Just recently watched the Alien "Quadrilogy" for the first time, and here's what I think...

Up until last week, I had never watched any of the Alien movies, or even heard much about them. I knew the basic gist of what they were about, knew about face huggers, and what the xenomorphs looked like, etc… but didn’t know any of the plot details or whatever, so there was really nothing spoiled for me ahead of time. Although this is not nearly as highly revered or rare as someone who has never seen a single Star Wars movie, I thought you might all enjoy my impressions of each of the movies, as someone who saw them all, in order, with relatively little to no foreknowledge of what happened in each one, over a short time.

SPOILERS FOLLOW AS I DISCUSS PLOT POINTS IN EACH OF THE MOVIES.

Alien

I liked this one, bordering on loving it. Maybe after another viewing I would love it. Everything except for the strange lighting choices (enough strobe lights already!) and that fucking cat, was really awesome. It was mysterious. It had great pacing. The twist with the artificial human adhering to his programming/mission gave a great reason for the behavior we had been seeing throughout the movie, and it made for a believable antagonist. I enjoyed the minimal nature of the movie, the isolation and the fear. Overall, 9/10. I can definitely see why this is considered a classic and a genre-definer. Had I seen it in its day, I might have considered it a 10/10. A bit dated now, but I tried to see all past that as best as I could.

**Aliens
**
I hated this piece of dreck. I can’t go on about how disappointing this one was. Perhaps the reason I hate it so much is because it was so built up for me. I am and have been aware that this one is the most popular of the original movies, so it was really built up for me. Maybe that’s it. But honestly, I just don’t understand how anyone can like this movie. It was so full of plot holes, cliches, and in the end it was just a direct carbon copy of the first movie, it left me feeling completely flabbergasted that anyone could like it.

First of all, Ripley had no reason to go back and “face her fears” or explore it or anything, and the company had no reason to even want her to go back (let alone allow her to live). If the company was really as greedy/callous as they were portrayed in the first 3 movies, they would have just found some way to kill when they found her in stasis. They knew what she had seen. The whole kangroo court-marshal thing was entirely pointless. Why would they even WANT her back at the colony to go investigate/fight the aliens?

The other problem I had with this movie is how sadly predictable it was. It was immediate from the get-go who the antagonist was. I don’t even remember his name now, but he was the guy who convinced Ripley to go with the marines and investigate the colony. I’ll just call him Obviously Evil Guy. I mean, the part where she was like “Do you promise you aren’t going to try to bring one back alive?” and he was like “no, of course not! We just want to find out what happened to the colonists!” made me roll my eyes, and I couldn’t believe for a minute that Ripley would buy into that. She KNEW from what happened in the first movie that her life was expendable, that all the company wanted was to get their hands on the xenomorphs, and that she was just going to be their pawn. I also feel like she was smart enough to realize this, and had no reason to go back. So when Obviously Evil Guy turns out to be Obviously Evil (as if anyone didn’t know from the beginning of the movie), with his plans to impregnate Newt and Ripley with aliens and smuggle them back, the surprise from Ripley was completely unbelievable. It was predictable. It was stupid. Blech

And then, the last 30 minutes or so of the movie was just a complete rehash of the first. With more fire. And explosions. Woo fucking hoo. How did the first movie end? With a heart-racing, pulse-pounding escape from a self-destruct mechanism only to find that the alien has made it onto the escape vessel, and the only way to get rid of it is to eject it into the vacuum of space. How did Aliens end? THE SAME FUCKING WAY, BUT WITH A GIANT MECH FIGHT AND THIS TIME IT’S A QUEEN!!! Ugh.

Don’t even get me started on all the stereotypical characters and interactions. The tough latina who’s as butch and masculine as the rest of the guys. The little child who manages to overcome all obstacles and survive an impossible-to-survive situation. The archetypal evil corporate villain with his thinly veiled plans. All the other tough-guy marines. And Bishop, the “wheel of morality” character who’s only purpose in the movie was to teach Ripley the important moral lesson that not all artificial persons are evil. Yay for shoe-horned moral lessons! Don’t we all love those???

