Alien Various things related to the aforementioned topic.
Posted 20 April 2011 - 12:30 AM
Posted 20 April 2011 - 07:45 AM
Time for a change of scene then.
ALIEN: On the subject of alternative versions.
Recently, I don't know exactly when, 20th Century Fox asked Ridley Scott to make a new edit of Alien or something like that and the result was Alien: The Director's Cut. It's hard to see why it was called that because Ridley Scott's director's cut was the one that appeared in theatres over thirty years ago, but I guess the executives at Fox thought 'Director's Cut' sounds cool.
In my experience, very rarely has anything called a 'Director's Cut' been any good and Alien: The Director's Cut is no exception. It's basically almost exactly the same, but with a handful of deleted scenes thrown in. The new material is interesting for the novelty value, but it's obvious why it was deleted in the first place. All it does is mess up the pacing. One particular scene in which Ripley finds Dallas and Brett coccooned is particularly awful. The concept was rubbish - they would slowly turn into eggs - and was created by the second group of people who got their hands on the screenplay. What's stranger about its inclusion still is that even they thought it was rubbish. They changed their minds about it too and were quite happy to leave it on the cutting room floor. However, the worst part is the way it's shoved in. Ripley sets the self-destruct, she picks up Jones and runs to the escape shuttle presumably... and then we have this scene without any explanation as to where on the ship we are or why Ripley is there in the first place, when she should be high-tailing it out of there. Then, once it's over, the movie just continues on where it left off as if nothing ever happened.
So there you have it for our first piece. There is absolutely no reason to watch Alien: The Director's Cut. Thankfully however, the DVD utilises seamless branching technology to give us a choice in this. This is how it should be. Apparently, Ridley Scott also gives you the same choice with the dozens of versions of Blade Runner he's made, if that movie did anything for you.
Next, we have the second part in this duology (that's right, those 'other' movies don't exist), Aliens: Special Edition
A lot of people seem to prefer this to the theatrical version, and I'm not going to judge. Nor am I going to make opinion/fact statements because I know my friend Civilian doesn't like that kind of thing. However, I personally prefer the theatrical edition and I'll explain why.
The biggest problem with the new version, as I see it, is the extended introduction which shows Newt's family discovering the derelict spacecraft and getting face-hugged. I dislike this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have no idea who these people are so there's no investment, and what should probably be emotionally wrenching just feels like a prologue because that's really all it is. Also, it ruins the symmetry of starting the movie and finishing the movie with Ripley asleep and I like symmetry. It's neat and aesthetically pleasing.
The other problem is that it spoils the discovery of the trashed colony when the marines arrive. Sure, that's what we're expecting to find, but in the theatrical cut, at least you can get into the mindset of the marines a little and pretend you've got no idea what you'll find down there. With this edition, it's a little harder.
The final problem is that everything that happens in this prologue is pretty much covered by that conversation between Ripley and Burke about Burke having sent the colonists out to investigate the derelict. So really, what does this scene do? It messes up a perfectly fine movie opening, spoils the "surprise" that comes later in the film and gives the audience information that's kind of redundant since it's all going to be given to them later. Finally, remember what I said about Aliens being 137 minutes. Well, with this little addition and that wretched autoturret scene, it's 157. That's far too long for the kind of movie it is. Now, I don't remember whether this or the autoturrets contributed more to that exhausting running time, but I'd bet this was the worst offender in that category.
Now the autoturret scene... I've already mentioned that this makes the whole cannon fodder matter that much worse. However, it also spoils another surprise. In the theatrical edition, when the aliens show up near the end after cutting the power, it's a surprise because we don't know what they've been up to since we last saw them. It gives the scene a little more punch. However, with the addition of the autoturret scene, we discover they've been trying to break in the entire time. So, next time someone's getting all excited over how 'badass' that scene is, I hope they remember that.
I honestly can't remember the rest of the special edition, and I don't want to. Special editions, like Director's Cuts (because really, they're kind of the same thing) are usually bad ideas, and I don't consider Aliens: Special Edition to be an exception to the rule either. So, if you're like me, stick to the theatrical version. Also, just as it is with Alien, the DVD gives us the choice as well... and this, my friends, as I said before is how it should be.
