The Village

These days, mentioning the name M. Night Shyamalan while in line at the cineplex is a good way to get a punch in the mouth. Over the last five years, the man named after an orbital phase has become synonymous with insulting, navel-gazing movies like The Last Air Bender, The Happening, and of course, the unforgivable Lady in the Water. People especially hate him because the worse his movies get, the more in love with himself he seems to fall. The reason producers keep giving him chances has to be that his first few films were true masterpieces. Critics and Audiences alike called The Sixth Sense (1999) one of the best movies ever made. Unbreakable (2000) was less impressive, but definitely fit the mold of “both new and good.”  By the time Signs  was released in 2002, Shyamalan had his own genre.

And then, in between these gems and Shyamalan’s crimes against humanity, there was … this. The Village (2004) occupies an odd spot in history; Shyamalan’s pivot-point between greatness and sucking. Some loved it. Some hated it. It definitely isn’t your conventional movie, but then Shyamalan was always anything but conventional. On which side of the fence does it fall? Is it more like Shyamalan at his best, or his worst? Let’s find out.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

It must be acknowledged that the biggest selling point in the way this film was marketed turned out to be a total sham. A village full of apparently colonial people lives isolated from the rest of the world, oppressed by the fear of “Those We Don’t Speak of,” creatures that lurk in the forest around them. Good ominous beginning. As you might expect, there is a twist toward the end. But while the twist in The Sixth Sense  made us re-think everything that happened in the movie, and increased our enjoyment of the story, the twist in The Village  is a massive let down: the creatures are fake. Yep. That’s it. They spend 1:45 scaring you with these things, only to tell you what anyone over 5 knew walking into the theatre: that they are people in costumes. From this, and the dialogue that follows, it’s not hard to figure out the other twist: that this is actually happening present day, and the town elders have attempted to create a utopian world by isolating themselves from the rest of civilization, using the creatures to scare villagers from exploring beyond the village outskirts.

So this one must be a turd, right? Not so fast. I first saw The Village when it was newly made and wasn’t sure what to make of it. Some months later I found I was dying to see it again, so  I rented it. Obviously, I knew the twist, but I still was caught up in the story and the passion that the actors put into it. A young Bryce Dallas Howard and Jaquin Phoenix light up the screen as the primal couple, who only slowly begin to realize their love for each other. The older members of the cast include a number of actors who have had more glorious rolls, such as Sigourney Weaver, former slayer of aliens, now cast as a humble, devoted house wife, and Brendan Gleeson, who reveled in badassery in Braveheart, Gangs of New York, and  28 Days Later, now confined to a small roll as a man too old to do much more than smoke a pipe. You might think these post-stars would be a little bitter, but what they bring to the screen reminds us that there are truly “no small parts; only small actors.”

This film probably repulsed a lot of viewers on a first viewing just because of the obvious gaff discussed above, but it merits a second and third viewing. As I watched it a second time, I came to understand that the gaff doesn’t harm the film because it isn’t a film about monsters. It’s a film about the community on screen and the people in it. The power of the movie comes home as boys tease each other with dares and girls dream about boys. We are drawn deeper in as their utopian society is suddenly, unexpectedly shattered by the crime of murder. And, despite suspension of belief, we are on the edge of our seats as a young, frightened, and blind girl (Howard) is forced to trek alone through the forbidden wood to save the boy she loves. And of course, even after the “twist,” there are some scary surprises waiting in the wood.

As good as the cast is, they might be outperformed by the score. Composer James Newton relied mostly on the solos of violinist Hillary Hahn to enhance the picture. It serves well to reflect the isolation that the characters feel in many scenes. This is one of the few movies that is worth checking out just for the soundtrack. The music excites, builds tension, and carries emotion just as well as what we see. A great deal of effort was also put into the costumes and the set design, both for authenticity and beauty, and it makes for a lot of sumptuous visuals. And I have to say, Shayamalan’s directing was still pretty good at this point. One scene in particular comes to mind, in which Those They Don’t Speak of attack the village (below). The boy on the watchtower sounds the alarm, and there are several minutes of people scrambling to gather the children, get inside, and get into their hiding places. This can’t have been an easy scene to pull off, with the amount of fast activity that had to be captured, the number of child actors, and the number of plot points that have to be hinted at, but Shayamalan did it brilliantly. Not only is the story told, but it’s a truly beautiful scene. Even on a second viewing, when I knew there was no real danger, I was caught up in it. When the rubber meets the road, Shayamalan really can do it — when he’s not jerking us around, that is.

