TOP TEN TUESDAY: Heroes From Another Planet!
Aliens… They aren’t all bad you know! Some aliens just want to contribute to society, pay their dues, and become outstanding citizens. Maybe they feel like they can relate to us… maybe they come in search of Reece’s Pieces… Maybe they just want to rescue the girl from harms way… Point is, we here at WAMG are more than happy to have them on our site, and are not about to argue with them! So, in honor of I AM NUMBER FOUR, in theaters this Friday, MARCH 18th, we bring you
TOP TEN HEROES FROM ANOTHER PLANET
CUE THE MUSIC!
(Sidenote: Tell me that keyboard player isn’t really bringing the pizazz about 12 seconds in!)
Honorable Mention: *batteries not included
Wouldn’t it be nice if little alien robots could assist in all of life’s problems? Well, that is exactly what happens in *batteries not included. When residents are being bullied by a gang (hired by the landlord) to move out of their homes, a group of metal, light up mechanical creatures from space come to their aide. It’s hard not to love these cute little saucers… or Jessica Tandy for that matter! The film was actually intended to be a story on Amazing Stories, a television series in the 80’s, but Steven Spielberg liked it so much that he decided that it was made for the big screen. Alas, our tiny heroes were born.
10. THE FIFTH ELEMENT
1997’s THE FIFTH ELEMENT is the crazy sci-fi adventure from director Luc Besson where the alien hero – Leeloo is a “supreme being” sporting Raggedy Ann hair and wrapped in thin white strips, precariously placed, for clothing. No one else besides Milla Jojovich could’ve gotten away with that getup. Set 250 years in the future, the film is filled with such cool characters as Bruce Willis’ Korben Dallas, Gary Oldman’s Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, and Ian Holm’s Father Vito Cornelius. But it’s Chris Tucker’s turn as the memorable Arsenio Hall talk show host, Ruby Rhod, that takes the cake. Every 5,000 years, life as we know is threatened by the arrival of Evil and only the good alien, aka the fifth element, can stop the Evil from squashing all civilization. When Leeloo finally steps up to the plate to save mankind, she and her lanky legs kick some major Mangalore ass. Adding to the colorful imagery of THE FIFTH ELEMENT is the film’s North African score, composed by Eric Serra. Shoutout to the hip music used for the taxicab chase scene, titled “Alech Taadi” by Algerian performer Khaled.
09. ALIEN NATION
By 1988 LETHAL WEAPON had firmly established the buddy cop movie as a subset of the police action thriller. Producers wondered how to put a new spin on this formula. How about a futuristic buddy cop thriller with an earthling cop paired with an alien cop? This is the main premise of ALIEN NATION. Twenty years before DISTRICT 9, this actioner dealt with the problems of an alien race ( called the Newcomers ) assimilating into Los Angeles in the distant year of 1991 ( ! ). Like other immigrants, the Newcomers had to deal with discrimination. This allowed the film makers to comment on race and ethnic relations in late 1980’s America. Bigots use the derogatory phrase ” Slag” to insult the aliens. The Newcomers appearance and habits are very different from the natives. The former slave aliens are tall, possess two hearts, have a large, spotted, bald cranium, prefer to eat raw meat, get drunk on sour milk, and can disintegrate in salt water. Immigration officials , to amuse themselves, assigned them humorous names. Hence we hear and met Harley Davidson, Rudyard Kipling, and our hero Detective Sam Francisco ( Mandy Patikin ), the first Newcomer in the police force. He’s partnered up with a bigoted veteran cop, Matt Sykes ( James Caan ). after Matt’ old partner is killed by an alien. The two men bicker and explore the world of these new citizens. Eventually Sam earns Matt’s respect and soon the old bachelor cop becomes part of Sams’ extended family. The film was popular enough to spawn a terrific short lived TV series and several TV movies. ALIEN NATION is a great, fast paced sci-fi thriller that’s able to sneak in a message or two during the action, and Sam Francisco’s a great alien hero who’s a credit to all law enforcement officers on this planet and beyond.
08. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
A real journey into the mind and imagination of Steven Spielberg, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND was his first interpretation of life ‘out there’. It’s a landmark film, a gripping display of technical skill and an almost magical ability to enthrall the viewer. Spielberg forced skeptics to think a lot about the possibility of life on other planets, but for the most part it was pure entertainment from a man who knows how to deliver, a fairytale about our dreams to encounter something mysterious and wonderful in a universe that is too often measured, weighed, and spoiled by science and technology.
07. LILO & STITCH
An escaped, illegal, galactic, genetic experiment gone awry, the unknown critter namedStitch lands on our planet-Earth. Hawaii, to be exact; which not the ideal place whenyour only weakness is water. A rowdy little earth girl named Lilo quickly adopts thiswayward creature as her pet and develops an attachment to it. With Lilo and her sisterNani headed for separation due to their dysfunctional family, Stitch’s antics end uphelping keep the family together, and is very cute and cuddly throughout. Co-writersand co-directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON)created a very sweet tale of how an alien can become a friend and the saving elementto the family.
