Alien: The Director's Cut

"Good"

Alien: The Director's Cut Review


Twenty-some odd years after scaring the bejesus out of me as a thrill-seeking teenager, Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror hallmark "Alien," re-released today in a new Director's Cut, doesn't hold up as well as I'd anticipated.

Sure, the infant alien bursting from the chest of John Hurt after gestating his gut is still a seat-gripper (although the stiff little puppet that emerges and scurries off screen has always been the worst special effect in the movie). Sure the seven poor saps onboard the ill-fated cargo spaceship are real personalities with depth and dimension (cynical blue-collar grunts stuck with each other in dead-end deep-space jobs) played by gifted actors like Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright and sequel-bait Sigourney Weaver. These people are anything but the wisecracking beauty-before-brains WB-channel cast-off types that have always been fodder for B-horror killers Jason, Freddy and Leatherface.

Sure, "Alien" still boats what is arguably the best monster design in movie history (by H.R. Giger and Carlo Rambaldi). The exoskeletal alien itself -- with its razored fingers, its sleek, elongated dome head and its steely-fanged mouth that drips translucent goo and hides a tongue tipped with another set of teeth -- is ingeniously terrifying. The acid-blooded, mutant-crab-like face-hugger -- with the long, strangling spine that impregnates Hurt with the alien embryo -- is so masterfully rendered that even during its slimy autopsy close-ups the thing begets goosebumps. Modern CGI effects cannot hold up to this kind of substantive scrutiny. "Alien's" aliens are as real as movie monsters get.

But when the full-grown monster is loose on the ship, taking out crew members one by one as they try to track it and kill it, "Alien" begins to fall back on convention and contrivances -- like the presence of Jonesy the cat, an animal that exists only for cheap jump-out-of-cabinet frights and as an excuse to separate members of the crew ("Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!") while the monster sneaks up on them from behind, it's jaw dripping gooey saliva as it savors its victims' last moments of horror.

In a movie as initially intelligent as "Alien" is in its first two reels of spooky "2001"-like atmosphere, it's also harder to forgive such silly ideas as a ship in the middle of a self-destruct countdown that would fill with steam and be lit only by strobe lights -- as if that's going to help anyone make it to the escape shuttle.

In this Director's Cut, which is not fundamentally different from the original, Scott didn't even bother to fix the movie's biggest unintentional laugh -- a blatant continuity gaffe which calls attention to the fact that the talking severed head of an android is really just Ian Holm sticking his noggin through a hole in a tabletop.

Ridley Scott demonstrates an extraordinary talent for exploiting chilling silences in "Alien," which, along with the uniquely otherworldly production design by Michael Seymour and Roger Christian, help create a memorably ominous aura that has survived intact over the 24 years since its creation. But while "Alien" is still a milestone of sci-fi fright, it's not the brilliant bone-chiller it once seemed to be, if only because it falls frustratingly short of living up to its more cerebral and psychological potential.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.