I recently watched the entire Alien anthology on Blu-ray and wanted to write an article for each film. This feature will be part movie review, part disc review, and part commentary. The first two films are among my favorite movies of all time and I thought it would be fun to cover more than just the high-definition transfer. There will be spoilers in this feature, so if you haven’t seen the film, you may want to tread lightly.
Alien was released over 30 years ago and is still one of the most beloved sci-fi/films ever made. At a time when the world was fascinated with Star Wars, Star Trek, and all ages science fiction, Ridley Scott stepped up to the plate and delivered a truly scary adult sci-fi film that had the right combination of great direction, great art design, and great casting.
Thankfully, Fox has pulled out all the stops and given Alien the treatment it deserves for its Blu-ray release. Alien has never looked or sounded better than it does on Blu-ray, plus there are lots of extras for Alien fanatics.
The film [rating:5]
Some may prefer Aliens to Alien, but Alien is the one that started it all. This film propelled Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver’s career and has been the inspiration for countless sci-fi and horror films and directors. What made this film unique is that everything came together so well. Separately, the basic plot elements and script may not have resulted in a great film, but combined with a visionary and one of the most iconic creature designs ever created, something special was created.
The attention to detail and pacing is what really helps make Alien work as not only a great science fiction film, but a great scary movie. Scott didn’t rush to show the alien onboard, instead focusing on the building tension and the characters. By the time the alien was loose on the ship, the audience was invested in the characters, making the alien encounters more intense and believable.
If you think of this film as having followed the slasher formula, it may not have been too shocking that Sigourney Weaver’s character survives, but in 1979, for the cast involved, and given the amount of screen time other actors had, it was part of the surprise. Traditionally, we would have probably seen Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) take charge and save his ship, but not here. Instead, Ripley managed to escape the alien and even saved Jonesy in the process.
Most of the praise for the creature and alien ship design can be given to H.R. Giger. His unique vision helped this film to stand the test of time. No one has been able to come up with such a unique and iconic creature design since and not even any of the sequels were able to capture the look of the creature used in this film. Alien was the only film that showed off the creature with a transparent head and visible skull underneath. While difficult to see in previous versions, you can see it better in certain scenes in the Blu-ray edition.
As much as I love this film, I have one minor gripe with an effects shot that just doesn’t work and I’m sure you know what I’m going to say before I even mention it. Science Officer Ash has a head problem towards the end of the film and they cut back and forth between actor Ian Holm and a dummy head that looks absolutely nothing like him. It doesn’t take away from the movie for me, but everyone I watch Alien with laughs during this scene. This scene briefly removed the sense of realism established in other scenes, and I think this particular scene could have been shot differently.
Even with that minor item, Alien is still a masterpiece. No one has been able to replicate the mix of horror and sci-fi that you see here and that is one reason why it is considered one of the greatest science fiction and horror films of all time.
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 25 May 1979 (USA)
- Ridley Scott
- Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, and Yaphet Kotto
- Sci-Fi, Horror
- Official URL:
- Alien Anthology