Even as early as Signs, some of Shyamalan’s annoying habits were beginning to come to light. He loved to have something really important happen, such as an alien attacking someone, at point A, and, for no reason, point the camera squarely at point B. Or else, force us to look through some distorting piece of scenery, or look at a poor reflection. There’s a lot to be said for not showing too much, especially if you want to build suspense or scare the audience, but in order to do those two things, you also have to make us feel with the characters. For example, in Signs, when the main family has retreated to the basement, an alien hand reaches through the coal chute and grabs Morgan. A scuffle ensues as Grant and Merrill try to pull him to safety. Shyamalan chooses this moment to wave the camera around incoherently, showing us nothing. The characters see what’s happening! Why the hell shouldn’t we? The next morning, Morgan is again grabbed by an alien. This time, for the first time in the movie, we get a really good look at one of these things. Merrill then kills the alien with a bat. And then Shyamalan treats us to one more bad reflection, in an over-turned tv, of the alien’s chest rising as it struggles to breath. What is the point of this? We’ve already seen the alien!

The Village takes this a step further. Some of the most crucial scenes are interrupted by completely meaningless things. For example, near the end, when one of Those They Don’t Speak of (who seem to get mentioned a lot) chases Howard’s character, Ivy, we see the creature lunge at her from behind a tree. She runs. Then, for no reason, we see an empty rocking chair in front of a grove of trees. Then we see the creature chasing Ivy. Then we see a close up of a weather vane, over looking a hilltop. Then we see Ivy running. Just when it looks like something’s about to happen, we see another grove of trees. What is the point of this? These cut away shots don’t even match the main scene, or each other; they were obviously shot on different days, in different weather at different times of the year, and they serve no purpose whatsoever.

Of course, Shyamalan went on to commit atrocities like Lady in the Water (2006), where we almost never see anything except as a distorted reflection. All in all though, The Village is well worth checking out. It’s not without its faults by any means, but when the dust settles, what you have is a series of great scenes, beautifully shot and beautifully acted, perfectly capturing the emotion of the moment, all with a haunting score playing in the back ground. Much like in Van Helsing, the power of the performances smooths over the imperfections in the plot.

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Alien 3

Alien3The third entry in the Alien franchise has been the series’ whipping boy ever since its release in the early 1990s.  Whereas the fourth film, Alien Resurrection, is such an oddity it’s more of a redheaded stepchild than a true Alien movie, the third film walks a fine line between terror and action–the hallmarks of its two predecessors–and though it ultimately succeeds at neither one, it is a compelling film and certainly worth watching.  Much has already been written about how the movie more or less betrayed fans by eliminating Hicks, Newt, and for all intents and purposes, Bishop, the main characters from Aliens, and re-imagining the action heroine Ripley as a brooding emo girl.  Add to that the film’s notoriously problematic production (including a walkout by first-time director David Fincher near the end of the shoot) and one could easily dismiss this as a throwaway sequel far better suited for the $5 Wal-Mart DVD Bargin Bin than on the shelf of any true science fiction fan.  However, despite these shortcomings I have found Alien3 to be far better than most people give it credit for.  Is it a worthy sequel to Aliens?  Not exactly.  But it is a good film, and worth a second look for those who have not seen it in a while or dismissed it altogether.

Where Alien set a new benchmark for realism in science fiction films, as well as a reinvention of monster movies that continues to influence filmmakers today, and Aliens set the gold standard for action films that has yet to be topped (save perhaps by the the director himself with Terminator 2), Alien3 excels at nothing in particular and introduces nothing really new into the franchise.  But in place of groundbreaking filmmaking, David Fincher brought incredibly deep thematic elements into the mix for the first time ever.  Essentially starting with a clean slate on a dirty planet, Fincher uses the Alien mythology as a backdrop from which to examine heavy themes of life and death, spirituality and salvation, and a look into human nature that bears a striking similarity to Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

Alien3 Ripley

Sigourney Weaver reprises her genre-busting role as Ellen Ripley sans perm.

