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ALIEN vs. ALIENS


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Poll: ALIEN vs. ALIENS: Which is superior?

ALIEN vs. ALIENS: Which is superior?

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#1 Russell Lucas (unregistered)

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 02:59 PM

Choose and forever be affiliated with one or the other. That is, good taste or bad taste.

#2 Overstreet

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:09 PM

Alien.

Alien is horror that is ABOUT something. Its sparse, spooky, and very well acted.

Aliens is a blockbuster sci fi film: first-rate at what it is, but it is not a horror film. It is a suspense/adventure film. I find more to think about with Alien. I like the performances better. Cameron comes off sometimes as just a more talented version of Michael Bay... He wants to awe us with the size of everything and the scale of everything. I'm not really bothered by it, but it feels more like entertainment than art to me.

Alien has Ian Holm.
Aliens has Lance Henricksen.
'Nuff said.

#3 Alvy

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:10 PM

Far be it from me to accuse anyone of question-framing... :roll:

I agree, however. It is no contest: Alien is the definite winner on all counts.

#4 SDG

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:17 PM

I like Lance Hendricksen!

"On all counts," Alvy? Surely you can't mean that Aliens does nothing better than Alien? Certainly, it's a more popular, less ambitious style of moviemaking, but surely Star Wars does some things better than 2001: A Space Odyssey or Close Encounters, and so does Aliens re. Alien.

For example, it's funnier. It's got more heart appeal. It has human relationships that matter more than any of the relationships in Alien. Sure, it's a big roller-coaster ride when all's said and done. I'm not sure what you would call Alien to extend the analogy, but whatever it is, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't consider that experience superior in every way to riding a roller coaster. smile.gif

#5 Cunningham

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:25 PM

I saw Aliens my freshman year in college and loved it. I just saw Alien last week and did not enjoy it nearly as much as I did the sequel.

#6 Overstreet

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:28 PM

I like Henricksen too, SDG. But as an actor, Ian Holm runs circles around him.

#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:29 PM

Good heavens. And so the multiplication of threads continues. To quote what I posted on the Alien: Director's Cut thread a couple days ago:
Saw it this morning. It was nice to get a refresher, since I hadn't seen the film in years, but I was reminded again of how much I prefer the sequel. It really does improve on a number of the original film's themes. (E.g., the bit where the android says he admires the "purity" of the alien, because it does not have "delusions of morality" etc., is one of the hoariest sci-fi clichés; contrast this with the scene in Aliens where Ripley says to Burke, "I don't know which species is worse; you don't see THEM fucking each other over a percentage." There's a bit more ambiguity in the latter scene, because it is PRECISELY human morality that allows us to make these sorts of moral judgments, yet at the same time, it is recognized that only humans are capable of certain kinds of awful behaviour.)
I suppose I could mount even more defenses of the sequel, but in a nutshell, the sequel is a more human film and it's more entertaining. It's funnier, bloodier, scarier, the works. The original film has a fair bit of style, but it's ultimately just another one of those a-monster-picks-people-off-one-by-one-as-they-leave-the-group-for-no-particular-good-reason-other-than-to-make-themselves-vulnerable flicks.

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
: Alien is horror that is ABOUT something.

And what, pray tell, is the "something" in question? And in what way, pray tell, is Aliens NOT about something?

: Its sparse, spooky, and very well acted.

Aliens isn't "sparse", I'll grant you that, but the "sparseness" of Alien was precisely one of its drawbacks, when I saw it again a few days ago. I was sitting there watching people get picked off one by one, just the way it happens in so, so many of these films.

: Aliens is a blockbuster sci fi film: first-rate at what it is, but it is not a
: horror film. It is a suspense/adventure film.

There is certainly suspense in Alien. Personally, I think the fact that James Cameron was smart enough not to make his sequel a carbon-copy of the original film is a stroke in his favour.

: I find more to think about with Alien.

And what, pray tell, are the thoughts in question?

: I like the performances better.

Hmmm. I can't say I prefer the performances in either of the films. I guess Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Kotto are more entertaining in their way than Bill Paxton and Paul Reiser, but Sigourney Weaver bugs me in the first film because she's basically just a straight-laced rule-quoting officer, until the very end where she turns into an underwear model who is filmed from some rather, um, exploitative angles. James Cameron makes Ripley more human than Ridley Scott ever does.

: Cameron comes off sometimes as just a more talented version of
: Michael Bay...

That is so, so, so unfair.

: I'm not really bothered by it, but it feels more like entertainment than art to me.