COCOON is # 6 on this week’s list. From director Ron Howard, this sci-fi Twilight Zone-esque film is about a group of retired seniors who literally get a new lease on life when E.T.-like aliens wander down to Earth to pick up their friends. Combined with Hollywood greats Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy and Gwen Verdon, plus the big band standards and Howard favorite, James Horner, COCOON was a huge box office success when released in 1985. Set in Florida, some of the funniest scenes are when these folks realize the magic pool of youth has some kind of life-force in it enabling them to act like happy, carefree teenagers again. There’s no such thing as gravity when these youngsters go out for a game of basketball. If you’ve never seen the film, be on the lookout for the children of two Hollywood stars, Tahnee Welch (Raquel Welch’s daughter) and Tyrone Power Jr. (son of Tyrone Power), and kudos to the wonderful casting of the head Antarean, Walter (played by Brian Dennehy). COCOON won 2 Oscars for Don Ameche (Best Supporting Actor) and Best Visual Effects and with its edge-of-your-seat finale, the Antareans are a stellar addition to our alien heroes list.
05. E.T. – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
Steven Spielberg’s follow-up to the immensely successful RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, collected a wonderful cast and an alien from an unknown planet to create acharming and resilient story. Stranded on earth, ET finds the home of Elliott and hisfamily-absent a father. Soon, a close bond develops between Elliott and ET, as wellas the rest of the family members. The bond is so close, that it actually endangerseach other’s lives. The government men, which are never truly fleshed out as to whatdivision, power their way in and try to examine this unearthly being. The daring escapeto assist ET’s return home is a heart-warming fairy-tale of the bonds and sacrificespeople, and aliens, make for each other.
04. THE ABYSS
THE ABYSS came to us in 1989, James Cameron’s follow-up to another less-friendly film about ALIENS. Both films are fantastic, but THE ABYSS commonly gets forgotten, or even under-appreciated. The film stars Ed Harris, always a fine actor, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as an estranged couple brought back together by an extraordinary deep sea encounter. It’s this other-worldly event that ultimately triggers the tragedy bringing these two characters back together, allowing them to see each other clearly once again. These deep water explorers are visited by an unknown presence, illustrated by what were then groundbreaking special effects, setting the path for future filmmakers, including more advanced special effects by Cameron himself. (THE ABYSS was followed up by Cameron’s TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY.) Cameron may get a lot of flack for his stories, perhaps even his film-making tactics, but no one can dispute his prowess in the arena of influencing and incorporating outstanding new movie-making technology, and THE ABYSS was the film that truly first showed us that Cameron had such ingenious promise in this realm.
STARMAN stars Jeff Bridges as an alien visitor, harmless and curious, learning the ways of the human species. Directed by John Carpenter and released in 1984, the story follows this alien in the form of a widow’s (Karen Allen) husband who asks her to drive him from Wisconsin to Arizona. Along their journey together, the government is making efforts to stop Starman from reaching his destination. This endearing and dramatic science-fiction film is in many ways more a reflection of the human race, than it is a film about extra-terrestrial life. Jeff Bridges received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role, as well as a Golden Globe nomination. Allegedly, the studio simultaneously had two scripts about alien visitation and chose STARMAN over the other, which happened to be ET – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL. While STARMAN earned a mere pittance compared to Spielberg’s ET, it’s still a solid film with a more defined and personal story.
02. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
In every sense of the word, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is timeless: the Message is Eternal, the film-making flawless. In terms of entertainment value alone, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL overshadows most of what came before and most of what has come since. It’s one of those must-see movies that no serious fan of the genre can pass up. Michael Rennie set the standard for Extraterrestrial Emissaries, Robert Wise raised the bar for thoughtful Science Fiction films, and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL proved that the sci-fi genre was a viable vehicle for the dissemination of speculative ideas. In many ways, it was a visionary film. The issues it addresses go on today, but the message stays the same: Our human condition is a poor one, the inability of the human race to work together, the greed, and the conflict between nations. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL remains a timeless Masterpiece.
01. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE
Can you imagine how surprised comic book fans of the 1930’s must have felt when the learned that the first all-American super-hero is actually an alien from another planet? Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster established that in Action Comics # 1 way back in 1938. Forty years later the producers of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE began his first big budget feature film adventure on his home planet of Krypton. And what an alien world it is. The camera first pans over a barren white landscape with crystal-like towers jutting form it’s surface to form cities.Jor-El ( Marlon Brando ) sentences three criminals to the Phantom Zone. A revolving flat plate swoops down, scoops the three up, and spins them away from the planet and into deep space. Later Jor-el pleads with the elders of Krypton ( shown as huge disembodied heads ) to prepare for their planet’s destruction. Returning home, Jor-El and his luminous wife Lara ( SusannahYork ) place their baby into a rocket that looks like a futuristic chandelier. The rocket levitates to the ceiling, crashes through, and speeds off into space as Krypton explodes. Inside the rocket baby Kal-El listens to crystals emitting lessons and advice from Jor-El. It crashes to earth and…you probably know the rest. At age 18 young Clark Kent finally learns of his alien heritage and travels to the North Pole with one of the rocket’s crystals. There he takes the crystal, flings it several miles where it sinks into the frozen tundra. this causes a crystal palace to rise out of the snow-his Fortress of Solitude. He enters and after several more years of Jor-El’s recordings, re-emerges as the blue and red costumed hero, Superman. He flies off to Metropolis where he works at The Daily Planet, meets the love of his life Lois Lane, and thwarts Lex Luthor. Along the way Superman discovers that his home world can be fatal to him as any fragments become the deadly substance Kryptonite. The film was a box office smash because in addition to the big established co-stars and special effects, they found a largely unknown actor who was able to bring some much humanity to this fantastic character. Christopher Reeve was perfectly cast as this defender of Earth. The ad line for the movie was “You’ll believe a man can fly.” What really makes the film work is that Reeve makes us believe that this alien with amazing powers is just as human as any of us.
So what do you guys think? Are there any alien heroes that you would like to see on this list? Let us know!