In 1979 one of the most iconic movies of all time was released. Alien. How Iconic? You could be asking yourself. Ridley Scott’s Alien made for a huge wave of comic books, video games, and many knock off alien movies, plus Alien itself became one of the the biggest and most active franchises today. Alien is considered a staple of both Horror and Sci-fi cinema. So, does it hold up today? Can something so iconic, with so many sequels be viewable today? That’s what I’m here for. I went into a small theatre nearby with my popcorn and drink and ready to go. I had to pretend this was my first viewing. I had to immerse myself into 1979, so I left my phone behind. Let’s start with a review, so let us pretend it’s 1979, and this is an early access review.
Alien, directed by new and up and comerRidley Scott whose directed one feature film called “The Duelist”. Follow a crew that’s been woken up early on they way back home to a beacon. The crew follows procedures and makes their way out to the planet where the beacon is coming from. There they find a mysterious ship they have never seen before with more bizarre and mysterious things inside. Doesn’t take long for something inside to attach itself to one of the crew members. Soon after once they are all back on the ship, things take a turn as an alien burst out and slowly preys on each member. Can they fight to survive? Is there something more than just an alien on the ship threatening the lives of the crew? Can anyone hear you scream in space?
What Alien does so wonderfully is at its base it’s anxiety in space. Ridley Scott makes you feel closed in with close ups, tight spaces, and panic. Characters panic differently. They speak over each other. Makes you feel immersed in every scene. You feel the sweat drip from your brow as you grip onto your seat wondering where the alien is. Now there is a bit of build and wait before we get to the title character but you are treated to a wonderful slate of characters with defined personality. Stand out being Ripley played by the talented and young Sigourney Weaver. She is a strong female character who follows the rules and procedures. Who can stand with the guys and also give them a hard time. The writing is brilliant as you listen to the crew talk, argue and laugh over each other, making it feel like a real conversation. Sound editing is done wonderfully as you can tell how far or close each crew member is from the camera by the volume of their voice, and how certain things trail off. This is a nice touch as it makes you feel as you are sitting down with the crew, that the camera is you following along. Once we are treated to the alien it is nothing but mysteries. Without spoiling the fun you are constantly waiting and watching on what could possible be next for this creature, and what trouble the crew is in with it. Here is where that anxiety I talked about early comes in. Once the alien is fully unleashed, each character is either alone, backed up to a wall, in a small room, and with everything being on the ship, you are constantly closed in. Close shots, constant spine tingly feeling on when and where the Alien will be next is what makes this film a treat. Now what about the downsides? If I had to pick an issue it would be pacing can feel slow at the start, besides that this movie could be a masterpiece and I hope there is a sequel.
Now let us fast forward to 2017. Does this hold up? With multiple collectors editions, box sets, and more Alien movies comingout, is watching the original dated? Out of place? Is there too much hype from people saying and awarding the movie as one of the all time greats? I think it does stand to all the hype. Honestly, I was shocked at how beautiful this movie is for 1979. Yes seeing the ship in space is dated and comes off as cheap, fake, oh look at the miniature. Special effects is always going to be the hardest thing to stay up to date. With the blue/orange explosion of the ship that looks like it was made in paint. Whenever you see the full alien you can tell it’s a man in a suit and can take away from its credibility. Specially at the end of the film when it’s on the back of the shuttle. Besides that, this movie is every minute of perfection as my review states. The anxiety and intensity you feel with long close shots from the camera. Brilliant writing that makes you feel immersed with the crew. Plus the alien does look terrifying when it’s kept in the dark and you only see small pieces of it. Still today it is impressive due to the ability to show a little makes the audience’s imagination fill in the rest. I still want to stand up and applaud Sigourney Weaver’s performance. 2017 is giving a lot of love to Wonder Woman from a strong female lead but Sigourney Ripley is the true most kick butt female character of all time (in my opinion). Downsides are the cheesy effect, with Ash’s head (you know the scene) alien’s full appearance and the space scenes. Besides that, how the movie looks in the ships, on the planet, with the alien eggs, the colour, the cinematography is still beautiful and it is what Ridley Scott will be known for, making timeless beautiful films.
Final Verdict: It holds up, oh does it hold up.