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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 9:06am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Matt Reed nails it.

ALIENS is a solid follow up to ALIEN, and AVP is a serviceable prequel. To me, these are the "real" Alien movies. It's a world where Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop have a future together beyond the end of ALIENS...we don't have to know what that future is...just that it is.

I enjoy AVP. Doesn't hurt that Sanaa Lathan is the lead.

Anything that followed is a parallel universe adventure, to me.

As Reed said, RESURRECTION is watchable, and I've done so recently, but I just can't make it 'real' to my mind.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 9:37am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

…AVP is a serviceable prequel…

••

I wouldn't define AvP as a "prequel". It takes place before ALIEN, but it is unconnected to it, other than the appearance of the Aliens. It doesn't even serve to "set up" any elements of ALIEN.

This franchise has become a series of movies that, until PROMETHEUS, were only loosely linked. Calling AvP a "prequel" would be not unlike calling GOLDFINGER a "sequel" to DR. NO. Same characters, but no "connective tissue" in the plots.

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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 10:39am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Perhaps more a prequel to ALIENS, as it featured the company headed by Charles Bishop Weyland that would eventually become Weyland-Yutani. Of course, the Bishop android(s) were also based on his appearance.

Though not mentioned by name in ALIEN, Weyland-Yutani was "the company" responsible for their mission to to LV 426, per discussion in ALIENS.




Edited by Brian Rhodes on 11 March 2017 at 10:41am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 10:56am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I, too, agree with Matt's assessment. That being said, I think AvP has a number of issues which lessen it, and that PROMETHEUS has a few elements which make it a bit more watchable for me than it is for others (namely, Fassbender and the cinematography).

Really, it comes down to ALIEN and ALIENS. Don't need anything else. ALIEN 3 is a sort of fascinating failure, but the first two are the only films I watch/care about/obsess over on a regular basis.

You wanna talk about "franchise fatigue"? The ALIEN series is a prime example. A great, moody, one-off film followed by a great sequel which put the toys back in the box by the end...and then a stream of needless sequels and prequels.


Coincidentally, I tried to show ALIEN and ALIENS to a young friend, a few months ago. She absolutely could not make it through ALIEN. Couldn't do it. Apparently because she was bored, and didn't find it at all entertaining. She didn't bother with ALIENS. Some weeks after giving me my DVDs back, she said she'd gone with her boyfriend to a 30th anniversary screening of ALIENS, and loved it. Sigh.

Unfortunately, ALIEN has lost some of its luster, since the novelty has been eroded by the passage of time, and countless sequels/homages/imitations. And, the rock-bottom truth of it is that ALIEN is a B-movie which has amazing production design and casting. As the sequels have proved, there's not a whole lot you can do with the concept before it gets tired, repetitive, or absurdly off-model. The first two films defined the span of the concept--haunted house stalker/mystery movie, and action/war movie. Pretty much all of the subsequent films fall into one of those camps.

At the end of the day, ALIEN is still my favorite, although ALIENS is a heck of a lot of fun, and has deeper characterization. Those two films are all I need, and I'm more than happy to pretend that it was "...and Ripley lived happily ever after.", post-ALIENS.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 11 March 2017 at 10:58am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 12:16pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Perhaps more a prequel to ALIENS, as it featured the company headed by Charles Bishop Weyland that would eventually become Weyland-Yutani. Of course, the Bishop android(s) were also based on his appearance.

Though not mentioned by name in ALIEN, Weyland-Yutani was "the company" responsible for their mission to to LV 426, per discussion in ALIENS.

••

In that sense, AvP is more of a retcon than a prequel.

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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 12:28pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

She absolutely could not make it through ALIEN. Couldn't do it. Apparently because she was bored, and didn't find it at all entertaining...

Unfortunately, ALIEN has lost some of its luster, since the novelty has been eroded by the passage of time, and countless sequels/homages/imitations
.

Perhaps that's true for modern audiences. I certainly don't think so.

ALIEN's pacing is one of its strengths. Similar to THE EXORCIST, the initial setting is played up as low-key, mundane. Sure, they're on a huge spaceship, but to the crew, it's just a job. They're trying to get it done and get paid. So when weird stuff starts happening, it's in stark contrast to the "normal."





