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Movies about the End of the World: Alien Invasion

Undoubtedly, some of the top-grossing films in the cinema world are movies about the end of the world. Hollywood has no hesitations in investing so much resources and talents on these films, from the very meticulous writing of story up to the costly creation of special effects. To even add more excitement, believability and shock factor, famous actors have to play the lead roles.

From how well these disaster movies performed in the box office, I suppose people are fascinated about how the world will come to its end. And movie makers have provided us with several options on the death of humanity. One style is alien invasion. Creepy creatures shall occupy the planet and endanger the whole world. Well, here are three great movies about alien invasion.

Independence Day

 Independence Day is a phenomenal blockbuster hit way back 1996. It is directed by Roland Emmerich and starred by Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Harry Connick, Jr. and many others. 

The film revolves around a massive hostile alien invasion on Earth and how people around the world desperately fight and win on the fourth of July. The movie begins on July 2 when an alien mothership enters the Earth’s orbit and deploys saucer-shaped destroyers over major cities around the planet. The aliens have been moving from planet to planet, seeking good resources. On July 3, Captain Hiller (played by Will Smith) leads a mission attack against a destroyer near Los Angeles. The aliens have much sophisticated technology that his squadron was destroyed, leaving him the lone survivor. But somehow, Hiller manages to take an alien captive. On July 4, after a thorough study of the alien, the USA attacks the alien mothership. With Hiller accomplishing the mission, a computer virus is uploaded in the alien technology and a nuclear bomb is planted inside the ship. Simultaneously, other forces around the world launch attacks and destroy the remaining destroyers. On the fourth of July, the whole world is freed from alien invasion…

Independence Day may be “just another” movie about alien invasion but it has certainly raised the bars of excitement, sophistication and brilliance in producing sci-fi films. It has achieved excellence in visual effects as it won the Academy Award for Visual Effects, and the shot of the White House’s destruction remains to be one of the most memorable scenes in movies. For some critics however, the film appears to be cheesy, stereotypical, and unimaginative and lacks the quality relative to the effects in movies directed by James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.

Yet, Independence Day is one of the most celebrated disaster films of all time. It has been well-received both critically and commercially. It was the highest-grossing film of 1996, and currently holds one of the highest worldwide gross for a movie all-time. In Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a positive rating of 61% while it scores 59 at Metacritic.

Trivia: One of the alien characters in the movie appeared on the cover of the July 8, 1996 issue of Time Magazine.


Signs is a 2002 American science fiction thriller film directed by M. Night Shyamalan and produced mainly by Touchstone Pictures. It stars veteran actors Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin and child wonder Abigail Breslin.

Signs explores the mysteries of crop circles and the extraterrestrial life involved in their making.  The movie begins with Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) losing his faith and quitting his priesthood after his wife was killed in a traffic accident. His younger brother Merrill comes to live with him and help run the family farm, as well as taking care of his two children. Things seem ordinary until one night, a mysterious crop circle is found in Graham’s field. And in the succeeding days, several crop circles are found in different parts of the world, several sightings of mysterious lights in the sky, and several footages of aliens – aliens which are humanoid creatures who are tall and slender, their skin green, clawed, and supposed to harvest humans for food. Graham and his family are threatened with the presence of another life. As the family struggles to protect themselves and fights against the menace, Graham slowly comes to terms with his grief, loss, faithlessness, and obliviousness to his family…

Signs sets itself apart from other such films because it is more compact, deep, and imaginative but less serious and violent. It centers around the survival of a family of four and the details of how humanity survives the invasion is left out, but the audience know it is resolved. There are no fight scenes, except at the end, but the atmosphere of fear, chaos and danger has been well established from the beginning. There are several dull moments, but the interjection of humor (which is totally uncalled for) keeps viewer’s attention on the film. Unlike other movies, Signs has certain depth as it explores the intricate relationship of faith, kinship and extraterrestrial life. However, audience might be left disappointed or unsatisfied with the ending; I even find it funny.  Despite this, Signs has managed to make audience feel so much have happened at the end of the film. This is a work of genius, credits to writer, producer and director M. Night Shyamalan.

Signs is a huge commercial success and received a good payoff relative to its budget. It was critically praised, garnering a 74% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 59 at Metacritic.

Trivia: M. Night Shyamalan has a cameo role on the film as the person who accidentally killed Graham’s wife.

War of The Worlds

War of the Worlds is adapted from a novel of the same name by H. G. Wells. There have been several versions of the book but the 2005 movie is the best for me. It is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Cruise.

The film begins with a narration saying that mankind has always been watched by aliens with superior intelligence and evil motives. Then it shows Ray Ferrier (played by Tom Cruise), a divorced dock worker living in New Jersey. One day, his wife drops off their children to him as she is going to Boston to visit her parents. But the next day, Ray wakes up to see a strange wall cloud which sends out lightning in the nearby area. Then gigantic machines standing on three legs start to appear from the ground. These Tripods then begin to open fires with destructive heat-rays, vaporizing people and destroying everything on their path. Ray races to Boston to keep his children away from danger, but along the way, his son Robbie joins the military and his daughter Rachel gets abducted by the aliens. Ray manages to reconcile with his family, and in the end, aliens die out as they suffer from terrestrial microbial diseases for which they have no immunity…

War of the Worlds is another masterpiece of Steven Spielberg. Its success lies on the solidity of the story, and its great cast, brilliant special effects, and dramatic images. The focus on one man’s struggle proves to be effective as it makes the movie more relevant to audience, giving them the feel of being chased away by the aliens. Yet, the movie has many disturbing images like the river of blood and the massive killings. How the alien destruction is resolved at the end is also quite unsatisfying, yet the drama and the amazing cinematography manage to pull it through.

The film is both critical and commercial success. It received a “fresh” rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Moreover, War of the Worlds is the fourth most successful film in box office in 2005.

Trivia: Tom Cruise’s performance in the film was nominated for Worst Actor at the Razzie Awards.

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