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Review: Alien (1979)

This is a long movie review, pretty much scene by scene. So if you’re not down for a long read, there’s always a [tldr] button to get to my paragraph long synopsis at the end. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom as well, thanks! Also, in this review I constantly refer to Ripley as Sigourney Weaver. It’s like that and that’s the way it is.


20,000,000 Tons

So the movie starts out on a ship carrying 20,000,000 tons of space rocks, and they’re on their way back to earth. We learn this from the floating space text. Everything on the ship looks like a mix between 2001 and the Millennium Falcon; we are now firmly in a space movie, there’s no doubt about it at this point. The crew wakes up from cryogenic slumber and everyone’s gathered around a table eating food. A gigantic ship responsible for 20,000,000 tons of resources for earth, and you can fit the entire crew around a dining room table. The first reason why most people die in this movie is because the alien / human ratio is like 4 to 1.When they see a blip on their ship’s radar, they tell the black guy to go look around. He of course complains that he’s not paid to do that kind of work, because honestly, would you want to be the first one to die in a movie? They hear some scary noises, and ignore it for some reason, still not thinking to send some sort of broadcast for help. So they land on a small moon, well, technically they crash because apparently the ship can’t handle landing for some reason even though it seemed fine until the last second. For some reason, nothing can go right for these characters. Nothing. Ever.

The crew stumbles blindly into the dusty, gloomy planet, finding the wreckage of an alien spacecraft. They begin to lose video and audio contact with the ship, and they still continue on blindly. They come across the remains of what seems to have been the pilot, and they all start touching stuff like toddlers, not really knowing if the thing’s even dead. They get all the way into an egg chamber or breeding ground for the aliens, and they still touch stuff. You have no idea where you are, what’s going on, no radio contact, and you’re going to haphazardly poke an alien egg-sack. What happens next should be no big surprise, something latches on to his face.

Sigourney Weaver does the smart thing and refuses to let those idiots back in the ship. That stops the quarantine from being breached, until another idiot lets them in. This is a pattern you will see until the end of the movie, she makes a point that would save everyone a lot of trouble and it’s totally ignored. So they decide to try and laser the facehugger off of the guy who got himself attacked by poking an egg. Apparently the alien blood is highly corrosive, and it starts eating through the hull. For some reason they all run down stairs to catch up with the acid, almost as if it’s exciting to see it happen. I mean what are they gonna do when they get there, stare at it? Oh, that’s what they actually do. Well we can’t expect much from these characters with what they’ve already shown us. They’re really dumb. All human stupidity aside, the aliens are the perfect horror movie monster, they’re so cool and scary that you actually root for them at times.

They argue for some time about whether or not quarantine was broken, and if they should take the dead facehugger back to earth for scientific research. The guy who got strangled is just lying on a table in a dark room somewhere in the ship, not attached to life support or anything. When he wakes up, they act like he was really hung over or something and have a big meal together, totally forgetting about that whole quarantine thing they literally just discussed. So in the middle of eating, his chest explodes and out comes a baby xenomorph. The special effects are actually incredibly well done, and it’s executed perfectly. The slimy little thing gets away somehow, I guess these people don’t bring their guns to the dinner table. Personally, if any sort of alien was on my ship, I’d be packing heat from then on.

They go looking for the baby xenomorph in the huge, poorly lit spacecraft with no protection, just three people with flashlights. Again, I have to ask how a ship so large only has a crew of seven, and seemingly no security. So they go get Sigourney Weaver’s cat, and it runs off into some dark corner of the ship. They tell one this guy to go look for it alone, because apparently now they’re not so worried about the alien running around the ship. Didn’t these people watch Scooby Doo? You never go off alone without some sort of talking animal. So the alien shows up and eats that guy’s face while the cat watches intently. That cat’s a sadistic bastard.

The black guy dramatically explains what happened to the rest of the group, and so they check out the nifty radar system they seem to have forgotten about. There’s a blip in the air duct so they send up Dallas, that guy with the beard, to go kill it with a flamethrower. Well they’ve got part of the strategy right by sending him in with a gun, but they’re still using their crew members like pawns by sending them in alone. So he dies, big surprise, and now they’ve gotta figure out what to do while the black guy dramatically explains the situation again. Sigourney Weaver does something smart and decides to check out the ship’s computer for some more information about what’s going on. While reading through the manifest, she finds out that there are specific orders to bring back the alien specimen and the crew is deemed expendable.

Ash turns out to be a cyborg, and goes nuts on Sigourney Weaver when she finds out about the mission priorities. Just as he’s shoving a rolled up magazine down her throat, the others find them and the black guy breaks Ash’s head off with a two by four. They ask at some point, “Why would they send a robot out here with us?” which sort of begs the question; Who are these people working for exactly? I mean, they never really say. Whoever it is can somehow afford to refine 20,000,000 tons of mineral ore, but they can’t hire a crew of more than seven? Whatever, apparently that’s not important to the story or something because it gets no mention.

At this point they finally do something smart, and they all grab big powerful firearms. They also go together for the first time in the movie, rather than leaving someone behind. That good plan lasts for all of thirty seconds before Sigourney Weaver runs off on her own without saying a word to anyone else to look for her cat. The one person who wanted to organize a tactical, coordinated attack on the alien is wandering off to grab her kitty. I know she’s been the smart one up until this point, but this is where she really messes up. While she’s off diverting the plot for some reason, both of the last remaining humans are slaughtered.

She sprints blindly through the dark ship toward the ship’s Emergency Destruction System. Knowing she’s the last one left, Sigourney Weaver decides to activate the detonation sequence, and an automated librarian voice tells her she has ten minutes to deactivate the sequence. She runs through the ship, stumbling and weakened, the perfect time for the alien to kill her but I guess he was taking a cigarette break. She decides to go back and deactivate it just as the ten minutes are up, and calls the ship’s computer a bitch when she can’t get it to stop before the clock runs out. I don’t know why she didn’t just run back to the pod the first time, but I guess she’s just crazy like that. She sees the ship explode while she’s taking off in the escape pod, and she says one last goodbye to the alien. Movie’s over, right? Wrong.

Sigourney Weaver takes off most of her clothes, and thinks she’s off the hook when all of a sudden she finds the alien hidden amongst the tubes and wires on the wall of her escape pod. She has enough time to slowly get in her space suit and sneak over to the control panel before the alien even moves, and does a creepy little “lucky, lucky, lucky” chant under her breath. Apparently the control panel has a button for “Spray the alien with liquid nitrogen” so she presses it, and it starts to crawl out of its hiding spot. Somehow it sneaks up on her, even though she’s watching it the whole time, and she hits another button that ejects a door right behind the alien. Once outside, the alien suit looks like just that, a cheesey alien costume from a bad black and white horror movie. Some equally oldschool horror music plays as the alien tries climbing back inside through the ship’s thruster, but Sigourney Weaver hits the pod’s ignition and fries that son of a bitch.

The movie winds down with our heroin creating an SOS message for herself and drifting off into cryogenic slumber once again. So what have we learned from all of this? It’s pretty hard to say, but the moral of the story seems to be this: Carry large weapons at all times, always hire more than seven people, and never let someone back on the ship when they’ve been infected by an alien that lays eggs in your stomach. All in all, it’s definitely a fun movie to watch. The story is, however, full of loopholes and enigmas. There are several times at which they could have avoided further struggle by doing something extremely simple. Like listening to what Sigourney Weaver had to say, or not letting people wander off alone after someone’s been partially eaten.

You think this movie’s got dumb loopholes? Wait until the review for Aliens.

Categorized as: Movie Reviews | Written Reviews

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