Now Streaming | The Best Alien Movies
Ain’t no alien invasion movie like a January alien invasion movie, because a January alien invasion movie will probably not be terribly good. So while we’re all hopeful that the new film The 5th Wave will be a lot better than it looks, we’re not holding out too much hope. If you want to see a great movie about space aliens you’re probably just going to have to look elsewhere.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what Now Streaming is for. This week we’re looking at the plethora of films currently on instant streaming services across the internet and singling out the best alien movies currently available at the click of a button. There are some classics out there, but a lot of the bigger and more popular flicks in this genre require you to drop down some extra cash after already paying your subscription fee, and that’s just not convenient enough for us.
So take a look at the best alien movies that instant streaming currently has to offer for a simple subscription fee that, odds are, you’ve already paid for. And come back next week for more great recommendations from Now Streaming!
The Blob (Watch It On Hulu Plus)
The Blob is of the few early space alien movies to acknowledge that, if you think about it, extraterrestrial life would probably be nothing like the lifeforms we find on Earth. A gelatinous, carnivorous being from beyond the stars crashes to Earth in a meteor and proceeds to devour everything in sight, increasingly exponential in size until it seems almost unstoppable.
And yet The Blob isn’t just a horror movie, it’s also a potent allegory for the teenaged plight of the 1950s. Parents and local authority figures are so eager to dismiss their kids’ warnings of a legitimate threat, because damned kids are always pulling pranks, that they almost fail to acknowledge the real threat before it’s too late. A young Steve McQueen heads the otherwise largely unknown cast, and the impossibly groovy theme song by Burt Bacharach and Mack David will stay in your head for days.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Watch It On Netflix / Amazon Prime)
One of the great science fiction films, period. The Day the Earth Stood Still stars Michael Rennie as Klaatu, an alien who very publicly lands on Earth and announces to the whole planet that, if humans don’t immediately cease their nuclear proliferation, the more advanced civilizations of the galaxy will have no choice but to preemptively destroy us.
And naturally, mankind will have none of that. Robert Wise’s smart and stylish “what if” scenario begins when a paranoid soldier destroys an alien device that he assumes was a weapon, but was actually a gift that would have benefitted humanity. We, The Day the Earth Stood Still argues, are bringing the end times upon ourselves by focusing too much on our paranoias and not enough on mutually beneficial endeavors. Oh yes, and Klaatu’s giant robot Gort is pretty badass too.
Earth to Echo (Watch It On Netflix)
If Earth to Echo had been released in the 1980s, alongside such similar kids fantasy films as The Goonies, The Monster Squad and The Last Starfighter, it would probably be a cult classic today. Instead, Dave Green’s adventurous and inventive sci-fi adventure was all but ignored by audiences and critics alike two years ago, and its empowering message – that new technologies are uniting younger generations and preparing them for brave new worlds – was all but lost.
Earth to Echo stars a whole gang of fun kid actors who, just before they are all forced to move so their neighborhood can be turned into a freeway, decide to go on one last adventure. Their cell phones are all wigging out, and seem to be pointing them towards GPS coordinates outside of town where they find an alien robot whose pieces have been scattered. “Echo,” as they call it, is also missing his eyes, and sees through the video cameras in the hero’s phones; which is, if we’re being honest, probably the cleverest justification for found footage on record.
Creative challenges, a charming cast and a genuinely inspirational message make Earth to Echo one of the most underrated films in years. If you have kids, watch it now. If you don’t, but you can still vividly remember being a kid yourself, watch it now.
Starship Troopers (Watch It On Netflix)
Paul Verhoeven’s impressively subversive sci-fi action epic Starship Troopers was, and still is, one of the strangest big budget movies to ever come out of the studio system. Verhoeven subverted Robert Heinlein’s original pro-military novel and turned it into a broad satire of propaganda in all of its forms, so that our nation’s enemies are grotesquely dehumanized into literal giant bugs, and none of the heroes seem to notice or care that they’re gradually turning into Nazis as the war progresses.
It was too high-concept for many audiences to embrace when Starship Troopers first came out in 1997, but Verhoeven’s film has been critically reevaluated in the years since and developed a strong cult following from those who can appreciate its superficial thrills – since Starship Troopers is an action-packed adventure of the highest order – while laughing at its flagrant jingoism and too-perfect, too-beautiful protagonists. Starship Troopers is that rare film that is as fun as it is challenging, in that it’s a hell of a lot of both.
Under the Skin (Watch It On Amazon Prime)
Jonathan Glazer’s unusual and hypnotic cinematic experiment Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien being who has come to Earth to seduce strangers and lure them into an icky black void. It sounds a lot sexier than it actually is, because Glazer’s film is – on one of its many levels – about our obsessions with and anxieties about the female form, and perhaps even specifically with Johansson’s own, famously attractive physique.
Johansson took to the streets to pick up complete strangers, who were seduced on camera and only then invited to join the production as her alien character’s victims. It’s hard not to be sympathetic, but as Grazer’s film progresses we see that all this attention has an impact on our alien anti-hero, and it leads to a new and unexpected form of tragedy. Under the Skin is one of the most acclaimed science-fiction films of the 21st century, and it yearns to be discovered by wider audiences. Watch it now.
Top Photo: TriStar Pictures
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.