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June 14, 2012 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Alex Pappademas and Sean Witzke over at Grantland have a long, detailed, super geeky film-nerd discussion of the Alien franchise. "It's important to note here that this is a nuke-it-from-space kind of conversation in which just about every aspect of the original "Alien Quadrilogy" is spoiled, as are some fairly crucial plot points from Prometheus. The Alien vs. Predator movies are neither spoiled nor discussed, because that would mean acknowledging their existence. Some people will undoubtedly view this as curatorial negligence on our part, but we welcome their scorn. "
posted by The Whelk (109 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Alternate post title: A DUMB, SAD MONSTER WITH DUMB, SAD BABY EYES
posted by The Whelk at 12:49 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


We watched Aliens recently; it was awesome. Then we watched the Alien 3 Special Edition. Apparently someone decided that Aliens was sorely lacking interminable conversations between indistinguishable bald Cockney rapists
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:52 PM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'll say it now and get it out of the way because it's gonna come up: more like Pro-MEH-theus, amirite?
posted by Windigo at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Over a decade ago, when I was working for my local library, one of the perks of the job was being allowed first pick of the donated items that weren't being considered for addition to the collection, before they were put on the 50-cent sale shelf. So imagine my joy when a patron donated an Alien Quadrilogy VHS boxset. Sure, it was incomplete, but it was missing Resurrection. Not exactly worth crying about. Free Alien and Aliens special editions! Yay!

When I got home that day, I discovered that Resurrection was not in fact missing. It was in the Aliens case.

I was sad.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Aliens is better than Godfather, Part II? Wow.
posted by koeselitz at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2012


I'm on board with Moon taking place in the Alien universe.

That and Blade Runner.
posted by The Whelk at 1:00 PM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's no way Alien isn't the best of the series. That said, Aliens is maybe the best sequel ever made. It's better than Godfather Part II and Sanjuro

BZZZT IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION
posted by clockzero at 1:00 PM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


When I got home that day, I discovered that Resurrection was not in fact missing. It was in the Aliens case.
VHS blue balls :(
posted by MangyCarface at 1:01 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


...but enough about Prometheus, how about Pro-YOU-theus? [src]
posted by komara at 1:01 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


BZZZT IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION

Indeed, Alien was a slowing moving and tedious movie that hasn't aged well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on June 14, 2012


I'm very impressed at how the comment above this one gets so much incorrectness crammed into so few words.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:05 PM on June 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


Alien was a slowing moving and tedious movie that hasn't aged well.

I will fight you. Hobo-style.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:10 PM on June 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Indeed, Alien was a slowing moving and tedious movie that hasn't aged well.

What.
posted by quadog at 1:12 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, let's be fair. It is a movie.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:13 PM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


There's a good argument to be made that this is the first true post-Avatar movie, because it's a massive-budgeted 3-D sci-fi movie that's also about bringing the roots of the material forward in a way that movies made after Star Wars and Alien haven't.
[...]
But that's minor plot-hole stuff — the thing I don't get is people's dissatisfaction at the lack of "answers." I guess maybe that's nerd world's knee-jerk response to anything written by Lindelof


What would count as a major plot hole or a non-"answer" in these guys' view, if the incoherent handwavey gobbledygook of Prometheus passes as not just coherent but deep rootsy "Big Ideas" in their view? It's like they're so ready to back-form rationalizations for every missing plot idea and motivation, reading big "themes" into anything with a large enough CGI budget to catch their visual attention, that their rational story/character/worldbuilding minds are completely disconnected. I'm starting to despair for the very possibility of narrative coherence in big-budget Hollywood sci-fi film, when the critical reception seems to value it, or even recognize what it would look like, this little.
posted by RogerB at 1:15 PM on June 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


I'm on board with Moon taking place in the Alien universe.

That and Blade Runner.


David Peoples agrees with you.

I am also of the belief that the Terminator and the Matrix are the same (separate from Alien/BR/Moon) universe as well.
posted by thecaddy at 1:17 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


RogerB, Wish I could favorite you squared.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2012


Red Letter Media's take on Prometheus
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:21 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm very impressed at how the comment above this one gets so much incorrectness crammed into so few words.

I discovered this last weekend that my mother-in-law is dismissive of Alien. Her summary, "the slime monster jumps out every two seconds and gets Sigourney Weaver pregnant." Jesus, woman, the monster does not even exist for the first hour of the movie, and between that point and the final scene, it appears three times for somewhere in the range of thirty seconds total.

