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This is a comprehensive list of the top 10 family movies of the 21st century with characters from other worlds that are not animated movies.


Top 10 Live-Action Family Movies of the 21st Century Featuring Characters From Out of This World


Title of the Movie
Year / Country / Director / Cast
Movie Description
1 Earth to Echo Release Date:
2014

Country:
USA

Director:
Dave Green

Cast:
Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Algee Smith, Jason Gray-Stanford, Sonya Leslie, Kerry O'Malley, Cassius M. Willis, Peter Mackenzie, Virginia Louise Smith, Valerie Wildman, Roger Hewlett
Alex, Tuck, and Munch have been friends since childhood, but their worlds are about to flip upside down. Their Nevada neighbourhood, Mulberry Woods, has been earmarked for destruction to make space for a new highway. The teenagers will be separated by moves to new neighbourhoods; in the meantime, they intend to have plenty of fun making new memories.

Like most adolescents, the boys are glued to their cell phones. However, when all of their devices begin glitching, their investigation soon leads them on an extra-terrestrial adventure. Being thoroughly modern kids, they record the evening for posterity.

After their phones send them on a mysterious bike ride out into the desert, Alex, Tuck, and Munch soon discover who is responsible for their cell phone calamity; an alien they nickname Echo.

Their new friend uses their handheld technology as a way of communicating with the boys. Echo has crash-landed during a mission from outer space, and has sustained serious damage. The alien tries to repair itself telekinetically, but requires the help of the kids to return to full strength. Of course, they agree.

One of the other local teenagers, Emma, finds out about Echo. The boys’ classmate joins the team and the new awesome foursome find out that Echo has a key to a spaceship hidden somewhere in their hometown. Finding it will give Echo the chance to return home.

However, there are problems along the way. Remember that highway that was supposed to pass through Mulberry Woods? Conspiracy theorists rejoice! There’s more to the story than meets the eye. Let’s just say a secretive government agency took an interest in the area long before Echo came along!

Earth to Echo takes the found footage format and builds an interesting narrative that families will thoroughly enjoy. A great introduction to sci-fi for younger kids!
2 Zathura: A Space Adventure Release Date:
2005

Country:
USA

Director:
Jon Favreau

Cast:
Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Tim Robbins, Kristen Stewart, John Alexander, Frank Oz, Derek Mears, Douglas Tait, Jeff Wolfe
If you thought Jumanji was an amazing adventure game, wait until you hear about Zathura! The mysterious, retro, spaced-themed game is discovered by quarrelling brothers Walter and Danny, whilst they are left alone in their father’s house one afternoon. Their older sister Lisa should be looking after them, but she elects to take a pre-date nap instead. Understandable.

Walter and Danny get going with the game, which seems like a straightforward race to the finish, with the assistance of a device that presents event cards on every turn. The first of these cards causes a meteor shower in the living room. An actual meteor shower. The boys are understandably startled, and realise that the game has some kind of supernatural power. In fact, their house has been transported into outer space, where it is floating aimlessly.

Lisa finally wakes up and starts the arduous process of getting ready for her date, unaware that transport might be a serious issue. Before she can discover the gravity of the situation, or indeed the lack thereof, she is cryogenically frozen, thanks to a decision of one of the game cards.

The boys deduce that to beat the game, they must complete it and win. They continue playing, encountering several dangerous situations along the way. An army of reptilian aliens called Zorgons attack their house, seeking warmth. An enigmatic astronaut is delivered by one of the cards, and he has the knowledge to temporarily rid the home of its alien invaders. They’re soon back when Lisa is reanimated and turns up the thermostat in the house, attracting the Zorgons with warmth. We certainly won’t be hiring Lisa for any babysitting duties, that’s for sure.