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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 1:24pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

ALIEN's pacing is one of its strengths. Similar to THE EXORCIST, the initial setting is played up as low-key, mundane. Sure, they're on a huge spaceship, but to the crew, it's just a job. They're trying to get it done and get paid. So when weird stuff starts happening, it's in stark contrast to the "normal."

••

Basically TEN LITTLE INDIANS.

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Doug Centers
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 5:59pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I'm with Greg, Alien and Aliens that's all I need from that franchise.

My first screening of Alien ,oddly enough, came from a Super 8mm film at my friends house. We watched it on one of his bedroom walls some months after it's release.
Even in that setting the movie was very impactful!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 March 2017 at 10:57pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Perhaps that's true for modern audiences. I certainly don't think so. 

ALIEN's pacing is one of its strengths. Similar to THE EXORCIST, the initial setting is played up as low-key, mundane. Sure, they're on a huge spaceship, but to the crew, it's just a job. They're trying to get it done and get paid. So when weird stuff starts happening, it's in stark contrast to the "normal."
++++++++

Agreed. The first 45 minutes are slow-paced, but they're full of information, and help build the tension. I love ALIEN. The mood, tension, and low-key sense of day-to-day realism for the ship and crew really help give it its power. It is indeed TEN LITTLE INDIANS IN SPACE, but it's done in a really slick and memorable way. 

Again, time has worn away the novelty of it. Had there ever been a film like this, prior? ALIEN really kinda stunned the world, when it was released. I'd also argue that it's one of the best art-directed films of all time. Instantly-iconic visuals and designs.

As time goes on, I find myself increasingly in the position of defending what are objectively brilliant and classic films/shows (like ALIEN, STAR TREK, the original STAR WARS, etc.) to kids who are raised on fast-paced, CGI epics. I always find myself repeating two phrases--"Context is everything", and, "It all comes down to story and character".

Kids have no sense of history. Old stuff is "cheesy". Old visual effects are "cheesy". Old movies are "boring". Sigh. 


GET OFFA MY LAWN!
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 12:31am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Greg's getting o-ld, Greg's getting o-ld
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 12:49am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

For the record, I've been like this since I was a kid, so it's nothing new. The stupidity of people around me is just more pronounced, thanks to the generation gap. 

I mean, when I was a kid, I was amazed by all of the history behind my favorite movies, shows, comics, etc. For whatever reason, I've always tended to gravitate toward older fiction. And never judged it by the standards of the present. It's a little thing called "respect".

Mind you, my prime comic-reading and moviegoing years were the 90s, so this was perhaps the only rational attitude to have.

As for my first experience with ALIEN, I caught bits and pieces of it on late-night TV, then watched ALIENS in a high-school class, not too long after. ALIEN's just a great late-night TV movie, y'know? 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 4:47am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Following the success of STAR WARS, the original ALIEN could be viewed as the first to say "Now something for grown-ups."

It's very odd to think back on the history of science-fiction in the movies. Stuck for so many decades in the bargain basement, with infantile plots and effects that were anything but special. Occasionally something would climb out of the hole -- THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, FORBIDDEN PLANET, PLANET OF THE APES -- but mostly "sci-fi" seemed to mean critics would subtract a star no matter what the intrinsic quality of the film.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 9:12am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Following the success of STAR WARS, the original ALIEN could be viewed as the first to say "Now something for grown-ups."
++++++++

Exactly. STAR WARS created a whole new market and hunger for big-screen sci-fi, and ALIEN was a natural response--an exploration of the adult, darker side of the genre.

Indeed, I'd argue that ALiEN itself opened the door for a bunch of adult/R-rated sci-fi and horror films which really found their groove in the 80s--THE TERMINATOR, PREDATOR, etc. 

ALIEN really was a quantum leap forward in terms of a more realistic, adult take on genre material, with the whole "truckers in space" thing. Previously, it had pretty much been stuff like STAR TREK and FORBIDDEN PLANET--immaculate, brightly-lit spaceships with noble, by-the-book, uniformed crews. The whole notion of a working-class spaceship crew was (and still is) a brilliant subversion of genre expectations. 

I mean, you'd never have seen Hawaiian shirts or porno mags on the Enterprise or the C-57D!


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 12 March 2017 at 11:33am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 10:01am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I mean, you'd never have seen Hawaiian shirts or porno mags on the Enterprise or the C-57D!

••

Tho there were scenes where they might have fit. . . .

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Doug Centers
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 10:14am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Ha!
That shirt definitely works on Cook!
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Bill Mimbu
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Posted: 12 March 2017 at 1:36pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Casual Friday?



(Yes, I know, "Off-duty" would be the more correct term)

Edited by Bill Mimbu on 12 March 2017 at 1:38pm
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Brian Hunt
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Posted: 13 March 2017 at 11:37pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Looks like Ridley is prepared to keep this franchise
going for a loooong time.

Link
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 14 March 2017 at 2:40am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

OK, couple of things about that article.
1) The photo of Scott seems to have a really large Biomechanic in the background - seems to be in scale to the original one in Alien
2) There are aliens all over the advert.

Now, Prometheus had really small Biomechanics, and showed that it was a suit - this was one of the worst bits about that movie

In previous interviews, Scott said it would take a couple more films before we get to the aliens seen in ALIEN.

Has he realised that Prometheus was total crap and that he had better just get back to showing the alien and get those Biomechanics back to scale? 

This quote, seems to indicate that maybe he did.

"What we did really well on Prometheus, considering that it was a ground zero idea that was starting all over again, was I discovered that people do have an appetite for the Alien and what he means and his evolution – the egg, the facehugger, the chestburster, as we call them.

I mean, basically, what he is saying is 'What we did well on the last film is realise that we made a film that included none of the bits people actually like about ALIEN, so we have better get right back to that story instead'
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Brian Hunt
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Posted: 14 March 2017 at 8:13pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

That seems like a fair assumption James!
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Philip Obaza
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Posted: 14 March 2017 at 10:17pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Yeah, can't say I'm particularly interested in this (much as I respect Scott 
as a filmmaker).

My feelings towards this series are not unlike my feelings for the 
TERMINATOR films: anything after the first two might as well be expensive 
fan fiction.*
----------

*I'll grant a partial exception for ALIEN 3, which like Greg, I find to be an 
interesting failure. And in spite of my feelings, I still own the blu-ray boxset, 
as it's an incredible piece of home video production, and the documentaries 
behind 3 are especially fascinating in and of themselves.


Edited by Philip Obaza on 14 March 2017 at 10:18pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 March 2017 at 12:00am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

You really feel for Fincher, watching that documentary. The conditions of the production were so bad, that he basically quit filmmaking until SE7EN came across his desk, a few years later.

I'm not a fan of the film's "let's kill everyone who survived ALIENS" approach, but, at the same time, I can't help but admire the film's incredible bravery in going SO bleak and grim. I mean, the idea of it is abhorrent and a slap in the face to fans of ALIENS, but I find the actual scene of Newt's autopsy to be a masterfully-constructed piece of emotional/body horror and mood. Fincher was just utterly fearless, right from the start of his career.

It's a interesting failure, and made with a lot of vision and style behind it. Fincher has proven himself to be a master storyteller, and you can see a lot of his raw talent in display in ALIEN 3. That alone gives it some points.

But, as with TERMINATOR, there were two and only two ALIEN films, right? Right? Good.
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Matt Reed
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Posted: 15 March 2017 at 1:12am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I'd say three, but we're quibbling.  ;)

Anywho like I said on the previous page, ALIEN 3 is worth the price of admission for the documentary on its failure alone.  I'd watch that twice before I watched the actual film again.  That said, there are some risky moves made in that film that none other has even attempted, so I give it credit for that.  But on balance, it deserves its place as a singularly awful sequel insomuch as it upset the applecart so very, very much. Hard to put the pieces back after that story, as much as the less flawed RESURRECTION tried to do. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 March 2017 at 6:55am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Exactly.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 15 March 2017 at 9:13pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I often defend ALIEN 3 against detractors, citing some of the same arguments used here, particularly Greg's description of the autopsy of Newt. It brought the franchise away from action/adventure and back into horror. REQUIEM and the AVP films veer back into "thrill ride" territory rather than "horror." Which is fine, but they're more sequels to ALIENS than they are to ALIEN.

Film series can acquire a distressing number of hangers-on as they roll and toddle along. The ads for the Lethal Weapon movies show the cast increasing with each subsequent installment. Cast members stack up in the ads to the Back to the Future films as well. Ghostbusters 2 had EV-erybody from the first film in a beige utility suit brandishing a proton pack (except Sigourney Weaver who was already overtaxed trying to be completely boring for the first, and as far as I can tell, last time in her career.*) These expanding casts are a bad thing from any number of angles.

