The Director's Cut, Collector's Edition
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The terror begins when the crew of a spaceship investigates a transmission from a desolate planet, and discovers a life form that is perfectly evolved to annihilate mankind. One by one, each crew member is slain until only Ripley is left, leading to an explosive conclusion that sets the stage for its stunning sequel, "Aliens."
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The movie starts on a dark, eerie note. The mining ship Nostromo,apparently having been out for an extended period of time, is on its way back to Earth, with its weatherworn crew asleep. The ship intercepts a communique of indeterminate origin which it initially interprets as a distress call and wakes up the crew to investigate. What nobody discovers until too late is that the Company has been looking for the source of this communique for some time in its own mercenary interests, without regard for the possible consequences of making contact.
The crew breaks off from their return home to follow the Company's directive, but with a lot of dissention amongst the ranks. These are people who are already tired of each other's company, so this just gives them more to argue about; but Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, in the role that pretty much defined her), partially decoding the communique, susses out too late that it's a warning - not an SOS. She argues unsuccessfully to quarantine the crew member who ends up infected by what the search party finds on its visit to the alien ship that sent out the message, and the Nostromo becomes an unpleasant place to be after that.
The original poster for "Alien" had the caption: "In space no one can hear you scream." This was the first movie of its kind that ever made me leave the light on - a full grown intrepid human being - the night I saw it. I was scared to go home in the dark, even. And I've got to tell you - Iim not sure I want to know what's out there. I'm of the opinion that if somebody can come up with a concept, it's possible.
This film is a classic and should be in every movie library, whether you like horror movies or not. It is so well done in all regards, it deserves a place of honour on the shelf.
Performances are all first rate even if the characterization are a bit thin. (Well, Veronica Cartwright is pretty damned annoying, but she's believably annoying, anyway.) Holm is especially good as secretive science officer Ashe. 'Alien' brings real world blue-collar workers into sci-fi and horror, and adds a greater weight and believability the the two genres by doing so. On the downside, the film arguably lacks a strong protagonist, as Ripley is too cold to be excessively sympathetic, but the actual horrific elements are so good that the lack of audience identification with the characters doesn't much matter.
A few minor concerns: The alien is amazing... except for in his chest burster form. Giger never had a final design for it, and you can tell. As it is, the things kinda cute, and his scampering out of the room is, shall we say, less than convincing. Also, (SPOILERS) I've always been irritated by the shot of the Alien as he's about to grab Dallas, with his arms extended for too long. Looks like he's leaping out at him at the beginning of a surprise party, not trying capture him and drag him away. Finally, I don't like that Ripley goes back to get the cat. I don't think it's sexist, as some sillier critics do, but it's a pretty damn inane complication, and frankly, I just don't buy it. If she's gonna leave Cain to die out on the wind-swept planet surface just because he *might* be infected with something that *might* hurt them all, she sure ain't gonna face up to giant the monster that slaughtered the rest of the crew just to go get a cat. She seems a lot more practical than that. Still, that's it as far as flaws go. It's pretty much perfect otherwise.
As for the DVD, it looks amazing. About as good as any film you'll ever see from the 70's. Also, as you probably already know, the so called Director's Cut isn't really a director's cut. Studio just wanted a new version to release, and so the original is both more correct to Scott's vision, and just better. Still, it's worth watching once, just out of curiosity.
Yeah, a brilliant movie, all in all. Seen it probably 10-12 times over the years, and it still has a real effect. It's got a certain shock effect that carries it the first time or two, but repeated viewings allow the sheer craftsmanship of the whole endeavour to display itself fully. If you've ever enjoyed a horror movie, check out 'Alien'.