The astronaut has a backstory that ties in with the animosity between Walter and Danny. He gives them subtle hints that their relationship in worth cherishing, before a heartwarming big reveal at the end. Can the boys resolve their differences, win the game, and finally get rid of the Zorgons? The entire family will have great fun finding out!
3 Race to Witch Mountain Release Date:
2009

Country:
USA

Director:
Andy Fickman

Cast:
Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Carla Gugino, Tom Everett Scott, Ciarán Hinds, Billy Brown, Garry Marshall, Kim Richards, Chris Marquette, Ike Eisenmann, Tom Woodruff Jr.
Deep in the Nevada desert, an alien spacecraft smashes into the sand. A secretive government operation, known as Project Moon Dust, arrives to investigate. They search the wreckage but fail to find the creatures that were likely operating it.

150 miles away, in Las Vegas, a mafia getaway driver turned straight-and-narrow taxi cab driver named Jack Vegas has picked up his latest passenger; Dr Alex Friedman, a UFO specialist. After dropping her off, Bruno discovers two teenage stowaways in the cab, who introduce themselves as Sara and Seth. The kids inexplicably have $15,000 on them, which they offer to Bruno in exchange for being taken to a secret location.

Bruno agrees, but curiosity takes the better of him when they arrive at their destination; an abandoned house. Sara and Seth frantically search for and find a small electronic device, but they are interrupted by an alien assassin named Siphon, who seems intent on stopping them dead. Quite literally.

They escape the immediate danger, and Bruno invites them back into the cab before speeding away. He discovers that both adolescents have strange powers, including molecule manipulation, telepathy, and telekinetics, which they use to help him navigate the danger posed by Siphon.

Realising that he is a trustworthy accomplice, Sara and Seth reveal to Bruno that they are aliens from a dying planet, light years away from Earth. Their planet’s government wants to invade Earth to create a new homeland, but Sara and Seth’s parents were amongst a small group who opposed the plan. Instead, they performed research that suggested their home planet could survive. Their ideas were deemed too radical, and they were arrested by the state. Sara and Seth travelled to Earth to retrieve their parents’ work, but the government sent an assassin, Siphon, to stop them.

Bruno enlists the help of his earlier passenger, Dr Friedman. Together, the four must not only avoid Siphon’s murderous intentions, but the interference of their own government, too. The alien kids want to find their ship and escape, but their plan involves infiltrating a government base named Witch Mountain. The task seems impossible, but with their powers, Dr Friedman’s knowledge, and Bruno’s instinctive quick-wittedness, they might just have a chance.
4 Men in Black 2 Release Date:
2002

Country:
USA

Director:
Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast:
Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Lara Flynn Boyle, Johnny Knoxville, Patrick Warburton, Rosario Dawson, Jack Kehler, David Cross, Peter Spellos, Tony Shalhoub, Michael Rivkin, Michael Bailey Smith
The first instalment of the Men in Black series, in 1997, was an instant hit. The exciting storyline, believable friendship of Agents K and J, and abundance of aliens thrilled audiences. Five years later, the hotly-anticipated sequel was delivered to the big screen.

Agent K has been retired for several years, and lives a happy, quiet life as a postmaster in Massachusetts. Agent J, on the other hand, has remained within the Men in Black, and his latest assignment has him investigating the recent murder of an alien named Ben. The murder takes place at a pizzeria, and the witness, Laura, makes a lasting impression on J. So much so, that he contravenes MiB rules and fails to neuralyse her recent memories.

The chief suspect is a shapeshifting alien named Sarleena, who has a chequered history. Her sister, Laurana, was the queen of a planet called Zartha. Laurana was the custodian of the Light of Zartha, a unknown object that is immensely powerful and desirable. Sarleena has committed herself to finding the Light of Zartha and obtaining it, using any means. Her servant, Scrad, assists her in all of her activities, including the murder of Ben.

