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I've Outgrown...Aliens - Page 9

post #401 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravi View Post
I don't find the transition clumsy though. The beginning is about seeing Ripley as she awakens from hyper-sleep and see how she's been handling her previous alien encounter. It provides motivation for her to join the Marines as she wants to wipe out the creatures for good.
[hack].....[/need]
post #402 of 445

The Long, Hard Road to Loving Alien 3

 

It's been almost twenty years since the third film in this four-part trilogy was released. Oddly enough this is one of the first movie going experiences I can remember. I'm not sure what my mom was thinking at the time, as I was only seven years old, but it certainly stuck with me.

 

My formative years were spent watching horror, sci-fi and action films, and Aliens at that point was the cream of the crop. Recorded off of ABC (which was a strange cut that included the "Ripley's Daughter" scene and the Sentry Guns, but not Newt's family going to the Derelict) circa 1989, I wore that VHS copy down to the nub. Imagine my surprise when I sat down in that darkened theater to experience this thoroughly adult creation.

 

That's the strange thing about James Cameron's films: moreso than action films, they're ADVENTURE films. Aliens, in retrospect, has more in common with an Indiana Jones film or, dare I say it, Goonies (complete with screaming kid) in terms of tone. I'm not harshing Aliens, which I still love, but where once I thought it was timeless I have in recent times began to realize how thoroughly '80s it is.

 

My tastes have changed. Immediately following my first viewing of Alien 3, I decided to shun it for years. In its place I sought out something, anything, to replace it in my mind. How could they kill Hicks(Michael Biehn!) and Newt?! Luckily Dark Horse's Aliens series, and eventually the many drafts of Alien 3 that ended up online, curtailed my concerns.

 

It took me a while, but I came to realize that William Gibson's Alien 3 was a hot mess. Just silly, with half of it feeling nothing like an Alien movie (more like some strange procedural set on a space station) and the other half feeling like Aliens EXTREME with more of everything, completely misunderstanding what made the first two movies work. David Twohy's proto-Riddick Alien 3 was better, but felt inconsequential and unworthy of the Alien name.

 

With that preface, when I purchased the Aliens Quadrilogy set a few years ago, complete with the Assembly Cut, something clicked in my mind. The nihilism, the imagery, the subtext; this is a dense movie. The setting is kind of brilliant, because the lack of weapons not only restores the xenomorph's threat, but devolves the cast back to medieval times. They might as well be in a gothic castle in England circa 1300, fighting a literal dragon (or Satan, or their own personal demons).

 

That's what's great about the movie: the Alien is unnecessary. In fact, it's shown too much (especially in the Assembly Cut, which is a superior version but has a few horrible scenes of xenomorph CGI). It's the threat of the thing, and the implications of that threat, that matter here. Like any great zombie film, or the first two Alien films, it's the people that are the real threat.

 

Speaking of the people, I don't understand the complaint that the cast is unlikeable. Clemens, Dillon, 85 and even Morse are all standouts, with idiosyncratic quirks and rousing bits of very quotable dialogue. So they're former criminals...so what? In the context of this film, they're monks that have long been seeking redemption. Further more, the thesis of the film is that no one is innocent, even St. Ripley. There's a question of fate vs. free will, choice and temptation running throughout the film. This is exemplified by the two Bishops.

 

In chess, a Bishop is not limited in the distance it can travel but can only travel diagonally. A Bishop is also, of course, an important figurehead in the Catholic Church (duh). Along with the Alien Queen, there's multiple metaphors permeating this beast that intertwine: Chess, Christianity, and Fairy Tales. Ripley is playing a game here with the Alien Queen, the inmates, and the Company, and by the end she knows the only way to win is to sacrifice the Queen. The question of choice is first raised by the android Bishop, who not only confirms Ripley's fears but chooses to die rather than face a life of hardship. The second choice is presented by Bishop II (or Michael Bishop, or whoever he is), who tells Ripley the Queen can be removed from her. Kudos to Lance Henrickson for pulling off the dual role with class, even though he maybe has five minutes screentime total.

 

The Christian parallels have been long-discussed, and free will is just as much a question in the Bible as it is in Chess. Ripley starts off the movie under glass, like a Saint preserved forever. She is corrupted by a facehugger/dragon/satan, and falls from grace. She brings temptation, original sin to humanity (the inmates), and then has to become a man (shaves her head) in order to be Christ-like and destroy sin. All pretty obvious, which brings me to Golic...

 

The Judas character, or from the perspective of Fairy Tales, Gollum. When the Vincent Ward version of the film was going to be set on a wooden space station and the cast were to literally be monks, there was some discussion of the film working as a Snow White allegory (Ripley=Snow White, monks/inmates=Seven Dwarves, Alien=Evil Stepmother, Alien Queen=poisoned apple). Although this has met with derision, personally I love the idea and think it can still be applied to the finished product. Ripley under glass is certainly evocative of Snow White, but the subversive nature of the ending is brilliant in that Bishop II shows up as Prince Charming to save the day, and Ripley not only rejects him but becomes a man herself in order to slay the dragon. It's not a 1:1 parallel, but there's certainly a gothic fantasy element to the movie that is intentionally being confronted.

 

Along with the imagery of emaciated, sickly people and all the needles hinting at the Alien as an HIV metaphor, this is a fun little movie to pick apart. I don't know if I would rate it above the first two films, but I do know it's my favorite performance from Sigourney Weaver. It's brave of her to dirty Ripley up like this, making her simultaneously ugly and sexual. A lot is hinted at here, including her lack of faith, that makes her a truly well-realized, multi-faceted being even after three movies and more than a decade. That's really the biggest change in my opinion of the film, as I used to be a big advocate of getting rid of Ripley and having stand-alone tales, or Alien vs. Predator.

