Friday, May 26, 2017

Alien: Franchise Breakdown

You have to give it to Ridley Scott. The man has been fighting tirelessly to revive the franchise that gave him a career. Alien was an instant classic; it made the words “A Ridley Scott Film” wholly important. Like Scott’s Prometheus, his latest inclusion to the franchise, Alien: Covenant, is being met with mixed reviews. And truly, if there was ever a franchise whose films are all over the map, it is this one. Note: this post contains spoilers for all Alien films, including Alien: Covenant.

Alien (1979)
dir. by Ridley Scott
Alien is one of the best science fiction horror films ever made. It is astonishing how much Alien influenced others of its kind. The slow, increasingly gruesome picking off of the entire cast, the sleek production design, the genuine humor laced with terror – the stamp of Alien is all over modern film. My favorite way to measure a classic film is to rewatch it with someone who has never seen it. In December, I had the pleasure of showing Alien to my girlfriend, who went into the movie blind. And I waited. I waited for John Hurt to start coughing and shaking violently as his fellow crew members laid him out on the kitchen table. I watched my girlfriend’s expression morph from “What the fuck is happening?” to total panic as the alien punched through Hurt’s chest. And it was then that I knew the impact of Alien was alive and well.

But to be clear, Alien is not shock cinema. It is a patient, transfixing exercise in tension. Certainly one of the best films of its kind ever made, if not one of the best, period. A+

Aliens (1986)
dir. by James Cameron
Aliens does what most sequels do: expands on the original and makes it bigger, louder, more extreme. But what makes Aliens so rare is that it expands in all the best ways. Alien is a great science fiction horror film, and Aliens is a great science fiction action film. James Cameron’s movie is balls-to-the-wall from the get. It’s full of glorious military bravado, the type of bullshit machismo that is so hard to get tonally correct.

Ridley Scott was interested in a singular, isolated terror, and James Cameron was interested in an army of destruction. Both films work, even if it’s for different reasons. And by giving Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) something to fight for (little girl Newt), Aliens is wrapped in a heightened intensity. I will always prefer Alien, but I can’t think of negative thing to say about Cameron’s film. It’s also worth noting that the conclusion to Aliens (“Get away from her you bitch!”) is damn near as iconic as the chest bursting scene from Alien. Aliens is right up there with the best sequels ever made, and that itself will allow the film to live on. A

Alien 3 (1992)
dir. by David Fincher
Critically, Alien 3 is the most complicated film of the franchise. First off, Alien 3 gets an immediate demotion because it destroys what its predecessor worked so hard to protect. Much of the tension of Aliens relies on Ripley’s protection of Newt. But before Alien 3 really begins, Newt (Carrie Henn), Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Bishop (Lance Henriksen) are killed in a plane crash, leaving Ripley to fight alone. This cheap move immediately invalidates Aliens. It’s utter bullshit.

Ripley’s aircraft crash lands on a massive prison that houses deeply psychotic men. Initially, she fights to protect herself from the lunatics who inhabit the prison, but once an alien appears, the group comes together to beat the beast.

To be fair, there are things worth taking away from Alien 3. In fact, aside from its lazy opening, the film isn’t nearly as bad as its reputation claims. I watched the longer Assembly Cut for this post, and I found quite a bit worth liking. The look and design of the film, for one, is very effective. The movie takes place entirely in a wet, dirty, shit-colored hellhole, and you really feel like you’re there. Alien 3 is dirty by design, and I can see small signs of Se7en’s grim aesthetic already turning in Fincher’s mind. While not a worthy of following up Alien and Aliens, it isn’t fair to label Alien 3 as a complete misfire. C

Alien: Resurrection (1997)
dir. by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Alien: Resurrection is the type of batshit crazy sequel that gives sequels such a bad name. This movie is fucking insane (which perhaps makes it the most shamelessly entertaining film of the franchise). It’s been 200 years since Ripley killed herself at the end of Alien 3, and some mad scientists have decided to clone Ripley so they can extract the xenomorph queen embryo growing inside her. The plan is for the scientists to create a number of xenomorphs and study them. The aliens fight back, but Ripley is along for the good fight, and because she now has xenomorph DNA coursing through her veins (…what?) she’s stronger than ever.