This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 20 April 2011 - 07:56 AM
Posted 20 April 2011 - 01:24 PM
The colonists scene was special only for the fact that it's the only scene in the film where we see a facehugger on someone's face. That's the whole reason for writing, casting, blocking, shooting, editing and scoring that whole bit of nonsense. It is the longest deleted sequence in the movie, and it deserved to be gone (I think it's seven minutes). Yeah, newbs to the series won't understand the peril Ripley and Newt are in later, when the facehuggers attack, but newbs will gather the details from inference, or they will just watch the first film. It was an unnecessary bit, the sort of thing writers think is important, and it should have been cut early in pre-production.
However there were two things I liked in it that you didn't mention: I liked that Ripley discovered her daughter had aged 57 years without her, and I liked the moment where Ripley and Hicks exchanged first names. The former I could live without, because frankly I did for years, but the latter was a surprise when I saw it. I thought "why wasn't that there?" It was a perfect, and perfectly subtle, complement to Hicks's quip "it doesn't mean we're engaged or anything." It was a tiny subtle nod to the fact that, if Fincher hadn't come along and ruined everything, Hicks and Ripley were gonna get it on. Plus it may be the first time her name is actually said out loud. So those two things, but mostly the latter. I think that moment should have stayed in. It's about a second and a half long, and it added character.
(and no, I didn't not say what you thought I didn't say. I just know you know what I might have said, and I know you'd overreact, so why? You know what I know, and you know what you're doing, so why don't we agree that you are doing that and I can not do that other thing? And we can leave it at that.)
This post has been edited by civilian_number_two: 20 April 2011 - 01:29 PM
Posted 20 April 2011 - 10:40 PM
I don't remember that part about Hicks and Ripley exchanging names, although Azerty mentioned it earlier as well. That actually does seem like a funny thing to leave out, especially if - as you pointed out - it only adds a few seconds to the running time. I wonder why it got left out originally. Maybe it was just an editing stuff up.
As for the part with Ripley's daughter... yeah, I knew I had forgotten something. That just seems overly soppy to me. I've heard some fans say that it explains why Ripley looks out for Newt as much as she does, but would that mean that if she hadn't had a daughter, she would have just abandoned Newt? I don't think that theory holds much water. I will concede that maybe, just maybe, it could serve as an explanation for why Ripley goes back for Newt at the end of the movie when earlier she had dissuaded the marines from going back for Sergeant Apone and some annonymous redshirt, but still...
Also, if it's to rub in our faces what hibernating for 57 years would mean to a person, then it's rather unnecessary. 57 years passing is a big enough shock to the system in and of itself. The life that Ripley had would be lost forever and she would have to start completely afresh at square one. Plus, all her contemporaries would have passed away as well, leaving her completely and utterly alone. I don't know about you but that seems like pretty heavy stuff already. Throwing in a dead daughter at this point just seems like overkill. However, it doesn't surprise me that James Cameron would want to include such a scene since in his world view, there's nothing like a brick to the head in lieu of subtlety.
Finally, once this scene passes in the Special Edition, my faded memories of that version tell me that it was never referred to again anyway.
Still though, it would have been nice to have that extra three or four seconds with Ripley and Hicks in the theatrical version. I also agree that they would have made a nice duo for future movies - and with Newt, I can see the whole family thing going on. Yes, it was stupid of Alien3 to ruin all that. Perhaps if they ever want to do any more sequels that are set after Aliens they could just have Ripley waking up and shrugging off the strange nightmares she had during her hibernation.
"There was an alien egg on the Sulaco, Bishop."
"Impossible, Ripley. You just had a bad dream, that's all."
However, in lieu of that, we can just keep on doing what fans of the series have always done and just ignore those stupid things. Apparently, some people like them... but I've never actually met such a person myself.