Killing Hicks and Newt at the start accomplished a number of goals in storytelling and tone and the sound of that rib-spreader in the autopsy still resonates today. I know SO many people who hate that film just for the death of Newt alone, but a horror picture isn't supposed to supply you with warm, happy feelings of seeing the whole family back together again. Action/adventure pictures, on the other hand, yeah, that's fine. Whatever. ALIEN 3 does have a number of problems, but at least sentimentality, temerity, and formula are not among them.

* Also, just pointing out, the Statue of Liberty? Doesn't have legs. Really, you can go inside and see. No legs.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 March 2017 at 12:47am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Killing Hicks and Newt at the start accomplished a number of goals in storytelling and tone and the sound of that rib-spreader in the autopsy still resonates today. I know SO many people who hate that film just for the death of Newt alone, but a horror picture isn't supposed to supply you with warm, happy feelings of seeing the whole family back together again. Action/adventure pictures, on the other hand, yeah, that's fine. Whatever. ALIEN 3 does have a number of problems, but at least sentimentality, temerity, and formula are not among them.
+++++++

I think the inherent problem is this: 

As an entity unto itself, ALIEN 3 sticks to its guns and tells a bleak horror story. Ripley dies in the end, but wins a moral victory by keeping the Aliens out of the Company's hands.

However, ALIEN 3 is not an entity unto itself. It is a sequel to ALIENS, a film which created a sort of pseudo-family unit which not only survived through to the end, but also won a decisive victory. To suddenly turn around and say "nope, gonna kill 'em all" sort of betrayed the unspoken agreement that the filmmakers had with the audience. 

Does it work in the context of ALIEN 3? Pretty well, yeah. But, in the larger context of the entire series, it feels like pulling the rug out from under the audience in a rather cruel and unpleasant way. James Cameron took the toys out of the box to make ALIENS, then put them back pretty much how he found them. Fincher broke the toys, and that kinda trumps the admittedly brave artistic merits of going back to a more pure-horror vibe for the series.

For me, it falls into the same camp as killing Sarah Connor offscreen prior to TERMINATOR 3, Sarah Michelle Gellar's character dying early on in THE GRUDGE 2, or Veronica Quaife (played by a Geena Davis-lookalike) dying in the opening scene of THE FLY II.

TV Tropes refers to this as "Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome", where a main character (whom the audience is invested in, and has survived/succeeded by the end of the first film), is unceremoniously dispatched during the sequel, usually early on. 

On the one hand, some of these cases are a "realistic" extrapolation of how events would proceed, in-universe. Others are due to actor departures/deaths. Ofttimes, it seems to come down to, "well, we just want to tell our new story, and this character is in the way, and/or we need a quick and easy way to give emotional weight to the proceedings".

A more recent example is the death of Han Solo. I've made no secret of my issues with the recent STAR WARS films. Solo was and is a beloved character, and he had his happy ending 30-plus years ago. His onscreen death felt to me like A) The actor finally getting an "out" from the franchise; B) A beloved character being killed off by the villain to give more weight to both the villain and the movie. In other words, to raise the stakes in a quick and dirty way. Sort of like how EVERY threat on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION made a punching bag out of Worf, who was supposedly a mighty Klingon warrior.

At the end of the day, it comes down to one's personal taste in fiction. Some people want stories to proceed to a ruthlessly logical conclusion, no matter the cost. Others just want to have a good time at the movies, with the expectation that things will turn out reasonably well for the characters. Should movies have unrealistic, escapist-type happy endings, or should they stick to "realistic" storytelling, no matter how dark things may get? Mileage may vary.

Personally speaking, something about the nature of the ALIEN films kinda makes me think that the reassuring, happy endings of the first two films are a necessary counterpoint to the nightmarish imagery and primal fears the films possess in abundance. Bleak, depressing endings CAN work for films, of course, but Ripley's survival in the face of impossible odds clearly resonates with people. And, Jim Cameron wanted to leave her in a better emotional place in ALIENS than she was at the end of ALIEN, hence the "family". Which was immediately taken away at the beginning of ALIEN 3.
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