With Prometheus now in theaters, we get to meet another crew of astronauts attempting to make first contact with the beyond. Judging from the trailer, it doesn’t work out so well for them (with faces melting and other manner of alien attack). Of course, this is nothing new, as most movies about man meeting alien usually end up bloody or with someone or something getting probed. I’m kind of at the point where I’d be worried if first contact did go well. We’re like oil and water with these alien lifeforms.
If you’re an alien species looking to get your freak on in an interstellar mating ritual, you can pick a better place to bump uglies than a South London council estate. For one, the residents there might have a strong violent reaction to the sight of an outer space beast. Secondly, have you ever heard of a little something called romance?
Independence Day is probably the worst case of alien first contact going awry. The story begins with alien spacecrafts positioning themselves over key locations across the globe. Places like the Empire State Building, the U.S. Bank Tower, the White House. Before long, the alien visitors are wiping these places off the map with powerful lasers. They even destroyed the Capitol Records building (perhaps as a means of retaliation against Duran Duran). Luckily for Earth, President Bill Pullman escaped the onslaught and teamed up with a ragtag group of survivors to overthrow our attackers. Day saved but definitely a bad first impression.
Not a disaster in the sense that a bunch of people died horribly, more of a disaster in that it left the audience dissatisfied. When it was announced that the man who brought us the Back to the Future series, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?; and Forrest Gump was tackling a film about contact with aliens, everyone was pretty excited. Amplifying that excitement was the production’s refusal to reveal advance images of the alien. But in the end it turned out to just look like David Morse, who we were pretty used to seeing at that point. Minds not blown.
Humanity itself wasn’t threatened in this science fiction horror film based on true events, but abducting a man and probing him isn’t exactly a meet-cute. On average, it’s incredibly rare that people are unable to keep down mild foods after meeting one another for the first time. Yes, it sometimes does happen but so, so rare.
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a perfect example of the blame falling on us. The plot begins when an alien ambassador lands in Washington on a goodwill mission. When he produces a device, he is shot by a nervous soldier. This causes his robot sentry Gort to unleash a weapon of his own that disintegrates all in it’s path. Seriously. Our bad. We don’t even really know that soldier very well.
Considering it’s PG-rated, Flight of the Navigator doesn’t feature cities burning or organs being harvested. However, that’s not to say it’s a smooth example of alien first contact. For starters, the main character is a twelve-year old boy abducted from his home in 1978 and transplanted to 1986. Generally it’s a bad idea to kidnap an Earth child when trying to ingratiate oneself to our planet. That’s just a rule of thumb that aliens might want to consider following.
Again with the kid-snatching! Not cool.
Criminally ignored by movie-goers, Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! is a masterpiece. When Martians send a message to the citizens of Earth that they are planning to visit our planet, and idealistic flock gathers to meet them. Only to be massacred by their superior weaponry. The Martian Ambassador then apologizes for the incident, citing that it was just a case of culture clash. The Martians are then re-invited to make first contact, this time with Congress. Who they also massacre with their superior weaponry. Turns out the Martians had no hope for peace or motive to their attacks. They’re just dicks.