As the movie begins, Ripley’s escape pod from Aliens has crash-landed on Fiorina “Fury” 161, a prison planet run by the infamous Weyland-Yutani corporation from the first two movies.  The planet is all but forsaken, and only a handful of men are still around to “keep the pilot light on.”   These men, we are told, are all convicted murders, rapists, and generally nasty human beings who are kept in check by the ill-tempered warden Andrews (Brian Glover) and a spiritual guru-of-sorts named Dillon (Charles S. Dutton).  In essence we see humanity at its worst:  criminals devoid of any contact with the outside world, struggling to maintain a sense of order and decency lest they slip into anarchy.  They have all taken vows to maintain a sort of peace and order in the prison, and despite the lack of a true disciplinary force, they all realize the consequences should they get out of line.  Venerable actor Charles Dance is along for the ride as Clemens, a medical officer who has made some very costly mistakes years ago that continue to haunt him.  It’s a motley crew to be sure, and a rich tapestry from which to present a tale about morality and humanity.

During the opening moments we see an image of a cross silhouetted against the setting sun as debris and junk rolls across the landscape surrounding the prison–a harbinger of the thematic elements that will be explored in the film.  Dillon’s pastoral leadership of the prisoners, from his refusal to let them break the Third Commandment to his moving spiritual eulogy during the cremation of Ripley’s fallen comrades, is a stark contrast to the gun-toting reluctant leader Ripley was in the second film.  (In fact, the entire cremation/birth scene has some serious parallels to Coppola’s masterful baptism scene in The Godfather.) Dillon in essence shepherds the prisoners–a task warden Andrews, not one to upset the order or cause ripples in the water, is all to happy to have him do.  But how does one deal with a metaphysical God and satan when a very real monster is literally killing off inmates one by one?  The idea of rebirth, both spiritual and physical, is also very prominent in Alien3.  It is only through the death of a host that the alien can live, but the prisoners on Fury 161, all serving life sentences, are essentially dead anyway and it is only through death at the hands of the alien that they are set free from this mortal coil.  Ripley, with an alien queen implanted inside her, must decide whether the good of the one outweighs the good of the many, and is in fact the only human on the planet that the alien will not kill.  Elements of David Fincher’s classic directorial style are present in abundance:  a notoriously dark color palette, a cast of tragically flawed characters, and an ending that could hardly be classified as happy (not quite as bleak as the ending of Se7en, but close).  A typical action/horror film this is most certainly not.  And while Fincher lays it on pretty thick, at least there is a message and a subtext here, unlike many action blockbusters.

Alien3 Dillon

Dillon, the spiritual leader of the gang of prisoners.

But for all these high marks, there are serious flaws in Alien3 that are hard to overlook.  There are only a couple characters who are even close to relatable, and I must admit that in all my times of re-watching the movie I never felt a true emotional connection with anyone in it.  In any survival movie there must be someone whom we want to survive, but virtually everyone in Alien3 (including Ripley, unfortunately) is so unsympathetic that watching the film is akin to reading a report filled with bullet points about the tragedies that ensue when letting killer aliens run amok on a bleak prison planet.  It’s a tough bit of oil to swallow, to be sure, especially after the brilliant Ripley/Newt relationship from Aliens.  The prisoners are almost indistinguishable from one another, and possess nothing in the way of distinct personalities–a transgression that is compounded by the fact that they all look virtually identical thanks to their tattered brown clothes and shaved heads.  And as if to salt the wound, Fincher’s alien looks like a sock puppet compared to James Cameron’s ultra-realistic living, breathing xenomorphs in Aliens (with one notable exception).

For those who dismissed the film years ago, I urge you to give it another shot–you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.  For those who never saw it, by all means give it a rental.  While not exactly a worthy successor in the franchise, there is far more to this film than people often give it credit for.


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From Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking 1979 horror classic spawned one of the most interesting and popular sequels of all time, helmed by a pre-king-of-the-world James Cameron.  His 1985 follow-up to ‘Alien’ would take moviegoers out of the horrific confinement of the Nastromo spaceship and into the futuristic mining colony set up on LV-426, the original site of the previous attack from the first film.

