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Aliens are a sci-fi staple, to the point where there are almost too many alien movies to choose from. To help you narrow things down, we’ve put together a list of the best alien movies on Amazon Prime. They range from cheesy blockbusters to bizarre cult classics, covering every subgenre you’d care to name. The only downside is, Amazon Prime doesn’t include any of the actual Alien franchise, but that’s a problem for another day.
The best alien movies on Amazon Prime
First off, let’s get one thing straight: Amy Adams was robbed of that Oscar in 2017. Not even nominated? What a joke. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), Arrival stars Adams as a linguist recruited by the U.S. military to decode a mysterious alien language.
As the title suggests, this movie isn’t about an alien “invasion.” The looming alien ships are certainly ominous, but they’re not actively threatening. They’re clearly trying to communicate something, and it’s Amy Adams’ job (with help from Jeremy Renner) to make sure science and curiosity win out over paranoia and warmongering from world leaders. Arrival is an imaginative sci-fi drama that combines expensive blockbuster effects with thought-provoking ideas.
You know what? This movie still rules. Directed by disaster movie icon Roland Emmerich in 1994, this is another movie where the hero translates a (kind of) alien language, but it’s about as far from Arrival as you can get.
Inspired by those “aliens built the pyramids” conspiracy theories, Stargate is an adventure story combining some rather dubious, Indiana Jones-esque Egyptian archaeology with a space fantasy about evil alien overlords. It stars Kurt Russell and James Spader as a classic odd-couple duo: a grim Air Force officer and a goofily eccentric academic. Sparking a franchise of TV spinoffs, it’s one of the best blockbusters of the 1990s, comfortably standing alongside Men in Black, Independence Day, and Jurassic Park.
3. Star Trek Beyond
The best of the three Star Trek reboot movies, combining the first film’s fast-paced action/comedy antics with an ethos more in line with classic Trek. Sofia Boutella plays a new (and now fan-favorite) alien character, joining an ensemble cast including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and John Cho. The plot involves the Enterprise crew getting stranded on an alien planet (who could’ve guessed!), but really, all you need to know is that it’s delightfully colorful, the jokes land, and the credits music is by Rihanna.
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4. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!
Released in 1984, this movie is the dictionary definition of a cult classic. It’s a uniquely weird adventure story about a guy named Dr. Buckaroo Banzai —a neurosurgeon, science genius, test pilot, and rock star—who must outwit a group of alien invaders called the Red Lectroids. With wild costumes, weird dialogue, and supporting roles for Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd, this movie has a lot to offer.
The quintessential sci-fi parody. Directed and co-written by Mel Brooks, Spaceballs took inspiration from Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, and other popular sci-fi franchises. Eminently quotable, it retains a cult following to this day.
6. Star Trek (2009)
While not exactly in line with the tone of vintage Star Trek, J.J. Abrams sure knows how to make a snappy blockbuster. Rebooting the 1960s cast as a younger, edgier team, the story pits Kirk and Spock against each other as rivals. These days, it’s particularly interesting to rewatch this movie as the test run for Abrams’ more acclaimed work on Star Wars.
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A good choice if you don’t have time for a feature-length film. Rakka is one of several sci-fi shorts from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, showcasing his skill for visual effects and gritty dystopian settings. It stars Sigourney Weaver as the leader of a group of survivors after an alien invasion, and you can find our full review here. Be warned: it’s pretty gory.
8. Event Horizon
Influenced by Alien and Hellraiser, Event Horizon was a critical and commercial flop when it came out in 1997. However, its excellent cast (Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Jason Isaacs, to name a few) and memorably disturbing content helped it stand the test of time. Set in 2047, it sees a group of astronauts land on a creepy spaceship with an experimental black hole drive, discovering the scene of a massacre. From then on, it’s a spine-chilling and very bloody sci-fi/horror story, with excellent production design—just not quite enough heart to live up to Alien.
9. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Adapted from a beloved series of French comic books, Valerian is an opulent space opera from director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element). Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as a pair of space-traveling secret agents in a universe that brings to mind lavish blockbusters like Jupiter Ascending and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor