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Kill Your Idols: "Alien" and "Aliens"

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Dick Whitman, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    All right, I'm bringing back the feature in which we piss on classics. There are, as we all know, several more movies in this franchise, some of them very good in their own right. But I think that we should limit the discussion to the first two, which are most important to movie history as opposed to the subsequent movies that were just pretty good movies that continued an existing franchise.

    First of all, I think that both movies are somewhat dated now. "Alien," like a lot of other movies, is dated because we're all so familiar with it. There is no way you can feel, when the alien comes out of the crew member's stomach, like audiences felt in 1979, seeing it for the first time. I like "Alien" because Ridley Scott essentially filmed it like he was a fly on the wall among people who talked and worked like real people. There are long stretches where crew members just kind of sit around and b.s. about things like their bonuses. It reminds me a lot of movies like "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity." But, on a more serious level, Gus Van Sant's masterpiece "Elephant."

    "Aliens" is the greatest movie ever made for 12-year-old boys. I remember not being able to see it, and I remember completely awesome my little classmates found it to be. I understand why. It completely fetishizes the military and gun play, particularly big fat awesome-looking guns. At one point, Sigourney Weaver tapes two massively awesome guns together. It's so over-the-top it works wonderfully. The dialogue is god-awful, which probably felt like camp at the time. Now, I think we probably know that James Cameron is just a shitty writer, which ruins it a little bit.

    I think the second movie is brilliant, despite the hundreds of horrible imitiators it has spawned, because it was the only way to take the sequel and be successful, but I doubt that 99 percent of directors would have done it that way. It is 180 degrees different than its predecessor.

    Best moment: Ripley throws a desk at a window, along with several other large items, trying to escape a room with an alien in it. The glass is impenetrable. Then, a few minutes later, a Marine just jumps right through the glass from the other side.

    I don't know if Cameron made the movie intentionally cheesy. I do know that it provided the template for action movies for decades to come: Plot holes don't matter. Fun does.
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Both movies seem dated, but what I love about the first one is that they spend so much time on plot and character development that you don't even mind (or at least I didn't) that for the most part, it's pretty slow for the first half of the movie.

    I love the second one, but considering how groundbreaking the effects were at the time, it seems laughable by today's standards... Still a damn fine movie though...
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    The Vazquez character was created, I think, to see how many stereotypes Cameron could cram into one character.

    Look, it's a hot-tempered Latino female Marine, and she looks and acts just like a butched out lesbian!
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    For a woman named Jenette Goldstein, she did play a pretty convincing Latina, though.
    She was also John Connor's foster mom in "Terminator 2."

    On another note, Dick, when the marine jumps through the glass in the med lab it's after it had been shot at and weakened.
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    The second one had some of that character development when they were on the troop ship. The marines are just offed so quickly in that opening scene on LV-426 that they didn't get a chance to have full arcs.
    The scenes on the ship are great, though. In a short time, they really make you like those guys and want to hang out with them.
  6. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Aliens might very well be the most entertaining movie I've ever seen in a theater. I like the extended version of it too. Does a better job of building tension.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    It's 1,000 times more awesome the way I remember it.

    I don't know how they marketed it, but I would have loved to have gone to the theater on opening weekend in 1986, anticipating another slow burn horror movie - which it actually seems to be for about the first third at least as they move the pieces into place - and this movie breaks out instead.
  8. joe

    joe Active Member

    I've seen Aliens more times than I can count — but too many, for sure. If I'm flipping channels and it comes on, I'll watch it for 10 or 15 minutes, but I won't sit there and finish it like I would have 15 years ago. For all the effects and action, it has very little soul.

    Alien, on the other hand, I'll watch anytime, no matter where I get in on it. The character development is almost unprecedented in a sci-fi movie, and that's one of the things that attracts me to it. Plus it's got a handful of really good actors, maybe not A-list but certainly high B-list, and that helps, too.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    It's a big reason why I like the first two Alien movies better than most of the action fare we're fed these days. I don't need two hours of non-stop action. I need a reason to care about the characters and a reason to care about the plot, followed by strategically places action sequences. I will happily ignore bad or dated special effects if the movie has grabbed my interest. The first Terminator immediately jumps to mind. The effects are so bad, and that was the case even compared to the first sequel seven or so years later, but it's such a great movie that you don't care. That's when you know you have a great film.
  10. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I think an interesting debate isn't Alien or Aliens, but Alien 3.

    It was panned to the high heavens by fans and some critics on release, but I think it's a pretty damn good movie in hindsight. Not as good as the first two, but still pretty good.

    I think its sin at the time of release is that it wasn't another action-packed Aliens, and a generation of fans (i.e. people my age) who got introduced to the series with Aliens and were too young for Alien, didn't get that it was closer to the vision of the first movie in spirit than Aliens.
  11. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    The fond memories of Alien and Aliens is why I had such high hopes for Prometheus and came away disappointed.
  12. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I think that Ridley Scott, seeing movies like "The Matrix" and some others, really wanted to infuse his mythology with some higher level philosophical questions. I thought "Prometheus" was OK, but it was overstuffed to the extreme, and essentially seemed more like a remake of "Alien," with more CGI at Scott's disposal now, than a prequel.
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