Extraterrestrial encounters: A look at 10 films that portray the existence of aliens

Posted June 27

The notion that we are not alone in the universe has provided fodder for cinematic adventures for more than a century. In 1902, during the silent film era, Georges Melies created “Le Voyage dans la Lune” (“A Trip to the Moon”), which AMC refers to as “the great-grandfather of all sci-fi films.”

With the release of “Independence Day: Resurgence” on Friday, 20 years after its prequel, director Roland Emmerich shows the human race again facing an extraterrestrial invasion.

Dozens of other filmmakers have depicted scenarios in which Earth is visited by aliens — some with the aliens coming on friendly terms and others not — through both live-action and animated methods.

Here is a look at a few. Note: Films listed without a rating were released before a film ratings system was instituted and have not since been rated.

1953: ‘Invaders From Mars’

“Invaders From Mars” was the first color science fiction film to be released in theaters, according to film historian Paul Meehan in his book "Saucer Movies: A UFOlogical History of the Cinema," making its debut in April 1953, just months before the release of the 1953 version of “War of the Worlds.” “Invaders,” developed by Richard Blake, was based on a story by John Tucker Battle, who got the idea from a dream his wife had, according to AbeBooks.com.

Jimmy Hunt stars as a boy who wakes after a thunderstorm and sees a flying saucer disappear into a large sand pit behind his house. His father returns home from investigating the situation but isn’t the same. Soon, others, including his mother, begin to act the same way as his father. No one believes Jimmy except for astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston, who realizes Earth has been invaded by aliens from Mars.

1965: ‘Invasion of Astro-Monster’

Released in Japan in 1965, this Japanese/American film was the sixth installment in the Godzilla film series directed by Ishiro Honda. This film was co-produced by Toho and United Productions of America but wasn't released in the United States until 1970, according to IMDb.com. It was the first film in the Godzilla franchise to feature alien invaders, civilizations on other planets and interplanetary space travel.

Aliens from Planet X ask to use Earth monsters Godzilla and Rodan to fight off King Ghidorah's attack on their planet, but it turns out the aliens have a different plan in mind. The film stars Nick Adams and Akira Takarada.

1978: ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (PG)

Directed by Philip Kaufman, this film was released in 1978 as a remake of 1956’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” According to an NPR article titled “The Sad Lesson of ‘Body Snatchers’: People Change,” the films were based on the novel by Jack Finney. The 1978 film features a few actors known for other science fiction roles, including Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson in “Independence Day” and “Independence Day: Resurgence”) and Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek).

Deep in space, aliens are forced to abandon their dying world. They stumble upon Earth, where they become plant pods that morph into duplicates of nearby humans but lack the ability to experience emotion. A health inspector and his colleagues discover the aliens are replacing humans, and seek to stop them.

1982: ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ (PG)

TCM reports after making “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” director Steven Spielberg wanted to make a "smaller, more personal film."

"E.T. was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up," the website quotes Spielberg as saying.

The website reports Spielberg began formulating the idea while filming "Raiders" and "started picturing something of an imaginary friend" that inspired E.T.

Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore star as a brother and sister who befriend an alien and keep it a secret from the rest of their family. When the alien becomes sick and the government learns of the creature's existence, the siblings must work together to get E.T. back home.

1996: ‘Independence Day’ (PG-13)

Directed by Roland Emmerich, this 1996 film was nominated for two Academy Awards and won Best Visual Effects. It was also the first to depict a large-scale attack after the arrival of the alien spacecraft because Emmerich noticed in most invasion films, aliens traveled a long distance in outer space but remained hidden when they reached Earth, according to hollywood.com.

After a destructive alien attack, several groups of people ban together in the Nevada desert to fight back and plan a counterattack on the alien spacecraft on the Fourth of July. Will Smith and Goldblum star.

1997: ‘Men in Black’ (PG-13)

A year later, in 1997, Smith appeared in another sci-fi movie, this time alongside Tommy Lee Jones in a buddy cop action-comedy film. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the film was loosely adapted from the Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham. The film received three Academy Award nominations and won Best Makeup.

Two agents (Jones and Smith) of the secret organization Men in Black monitor extraterrestrials who live on Earth, not only hiding the aliens’ existence from humans but also protecting the Earth from alien attacks. As the MIB agents investigate undocumented close encounters, they stumble upon a deadly plot involving an intergalactic terrorist.

Two sequels, again starring Smith and Jones, were also released: “Men in Black II” in 2002 and “Men in Black 3” in 2012.

2005: ‘Chicken Little’ (G)

Released in 2005, this Walt Disney Animation-produced film was directed by Mark Dindal. It expands on the fable "Henny Penny" and was the studio's first non-Pixar film made using only computer animation, according to tvtropes.org.

Chicken Little earns himself a bad reputation when he sends his town into a panic after claiming the sky is falling. When he is again hit on the head by something falling from the sky and discovers the source, a UFO, he must convince everyone an alien invasion is coming — and come to the rescue.

2005: ‘War of the Worlds’ (PG-13)

Directed by Spielberg and narrated by Morgan Freeman, this 2005 film is a remake of the 1953 film of the same name and is loosely based on H.G. Wells' novel “The War of the Worlds.” It received three Academy Award nominations.

The film follows a father (Tom Cruise) and his two children (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin), who are trying to build a better relationship. After the children are dropped off at their father's house for the weekend, what seems like an ordinary day turns strange when electromagnetic pulses of lightning strike the area. When the strange events turn out to be the beginning of an alien invasion, the father must find a way to protect his children.

2011: ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ (PG-13)

Released in 2011, this film is one of many that depict the Army going to war with aliens who have invaded Earth. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, the film is based in part on the real-life World War II incident known as the Battle of Los Angeles, in which "several unidentified objects were sighted hovering over the Los Angeles coastline" early in the morning on Feb. 25, 1942, according to Screen Rant.

The film is set in the modern day with the world’s greatest cities having been attacked by alien invaders. Only one city — Los Angeles — is left, and a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his platoon battle to protect the city.

2015: ‘Home’ (PG)

In this computer-animated film loosely based on the 2007 children’s book "The True Meaning of Smekday," an alien invasion is seen from the aliens’ point of view. “Home” was directed by Tim Johnson and produced by DreamWorks Animation.

After an alien race called the Boov conquers Earth, they relocate all of Earth's inhabitants except for a young girl named Tip (Rihanna) and her cat, who manage to hide from the invaders. When alien Oh (Jim Parsons) reveals the Boov's location to another alien race known for destroying planets, he becomes a fugitive. Oh and Tip become an unlikely team and set out to find Tip's mom and save Earth.

Email: ewhite@deseretnews.com


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