03 November 2017

Video of the day -- ruining the Alien


The first two Alien movies gave us a terrifying, fascinating species that (unlike most movie extraterrestrials) actually made sense as a product of evolution on another world.  The prequels threw that away in favor of a muddled and mundane backstory.  They should have just left well enough alone.

11 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

I *think* the last one I saw was Alien Resurrection. Surprised that I loved it but...well...Sigourney Weaver and Ron Perlman. How could I not?

03 November, 2017 09:39  
Blogger Tommykey said...

I hated Prometheus and haven't even bothered yet to watch Covenant. I note though that they totally ditched the Elizabeth Shaw story of trying to meet her creators by killing her off before Covenant even starts and turning it into David's story.

03 November, 2017 09:51  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I actually liked Alien Resurrection (though I know a lot of people didn't). Sigourney Weaver did a great job and the concept of a human-alien mix, though scientifically implausible, was used very well. The new creature and the ending were just sloppy, though, like they were hardly trying any more.

I haven't seen Covenant either. Prometheus was so scientifically illiterate it was distracting ("It's what I choose to believe" -- turn in your scientist card!) and the disappointment of the Space Jockey from Alien turning out to be literally just a guy in a suit was unforgivable. And as the video said, changing the creatures from being a mysterious and monstrous alien species from an unknown world to being a rogue android's science project -- ugh.

03 November, 2017 10:36  
Anonymous KanaW said...

I enjoyed Alien Resurrection - I thought I was the only one! :) Sigourney Weaver is fab in anything she does, but she had the predator vibe down perfectly in that one.
The ending annoyed me; it was rather silly, but I guess you can't have everything ...

I saw Prometheus just recently and thought it was just plain stupid! They weren't scientists, they were religious fanatics on a pilgrimage.

I haven't seen Covenant, and I'm not sure I'll even bother.

03 November, 2017 11:14  
Blogger Pinku-Sensei said...

That was a good choice of video. Thanks to you, I've now subscribed to Hybrid Network on YouTube. It's my kind of channel.

As for "Alien: Covenant," it's a weak entry in a large field of merely average science fiction films released so far this year. It's currently the seventh highest grossing movie in the genre for 2017 according to Box Office Mojo behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, War for the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: The Last Knight, Power Rangers (2017), and Blade Runner 2049. It will end up in eighth before Christmas, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi will pass it in one weekend. That written, it will very likely still be on the ballot as Best Science Fiction Movie at the Saturn Awards next year (I'm a voter), as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be nominated as a Comic Book Movie Adaptation, while Kong: Skull Island and Power Rangers (2017) might be nominated for either Fantasy or Action. The sixth nominee will likely be one of Ghost in the Shell (2017), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, or Life (2017). Even before the movie is released, I know I'll be voting for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's that kind of year.

03 November, 2017 16:38  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Kana: I think Resurrection is something of a guilty pleasure for many people, since the critics generally didn't like it. But it had its own character and aesthetic that really worked for me, and yes, Weaver was fantastic -- it wouldn't have worked anything like as well without her.

Did you notice that shot at the end where you see the Earth hanging in space and it's mirror-imaged? That's the kind of error that really jumps out at me. Like I said, sloppy.

I initially gave Prometheus a thumbs-up, and it did have its positive side (I liked Idris Elba), but the more I thought about it, the more the logical flaws and bad science annoyed me. From what I've heard about Covenant, the direction they're taking this is just a mess. I don't plan to see that one either.

Pinku: Glad you found Hybrid Network interesting. Their videos often have good insights.

I couldn't be a voter for those awards, as the only ones I've seen of all the movies you mentioned were Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Ghost in the Shell. I assume Wonder Woman will win whatever it gets nominated for, and Ghost in the Shell deserves to as well, though it probably won't due to the "whitewashing" nonsense.

I don't much care for the whole Star Wars thing, but that's a topic for another post.

03 November, 2017 17:22  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

My introduction to the alien series was actually Alan Dean Foster's novelization of the first movie, which I read back when I was of an age when my parents wouldn't let me watch "adult" movies (and when I probably would've been too "chicken" to watch something like Alien anyway (scary movies have very much been an acquired taste for me)). As I recall, I really enjoyed the book, and found that many of the shocks and scares of the movie (eg the notorious "chest burster" scene, the reveal that Ash was really an android etc) worked just as well on the printed page as they did on the screen. Interestingly, I read Alien the book around the same time Aliens came out in cinemas, and while I was rather cynical about said movie (given how often sequels end up not being nearly as good as the movies that came before them), when I finally did see it (as part of a double billing with the original Alien), I ended up sharing most people's opinion that it was really, really good.