This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 20 April 2011 - 10:42 PM
Posted 20 April 2011 - 11:40 PM
I am not entirely on board with the aged and/or dead child thing (I can;t remember), but it's not out of character. There are other time travel stories that have played with ideas like that (an episode of ST:TNG played with the idea, for one). Basically, we need to see that she feels some loss, and just saying "all those friends I had are gone), when we don't know the friends, is flat. So they add a child, and then say the child is aged or dead (either is just as bad, really). Children are easy shorthand, since we have to assume the connection to a child was pretty strong. I don't take it to be her full motivation for going back for Newt, or the impetus behind her maternal instinct, but like you say JC's not subtle, and it's a lock that he meant those things. With the loss of the child, her effort to save Newt becomes more important for her.
Anyway, blah. The only scene I really miss is the name exchange. That other one is a second. Everything else, esp the bit with the colonists finding the ship from the first film, who care?
Posted 21 April 2011 - 09:18 AM
Newt as a grown woman fighting aliens though... I could see that, if she went by the name Rebecca or something instead. I think Ripley's a fantastic character and I'm glad that she returned in Aliens. However, I'd be more than happy for her to settle down with Hicks somewhere and have someone else take up the baton for future stories. I just think it's unrealistic for the same person to be drawn into these events again and again. Also, I think writers should occasionally cut their characters a break once in a while.
Anyway, thanks for indulging me in a little discussion, Civilian. It's certainly been a while. I'll leave this open for any other users who want to throw their five cents in but I think I've probably thrown in ten bucks now. Still, good times.
Posted 21 April 2011 - 04:34 PM
Posted 22 April 2011 - 07:18 AM
Also, I didn't watch the Alien vs Predator movies either, but I saw enough in the previews and reviews etc to know to save my time. For instance, the first one's set in Antarctica, and I seem to remember very clearly that predators do their trophy hunting in nice hot environments. Now I know global warming is messing around with climates all over the place but since when does it 'grow hot', so to speak, in Antarctica?
However, the biggest problem from what I've heard from the reviews is that for movies called Alien vs Predator, they apparently spend a copious amount of time with a group of dull forgettable characters (admittedly with one played by Lance Henriksen). So in the end, the movies only have about five minutes of actual aliens fighting predators. Also, it makes the predators heroes because Hollywood's gotta have heroes. This is odd too because from what we've seen in each series, we shouldn't be rooting for either of these two species - and if we had to choose, then I'd say that the aliens are the more ethical of the two. They're just doing what their instincts tell them to. The predators on the other hand are sentient enough to build fancy ships and cloaking devices and they choose to go around the galaxy killing things for fun, like some gun toting rednecks. So why exactly are they made out to be the heroes?
Also, what's with the Predalien? I know Alien3 apparently threw in this concept that aliens change to resemble their hosts, but when exactly did long elongated heads with internal jaw-bolts resemble people exactly? The way I see it, an alien that came out of a predator should look no different to an alien that came out of a person. What a lame concept.
Actually, while we're on the subject of movies we haven't seen, for the record, I haven't watched Alien3 either. I just know enough from what I've heard to hate it. Basically, knowing the well-documented 'events' it decides to throw into the story, there is no way that I would like it, so I'm sparing myself. Sparing myself is something I am going to do more often from now on. I really regret the fact that I saw the Star Wars prequels for instance and that I can't unwatch them, so from now on, I'm going to take more care with sequels and prequels.That said, I did see Alien Resurrection though. However, thankfully I didn't pay any money to do so... although I still felt ripped off somehow. Actually, on the subject of these unwelcome sequels, I quite liked a review I read on Alien3 (don't know where) which said something along the lines of "Alien3 knows exactly what its audience wants and steadfastedly denies them it at every turn". I thought that was quite a good line.
Finally, I had a look online for information about The Terminator: Secondary Objectives. It looks quite good actually - and by having characters and terminators that had come through the time machine before the events of The Terminator, it's actually plausible within the continuity. Also, it's not like the "try, try, then try again" storyline of Terminator 2 and 3... and no Arnold Schwarzenneger! Because seriously, if they kept manufacturing terminators that looked like him, their whole 'infiltration' aspect would be kind of redundant.
"Yeah, we used dogs to detect terminators... until we realised that they all just looked like this large Austrian man."
"I had to wait until he turned around so I could see his oh-so-recognisable face before I could zero in on him."