Alien: Resurrection is self-aware studio trash. Everyone seems in on the joke, including the talented supporting cast, and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who went on to direct Amélie. And it’s worth noting that this movie ends with one of the most gruesome deaths in the entire franchise, as a half human/half xenomorph beast is slowly sucked out of a tiny hole on the spaceship. Alien: Resurrection rarely takes itself seriously, and it should be viewed with that same level of sincerity. D+

Alien vs. Predator (2004)
dir. by Paul W. S. Anderson
Alien vs. Predator is the type of old school, studio franchise mishmash designed solely to make a buck. Other than the xenomorphs, the two Alien vs. Predator films have little in common with the Alien franchise. Hell, I probably shouldn’t even include them here, but I’m a completist, so here they are.

After the financial success of Freddy vs. Jason in 2003, the suits at 20th Century Fox quickly greenlit Alien vs. Predator in hopes of cashing in on the mashup frenzy. Alien vs. Predator is big budget/low level studio garbage. The acting is hilariously one-note, the photography is flat, and the atmosphere, tension and production design so prevalent in the franchise’s first three films is completely absent. But hell, the movie is disposable fun. And much of that fun is in wondering who – the Aliens or the Predators – will be the real enemy. Who has cognitive thought and understanding? Who is more man than beast? We get that answer, but it isn’t nearly enough to make the movie worthwhile. D

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
dir. by Colin & Greg Strause
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem is one of the most pointless films I’ve ever seen. I can’t say worst, because “worst” implies that there’s something offensive about it, and the only thing offensive about this movie is that you don’t gain the 94 minutes back you spent watching it. The movie takes place where Alien vs. Predator left off, with an alien bursting out of the chest of a predator. This hybrid being, known as a “Predalien,” crash lands a predator aircraft in small town Colorado and begins to wreck havoc on the town.

Very little in this movie makes sense, and it is baffling that 20th Century Fox would allow a film this bad to share the genealogy with the original Alien. The only interesting thing about Requiem is that it raises the following question: if Aliens and Predators attacked a town in 2004, why has no one on Earth heard about them in Alien, Aliens, Predator, and so on? Perhaps I’m thinking too much into it, certainly more than anyone involved with the film. F

Prometheus (2012) 
dir. by Ridley Scott
The first real Alien movie in 15 years was Prometheus, a prequel that takes place roughly 30 years before the events depicted in Alien. As a science fiction film, I enjoyed Prometheus immensely. I still think it is brutal and thrilling in all the best ways. The cast is excellent, namely Michael Fassbender, who plays David, a robot with a dark streak, and Noomi Rapace, who was fresh off her star making turn in the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Prometheus is packed with thrilling set pieces, including the film’s most iconic, when Rapace’s character has an alien extracted from her belly in painstakingly detail. In short, I rewatched Prometheus before seeing Covenant, and I had as much fun with the film as the first time I saw it in theaters.

But I get it. It’s not really an Alien film. (Or not as much as it could have been.) It’s a film about archaeologists and scientists trying to discover the origins of humanity, with the Alien franchise loosely connected throughout. For Alien purists, I understand how the continuity of Prometheus could be upsetting. But for those interested in a thrilling sc-fi flick, Prometheus holds up just fine. B

Alien: Covenant (2017)
dir. by Ridley Scott
With Alien: Covenant, Scott intended to return to the grim and smaller scale of Alien. In this regard, Covenant is a success. This is one hell of a grim movie, as the fates of the entire crew are all but predetermined from the start. Covenant takes place roughly 10 years after Prometheus, and the form of the franchise is kept in tact. A new crew is responsible for a colonization mission to a new planet. After their ship is damaged, the crew lands on an unknown planet, where they soon encounter alien terror and questionable help from David (Michael Fassbender), who survived the events of Prometheus.

