Alien

"Excellent"

Alien Review


The good news: Sigourney Weaver's famous underwear shot, which probably launched millions of now middle-aged men straight into puberty and beyond, has survived Ridley Scott's keen eye in his digitally remastered 2003 director's cut of Alien.

As for the bad news, well, there really isn't any. Alien, first released in 1979 and in theaters right now, has stood the test of time remarkably well. The beautiful and ballsy Weaver is a heroine for all seasons, the movie is suspenseful in all the right spots and it plays beautifully on the big screen with big sound.

The plot concerns the crew of the Nostromo, an industrial space ship on its way back home to Earth. That trip gets delayed when the ship's intelligence system picks up correspondence from another planet. Contractually obligated to find the source of the signal, the crew unknowingly lets on a hostile, remorseless, and indestructible alien, much to everyone's immediate and fatal regret.

A lot of horror/thriller directors assume that people see a movie for the blood and guts. However, the splatter means nothing if we don't know the characters, their interactions, their intentions and what they have to lose. That's the key for the action to have any impact. And if you don't agree, then feel free to watch the abysmal House of the Dead.

Alien provides this crucial background in key ways. We see that Ripley (Weaver in a career-making role), the third officer, is really the backbone of the ship. She's not afraid to stand up to officer in charge, Dallas (Tom Skerritt), or the two complaining, indifferent mechanics (Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton). Scott lets the camera linger a little longer on Ash (Ian Holm), the steely science officer who seems a little too calm. And in just a few short scenes we know that Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) may act aloof, but is petrified. The characters are essentially intergalactic industrial workers, talking about bonuses, getting home and having a decent meal. As the movie progresses we realize that there's no guarantee they'll get home. And that's scary. (Of course, you have to temporarily forget about the three sequels.)

With character development firmly in place and the plot analyzed, I can now say with complete critical conviction that Alien is a kick-ass flick with a buncha thrills. The alien looks toothy and formidable, and Scott widely chooses never to show the whole image, taking the "scared by what we can't see maxim" to the hilt. We see teeth, the shape of a head, but never a discernable figure. Scott plays with the audience in other ways, introducing a cat that's always on the prowl (the better to screw with us) and in one terrific close-up showing us why Ash isn't someone to be trusted. And of course, there's John Hurt's memorable dinner scene. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it. Let's just say, you'll be stocking up on Pepto Bismol the next day.

For those of you who feel tempted to run over to Blockbuster instead of the multiplex, please don't. I saw Alien on DVD a few months ago, and this version feels fuller and more informative (thanks to more footage) and, I dare say, scarier. And, as mentioned before, the movie works better on a big screen. You're not renting a character study, but a Hungry Man-sized movie that needs plenty of room and sound to work with.

If you decide to rent, as Ash says to Ripley and her crew, "you have my sympathies."

Ridley Scott and the bulk of the original cast offer a commentary track on the new Alien DVD release. Scott has cut in a few extra scenes on this director's cut, which enhances the film a bit but not overwhelmingly. You'll also find a plethora of extras, including featurettes about the making of the film and Sigourney Weaver's screen test.

The Alien Quadrilogy includes a total of nine disks: all four Alien films, each with a separate disk of extras, and an additional bonus disk complete with a Q&A with Ridley Scott, a UK documentary on Alien, original theatrical trailers to all four films, a DVD-ROM "script to screen" comparison feature, an anthology of 11 issues of the Dark Horse Alien comics, and more. These materials will give you a whole new appreciation for the Alien films.

Thar she blows!



Alien

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd June 1979

Box Office Worldwide: $104.9M

Budget: $11M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Brandywine Productions, Twentieth Century-Fox Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 90 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 8.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ripley, as Dallas, as Lambert, as Brett, as Kane, as Ash, as Parker, Bolaji Badejo as Alien, Helen Horton as Mother (voice), Eddie Powell as Alien

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.