This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 22 April 2011 - 07:36 AM
Posted 22 April 2011 - 07:37 AM
Actually, letís take care of the Alien VS Predator concept right now before doing anything else. You see, the premise is rubbish from the outset.
This gets even better when you realize the genealogy of it. You see, they released this game in 1999 featuring a space marine fighting an alien fighting a predator (The game was not utter crap to be honest). So the Alien vs Predator movie was actually a movie made from a game idea made from two movie franchises made from a horror book. Brilliant!
Posted 22 April 2011 - 07:52 AM
Actually, there was another funny thing with predators in that game. You could play as either a marine, an alien or a predator and the predator was basically that character of choice for the new player who wasn't very good. If you used him, you could hide in a corner every time you got injured and use your healing vial to bring your health back up. Cowardly creatures. Although I suppose it was more palatable than the alien's power up technique of eating people! Still, I loved playing the alien. Running up and down walls was awesome. The marine campaign was cool too (flares are also awesome, as are the useless motion trackers that don't tell you where the aliens are until they're almost right on top of you).
I could have done with more story though. The pointlessness of the proceedings really hampered the enjoyment factor, as did the fact that the whole 'tension' gimmick revolved around your inability to save your progress through a level. The 'tension' was the tension of worrying about whether you'd have to repeat the whole damn level again. Yeah, there were work arounds available but checkpoints would have been nice.
Still though, you're absolutely right - movies based on games based on comic books based on movies. What's even more lame is that those comic books were based on a throwaway gag in Predator 2. Danny Glover goes on a predator ship and sees a trophy cabinet and there's a xenomorph skull. The whole thing is a joke, and despite its oh-so-many flaws, Predator 2 is sensible enough to keep its tongue planted in its cheek for its running time, so it's a joke within a joke. I think Stan Winston was behind it actually - although I wonder, if he had known what he was going to unleash, whether he would have left the joke in.
This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 22 April 2011 - 07:55 AM
Posted 22 April 2011 - 10:41 PM
I will say one last point on plausibility however - and that was that I make a distinction between the rules of reality and the rules of a movie. As far as I'm concerned, reality can be bent as far as people like in a movie, as long as there are good reasons for doing so and that the rules of the story allow it. For me, the rules in Alien regarding the xenomorph are rather open-ended: the creature is unlike anything anyone's ever encountered before. There are relatively few restrictions in such a rule. However, in keeping with this analogy, I will compare the airlock sequences in Alien and Aliens. In Alien, rules about explosive decompression and oxygen still apply. This is why Ripley suits up and buckles up before ejecting the alien from the shuttle. In Aliens, these rules are ignored. If both movies ignored these rules, I wouldn't mind. But if one movie follows them and the other doesn't, internal consistency is broken. So I see the airlock scene in Aliens not as a violation of reality so much (although I do that too), but as a violation of rules laid down in the previous movie. In terms of story telling, I feel that the latter is the greater crime. Now, this is unlikely to satisfy you, Civilian, I know this. However, just for the record, that's where I'm coming from.
Now, to engage the question to mentioned earlier about why I like Alien so much, I would like to discuss a theory that I think we probably can agree on - and that is that how much we like movies is determined by the context in which we see them, in terms of the time we see them and our interests and things like that. Now, Civilian, you saw it after watching another horror movie the year before and I'm guessing you weren't a young kid at that point but either approaching your teenage years or finishing them. I don't know. However, you were alive at the time whereas I was born just a bit later. Now, obviously, I wouldn't be able to see it until much later as let's face it, it's not a kid's movie.
Growing up, surprise surprise, my favourite movies were the Star Wars movies. We can already see here why Alien would separate itself from the rest of the horror movie pack for such a viewer as myself - it's got its science fiction trappings. Then as I got older, other obsessions came and went. This is another important point - my favourite film will be a different film at different points in my life. Alien is my favourite film now. As to whether it will hold that place in ten years or not, I don't know. I may discover a new film I like even more. I may discover an older film already in existence. At another time, my favourite movie was Groundhog Day. However, I feel it is a very rich movie and in fact, because of this richness, I can't watch it as often as some other movies. It's like a banquet when sometimes I want a one-course meal. Alien for example would be a one-course meal. For further extension of this analogy, consider Predator a snack. I might have this snack while I'm waiting on my order of Alien for instance. However, I digress (I like digressing).