Covenant has plenty of notable moments, most surprising is the patient, character-driven scene of David teaching fellow robot Walter (also Michael Fassbender) how to play the flute. The scene is captured mostly in one shot, and it is a testament to Fassbender’s boundless skill as an actor. There’s so much going on in this moment – they can learn, they can think, so what now? And Katherine Waterston does an great job slipping into the character type Sigourney Weaver made so famous. However, Covenant is receiving its fair share of flak, and that’s for good reason.

The final 10 minutes of Alien: Covenant are so lazy, I’m dumbfounded the movie concluded this way. The final fight between David and Walter is so poorly edited that virtually all the tension of the moment is erased. And the survivors settling into happily ever after mode is a narrative “trick” that has been wildly overdone, and it’s shocking Ridley Scott decided to use it. Because of the clunkiness of these two scenes, it’s very easy to predict the final twist. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the film. It’s satisfyingly grim, and I am curious to see what comes next. But the cheap ending cannot be ignored. I’ll be waiting for the next one, with cautiously optimistic eyes. B-

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40 comments:

  1. Great post! I like the Alien franchise, I've never been die hard about it, but I've always appreciated it and enjoyed watching. I'm glad you gave AvP2 an F. I thought about that movie one day, and looked up the cast because I could not remember a single thing about any of the human characters, and I was shocked to see Stephen Pasquale and Sam Trammel, two actors that I liked on two different shows were in it. No memory of them whatsoever.

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    1. I really liked them in Rescue Me and (early seasons of) True Blood, but they have nothing to do in AVP2! John Ortiz is in that movie too, and he's a great actor. I dig the Alien franchise as well, but wow, that one is a doozy.

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  2. For me so far...

    1. Aliens
    2. Alien
    3. Prometheus
    4. Alien: Resurrection
    5. Alien 3
    6. Alien vs. Predator
    7. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

    I haven't seen Alien Covenant but my brother-in-law did and he didn't like it. I'll wait for it on TV.

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    1. Resurrection is kind of fun, isn't it? It's so insane that I can't help but laugh at it. Covenant is fine to wait for TV. I certainly didn't gain anything by watching it in the theater.

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    2. Resurrection is kind of entertaining no matter how flawed it is. It's still Jeunet's weakest film though it's not his fault nor is it Joss Whedon's fault. It's 20th Century Fox who fucked it up for all of us.

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    3. Yes, it certainly is 20th's fault. I'm glad you think parts of Resurrection are entertaining though.

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  3. I just...I'm aghast. I don't understand how Ridley Scott the man who made Alien is following Lucas' path with Star Wars. It's just as embarrassing. All of the first four Alien movies were distinctive - it was different. I appreciate Prometheus for doing something new. But Ridley has been making dog shit movies for some time now - his nominations for Martian are hilarious since the directing was atrocious there - and now he is destroying his own legacy. Covenant is just awful - the amount of retcons when it comes to Alien, the awful CGI, the completely stupid characterization - Jesus, Fassbender is amazing but he was not in a good film in years. People can see where Ridley wants to tie his Fassbender erotica fan fiction to Alien from mile away. It's embarassing. I have no faith in sequel to Blade Runner because this mad man who worse yet is lazy and doesn't give a shit is involved. Seeing the baby alien mimic David was the worst thing in this franchise yet and it includes AvP. And the way he treated Rapace is disgusting.

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    1. I didn't dislike Covenant as much as you, but it definitely felt lazy. It's the same story hashed out again and again. I want the old Ridley Scott back - the risk taker. Wonder if they'll make another Alien flick as Covenant is doing poorly at the box office.

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    2. Interesting to hear you say you disliked that baby alien scene so much, when that was one of the few scenes in the movie I actually did like. What I'd like to see is a film that just shows David interacting with the Xenomorphs he created. Little else, no annoying "truckers in space" characters, not too many slasher movie chase scenes, just man's creation and his own creation, and then we could have quite a heady sci-fi masterpiece, like what Prometheus and its sequel should have been.

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    3. I kind of dug the alien mimicking David as well, but still, Covenant is a long ways off from the genuine terror of Alien. I've seen Alien upwards of 15 times but I doubt I'll have the need to see Covenant again. Oh wellllll.

