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Infinite space, infinite terror! Life and 7 other deep space movie missions that went horribly wrong


Coming soon to a Cineworld near you, Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson as astronauts aboard the International Space Station who are tasked with studying an alien organism. But when the organism starts to grow, the crew must find out how to kill it before it manages to escape to Earth.

Life looks set to join a long list of movies where space missions went horribly, terribly wrong. Here are just some of our favourites...


The crew of the commercial spaceship the Nostromo are returning to Earth, mission accomplished, when they detect a distress signal emanating from the planetoid LV-426. Unfortunately for them an alien smuggles itself onboard and goes on the rampage, killing – spoiler alert! – all but one of the six-person crew.

Ridley Scott’s horror evergreen introduced us to the acid-for-blood xenomorph, a ruthless predator that would go to star in three sequel movies, two spin-offs, and two prequels. Even now, 38 years on, it’s still a riveting, nerve-shredding watch and prequel Alien: Covenant arrives this May.


When scientist-come-farmer Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) accepts a request from NASA to pilot a ship through a wormhole in order to locate a new planet for humanity to colonise, he probably wasn’t expecting to meet a homicidal astronaut (Matt Damon) on its surface.

Christopher Nolan’s thoughtful, intellectually nourishing sci-fi drama came with an impressive scientific pedigree, with theoretical physicist Kip Thorne acting as the movie’s science advisor.

Mission to Mars

After scientists discover water on Mars, a group of astronauts are sent to the red planet on a two-year mission. When there, they discover an ancient, dome-like structure which kills all but one of the team. “For centuries,” the trailer intones, “we've searched for the origin of life on Earth… We've been looking on the wrong planet.”

Brian de Palma directs a top-tier cast, including Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle and Gary Sinise, in this visually magnificent sci-fi actioner.


Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer and mission specialist who is on her first ever space mission. On a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The astronauts’ shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) completely alone – tethered to nothing but each other and spiralling out into the blackness of space…

Four years on, Alfonso Cuarón’s immersive space drama is still able to wow in the special effects department. It’s a sometimes graceful, sometimes terrifying movie that fully deserved its seven – count 'em! – Academy Awards.

2001: A Space Odyssey

After a mysterious black monolith is discovered on the moon, a group of astronauts are sent to Jupiter, where its signal was traced to. But when the surviving astronaut, Dave, arrives there he finds another monolith, an object that sends him on a journey to the outer reaches of experience…

The climax of Stanley Kubrick's landmark 2001 is more poetry than prose, but in essence, lone astronaut Dave Bowman is reborn as the ‘Star Child’, ie the next phase of human evolution. Which, we’re imagining, is not quite what he signed up for.

Event Horizon

A rescue ship is sent to discover whatever happened to the Event Horizon, a ship lost seven years before, but which has mysteriously reappeared in a decaying orbit around Neptune. When the rescuers arrive, they find evidence of a massacre. They soon discover that the crew of the Event Horizon were possessed by an evil force, from a different part of the universe…

A flop at the time, Paul WS Anderson’s super-tense sci-fi horror has built up a cult reputation over the years. Be warned though, it’s quite the gorefest…


It’s 2057 and the sun is dying. In order to save the Earth from freezing, a ship is dispatched to detonate a nuclear bomb in order the kickstart it back to life. But when they arrive they discover the distress beacon of Icarus I, the first ship to attempt their mission, which disappeared seven years earlier. All the crew appear to be dead, but there’s a surprise waiting around the corner…

Despite having a similar set-up to Event Horizon, director Danny Boyle’s claustrophobic and nail-chewingly intense sci-fi horror has some pretty sturdy science on its side. Professor Brian Cox acted as the film’s scientific advisor and screenwriter Alex Garland was inspired to write Sunshine based on academic articles he’d read about the heat death of the universe. Beat that.

Do you have a favourite space-mission-gone-wrong movie? Tweet us @Cineworld.

Life arrives in cinemas on 24 March.