Sigourney Weaver returns as Ellen Ripley, 57 years following her escape from a ravenous acid-for-blood monster that wiped out her crew.  She awakens in a hospital where she is informed of the life she lost floating in space over a span of six decades. Her daughter died only a few years before Ripley’s lifeboat was discovered.  What to do now?  The government wants to suspend her pilot’s license and label her a crazy person for blowing up her crew’s starship from the first “Alien” film as no evidence of the creature could be found on Planet LV-426.  Ripley is then made aware that a human colony of over 60 families have been living on the planet with no report of any ‘hostile organism.’  Soon, however, the agency loses contact with LV-426, and through an odd contrivance in the plot, Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) is enlisted to request Ripley’s presence as an advisor to an elite group of hardcore colonial marines.   Ripley decides to face her greatest nightmare and join the band of soldiers sent to investigate the planet.

James Cameron, coming off his moderate success of “The Terminator,” took a great leap in converting the heralded and respected 1979 horror film “Alien,” and spinning the continuing story of Ellen Ripley into a beefed-up grunt of an action picture.  The results are beyond impressive, even for its time roughly 25 years ago.  While Fox Studios and other filmmakers may have simply wanted to immitate what Ridley Scott’s film did, Cameron wanted to expand the horizon of Ripley’s chararacter. Of course he’s always been fascinated with the strength of female heroines (see Sarah Connor in ‘Terminator 2’ or Neytiri in ‘Avatar’).  This makes an ideal match for the Ellen Ripley character, played incredibly by Sigourney Weaver (in an Oscar-nominated performance), and the action-heroine she becomes.  In some ways, “Aliens” represents the pinnacle of scale and intensity of all of Cameron’s resume.  Sure, he has ‘T2’, ‘True Lies’, ‘Titanic’ and now ‘Avatar’ to his credit.  Those films each had at least $100 million thrown at them.  But with ‘Aliens,’ budgeted at $15 million dollars, the particular way the film is shot, to the believablilty of the animatronics used (still the best looking of any ‘Alien’ film to date), and to the film’s epic score by James Horner, you would predict the film (despite its grungy aesthetic) cost three times that amount.

While the man has seen enough praise in his life to become so self-impressed, the credit has to go to Cameron and his abilities to craft a film, at least in terms of scale.  Sure, his screenplays have raised eyebrows here and there for their simplicity, but critics seem to forget that he likes to make mainstream action pictures.  In many ways, while each of the man’s films go for broke every time and he continually tries to top every film he makes in terms of scale, he’s never out of his element.  There’s something to be said about a filmmaker who is passionate about ‘what can be done’ in movies as opposed to ‘what can be written.’  While Cameron may be simplistic in nature in terms of character and theme, his movies have mass appeal, and ‘Aliens’ is no exception.

The film is filled with a fully-designed and realized world of Planet LV-426.  From the marines’ attire and weapons, to the looming darkness and staleness of the mining colony, this movie definitely has grand set pieces and an unsettling atmosphere.  The creatures are barely seen until the final battle between Ripley and the Queen alien.  That’s the way it should be.  Every shot of these creatures impresses and scares.  There’s a great scene where the aliens first make their appearance.  The marines are searching for missing colonists and enter a piece of the infrastructure where the creatures have ‘redecorated.’  Soon enough the aliens start to come out of the walls and pick off each of the marines.  Why is this scene and others like it so effective?  Because we see just enough to keep us enthralled and in a state of wonder.  We are also enthralled by Stan Winston’s animatronic designs, puttetry and creature costumes.  With an actual physical entity in camera, the creatures have never looked better, and probably never will.  Future ‘Alien’ films would suffer from trashy CGI creations, especially the 1992 sequel ‘Alien3.’

As mentioned earlier, despite entertaining characters from Cameron regulars Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein, it is Sigourney Weaver’s powerful performance as a tougher Ripley than seen in 1979 that carries the movie.  While most 80s films would feature a Schwarzenegger or Stallone taking on these monsters, a female character manages to oust her fellow male marine counterparts and take on several beasts, including a macho mano-a-mano dual with the Queen monster.  Luckily, Cameron lets Weaver be more than just a female Rambo.  His story gives her a drive to face these monsters and also protect a young colonist girl, Newt (Carrie Henn), reminiscent of her own deceased daughter.  Weaver manages to make a believable transition from distressed space pilot in ‘Alien’ to machine-gun-toting large-scale exterminator here.  Cameron would later use this kind of transition for his Sarah Connor character in ‘Terminator 2,’ and again with Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘True Lies.’