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  4. I love Alien. It's in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I never get tired of it. Aliens is also very good, but i prefer Alien. As for the rest of the franchise, i can't say i'm a fan. Alien 3 is especially disappointing because David Fincher is probably my favorite director working today. Imagine an Alien film made by him if he got a good script and full control over the project. I don't even want to think about Alien Resurrection anymore. I have only watched the first Alien vs Predator movie and that was enough.

    Prometheus was good, but disappointing. It was probably my most anticipated movie of 2012. Ridley Scott returning to the Alien universe? Yes please. While it did have it's moments, ultimately it just annoyed me. Especially how dumb the crew were most of the time. Who sees a weird alien snake on a foreign planet and decides to try and pet it? I have not seen Alien: Covenant yet because Prometheus left such a bad taste in my mouth. I'll probably just wait for the blu-ray.

    Anyway, i don't know if you play a lot of video games, but for me the best sequel to Alien since Aliens has to be Alien Isolation. It's one of the best and most intense video games i have played in years and it really makes you feel like you are in the movie. Nothing gets my heart rate going faster than when i'm hiding in a tiny cupboard while a Xenomorph is stalking around the room looking for you. If that game was in VR i would probably die.

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    1. Dude, you're right, just imagine if Fincher had full creative control over an Alien film. That thing would rock.

      I don't play video games but Isolation sounds awesome. I also think the next big thing in entertainment is VR. Imagine being able to fight xenomorph's in VR. People would be huge sums of money to do that.

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  5. How I'd rank 'em
    1. Alien (A+)
    2. Aliens (A+)
    3. Alien 3 (A-/B+) (Severely underrated movie that is by far the darkest entry of the franchise.)
    4. Prometheus (B+)
    5. Alien: Covenant (B-/C+, take out the David and Walter stuff then it's a C-)
    6. AvP (D)
    7. Alien: Resurrection (F) (The worst of the franchise precisely because it is, as you said, as if the cast/crew is in on the joke.)

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    1. Nice that we're pretty much in line here. I agree that Alien 3 is underrated, especially the longer Assembly Cut. Also agree with your Covenant grades. Take Fassbender(s) out of that and the thing crumbles considerably.

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  6. Eh, this is one of those franchises I never really liked from the beginning, save for James Cameron's masterpiece. I did a bit of a half-assed run through of it myself recently, for some reason, and posted the following on my Facebook.

    Alien (1979)
    The mythology of this "classic" needs to be dispelled. This is not a good picture. It's an unengaging mess filled with poorly lit images shot from obscure angles that look the same. The action is too confusing to provide any decent scares, the writing is too flat to elicit any other emotion, and the acting can't even qualify it's so bad. It's "Fear of the Unknown" element produces nothing but boredom here. A bad film, with slightly better production values than other bad films.

    Rating:
    ** (2/4)

    Aliens (1986)
    Now THIS is an alien monster movie. In every aspect that first movie fails, James Cameron's far superior sequel succeeds. Packed with attitude, personality, character, and thrills. And is there any line more badass than "Get away from her, you BITCH!"

    Rating:
    ***+ (3.5/4)

    Prometheus
    A mixed bag of fascinating ideas to0 big for the writers to properly handle, so they instead focus on developing some rather unlikeable characters. When the horror elements set in, the tone becomes extremely uneven. But this is one of the most gorgeous looking sci fi films of the 2010s, so there's that. And Michael Fassbender makes everything better.
    Rating
    **+

    Alien: Covenant
    What a mess. The ideas here are squandered for a mediocre slasher film in space. The characters are underwritten to the point where I had absolutely no idea who's who. The promotional material said the crew was entirely comprised of couples (already a really stupid idea) but good luck figuring that out seeing as how no one really interacts with each other. The film continues the franchise's bad habit of not lighting the interiors, and the action, while intense, dissolves into noise after a while. I had a headache after this one. I still do. The only saving graces here are Fassbender's dual role (proving the only thing better than Michael Fassbender are two Michael Fassbenders) and Guy Pearce's quick cameo. But really, skip this one.
    Rating
    **

    I only saw the ones that interested me (well, and Alien: Covenant), so that's why my retrospective is so incomplete. I'm on the fence with Prometheus, because it comes very close to what I want to see in a space film, but it just stumbles too much to get there. Plus, I hate the way the prequels handle the Engineers idea. "Hey, these guys created us. Let's kill them and not at all focus on the existentialism behind this." And I have absolutely no idea how that first film is so highly regarded because that thing is downright Mystery Science Theater 3000 worthy.

