Have a Close Encounter With Asteroid City and These Other Out-of-This-World Movies

Celebrate UFO Day on July 2 with these four films.

On July 2, 1947, a rancher in Roswell, New Mexico, stumbled upon a wrecked metal vessel on his land, debris later classified as an unidentified flying object. While the object itself has disappeared, that encounter is now celebrated on July 2 as World UFO Day, a day to look to the stars and imagine the other worlds and beings who might be visiting us.

To celebrate World UFO Day, we are showcasing four films that uniquely explore what close encounters with aliens could reveal about human nature.

Tom Hanks, Hope Davis, Tony Revolori, and Liev Schreiber in Asteroid City

Asteroid City

In setting Asteroid City in 1955 during the annual Junior Stargazers and Space Cadets Convention, Wes Anderson conjures up a time and place when the impossible dream of space exploration was becoming a possible reality. When the film’s eclectic cast of characters—played by Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, Bryan Cranston, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Carell, Hope Davis, and Maya Hawke, among others—witness the existence of potential extraterrestrial life, they are given the opportunity to re-examine their own fears, hopes, and dreams on earth. For Wired, the film is “the latest in a long line of movies that have sought to understand humanity through the lens of alien contact.” Through Anderson’s fantastical imagination, as Vanity Fair notes, the film reminds you “what it was to first see a Wes Anderson film, surprised and delighted by its singular vision of life on Earth.”

Watch Asteroid City on Apple TV or Amazon!

Official trailer for Asteroid City

Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Paddy Considine in The World's End

The World’s End

In Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, Simon Pegg plays Gary King, who pushes four pals from his high school days (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and Eddie Marsan) to return to their hometown and finish a pub tour they attempted 20 years earlier. However, their pint-chugging reveries are interrupted by the discovery that aliens have taken over their village. Wright told Film School Rejects that “the sci-fi idea was there from the beginning because Gary King would be more comfortable with the town being aliens rather than he’s gotten old.” But like Wright’s other installments of the Cornetto trilogy, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, The World’s End “manages to play as much like an ode to kooky alien invasion thrillers as it does to the joys of getting plastered with friends,” writes IndieWire. In the end, Slate says it’s “one of the sharpest, saddest and wisest comedies of the year.”

Watch The World’s End on Apple TV or Amazon!

The World's End | Alien Cyborg Bathroom Brawl

Ashton Sanders in Captive State

Captive State

In Rupert Wyatt’s Captive State, first contact is long past, and the aliens are an occupying force, allowing a puppet government of humans to continue to govern. In Chicago, a young activist’s (Ashton Sanders) run-in with a collaborationist detective (John Goodman) accidentally reveals a complex network of opposition ready to be ignited. Inspired by classic movies of resistance like The Battle of Algiers, Wyatt explains in his exclusive Focus Features interview that he wanted to recast “stories dealing with occupation and those fighting back, those raging against the machine.” In this alien fantasy, the drama is poignantly human. “This is a cat-and-mouse game between the authoritarian pawns of the aliens with immense technological power and the resistance hiding in plain sight,” Film Threat writes. “This is one of those films that will have you thinking in the end.”

Watch Captive State on Apple TV or Amazon!

Official trailer for Captive State

Olivia Cooke and Brenton Thwaites in The Signal

The Signal

In William Eubank’s The Signal, three students (Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, and Beau Knapp) detour from a cross-country trip to track down a mysterious hacker only to find themselves in a world beyond their comprehension. Eubank told Script that from the start he “wanted to make a movie that had this crazy Twilight Zone aspect to it.” As the characters’ contact with the alien forces pushes them into stranger and more surreal scenarios, the film poses more complex philosophical questions about free will and reality. As “an alien-interaction thriller that borrows from generations of such films that preceded it,” Movie Nation writes, “Science fiction cinema doesn’t get much more beautifully strange than The Signal.”

Watch The Signal on Apple TV or Amazon!

Official trailer for The Signal