Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Alien x 3

Sometimes key scenes of a film find a way into popular culture and end up serving as inspiration for other movies including spoofs. Such is the case with the Alien movies and its shots of the Alien creature encountering Sigourney Weaver's character of Ripley. During a recent conversation with friends, the talk of the Alien films came up. Even though I had a visual memory of some of the scenes that they were talking about, I had no recollection of the films themselves. I believed I had only seen the second film but I remembered scenes from the first movie only via other sources like tv clips. So I decided to sit down and watch the first three movies, leaving the fourth film as a possible option.

While looking up the movies, I realized that all the movies were directed by different directors, with the first three movies done by directors in the early stages/start of their careers. I only knew that James Cameron had directed the second movie and was utterly surprized to learn that David Fincher directed the third movie and Jean-Pierre Jeunet was behind the 4th one.

  • Alien (1979, Ridley Scott):
    Ridley Scott directed only his second feature with the 1979 film before he went on to more fame with Blade Runner in 1982. One can assume that Blade Runner was probably only made possible for Scott after the Alien film.
  • Aliens (1986, James Cameron):
    James Cameron directed the second Alien film 2 years after achieving success with Terminator. Ofcourse, after Aliens Cameron found more success with Terminator 2 (1991), True Lies (1994) and that 1997 film about a sinking ship.
  • Aliens 3 (1992, David Fincher):
    David Fincher directed his first feature with the third Alien film. I only learned about Fincher from Seven (1995) before enjoying Fight Club (1999) & even last year's Zodiac.
  • Alien: Resurrection (1997, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
    Jean-Pierre directed the 4th Aliens film on the back of success with 1995's City of Lost Children and 1991's Delicatessen. The biggest acclaim for Jean-Pierre came with 2001's Amelie, the film he directed immediately after Aliens: Resurrection.

    The Films:

    In a way it was interesting to see the three films back to back as a few similarities showed up.
  • The Alien was disposed of in a similar manner in the ending of both the first and second film.

  • All three films started with the character of Ripley waking up after a state of frozen slumber.

  • In the second and third movie she is only found after someone encounters her space shuttle accidentally. It was amusing to see that at the end of the first and second movie her character escapes in a shuttle to safety, only for the shuttle to drift off course & end up lost before being discovered at the start of the next film.

  • Ripley does find a way back to Earth in the second movie, before heading out to space again and ending up in a different planet in the third movie. One could have imagined an endless cycle of Quantum Leap like films where her character would wake up in a different planet only to continue fighting the same alien. But thankfully, the ending of the third movie squashed any such possibility. That was until Hollywood managed to find a way to resurrect Ripley again for more Alien battles in a 4th movie.

    Aliens 3 was the worst of the bunch and almost painful to watch. The first two movies atleast managed to create a coherent thread despite being separated by a gap of 7 years. I enjoyed the start of the second movie the most where Ripley's character has to justify her actions (like attempting to destroy a multi-million dollar spaceship) before a committee. But three movies was a bit too much to take as all three movies offered up similar concepts of predator-prey and alien hunting episodes. I will have to put off watching that 4th movie for a long time.

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