 

Now I realize these movies (at least the series proper) are Ripley's story, and the xenomorphs are only there to comment on her. I am looking forward to Prometheus, but with hope a thrilling, challenging lead will be introduced to bounce off the awesome creature design and foreboding connotations of H.R. Giger's creations.

post #403 of 445

So, um. I finally saw the original Alien this past weekend. (The Director's Cut, if you're curious). I actually saw Aliens first, several years ago, and I remember enjoying it a great deal. It wasn't perfect, no, but Cameron's skill with action, actors (well, the results at any rate; I'm well aware of his difficult behavior with the actors in many of his films), pacing, and effects was a terrific thrill ride. Then you have this, which is the polar opposite. And I like that they're different. Anyway, laundry list!:

 

-It's remarkable how patient the movie is. I went in knowing certain things (Nostromo, Ripley being the only one who gets out alive, John Hurt dies after getting facehugged and then chest-bursted, Ian Holm is an android), but I still felt a sense of discovery and surprise because of how deliberately paced the first half is.

 

-When they discover and comment that it looks like something came out of the chest of the "Space Jockey" (such a great design), I immediately went, "Ohhhhhh shit."

 

-Ian Holm is so creepy and good in this movie. He's so... still, barely showing any emotion save when talking about the creature that fascinates him so. The eerie robotic effect on his last lines is great: "I won't lie to you about your chances, but.... you have my sympathies."

 

-The whole cast is great, mind you, but Holm and Sigourney Weaver are easily the standouts. I totally get why this movie made her a star. You really understand that she's such a hardcase not because she wants to be, but because she feels she has to be. And she's totally right! Bringing Kane back on got everyone else killed.

 

-In all its forms, the Alien (or Xenomorph, if you wish) might be H.R. Giger's masterwork. Part of the increasing terror of the movie is that feeling of "what  the hell will this thing do or turn into next?" The facehugger is just nasty, while the chestburster is undeniably phallic and disturbing. In its final,  most famous form, I love that we only get quick glimpses of it until almost the very end.

 

-I know Jerry Goldsmith was unhappy about having to redo his score for the movie, but when the results are this good, I find it hard to speak against Ridley Scott for this choice. I especially love the eerie little leitmotif that plays from time to time; it sounds too cheerful, which puts the audience on edge.

 

-The blue collar feeling is great. This is not Star Trek, where the characters are all "Sweet, an alien planet to explore!" Here, it's more like "Shit, we gotta go explore a damn alien planet. I hope I get more money for this crap." I particularly love how Brett and Parker seem to have formed a mutual bond of bitching about payment.

 

Can't wait to see Prometheus this summer now.

post #404 of 445

I don't know if this is an idea that's been floated in the thread already, but it was on my mind. It's a common and I think valid complaint that Cameron helped rob the alien of its mystique by normalizing the sexual biology (introducing a mother) and turning it into a relatively easy to squash foot soldier. It's Cameron's film that eventually lead to little kids hopping about with their alien plush toys, and so it goes, it's no longer this grotesque, phallic rapemonster that's going to murderfuck Veronica Cartwright. That's all been said, but it ocurred to me that Cameron could have gotten his way and possibly maintained the unsettling mystique of the creature by pushing the angle of wartime rape. It is a fact of war, and was used as a method of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and I think there could have been a subtle way of introducing that. Just graphic enough to relay the information, but subtle enough to allow for implication, and you could easily have a scene or two of LV-426 colonists being corralled by a guerilla army of nightmare penises and left to be facehugged. You'd have to restructure some bits of the film and allow for a tone, nimbleness, and level of abstraction that I don't think I've ever seen Cameron demonstrate, but it looks good and creepy in my head, and keeps the creature from turning into the Mothra to Predator's Godzilla.

post #405 of 445

The first Alien lays eggs...it was just cut out of the theatrical release for pacing purposes.  Cameron just expanded on that in Aliens.

