Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A great introduction.
This film was selected from ‘The 250’
Ridley Scott is the man. I mean, come on…1979 and you come up with Alien? Great concept, but if any of that was under my supervision, I’d probably wait a few years until there was adequate production tools, but for a film pushing forty years old, this is not half bad. Now, I’m known to rate movies based off of their appeal towards a modern audience, and that’s honestly a pretty solid question. There’s no question how this affected people when it first came out, but how would it affect those who had never seen the series nowadays, but have seen other current science fiction films? How does it rank and compare then? To answer that, let’s take a look at what it is first.
Alien is one of the most classic films in terms of both science fiction and horror. But I wouldn’t really place it in the horror category just because the alien in question is a grisly-looking monster. No, this is more of a suspense-driven thriller, much like that of Jurassic Park. It’s all about making you think and drawing you to the edge of your seat in a mysterious and creepy setting. In this particular film, the setting is a distant planet for which a group of scientist astronauts discover a beacon that is either calling for help or warning people to stay away. They decide to investigate and they find nothing but disaster. Alien organisms that attach themselves to human hosts and create something infinitely disastrous and seemingly impossible to kill. Sooner than they know it, they are running for their lives from something they can’t even begin to describe.
I’ll admit that there are elements to this film that feel like horror, even for today’s standards. It’s dark, it’s very suspenseful, it’s got a scary monster and things are just snowballing worse and worse. It’s sort of what nightmares are made of, but it’s made in such a way that for most of the movie you don’t really feel like it is scary at all. In fact, for today’s standards, some of these scenes might just bore you, as they carry out with a lot of dialogue and dramatic pauses. I think part of how they wanted to scare you was with the power of suggestion…just making you think that somewhere on that ship was the worst thing human beings have ever discovered…and they had no idea where it was. I get that, but as far as themes go, it feels more or less like an intriguing discovery flick.
As far as acting goes with this film, I was incredibly impressed. It demanded phenomenal acting, and boy did it have that. If ever I felt like a cast was legitimately afraid, I’d have to give those props to our crew in this film. Also, I’m just glad it didn’t have any ‘70s cheese at all. There were so many places it could have gone wrong in either the music department, or sound effects, props, costumes, make up, acting…you name it…they just did everything right here. This is a filmmaking goldmine in a lot of ways. Students of film will probably love this film more than anything. But regular Joes may not.
Does this translate well to a blind modern audience? It does and it doesn’t. I can attest that I grew up with a certain idea of what Alien was…and I’m sure others have probably been taught the same thing. That it’s this never-ending action horror flick. My modern approach to this flick has led me to believe that this is rather – an intriguing, but sometimes slow, suspenseful sci-fi thriller. It has a lot of great moments in it, realistic character interactions, decent planetary visuals…all that. But I wouldn’t really call it a horror, nor would I say it’s filled with action. It’s just a filmmaking goldmine.
As I’ve said twice in the review already – this is a filmmaking goldmine. It has a lot of great, original material here that immediately makes it one of the best science fiction films of all time. The acting in this film from everyone, especially Sigourney Weaver, was exceptionally well-done.
If you were like me, you were taught to have certain expectations from Alien. Mostly that it is a horror film with a ton of action and violence. While it has all of those elements, it is rather just an intriguing suspenseful sci-fi thriller that is sometimes slow-moving.