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    1. Interesting thoughts here. I definitely like Alien more than you, but I get where you're coming from. And while Covenant may not be getting the best reviews, I'm glad that Fassbender is unanimously excellent. And I always love seeing Guy Pearce show up, even if it's just for a scene.

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  7. Spectacular break down of the franchise. I surprisingly can't hate Alien3 or even Alien: Resurrection (as absurd as it is). Maybe it's because 1-4 are part of my youth? I'm not sure. There are chilling parts of 3 and 4 that weren't able to be replicated in the later movies, you know? Maybe it was always the inclusion of Ripley that saved those films for me.

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    1. Thanks! It's such a shame that 3 is shit on so much. It really isn't half bad at all, especially the Assembly Cut. Makes me wonder, though, what it could have been if Fincher had full control.

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    2. Have you ever seen the "making of" doc of Alien3? It's so good. Fincher honestly says out loud, "i hope someone goes to see this movie." LOL. He knew.

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    3. Haha I haven't! But I heard he was the only director who refused to be part of those docs. Man really love control.

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  8. I've yet to see Covenant and don't plan on seeing Requiem, but I mostly agree with your other thoughts. I'm a little more forgiving of Resurrection than you are (more like a C or C-), but it's splitting hairs. I have a feeling it would hold up even worse if I watched it again. I did like the Assembly Cut of Alien 3 more than the original (it fixes a few plot holes), but it's hard to like that film too much. Killing Newt and Hicks is just awful. Nice work!

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    1. Thanks Dan! It does seem like we're pretty in line here. Yeah, killing Newt and Hicks off right away is just so damn lazy. I completely understand why Cameron was so upset about it.

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  9. A franchise I've never got anything out of. Wouldn't give any film here higher than a C, though AVP has always provided earnest fun in the face of other terribly handled Alien sequels with pretensions of furthering the mythos. As with most horror films, the first was more than enough. Unlike most horror films- it was because it was dull as dishwater. Tedious and packing a camp set of 'scares' that utterly undermined its interesting atmosphere.

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    1. Hmmm. Mark, dude, I love ya, but yeah, we're polar opposite on Alien. But hey, we like what we like. As always, I appreciate your comments.

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    2. Yeah I figured, but hell I'm always excited to try them again and hope that opinion changes. Might go to see Alien in cinema again soon.

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    3. Good to know someone's on my side with this, Mark, although I will admit three minor disagreements. 1) I loved Aliens, a rare sequel far better than the first film. 2) I really don't think the first film had very good atmosphere. I get it's trying to build tension and suspense, "fear of the unknown" stuff, but far too often it just came off as lazy to me. 3) At least dishwater bubbles and has dirt floating around in it, which gives it a slight edge over Alien, in my opinion. But yeah, if it weren't for my admiration for Aliens, I'd definitely say the first film was more than enough. Unless they're gonna actually try to do something interesting and ditch the tired haunted-house-in-space schtick, I'd say it's high time to kill the franchise and leave it for the crows.

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    4. Very interesting. Please don’t take this as me invalidating your opinions on Alien, but do you guys find Alien slow because you’re used to seeing faster, gorier, flashier horror? When that thing came out in 1979, no one had seen anything like it. I suppose that factors into my analysis of the film. Just wondering if it did in yours too.

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    5. Of course I don't you're invalidating anything, Alex. I'm all too happy to discuss. It is something I've wondered myself. Do I dislike the film or am I just used to the flashier and faster Hollywood stuff? In terms of tone, I'd say that Alien's going for the sci fi version of something like 1963's The Haunting, or to use a more recent example, last year's The Witch, and with that in mind, The Haunting is one of the very best horror movies I've seen, and I was probably the only person in the packed theater clapping amidst everyone else's groans when I saw The Witch. Hell, I think 2001: A Space Odyssey (my #1 of all time) has several moments that are absolutely terrifying, such as the scenes with the Monolith as well as HAL's breakdown and eventual "death". I could go on, but the point is clear: slowness is not an issue when handled properly.

