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22 December 2011

Alien (1979) [70's Movie Marathon] 14#

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror, 
Country: USA, United Kingdom
Runtime: 119 Minutes
In 1979, a film called “Alien” was released that explored the Sci-Fi genre and surprised many people, becoming a modern classic. It is definitely a great sci-fi film but I think it is slightly overrated. The suspense was great and all the sci-fi elements of it were chilling, but the film takes quite a while to settle in and does not go to many locations. The acclaimed sequel is said to be better, so I look forward to that viewing. Ridley Scott’s direction is up to par in this Sci-Fi classic, which makes the film flow beautifully.

Sigourney Weaver
On the way home from a mission for the Company, the Nostromo's crew is woken up from hibernation by the ship's Mother computer to answer a distress signal from a nearby planet. Capt. Dallas's (Tom Skerritt) rescue team discovers a bizarre pod field, but things get even stranger when a face-hugging creature bursts out of a pod and attaches itself to Kane (John Hurt). Over the objections of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), science officer Ash (Ian Holm) lets Kane back on the ship. The acid-blooded incubus detaches itself from an apparently recovered Kane, but an alien erupts from Kane's stomach and escapes. The alien starts stalking the humans, pitting Dallas and his crew (and cat) against a malevolent killing machine that also has a protector in the nefarious Company.

Ridley Scott tipped the film with perfection as the film unravels into a suspenseful space adventure. With the film opening and introducing slowly for the first 25 minutes, the crews travel is quiet, isolated and action less. Until suddenly, they explore a planet and Kane is attacked by a strange alien that seems to be face raping (yes I said that) Kane.  Scott is definitely a great director and he did a fine job in this film.The screenplay is from Dan O' Bannon, who as a writer, definitely achieved making a great story. The dialogue was interesting and the film unfolds with the audiences curiosity.

The special effects and creature designs were very interesting to see and they are terrific for 1979. Seeing the alien creature at his full form was fascinating. The fully formed alien that we see  was done using a latex suit that fitted onto a human. In one scene, we have an alien creature that bursts out of one of the crews chests, in a shocking and quite intense scene for 1979 especially. A bit of a gros out moment if you will, the effect was great even if that little alien looked like a puppet. Besides, how do you know what the alien should look like? 

“Alien” engages the characters and you, the audience with the upmost curiosity for this life form, which keeps the film going for you. If you do not like Sci-Fi films, this is definitely not for you. This film is one of those thought-provoking mystery sci-fi films that take you on a journey that explores science, fantasy and other life forms. 

The simple thing that lets down the film is it simply does not go anywhere. The only times really spent outside the ship is the ending (which still takes place on a vehicle) and when one of the crewmembers are exploring the planet. The film however, uses this to its strength to stick with the theme, “In space, no one can hear you scream”. It does give the film quite an isolated atmosphere of entrapment, which levels out this flaw in some ways. 

As  unique as the film is, it has obviously been inspired by sci-fi films such as “Forbidden Planet” and, “Jaws”, and “The Thing from another World” in its filmmaking and storytelling style. “Forbidden Planet” has an isolated atmosphere, “Jaws” has suspense and tension and “The Thing from another World” has an alien life form. Combined these and put Ridley Scott on the director’s chair, and you get “Alien”. Not to say it is not a great film, because this film explores science and ‘other life’ in a manner that captures your curiosity.  Not to mention being made in a different style by maintaining most of the film on the one ship.

The performances out of the crew were reasonable, but not award winning. They did their job fine and showed reasonable talent. The film’s cinematography was dark, shrouded and gave the film the isolated atmosphere that makes it so famous. “Alien” is among the famous sci-fi films, that went on to winning awards and ranking on film lists. It went on to win best sci-fi film and bet direction on 1979 and today is ranked as 6# on AFI’s “100 years 100 thrills” film list.   

My Rating: 8/10


  1. I would give it about a 7/10 and maybe go as far as saying it's very overrated. It had incredible suspense and definitely defined the genre, but I was taught that things like suspense alone are not enough to call a film a masterpiece. I honestly don't think 90% of the people (mainly from RT) that call this film a masterpiece can give me five different reasons as to why it deserves that title. But, that's just me.

    Nice work Thomas!

  2. "The only times really spent outside the ship is the ending"
    What about when they're exploring the planet, where they find the Space Jockey and the eggs?

  3. also, great review

  4. I suppose there is that which is why I said "time really", as in it is one of the only times. but yeh, i guess so :P

  5. I think it’s one the greatest horror films ever made but I don't really get your critique of the film. You sort of contradict yourself by saying that the movie’s weakness is it doesn't really go anywhere. Saying that time spent outside the ship is rare, you say this is a letdown but then you say it uses this factor to its strength. However, I agree with everything else you say and this is a good review.

  6. I guess I didn't express my opinion properly in this review. What I meant was it was great that it utilised in this, but it also makes it quite flat. Thanks for reading and spotting this somewhat foolish point I made.

  7. Spoiler Warning - I discuss the end of the movie in this comment.

    I was in school when this came out and I heard a classmate talking about it. It sounded interesting so I asked him to tell me a little bit about it. He did. I said, "why didn't they just get into their spacesuits and open the ship to vacuum?" He gawked at me, then swore at me, then got pissed because he thought I had seen the movie and was messing with him. I hadn't. At the time, I read science fiction, and the vacuum of space is popular as one of the hazards to all life.

    So, yes, the movie is just a little overrated in that the ending is kind of obvious, but it does have some good scares in it.



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