This was the film that introduced the world to Ellen Ripley. The
only real debate about the series is about which of the first two
movies was the best of the lot.

Premise

A cargo ship is sent down to a planet to investigate an unusual
broadcast.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Complete cast and crew information is available from the Internet Movie
Database
.
Highlights include direction by Ridley Scott, alien design by
H.R. Giger, musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, and a cast that
includes
Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, and Tom Skerritt.

High Point

Tom Skerritt’s realistic captain. Most starship captains in these
movies are either total idiots or indestructible superhumans. This
guy seemed like a man just doing a job. It was the captain’s lead
that really sets off the social understanding we get in the movie;
these people aren’t explorers, and they’re not out to make first
contact. They are to the future what truck drivers are to the
present.

Low Point

What the heck did that thing eat to get so big all of a sudden?
Mass
is conserved, but people seem to forget that when writing movie
monsters.

The Scores

How original is a monster movie in space? The slow
paced
build of Dracula, Frankenstein,
The Mummy,
and other Universal studios classics was well known by this time.
The setting and pacing put a new twist on things, though; the only
character who knows about the monster in advance wants to
protect it,
and when the monster finally does show up, we learn that
conventional
weapons can’t be used without putting the attacker at risk. The
story
eliminates accidental, unlikely encounters without involving an
alien
invasion. It’s actually fairly groundbreaking. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are dated today, but not as bad as most
1970s
sci-fi. As long as computers or rapid robotics aren’t involved, it
still looks good. In some cases, such as the reveal of the alien in
the air duct, the movements of the alien seem deliberately
restricted,
presumably to hide limitations in what the person could do while
in
the suit. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is pretty simplistic. The two hour running
time is
not required to cover these events, although it does set the
mood
quite well. Apart from the sudden and unexplained growth spurt,
it’s
a carefully assembled tale, complete with the government
conspiracy.
It had some nice ideas, but it’s not the story that really makes the
movie. It’s just complicated enough to get the job done. I give it
4
out of 6.

The acting was varied, even from a single actor.
For
example, Ripley’s breakdown after visiting Mother in
unconvincing, but
her tension when planning with Ash, Lambert, and Parker is very
well
played. One of the main problems is that most characters have
one
dimension. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produces were limited
by the
venue. Even watching on a large screen with the lights off
doesn’t
give this the same impact it would have on the big screen, as it
was
meant to be seen. You really need to be pulled into the
environment
in any horror flick, and the home venue just doesn’t do it right.
I’ll probably see it in October just to see it done right for once. I
give the home theater experience 3 out of 6.

The production shows the slow, deliberate pacing
that was
common in 1970s sci-fi that studios don’t seem to think the
audience
has patience for anymore. (I doubt this script would be filmed in
more than 90 minutes these days.) The set design and musical
scoring
are very well done, and the alien’s “facehugger” stage nicely
offsets
the final bipedal shape of the thing. (Let’s face it, if it had a
different head and no tale, it would be as humanoid as most Star
Trek
aliens.) I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it plays like a movie made in the 1970s, but
that’s
not automatically a bad thing. It’s a well made film that stands up
better than most of its contemporaries. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Alien receives 28 out of 42.