A timeless tale of horror and man (or in this case woman) against an unknown murderous force, Alien , now over 30 years in age, continues to be one of the most beloved gems of the science-fiction genre. Alien has always been one of my personal favorite movies for many reasons, which I would fail to summarize in the span of this review, but I certainly can try my best to fill out details on my casual view on what's the best way to enjoy the film.
Alien is a haunted house if you could put the feeling of a well-done haunted house on screen. A fusion of various sci-fi elements (think `2001: A Space Odyssey' with a dash of `Star Wars') and some horror (`The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and `Jaws') is a winning decision in Director Ridley Scott's dark vision of the future.
I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the plot of this "truckers in space" horror that launched the career of actress Sigourney Weaver and placed Swedish artist, H.R. Giger's sexual monster in the nightmares of millions filmgoers the world over.
A crew aboard a commercial towing vessel entitled the Nostromo is hauling a refinery and its metal ore back to Earth when suddenly the computer (known simply as "Mother") sets them on a new course. The blue-collared crew is awoken to find themselves far off course and are given news of a distress signal. Corporation protocols dictate that they must stop, investigate, and, if possible, rescue any survivors. Upon completing this mission they soon come to realize they have brought something aboard unlike anything mankind has ever faced before.
What follows is one of the greatest horror films in movie history. Ridley Scott and his technical crew weave together a gothic, sexual nightmare the likes of which has never been recreated. Unlike its sequels, Alien is a visually engaging movie that puts aside characters in the place of atmosphere. This film is a beauty to behold, but most importantly is the monster itself. Now, I love James Cameron's Aliens, but his representation of the aliens was dumb, simple-minded insects. RIDLEY SCOTT'S ALIEN on the other hand is a curious, sentient killer that is in no way human, but at the same time is clearly far from a mindless animal. From its first appearance to the end of the film the creature is kept in shadow making full use of "What you don't see" to create its suspense. This incarnation of the creature is likely to be my favorite movie monster of all time. Not to discredit future films such as the superb Aliens, but this Alien's creature is simply in a league of its own.
In short, Alien is a real testament of quality filmmaking. I believe Alien belongs among the ranks of such classics as Psycho and Jaws as being one of the best horror/suspense pictures of all time.
Now, to conclude this review I'm going to fill you all in on how you can come to own this gem. There are currently (in-circulation) two DVD versions of Alien. I have owned both and shall now summarize them the two of them for potential buyers from a fan standpoint, and as a consumer.
The single-disc 20th Anniversary edition originally a part of the Alien Legacy box set is the common version you'll find at most stores. For an early DVD this comes with a buffet of features that will satisfy any but the sternest of viewers. It comes with fully animated menus and such features as a full-length director's commentary by Sir Ridley Scott along with deleted scenes.
Alien: The Director's Cut is a two-disc collector's edition of the film that contains both the theatrical cut and director's cut. There are added features, most notably (at least for me) is the joint commentary between both Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver.
I currently own the Director's Cut seeing as I own the Quadrilogy set, but don't take that as a full-on recommendation for the 2-disc set. It may seem extreme, but I do not enjoy the "Director's Cut" and I'll explain why.
Ridley Scott already considered the theatrical cut the definitive edition of the film. The Director's Cut in actuality is more of a "Fan Cut." In my mind you get absolutely nothing from seeing this version since you could already view these deleted/extended scenes on the 20th anniversary edition. As Scott himself has noted initially the deleted scenes are entertaining, but ruin the pacing of the final product, especially when Ripley must escape the ship.
The Director's Cut does have some good special features and the picture may be a tad better, but if you aren't a huge fan of Alien or don't watch many special features I would suggest keeping to the single-disc release of the film. It just has more bang for your buck. BUT, if you really, really, REALLY must see everything there is to see about Alien you will probably go with the 2-disc set.
Just one note before I conclude this review: At home everyone can hear you scream. So try to tone it down.
**** out of **** Commercial towing spaceship Nostromo is making the long trip back to earth after the crew made out like a group of crafty bandits with about twenty million tons of mineral ore. Until the journey back is complete, the crew sleeps; although an incoming transmission temporarily interrupts their slumber. It comes from an unnamed planet, from an unknown source, but the computer - which the crew members call "Mother" - claims that it would be in their best interest … more
Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill.
September 01, 2010
One of THE best sci-fi/horror flicks ever made. While all four have their merits and are all good movies in their own sense; none of the sequels have captured the ambiance and general sense of fear this one created.
Star Wars may have gotten the sci fi ball rolling in the 70's with a future that isn't always clean and where people don't always eat food pills, but Alien perfected it. The computers aren't fast, the seats are held together with duct tape, the machinery looks like it works and your crew members are a lot like co workers who you wish would mind their own business and do their job. It also presented the most memorable creature to ever grace screens, … more
Alien is one of the first films to take horror elements and successfully place it within a sci-fi picture. A space cargo ship is out in the middle of space searching for salvage and what nots picks a distress signal from another ship. An alien ship had crashed landed on some good forsaken rock in the dead of space. When they land upon the desolate planet, the crew picks up a very unwelcomed visitor when one of the crew get's "faced" by a strange looking crab like creature. Days … more
Somehow, despite my intense interest in movies, and despite having seen the other three 1/2 films in this series, I had never, until today, seen the first movie. It is good. Watching this film I was really taken aback by how well it's aged. You know how sometimes you can watch a movie, and it doesn't matter when it takes place, you can still peg roughly when it was made? that's not the case here. This is a movie that's only slightly younger than I am, … more
Someone once said, "There's a thin line between brilliance and absurdity." More than any other film, Ridley Scott's "Alien" supports that statement. It began as a low-budget project for notorious schlock producer Roger Corman, then titled "Star Beast," but somehow, along the way, everything just came together. If anyone but the great Mr. Scott had directed the film, if Sigourney Weaver had not received her breakthrough role as feminist icon Ellen Ripley, if the film had come together any other way, … more
I don't see what is so amazing about "Alien." I was convinced to watch this film after so many people bragged on it in the reviews of "Alien Vs. Predator." Perhaps it is the fact that I saw both of the "Predator" films before any of the "Alien" franchise, but I don't see where this particular series of films is much better than a lot of other moderately good sci-fi cinema. Honestly, I would much rather watch the original "Predator" film than either of the "Alien" movies I've watched(I've seen the … more
A landmark of science fiction and horror,Alienarrived in 1979 betweenStar WarsandThe Empire Strikes Backas a stylishly malevolent alternative to George Lucas's space fantasy. Partially inspired by 1958'sIt! The Terror from Beyond Space, this instant classic set a tone of its own, offering richly detailed sets, ominous atmosphere, relentless suspense, and a flawless ensemble cast as the crew of the space freighterNostromo, who fall prey to a vicious creature (designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger) that had gestatedinsideone of the ill-fated crew members. In a star-making role, Sigourney Weaver excels as sole survivor Ripley, becoming the screen's most popular heroine in a lucrative movie franchise. To measure the film's success, one need only recall the many images that have been burned into our collective psyche, including the "facehugger," the "chestburster," and Ripley's climactic encounter with the full-grown monster. Impeccably directed by Ridley Scott,Alienis one of the cinema's most unforgettable nightmares.--Jeff Shannon