Alien Series Retrospective

The Alien series has been around for almost 40 years, and it’s most recent entry is directed by the man who started it all, Ridley Scott. Scott’s universe has been paramount for both sci-fi and horror genres along with movies as a whole. It’s worthwhile then to take a look back at the alien series and evaluate what these films managed to achieve, or the further down we go, what they didn’t.

Alien (1979)

(image from Xenopedia)

Alien holds a very special place to lot of people, a unique blend of horror and science fiction that came out in a time where the two genres weren’t thought to mix. It really acts as a testament to Scott’s world building, which was also present in Blade Runner and his later Alien films. There a mega-corps with sinister beliefs, androids, alien worlds with mysteries to uncover (well not for long) and a colourful cast of characters to boot… and to get brutally murdered.

The major takeaway from alien as I’ve always seen it is the chest bursting scene, obviously spoilers for a 40 year old movie will follow. But the fact that Scott could keep the scene a secret from the rest of the actors (apart from John Hurt clearly) and get genuine reactions from the cast, as there would be from the audience is incredible.

not to mention it is the debut of H.R. Geiger’s alien design, which is reinvented and tweaked as these movies go on (to some that’s good, to some its bad). Alien birthed not just the Xenomorph but a unique franchise not only for its time but for cinema as a whole.

Aliens (1986)

(image from CinemaBlend)

This time director James Cameron, who was responsible for the action sci-fi film Terminator just two years earlier takes the helm. He provides a good enough twist on the franchise to stop it from going stale. In the vain of a sort of Vietnam setting he tasks space marines with fighting off hordes of the alien from the first movie, and their queen. This movie provides a bit of horror and a similar build up. But it also manages to expand the universe but deliver on a different front… action.

Not only this but Cameron also takes Ripley’s character and the story in a new direction with Newt. Now it isn’t just about sole survival but that of a little girl too. Cameron wanted to up the stakes and the action, increased number of aliens and Ripley’s new relationship did just that.

Alien 3 (1992)

(image from ANGELDRIVER)

Remember Newt and Hicks? The two beloved Alien characters behind Ripley. Well there dead. Yeah no one watching is happy with that decision and it seems incredibly stupid to pay Michael Biehn more just to appear on a monitor than we did for the last movie. If you’re gonna kill him at least do it mid movie, add some stakes. But no.

Even so you can admire what was attempted, a slightly different Alien on a Green screen that’s a puppet. That sounds like a cool idea that adds a new form of movement, which it does but it just didn’t look right. As of this point it seems better to work with limitations in these movies instead of stretching technology too thin.

Contrary to most I actually like Alien 3 quite a bit, the weird religious prison setting is new and interesting, the overall plot is okay, with Ripley fighting off a single alien again but this time with the added stake of a queen inside of her. But I think most peoples problems at this stage are because the first two are so great, inventive, and visually stunning that when the third film misses the mark disappointment is the only emotion felt.

Alien: Resurrection (1997)

(image from Cinesnatch)

Oh boy… this is gonna be a good one. I think that expression perfectly encapsulates this movie.  After suffering from rewrites and changes the final version we got came from Joss Whedon, weird alien-human hybrid and all.

Okay the cast is pretty good, Sigourney Weaver, Ron Perlman and… and… oh okay most other characters in this movie are boring caricatures of standard movie idiots. Well then. I mean the visual effects are alright, a good blend of CGI and physical props to really help bring the alien to life I guess.

So Ripley’s back despite being dead, shes a clone of many and has another alien queen inside her? She has acid for blood? That’s badass I guess… The crew of the Betty pretty much just want to get off this space station so they can live because y’know the xenomorph is a killing machine, standard fair really isn’t it.

When most people think of this movie that weird alien hybrid that makes you feel uncomfortable comes to mind. You remember? the one that looks like a human with an egg sack that gets sucked out into the vacuum of space through a tiny hole. It’s just weird. This movie suffers from beyond poor creative decisions, that’s the nice way to say it.

Prometheus (2012)

(image from Den of Geek)

Ridley Scott is back, to helm creating and directing an alien prequel. Most heard this news and thought that it would be a return to form of horror. But okay, you want to explore WHY HUMANS WERE MADE? what?!?!? no-one, literally no-one wants that. We wanted aliens. But oh they gave us one, right at the end and it makes no sense! Wait there are gonna be around another four of these… oh no.

Okay I can’t be too hard on Prometheus, the world building is great again, and drastically different due to it being a prequel and the CGI and built effects look great together. The acting’s good and you know what the ideas behind the film are good, just not in an Alien movie.

But what I think had most viewers clamouring was the fact that it raised so many unnecessary questions ad then answered like none of them. What is the point in that? To build up more movies? You see that doesn’t work here because the universe is already heavily established. Ridley this is not really what anyone had in mind, props for trying I guess?

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