Aliens

Aliens

James Cameron made his second masterpiece with this, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic space horror show. Cameron, a director who will always ensure he gets exactly what he wants, extremely talented and ingenious, brought the series in a new direction, keeping much of the tension of the original, but upping the excitement and action.

After Ripley went into hyper-sleep at the end of Alien, hoping that someone would find her floating through space and pick her up, she travelled for over 50 years before being picked up by ‘The Company’. She wakes up and tries to come to terms with all that has happened since she was asleep-her daughter grew up and died, ‘The Company’ has become more interested in the alien she claims to have encountered, and the planet where she found the alien has become a mining colony. During interrogation she tells the suits what happened to her, and expressed the need for someone to investigate the ‘alien’ planet. They charge her with the destruction of her previous ship. However, when they receive a distress call from the planet, a group of marines is ordered to investigate. Burke, a company Rep persuades Ripley to come along as she is the only one to have encountered an alien, and because her recurring nightmares are stopping her from living her life. We are introduced to each marine, all tough, hardened fighters, seemingly well-equipped for any danger.
Aliens must surely rank as one of the most exciting movies ever made. At well over 2 hours it is a testament to Cameron, the script-writers and the cast that the pace of the film never slows. Every time the characters think they may have a chance, something happens to make them think otherwise. Everything is giving the most acute detail, from the marines’ garb, to the miniature sets and craft designs. The score is militaristic, keeping with the charge and feel of the movie, and the action is very strong and brilliantly edited. The aliens themselves are still terrifying, and The Queen is awesome. The famous power-loader fight scene is excellent, just one of the many highlights. The planet itself is grim and dark, the perfect place for the creatures to be, and the darkness and tight corridors of the colony add to the tension, atmosphere and claustrophobia.

There is a wide range of characters here, each distinct much like the first film. Even if we do not get to see them for very long, we are given a strong impression of their backgrounds because of their own personal dress and dialogue. Every performance is worthy of mention too, and Weaver’s performance was definitely worthy of the Oscar. Ripley progresses here, becoming one of the strongest female characters in movie history, learning and adapting with the Marines, but retaining her maternal instincts and disgust for the company. In fact, the fight and chase involving the Queen, Ripley and Newt is almost like custody battle, a fight to see who is the best mother. Burke begins seeming friendly, but of course his interest is in bringing back a specimen. Bishop is a brilliant inclusion remembering Ripley’s last encounter with a Droid. Hicks, played by Biehn is an excellent character, strong marine but not an emotionless, stupid grunt. Paxton steals many scenes as Hudson, spitting out some of the film’s best dialogue, at times tough and terrified. Henn as Newt is a revelation in her first performance, dealing with the script and content perfectly. Vasquez must go down as one of the best cult action characters, equally as strong as any of the men, even if she has a short fuse. Goldstein is very good in the role. Apone as the ‘Sarg’ is also good, and Gorman begins as a fool but redeems himself later. The rest of the cast are all good, even if most are only their to be killed. With such a good cast, Aliens becomes even better.

This film cannot be praised enough. Although there are those who feel it is inferior to the first because it has more action and supposedly weaker characterisation, it has to be said that the two films are different entities, the first a horror, the second a sci-fi action. Like The Terminator, Cameron puts in many effective scares so that it transcends the genre, becoming something more. Cameron says he wants to return to Sci-Fi. Please make one as good as this.

This Double discer has everything an Alien fan would want and the presentation is perfect. Essential.

Feel free to leave some love for the movie here, share your thoughts and let us know if you think this is the best of the series.

Alien

Alien

The movie which forever changed the sci-fi genre, taking elements from past monster movies, going against the spotless visuals of 2001 to create a new vision of the future, and one of the most atmospheric movies ever. Rarely does this genre produce a film which inspires acclaim from both fans and critics, but Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic does just that, beginning a famous franchise, story, character and monster, and spawning many inferior clones.

Some time in the future, mankind has the capability of effective space travel, with many planets holding outposts. We are introduced to a crew of miners who work for an all-powerful Foundation, and are returning home on their massive ship- the ‘Nostromo’, after a long period of work. The crew are Dallas-in charge, Parker and Brett-mechanics, Ash-doctor, and Ripley, Lambert and Kane. However, they have been awakened from hyper-sleep early, by it seems an SOS signal. They discuss what to do, eventually deciding that they must investigate. They follow the call to a planet, and Kane, Dallas and Lambert go outside for a closer look. After discovering what appears to be a crashed ship of unknown origin, some sort of organism attaches itself to Kane’s face. Tension grows as they try to take the creature off, but eventually it goes by itself, and dies. Kane wakes and seems to be OK. Soon though, things turn nasty, and a creature is lose on the ship. The remaining crew members try to find it and kill it, but it has grown, and is violently hungry.

