Thursday, June 03, 2010

Aliens and Predators

Alright folks, this is the first in a series of blog reviews that I have not actually titled yet but am loosely calling Things I Really Should Have Seen By Now.

You know, movies that everyone has seen. Movies that I’ve seen parts of on TV, but never had the chance to actually sit down and watch.

I won’t bother with summaries for these movies. Everyone knows the basic gist of them. These posts will mainly be my own reactions and thoughts to these movies. A commentary of sorts.

And I’m starting this series off with some classic 1980s science fiction1.

The Alien and Predator series.


The first thought I had as I was watching the original Alien movie was that it holds up really well. The story is still as compelling and well told as it was then. I watched with rapt attention throughout the entire movie. You would not have been able to tear me away.

And we all know that 80s sci-fi rarely holds up in the effects department. However, the clever use of shadows and impressive rubber/puppet creations really keeps the aliens surprising and frightening. The production crew really used the atmosphere of the story, the layout of the ship, and the parts of the alien that were well constructed and easily manipulated to make the alien as frightening and impressive upon the viewer.

I also liked that, while man-eating alien attacks will always show a certain level of blood and guts, this movie wasn’t unnecessarily gruesome. There wasn’t gore for gores sake, which is something that I really dislike about modern science fiction alien attack movies.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. I mean REALLY enjoyed it. Star Wars level of enjoyment. It’s a movie that I would definitely watch again.


This is the sequel to Alien. Alien II, for the sake of numbering.

And I really enjoyed this one, too. It was just as good as the first one and I really liked that Ripley was the main character again. She really carries these movies and she carried this one just as strongly as the first one. Sigourney Weaver gives a spectacular performance.

The aliens were just as terrifyingly awesome and I really liked the look into how they behave in groups. Call it a sociological fascination of mine. You’ll see this fascination again later on in the series.

I was pleasantly surprised by the child in this movie. Usually, when a movie like this involves children, I end up hating them. They either forget everything they’ve learned from their previously terrifying experiences and completely rely on adults or they become obnoxious by the end of the film. This kid started relying on the adults more for a while, but she was clever enough to realize that everyone except Riley had never encountered these creatures before and couldn’t be trusted to make good decisions. Brilliant.

This movie also redeemed the cyborg folks, which was a nice touch. It wasn’t something I was looking for or even really cared about until it happened, but I liked the robot guy in this story.

Alien III

Poor Ripley’s the sole survivor again. That really sucks for the character, but I was glad to see a repeat. That storytelling format really works well for this kind of story. I also really liked that she was stranded on a prison planet with hardened criminals. Ripley had lived through enough that she could just do whatever she wanted without having to prove that she’s a bad ass. The problems of humanity just don’t really sink in unless she’s in trouble, but she can generally hold her own. It was cool to see that.

I thought it was weird that they changed how the aliens “hatched.” It seemed like a strange leap in evolution and robbed us of the obligatory chest burster scene.

It was disappointing that none of the likable characters survived. There are always one or two survivors, but the only one who survived this attack was the snitch and he didn’t even benefit from it. It seemed like a kind of lackluster ending.

I was disappointed with the alien itself in this one. At this point in film making, people decided to use as much computer generated creature effects as possible. Wide angle body shots of the alien looked alright, but the close ups weren’t physical models any more and lost some of the character in the process. Those close ups don’t hold up as well either.

So I didn’t like this movie as well as the other two, but I didn’t not like it either. It was still good and I enjoyed myself.


To be honest, I completely forgot that the Governator was in this movie and I honestly think I enjoyed this movie so much because of Arnold’s involvement. I kept laughing and making fun of Arnold’s flexing the whole time. It was a blast.

There were fewer characters involved than I expected. Just a small strike team. And the Predators, of course. I don’t know why I expected more people to be involved, but I did. But I liked the atmosphere the small cast created. It really emphasized the fact that they were very isolated.

The Predators are a great concept and I really liked learning about them. I mean, I knew them by sight and movement, but I didn’t know that the hunt was a ritualistic practice. More sociological fascination. The blood and guts were really cheesily done, but the design and execution of the concept were well done.

Predator 2

To be honest, I didn’t like this movie. The main human character was unlikeable, the FBI involvement was weird and oddly paced throughout the movie, and my buddy Arnold wasn’t involved at all. I thought the kills that the Predators were choosing were really out of character because it seemed like they were just killing everyone they could rather than hunting them.

However, I did like the Predator culture displayed at the end of the movie. You can read so much backstory to the species in the design of the ship, the trophies on the walls, and the actions that the other Predators take when the main character Predator is killed by a human. I’m a sucker for things like that.

Alien vs. Predator

This movie was so exciting for me to watch. Remote location? Check, and that’s the best condition for a movie like this. Settings, equipment, and rituals that allow me to read far too much into an alien culture? Check. Puzzling bond between predator and prey? Check. The Predator showing that ice climbing chick how to make armor and weapons out of the aliens’ exoskeleton was awesome.

And I was incredibly excited to see the Predators and Aliens face off for the first time. Now that I had seen both species in their movies individually and I enjoyed aspects of both, I was incredibly excited to see how they exploited each others’ weaknesses and played up each thers’ strengths.

I loved this movie and I know I’m a dork for saying so.

Aliens vs. Predator II

I don’t really know what to think about this movie. It wasn’t really aliens vs. predators. More like aliens decimate town and Predator hangs out for a while before dying.

To be honest, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the aliens and the predators half of the time. Both species are black and the movie was dark. Half of the time, you only saw a flash of reflection off of some unknown body part. People just died.

I also couldn’t tell because the main baddie was some weird cross between the two species. Most people probably wouldn’t care, but the cross breeding made me uncomfortable. With all the history and culture I inferred from the previous movies, I really can’t see the predators condoning such a practice. They are too proud and superior to stoop to genetic mutation of themselves, as far as I can tell, so I spent the whole movie just asking how the hell something like that would come about.

There were also pacing problems with this movie. The beginning had long lulls of nothing going on and I kept falling asleep during this movie. I must have fallen asleep a dozen times throughout, which doesn’t say much for a movie.

1 Well, sort of. Each franchise started in the 1980s.


MagicalIdiotSquigoo said...

I've always wanted to see these movies, but the first time I asked to rent them I was seven, and every other time I feel like renting them, we either forget or are not able to get them.

Freakish Lemon said...


That's one of the things I love about Netflix. They have a ton of these kinds of movies (movies I was too young to see and have somehow managed not to catch up) and once you set your DVD queue, you don't have to remember to get them.