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Debate – Alien or Aliens?


Posted November 10, 2014 by

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Alien or Aliens?

Halloween night. Rather than get dressed up and head off out for a night out which would always turn out the same old I opted for a double bill feature of Alien and Aliens. Understandable it’s Halloween and it’s relatively meant for the idea of scare which allowed me to accept watching Alien, a true Sci Fi horror but Aliens? Not to my thoughts is that frightening in any way but none the less I’d seen neither film in the dark abyss of a cinema seat with the cold air chilling through the aisles and the screeching of the Xenomorph from the speakers so I thought it’d be an experience itself. What I didn’t realise by watching these two films back to back was how very different they were. I knew both were directed differently and had seen both numerous, multiple times I couldn’t even count how many anymore but seeing one after the other really put it into prospective how completely different the two are in even tiny details.

Let’s start with Alien. Directed by Ridley Scott and released in 1979 it was another film in the spark of space adventure time with Star Wars coming out a few years before and Stanley Kubrick kicking off the space race in film in the 60s. Yes Alien didn’t just do the same and have a space adventure with space battles and lasers, no instead Ridley Scott opted for a creepy, frightening horror in an isolated dark freighter as the crew of the Nostromo travels back to Earth. The plot if you some how haven’t seen Alien focuses on the crew traveling him before being interested by what they believe to be an SOS on a mood near by. Exploring the moon it ends up with one crew being attacked by a face hugger before later having his chest burst in the mess Hall in one of the most fantastic scenes played out in horror and we catch the first glimpse of the alien itself.

The plot as very basic as it is did draw so much from itself as it few on the idea of survival as the crew try to take out the Alien whilst being picked off one by one in a horrific fashion. It was this that made Alien a true horror film and made it one of the top Sci Fi films for even now! The dark corridors and halls of the Nostromo had the Xenomorph hiding in the very walls literally and it isn’t until a second watch when you realise it’s there. The sweat dripping from the characters as they fear for their very life ushers in the same feel and emotion for the audience as well as we sit holding onto the edge of our seat. Nobody can hear you scream in space etches the tag line of the film as silence plays such an intense part. Even the opening, the long ride through space as the camera pans across to show the ship with the title appearing in little pieces over a 5 minute course allows the audience to accept this is going to have our heart racing. So with the horror filled fright Fest that is Alien, how could a sequel come anywhere close?

James Cameron who created the recent Avatar film, sat in the directing chair for the 80s sequel titled Aliens (notice the plural) The film takes place straight where Alien leaves off with Ripley in kryosleep before being ushered into a new world after nearly 60 years on the shuttle. Now Earth has colonised other plants and moods with one being just that little Rock she traveled to in Alien where they came across the face hugger. Heading back to the moon with an arsenal of space marines they try to tackle what ever the hell is going on there as all the colonists are going. Rather they’ve instead all had Xenomorphs burst out their chest leading to multiple crawlers instead, nothing the S added to Aliens now are we. Now Aliens took a very different direction to its original counterpart instead opting for a typical 80s fashion film with plenty of explosions, guns and fire as the marines fight for survival.

The large difference between the two is very much the jump from a simple space horror film to a large scale outburst of action adventure with a tiny dash of horror scare thrown in to keep the fans sweet. It’s an interesting way to tackle the two and still keep it fresh rather than Camerons sequel be a repeat most of the firsts events. He steered the film I’m am interesting way. Think of it. How many films have you seen which have diverted from horror to an all out action film? Yeah it’s not many.

Now it’s time to determine which one might be better. Obviously this is a biased opinion considering its only my own but I consider the original Alien to be the better film. The reasons being, well it’s a horror film in space. I enjoyed that dark isolated feel that even us as the audience are all alone in space. Even though the characters get picked off one by one we remember each and every one of them. We barely see them yet we do have a sort of connection with them. Even in the directors cut Ellen Ripley isn’t the all star. She’s more the background character who just manages to survive long enough to escape. In alien Ridley Scott really captured the terror in everyone. You can tell everybody’s scared to death of what might happen to them and they know they probably won’t make it. Aliens on the other hand took what I loved and etched something new. I give it value due to James Cameron, as I’ve said, changing the dynamics of the film instead of out right copying it over. What I don’t like in the film is the gun toting space marines which make me feel like it lost all character. Half the cast get killed off in one scene with none of it happening on screen. The rest are held up in a room for most part of the story and it just feels dull. There doesn’t feel like much of a fight for survival. They just hide, hope for the best, the end. Don’t get me wrong I see what people love about it and I do enjoy it to some degree but when it comes to the original, it doesn’t stand a chance.

This is what is so interesting about the series of films, from Alien to Aliens and even some of the later films which I’d rather not even get into, everyone has a favourite. For a series of films and each one to have their own unique take is something very original. So which do you prefer, Alien or Aliens?


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Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 17.33.12

Matthew Reay
Freelance Contributor


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