At the end of the day, ‘Aliens’ is quite simply one of the best sequels ever made.  It’s an impressive-looking movie featuring a powerful dramatic musical score, great visuals, hardcore action, intense thrills, a dash of humor, memorable characters, and genuine emotion.  Sequel or not, this one of my personal favorites.

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‘King of the World’ James Cameron rises back from the depths of the sea after his “Titanic” success twelve years ago to deliver one of the most epic films of all time with “Avatar.”

Let’s get the main two questions out of the way: Is it a good movie?  Heck yes.  Is it a game-changing film that will transform movies forever? Well, possibly.  But can any film really do that?  On a technical level, movies can always advance special effects and what can be accomplished as far as the limits of imagination and reality go.  And to its credit, Cameron’s imagination graces every expensive frame of this movie to an unbelievably believable effect.

I’ve heard much complaining about the simplicity and cliche of his storyline.  I’m at a loss to understanding the reasoning of such complaints.  ‘Avatar’ presents a classic Pocahontas narrative.  In 2154, the American government dispatches a high-tech military unit to ransack the planet of Pandora in an effort to obtain a valuable mineral deposit.  The problem?  An indigenous race of humanoid Na’vi warriors (standing over twice the size of a human) refuse to relocate and give up the forests of their planet for human greed.  The plan?  American scientists are utilized to understand the Na’vi and negotiate a compromise.  After one of the scientists is killed in action, his twin marine brother, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation) arrives to replace him and operate a genetically-engineered and remote-controlled avatar of a Na’vi that will infiltrate their race.  The expected happens when Jake soon loses his militaristic ideals, becomes one with their race, and falls for his Na’vi counterpart, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek).

Call the plot cliche or predictable, but I found it to be the perfect setup for Cameron’s world.  Never once does the audience not know where the story is headed, but never once do they know what this incredible director will show us next.  The very world he creates rivals any other cinematic achievement in history to date.  Witnessing the incredible design of the creatures inhabiting Pandora generated serious awe for me, as they felt authentic and extremely realistic.  Even on the human side of things–all of the military equipment: the helicopters, weaponry, and human-operated tank-bots stand as incredible accomplishments in design.  Cameron has pronounced every detail of his endless visionary world.  And I haven’t even mention the 3D factor.

This is, above all things considered, the most profound and immersing use of 3D to date.  It really opens up Pandora and allows you to enter its universe.  I can’t stress enough the level of detail utilized in the film, and the 3D really eliminates all the barriers from receiving a truly monumental movie experience.  Whether or not the movie will play as well at home remains to be seen.  Even without the third-dimension factor, the visual effects still top anything Michael Bay threw at the screen this year.  The motion-capture used to create the Na’vi characters works tremendously well in capturing authentic expression and emotion.  You can actually see the faces of Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, and Zoe Saldana under the layers of computer-animation.  How this was all accomplished is way beyond me, but Cameron fails to let us down after all the hype surrounding the technology he furthered to create his vision.

James Cameron may not be a storytelling genius, but the man knows what works, and he consistently tackles all of his projects with huge success and accomplishment.  ‘The Terminator,’ ‘Aliens’, ‘The Abyss,’ ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day,’ ‘True Lies’ and ‘Titanic’ (all among my favorite films) pushed the limits of filmmaking and what could be done with their budgets.  Luckily, Cameron doesn’t puke throwaway spectacle all over the screen.  He delivers something special and memorable with characters you care about and themes that are universal.  “Avatar” continues his streak as a filmmaking pioneer pushing the boundaries of technology to show audiences the limitless potential of the imagination.  This is certainly one of the best films of 2009, and one of the great movie-going experiences of all time.  Get up out of your chair, head to the multiplex, purchase a big tub of popcorn, and witness this incredible film in all its 3D glory.

-MJV & the Movies

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alien_posterFew horror vehicles remain as important and seminal as Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking incarnation of the first ‘Alien’ picture.  The film came together during a time when science-fiction in film had just been regaining some traction with the enormous success of ‘Star Wars’; a time where the ‘slasher’ picture unknowingly birthed its invincible genre with John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween.’

