Feb 26, 2010

[Movies] Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)I'm a huge science fiction fan, as if all of you geeky readers didn't already know that. At the same time, I'm not very good with horror movies since I scare easily and I'm all nervous and tense as it is.

Of course there's a large subset of science fiction movies that have horror / suspense elements, so that's sort of bad news for me. The geek in me will want to go see the movie for the science fiction side of things but at the same time the scaredy cat in me doesn't look forward to getting surprised and scared out of my mind.

And yet the geek in me always wins out and I do end up watching whatever scary movie is out there. I do my best to overcome my fear in order to fulfill my geeky needs. This is one of the greatest science fiction movies out there, in my opinion, and yet also one of the freakiest.

Alien was a science fiction movie that totally changed the game when it came to our concept of such movies. Instead of the campy, high adventure feel of most other science fiction pieces, this was dark, serious and ultimately scary in how it presented this glimpse of the future.

The "facehugger" was the first creat...Image via Wikipedia

The movie follows the crew of the commercial vessel known as the Nostromo on its way back to Earth. I always think of them as sort of space truckers on this long distance flight hauling ore and other raw materials for resource needs. They receive orders to investigate a transmission they receive from a nearby planet and there they find an alien spacecraft. One of the crew encounters a strange alien creature that attaches itself to his face and doesn't let go. The thing becomes more popularly known as a facehugger a its sole purpose is to implant an alien egg in the host and use the body as an incubation unit.

And this is where the real story begins. The crew now find themselves in a battle to survive against the alien creature that turns out to be highly aggressive, has acid for blood and moves lightning fast. Given they're not very well-armed it's not an easy feat to accomplish.

The movie's central claim to fame, in my opinion, was introducing the world to Warrant Officer Ripley as immortalized by Sigourney Weaver. She was a very different kind of leading lady since she was tough, aggressive, strong, independent and yet still feminine when she needed to be. She wasn't too much of a tomboy character but she was definitely a breath of fresh hair compared to all the stereotype female roles in Hollywood in the years before.

Then there's the alien itself, which was also a very striking and surprising image. It wasn't your typical bug-eyed monster but it was scary in a completely different way. It's what many people think to be the perfect killing-machine and as illogical as some of its biological innovations are, we can't argue the fact that it was amazingly well-designed for killing things and pretty much scary the living daylights out of folks.

Thus the movie also has all the elements of a great psychological horror piece. You don't see the alien until more than halfway through the movie and a lot of the movie is long, drawn-out moments of silence that do amazingly well to build up tension and of course suspense. I hate scary movies and this one really freaked me out more than once during the film. And yet I loved every moment of it, for sure.

This is a science fiction movie that everyone needs to watch. All similar movies in recent years owe a lot to this first one and you'll come to respect what they managed to achieve despite the technological limitations of the time. And it's a totally amazing movie all the same, one that will surely stand the tests of time.

Alien gets 5 out of 5 dead crew members.

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