While scientists debate day and night on whether or not alien life exists somewhere in the vast, uncharted universe, it is unanimously clear to Hollywood that movies about aliens invading Earth make for a very profitable niche market in science fiction media. Aliens come in all shapes and sizes and their approaches to planetary domination create a wide variety of entertaining venues for writers and directors to explore. Naturally, though, some movies have to be better than others and with so many to pick from, it can become quite overwhelming to find out which invasion flicks are worth your time. Here are the 10 best rated alien invasion movies for recommended viewing:
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Director: Joss Whedon
The greatest superhero universe crossover that started it all. Once thought to be a nerdy pipe dream, “The Avengers” brought iconic superheroes played by big name actors together for one colossal “Hulk smash” event against an unyielding alien invasion force. The alien action is fierce and non-stop once the titular heroes assemble and it creates one of the greatest action sequences in cinematic history, if you ask me. This movie had a lot riding on it and it could have failed spectacularly, but thankfully, it become one of the greatest superhero movies ever made and the crown jewel of the Marvel cinematic universe films.
District 9 (2009)
Director: Neill Blomkamp
The signature film of director Neill Blomkamp, “District 9” is one of the most powerfully striking, moving and unforgivingly violent alien invasion movie I’ve ever seen. It’s a highly graphic, critically intelligent film with strong issues of racism; blending in hardcore violence and sci-fi action with seamless precision. It may be an emotional sucker punch of a movie, but “District 9” is an experience that needs to be circulated and spread as much as possible.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Director: Doug Liman
Audiences seemed to have Cruise-hate blinders on when this movie came out because box office numbers did not come out especially high. This was a true shame as “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of Cruise’s best films, and presents a unique mix of comedy, sci-fi action and unforgettable imagery. It’s basically “Groundhog Day” meets “The Matrix”, and you never know it is going to be funny or serious or when the action is going to burst out onto the scene. For those people yet to see the movie, and may think it won’t be as good as it sounds, the truth is that it actually so much better. You just have to ignore the trailers, ignore the bad box office results and give this overlooked gem a second shining.
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Aside from the newer “Star Trek” films, for me the pick of the bunch as far as Star Trek TOS and TNG movies is concerned has to be “First Contact”. The crew of the Enterprise venture back in time to stop the threat of the Borg assimilating Earth’s first contact mission with alien life in the mid 21st-century. “First Contact” plays perfectly fine for newbies who know little about the “Trek” universe, with enough material and references spelling everything out in a way that is engaging and without being a hindrance. Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner are at the top of their A game, and the unique look into the villainous Borg’s culture brings new insight to these instantly recognizable sci-fi villains.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Director: Philip Kaufman
How crazy is it that this remake of a film with the same name is actually loved and rated higher than the original? This is the definitive incarnation of the story about alien pods silently invading Earth and replacing humanity with emotionless, shrieking dopplegangers that assume your form when you sleep. Modern movie goers will be just as easily impressed with the paranoid terror pulsing through this sci-fi horror classic. It’s just as effective and engaging as it was in the 70’s, and the stellar cast of Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright is worth the watch alone.
They Live (1988)
Director: John Carpenter
John Carpenter’s darkly humorous take on a short story about aliens disguised as humans that can only be seen through magic sunglasses. It’s a quirky, unusual story remembered mostly for the casting of Keith David and Rowdy Roddy Piper, with the latter’s “out of bubblegum” one liners before he blows away aliens with a shotgun. While this is now a dated little flick, it still managers to deliver fun and the surprises when it wants to. It’s not as serious as it probably should, though, but it’s also funnier and more effective than it should. A darkly fun ride that definitely gives you something different.
Men in Black (1997)
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Another vehicle for the rise of Will Smith, this adaptation of a lesser known comic book became a household name with the film’s iconic outfits, characters and popping soundtrack. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones serve as slick suited alien cops to protect the world and its awareness of extraterrestrial life with their wits and weapons. None of the sequels ever reached the quality of this iconic sci-fi flick. The chemistry between Jones and Smith is flawless, and the brilliant mix of humor and top-notch alien make up/effects creates a look that sets “Men in Black” apart from the rest.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
The classic found footage movie Cloverfield (2008) was an American made “Kaiju” film chock full of tension and intense freak out sequences as a group of friends try to survive a rampaging creature that was awakened from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean by a deep-sea drilling Japanese oil company. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), on the other hand, may not be a sequel, but it is certainly a sneaky little movie which can certainly be viewed as a spiritual successor of sorts. The story revolves around a woman who awakes from a car accident to find herself held in a bunker with two men who claim that the outside world has been affected by the fallout of a widespread nuclear or chemical attack. Without going more into details, there’s a lot going on for such a simple premise, and I hard press anyone to find a better American made movie dealing with the excruciating uncertainty that would inevitably follow in the wake of a potentially uninhabitable Earth scenario.
Director: Michael Bay
A lot of people give Michael Bay unnecessary criticism for his films, especially geared towards the “Transformers” franchise, but even the most disrespectful of haters have agreed this first “Transformers” film was definitely a bang for your buck. This is an alien invasion of Earth movie at its finest and flashiest, with the two factions of colossal robot aliens battling it as vehicles providing every bit the amazing popcorn blow out experience you expect. In fact, every time I watch this film, I see something new in the numerous action sequences.
Independence Day (1996)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Another classic, Independence Day is a premiere invasion story about city sized spaceships invading Earth and vaporizing half of the planet with death beams, as Bill Pullman delivers one of the most iconic speeches in film history. This movie still gives me chills to this very day. The shots of the spaceships nuking the White House and New York City are unforgettable, as are Will Smith’s witty one liners and his chemistry with Jeff Goldblum. This is the de facto alien invasion movie in my opinion, it’ll always be referenced or mimicked in some way and that is a true testament to a long-lasting alien invasion film.