      When analyzing a horror movie, I tend to see how it holds up in two fields: Good Horror, and Good Movie. I admire films like The Conjuring and Sinister, because while they are okay at best movies, I can't deny I left the theater shaking, placing them firmly into Good Horror. Others, like The Witch, I find surely unnerving, but not quite to a degree I would like it to be, but I do find plenty to admire about the aesthetic, acting, story details, etc., which makes them Good Movies. Of course the goal is to achieve something like The Babadook or The Shining, which are both Great Horror and Great Movies. Alien, however, didn't have Good Horror, and was not a Good Movie.

      I’m not sure if I’d say the Unknown is an overused or just misunderstood gimmick in horror, but I think Alien is a very good example of what not to do. Scenes where the Xenomorph attack are often presented in very dimly lit locations, shot from very obscure camera angles, to the point where I had difficulty telling just what I was supposed to be looking. The effect this had on me is comparable to going to a magic show and the performer tells me to picture a rabbit coming out of his hat while he just stands on the middle of the stage, holding an obviously empty hat and doing absolutely nothing with it. In fact, until I saw Alien: Covenant, which contained a scene where the second mouth shoots into someone’s head spraying brains all over the place, I had absolutely no clue how the Alien killed anybody, and therefore the creature did not pose much of a threat to me. A good example of how to do the Unknown well would be The Shining. We see the spirits and the corruption they can be capable of, and nothing more. The Overlook Hotel remains a mystery, and the few explicit details we do receive inform us that the untold secrets can be truly terrifying. In order for The Unknown to truly scare, we need something substantial enough to build off of. Alien fails in that respect, thus placing it as Bad Horror.

      To Be Continued…

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    6. …Continued

      Sadly, this would be forgivable if it weren’t for the shortcomings in nearly every other field. The acting is stilted and unconvincing, despite such talented people as John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton and Sigourney Weaver. There isn’t much for an actor to do when the characters are given no personalities of their own, aside from faces to be eaten by the Alien. The mise-en-scene is comprised of the aforementioned dim lighting and obscure angles, making the images hard to see, a bad idea for a visual medium. This is especially a shame since there are some very good set designs and visual effects; the only problem is you can’t see it! So, Bad Movie.

      This film may have been “new” for 1979, but there were plenty of prototypes, from Forbidden Planet to 2001 to Dark Star (which Dan O’Bannon wrote first, and then he took out the comedic elements and that’s where Alien came from). Also, I’ve often found that “new at the time” argument to be rather flimsy. I admire a film for doing something new for its time, it figures very little into my overall view of it. Harsh as this may sound, I’m watching it now, not in 1979, and the fact is the film doesn’t hold up. Other films, like The Shining, like The Haunting, like Halloween, and so on and so forth, are often parodied and homage and ripped off, but they still hold up because of the emotional core beneath the ideas. A bad film is a bad film, no matter how new the ideas presented are.

      Alien is very typical for Ridley Scott, who has many fascinating ideas (although that applies more to his other works, like Blade Runner, than Alien) and clearly a strong devotion to bringing them on screen, but somehow lacks the passion or the heart to give the images life. It’s hard for me to watch his films, because I see those ideas and devotion and wish he could have made a more emotionally investing film to put them in.

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    7. Slower pace doesn't factor in at all, its the tedious writing I have a problem with: The same point-by-point progression that ruins Carpenter's The Thing. As I said, its directorial patience can be a positive- just one that doesn't hold out for very long.

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    8. Thanks both for your responses.
      Nickolas: I hear what you said, and I actually agree with a lot of your thoughts on the films you mentioned.
      Mark: I had no idea anyone else wasn't jazzed about The Thing. That one has never really done it for me either.

