AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review

AVP Alien vs Predator posterDirector: Paul W S Anderson

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner

They’re not hunting us. We’re in the middle of a war. It’s time to pick a side.” (Alexa, AVP: Alien vs Predator)

How do you bring two of the most iconic sci-fi monsters together so they can meet and fight each other?

Hmmm. What if there was some sort of common ground they shared, something that could be used to force a meeting?

Let’s think. On one hand you’ve got the Alien, the penis-headed xenomorph that made life hell for Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. Which lives in space.

Then there’s the Predator, the alien hunter that made life hell for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Predator movie. Which lives in space.

Right then, with that in mind it seems pretty obvious how a storyline for Alien vs Predator could come about. Yup, you guessed it, a fight to the death in an ancient underground pyramid 2000 feet below the ground. In Antarctica. Continue reading “AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review”

Alien: Resurrection (1997) review

Alien Resurrection posterDirector: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif

RIPLEY – “There’s a monster in your chest. These guys hijacked your ship, and they sold your cryo tube to this human. And he put an alien inside of you. It’s a really nasty one. And in a few hours it’s gonna burst through your ribcage, and you’re gonna die. Any questions?

PURVIS – “Who are you?”

RIPLEY – “I’m the monster’s mother.”

There are some people who feel writer Joss Whedon can do no wrong. To those people I remove my cap, stare soberly at them and nod my head in the direction of Alien Resurrection, at which point blood streams freely from their eyes as they collapse in a heap, screaming indecipherable slogans of bile and malice.

To be fair, that would maybe be a bit of an overreaction on their behalf, because Alien Resurrection isn’t exactly the worst film ever made. It’s just the worst Alien film ever made. Continue reading “Alien: Resurrection (1997) review”

Alien 3 (1992) review

Alien 3 posterDirector: David Fincher

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dutton, Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Lance Henriksen, an Alien

“You’re all gonna die, the only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet, or on your fuckin’ knees, begging? I ain’t much for begging. Nobody ever gave me nothing. So I say fuck that thing, let’s fight it.” (Dillon, Alien 3)

WARNING: This article has ending spoilers, so you have been warned. It’s more than two decades old, to be fair.

Imagine you had a decent job. Let’s say you were the manager of something… a plumbing firm, for example. You make good money, and you’re happy with the knowledge that when it comes to managing plumbing firms, you know your onions.

Now imagine you’ve also got two older brothers. One brother is a leading politician – be that the Prime Minister, President, whatever it is in your country. The other brother is one of the greatest footballers in the world and has two World Cup Winner’s medals in his large trophy display room.

If you can’t tell where I’m going with this analogy you might as well close this window and go back to fumbling over Candy Crush Saga. Yes, friends, what I’m saying is that Alien 3 is the plumbing firm manager of the Alien series. Look, just go with it. Continue reading “Alien 3 (1992) review”

Aliens (1986)

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn

“We’d better get back, cause it’ll be dark soon and they mostly come at night. Mostly.” (Newt, Aliens)

It’s very rare that a sequel not only offers a complete change of pace from that of its predecessor but also manages to match it in terms of quality. Aliens is one such film, one that has a very different feel to Alien but is still a fantastic film regardless.

After her epic battle with the Alien at the end of the first movie, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) takes a well-deserved rest in her ship’s hypersleep chamber. Turns out she was a little too tired though, because she remains asleep in suspended animation for 57 years and by the time she’s found by a salvage ship and brought back to the company she used to work for she’s told her 10-year-old daughter has died of old age.

Safe to say, Ronaldinho's dentist had a hell of a job ahead of her

The company doesn’t believe Ripley’s stories about the parasites they found on the planet in the first film, explaining to her that there’s a colony of people living there now and they haven’t reported any problems. They suspend her from her duties for destroying their pricey mining ship in the first film, and tell her to go see a psychiatrist. That is, until a few months later, when they come crawling back and tell her that they can’t get in touch with the colonists on the planet and have the feeling something’s wrong. Hmmm, wonder what it could be, hope they’re alright.  Continue reading “Aliens (1986)”

Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright

“We’ll move in pairs. We’ll go step by step and cut off every bulkhead and every vent until we have it cornered. And then we’ll blow it the fuck out into space. Is that acceptable to you?” (Ripley, Alien)

It speaks volumes of Alien‘s masterful construction that 33 years after its initial release it’s still one of the most effective sci-fi/horror hybrids ever made. While many sci-fi films of its era look dated beyond belief these days, Alien‘s unique style and pacing ensure it still holds its own (and usually comes out on top) among today’s similar offerings.

It tells the story of the Nostromo, a mining ship that intercepts a strange SOS signal from a nearby planet. Waking from hypersleep, the crew of the Nostromo land on the planet to investigate. There they find a deadly parasite that infects a crew member and uses his body as a host to infiltrate the ship, at which point it begins systematically killing the rest of the crew.

"Come on, the dinner wasn't that bad. I used Uncle Ben's for fuck sake"

The key to Alien’s scare factor is Ridley Scott’s clever use of the “Jaws technique” – by showing as little of the monster as possible, Scott has the viewer filling in the blanks themselves, adding what personally scares them and making something much worse than could ever possibly be shown on-screen.

When the Alien is eventually revealed however, it’s to the credit of Swiss surrealist artist HR Giger that his creation is still terrifying in full view. Its long head and extending teeth are as close to a killer penis as you can get, and as the crew members are offed one by one and the film’s heroine is slowly revealed to be Ripley, you can almost hear the amateur psychologists in the audience feverishly scribbling down “inherent fear of penetration” in their mental notebooks.  Continue reading “Alien (1979)”