post #406 of 445
With the sequel, how could you pull off the horror exactly like the 1st film when we know what the alien looks like? Something touched upon in Alien 3 is how the creature takes on the characteristics of the host (in the theatrical cut since the alien busts from a dog, it made sense with how it moved). I think Prometheus is playing on that fact and the facehuggers and creatures of that film will evolve into the creatures we know.
post #407 of 445
( Edit: I don't know why lis tis showing up as one giant paragraph, as my editor shows the page breaks!) OK, I can't say I read all 400 posts on this thread, but I had to add my comments, which are probably adding nothing new to the conversation. I prefer to just compare Alien and Aliens, the subsequent movies in my view are not particularly good in any way. So, Alien is a near-perfect film. Scary and intense, with characters that feel real and real terror, even the use of "jump-cat" is effective. Criticism that Aliens is not as scary or intense as Alien is silly. Aliens never tries to be that movie. Had they tried, it inevitably would have failed. (Though I would argue there are a few very intense scenes in the sequel, when the marines first find the Alien hive and when the Paul Reiser releases the facehuggers at Ripley and Newt) Cameron's take was to take the story in a new direction...and at the time it was insanely effective. Parts of the movie haven't aged particularly well. Most of the characters feel very underwritten, even the ones that make it far into the film. (I would argue that everyone besides Ripley is purely one dimensional at best.) But, where I defend this movie is in Ripley's journey. She came out of the Nostromo experience really fucked up. She goes on the mission without really wanting to. The rest of the characters are very blase about this whole situation compared to her because they have not been through the horror. Her only desire is really to get the hell out of there. And then she finds Newt...and suddenly she has a reason for living. To save one innocent girl from the terrors of these creatures. And she spends the entire rest of the movie essentially doing that. That's why this movie still works gangbusters for me (though I admit I haven't sat down and watched it in a while) even up to the last time I saw it. She went through the true Hero's journey, from wanting nothing to do with the whole thing to selflessly saving the lives of others. And I would also argue she was way more of a fully formed character in Aliens than she ever was in Alien. In fact, one of the things that worked so gangbuster about Alien was that Ripley appeared to be a minor character for much of the running time of the movie and only becomes the focus when no-one else is left. I guess I've got to go to Alien3 here (we always called it Alien cubed), but this is why i HATED how they opened Alien3, by having Newt killed for essentially nothing. (I understand, strip Ripley bare with nothing to live for, but didn't make me like it any less.) The catharsis at the end of Alien that she had saved this one person from the horrorible fate was what made Aliens all worth it. That said, if I'm going to pick the best film (to date) in the frachise, I'm going with Alien. There's my 2 cents. That and that the Director's Cut of Abyss is definitely Cameron's best movie, and far superior to the theatrical cut, which while 85 % great ended with such a thud. Probably the best example of a Directors Cut actually fixing a flawed film. Though I want to say that "True Lies" doesn't seem to get any votes yet is 2/3rds a very entertaining film. (The flabby middle section didn't work for me from the day of release forward.) Part of the reason his movies get dated worse than most is because he so rely's on the WOW of seeing something that you've never seen before.
Edited by skierpete - 4/26/12 at 12:39pm
post #408 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 

The Long, Hard Road to Loving Alien 3

 

It's been almost twenty years since the third film in this four-part trilogy was released. Oddly enough this is one of the first movie going experiences I can remember. I'm not sure what my mom was thinking at the time, as I was only seven years old, but it certainly stuck with me.

 

My formative years were spent watching horror, sci-fi and action films, and Aliens at that point was the cream of the crop. Recorded off of ABC (which was a strange cut that included the "Ripley's Daughter" scene and the Sentry Guns, but not Newt's family going to the Derelict) circa 1989, I wore that VHS copy down to the nub. Imagine my surprise when I sat down in that darkened theater to experience this thoroughly adult creation.

 

That's the strange thing about James Cameron's films: moreso than action films, they're ADVENTURE films. Aliens, in retrospect, has more in common with an Indiana Jones film or, dare I say it, Goonies (complete with screaming kid) in terms of tone. I'm not harshing Aliens, which I still love, but where once I thought it was timeless I have in recent times began to realize how thoroughly '80s it is.

 

My tastes have changed. Immediately following my first viewing of Alien 3, I decided to shun it for years. In its place I sought out something, anything, to replace it in my mind. How could they kill Hicks(Michael Biehn!) and Newt?! Luckily Dark Horse's Aliens series, and eventually the many drafts of Alien 3 that ended up online, curtailed my concerns.

 

It took me a while, but I came to realize that William Gibson's Alien 3 was a hot mess. Just silly, with half of it feeling nothing like an Alien movie (more like some strange procedural set on a space station) and the other half feeling like Aliens EXTREME with more of everything, completely misunderstanding what made the first two movies work. David Twohy's proto-Riddick Alien 3 was better, but felt inconsequential and unworthy of the Alien name.

 

With that preface, when I purchased the Aliens Quadrilogy set a few years ago, complete with the Assembly Cut, something clicked in my mind. The nihilism, the imagery, the subtext; this is a dense movie. The setting is kind of brilliant, because the lack of weapons not only restores the xenomorph's threat, but devolves the cast back to medieval times. They might as well be in a gothic castle in England circa 1300, fighting a literal dragon (or Satan, or their own personal demons).

 

That's what's great about the movie: the Alien is unnecessary. In fact, it's shown too much (especially in the Assembly Cut, which is a superior version but has a few horrible scenes of xenomorph CGI). It's the threat of the thing, and the implications of that threat, that matter here. Like any great zombie film, or the first two Alien films, it's the people that are the real threat.

 

Speaking of the people, I don't understand the complaint that the cast is unlikeable. Clemens, Dillon, 85 and even Morse are all standouts, with idiosyncratic quirks and rousing bits of very quotable dialogue. So they're former criminals...so what? In the context of this film, they're monks that have long been seeking redemption. Further more, the thesis of the film is that no one is innocent, even St. Ripley. There's a question of fate vs. free will, choice and temptation running throughout the film. This is exemplified by the two Bishops.

 

In chess, a Bishop is not limited in the distance it can travel but can only travel diagonally. A Bishop is also, of course, an important figurehead in the Catholic Church (duh). Along with the Alien Queen, there's multiple metaphors permeating this beast that intertwine: Chess, Christianity, and Fairy Tales. Ripley is playing a game here with the Alien Queen, the inmates, and the Company, and by the end she knows the only way to win is to sacrifice the Queen. The question of choice is first raised by the android Bishop, who not only confirms Ripley's fears but chooses to die rather than face a life of hardship. The second choice is presented by Bishop II (or Michael Bishop, or whoever he is), who tells Ripley the Queen can be removed from her. Kudos to Lance Henrickson for pulling off the dual role with class, even though he maybe has five minutes screentime total.