So what I am saying is that Brandon Blatcher may be the sock puppet for a 72-year-old snowbird.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:26 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did they think even a hip '90s audience — probably full of dreadlocked white people in Cross Colours overalls! — would frown on Sigourney Weaver knocking boots with Roc in space prison?

Great read, and bonus points for obscure 90s sitcom reference.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: mumbo-jumbo to make you believe you're watching something slow and meditative and then slips the death-eel inside your faceplate.
posted by Renoroc at 1:31 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently someone decided that Aliens was sorely lacking interminable conversations between indistinguishable bald Cockney rapists

This was the principal point of failure in Alien^3, in my view: the homogeneous cast. Part of the reason that its two predecessors worked (as did, to a lesser degree, Resurrection and the much-maligned AvP) was that the cast actually has some degree of character. When Dallas or Hudson or Brett or Vaquez buys it, we actually know who this is and care. With the third film, we had Charles Dutton and Charles Dance and a couple of refugees from Withnail and I and seventeen more pasty, shaven-headed Englishmen. I was sorely disappointed in 1992 and while the not-a-director's cut is a huge improvement, it is still lacking.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:36 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one who made a connection to Caddyshack.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:39 PM on June 14, 2012


Metafilter: interminable conversations between indistinguishable bald Cockney rapists
posted by Rangeboy at 1:42 PM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


I rewatched all the franchise films before Prometheus, and several of my friends did as well. And surprisingly all came to the same conclusion as this article. Once it came time to watch Alien3, I kind of rolled my eyes, remembering not liking it, then saying "well, we have to watch them ALL." Then when it ended was sort of like... wow... that movie is good. How did I not see that before?
posted by braksandwich at 2:00 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd argue that Alien 3 and Resurrection are good movies, just not good Alien franchise movies. But as stand alone films, they work just fine and are enjoyable.

Can't believe the link says Ripley going back for the cat was good idea. That was just bone dead stupid and defies belief.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:02 PM on June 14, 2012


For those interested, there's still a long discussion going on in the open Prometheus thread.
posted by painquale at 2:06 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed, Alien was a slowing moving and tedious movie that hasn't aged well.

I'll see you at dawn. Would you like pistols or rapiers?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Before I revisited all of the Alien films when I got the Quadrilogy, I would have ranked them thusly: Aliens, Alien, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection. Seeing them again, I was surprised at how poorly Alien and Aliens had aged for me. Alien still had some cool atmosphere going -- and arguably the most talented cast -- but felt too linear and ho-hum. Aliens suffers from its massive popularity; most of the dialogue is so embedded in the culture that it feels like a string of catchphrases. And a lot of the action now seems kind of cheesy.

Alien 3 -- the "Assembly Cut" -- was for me the revelation of the set. The theatrical version always felt a trifle disjointed to me, and the cast seemed mostly interchangeable and one-dimensional. The additional scenes really filled in the cracks in the story and individualized the inmates. This cut made the film seem more like a Fincher movie that could fit in anywhere in his career, rather than just an awkward early failure. It's now my favorite of the series.

Alien Resurrection I also think was unfairly trashed upon release, and doesn't deserve -- at least not fully -- its lousy reputation. Not that the film isn't deeply flawed, but I think the fundamental problem is that Alien fans were hoping for a horror-action-SF flick, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet gave us an arthouse black comedy inside a horror-action-SF shell. I won't say it's the most enjoyable of the films, but to me it's the one that's most interesting to think about -- there's a lot going on there that has to do with body horror, and more specifically male/female anxieties about sexuality and reproduction, and it's not so much scary as deeply disturbing and nauseating. It's interesting to play the armchair shrink with this movie and analyze people's negative responses (including my own). A good film? Maybe not, but for me it's the one that stands up best to multiple viewings.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:10 PM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


(I'd also assert that Resurrection would make the best Alien movie double feature with Prometheus in terms of theme and imagery.)
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:12 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alien Resurrection I also think was unfairly trashed upon release, and doesn't deserve -- at least not fully -- its lousy reputation.

As I have said on the blue before, Resurrection is the stepchild of the franchise. The previous ones all wound up being made by budding auteurs (the first three were Scott's second feature, Cameron's third, and Fincher's first, respectively) but the studio erred in going to one distinctive auteur for the script and another incompatible one to direct.