Based on a B-movie screenplay by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett during 20th Century Fox’s race to discover the next big space opera, ‘Alien’ received the greenlight despite its glaring departure from the world and joyous ambiance of that George Lucas phenomenon. The film opens similarly to ‘Star Wars’ during an unspecified future with a giant spaceship towering its way across the screen.  The ship withholds twenty-million tons of mineral ore being brought back to earth when the crew’s voyage becomes interrupted by the interception of a signal from an unknown planet. The crew made up of seven engineers, led by Dallas (Tom Skerritt), is ordered by their governing company to investigate.  Whether the signal is an SOS call or a warning remains unclear until they reach this planet and find a stranded alien spacecraft.  Three members of the team, including Dallas, and two others (Kane, Parker) enter the craft to the discovery of a giant fossilized space pilot and a plethora of voluminous eggs.  Ultimately, the curiosity of the crew members turns to terror as ‘Alien’ unleashes a deadly monster, hidden in the shadows and vents of the humans’ spaceship.

Having no prior knowledge of the film or series that it spawned works significantly to understanding the unpredictability of the advancing story, its impact upon its release in 1979, and its current status as a pioneer of the horror genre.  ‘Alien’ works as a rare breed, a film that takes all the time it needs to reveal its heading and its monster.  The pacing and editing are perfectly matched at building inescapable dread. The confinement of the mining ship traps the audience in its darkness.  The quiet, hovering score of Jerry Goldsmith strays from forcing the audience into the mood and tension of a scene, and rather allows the unknown and unseen to become far more effective at tantalizing the nerves.  The film also strays from the conventional in making its cast an ensemble without a dominating star or presence. The audience knows these people will be picked off in some order,  and there are survivors, but the writers intentionally left out first names in the script to allow for male or female characters.  All of them are equally endangered.

The alien creature itself remains an interesting and ambiguous design.  The eggs harvested on the alien craft birth, surprisingly, not the monster itself–but a parasite that attaches itself to the face of a living host and implants an embryo through the throat and into the chest of its victim.  Through the victim births the monster.  What an original and horrific concept.  Director Ridley Scott toys with the alien’s sexual nature: its underlying act of ultimately raping its prey to spawn its existence, and the physical design of the creature itself in shape and form.  The creature is constantly changing as well.  The parasite, following its host’s impregnation, leaves the victim and dies shortly after.  The actual monster itself begins life in a small phallic shape, but increases in mass very quickly.  The audience doesn’t see the process of this transformation, but the alien, while never fully explained, seems to have a short life-span.  Each time it takes the screen, it is bigger than its last appearance.  That notion adds more terror.  While the audience has witnessed the creature, their uncertainty continues to linger regarding what they might witness around the next corner.

alien2Even if the right elements are in place for a technically accomplished horror film, a usual downfall rests on its casting.  Not the case here.  Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, an intelligent, by-the-book  young pilot.  She thinks before she acts, plays by the rules, and rarely investigates uncertainties. Tom Skerritt plays the captain of the ship as an experienced officer that knows the ropes and simply wants to get the job done to move on and return home.  He cares for his crew and often dismisses standard operating procedure in conjunction with instinct.  The cast rounds out with Veronica Cartwright, Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt and Harry Dean Stanton as the other officers, along with Ian Holm as Ash, a mysterious science officer somewhat reminding of Star Trek’s Spock character.  This cast actually proves to be very effective, carrying both the inner-terror and inquiry required to make the audience care and believe in this nightmare.

Of course ‘Alien’ is probably best remembered among all these accolades for one rattling scene that has become legendary for its time.  And without saying more for the few left uninitiated, it is still mostly a remarkable scene for the slim exception that the puppetry has not exactly held its weight in longevity for today’s audiences.  The performances and surprise of the scene have made it stand the test of time.

I will add that the version I recently viewed was the 2003 re-release cut titled “Director’s Cut” with a disclaimer by Ridley Scott that this is simply an alternate cut for the wishes of his fans, and not his preferred version.  His newly edited version slightly trims a handful of scenes and adds in a few others–with only one remaining all that significant and possibly controversial.  I enjoyed this cut immensely for this particular cut sequence toward the film’s climax, a scene that would further continuity with James Cameron’s follow-up ‘Aliens.’

‘Alien’ has spawned three varying sequels and two dopey spin-offs.  Ignoring the other works and taking Ridley Scott’s film on its own merits, it is a true cinematic classic that takes B-movie monster material and makes an involving and very realistically human film out of the science-fiction.  The film has seen its share of imitators, but none have matched the intelligence and elegance of this exceptional startler.

-MJV & the Movies

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