Alien invasions are a part and parcel of science fiction, especially in TV and film. I normally enjoy the video version of invasions. Unfortunately, as part of my job as a writer of military science fiction, hopefully intelligent fiction, I must examine what is wrong with these movies. Writers, who are expected to know something about the science underlying their stories, are not quite as bad in the mistake department. But movie makers, who brought us the car blowing up in mid air for no apparent purpose, seem to be clueless. As long as it looks cool on the big, or little, screen, anything goes.
OK, so why in the hell are the aliens invading in the first place? Do they just wake up one day, look at Earth, and decide we’re having too good a time? We have to be reined in. And nothing stops the party like a good invasion? So, if they want to ruin the party, why don’t they just drop rocks on it. As in big flippin rocks coming in at high velocity. No muss, no fuss, everyone’s happy. Well, except for the ants that get crushed under foot (us). But for some reason the aliens need to occupy the surface of our planet, and that means, drum rolls here, invasion. Do they come like Eisenhower on D-Day, or Cortez, with a handful of Conquistadors? And why do they come? In Independence Day they come for our resources. Sounds cool, huh? Except there are a lot more resources in space than there are within our heavy gravity well. One large asteroid has more metals than have been mined in the history of the planet, just there for the taking. In Battle of LA they come for our water. Water? There is more than enough water for anyone in a couple of Plutoids out in the Kuiper Belt. Probably more than enough in the alien’s home system as well, saving the need for a very expensive interstellar voyage to get a drink. In Skyline they came for our brains, like a bunch of otherworld zombies. And they used those brains to run their machines. If the aliens can’t make a better computer than our poor excuse at wetware, I don’t see a bright future for their interstellar dominion. Maybe they come for slaves? Again, why can’t they make robots? They are stronger, never get tired, and in most cases don’t foment a revolt when it is least convenient, like in the midst of a battle against another Galactic Empire.
Now the second problem with alien invasion movies is the way we fight them. Like all of our brains have flown into a black hole as soon as we see their ships. In Independence Day we use a nuke on one of the alien ships. No effect (while Jeff Goldbloom whines and screams about how crazy it is to use nukes. Dude, they’re going to kill everyone and everything. I think we can handle a little bit of background radiation if it lets the planet survive). Now how would the military handle this in real life? Most likely they would attack again, and soon, with a BIGGER NUKE. Or multiple nukes. You just don’t give up because one weapon didn’t work. Kind of like firing an antitank gun at a tank, watching the round bounce off, and just running away from the gun. No, you keep firing as long as you have a gun or ammunition. An even worse example was in Skyline. A nuke goes off in the air over LA, knocking all of the alien ships to the ground, supposedly destroying them. But wait, the alien ships repair themselves, and the U S Military looks on, throws their hands in the air, and lets the aliens go on about their business. Not only no, but hell no. We would hit them with another one just before they completed their repairs, then another, until they either stayed down or we had nothing else to throw at them. On the nuke thing, you would think movie makers would at least look up some of the tech they are using. A tactical nuke, one of the weaker examples of the weapon, will not knock a spaceship a quarter the mass of our moon out of the sky, much less blow it to bits. And the bits coming down on Earth will cause as much damage as the aliens planned for us.
The other problem comes when the aliens simply are not as advanced as you think they would be when they have the technology to cross interstellar space. In Battle of LA the aliens wore body armor that couldn’t even stop a small caliber military rifle. Also in Battle LA the invaders had no antiaircraft until they bring their own aircraft to bear. In Skyline the alien aerial vehicles weren’t a match for our aircraft, except in overwhelming numbers. And in Independence Day we were able to write a computer virus that attacked the alien systems. I mean, come on. You would think the aliens would be much more advanced in computer science. You would think they would use an operating system so different from ours that anything we wrote would just be gibberish to that system. Finally, if they used something compatible with Microsoft they deserved to be defeated, destroyed and forgotten.
I hope that the fiction I write is more intelligent than the examples above. Of course, if they are ever bought for a movie and butchered I will probably not care, as long as the money is put into my account.