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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alien Review (And Thoughts on the Other Alien Films)

Well, the release date for the highly anticipated film, Prometheus is just around the corner and as is customary here on Illusive One’s Reviews, I’ll be reviewing its predecessor, Alien.  Now some people may be wondering why I’m not reviewing the entire franchise to which I have a very simple answer.  Ridley Scott didn’t direct them and they seem to have little to no bearing on this film.  But I will be giving my thoughts on said films after I’m done with this review as well as what I expect out of Prometheus.  So without any further ado, this is The Illusive One’s review of Alien.
            Now as I hope you all know, the plot of Alien revolves around the crew of the commercial towing spaceship, Nostromo, who, upon picking up an SOS signal, search a derelict alien ship.  While there, one of their crew is implanted with an alien egg which soon bursts out of his chest and begins to hunt down and kill the crew members one by one.  And to be perfectly honest, this is one of those films that is damn near beyond review because it is just that good. 
            So what can I honestly say about it that hasn’t been already said?  Well to be perfectly honest, there really isn’t much so I’ll just say what I took away from it.  For starters the concept was fantastic.  The whole idea that some kind alien would implant an egg in someone’s body is a very convincing and horrifying one.  What, in my opining, adds to the horror of this concept is that by the time the film ends we, the audience have no idea what this creature is or where it originally came from.  The original design of the alien, (both the facehugger and the Xenomorph) by H.R. Giger is incredible and it’s no wonder that the alien became so iconic in the following decades. 
            The cast is also great headlined by Tom Skerritt and a then unknown Sigourney Weaver as well as an early role for then unknown John Hurt.  All of the actors give their all in their performances and this, coupled with great writing, makes the characters likeable, three dimensional and you really care whether or not they live or die, (unlike most horror films).  What makes it even better is that this is a film that doesn’t really have any rules on who lives or dies and by the time the film reaches its climax, (ignoring the fact that there are three sequels to this film), you’re not even sure if the surviving members will make it to the end.
            And of course, this film is scary as hell.  I think that anyone would agree that this is one of the most frightening films ever made and in this regard it has stood the test of time.  Even when I re-watched it for this review I was tense and wide eyed the entire time and found myself jumping even though I knew when the alien was coming.  The claustrophobic environment, the soundtrack of beating hearts, the lighting and cinematography all help make this film tense and edgy.  Another big part of this, in my opinion is that we never see much of the alien at once.  Most of what we see is a head, a tail or its mouth getting ready to kill.  It also helps that we don’t actually see most of the kills and it’s mostly left to our imagination as to what happened which always leaves a bigger impression if done right.  And hear it was done perfectly.    
            But because I’m me, I do have some gripes with this film that I have to point out.  For starters, the special effects, while decent for their time are extremely outdated by today’s standards and, quite frankly, when compared to other films of the era like Star Wars or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (films that came out two years before this one I’ll add), they seem flat out cheap.  But that aside, the only major flaw that I saw in this film was the whole thing with the android.  While it has become a staple of the Alien franchise to include an android character, looking back at the first film the inclusion of this twist, (or plot device depending on your point of view), really came out of nowhere, didn’t make much sense, and was tossed aside almost as quickly as it appeared. 
But these faults are very quickly forgotten about and don’t change the fact that this is an all-around fantastic film.  It had great concepts, great acting, great atmosphere, and great suspense and was an all-around scary flick.  If you can get past the outdated look of the special effects then I highly recommend that you give this one a view.

All Around

            But what about the other Alien films?  What do I think of them?  Well the second film is regarded as one of the greatest sequels ever made and some consider it superior to the first film.  While I don’t necessarily agree, it seems to have had a bigger cultural impact then the first as most Alien franchised products, (mainly videogames and other films), seem to follow the ideas and concepts introduced in it.  However I feel that it has some major flaws.  It suffered heavily from SSBS and the acting, dialog, and characterization just wasn’t as good.  Many of the characters came off as two dimensional cut outs and it’s obvious that many were included just so the film could have a higher body count.  But with that said, there were a lot of great things the film did right as it expanded on the concepts of the original and introduced some great ones of its own, mainly the colonial marines and social structure of the Xenomorphs.  The action and special effects were also great for its time and the main storyline, (while nothing that I’d expect Chris Nolan to write), worked really well considering the genera and made the transition from sci-fi/horror to sci-fi/action perfectly.  All around, it’s a good flick and worth anyone’s time and quite frankly they should have stopped here.

            Part three on the other hand didn’t fare so well and no one was satisfied with the way it turned out.  The main problem with this film was the writing as nothing about it really worked or made senses.  Most of the characters who survived in Aliens are killed off before anyone says a word of dialog.  And that’s pretty much the tone of the film; people dying almost at random, often for really stupid reasons and plans to kill it that just keep falling apart.  Throw in the really dumb setting of artic prison and even more stupid deaths and you get a really unsatisfying installment of the franchise.  And do I even need to mention Alien: Resurrection?  I mean what a dumb flick.  If you want the full scoop on what’s wrong with that one, check out The Nostalgia Critic’s review of it because he can do it more justice then I can.

            So now that I’ve gotten all of that out of the way, what about Prometheus?  What do I expect out of the upcoming film?  Well, to be perfectly honest?  Not much and I would rather it stay that way.  I have to admit that I’m not very hyped for this one but I really do want to see it, mainly because it promises to be a film that doesn’t have much, if any, connection to the pervious Alien films, save the derelict space ship and the species that piloted it with elements of Lovecraftian horror.  Time will tell if this will pan out and if Ridley Scott can resurrect the universe that made his career and I have every intention of finding out this weekend.  So until next time, this is The Illusive One signing off. 

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