The start of Alien has the seven astronauts wake up from cryo-sleep. They find out that the they've been woken halfway through their flight due to a transmission coming from a ship on a nearby planetoid. Although the crew members are less than enthusiastic to lend a hand, they are required by law to do so. Inside the derelict ship, they encounter a nest full of eggs. Oh yes, you know where this is going.
Always Burn Alien Eggs
Where were we? Oh yes, so they found a bunch of alien eggs, and it is not surprising to know what happens after that. An organism then springs on Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) and attaches to his face. He falls unconscious and is brought back to the ship to be treated. Next in command, Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) initially refuses to let them inside, citing regulations for quarantine. However, Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) breaks protocol by letting them in. They are unable to pry the creature off, discovering that its blood is a highly corrosive acid. Eventually, it lets go of Kane and he regains consciousness. When the crew decides to re-enter stasis for the journey home, out bursts an alien from Kane's stomach. It then begins to stalk the humans with the help of a traitor in the ship.
This Movie Won a Lot of Awards for Innovatively Awesome
It's not surprising that aside from getting nominated for Best Art Direction, the movie won an Oscar for its visual effects. The tension is palpable and the alien? Utterly terrifying. What makes everything work, however, is the clever pacing. Ridley Scott felt no need to rush things alone and to fill in every silence. He lets the audience wait, with ambient noises to stimulate the viewer on a subconscious level. The film underscores the most important scenes with masterful lulls such as the crew's speculations regarding the transmission. Is it a distress call or a warning to stay away? Of course, the visuals also help flesh out the story beyond the spoken dialogue. Seeing the large creature's stomach serving as a nest sent shivers up our spine. The alien ship's foreboding, shadowy silhouette. And so on. This movie proves that sometimes, it's not just the monster that unnerves but also the thought of it coming.
Speaking of the titular creature, it is a sight to behold. Aliens sees no need to hold back when it comes to adapting its bogeyman to fit the scene. Is it humanoid? It is the toothy monster as promised by promotional posters? Actually, it depends on the scene. For instance, the face-hugging creature that attached itself to poor Kane, has tentacles. However the one which burst from his body is snake-like, with razor sharp teeth. Ash even mentions that it is the perfect creature which will do anything to survive.
All Star Cast
Although we prefer the friendly banter between the sequel's crew members, we have no qualms with the acting in Alien. Sigourney Weaver has just the right amount of the "tough girl" vibe to be perfect for the role of Ripley. Seeing her fight for the safety of the crew members is extraordinary, with raw emotions shining through naturally. John Hurt is also a favorite, with a believable performance as he toughs it out after his unfortunate encounter. Hearing Parker and Brett (Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton respectively) complain about proper compensation for the additional work is as humorous as it is realistic. It is plain to see the effort into giving each one of the characters a distinct voice and the result is simply fantastic.
Still as Good as Ever
We thoroughly enjoyed watching Alien, both the first time around and for this review. Haircuts and computers aside, it has not aged one bit. Actually, even its older bits and pieces (such as the IBM computer-esque Mother) add to the atmospheric quality of the film. The actors are superb, with every character having a distinct voice throughout. The creature is nothing short of terrifying, with the special effects making for realistic effects that will make your stomach do back flips. The pacing is on point, working hand-in-hand with Jerry Goldsmith's epic sound design.
This is one film that won't be forgotten. It doesn't matter how many slasher flicks or gore fests are added to the mix. The harmony of its elements ensures that Alien will remain one of the most influential movies in the genre