 

The Christian parallels have been long-discussed, and free will is just as much a question in the Bible as it is in Chess. Ripley starts off the movie under glass, like a Saint preserved forever. She is corrupted by a facehugger/dragon/satan, and falls from grace. She brings temptation, original sin to humanity (the inmates), and then has to become a man (shaves her head) in order to be Christ-like and destroy sin. All pretty obvious, which brings me to Golic...

 

The Judas character, or from the perspective of Fairy Tales, Gollum. When the Vincent Ward version of the film was going to be set on a wooden space station and the cast were to literally be monks, there was some discussion of the film working as a Snow White allegory (Ripley=Snow White, monks/inmates=Seven Dwarves, Alien=Evil Stepmother, Alien Queen=poisoned apple). Although this has met with derision, personally I love the idea and think it can still be applied to the finished product. Ripley under glass is certainly evocative of Snow White, but the subversive nature of the ending is brilliant in that Bishop II shows up as Prince Charming to save the day, and Ripley not only rejects him but becomes a man herself in order to slay the dragon. It's not a 1:1 parallel, but there's certainly a gothic fantasy element to the movie that is intentionally being confronted.

 

Along with the imagery of emaciated, sickly people and all the needles hinting at the Alien as an HIV metaphor, this is a fun little movie to pick apart. I don't know if I would rate it above the first two films, but I do know it's my favorite performance from Sigourney Weaver. It's brave of her to dirty Ripley up like this, making her simultaneously ugly and sexual. A lot is hinted at here, including her lack of faith, that makes her a truly well-realized, multi-faceted being even after three movies and more than a decade. That's really the biggest change in my opinion of the film, as I used to be a big advocate of getting rid of Ripley and having stand-alone tales, or Alien vs. Predator.

 

Now I realize these movies (at least the series proper) are Ripley's story, and the xenomorphs are only there to comment on her. I am looking forward to Prometheus, but with hope a thrilling, challenging lead will be introduced to bounce off the awesome creature design and foreboding connotations of H.R. Giger's creations.

As you can see from two years ago, I really love Alien 3. In fact, it may be my favorite of the series now. I didn't say best; as I've gotten older I've come to respect Alien even more for its slow burn and Aliens for its strong handling of character (as well as the action!), but something about Alien 3 taps into my primal, mythic buttons. 

 

With that in mind, check out this short video for The Unloved

 

 

 

 

Each month Scott Tafoya, who runs the arts blog Apocalypse Now, will post a video blog about "orphan" movies, with next month being John Carter. Matt Zoller Seitz's response to the video blog is worth reading, as well. 


Edited by Bartleby_Scriven - 12/7/13 at 9:00am
post #409 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spike Marshall View Post

Saw a 70mm print of the film today, in a theatre packed with Aliens fans. My issues with the film still stand, however seeing the film in the theatre adds another level to the film I never really appreciated before. On a screen that large it's a massively visual film and there's a real visual connection between the dark interior shooting and the dank of a cinema. As such there's legitimate tension and apprehension created simply by the scope of the screen and your surroundings which you can't replicate at home. I'm still not fond of the film, but it works like gangbusters at a cinema.

 

 

I also recently saw a 70mm print of this, my first time seeing it in a theater really, and it makes a huge difference (obviously).  I still don't think the film holds up as much as people remember...like Patrick said much earlier, the aliens in this one are kind of shoddily put together (in terms of the suits) and don't seem very threatening.  It works more as a first time viewing experience when the visceral thrill of it all hides the imperfection in the suits, but man they really don't hold up.  And since the aliens are the main threat, it's a pretty big knock against the film for me.  Cameron does an amazing job building tension though, and everything without the aliens onscreen works well.

 

As far as comparing ALIEN to ALIENS, there is no comparison.  The first is superior in almost ever facet.  The alien creature, mind numbing terror, characterizations, acting, cinematography, score...it's all of such high quality it's hard to believe Scott pulled it off.  It's probably the best horror film ever made and the difference between the two films is like the difference between 70s and 80s filmmaking, one decade is clearly superior.  They're wholly different films, but ALIENS is a sequel, so the comparisons are inevitable.

 

And the special edition flat out sucks...it's way too long, boring and deflates the nail biting tension Cameron masterfully builds in the theatrical cut.

post #410 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

 

 

I also recently saw a 70mm print of this, my first time seeing it in a theater really, and it makes a huge difference (obviously).  I still don't think the film holds up as much as people remember...like Patrick said much earlier, the aliens in this one are kind of shoddily put together (in terms of the suits) and don't seem very threatening.  It works more as a first time viewing experience when the visceral thrill of it all hides the imperfection in the suits, but man they really don't hold up.  And since the aliens are the main threat, it's a pretty big knock against the film for me.  Cameron does an amazing job building tension though, and everything without the aliens onscreen works well.

 

As far as comparing ALIEN to ALIENS, there is no comparison.  The first is superior in almost ever facet.  The alien creature, mind numbing terror, characterizations, acting, cinematography, score...it's all of such high quality it's hard to believe Scott pulled it off.  It's probably the best horror film ever made and the difference between the two films is like the difference between 70s and 80s filmmaking, one decade is clearly superior.  They're wholly different films, but ALIENS is a sequel, so the comparisons are inevitable.

 

And the special edition flat out sucks...it's way too long, boring and deflates the nail biting tension Cameron masterfully builds in the theatrical cut.