If, by that, you mean entertainment has more spirit than art does, then I will not disagree.

: Alien has Ian Holm.
: Aliens has Lance Henricksen.
: 'Nuff said.

Henriksen is actually pretty good as the new, improved android. Holm is more of a stereotypical freaky-scientist-who-places-the-quest-for-knowledge-above-survival-and-morality kind of android. I mean, I like the way he plays the character, but it's apples and oranges.

#8 Alvy

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:32 PM

[Retreats sheepishly to revise opinion.]

Alien is superior on most counts. wink.gif

#9 Cunningham

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:38 PM

QUOTE
[Retreats sheepishly to revise opinion.]

Alien is superior on most counts. wink.gif
Except for the important ones tongue.gif

#10 Russell Lucas (unregistered)

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:45 PM

This could be this Board's darkest day.

#11 Russell Lucas (unregistered)

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 01:05 PM

http://slate.msn.com/id/2090542/

#12 moquist

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 09:04 AM

: The original film has a fair bit of style, but it's ultimately just another one of those
: a-monster-picks-people-off-one-by-one-as-they-leave-the-group-for-no-particular-good-reason-other-than-to-make-themselves-vulnerable
: flicks.

This is the perfect opportunity for me to ask: how many films did this *before* Alien? Halloween was released in '78, but are there any other significant films where this happens? Or perhaps I'm just showing my ignorance, and this was already a well-established plot element in scores of [B?] films since the 50's.

I showed both Alien and Aliens to a friend almost a year ago; he had previously seen neither. He was sorely disappointed in both.

He said he liked the first half of the first film, and that was all. Once we saw the alien for the very first time in the first film, he identified the formula and considered the rest of the film entirely predictable, including the very last scene, which was certainly effective for *me* when I saw it the first time.

The second one just bored him all the way through; he practically said it was torture.

I didn't know what to say to him other than that these plot elements, which are so common and clichéd by now, were actually creative when [at least] Alien was made, etc. Eventually he said that he could see the artistic value and creative strengths of these films, but his experience of watching them was horrible, having been ruined by horror/action films since. Scream (which I have not seen in any meaningful sense) was his most cited example of this.

: I was sitting there watching people get picked off one by one, just the way it happens in
: so, so many of these films.

Exactly. Films that came out before Alien, or films that came out after Alien?

: Personally, I think the fact that James Cameron was smart enough not to make his
: sequel a carbon-copy of the original film is a stroke in his favour.

Definitely.

: she's basically just a straight-laced rule-quoting officer, until the very end where she
: turns into an underwear model who is filmed from some rather, um, exploitative angles.

...and unfortunately, this wasn't Scott's preference. I always thought this was brilliant because her near-nakedness was metaphorical for her vulnerability, and because it made the viewer vicariously vulnerable. But according to Scott in the commentary, the studio just said "Hey! No sex? C'mon, fix that!". What a letdown. (He still might have intended the effects I identified, though...)

But I'm sure you knew this, Peter, since I'm sure you've listened to the commentary. smile.gif

: James Cameron makes Ripley more human than Ridley Scott ever does.

Agreed, and this almost made me pick Aliens over Alien, but not quite. I quite like the motherhood/birth motif in these two films, and I quite like that Cameron translates that motif into important character developments. But I think all aspects of that motif are present in the original film, and the originality of that is sufficient for me to choose the former over the latter.

#13 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 10:31 AM

Link to the main Alien series thread, where I posted my comments on the audio commentaries for the first, second, and fourth films (the third one kept putting me to sleep).

moquist wrote:
: This is the perfect opportunity for me to ask: how many films did this *before* Alien?

Good question. I've never really charted the genre prior to the existence of the ratings system, so I couldn't say. All I do know is that one of the things you frequently hear in making-of featurettes on the original Alien is that Harry Dean Stanton told Ridley Scott he didn't like these kinds of monster movies, and Scott said he didn't either, but he was going to try to make this one more stylish or something.

That, BTW, is one of many reasons why Cameron's film is superior to Scott's -- Cameron does not condescend AT ALL, in any way, to the genre; rather, he loves it, he lives it, he takes it to a place higher than it has ever been before; and, what's more, he does this while paying a great deal of respect to Scott's earlier film, and the spirit thereof.

: But according to Scott in the commentary, the studio just said "Hey! No sex?
: C'mon, fix that!".

Didn't Sigourney Weaver also some theory to the effect that Ripley and the Alien had a sexual connection, though? Cameron says Weaver wanted to incorporate this into the second film somehow, but she never got a chance to REALLY do it until the fourth film.