Aliens was basically Alien, with a much more predictable plot, a whole lot more explosions, guns, fire and stereotypical characters. Utterly disappointing. But at least Sigourney Weaver was awesome in it. And it was a technically proficient movie with better lighting than the first. And no stupid cat. 3/10

**Alien 3
**
A vast improvement over Aliens, having returned to much of what made Alien so good. Got rid of all the silly gunfighting and explosions and such. The characters were far more interesting. Less stereotypes and far less predictable overall. I cared not one iota that Hicks or Newt were dead. Why this bothered anyone or felt like it ruined Aliens is beyond me.

I liked the fact that it was about a group of dysfunctional prisoners working together to survive against just one alien, and how it addressed the awkwardness of a bunch of men being subjected to the presence of a woman after being away from society for so long.

I really liked Ripley’s motivational speech near the end about how the company didn’t care one fuck for them or the little world they had created, etc, and how if they wanted their lives to mean anything, they needed to kill that alien. I appreciated the fact that they didn’t just copy the whole “self destruct, alien manages to escape, alien gets sucked into outer space” thing that Alien and Aliens did. The alien jumping up out of the hot lead at the end was predictable, I admit, but I didn’t see the water-based solution coming, and that was pretty cool (if not a bit scientifically implausible) and made it worth it. The scene at the end with her sacrificing herself was meaningful and sad, and I felt like it was a nice conclusion to the trilogy.

Overall, not nearly as good as the first, but a huge improvement over the 2nd. 7/10

**Alien Resurrection
**
I know why they make movies like this, because they just want to cash in and make some money on a franchise that they know will provide. That being considered, I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t really say it was a good movie overall. But it hadn’t been built up for me, I had heard it wasn’t really very good, so my expectations were low. It had some interesting things going for it, but nothing really I can dissect in much detail for why I liked it or hated it.

Of course, they went with the whole “destroy the ship and escape, only to have the alien escape with ripley, and then suck it out into space” ending, which worked well for the first two movies, so why not do it again? Except of course, when THIS alien got sucked out into space it was 10000 times more gory, because it was getting squeezed through a little hole. And the looks on its face were very sad and haunting, so at least that was unique.

Overall a decent action movie. Met my expectations, and might even watch it again someday. 6/10
Now… knowing how much everyone loves Aliens and how betrayed everyone was with how Alien 3 went… let me just get my flame shield, and I’ll be back to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have for me :smiley:

You like some movies, and you don’t like others. I’m OK with that.

I think you are being overly harsh about Aliens, and finding some problems that aren’t there. You’re wrong about some of the plot holes. Obviously you didn’t enjoy the film, and that’s fine. Out of interest, at what point did you lose patience with it?

Not true at all, Ripley wants to prove that she didn’t invent the story of what happened on the Nostromo. She is being held culpable for it’s destruction, which has pretty much ruined her life. Burke offers to pick up her contract again if she goes. She has very strong reasons for going, both to vindicate herself and resume her career.

They have no reason to. At that point of the story, the Company doesn’t know about the existence of the Alien.

Burke is obviously a smarmy pole-climber, but he crosses the evil event horizon after Ripley promises to ruin him. I don’t think it’s ever implied that he planned the whole thing. I see him as a Company middle ranker trying to make his play. Ripley’s return hasn’t come to the attention of anyone higher up, so he fires off a message to the colonists, hoping they might find something he can take advantage of. He is reacting to events throughout. I wouldn’t say it’s predictable that he would go to such extreme lengths.

Part of the reason stereotypes exist in the real world is that some people believe they are expected to act in a certain way. As far as the marines go, Hicks is a little more thoughtful than the others, which is why some people were disappointed he was killed at the start of the third film.

I do agree that Alien is the superior film. It’s a claustrophobic horror, while the sequel is a very efficient action flick.

No flames, but I think you need to keep the films in the context of when they were made. A lot of issues you have with stereotypes, weren’t stereotypes when the movies were made, at least not to the degree they are now.