Agent J discovers that the only person with any tangible knowledge of the Light of Zartha is K. Or, at least, it was before he was neuralysed upon retirement. J visits K, and manages to convince him of his past. K is deneuralysed, and re-joins his former team. Together, J and K must solve the latest intergalactic puzzle. And what of Laura, the innocent bystander? We won’t give it all away, but she is integral to the story. Watch closely!
5 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Release Date:
2004

Country:
USA, UK, Italy

Director:
Kerry Conran

Cast:
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It’s 1939, but not as we know it! The alternate timeline is more technologically advanced than our own, but the fashion has remained on point.

Polly Perkins is an intrepid reporter for a newspaper called The Chronicle. She’s investigating the disappearance of Dr Jorge Vargas and five other respected scientists. She reveives an anonymous tip that leads her to Radio City Music Hall, where another scientist warns her that a Dr Totenkopf will catch him next. Polly is understandably freaked out, but there isn’t time to dwell upon the haunting premonition, because alien robots suddenly begin attacking New York City.

There’s only one man with the skills to take on these strange new beasts; Joe Sullivan, the Sky Captain. Adored by all and ready for action, Joe takes to the skies in his modified Curtiss P-40. After a prolonged aerial assault, he manages to disable one robot and scare off the rest. Polly, meanwhile, has been photographing everything from the street. Intrigued by the robot attack, she persuades Joe, who happens to be her ex-boyfriend, to let her into a restricted air base, where the incapacitated alien robot is being examined.

A link is discovered between the alien robots and Dr Totenkopf; one that risks the life of everyone on Earth. Joe and Polly must work together to solve the mystery and deter the extra-terrestrial aggressors. The plot is intricate, which may make it tricky for younger kids to understand, but this is a great choice if your family has older kids or teenagers.
6 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Release Date:
2005

Country:
UK, USA

Director:
Garth Jennings

Cast:
Bill Bailey, Anna Chancellor, Warwick Davis, Yasiin Bey, Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Su Elliot, Stephen Fry, John Malkovich, Richard Griffiths, Simon Jones, Thomas Lennon, Dominique Jackson, Kelly Macdonald
Have you ever wondered what the meaning of life really is? A related question: have you ever been baffled when someone has responded with a wry smile and ‘42’? All of the answers, and more, are contained within this adaptation of Douglas Adams’ popular novel.

We begin with an introduction to Arthur Dent, an ordinary British man in an extraordinary situation. He has been given notice that his house will be demolished to accommodate a new road bypass. Unimpressed, Arthur lies in front of the contractors’ bulldozers, to prevent them from tearing down his home.

Arthur’s friend, Ford Prefect, arrives to help his friend. To diffuse the situation, Fred invites Arthur to the pub, to enjoy a pint of ‘muscle relaxant’. Arthur is surprised, to put it mildly, when Fred suddenly admits that he is an alien from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and that the whole of planet Earth is due for demolition.

The contractors? An alien race named the Vogons. Disgruntled with interplanetary traffic, they plan to obliterate Earth in favour of a hyperspace bypass. This puts Arthur’s personal demolition woes into perspective.

Before Fred can give any further details, Earth is suddenly attacked by a Vogon fleet and destroyed. Fred manages to escape with Arthur aboard the Vogon ship. They are soon discovered and thrown out into space, but the friendly starship Heart of Gold swings by to pick them up. At the helm is Zaphod, Fred’s cousin and President of the Galaxy, who has stolen the ship with the assistance of a human named Tricia and a depressed robot called Marvin the Paranoid Android. Together, they are tasked with defeating the Vogons. Of course, it isn’t that simple, and thrilling adventure ensues.

The name of the film comes Fred’s real job as a journalist for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a guide book for the universe. And the answer to the meaning of life? Watch out for Deep Thought, a supercomputer with grand ideas.
7 Power Rangers Release Date:
2017

Country:
USA, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand

Director:
Dean Israelite

Cast:
Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Elizabeth Banks, Becky G, Matt Shively, Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader, Cody Kearsley, Sarah Grey, David Denman, Robert Moloney, Anjali Jay, Morgan Taylor Campbell
For people of a certain age, the mere mention of Power Rangers will set off a wave of 90s nostalgia; the theme tune, the outfits, the dubious dubbing that we didn’t notice at the time. A magical era.

