Revisiting Alien

Screenshot 2018-06-02 23.00.41In preparation for a video on the Screenphiles Youtube channel, I re-watched Ridley Scott’s Alien (the 2003 Director’s Cut, which adds a few scenes not in the theatrical version) and doing so reminded me of a colloquialism, namely you can never go home again because not only is it overrated, it’s also a bit silly in places.

And I fully admit to being impressed by the movie at the time, but it doesn’t wear particularly well.

We see earlier, when the exploratory party encounter the derelict and the ‘Space Jockey‘ that something exploded outward from it’s chest.

We know this because Dallas (Tom Skerritt)  comments that bones were visible, which directly contradicts most of what we see in 2012’s Prometheus, which claimed that the Space Jockey was wearing some sort of space suit.

And speaking of the Space Jockey, in Alien it’s literally three or four times the size of a regular human, while in Prometheus the Engineers are not significantly larger than an ordinary person.

Which makes me wonder:  Did Ridley Scott think that no one would view earlier films in the series?  Has he ever heard of ‘forced perspective?’  Why make changes that contradict what came before?

For instance, when Ash (Ian Holm) and Dallas examined Kane (John Hurt), didn’t anyone notice that a parasite had taken up residency in his stomach?

It’s a really irritating point and one could take the perspective that maybe Ash was altering the medical information, except for the fact that the movie–which implies throughout that he’s not to be trusted–not only doesn’t explicitly show that happening but shows that Mother–the ship’s computer–is working with him, so there is no need for him to do so.

A running theme through the Alien movies is that the ‘Company,’–Weyland Yutani–wanted the alien for the bio-weapons division, but nothing in the movie actually establishes that.  Originally it’s a theory offered by Ripley as to why Ash allowed Kane abroad the ship in the first place, and it’s a good explanation as any but never verified as fact (though I think it was mentioned in Alien 3 as well).

Alien is a trailblazing movie and an almost perfect synthesis of a British esthetic and an American big-budget thriller.  It’s a well done, at times clever movie but it doesn’t hold up particularly well (which ironically has more to do with Ridley Scott’s more recent efforts that the movie in and of itself).

 

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‘Alien: Isolation’ Trailer

Alien: Isolation, if the trailer does the game any justice, is gorgeous.  The original Alien, the movie that came out in 1979, directly inspired the videogame and was (and still is to many) considered to be one of the scariest movies ever made.

The game play (as far as I can tell) as well as cinematics are directly based on the movie, down to reintroducing familiar characters like Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Ash (Ian Holm), Parker (Yaphet Kotto), Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and I assume Brett (Harry Dean Stanton, who recently turned up in last year’s The Avengers) as well as flashbacks to Kane (John Hurt).

As I said, it’s an attractive game, but begs the question:  Why are they mining so deeply into the Alien franchise?  While some of the sequels weren’t particularly good (arguably, Alien 3 and indisputably, Alien: Resurection, the screenplay which was written by Joss Whedon), you can’t mine the past–in either games or movies–if the makers of either expect to have any sort of a future.

Which is why I am wondering why the designers of the game didn’t use a new scenario and characters that revolved around the Alien and an isolated group of humans.  If the gameplay was good I am reasonably sure that players would have no issue with characters they were unfamiliar with.