Friday, July 12, 2013

Alien (1979) Review.

Thoughts: Alien, one of the most well known sci-fi films ever made. After watching Ridley Scott's recent film, Prometheus, it made me want to watch Alien, does it live up to the reputation?
Ridley Scott creates some of the best science fiction atmosphere and worlds and Alien is no exception. Even though a few of the effects and parts that were intended to be scary turned out more humorous than anything, the movie does have a solid amount of tension after the first 30 minutes. Some of the suspense was lost due to the knowledge of who survives at the end. At the time of release I can completely see why people were terrified and found it riveting but it does not hold up as well today. Also none of the "jump scares" actually made me jump because the movie is not the least bit scary, to me at least. Despite this, Alien is still a very enjoyable movie if you like practical effects and not discouraged by some gore. Surprisingly, one of my favorite aspect of Alien are all the technical aspects like the creature design and other special effects. While not near as disturbing as they would have been back in 1979, some scenes were impressively gruesome, particularly the infamous "Chestburster" scene. However, the one that stood out was probably the "Facehugger", which almost makes your skin crawl. It has to be one of the worst deaths ever in movie history. I will take being dismembered by a full grown Alien any day rather than a "facehugger" killing me. *Spoiler* The movie even makes a robot's death kind of gruesome, which is an impressive feat. Also the android trying to kill Ripley with a magazine was odd and almost unintentionally funny. *End Spoiler*
Watching Prometheus first probably made me enjoy Alien more than I would have otherwise, but I am uncertain as to which one I would recommend you to watch first.

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Horror, Suspense,
Release Date: May 25, 1979
Running Time: 117 minutes
MMPA rating: R

The Good: Suspenseful, Great atmosphere, Excellent practical effects, Genuinely creepy at times, Fantastic direction, Top notch direction from Scott, "Chestburster" scene, A few standout performances,

The Bad: Slow pacing,

Warning: This movie is rated "R" for graphic violence,  profanity, and other mature content.

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from
The commercial towing spaceship Nostromo, owned and operated by Earth mega-corporation Weyland-Yutani, is on a return trip to Earth hauling a refinery and twenty million tons of mineral ore and carrying its seven-member crew in stasis. Detecting a transmission of unknown origin from a nearby planetoid, the ship's computer awakens the crew. Acting on standing orders from their corporate employers, they set out to investigate the transmission's source. Landing the ship on the planetoid damages the ship some, so Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt), and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) set out to investigate the signal while Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm), and Engineers Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) stay behind to make repairs.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 8.3/10- The pacing was terribly slow at times, especially the first 30 minutes. However, the concept was revolutionary for its day and has spawned many rip-offs. Despite the pacing problems, Alien was rarely boring due to its visual design, although I could see some being bored. The characters were memorable and mostly likeable, particularly Ripley. Some of the dialogue between the crew could have been better and slightly less stilted, but nothing terrible by any means. Fortunately there are not a lot of stupid horror clich├ęs, which surprised me since Prometheus fell victim to them. On the other hand, there were a few scenes that felt kind of dumb considering the smart actions that the character made previously in the film. In typical Ridley Scott fashion, there is a intriguing mystery that is hinted but left ambiguously unexplained.

Action: 5.2/10- Little real action, rather just characters dying and one brief fight scene.

Acting: 7.9/10- Alien has no real star for the majority of the movie, it is more of an ensemble film, however, Sigourney Weaver gave standout performance of the group as Ripley. It was good to see old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) in another role and he probably gave the second best performance.

Special effects: 9.5/10- Although a few of the effects looked especially dated, I have to respect the use of awesome practical effects. The "Alien" was kind of creepy and had excellent design. Since the film uses the "Jaws Effect" of not showing the Alien until the end, however due to the terrible AVP movies and that I have seen the original costume used at the Hollywood Disney, and in video games, the Alien reveal was not surprising as it would have been for those in the theaters when it was released.

Soundtrack: 7.8/10- A few of the tracks added to the tension, but most was not terribly noticeable during the film.

Comedy: N/A-

Would I Watch This Again: Most likely I will because it is a classic, although there will be no tension in sequent viewings.

Overall: 8.4/10- While Alien is a tad overrated, it is nonetheless a top notch sci-fi thriller with impressive creature design and solid thrills even today.

Closing comments: Some parts are awesome and others slow, but watching Prometheus made me enjoy Alien more than I would have otherwise and I highly recommend the film for sci-fi fans.

Recommended for: Sci-Fi fans, Thriller fans, Horror fans, Suspense fans,

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  1. Nice write up James. I've always been found of this film but it works on a different level than say Aliens.

    The pacing you mentioned is really more a result of it being more a haunted house type film set in a sci-fi setting.

    1. Thank you Daniel. Very true, Alien is a slow tension filled movie, while Aliens is a loaded with a ton of thrills.

      Excellent point, although the slow pace not working as well for me was probably because I already knew who would live and die.


  2. Sounds like an interesting film. I've been intrigued by this movie since I saw a trailer at Disney World last year, and I'm glad to hear it's good(and I'd also heard Ripley was a good character.) And that's cool that Ian Holm was in the movie, I'll be looking forward to that too when I get to see it :D

    1. I recommend watching it for sure, especially since the sequel is awesome. Ripley is a great character for sure, although she does not come into her own until Aliens. Ian Holm is really good in this, hope you enjoy the movie! :)


  3. Hmmmm, I wonder if I would like this movie or not. It sounds interesting but kinda out-dated at the same time. :) At any rate, I enjoyed reading your review. :)


    1. Well, even if you are unsure I would recommend because the sequel is so much better and you need to know what happened in the first film for it to make sense. :) Thank you Jamie. :)



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