Alien 3 was where I thought the series started to go downhill, not least because the scriptwriters and director decided to do that really annoying thing of killing off most of the surviving characters from the previous movie, and in the first few minutes of the film too! As a rule, I hate it when movie-makers do that: it's lazy, stupid, and just generally exasperating, not least because it means that everything which happened in the previous movie ends up being rendered utterly pointless. From what I've heard, a lot of Alien fans like to pretend the third movie never happened, and I can't say I blame them! Even ignoring the callous killing of Newt, Hicks and Bishop, though, I thought that Alien 3 just wasn't a very good movie. It probably didn't help that most of the characters in it were violent criminals who'd become "saved" by religion; I probably would've liked them better if they'd remained unrepentant scumbags!

04 November, 2017 06:33  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

Like some of the other people here, I quite liked Alien: Resurrection, perhaps because I didn't have terribly high expectations when I sat down to watch it, and was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that it actually wasn't that bad. I thought there were some nice, memorable scenes in it, such as the forced impregnation of a bunch of hapless human guinea pigs by face huggers, the clever way the xenomorphs escaped from captivity (as I recall it, one of the creatures was sacrificed so that its acidic blood ate through the metal walls of the creatures' prison), and a nail-biting chase scene through a flooded room.

I've not seen either Prometheus or Covenant; that said, I've seen both of the utter stinkers that, to date, comprise the Alien vs Predator "franchise". Good Lord, what a waste of time each of those was! Very much a case of the whole being less than the sum of its parts in each case, and I "loved" the way both completely mangled the continuity of the original Alien series, by having humanity's "first contact" with the xenomorphs occurring on Earth, in the present day! Talking of Predator, I hear there's a new instalment in that franchise coming out soon, which I might see. I don't mind Predator, or its sequels for that matter. They're really, really dumb, but a lot of fun too, I think.

Re Covenant being a mess, I hear that the latest instalment of another much-loved sci-fi series, Terminator (ie Terminator: Genisys), is a real dog's breakfast too. I was originally tempted to check it out, but now I don't think I'll bother!

04 November, 2017 06:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Zosimus: I would have been 18 when I first saw Alien and I remember being pretty shocked by it. I'd seen horror movies before, but not like that! So it may be for the best that you didn't watch it before "acquiring the taste".

Killing off Newt and Hicks doomed Alien 3 from the start. Destroying the emotional resonance of the ending of Aliens like that was unforgivable. Naturally most fans just ignored it. It also didn't offer anything new the way Aliens did -- it was basically just a single monster running around killing off a small, trapped group of people one at a time, like the first movie, but without the style or surprises.

Don't even get me started on the Alien vs Predator stuff. I didn't see either of them, but the reviews make it feel as if I had. Again, these totally destroy the impact of the originals. People on Earth had multiple encounters with those creatures back in the 20th century, long before the Nostromo discovered them? Ugh. Again, best ignored.

At this point I don't think there's any way of unFUBARing the "franchise" (how I hate that word!) -- hopefully they'll just stop making any more movies and leave it in peace.

04 November, 2017 11:12  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

@Infidel--I first saw ALIEN on TV--I was too young to see it in the theater--and even edited it still scared the hell out of me while at the same time making me a life-long fan of the film as well as a fan of Giger!

ALIENS was a superior sequel and film in it's own right, but it's also clear that Cameron took a few pointers from Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS in regards to the Alien Queen and the hierarchy of the hive. ALIEN 3...well, I give Fincher credit for trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. His "director's cut" is a much better film, but still a step down.

(Also, SF legend William Gibson did take a crack at writing a script for ALIEN 3. You can find it here: http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/Alien3.txt )

In terms of AvP, the Dark Horse comics that started this are quite good and still hold up--as do the Dark Horse ALIENS comics (well, most of them anyway). They did show the race that the Space Jockey belonged to and they did not resemble the Engineers from PROMETHEUS. Then again, DH first released their ALIENS comics thirty years ago, and that first series focused more on the mood of ALIEN--but they also had Hicks and Newt (these were released before ALIEN 3). A complete list can be found here:

http://alienanthology.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Aliens_comics

Finally, the game ALIEN: ISOLATION comes the closest to not only capturing the essence of the first film, but it's also one of the best and also the scariest games I've played. A lot of credit has to go to Creative Assembly for re-creating the look of the first movie but they also went even further and brought in the original cast (sans John Hurt) to reprise their voices for recordings in the game and also two extra episodes. Videos on the game and the cast can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RScCbKDiS68

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEleMC0Taxc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXNuPks_Juk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZbV--8J4uA

06 November, 2017 06:05  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: Interesting stuff. I haven't paid much attention to computer games since the early 1980s, but obviously the modern ones are a completely different kind of thing.

It was Alien that got me interested in Giger too. I imagine he got quite a few new fans through that film. He was a one-of-a-kind artist. It's too bad he's now gone to Hell.

Maybe the game designers should be brought in to direct movies. Something. The movie industry has clearly gone badly awry somehow. We still get some good ones like Wonder Woman or District 9, but by and large SF / fantasy movies have just gotten too formulaic and timid in concept. Maybe there's just too much money at stake to do anything daring most of the time.

06 November, 2017 17:35  

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