 

Meh.  They both are superior (blueprints) examples of their respective genre's.  Masterpieces.  What I love about them both is they are totally different visionary takes of the same universe.  Cameron's film is the definite crowd pleaser tho, which is what Cameron does.  

post #411 of 445

One of Alien 3's merits is Goldenthal's incredibly underrated and overlooked score...it's very erratic and mercurial, but has a thematic richness and is bold and rewarding for patient listeners.  It's really an outstanding piece of work.

post #412 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

One of Alien 3's merits is Goldenthal's incredibly underrated and overlooked score...it's very erratic and mercurial, but has a thematic richness and is bold and rewarding for patient listeners.  It's really an outstanding piece of work.

One of my absolute favourite movie scores. Agnus Dei is the most creepy and unsettling opening score and Adagio is tragic and the perfect way to end the Alien franchise musically. Plus fucking with the Fox fanfare was a stroke of genius.
post #413 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by dude hallenbeck View Post

One of my absolute favourite movie scores. Agnus Dei is the most creepy and unsettling opening score and Adagio is tragic and the perfect way to end the Alien franchise musically. Plus fucking with the Fox fanfare was a stroke of genius.

 

Not sure if you know this, but an extended score was released long after the original score and its limited tracks, many of which did not conform to the film.  The extended score remedies this, conforming to the film, and is a must have.

post #414 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

One of Alien 3's merits is Goldenthal's incredibly underrated and overlooked score...it's very erratic and mercurial, but has a thematic richness and is bold and rewarding for patient listeners.  It's really an outstanding piece of work.

 

I've had this score on repeat for the past week and now it's my absolute favorite Goldenthal score and my favorite Alien score...it really elevates the film.  Especially tracks like this:

 

post #415 of 445

Okay, so because I wrote this review of a hypothetical Superman Lives a few months ago and received some good feedback from it, I got the crazy idea to try to make it a regular thing on the main page. Unfortunately it never materialized into anything, but not before I wrote this review of a hypothetical Alien 3 that's just been sitting on my desk top. What better place to drop it than here?

 

BEWARE: It's very fucking long.

 

*****

 

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Never has this been more true than with Alien 3 (1989). The sequel to the critically acclaimed box office hits Alien (1978) and Aliens (1986), it tried in every way to one up its predecessors and failed miserably. Rather than taking the lead from James Cameron’s military epic to explore new genres within horror/sci-fi, Alien 3 opts to amp everything up to 11. With a troubled pre-production, audience exhaustion from a crowded summer of spectacle, and controversy over leading lady Drew Barrymore the movie never had a chance. It will forever be known, however, for its inadvertent role in the failed Revolutions of 1989, known solemnly as the Winter of Nations, and the effect it had on James Cameron. Taken in the light of its bizarre and divisive successor, Vincent Ward’s Alien Apotheosis (1992), the more straight forward Alien 3 reveals a valiant attempt by leading man Michael Biehn to break out of his wheelhouse, visceral makeup and creature FX by stalwart Rob Bottin, and a cutting-edge electronic score by Trevor Jones.

Directed by Renny Harlin, with screenplay credited to William Gibson, Harlin and David Twohy, Alien 3 was released on November 10, 1989. Gibson turned in a first draft just before the Writer’s Strike in December 1987, but it met a lukewarm reaction from producers David Giler and Walter Hill. The production languished until Harlin was brought on after making a splash with A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (then the highest grossing horror movie in history). Although Gibson, a novelist known for his cyberpunk opus Neuromancer (1984), was reluctant to stay on after what he viewed as feet dragging by the producers, Harlin’s enthusiasm convinced him. Their collaboration, written in two weeks, received great enthusiasm from Giler and Hill, but there was one problem: no Ripley. Sigourney Weaver had passed on the project to then Fox president Joe Roth’s trepidation. The problem was solved when then hot item Drew Barrymore was brought on to play Newt, Ripley’s surrogate daughter (Carrie Henn in Aliens), but demands for rewrites to beef up her role led to Gibson leaving the project, with Twohy being brought on (with only Critters 2 as a prior credit) to do a polish just weeks before filming began in December 1988.    

The plot is set on Gateway Station, orbiting Earth, seen at the beginning of Aliens. After a terse opening that sees marines in a firefight with aliens aboard the Sulaco (their presence on the ship is frustratingly never explained), the central mystery of Ripley’s missing cryotube is introduced. The thrust of the conflict follows Hick’s investigation into her disappearance while Weyland Yutani scientists (including a reluctant xenobiologist played by John Leguizamo that delivers infodumps of technobabble with lived-in aplomb) use recovered alien tissue to clone an army, that of course escape, while unwittingly adding a new variation on the xenomorphic lifestyle: infection leading to full-body assimilation, humans transforming violently into aliens. Lance Henriksen also returns as Bishop, suspected by Hicks as a Company spy and conflicted over how to deal with the infected humans due to his programming (inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics), and Newt’s troubles adjusting to a world she’s never known and budding romantic crush on Hicks. This all culminates with a third act siege by a Soviet armada, led by a scenery-chewing Michael Ironside, threatening to destroy Gateway if the infection spreads, while trying to get their own specimen, playing on Cold War tensions with a thinly veiled metaphor of the spread of Communism. 

Biehn is the standout here. The character of Hicks, as written, is pretty thread bare, but Biehn adds a level of cynicism and complexity to the role through his searching eyes and fractured vocal cadences. Having dropped out of what would’ve been a third film with James Cameron, The Abyss, here he gives his all as a soldier without a mission suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder that picks up on the tensions of a post-Vietnam America. Henriksen is his usual reliable self, bringing an air of uneasy dignity and uncomfortable humor to the android role, but the continued ambiguity is treading the same ground as the previous film. He does manage to infuse Bishop with an effeminate softness that, aggregated with his gaunt complexion and the overall contagion motif, positions him as the platonic gay friend in an undercooked meditation on the effects of AIDS on 1980s America. 

