Top Space Movies, Part 6

Independence Day (1996) / Director: Roland Emmerich / Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum

The aliens invading Earth have superior toys, but mankind has greater heart, and Will Smith. Exciting, but it doesn’t need to clock in at almost two and a half hours; there is plenty patriotic pomposity that should have landed on the cutting room floor.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) / Director: Robert Wise / Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei

When Gene Roddenberry saw Star Wars scooping up all the box office revenues, he no doubt got to thinking what gold might remain unmined from his campy TV show. Why should George Lucas have all the fun (and the loot)? Thus is Star Trek the TV oddity resurrected as a movie (and another television show would come too). In this inaugural installment, a destructive force is approaching Earth, Admiral Kirk (Shatner) resumes command of the Starship Enterprise in stop it.

Men in Black (1997) / Director: Barry Sonnenfeld / Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino

A cocksure NYPD detective (Smith) joins a secret organization that monitors extraterrestrial doings here on Earth. Yes, they live among us, sometimes disguised as shopkeepers, sometimes as dogs. You just never know.

Armageddon (1998) / Director: Michael Bay / Stars: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler

An asteroid the size of Texas is heading for Earth, so NASA recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save humanity. They have 18 days, plus Ben Affleck and a soaring soundtrack. A silly movie that is self-indulgently long (two and a half hours)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

George Taylor (Charlton Heston) heads into outer space to get away from his fellow humans only to wind up in the 40th century, subject to a different kind of ape. What the hell?

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a thinking man’s sci-fi film. Instead of epic space battles and evil empires, the film features a visiting alien named Klaatu, who arrives on Earth with a peaceful but stern warning: Humanity will be destroy if it persists in extending its violent ways into the surrounding. The film was somewhat controversial in its day for its cautionary message in the nascent atomic age, while others took offense at the Christ-like Klaatu. Thank goodness humanity stopped being so self-destructive.