That’s always a problem seeing films for the first time that older, we forget that when they were first released, they were exploring new territory and were unique. What we consider to be cliche today, wasn’t cliche when the movies were first released and we have to view them in that context.

You would be lucky to find a latina in any role back then, let alone a strong dominant one (or any woman for the matter) and Ripley’s fighting mecha, spawned many, many articles about the changing roles of women; because it was a different portrayal of a woman reacting to danger.

I mean the audience all clapped and cheered when Ripley got into the suit and fought the Queen and I’m sorry you missed that experience, because what you have reduced it to, simply doesn’t project what that scene represents.

Not your fault, it’s just the natural effect that the distance of time and evolution of society and film making has on older works.

I don’t get the hate for the going after the cat. Ripley has lost everyone on the ship to horrible fates and didn’t want the leave the cat to the same or to be blown up. I mean we have people from police/firemen to average people, risk life and limb everyday to save stranger’s pets, so i don’t understand why it’s so strange for Ripley to want to save that stupid cat, who was like member of the crew.

As far as I can remember, I can’t think of any significant plot holes in Aliens. I think Alka Seltzer, has already addressed many of your issues with it.

Aside from points already made by others, it’s worth mentioning that it had been close to sixty years since the events of Alien (spent by Ripley in stasis). All new Company people, the Company doing new things, etc. Assuming the Company was just “Eeeevvviiiiiiilllll” because of an event sixty years ago seems as stereotypical as anything. In fact, Burke was acting independently (or else he would have had Company assistance getting past quarantine, etc and wouldn’t need to try and impregnate the others) and the corporate types in the court martial were just schlubs doing their jobs neither good nor evil.

Of course, as a viewer, you KNEW there’s be aliens down there and conflict with the Company because (A) the movie’s pushing 30 years old and (B) without aliens and the Company you’d have a hard time having a sequel to Aliens.

I’m a huge fan of the alien series, but I totally get where you’re coming from on the second one. Seeing it twenty years later, it’s difficult to view the movie as “fresh” when almost everything about the movie has been copied dozens of times. It’s my personal favorite of the series, but I’m still watching the movie I fell in love with when I first saw it; I’m certainly less critical of it than somebody coming fresh to the series.

Also, I’m glad you enjoyed Alien 3! I’ve been saying for a while that it was an underrated film, and I’ve always had a sneaking affection for it. The Blu-ray quadrilogy version is a much improved version of the film, though. They added tons of scenes which strengthen the flow of the movie. Things happened a bit more haphazardly in the original release.

You’ll probably want to avoid the two “Predator vs Alien” movies.

He might like Predator, though. Good, solid 80s action at its finest. I kinda liked Predators, too.

This is why I try not to be overly enthusiastic when recommending a movie to people. There are some movies that I really liked, but I hate it when someone sees one of them and is underwhelmed because of the hype.

One point in it’s favor: Aliens is quite possibly the most quoted movie on the Dope.

Aliens

Rambo In Outer Space.

.

I found this fascinating, almost like a time capsule. Thanks for posting.

Inconceivable!

My wife and I also just saw Aliens for the first time(or at least in many, many years) and have never seen Alien 3 or 4.

I thought Aliens was…OK. The first hour was not very good for us, but the last hour was decent. Still, it’s over-rated for us. And we adore Terminator 1 and 2, from the same director.

Well no flames, but your post on Alien 3 convinces me we have very different viewpoints, so much so that it would be difficult for your opinions on any movies to be useful to me … and vice versa, of course.

Aliens vs. Predator was actually pretty good.

Magnificent, isn’t It?

Yeah, I’ve see Aliens, it’s just a bunch of quotes strung together.

Using google to search for “nuke from orbit” on http://boards.straightdope.com returns 6,120 hits.

What did you think of prometheus?

Pretty early on. I guess when I realized it was just going to be an over-the-top action movie without any interesting plot or characters whatsoever.

