In this classic alien flick, what should have been a comfortable ride back into earth’s stratosphere takes a turn for the worse when the crew of the Nostromo encounters an alien craft filled with nefarious creatures whose only purpose seems to be to systematically pick off human life. It’s not pretty.
E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The star of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is quite possibly the most endearing space inhabitant in popular culture. In everyone’s favourite feel-good alien movie, the title character is separated from his spaceship and takes up with a human family. In the ensuing quest to get their alien home, the kids busy themselves by teaching E.T. English and hiding him from their mum.
This extraterrestrial thriller by M. Night Shyamalan might be packed with clichés (crop circles, tin foil hats) and cheesy foreshadowing, but when the aliens finally present themselves, they’re not messing around – witness one try to poison one of the kids after having his fingers cut off and you’ll come away debating whether you too should take to wearing tin foil hats and leaving glasses of water out, just in case.
Independence Day (1996)
In Independence Day, Will Smith is at his action-fighting, wise-cracking best, ably seconded by Bill Pullman’s ass-kicking President of the United States and Jeff Goldblum’s mad scientist, as the trio battle to save earth from an alien attack. The aliens in this movie are mean, hyper-organised, and think really big (world domination big). Let’s just hope when NASA finds its aliens, it has quick- thinking scientists and loudmouthed larrikins on hand, in case they need to take those aliens down.
Men in Black (1997)
An alien buddy-cop comedy starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith (NASA really should have him on speed-dial when they find their UFOs), Men in Black is the first in a three-film franchise about a government agency policing aliens on earth. All jokes, flashy gadgets, and initials-for-names aside, this film actually presents a worrying proposition: aliens can be good or bad, and since they can assume human disguises, will we even know what we’re dealing with?
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Starring Keanu Reeves, The Day the Earth Stood Still gives aliens human form and serious intelligence – Klaatu (Reeves’ alien character) has been sent to earth to explain to world leaders at a UN conference that humans are destroying the earth. Will NASA’s aliens also be intelligent beings that force us to confront our impact on the environment, or will they wipe us out to save the planet?
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
A Steven Spielberg-helmed film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a story of abductions, obsessions, and of course, extraterrestrials. We’ll know if these aliens are among us because, as in the movie, people will inexplicably go missing, only to come back years later looking like they haven’t aged, returned by aliens who smile and communicate with Curwen hand signals.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
This might be a science fiction B movie parody by Tim Burton, but if Mars Attacks actually translates into reality, then to put it simply, most of us are screwed. In the film, earth is surrounded by flying saucers and invaded by Martians, who say they ‘come in peace,’ then proceed to slaughter everyone in sight. That is, until Richie Norris (Lukas Hass) discovers their kryptonite. Lesson learned: be suspicious, and if that fails, scramble to find their Achilles heel.
In Contact, Jodie Foster plays Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) scientist who stumbles across signals sent from the star Vega. Chosen by the government for her atheism, Arroway is the sole person to make contact with the aliens, but when her recorder only picks up static, her claims are questioned. It’s probably safe to assume NASA will have more than one scientist on hand when they make contact with their aliens (and no spare space portal in Japan either).
The Thing from Another World (1951)
In this classic alien film, a United States Air Force crew finds a crashed craft and a frozen body, which when thawed, revives and turns out to be a plant-based alien that uses blood to survive. Cue a battle of wills over whether the alien should be saved and examined, or destroyed, during which the being in question goes on a rampage. Given global warming and easy access to walking blood bags (that would be us), if NASA’s alien encounter is anything like this, we’re going to struggle.