Thursday, June 7, 2012

Capsule Review: Alien (1979)

It really shouldn't have worked. A big budget riff on 50s monster-movie science fiction, featuring state-of-the-art special effects and production design by H.R. Giger, Alien works because it plays the material entirely straight, with its rare early moments of levity eventually giving way to a completely nightmarish final quarter. While influenced by rubber monster fare like It! The Terror from Beyond Space, director Ridley Scott ramps up the claustrophobia and dread of the deep space setting (where "no one can hear you scream"), while delivering a top-notch ensemble cast whose easy chemistry makes their eventual fates all the more horrific.  The astounding production design is a treat for the eyes, while Sigourney Weaver became an instant star for her tough, independent portrayal of (Warrant Officer) Ripley. Of course there are also moments of surprising violence, and the alien itself - with its retracting "tongue" and acidic blood - makes for an unforgettable foe. Followed by the James Cameron helmed Aliens, as well as a series of sequels with diminishing returns, eventually crossing over with the Predator franchise. In 2012, Ridley Scott returned to the setting of the film with Prometheus.

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