It’s Barrymore that makes the biggest impression. Only 14 during production, a year older than Henn (but four years older than Newt in Aliens, even though this movie picks up where the last left off) she infuses what could have just be an attempt at attracting a younger demographic with frenetic passion that, unfortunately, can only be described as Lolita meets Barbarella. Six years before her strip tease for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, she emotes like a community theater Ophelia, hardly tapping in to the natural charm that made her famous and instead learning the wrong lessons from Weaver’s “Rambolina” act. It’s impossible to view her performance, as well, without considering her scandalous comments to the media leading up to the film’s release. At the 61st Academy Awards, attended by bad boy boyfriend Corey Feldman, she blurted out on the red carpet that then Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev was “an evil man” with the “state of Florida on his head,” referring to his infamous birthmark. At that point she had already been through two stints of rehab and two months later would attempt suicide, throwing a monkey wrench into last minute reshoots demanded by the studio to punch up the action. The damage, however, had already been done. 

Her comments, along with the anti-Soviet content in the film, became a rallying cry for East German citizens and the Warsaw Pact nations that sought independence, resulting in violent uprisings and oppression from the politburo, including a Tiananmen Square-style massacre in Leipzig on October 9, 1989, a month before the film’s release. Gorbachev subsequently dissolved his perestroika and glasnost policies in favor of the “Sinatra Doctrine”, referring to Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” as an indication of Gorbachev’s expectations for his people. Ironically, this iron hand philosophy ultimately unified the Soviet Union as a more powerful state, with a transition into a more Socio-capitalistic state in the 1990s that, unfortunately, may have provoked the devastating terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda on Moscow and Volgograd on October 9, 2001. 

Regardless of those reshoots, the film suffers from a cheap aesthetic. Katsuhiro Otomo, noted for his visual ambition with the 1982 manga Akira and its 1988 animated film adaptation, was brought on to bring Gibson’s “Mallworld”, a Gateway Station influenced by Blade Runner and the work of French cartoonist Moebius, to life but Harlin is not the director to realize that vision. The sets are drab and lit harshly, accentuating their plasticity. The special FX are also rushed and slight, with the action sequence set on the surface of Gateway, for instance, with Hicks and Bishop in spacesuits fighting aliens in Zero G, suffering from apparent matte lines that pale in comparison to the early CGI used in The Abyss

By contrast, Bottin’s practical monster and gore FX is next-generation, pushing the limits he set with The Thing and An American Werewolf in London, and hardly matched to this day, especially his conception and execution of the Newbreed, the genetically engineered King Alien. What ties this all together and smooths it out is Jones’ score, a grand departure from his work on Excalibur and Labyrinth. Here he pays tribute to the earlier work of Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner while distilling the likes of Vangelis and John Carpenter into a transcendent tone poem, equal parts dread and abstruse, coarse emotion that anticipates the likes of Daft Punk and Nine Inch Nails.  Strangely enough, it’s this score that would cause Michael Mann to request a new, orchestral score late into the production of 1992’s Last of the Mohicans, citing their similarities. 

With a budget of $50 million, quite a number at the time, the film opened at #1 but plummeted the next weekend in the wake of The Little Mermaid. It ended up making less than its predecessors in North America, with a box office total of $66.5 million, but raked in an extra $102.9 million worldwide, possibly due to curiosity over the Soviet polemic. The fallout was Harlin deciding not to return for the planned sequel, and the successive hiring of Ward after Hill attended a New York art-house showing of The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey by the little-known New Zealand director. The result is Alien Apotheosis, the overzealous and narratively challenged film set on a wooden planet of monks that somehow managed to lure Sigourney Weaver back to the franchise. Although its fairy tale imagery and dogmatic iconography are certainly provocative, the script itself reduces Ripley to an angry gym teacher and hardly features a single sympathetic character.  

A fascinating ripple effect, however, is how 20th Century Fox nearly lured James Cameron back for Alien 5. Fresh off the success of True Lies, Cameron planned to adapt the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man to the screen, but the property was in legal limbo due to a dispute between Carolco (the studio behind Terminator 2) and Columbia Pictures. Cameron talked Fox into purchasing the rights on the stipulation that he would write and direct Alien 5. The result was 1997’s Spider-Man starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Parker and the titular webslinger, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Octopus, the most expensive movie in history and Cameron’s embarrassing box office failure. Alien 5 was all set to materialize when Cameron died in 2004 aboard the Russian research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh after an encounter with a Chinese naval submarine, a consequence of heightened tensions between the two super powers in the wake of Russia’s Война с террором (“War Against Terror”). 

Alien 3 is what fans demanded, but at best it can be described as a noble failure. Gibson’s futurism just doesn’t gel with Harlin’s pulp sensibilities, and the movie’s obvious studio interference (a notorious director’s cut, supposedly containing 45 minutes of extra footage, has never been released) shows through clearly. Still, for all its Sturm und Drang and real-world strife, it’s worth a look even if its production is far more intriguing than the result. 


Edited by Bartleby_Scriven - 4/23/14 at 2:55pm
post #416 of 445
post #417 of 445
Oooohhhh, aahhhh.
post #418 of 445

I believe the appropriate phrase is ONGH!

post #419 of 445
I cant compete with those awesome images, but here's my 35th anniversary tribute....