Alien works primarily because of three factors; 1. The performances are all immaculate, with some actors giving career bests. Weaver is immensely strong coming to movies from the stage, the veterans all take it seriously even though it first appeared to be a silly scary movie, Holm is extremely good as Ash etc. 2. Scott’s taut direction adds an edge to the script, his stunning visual style giving the sense of isolation and fear perfectly, the lighting is effective, everything is wonderfully detailed, and he knows that less is more when it comes to showing the monster. 3. Geiger’s creature is terrifying, and one of the best monsters ever made, beautiful, sultry, horrifying, mysterious, mechanical and deadly, everything a predator, and a monster should be. The story itself is strong, but it is these three factors which raise it from B-movie status, as well as some truly memorable scenes-The chest burster, Dallas in the tunnels, Ripley’s final encounter, and Ash’s revelation. The film is incredibly intelligent at a time when sci-fi movies were taking over, and it is one of the few which still remains powerful today. Everything about the film is near-faultless, but perhaps it suffers slightly from being too detached or cold. This is a minor complaint clearly. The set designs, the creation of the Alien and the face hugger are all realistic in the sense that we believe these things could conceivably exist. It is definitely the stuff of nightmares, an unseen foe stalking us, seemingly without weakness or emotion, its single motive to kill us. The recent director’s cut shown in cinemas proved that the movie can still excite audiences, even those who have seen it several times, and there were certainly screams as I watched.

This DVD is available at a great price, and is littered with every sort of feature you could possibly want. The new version is also worth buying, but only if you are a big fan.

Feel free as always to comment on the review and anything you disagree with- is this still the best monster in space film? Where would you rank this in the series?

Alien 3

Alien Cubed

The third entry in the Alien series is famous more for its script re-writes, disputes and problems rather than anything that happens in the movie, and has since been slated by fans and critics who expected much more. On the DVD documentaires we can see all these problems, the ideas that were thrown out, and how different the film could have been. On this purchase we see a different cut of the film, one which is superior to the theatrical edition we know, featuring a few cut scenes which did not deserve to be cut. Eventually Fincher got the director’s job and did everything he could to make an entertaining and coherent film which would stand well with the others in the series, all the while looking over his shoulders as ravenous producers repeatedly stepped in to make changes. What is left is a disappointment from one perspective, but a thoroughly good movie from another. Hicks and Newt, surviving characters from Aliens are killed off, rendering their escape from that movie nearly pointless, and setting the gloomy tone for the movie. Bishop is destroyed and has no wish of being remade as a second grade model. After the excitement of the previous film, here we have one alien, and lots of talking. In this way it disappoints. However, watching it as the story of Ripley, of her never-ending nightmare, of a triumph of lighting, atmosphere and darkness, it works well. The tunnel chase scene is also one of the best horror movie moments of the decade. Therefore it is nowhere near as bad as many say it is, but it had the potential of being much better.

Ripley’s escape pod crashes on a prison planet, Fury 101. She is the only survivor, human survivor, and is brought into the prison causing much disruption. The inmates are all men, most murderers and rapists, sentenced to life, but they have adopted religion to get them through each day. There is no way off the planet, no weapons, and it seems a certain creature is loose. The Corporation hears of her survival and prepares to come ‘rescue’ her, but Ripley is more worried about survival as the Alien begins to pick off the inmates. However, a twist reveals that the Alien may let her live.

Weaver is again very good, as are the rest of the cast, particularly Charles S. Dutton and the late Brian Glover. Unfortunately the rest of the cast all look identical, and most are killed without emotion. The score is good, the sets are impressive, and everything is dark and shadowy. The alien itself has changed, but the CG is poor. Many complained the film is too depressing, and if you like your films bright and with a happy ending then this is not for you. For fans of the series, most are split over its merits. I only really enjoyed it after a few watches.

What did you think of the review and the film- fee free to share your thoughts? Is this really the worst in the series, or is it unfairly criticized?