Now that I think about it, this is kind of why Prometheus is so lacklustre. And the mess with the Alien^3 script is pretty well-known.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:31 PM on June 14, 2012


I really like Jeunet's films, but I always crack up when thinking about what string of events must have happened that made Hollywood think hey this odd frenchman who directed Delicatessen would make a great fit for a blockbuster American franchise, and oh it has kind of an idiotic plot.

I suspect Whedon cared too much and Jeunet was milking it.

I wonder what Whedon thinks of Jeunet nowadays?
posted by edgeways at 2:34 PM on June 14, 2012


Did they think even a hip '90s audience — probably full of dreadlocked white people in Cross Colours overalls! — would frown on Sigourney Weaver knocking boots with Roc in space prison?

In San Antonio, at least, Alien3 was pulled from the theaters on opening night and shown only in the designated "art theater". This turned the showtimes, already printed in the newspapers, into lies, so it took going to a couple different theaters we'd never been to before, getting briefly lost in the process, before we went home to regroup and use the phone to find out what theater if any was playing it. (Somehow this turned into a world-before-cell-phones rant.)

Anyway, when we finally did track A3 down, we were watching it in an empty theater it was not supposed to be in. As the movie started and played I slowly came to realize that it wasn't pulled from the theaters for being edgy, it was pulled from the theaters because it is really shitty movie, and the fact that it's a sequel to two good movies compounds its shittiness. It's your favorite band's first unequivocally unlistenable album.

Somebody, I forget, to Ripley: "This whole place is a basement."
Ripley: "It's a metaphor."


"Somebody, I forget.." What a film.

I'm sticking to my theory that what happens in A3 is a metaphor for A3. It's a reverse ouroboros, it's a snake shitting itself.
posted by fleacircus at 2:35 PM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Indeed, Alien was a slowing moving and tedious movie that hasn't aged well.

I'll see you at dawn. Would you like pistols or rapiers?


Clearly the previous poster gets the rapier and YOU the pistols

.

(50 paces should do for a start)
posted by twidget at 2:36 PM on June 14, 2012


I thought the rapiers were in Alien3?

Structurally, Ripley must go back for the cat, as this finally reveals the alien's intelligence and planning capabilities, which makes the ending not only a climax-after-a-false-climax, but makes Ripley's victory even sweeter, as she ultimately outwits the alien using human technology.
posted by dhartung at 2:43 PM on June 14, 2012


"There was definitely a gap between the movie I was expecting this to be and the movie I ended up watching."

I think this is the biggest reason why Prometheus has been so polarizing for people.

Of the 5 movies, the only one I have no interest in re-watching over & over is Resurrection. I saw 3 in the theater & have never understood why people were so disappointed in it.*Not asking for an explanation thank you....
posted by djseafood at 2:49 PM on June 14, 2012


I won't say it's the most enjoyable of the films, but to me it's the one that's most interesting to think about

When I watched it, a couple of years ago, I was rather disappointed about the possibilities that never materialised: the repercussions of a xenomorph bioweapon programme or the alien-human Riplay. How much is she affected? Could she follow the steps of the cycle? Instead we get yet another film of aliens in vents etc. I think one of the production features talked about their amazing aquarium, which is a singularly stupid idea, imo, as it looks out of place and if you are hunted by aliens, you probably don't want to further limit your movement. Nice ending at least.
posted by ersatz at 2:49 PM on June 14, 2012


makes Ripley's victory even sweeter, as she ultimately outwits the alien using human technology.

That is why the ending is so effective, the triumph so sweet. Throughout the entire movie, we see how the place you absolutely do not want to be is locked in a room with the alien. It's bigger, faster and stronger than you, and by the time you can work out where it is, it's probably nine-tenths of the way to killing you. In the climax, Ripley lands in exactly that situation and wins – and earns her victory, rather than it feeling like a foregone conclusion because the main character can't die. It's fantastic storytelling.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:54 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alien cubed was tough to follow (i saw it opening weekend) because except for Sigourney Weaver and Charles S Dutton, I couldn't keep track of who was who. Also, the Englishmens' English was very hard to understand.