#14 Shantih

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 11:55 AM

How much of Aliens greatness is based on the original version and how much on the special edition? I ask because, until I'd seen the longer cut I was very much of the mind that Alien was the hulking giant of greatness and Aliens, although faster and more intense than any other action film I'd seen, was just a pretty standard war film with the obligatory cute kid along for the ride. Where, funnily enough, we were just waiting for everyone to get picked off until someone decided to utter an immortal piece of dialogue along the lines of "If only we hadn't underestimated these darn aliens!" (Thank goodness they didn't)

The special editon makes the mother/daughter parallels more explicit without being gushing, gives Ripley a much more complete character arc and gives the film a sense of tense anticipation which seems to pay homage, but not steal, from the original film. I think Alien still does it for me but Aliens: Special Edition deserves to be on page 1 of the book: "What should a truly great sequel look like?"

Phil.

Edited by Shantih, 11 August 2004 - 11:57 AM.


#15 moquist

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 03:03 PM

: How much of Aliens greatness is based on the original version and how much on the
: special edition?

Ah - good thing to note. I've never seen the non-special Aliens.

#16 Ben

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 03:35 PM

Well, if I think of which Alien film I would most like to see again, I always find myself thinking of Alien:Resurrection. Not very helpful in this context, I agree.

I found Alien mostly formulaic. Like Moquist's friend, unfortunately when it becomes clear that there is a formula, horror/suspense films become comedy for me. The moments which momentarily shoved the formula aside are the most gripping, for example, Ash attempting to throttle Ripley with a rolled-up newspaper. Cue the arrival of the "penetration/fear of penetration/fear of male penetration/fear of enforced childbearing" theme. I get the most enjoyment out of the Alien films when they deal with this theme, along with Ripley's apprehension of/need to be loved by a man and mother to a child. Aliens deals with these themes interestingly (though IMHO not nearly as interestingly as Alien:Resurrection) and still manages to be a good tight creepy action film (though arguably as formulaic as Alien).

And, err, everyone should love Alien: Resurrection

Ben

Edited by Indigojones, 11 August 2004 - 03:36 PM.


#17 Overstreet

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 03:38 PM

Hmm. I found the climactic scenes of A:Rez to be almost unbearable. When Ripley confronts and disposes of Hulking Cream of Wheat Monster, I wept for the fate of the franchise.

#18 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 04:26 PM

Shantih wrote:
: How much of Aliens greatness is based on the original version and how much on
: the special edition?

I had never even seen the "special edition" until the Quadrilogy set came out last year, so my preference for Aliens over Alien is based on the theatrical version. But yeah, the "special edition" really, really adds something to the film. It's probably the only version I'll watch from now on.

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
: When Ripley confronts and disposes of Hulking Cream of Wheat Monster, I wept
: for the fate of the franchise.

Heck, I was mourning the fate of the franchise back when Alien3 killed off ALL the characters whose survival we celebrated at the end of the previous film. I don't think there was ANY way to bring any of those characters back without being rather silly.

#19 Mark

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 04:47 PM

QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Aug 11 2004, 04:25 PM)
Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
: When Ripley confronts and disposes of Hulking Cream of Wheat Monster, I wept
: for the fate of the franchise.

Heck, I was mourning the fate of the franchise back when Alien3 killed off ALL the characters whose survival we celebrated at the end of the previous film.  I don't think there was ANY way to bring any of those characters back without being rather silly.

Ditto, ditto and ditto.

As to the first two, Alien has a special place in my heart because it was the first R-rated movie I saw without adult supervision (I was only 14 - but we'll keep that between us). And it scared me more than any film I had seen prior, save Jaws.

Aliens was great entertainment, but I don't remember even the slightest fear factor. I'd have to go with the first.

#20 Ben

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 05:01 PM

QUOTE (Mark @ Aug 11 2004, 09:46 PM)
As to the first two, Alien has a special place in my heart because it was the first R-rated movie I saw without adult supervision (I was only 14 - but we'll keep that between us). And it scared me more than any film I had seen prior, save Jaws.


My mother bought us Aliens on video for my tenth birthday party. Let us say, it...polarised the audience of nine to eleven year olds. The girls left fairly early, and were followed pretty quickly by most of the others. I watched the rest with a friend of mine. He was relatively unaffected and would come around fairly regularly after school to watch the ONE scene which he loved - the chestburster coming out of the colonist. All I got was alien invasion anxiety and disturbed sleep for months.

Edited by Indigojones, 11 August 2004 - 05:08 PM.