Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Alien Film Review


Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm,Yaphet Kotto.
Series: Alien
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes

Buy on Amazon!
From a filmmaking perspective, a lot of unconventional things happen in the film: the use of extended silences, the use of older actors, and impressive use of pre CG visuals. All of these aspects have helped to make Alien remain a creepy and believable film over thirty years later.
A classic that has successfully stood the test of time, Alien is still a film that still packs all the knock-out punches needed to make a great sci-fi thriller.

A commercial spaceship called Nostromo carrying 20 million tons of ore awakens its crew from their stasis sleep on the return trip to Earth in order to investigate an unfamiliar transmission it received.  While landing on the planet that the transmission was found, the crew discovers alien eggs and a completely destroyed alien ship.

Inadvertently, the crew brings aboard one of the aliens, which manages to rapidly grow in size and has developed lethal survival instincts.  The crew now has to figure out how to kill the alien in order to survive.

Alien is great at clashing genres.  It brings in a typical horror plot, but lets it take place in a hard science fiction setting, while using a number of gross-out moments to create a truly unique film experience.  Subconsciously, Alien plays with the idea that humans are not alone in the universe, and the possibility of an alien species similar to the one depicted in the film could be a possible reality.
Since horror tends to depict monsters that could never exist, this is where Alien really is able to creep people out.

The way the alien kills people, especially at the dinner scene, is a testament to this films creative brilliance and its ability to truly instill fear and disgust into audiences.  The alien, especially once fully grown, is truly one of horror’s great monsters.  It’s menacing in appearance and devious with its intelligence.

The film makes great use of silence and slow pacing.  Minutes can go by without dialogue or with barely a word or two exchanged, and the film’s score in the background is either non-existent or barely louder than a whisper.  Slow pacing creates anxiety within the audiences mind leaving them thinking… something bad’s going to happen, something bad’s going to happen.

The way the film handles these two effects create a tension that the word eerie does not do enough just for. Jerry Goldsmith created an excellent score for this film, despite him and Ridley Scott being on different pages for most of the film.  Goldsmith’s minimal use of music and his orchestral gestures, which are largely based off of classical aleatoric compositions, helps support the film’s emotional tones… such as the magnanimity of the crew’s discovery, and the unnatural abilities of the newly discovered alien.

Horror films make use of actors that are traditionally young, with the characters often falling into traps that are a result of the follies of youth.  Alien primarily uses older actors, with the exception of the two women on the ship, but even they are in their thirties.  The use of an older cast makes the alien look more menacing and intelligent and the crew more sympathetic to the audience. When the crew encounters the alien, they are often killed by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than being, quite frankly speaking, killed for being stupid.

Not all of the characters in Alien make smart decisions, at the very least, characters won’t be killed because they decided to have a sex in a secret compartment of the ship, or they won’t be killed for being the over confident jock type of douche bag that unwittingly walks into the jaws of death.

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Ash (Ian Holm) are the two standouts in regards to acting ability in the film, all though it should be noted everyone in the film does an excellent job with their parts.  Weaver is one of the earliest portrayals, along with Jaime Lee Curtis from Halloween’s, portrayal of a strong, intelligent, female lead that is competent and able to save herself and fight back against a powerful antagonist in a horror film.  Progressive ideas such as these really increase the appreciation a person can get from watching this film.

Alien is a classic.  Despite the outdated looking lights and ship gadgets, and especially the outdated looking computer screens, Alien still manages to convey a fairly convincingly look into the future of humanity.  The way this story is portrayed on film though, helped contribute greatly to many future horror and science fiction films and that makes it a must-see for anyone who is a fan of those genres.

 Score: 9.4

No comments:

Post a Comment