete with. Overall, Attack the Block might be small but it’s an alien invasion movie that competes with the best of them.
4. War of the Worlds
As Steven Spielberg’s take on the alien-disaster movie, War of the Worlds does not disappoint. In typical Spielberg fashion War of the Worlds boast some of the most impressive visuals of any movie on this list, but also includes a believable story with characters that we come to care about by the films’ end. Even with Justin Chatwin and Dakota Fanning portraying every parent’s worst nightmare, Tom Cruise manages to always stay likable as he plays a father who seems to be despised by everyone around him.. Though War of the Worlds might have the least satisfying ending of all the movies on this list, the rest of the movie is a great example of what an alien invasion movie is supposed to look and feel like. Once again proving that Spielberg can’t make a bad Sci-Fi movie, War of the Worlds is a story any film lover can enjoy.
3. Edge of Tomorrow
I’m sorry but I refuse to refer to this movie as Live.Die.Repeat. Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow is basically Groundhog Day with aliens, but that’s surprisingly okay. Although it loses some points for originality, Edge of Tomorrow is beyond exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seats from the first second to the last. Tom Cruise’s second role on this list is also his best performance since Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report as he plays Bill Cage, an always likable public relations officer who is forced onto the front lines by his superior officer. After Bill Cage is given the power to repeat the same day and battle over and over again, it is a joy to watch him grow not just as a soldier but also a person. Starring alongside Emily Blunt also helps, as their one-sided love story grows even as she believably forgets him every single day. With scary-aliens and an interesting take on the invasion style, Edge of Tomorrow is definitely the best alien-invasion movie to have come out in the 2010s and it will be a challenge for Independence Day: Resurgence to overcome this spot.
2. District 9
This one is a bit of a stretch, since the aliens in District 9 never actually attack the humans. However, they do technically invade our atmosphere and more importantly District 9 is too good of a movie to be left off this list. As an allegory for Apartheid, the most impressive feat of District 9 is that we fall in love with these extremely ugly aliens. The aliens, or prawns as they are usually referred to, begin almost as villains, but become less ugly and more like people with regular feelings and ambitions. Following Shallot Copley in his best role ever as Wikus Van De Merwe is a treat to watch. However, it’s really Jason Cope’s Christopher Johnson, one of the prawns, and his son who steal the show. Even though they look more like the antagonists than heroes, Christopher is really the protagonist of the story and is one of the best characters, human or not, of not just any alien-invasion movie but any movie in the last 16 years. Everyone should watch District 9 for its original take on racism, stereotyping, human experimentation and much more. For a movie about aliens who accidentally landed on earth, District 9 is a thought-provoking film which deals with real issues. Hopefully Neil Bloomkamp (the director) can get back to form in the near future.
1. Independence Day
Could it be any other movie? Independence Day is the essential alien-invasion movie that if you haven’t seen you should really stop reading this article right now to go watch. A movie about the world having to finally come together against the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, Independence Day stars Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller, a bada** pilot who has to team up with a conflicted scientist (Jeff Goldblum) and the President of the United States (Bill Pullman) to save the earth. The movie that put Will Smith on the map as a serious actor, it’s no surprise he would become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson also perfectly complements Steven Hiller’s bravery and confidence, with his brains and unassuming bravado, and when Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore exclaims, “We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive!” an entire generation experienced goosebumps. Independence Day is one of those movies that words can’t do justice and if you STILL are reading this article without having seen it you are doing something wrong. One can only hope that Independence Day: Resurgence can match the brilliance of its predecessor and I can tell you that I, for one, am extremely excited.