Aliens: Not nearly as good as the First, very dark

Riply Scott’s prequel to this film was a tale of intergalactic terror. Seven friends and their Bumbling Side-kick Jones were travelling home after a long vacation when they encountered a monster. Hearing its distress call, they let it board their ship, but rather than show its gratitude, it decided to kill off the friends one by one in a terrifying game of cat and monster. The survivors from that film appear again here, namely Captain Ridley and of course Jonesy our heroic side kick. Ridley wants revenge for the death of her friends and recruits a team of super tough marines (that’s soldiers to the lay person) to go to their home planet and wipe out the monsters once and for all. This darker tone is in stark contrast to Riply Scott’s original, and it continues throughout. This leads to a series of let downs- Jones disappears without explanation early in the film, without explanation so much of the comedy from the first film is lost. Add to this the lack of Cyborg Ash, whose little dance was a hilarious highlight of the first, and there are few laughs to be found here. Bill Pullman’s marine Ernie ‘Dry Heat’ Hudson attempts some improvised one liners ‘Hey Vasquez- you look like a man!’ and tries some banter with his Sergeant. ‘Can I wear your slippers, Sir?’ he asks ‘LOOK AT MY EYES!’ Capone riplyies. I didn’t really understand this comeback, but I assume The Searg was in no mood for fun and games. This is obviously because the film was under the fierce stranglehold of famous control freak Jim Cameroon, known for a lack of humour in all his films. Cameroon reluctantly casts Paxman in all his films as they’re cousins and there is a definite tension between the comic genius of the actor, and the ultra serious ‘I’m The Daddy’ mentality of the Director.

Ridley and crew fly down to the planet to hunt down the monsters but are shocked to find a survivor- a little boy called Newt. This is a deliberate attempt to soften the almost unrelenting darkness of the film, and possibly bring in a wider female audience who may enjoy the mother/son relationship which develops between Ridley and Nuke. The child doesn’t talk much which in fact adds to the bleak tone, and the fact that he carries around a decapitated doll’s head is rather disturbing. I mean, everyone knows boys don’t play with dolls. Newt mumbles things like (in response to Ridley asking if he’s hungry) ‘I’m mostly scared. Mostly’ and the bizarre ‘Hi, Firmative!’. Presumably Firmative is some imaginary friend, or possibly futuristic slang. Throw into the mix the fact that among the marines is a geeky science geek who wants to steal one of the monster eggs to bring home and experiment on or sell or something. Indeed, he hatches a plan to impregnate one of the gang with the egg so that no-one suspects anything. I think if I woke up with an 8 foot monster mounting me in an attempt to give me its seed, I might suspect something was not right. But back to the film. The gang underestimates the sheer number of the monsters (at least 25) and the fact that their King is on the island too, and soon it is the humans that are on the run. Cameroon is clearly adding a subtext here about man’s destruction of nature and of other species, and that eventually it will turn around and we will be on the receiving end. I have studied film studies for at least a year, and have over a year’s experience in social anthbiology, so I know what I’m talking about. The last half of the film is really a series of chase scenes- in the alien base with tanks etc, in a bedroom with spider monsters, through the living quarters, and then into the sewers until The King wakes up. That’s not to mention the super robot fight at the end which was a precursor to Cameroon’s next film Terminator 2. So yes, there is much action and excitement, and lots of mistrust between characters which lends another level of tension.

Most of the characters are killed off, but all fight well and you really feel like you got to know them. Ridley is a true mother- fighting for her family and friends, strapping on a grenade launcher to take on the bullies, Hudson is a comedian but also a bit of a moaner, Capone, Hick, and Vasquez are all super tough and ultra cool. There is also Bishop, a cyborg who doesn’t dance but preaches the Gospel and does magic tricks with knives. Perhaps if Riply had directed this he would have let some more comedy in, and it would have been a stronger film. At times I wanted to jump into the TV, grab a gun and help out my chums, pumping bullets into skulls. ‘Come on, man! Shoot them! Here they come, quick, let’s blow them away and get out of here! ARRGH!’ I would have been shouting like that. Because the film is so dark and depressing though, I didn’t have the energy to jump in and help. So all I could do was sit back and watch each of my friends get eaten, killed, or worse. Overall this is an excitement film, but Cameroon needs to relax and let some light in. I mean what’s the point in having all these characters only for the planet to blow up at the end and kill them all?

Best Scene: When the soldiers are walking through the alien corridors, and all the bleeps are getting closer, but no-one knows where they’re coming from. It was quite scary, but would have been better if Hudson had jumped out with his underpants on his head and shouted ‘ONLY ME!!!’

GAME OVER, MAN!