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It's surprisingly difficult for yours truly to write reviews for films such as Alien, those rare "classic" films that have been hyped to death and actually manage to live up to all of the praise. This is because when I watch one of these films with the intention of reviewing it afterwards, I'll either watch it in the typical fanboy mode (this is why Pulp Fiction still hasn't been reviewed on this site) or I'll try to pick it apart and ultimately rate it far lower than I should have. Thankfully, I haven't watched the Alien series since Alien 3 was released, so I'll have a fairly fresh perspective on the series and getting through these films should be a little easier than the aforementioned Tarantino masterpiece.
Review by Chad
Added: September 01, 2006
For this review, I watched the 2003 director's cut found on the UK version of the Alien Quadrilogy box set. As mentioned, I haven't seen the 1979 theatrical cut since the mid-nineties, so pointing out which scenes were inserted and which were cut by five to ten seconds is not the intention of this review, and besides, you can easily find that information elsewhere if you're so inclined.
It's probably a bit silly of me to type out the storyline found within this movie, as I'm sure that just about everyone out there has already seen it. However, for that one pitiful soul that hasn't (and to stick to my general format), here goes. Set in the distant future, our story tells the tale of a mining ship traveling through space with a cargo consisting of something along the lines of twenty-million tons of minerals. Aboard this ship is a crew of seven, consisting of Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Kane (John Hurt), Ash (Ian Holm), and Parker (Yaphet Kotto). The crew is headed for home (Earth), when they hear some sort of radio signal that is quite possibly an S.O.S. from another ship or planet. Dallas, the captain of the ship, decides to wake the crew out of their suspended animation in order to investigate this signal, and it doesn't take long for them to track the signal as coming from a remote, desolate planet. After they land their ship on this planet, they quickly find out that it isn't entirely desolate; there are some sort of alien eggs to be found in a cave sprawling beneath the planet's surface, and as one of the crew members is checking it out, it hatches. One of the famed face-huggers emerges from this egg and immediately attaches itself to the unfortunate fool's face, so the rest of the crew that was with him immediately drags his now-comatose body back to the ship. From here, it's a claustrophobic game of cat-and-mouse between the humans and... well, if you're that one pitiful soul that hasn't seen it, you owe it to yourself to find out what happens on your own.
What makes the film work so well is its removal from the typical sci-fi / action flicks that require some sort of action to occur in every other scene. Director Ridley Scott takes his time in unraveling the pieces of the storyline, and (pretending that I've never seen the sequels) the movie really leaves you guessing as to what exactly it is that the people aboard this ship are dealing with. Yes, this aspect of the movie would have worked infinitely better for the series-virgins (those who haven't seen any of the movies, games, toys, etc.), but even with that in mind, it works out beautifully thanks to Scott's direction and the gorgeous visuals created by H.R. Geiger. Even though you know fully well what's coming and what it looks like, the tension is still there almost thirty years after the original release; very few movies can accomplish that, and Alien is one of them.
The cast is another way that this film excels, thanks to the wonderful acting abilities put forth by them as well as the depth that most characters were given. With an exception or two, everyone involved with the movie actually felt like they were a part of the movie; this was not one of those films where, ten minutes in, you could pick out who was merely there to add to the eventual body count. Sigourney Weaver is the star of the film, of course, and even though she was pretty much an unknown actress when this film was shot, she still stands out as the leading lady of the movie. Of course, some of this can be credited to the script, but it's also very easy to see why her role in this movie made her one of the better-known actresses in Hollywood. The way that she takes control of a scene and plays her character as though it were a real person and not just a character in a movie is excellent, and I honestly couldn't see too many other actresses playing this role.
Overall, this is one of those rare films that lives up to the hype and it's completely obvious why people are still talking about it (and bastardizing it in cross-over movies) twenty-seven years after its release: it's just a damned entertaining movie that manages to thrill the audience no matter how many times they've seen it. Normally, I'd tell you find readers to go pick up a copy of this one immediately, but any self-respecting movie fan should already have it in his or her collection, so break out your copy and give it another viewing. 10/10.
- added 09/12/2006, 12:06 AM
was the alien in this one actually a dude in a
suit? i thought it was just a robotic model or
something. either way, genius. one of the reasons
ridley scott is one of my favourite directors.
- added 09/12/2006, 12:24 AM
Indeed, it was a guy named Bolaji Badejo. He was
this huge guy - stood a bit over seven feet tall -
and has never been in anything since this.
Quoting imdb: "It was Scott's intention to create
a monster that looked as if no human could be
behind the mask. It was to be long and angular,
with an impossible frame that only a few men would
be able to fill. Badejo filled the role."
- added 09/15/2007, 02:03 PM
He was freakishly tall and super skinny so he fit
into that suit. Poor guy died not too long after
these movies were made. Fantastic movie, by the
way. Scared the shit out of me when I was younger.
- added 04/04/2008, 08:28 PM
While it is an awesome movie, I remember hating
it when I was a kid. I was expecting a gore fest
or something. I remember being completely bored,
especially during the into where it take like 10
minutes just to spell out "Alien". But watching it
years later, I realized how great it is.
- added 02/27/2009, 07:47 PM
I was scared to death the first time I watched
it, being just a kid...10/10
- added 10/13/2009, 03:39 AM
When the little alien pops out of the dude's
chest and looks around for a bit then scuddles off
is really funny to me. Anywho's I love it. 10/10
- added 11/17/2009, 11:32 PM
What else is there to say?
adaptation of O'Bannon's story... groundbreaking
visualization by Ridley Scott makes this film a
abounds... and add in the crazy horror elements
and you have a great cross-genre success that
doesn't feel like a sorry retread... unlike almost
every imitator that followed this film's success
for the next 20 or so years.
and believable... even to this day... few science
fiction films age as well as this one.
crowning jewel in Mr. Scott's Sci-Fi crown...
resting neatly beside "Blade
An easy 10/10.
- added 05/26/2010, 11:40 PM
I wonder how good this movie would have been if
they had to use effects instead of using that man
in the suit. 10/10
- added 10/09/2013, 01:00 PM
A movie that really blends Horror and Science
Fiction very evenly. Alien will become or is
already a cult classic.You've got to see it if you