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Alien Invasion!

Writer: Naseem Randhawa


"Cowboys And Aliens" is the latest alien invasion movie to hit our screens.

Haven't we all been guilty of imagining our beloved planet Earth conquered by slimy grotesque looking aliens, our skies streaked with thousands of blinking UFO lights, synchronised in a perfect firework display, accompanied by otherworldly frequency of sounds and our minds consequently erased to a vegetative state by a flash of blinding light? Well, maybe not. But while some believe that the idea of an alien invasion being not too far-fetched, some of us have definitely seen the theory explored in movies and shudder to think such a scenario might even be possible someday. With the latest alien invasion movie; "Cowboys And Aliens" just around the corner, even the cowboys of the Wild West aren't spared. In conjunction with the Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde starring extra-terrestrial flick, here's a tribute listing some of the best alien invasion films that give us the creeps.


1. War Of The Worlds (2005)
Stephen Spielberg's remake of the 1953 classic was highly underrated. Granted, seeing Tom Cruise running around in a constant panic attack and a lot of crying from Dakota Fanning might have been the bane of the movie, but still, the beginning where the aliens first land is enough to make any grown man crumble and cry should the scene make a turn for reality. Having giant alien machines prowling about zapping up people to dust to take over the planet's resources is terrifying indeed, but at the state of the current global warming rate, we doubt there will be anything left for the aliens to salvage!

2. Men In Black (1997)
How cool is this, apparently the FBI has a secret division to keep alien activities on Earth hidden away from us measly, easily confounded humans. Instead of handling an intergalactic war, these guys calmly handle an alien invasion like it's a domestic dispute and we love the guys for it. Putting an invasion on a lighter perspective, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones erase memories, keep aliens on their best behaviour and bust out the big guns when things get gritty. And hey, while we thank the movie for not portraying the typical invasion humdrum, don't forget the killer soundtrack from the MIB, Will Smith himself.

3. Alien vs. Predator (2004)

This 2004 film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson brings together the creatures of the "Alien" and "Predator" film series. The movie follows a bunch of archaeologists who discover the aliens in a mysterious Aztec pyramid buried at the Antarctic. The pyramid turns out to be a hunting ground for Predators who kill Aliens as a rite of passage, and the humans who are caught in the middle of the battle, attempt to prevent the aliens from reaching the surface. As cool and grotesque these extra terrestrial creatures may be, never in a million years would we want an invasion headlined by these two. At least being in an invasion where we humans are hunted, is sort of expected, but with these two like a vacationing couple on a row, we would have to endure their endless squabble making the invasion almost redundant.

4. Critters (1986)
In this alien invasion movie that combines the elements of horror, comedy, and sci-fi, we meet some cute fuzzy looking hairballs that look harmless, or are they really? With razor sharp teeth and an appetite worthy to match that of the big blue whale, these carnivorous aliens have only two purposes, to eat and to breed. The success of the movie was attributed to Spielberg's produced "Gremlins", as this movie came out almost the same time the latter did. With their small sizes and the ability to role together into one big hairball, the ravenous Critters can definitely cause the extinction of the human race. So the next time u reach out to pat the fur on your cat/dog, make sure it's the real deal and not a Critter in disguise.

5. Godzilla (1998)
A re-imagining of the 1954 Japanese film that spawned during the "Ultraman" days, "Godzilla" brings the fear of lizards on a whole new other level. The story starts off with a nuclear radiation across the French Polynesia that causes a lizard to mutate into an absurd colossal monster! We bet Godzilla thought that if he was going to terrorize a city, he was going to do it right, and it was going to be in New York. And why not? After all, the place is synonymous with big names like King Kong, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hellboy and Spider-Man!

6. Mars Attacks! (1996)
After the fame Tim Burton acquired from "Batman", his alien invasion movie saw him gather up all his popular A-list buddies comprising of Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox and Natalie Portman, that came with a bucketful of laughs. The movie is about evil googly-eyed looking aliens who get a joy out of killing humans and blowing up our most cherished world monuments. The movie also revolves around how the human race is too dumb and incapable of handling the situation. Despite having a budget of US $100 million and grossing only a mere US $101 million worldwide!, the movie remains as a cult classic and a reminder that aliens can be funny too!

7. Signs (2002)
M.Night Shyamalan's almost 'drama' like alien invasion flick, attacks the nerves as it keeps us at the edge of our seats expecting a scare at every turn. The movie makes us realise that the last place on Earth we would want to be during an invasion; is a farmhouse with a cornfield as our front yard. Who wouldn't be freaked out if they woke up one day to find, aliens; like a bunch of naughty teenagers hooked on vandalism, make gigantic crop circles appear on their fields. Shyamalan's slow paced movie that slowly builds up the pace and suspense through its silence, especially during the scene where Mel Gibson's family first catches a glimpse of an alien on the news report, adds a practicality to the whole alien invasion story which isn't that hard to imagine. Although, we have to agree, Shyamalan's cameo was totally and utterly unnecessary!

8. Transformers (2007)
Based on the popular toy line and cartoon series, who would have thought the live-action version of the film could be this cool. With Steven Spielberg in the producer's seat (boy, does he love alien movies or what?) and Michael Bay directing, the film really made us look at cars on the streets a bit more differently than usual; expecting them to roll out and transform at any given second. If a Transformers invasion were to take place right at this very moment, not only would we be hiding for our lives and from the alien robot's cheesy one-liners, we would be caught in an all out billion dollar destructive battle between the warring Autobots and Decepticon. Upside is, perhaps we can be buddies with Bumblebee and drive around in that beauty of a Camaro!

9. District 9 (2009)

The surprise hit movie that received four Academy Awards nominations smartly used aliens to reflect on the historical events that took place in South Africa during the apartheid times. With a low budget of US $30 million, the film went on to box office success, grossing more than US $210 million worldwide. The film uses a gritty filming technique that seems almost documentary-like, making the whole thing appear as if an alien invasion (although in this movie, we humans, are the bad guys)seem quite plausible. When an alien bodily fluid explodes on the main character's (Sharlto Copley) face, like a virus, the goo makes him slowly transform into a "prawn", thus making the idea of an alien invasion spread through humans to be quite fascinatingly scary.

10. Independence Day (1996)

This movie explored the idea of what if we were to wake up one day and find our skies shadowed by a huge 24 kilometre alien mother ship on a countdown to destroy Earth. With its awesome special effects despite it being made 15 years ago, the film has a very high scare potential should it have taken a serious turn, but with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum balancing things out with their characters, the movie turned out quite entertaining and still manages to awe audience when the huge alien ship is on screen. However despite the colossal amount the movie managed to rake in (US $817 million), never in our lifetime would we want to experience such an invasion that leaves us with Smith and Goldblum to save the day.

Notable Mentions: "Attack The Block", "Village Of The Damned", "Evolution", "World Invasion Battle: Los Angeles", "Dreamcatcher", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "Species".

Cinema Online, 09 August 2011

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