The low volume of dialogue compared to the background did not help either.
posted by Renoroc at 2:58 PM on June 14, 2012


I'd split the difference between Brandon Blatcher and the remainder of the known universe and say that Alien is a great movie with steeply diminished value after the first viewing. The tension that builds so deliciously for the first half of the film before the xenomorph appears does feel tedious and poorly paced after the initial reveal, but I feel that's true of a most horrors/thrillers. There's enough there in acting, design, and atmosphere to enjoy the movie on repeat viewings (especially with someone who's watching it for the first time).
posted by echocollate at 3:12 PM on June 14, 2012


I'd split the difference between Brandon Blatcher and the remainder of the known universe and say that Alien is a great movie with steeply diminished value after the first viewing.

I really couldn't disagree more. I think the only movie I've (maybe) seen more often is The Shining, and like that film (and like 2001), I basically am powerless to turn it off if I stumble onto it on TV, regardless of where it is in the proceedings, regardless of whether I own the movie and can watch it whenever I want (I do, in all three cases). If anything, I think Alien's second half is less compelling on rewatch than its first; the entire sequence on the haunted house of a planet is amazing filmmaking, the exploration of the Engineer's ship so incredibly imaginative. I love all of Alien -- and I certainly love the Alien himself! -- but it's the second half that's the more routine one, barring inspired weirdness like the Ash reveal and (in the 2003 cut) Ripley's reunion with Dallas.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:23 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love Alien: Resurrection. It reminds me of Heavy Metal and Taboo magazine. The third act is stupid, but the hideous fate of the "baby" almost redeems it.

Alien^3 is good, but it mostly coasts on atmosphere, visuals, and the classic score. It feels like a much better movie than it is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Resurrection wasn't a sports movie. What the hell are they talking about.

It was The Poseidon Adveture.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:26 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love, love, love, Aliens. It is my second all-time favorite movie (after Strictly Ballroom, naturally). But one thing has always bothered me.

So the marine squad goes down into the bowels of the station, which unknown to them is an alien hive. They proceed to have one big honking battle down there, pretty much getting their butts kicked. Thanks to Vasquez and Drake it isn't all one sided, though, and it takes several minutes. The few survivors get back to the APC, where the LT, Burke, and Ripley have been watching the whole massacre unfold. That's important: they've watched it live, and listened to it on the radio.

So then the APC crashes its way out of the station, and they call Ferro in the dropship for pickup.

We cut to the dropship, and they are doing... what? Just sitting there? With the door open? The loadmaster guy isn't even on board. They certainly don't seem like people who have been listening to their squad get killed for several minutes. Sure, Ferro is the queen of badass frostyness, but that behavior is hard to square with her up-to-that-point characterization of extreme professionalism.

The only thing that makes sense to me is that they weren't listening to the radio, and the loadmaster guy is one of those people who has to pee on every planet he goes to. But Ferro at least is listening to the radio, because she hears the call for dustoff.

Why do I bring this up? Because when people think of Aliens, they don't think "giant crazy plot hole". But there it is. So though I haven't seen Prometheus yet, maybe some of that stuff won't seem so bad looking back on it.
posted by BeeDo at 3:41 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think this is the biggest reason why Prometheus has been so polarizing for people.

You're right about this. All the holes and mistakes stung more because I know Scott is capable of much, much better. If it was some new guy I might have just said, "Well, it's not perfect but this guy has promise." But Scott is an old pro, back on the material that built his name and...he makes this mediocre film. It was very disappointing.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:43 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


BeeDo, it's been a while since I've seen Aliens, but from what I remember of watching that scene I just assume that there's one channel for intra-troop chatter, which they were using when they got ambushed in the hive, and a separate one that connects to the dropship.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:51 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Scott is capable of great things but when you look at his filmography it's damn near impossible to argue that he's gotten better with age. Alien and Blade Runner were his second and third feature films. The man is hit-and-miss, and he elevated expectations even more than you'd expect for someone like that by front-loading his hits.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:53 PM on June 14, 2012


I'm pretty sure Spunkmeyer had been carting stuff over to Bishop in the MedLab just prior to the evac call, so that's why the dropship's cargo bay was open.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:59 PM on June 14, 2012


if the incoherent handwavey gobbledygook of Prometheus passes as not just coherent but deep rootsy "Big Ideas" in their view?

WORD.

