As we get closer to the holiday season, it’s coming, no matter how much we try to deny it, and, unless you’ve been living on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the 7th coming is just around the corner. Of course if you’re living on a certain island off the South West coast of Ireland, then you’ve probably already seen some of part VIII already. We are privileged to have a guest post by Paul Carroll to keep us ticking over until …
Seven Alien Movies to See Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens
When the first Star Wars movies reached the big screen, we were introduced to a whole host of weird and wonderful aliens. For the most part, none of them were discussed in much detail. Thankfully, the folks at ITN have given me a chance to recommend some movies to keep you going before Episode 7 eclipses Christmas in our newsfeeds. Here are seven alien movies you should watch (again) while you’ve got a chance.
Before the hit TV show, Stargate was a movie. It had everything you could look for in a Sci-Fi movie – aliens, spaceships, Egyptian conspiracy theories, you name it. As well as having actual aliens doing actual fighting, it also had just enough mystery to it that it warranted recasting every character and expanding upon it greatly with a few teams of people from the US military. (And, for the record, they didn’t decide to erase the canon of their expanded universe with every new instalment.
Maybe you want something different. Maybe we’re not meant to see new worlds. Maybe, instead, we’d just like to re-watch one of Sci-Fi’s most iconic moments. It’s right up there with the revelation that Darth Vadar is Luke’s father. Independence Day also offers a chance to watch a young Will Smith in action, before he hated robots or fought weird vampire things.
For something a little bit more light-hearted, we have Super 8 – Spielberg’s 21st century adaptation of E.T., with more explosions and a bigger alien. While it lacks the same sentiment that made E.T. a classic, it’s still an incredibly enjoyable movie that the whole family can enjoy, and explores the notion of film-making on a budget in a way that can best be described as endearing. If it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there’s still E.T.
Cowboys & Aliens
You might be wondering if I’ve lost it at this point. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from this one until I saw it. While I’m not much of a fan of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, he was exactly the sort of gruff actor needed for the role. With the additions of Olivia Wilde and Harrison Ford, it makes for an interesting genre mash-up that most producers suffer allergic reactions to. I found it to be one of the most enjoyable movies I’d seen at the time, helped by some great performances. If you’re looking for something different, especially with the mass-marketing pre-amble of Star Wars dominating every screen, wall and high street shop, it can’t hurt to give Cowboys a try.
> Edge of Tomorrow
I would never describe myself as a fan of Tom Cruise, but I loved his performance in this one – not just because of the many creative ways in which his character is injured and/or killed through the course of the movie. Cruise made the whole thing incredibly enjoyable, playing the role of the unwilling hero with a degree of modesty that the actor’s more recent roles don’t always allow. Combined with stunning visual effects and a love interest that becomes increasingly convincing as the story develops, Edge of Tomorrow is probably one of the best Sci-Fi movies of the past few years. If you can wrap your head around the mechanics of time travel the plot utilises, you won’t be disappointed. Just think Groundhog Day meets the D-Day beach landings meets Alien, and you’re set.
War of the Worlds
Another Cruise flick, but one that garnered my interest much more fully at the movie’s release. Based on the novel of the same name, by H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds gives us a classic look at Science Fiction from its early origins in the novel. Set against a modern backdrop, we’re given the type of aliens we’ve always needed: the ones we can’t just out-muscle with big guns and bigger guns.
Perhaps the most relevant movie of the lot for today’s audiences is District 9, the ultimate What-If Sci-Fi scenario, dealing with refugees and racist in South Africa. As well as being a beautiful looking movie with a complex mythology to draw upon, it deals with real-world issues in a way few genre movies manage. You might even begin to feel sorry for all the aliens in Star Wars who never get an explanation.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out on December 17th. What Sci-Fi movies would you recommend everyone watch in the meantime?
Paul Carroll is a Dublin-based writer and multimedia producer, blogging as The Cinema Freak. He takes movie recommendations seriously.