But there’s no time to live in the past! Power Rangers has been rebooted and brought bang up to date for the next generation. In this instalment, we are treated to the backstory of the franchise’s main antagonist, Rita Repulsa. Unbelievably, she actually started out as one of the green power rangers, tasked with protecting Earth and the Zeo Crystal. We discover that Rita betrayed the other rangers, including the red ranger at the time, Zordon. After surviving Rita’s attack, Zordon joins forces with robot Alpha 5, to ensure that Rita can do no further harm. In the process, Zordon sacrifices himself, but his consciousness lives on through a hologram.

In the present, Jason, Billy, Kimberley, Trini, and Zac are brought together through a series of serendipitous events, and happen upon the power coins, which give them superhuman capabilities. They return to the mine where they found the coins, and encounter a spaceship, which they enter to discover Zordon’s hologram and Alpha 5. After explaining what has happened to them, Zordon and Alpha 5 offer to train the teenagers to use their newfound talents. The Power Rangers are reborn.

Of course, Rita is not one to let things lie, and soon sets about scuppering the new rangers, in the search for the Zeo Crystal. Are they strong enough to defeat her? We’ll find out in this masterful reboot of a beloved franchise!
8 Aliens in the Attic Release Date:
2009

Country:
USA, Canada

Director:
John Schultz

Cast:
Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Boettcher, Henri Young, Regan Young, Robert Hoffman, Doris Roberts, Kevin Nealon, Andy Richter, Tim Meadows, Gillian Vigman, Maggie VandenBerghe, Megan Parker
When will movie characters learn that a relaxing camping trip is rarely straightforward? The Pearson family, including siblings Bethany and Tom, plus Bethany’s boyfriend Ricky, spend time away with their cousins Jake, Art, and Lee. Parents and Nana Rose are also there to unwind. Little do they know that a spanner is about to hit the works.

Delivered to Earth on the back of a meteor shower, aliens Skip, Tazer, Razor, and Sparks begin to explore the planet. The invaders inadvertently knock over a satellite dish, which leads Tom and Ricky to investigate. Startled, the aliens shoot Ricky with a mind-control plug, and begin directing his behaviour. Ricky is increasingly erratic and aggressive, startling the other teenagers into hiding.

The aliens, named Zirkonians, believe they have a claim to the planet. Their mission is to destroy anything that gets in the way of exerting control of Earth. The kids discover that the Zirkonians’ mind control plugs do not work on children, and they take it upon themselves to protect the adults in their groups. Given that fact, they also discover that Ricky is older than he claims to be; Bethany is understandably horrified, but Ricky takes the opportunity to break it off. Good riddance, says this reviewer!

The youngsters band together to create makeshift weapons to protect their family from the Zirkonians. Is a home-made potato gun sufficient in the defeat of heavily-armed aliens? It seems unlikely, but these clever kids have more than a few tricks up their sleeves! A fun, family film with characters you really root for; except Ricky, forget that guy!
9 Dragonball Evolution Release Date:
2009

Country:
USA, Hong Kong, UK

Director:
James Wong

Cast:
Justin Chatwin, Yun-Fat Chow, Emmy Rossum, James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Joon Park, Ernie Hudson, Eriko Tamura, Texas Battle, Ian Whyte, Megumi Seki, Randall Duk Kim, Richard Blake, Jon Valera
Goku is about to turn 18. For his birthday, his beloved grandfather, Gohan, gives him an unusual present. It is a Dragonball, the fourth of seven created by mystics two thousand years ago. The Dragonball is powerful, and must be well-protected. It is a responsibility befitting a man, and Goku’s grandfather believes he is ready to take on the task.

Meanwhile, the evil alien Lord Piccolo has been plotting to bring the seven Dragonballs together to unleash their combined power for his dastardly deeds. The mystics tried to imprison Lord Piccolo and keep him locked away for eternity, but he manages to break free, alongside his henchwoman Mai.