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  10. I don't know how I missed this post. I won't comment on the whole series of Alien films (I haven't seen them all), but I do want to mention something about Alien3.

    I agree with you completely.

    The problems of this movie mostly happen (mostly) in the opening few minutes when the characters who so much of the second movie depend on are calmly and perfunctorily tossed aside. The biggest problem beyond that is that this movie is the third in one of the most highly acclaimed series ever made. Alien and Aliens are both so damn good that anything mediocre (which this is) is going to be seen as a travesty.

    If it weren't a part of the Alien series, the third movie would be remembered as a decent-if-not-great B-movie with a cool monster. However, since it follows two movies as beloved as the first two in the series, it's remembered as a complete waste.

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    1. Yep, totally agree. The Godfather Part III suffers from this a bit too. Both that film and Aliens 3 are following impossible acts. Thanks for the comment!

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  11. Great write-up; I agree with most of your assessments, give or take a + or -! I don't quite agree on your final Covenant point, however. I don't think Scott ever intended the ending to play as a 'twist' - as an audience, you're expected to know (or strongly suspect) what's really up which amps up the tension considerably. My take is we're encouraged to regard the events dispassionately - I don't think it's an accident that the opening shot of the film is an XCU of David's eye.

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    1. Hmm, that's interesting about Covenant. If it wasn't meant to be a twist, I suppose I still feel that the tension of the David/Walter fight was very absent. But hey, I enjoyed the film all the same. Can't go wrong with double Fass.

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  12. Couldn't agree more with your ratings. My parents were big fans of Alien (what a masterpiece, my dad had a huge crush on Ripley) so I watch it with them a few times when I was a kid, and right now I love more the first one but when I was that age I liked more the sequel because I think I empathized with the arch of the little girl, and the first one scared me to hell the first time I saw some scenes as they were rewatching it at home. Later, it became one of my favorite films. I remember we went together to the cinema to watch Resurrection and it was a big disappointment. The last one we watched at the cinema together was Prometheus and I loved those first scenes shot in Iceland, and we left the cinema with a good feeling. Something like: Ok, it's not "Alien" but it's been fun. And of course I was on a Fassbender big fan moment back then and I really liked watching him playing such a different character. But I haven't feel like watching Covenant, at least not on the cinema. I felt the trailer gave too much away (haven't read your whole review in case I watch it sooner or later). Some say maybe Ridley shouldn't have done another one, but I guess the man loves doing those things haha.

    Talking about "aliens" reminds me that I read your Arrival review when it was out on cinemas and I finally got my hands on the Blu-Ray and I liked it a lot. Some scenes were really poignant, it made me really emotional during some moments. Villeneuve is definitely up there on my favorite directors list, he does something quite special with his films.

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    1. It's a very strange franchise, isn't it? Alien is just so damn good, but I'm not sure Scott will be able to recreate that magic. I like Covenant when I wrote this, but I honestly haven't thought about it since. Such a shame.

      Arrival... that's one I actually liked a lot more when I rewatched it. Villeneuve is one of my favorites too. Very curious to see what he does with Blade Runner.

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    2. Yeah I can't wait to see the Blade Runner sequel. I'm a bit afraid about it too, won't deny it... Is this kind of fear you have when you like something very much and you don't want anyone to spoil it. But I had that fear with the Twin Peaks return and I'm liking it so far. It would be nice if they would use some things from the novel that were really cool. I see the novel and the film (Ridley's version without Harrison narrating it, I didn't like the first version as much as the other one which I love) as two completely different things, but still, I think Philip K. Dick had some very interesting ideas that were not used on the film and it would be a shame they won't use them. But probably Villeneuve would use some of his recurrent themes/ideas, I'm hoping they've done something interesting with it, and I'm sure at least it would be visually appealing having Roger Deakins there too.

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    3. It definitely looks like the visuals will be amazing, at the very least. To be honest, I was never a fan of the original Blade Runner. I only truly like Scott's Final Cut.

      It's funny, there is no way a director could get away with releasing seven drastically different versions of a film and still have the film be discussed today. But Blade Runner lives on, and I'm excited to see what Villeneuve does with it.

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