Tuesday, February 17, 2009


By Jesse Batson

I got a call from one of my part-time jobs the other day telling me that business was slow, so I didn’t need to show up.
Who was I to disagree, right?
It was cold, it was snowing and work just got cancelled....snow day! But what good is any snow day without a flick to watch?
After a quick trip to Blockbuster, I returned home with a bottle of Mello Yello, a bucket of movie theatre popcorn and Alien (the perfect mid-morning movie, naturally).
I was actually going to rent AVP (Alien vs. Predator), but I wanted to start with the original first.
“Alien is the first movie of one of the most popular sagas in science fiction history …,” the back of the DVD cover reads.
Sweet! Sounds cool.
The only thing I really knew about the trilogy at this point was that they made some action figures back when I was a kid because my friend and I used to play with them.
With my popcorn popped and my Mello Yellow by my side, I was ready to watch.
The movie starts out pretty decent – nice and slow – yet suspenseful at the same time. You know you’re watching a movie about aliens, so for the first ten minutes of the movie you’re just waiting for the first alien sighting.
The seven crewmembers of a commercial towing spaceship (basically they’re garbage collectors, right?) get a signal from a nearby planetoid.
Naturally, as it goes with all horror flicks, the crewmembers decide it’s a good idea to go see what’s causing this unknown signal. Bad move.
As a few of the members start to walk around on a planet, you’re sitting there anticipating a close up of a large, scary, acid-dripping-from-its-mouth extraterrestrial. You know it’s coming.
The darkness of space, the shaky camerawork and the unsuspecting crewmembers are just a recipe for it.
They discover a seemingly abandoned spaceship. It seems they realized they were dealing with another life form.
I was a little surprised at the lack of surprise from the space explorers. Running into an alien life form doesn’t seem like your run-of-the-mill experience, yet they didn’t seem completely, if at all, shocked when the eggs of one of the aliens attached itself to Kane’s face.
I guess dealing with aliens is a job prerequisite when you travel through space for a living.
They take Kane back to the ship and the pace of the movie slows down a bit.
Almost an hour into the movie and you’re still waiting for the action to pick up. I still haven’t gotten that close-up I’ve been waiting for.
It turns out that this alien egg they ran across bursts from Kane’s body and rapidly grows into to a giant, flesh-eating alien – acid-dripping-from-the-mouth and all.
Once the alien appears, the group becomes dysfunctional, much like a group of teens in a horror movie.
Everyone thinks they have the best solution, which means working together isn’t much of an option. Sigourney Weaver is the saving grace though. Weaver plays the calm and collected Ripley.
Now that the alien is loose on the ship, the goal is survival and Ripley’s street smarts forces her into the role of leader.
The space craze was in full effect in the 1960s thanks to the U.S. and Russia battling it out to get the first man on the moon, so it makes sense that a film like Alien would be released within the decade that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
Alien was one of several space movies in the ‘70s. Two other popular franchises included: Star Wars IV: A New Hope and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Alien doesn’t feature any space creatures co-existing with humans though. No, Alien is about an emotionless being ready to use human bodies as breeding capsules – just a wee bit more in line with our notions about life from other planets.
The (at that time) groundbreaking graphics was one reason for the large box office and critical success of the movie. The Ridley Scott-directed film claimed an Oscar for Visual Effects.
In 1979 the effects may have been something to behold, but they don’t stand the test of time because 30 years later it looks like a low-budget B-movie you’d see on the Sci-Fi channel.
I spent a lot of time anticipating with this movie, which was a mistake because the movie doesn’t exactly ooze with excitement. Instead, it kind of plods along at it’s own pace.
I guess I was expecting a film more along the lines of Independence Day.
While this flick was more action-packed than E.T., it’s an alien tale that left me wanting more. Weaver did a good job playing Ripley and was really the best part of the movie, but you don’t get too much of her, so at the end of the movie you’re left wanting more.
Best way to watch this one: try not to anticipate anything. Just watch and let the movie progress….and maybe have the remote handy in case you get the urge to fast forward through some of the slower parts.

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