Lord Piccolo finds out that Goku has the fourth Dragonball. He attacks Goku’s home, destroying it and mortally wounding Gohan. Upon discovering the tragedy, Goku finds his grandfather, who in his dying breaths instructs Goku to find martial arts master Roshi, who is another Dragonball holder.

After his grandfather dies, Goku travels to meet Roshi. Along the way he meets Bulma, who was studying the fifth Dragonball before it was snatched away by Mai. They join forces and eventually find Roshi, who agrees to train Goku in preparation for a showdown with Lord Piccolo.

With a solar eclipse and the return of Lord Piccolo’s right-hand-man, Ozaru, on the horizon, time is of the essence. Can Goku gather the strength and skill to fight a demonic extra-terrestrial? Dive into this thrilling family adventure to find out!
10 Ben 10: Race Against Time Release Date:
2007

Country:
USA

Director:
Alex Winter

Cast:
Graham Phillips, Christien Anholt, Haley Ramm, Beth Littleford, Don McManus, Sab Shimono, Robert Picardo, Paige Hurd, Lee Majors, Bianca Brockl, Tyler Patrick Jones, Aloma Wright, Tyler Foden, David Franklin
Fans of the children’s animated series will love this live-action reboot! A sneaky creature begins tormenting Bellwood, and only Ben’s alter-ego, Heatblast can stop him!

Ben is struggling, however, to deal with the rigmarole of everyday teenage life, such as going to school and dealing with bullies. Who would believe that the amazing Heatblast would have to put up with mean kids?

Ben is soon distracted again, upon discovering that the figure he defeated the previous night was an alien named Eon, part of the Chronian species. When visiting an alien containment facility to find out more information, Ben is warned that an enraged Eon will be seeking revenge.

Eon is equipped with Hands of Armageddon, a tool that can control time. When activated, it is designed to create a time rift that will allow Chronian fighters to enter Earth and destroy it. Ben is advised to leave Bellwood and go into hiding, but he’s made of stronger stuff. He resolves to stay and fight Eon, and do his best to save humanity from alien invasion.

When the two eventually come face to face again, Eon explains that his life is inextricably intertwined with Ben’s. Their building animosity results in a spectacular final showdown that won’t disappoint!






The Top 5 Family-Friendly Aliens of All Time

Now that we’ve discovered what the 21st century has to offer, let’s take a look back at the 5 most cherished and influential aliens in movie history.

Echo, Earth to Echo
We featured this movie at the top of our list, and a key part of the reasoning was the charismatic title character. Echo is tiny, helpful, and adorable. He’ll use his super skills to help out human friends, whilst making cute little bleeping sounds. What’s not to love?

Stitch, Lilo and Stitch
OK, we admit it; Stitch isn’t always the best behaved alien buddy! Although he can be adorable, he also has a destructive streak, big claws, and scary teeth. When we first meet him, he’s more of a curse than a blessing. But once he begins to understand the concept of Ohana, Stitch becomes the delightful extra-terrestrial pet we know and love.

The Giant, The Iron Giant
More like the gentle giant, am I right? This towering angel melted our hearts with his wholesome attitude and protective nature. The Giant is brought to life with beautiful animation and a story that still makes us emotional. A true gem.

Chewbacca, Star Wars
He’s Han Solo’s companion on intergalactic adventures, but Chewbacca’s charm and interesting vocalisations (aaarrrwwwggghhh!) have made this Wookie a firm family favourite. He also seems very cuddly, if you catch him in a good mood.

ET, ET
Stephen Spielberg’s perennial classic spawned one of the most captivating characters of all time. ET may have found his way into Elliot’s home, but he’s stayed in our hearts ever since. The ultimate alien friend. We can’t even think of that final scene without becoming emotional. I’ll be right here. Crying emoji, repeat to fade.

We hope you enjoyed this list! Which movie will you choose first?