From comedies like Mars Attacks or Men in Black, to family friendly films like ET or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, aliens have always been a popular theme in films. However, there are only a few films that stand out to me as either being different in terms of the approach to telling a story involving aliens, as well as those that are simply classics and are pure entertainment.
Here are my top 5 aliens in film:
Not all films about aliens have spaceships or an elaborate invasion, some take a different approach and in the case of this film Kevin Spacey stars as Prot, a psychiatric patient claiming to be an alien from the planet K-Pax. Jeff Bridges stars as his sceptical doctor, who tries to get to the bottom of whether he is actually an alien or if he is just a mentally disturbed man. The film is slightly ambiguous towards the end and makes you doubt whether Prot was actually an alien, or just a man who suffered a significant trauma and used the story of being an alien as a way to hide the pain.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, The Faculty takes on the popular ‘alien invasion’ plot that has been seen so many times before. The film stars Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett who are students in a high school which is being taken over by parasitic aliens. Unlike other alien invasion films, these students are quite savvy and reference similar situations from film and popular culture which leads them to the conclusion that they must kill the ‘queen’ in order to restore everyone back to normal.
When taking over the world, aliens either go for the over-the-top ‘kill everything in sight’ approach seen in films such as War of the Worlds or Independence Day. Or they take a more discreet route i.e. taking over the human race one by one, which is the case for this 1978 remake. Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright star as a group of people in San Francisco who realise that people around them are starting to change. The ‘pod people’ walk around emotionless and it is only through not falling asleep and pretending to be like them, that you can be sure not to become one of them.
In 1986 James Cameron took over from where Ridley Scott left off to make this sequel to the film Alien. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) ventures with a team of Marines who return to the planet where the original alien was discovered. The muted atmosphere of the first film is now replaced with this loud and action packed sequel. The aliens take the form of slimy, acid bleeding creatures and are what makes this film so intense to watch because you know they will not stop until everyone is dead. It is only through Ripley’s bravery and heroics that she is able to survive the aliens for the second time.
Johnny Depp plays a NASA astronaut called Spencer Armacost who returns from outer space, but is not quite the same. The new Spencer appears distant and cold, which soon becomes clear to his wife Jillian (Charlize Theron), however by the time she realises something is wrong, it is too late because she is pregnant. In the vein of Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Jillian faces the dilemma of whether to keep the twins she is pregnant with, which are either fathered by her husband or from his sinister impostor.