10629246_757083394358617_3296416939384983566_o.jpg?efg=eyJpIjoidCJ9
post #420 of 445

So, what's all this stuff Neill Blomkamp's been tweeting, he was secretly working on a "Uh-uh, Alien3 totally never happened guys" sequel to Aliens that's now fallen through??? I mean in all honesty I'm not really interested in seeing a geriatric Dwayne & Ellen show running around but it's funny how there was absolutely no mention of it till today.

post #421 of 445
Only if it's a Terminator crossover comic from Dark Horse...

AvPvT.jpg

Otherwise, WTF
post #422 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sentinel Red View Post
 

So, what's all this stuff Neill Blomkamp's been tweeting, he was secretly working on a "Uh-uh, Alien3 totally never happened guys" sequel to Aliens that's now fallen through??? I mean in all honesty I'm not really interested in seeing a geriatric Dwayne & Ellen show running around but it's funny how there was absolutely no mention of it till today.

 

To not include a link is criminal...

 

http://instagram.com/neillblomkamp/

post #423 of 445

Wait!  What the fuck!  Blomkamp was working on a sequel to Cameron's Aliens.   The concept art is awesome!

 

 

http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/01/03/wait-was-neill-blomkamp-working-on-a-sequel-to-james-cameron-s-aliens-2554411?lt_source=external,manual

post #424 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post

Only if it's a Terminator crossover comic from Dark Horse...

AvPvT.jpg

Otherwise, WTF

 Let's not forget the Batman crossover!

post #425 of 445
But that doesnt have time travel, which is the only way a mid-series course correction could work.

Unless Batman punches 3 & 4 out of existence.
post #426 of 445

Ehhh I dunno. It's be cool to have Biehn back of course, but the concept art mainly just makes me think "Alien: Elysium (in a warehouse)".

 

The rich people are doing bad things, we go blow them up! Along the way the main character gets transformed/mutated/upgrades their iPhone. Sharlto Copely shows up as Peter Weyland in old age makeup.

post #427 of 445

1924574_433595453459659_4561561654515781211_n.jpg?oh=1748ab27a3b532b76bd42ff6a56dc08d&oe=5557992C 

 

 

Kicking myself for missing the screening yesterday as the theater is 5 minutes from my house and I didn't even know about it.

post #428 of 445

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8b811c998796f76f423925abe8ce809d.jpg

 

15d323424d05192d1a7ce9986bd58f4d.jpg

 

Alien-35th-Anniversary-Rich_Davies-Poster-001.jpg

 

7db2774863657bce9246ab1e42ebb45a.jpg

 

6494bc4eb2e4e361342997ed1c01a17f.jpg

 

4056b39b18ca20f21b8f209e1872da7e.jpg

 

d9c3ec224c0131b636df4e0b36d45d53.jpg

 

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7039336127_1e500c13cd_b.jpg

 

765d00396d831eeab6b12bbc06b5bd41.jpg

post #429 of 445
Neat.
post #430 of 445
Fox apparently wants to make Neil Blomkamp's ALIEN movie!!!

HOLY SHIZZLE!!! Yes!!! First Spidey, now this...movie news is awesome this week.
Edited by Ambler - 2/10/15 at 1:32pm
post #431 of 445

No.  Fucking.  Way!   

 

 

YES!  

post #432 of 445

I just sent him a tweet begging him to do it.  Who knows if he'll listen.  I know he's wary of studio films because of his nightmare experience with Halo.  But hopefully he does it because Fox wants to do it.  Come on Neil!!!

 

EDIT: I just read his interview on uproxx and it seems like he's leaning more towards doing it since people responded so well to the artwork.

 

Quote:
Someone at Fox should listen to you about this.

 

That’s not the problem, actually.

 

What’s the problem?

 

Me. I’m the problem. Fox, they would make it. Like, tomorrow. They would make it.

 

So if you called right now and said, “OK, done.”

 

Yes. Then it would happen.

 

Would it be your vision, or do they have their own ideas?

 

No, I think it would work out.

 

Then just do it.

 

I know, I just have to mentally agree with that.

 

Then what’s the problem here? I assumed there were obstacles, like maybe Ridley Scott wasn’t on board.

 

No, no, it’s not politics.

 

Then let’s do it.

 

[Laughs] OK.

post #433 of 445
I'll probably see this.
post #434 of 445

I'll probably not.  That dude is 0 for 2 (and more likely than not, 0 for 3) with me.

post #435 of 445

District 9 was genuinely great.  But I can understand feeling 1/3 on him.  I'd like to see him make that crazy Alien movie, if only to give Weaver and Michael something to do. 

post #436 of 445

The series really has nowhere to go, but up. It would be great to see Weaver and Biehn together again.

post #437 of 445

Shit, it would be great to see Biehn in a movie, period.  It's about time he had a career renaissance.

 

Blomkamp's my home-boy.  I fucking love District 9 with a fiery passion and while Elysium has it's flaws, I think it gets seriously over-hated.  There's no way I would not be behind this.

post #438 of 445
Bringing back dead characters is hacky as hell. But I need Sharlto Copely as a Weyland Yutani droid in my life so hard.
post #439 of 445

I just rewatched both Alien³ and Alien Resurrection. Still love em, both of them.