Another thing about Alien and the context in which I viewed it was that until I was old enough, it was forbidden fruit. So, when I was able to see it, it was kind of a treat. Also, as everyone knows, forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. I also consider it like the Rolling Stones to Star Wars' Beatles. To extend the Star Wars explanation a little more, as we know, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back grow up with you a bit. Star Wars does this to a lesser extent, but it's got that nostalgic value. The Empire Strikes Back does to a greater extent. However, Return of the Jedi doesn't (and... ah, let's not go there again). So what's the older Star Wars fan to do?
Some turn to the Horatio Hornblower stories of Star Trek (I've heard Mozart used in the music analogies before). Some turn to the various science fiction offerings of television. For myself, Alien and Aliens get the job done. This has become the case even more in recent years because of the mucking around a certain hack and the destruction of the Star Wars franchise. For the record, the greatest crime against Star Wars was not the prequels. It never was. The greatest crime was the butchering of the originals to the point where you couldn't enjoy them anymore. The day I put the official unrestored theatrical edition DVDs (released as bonus discs, no less) in my player and discovered that they looked shabbier than a small .avi file, I decided that I'm never going to watch the damn things again. Actually, I think that not only did Lucasfilm not restore the films, they went out of their way to make them look as bad as possible.
Again, I come back to Alien and Aliens, and as I've mentioned many times, the DVDs let you watch the theatrical versions in pristine presentation. They are in short a treat.
So maybe I can't convince others that these movies are as good as I think they are. That's fine. However, maybe now people can see why I personally like them as much as I do. Which is a different matter.
This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 22 April 2011 - 10:42 PM
Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:32 AM
I was not especially cynical about Alien at the time, and I still think it is a great movie. I just can't romanticize it all out of proportion. For one thing, I have seen a lot of other movies since then, and for another, it's basically just a monster chasing people around a closed area. The fact that it's a space ship is romantic, but it doesn't make the movie special. It's a closed environment and there is no escape. This is a horror standard.
Posted 23 April 2011 - 02:17 AM
I also enjoy the idea of this long lonely journey the crew are on. I like the explorer feel to the first act, I enjoy the pacing. The enjoy all those scenes that many viewers consider to be the boring part of the movie.
In addition to these things, I'm a huge fan of the minimalism too - the brief mumbled exchanges and the lack (for the most part) of expository dialogue. Maybe that was a seventies thing. The French Connection isn't heavy on long conversations for instance either. Also, I find that older movies have a strong nostalgic appeal, especially now that we're under the reign of these MTV style movie directors that are running wild in Hollywood. It's also nice to see movies that use actors and not movie stars. I wish more movies would do that - and retire the Tom Cruises and Nicholas Cages of the world. Maybe if studios weren't spending all that money on insane salaries and advances for these 'stars', they could spend more money on hiring better script writers.
Continuing on, I like the problem solving aspects of the story as well and the heated discussions that go along with them, along with the amazing sets, the beautiful but haunting score and finally, the monster itself. I've already said I like this monster much more than the predator (who beneath his mask has... wait for it... mandibles... and then a regular jaw structure underneath... how alien). I also like it more than the shark in Jaws (who was never as impressive as a real great white, nor as impressive as the truck in the superior but underrated Duel). Finally, it beats the hell out of various characters with hockey masks, ghost masks or what have you.
Oh, yeah. I've read Splinter of the Mind's Eye as well. That was... um... bad. Quite bad. And as for the novel for Star Wars, I don't know if it captured the magic of the movie or not, but if it did, I don't know what it did with it. Actually, I think film novelisations rarely work anyway. Basically, there's not enough meat in a movie to fill a novel length book and the transition from brief visuals to lengthy descriptions ruins the pace of the story.
This post has been edited by Just your average movie goer: 23 April 2011 - 02:21 AM
Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:02 AM
Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:51 AM