She wasn’t ACTUALLY being held culpable for it’s destruction though. The company built the colony under the sole pretense of studying the aliens. REMEMBER when they found the lab where they had been studying the xenomorphs all along inside the colony? The company only built the colony there BECAUSE they knew about the aliens, and wanted to study them. I don’t believe for a moment that Ripley didn’t realize this, because she specifically asked if their intent was to bring one back.

Yes, they did in fact know about it. In fact, they knew about it in Alien, hence why that artificial human had the whole overriding command that to bring one of them back was top priority, all human life be damned. Also, the colony had been running experiments and tests on them, as evidenced later in the movie when they find the science lab with face huggers in tubes and all that. At that point it became clear exactly why a colony was on that planet in the first place.

That doesn’t make any sense to me. The company knew the aliens were there on the colony. They knew that they wanted to capture some to be able to run experiments on. They needed the firepower of the marines to help get them inside, but they had to have their own company man in order to get something out. They needed an Obviously Evil Guy in order for the entire thing to even have a point. Just sending in marines to kill them all wasn’t ever what they actually wanted. The way I see it, the company sent him in specifically with the order to get something out. And yes, I think you are right that he came up with the plan sort of on the run, so he was reactive. But it was in an Obviously Evil way, at least to me. Just, not interesting at all.

Yeah, stereotypes aren’t always bad. The first movie had a few stereotypes as well (the robot who goes over the top with his priority and ends up killing nearly everyone). It’s just, the way they were done in Aliens was too predictable and uninteresting for me. It came off as really cheesy. Overdone. Predictable. I don’t know how else to explain it.

I guess maybe that’s why Aliens didn’t make a big impression on me. I’ve seen so many efficient action flicks in my life, and not so many claustrophobic horrors, so the first one seemed more original, curious and interesting and immersive to me.

My best friend brought this up to me, that the only reason this movie seemed predictable/stereotyped/cliched to me is because so many movies since Aliens have copied it’s formula. That may be a fair point. I do appreciate that it starred some very tough, smart women.

I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t a COOL moment, but it was cool in a dumb, action-flick kind of way. Like, oh yay, these are great special effects and what a triumphant moment. But it wasn’t very clever to me. It was cool that they forshadowed it though; earlier in the movie they established that Ripley had learned how to use them, and use them well. A sort of “Chekov’s Gun” trope at work, which are always entertaining. But not really very original or thought provoking. I MUCH prefered the clever/ingenious and unique way that she got rid of the alien in the original movie, than how they handled it in Aliens.

Sorry let me set the record straight here. Her going after the cat didn’t upset me at all. In fact, it was pretty awesome and endearing. It was all the false scares with the cat that annoyed me. It was silly and pointless and I see it in horror movies all the time.

I’ve addressed them above and I believe that there were some pretty major inconsistencies. I mean, normally I don’t even notice plot holes in movies or care that much about them. But there was enough of them in Aliens that it really ruined the experience for me.

I didn’t see any evidence that he was acting on his own. He had to smuggle them out through infecting someone, because the marines obviously weren’t going to let the company just walk out with aliens in hand. He was sent as the company’s inside man to get one out alive, by any means necessary. I don’t understand what evidence there is to suggest he was acting on his own. It seemed obvious to me it was his mission all along to get one out alive for the company (forshadowed by Ripley asking if that was the company’s intent and him saying noooo of course not, so that we’d all feel a sense of betrayal and surprise when we found out that’s exactly what he was doing).

I also don’t buy that the corporate types were “just doing their jobs” but maybe they were. SOMEONE in the higher up in the company KNEW that aliens were on that colony, am I the only one who remembers them finding the whole testing lab? Obviously the point of the colony was to run tests and find out more about the aliens. When things went wrong, the company had to rely on marines to help them sort their shit out, but they couldn’t just send a fleet of company employees to get the aliens out of the colony because they needed to be very secretive about it.

The government/military obviously had no idea of their existence. If anything, the company probably wanted to use the marines as a test to see how tough the aliens actually were in combat, hence why they only requested so few to go in and investigate. If they had sent a ton in, then the company wouldn’t have been able to keep everything top secret.