Apr 5, 2008

Alien Vs. Aliens

Aliens is one of those few film sequels that is more highly regarded than the original film. I would have to disagree with that popular opinion as I see Alien as a more innovative and important film. Alien is a film that has it’s setting in a Sci-Fi background but owes more haunted house horror. Aliens is more of a sci-fi and war film hybrid. Both films go against expected genre conventions.

I just recently viewed Aliens for the first time over the past couple days (I would call it long term procrastination). Alien is a film that I watch at least once a year. It is a film that no doubt gets better with each viewing. It’s entire atmosphere demands the viewer to suspend all belief for a subconsciously sexual look at killer extraterrestrial life forms. H.R. Giger provided the disturbing sexual aesthetics that give Alien a good portion of it’s nightmarish and dark fetishistic appeal. Had he not been involved in the imagery in the alien film franchise, the films would be crucially lacking in both appeal and power.

The phallic headed Aliens found in the Alien films are the ultimate enemy of ambiguous lesbian and virtual mother Ripley (quite an odd dichotomy). Ripley acts as a mediator and leader to even the most authoritarian of male personalities found in the films. In Aliens her motherly intuition becomes even more apparent with her rescue of a lone little girl (as her colony had been slaughtered by the Aliens). Ripley lacks the stereotypes types generally attributed to Hollywood heroines. She is stoic, clear minded, assertive, and fully capable of controlling her own life (while also guiding others).

One aspect of the alien films that obviously had an affect on the difference in films is the change in directors. Ridley Scott was the director of the first film. This is no surprise when taking into consideration that Scott is known for his heavy emphasis on aesthetics and set design (look at Blade Runner for example). A good percentage of the cinematic power Alien has is the result of Ridley Scott’s eye for set design. Ridley Scott is notorious for directing films that are heavily weighed down by his obsession with aesthetics. Scott’s films are generally overwhelming in that regard. You can’t help to focus on the visuals and almost forget the film actually has a story.

Aliens director James Cameron is best known for his ability to make tons of money with exciting and fast paced action films. For the most part, with Cameron’s cinematic visuals, what you see is what you get. Aliens lacks the subconscious sexual elements so strongly prevalent in the original film. Aliens is an exciting action film that only requires attention. The film also plays with reflexive elements of the original film (as most sequels do). A token and unnecessary dream sequence features an alien popping out of Ripley's abdomen and gives the audience what they expect. The human robot found in Aliens conflicts with that found in the original film. This robot becomes a hero and an important asset to the rescue team. The original robot of course lost his manmade mind and decided it was time to kill. Both of the robots, of course, have semen like blood. The ending of Aliens also heavily parallels that of the one found in the original. The cinematic comparisons go on and on.

In conclusion, I find Alien to be a much better film. As much as I enjoyed both films, Alien had a much stronger impact on me and the cinema world in general. Aliens is still an exception in that it contradicts the stereotype that sequels are god awful (which most are). Now I just hope I don’t get death threats (it’s long overdue) for my conflicting film preference.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

"A cinema blog written by two partial Aryans"


So which part of north-India/Pakistan/Iran are you from?

So presumably you know that the whole idea of your "race's" conflict with the Dravidians was made up by anthropologists, and the later adoption of the Aryan identity by Europeans was a farce of a farce? And their conflict with the Semitic "race" a pipe dream made up by even more anthropologists?

Of course, as Aryans you must be far above the ruck of all of that nonsense.

shargraves said...

Alien is a superb film - both visually and in it's ultra-streamlined plotting.

It's lean, aggressive and brutal.

And genuinely scary/unsettling.

Aliens is entertaining the first time you see it - but the more you watch it, the more errors you spot. The queen is an unnessecarily boneheaded addition.

Instead of an ensemble cast acting naturalistically, you have a plethora of identikit cardboard cliches barking hackneyed lines TV-movie style, and above all, the film just isn't remotely scary and lacks the atmosphere of the original.

The production design of the hardware is fantastic though.

Just a shame there wasn't a decent script editor or talented director involved.....

Anonymous said...

Aliens is good, the hardware certainly is sexy... I like the line about using "...harsh language". It's a different type of film to Alien. However, it was worth making.


I've seen Alien but not Aliens, so can't compare the two - except to say that a Scott/Giger combo (or in fact anything with a Giger design input) is something I'd go out of my way to watch, whilst a Cameron film is something I actively avoid.

Had no idea that the sequel was regarded higher than the original!

Skidmark said...

Alien is first and foremost a brilliant piece of professional film-making. Ridley Scott is one of few directors capable of pulling visual tour-de-forces such as Alien, The Duellists or Bladerunner, on relatively modest budgets. Credit is also due to some top-notch acting from the whole cast and one of the best musical scores ever, which make that movie more than the sum of its parts.

Aliens is the worst piece of crap ever commited to celluloid. I showed the whole franchise (extended versions) to my adolescent sons and we shared the same stunned incredulity - interspesed with few lough-out loud moments - before Cameron's display of triumphant American television-bred vulgarity.

I caught Alien³ in the theater on its release in 92. It was a major disappointment, essentially a succession of disjointed, otherwise beautifully photographed scenes without much meaning or tension. It was said at the time that Fox had totally butchered Fincher's movie and that he in consequence had disowned what was left of it. Then, in 2003, came a new editing of Alien³. It was named the Assembly Cut, a labour of love by Charles de Lauzirika, its purpose being to restore what Fincher had intended all along. Although Fincher would certainly disagree, and despite a few still-missing elements (mainly the original footage of the Newt autopsy) what emerges is one of the best movies ever made. Watch the 2010 edition with re-recorded soundtrack and dialogue for the restored scenes. And watch out for Golic.