Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)
Rated R
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerrit, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Tagline: In space, no one can hear you scream.
Running time: 117 Minutes
#44 on IMDB Top 250

Quick summary: While returning from a mining mission, the crew of the Nostromo is tasked with investigating a potential SOS call on a distant planet, and during the investigation, they discover that it isn’t an SOS call, but a warning of the dangers that await them.

Alien is another on the long list of movies that I’ve never seen, but definitely should have seen a long time ago. I never really had a desire to see it when I was a kid, mainly because I didn’t like horror movies, so I just kept watching other movies instead.

The problem with waiting such a long time to watch a popular and revered “classic” is that you kind of learn what happens through popular culture, so all of the big surprises and reveals get spoiled, and all of the shock elements are gone. It also hurts that I know all of the sequels exist, and I know that Sigourney Weaver survives, so I was never worried that the Alien would kill her, because I knew that it couldn’t happen. When you already know this going in, the movie becomes a little stale, and you don’t care as much.

The Alien franchise will now forever be linked to the Predator franchise through the recent crossover movies (which diehard fans of each discount as not part of each series), and it makes sense on paper. They are both iconic sci-fi/horror franchises, so why not try and capitalize on that? I’m cool with that. The difference between the two, for me, is that the Predators are much cooler than the Aliens. I root for the Predators because of how awesome they are, and against the Aliens because they are presented as nothing more than monsters. Predators are smart and sophisticated creatures, while Aliens are just primitive terrors.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Alien as a bad movie, because it was certainly good, and it’s a legend in the horror/sci-fi game, and I respect that. If I had seen it years ago, or lived in a bubble, I’d probably have had a better reaction to it, but given all the spoilers over the years and the references to it, it lost some of it’s edge, some of what makes it a good horror movie.

There was nothing I really didn’t like about the movie, aside from the reveal that (spoiler alert?) Ash was an android. I thought that was a kind of stupid direction to take that in. Everything up to that point, and everything afterwards I was cool with, but just that one sequence could have been thrown out, and I wouldn’t have missed it. It certainly didn’t help that it looked cheesy compared to modern special effects, but I am sure that in 1979 it was cutting edge and cooler.
While doing some IMDB’ing on the film/franchise, I found it pretty interesting that the first three movies were all directed by now iconic and beloved directors. Ridley Scott did the first one, James Cameron took over for Aliens and David Fincher was at the helm for Alien3. That’s a pretty interesting bit of information, as all went on to bigger an (mostly) better things after their turn.

Overall, it’s a good horror flick, and certainly deserving recognition as a pioneer in the genre, but for me, I’d rather have the Predator movies over the Alien movies any day. I’m glad I can cross it off of my list of movies to see, since it’s been on there for nearly 15 years.

3 out of 5 stars

Better than Avatar


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