 

Alien 3 is probably one of the bravest, non-commercial sequels of all time. After Aliens, everyone loved space marines, gunning down aliens, cool military vehicles, a kick-ass mother figure protecting a young girl and a badass soldier fighting at their side. The alien lore got extended and you got a bigger, more impressive monster, tons of spectacle and a FUCK YEA ending. Seriously, what's not to love? And how can suits not want to copy exactly that?

 

And then there's this rusty continuation, which has one slightly smaller alien, no vehicles at all, no space marines (for most of the running time), no shooting, no fights, no kids, one cold relationship, no extension of the mythology, the threat of prison gang rape and the gnarly obduction of a kid. It's probably the bleakest I've ever seen a franchise turn, and I love it. I also like that even though Ripley has nothing to fight for (she herself knows she will die, she couldn't care less about the prisoners and no one she ever knew is still alive at this point), she still decides to stick it to the man and prevent the company from getting the precious genetic alien material they so crave.

 

Alien 4 meanwhile gets remembered as that lightweight sequel, but I'd say it's only perceived that way because of the weight and shadow of Alien 3. If Alien 3 didn't exist, Alien Resurrection would not have that status. Jeneut has a very dark direction. The Auriga sets look awesome and that's definitely not a place you'd love to hang out. The newborn is a particularly awesome monstrosity and it's great fun to see that ragtag group of smugglers try to survive with human-alien hybrid Ripley 8 at her side. Actually I think Ripley 8 is a great addition. She may not be the original, but if you absolutely have to have her face back making her half-alien herself is the right way to go. I just wished Jeneut would have made it more ambivalent whether she's on the human or alien side. There should have been clearler scenes of her rescuing aliens and opposing humans to make that more interesting.

 

Also, Alien Resurrection's poster promises a Winona Ryder half as important as Sigourney Weaver. As an artificial being torn between choosing sides and facing the difficulties of blending in with humans while being something else, her female Bishop of the future could have been really interesting. I just think Ryder is not good enough. With Ripley being tall and slender they had to go with a smaller woman but here Ryder often feels too small and unimportant. The Betty crew is really good, with Johner, Christie and that wheelchair guy being entertaining, but I guess they had the bad luck to pale compared to Camerons space marine team. The score is great but a little bit too lightweight and heroic. If the movie had the score of Alien 3 it would have been taken way more seriously.

 

Love, love the underwater sequence. And boy does Dan Hedaya have hairy shoulders.

post #440 of 445

Shill time again, article I wrote about the Aliens tie-in books from the last 25 years. Pretty crazy assemblage, check it out if you're interested since this month is the 30th anniversary of the Cameron film

 

https://litreactor.com/columns/the-love-hate-relationship-between-aliens-and-its-tie-in-books


Edited by Bartleby_Scriven - 4/14/16 at 10:35am
post #441 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 

Shill time again, article I wrote about the Aliens tie-in books from the last 25 years. Pretty crazy assemblage, check it out if you're interested since this month is the 30th anniversary of the Cameron film

 

https://litreactor.com/columns/the-love-hate-relationship-between-aliens-and-its-tie-in-books


Bumping this, as today is Aliens Day. Read me, damn you!

post #442 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 


Bumping this, as today is Aliens Day. Read me, damn you!

 

Great article!

 

You know what really blows my mind? That the awesome ALIEN vs PREDATOR arcade game came out in 1994 and is far superior to two terrible AvP films that came many years later. 

 

 

I remembering seeing this for the first time in the arcade and thinking that it was based on an upcoming movie. Sadly this was not the case. Sigh. 

post #443 of 445

Is that the one with Dutch having a robot arm? Played the hell out of it.

 

Watched Aliens last night for 4/26 and I have to say...I think I've exhausted it. It's an amazing movie, one of my favorites ever, but I can quote it from top to bottom and I seriously don't think there are any hidden depths.

 

Aside from the Vietnam allegory and the intriguing world building with Weyland-Yutani and the Colonial Marines, there's no new themes or aesthetic choice I can parse out.

 

I will say it's still amazing how many iconic moments there are. Ripley stepping off the elevator, Ripley in the power loader, etc. We really take for granted how rare that's accomplished.

 

Also, for the first 20 minutes Cameron does a great job of channeling Scott. Everything is hazy rooms and humming backgrounds, and he pulls a few establishing shots that really reminded me of Blade Runner. Once the marines show up, however, it's Cameron's game.

post #444 of 445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartleby_Scriven View Post
 

Is that the one with Dutch having a robot arm? Played the hell out of it.

 

Watched Aliens last night for 4/26 and I have to say...I think I've exhausted it. It's an amazing movie, one of my favorites ever, but I can quote it from top to bottom and I seriously don't think there are any hidden depths.

 

Aside from the Vietnam allegory and the intriguing world building with Weyland-Yutani and the Colonial Marines, there's no new themes or aesthetic choice I can parse out.

 

I will say it's still amazing how many iconic moments there are. Ripley stepping off the elevator, Ripley in the power loader, etc. We really take for granted how rare that's accomplished.

 

Also, for the first 20 minutes Cameron does a great job of channeling Scott. Everything is hazy rooms and humming backgrounds, and he pulls a few establishing shots that really reminded me of Blade Runner. Once the marines show up, however, it's Cameron's game.

 

Yes. That's the one and I also played it like a madman back in the day and of course the ALIENS arcade game.

 

As for ALIENS it really is timeless after all these years and I really hope that Blomkamp's ALIENS sequel washes away the stink of ALIEN 3 and 4.

post #445 of 445

Just as a heads-up, Pinball FX just released three Alien-themed tables on Steam, and the Aliens one features actual audio from the film.

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