The reason Lindelof pissed people off with Lost wasn't really about a lack of answers. It's that his premise seemed predicated on someday revealing answers, and then he pulled the rug out from under the viewer with a lame religious gotcha. And movies and TV shows about religion an faith are fine, if they examine it in an insightful way from the outset, but I wouldn't call Prometheus in any way insightful in its exploration of these big questions. Like we're supposed to think Shaw's faith is what saves her, but it seems pretty transparent to me that her faith actually causes her to act like a crap scientist and gets the lot of them into a heap of trouble and yet she's rewarded by the narrative as if to say "hey, faith wins!" and it's just so incredibly lame and unearned and, most of all, unexamined.

Blaaaargggh.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:16 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Like we're supposed to think Shaw's faith is what saves her

Are we? I didn't really get that. How does it save her? If anything, she survives because she loses her faith and freaks out when everyone else in the Engineer cryo chamber assumes that their creators are benign.
posted by painquale at 4:22 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the dropship would be their medevac to take wounded back to the Sulaco. Why have realtime biometric readings if you don't give them to the medics?

He was bringing Bishop supplies earlier, true. But the dropship wasn't on the colony pad when it took off. So they had finished with Bishop, flown somewhere else, and then just hung out with the door open.

I do realize this pales next to the huge conceit of the movie, which is: you had to take EVERYONE down to the planet? Couldn't leave one person on the giant space ship? But that's supposed to be a stand-in for American overconfidence, so it gets a pass.
posted by BeeDo at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2012


Are we? I didn't really get that. How does it save her? If anything, she survives because she loses her faith and freaks out when everyone else in the Engineer cryo chamber assumes that their creators are benign.

Her ultimate journey at the end seems to be one of continued faith. She doesn't want to get revenge. She wants to press the engineers for answers (and really, acknowledging that God is an angry and vengeful creature doesn't mean a lack of faith. Just ask the Jews!).

Unless the movie is just about how she fails to learn a lesson about the worthlessness of faith, but then, well, that just makes it that much harder for me to root for her.

(Though I was really rooting for Vickers all along anyway.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:29 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently rewatched the quadrilogy with someone who had never seen it before. Two things to note. 1) Resurrection is AWESOME. After the damage done to the universe by Aliens and A3, a lighthearted, stupid movie was the only thing they could do with it. 2) Aliens is dated, looks pretty bad, and the acting is fucking awful. Newt and Bishop are the cheapest possible tricks to try to inject some tension in what is basically a terrible action movie. Vazquez and Drake are the dumb high-fiving gun jocks and you have Paul Fucking Reiser as the evil crypto-corporate-fascist? Screw that crap, it didn't even have any good lines.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 5:26 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Her ultimate journey at the end seems to be one of continued faith.

I think that's right, but I don't get why you say that we're meant to think that her faith saves her.

(Unless you mean it in an extra-narrative sense, as in, "Voldemort shot a death beam at Harry, but Harry was saved by his being the protagonist.")
posted by painquale at 5:45 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like to daydream sometimes about totally impossible movies that of course never happened but once might could have happened, like Vincent Ward's Alien3.

I also like people having involved conversations about pretty much anything, so this was a really enjoyable read. And I'm surprised no one pointed this out:
As for my personal genre distinctions, I'd say that it's a sci-fi movie, but with a lot of slasher DNA mixed in
Because, heh, cute. And probably totally unintentional.
posted by byanyothername at 6:03 PM on June 14, 2012


Screw that crap, it didn't even have any good lines.

This shall result in the Iwo Jima of post-flaggings, sir!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:55 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tywin Lannister! Holy crap, how did I not make that connection.
posted by BeeDo at 7:23 PM on June 14, 2012


When I saw Lance Henriksen talk at the last DragonCon he mentioned that he based a lot of his performance as Bishop in Aliens off his personal experience being a foster kid. Bishop, he explained, was torn between knowing he was unwanted and trying to survive by being as pliant as he could be. I found that incredibly poignant, and it gave me an even great appreciation for Aliens than I'd had before, even though Aliens is really already up there in my top 5 of all time. That Henriksen had put so much thought and humanity into an inhuman character really spoke to me about what Aliens was doing as a film.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:15 PM on June 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


The AvP comics should be held as canon, because some of them were pretty good.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:26 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Red Letter Media's take on Prometheus

This works eerily well.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:43 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The reason Lindelof pissed people off with Lost wasn't really about a lack of answers.

Actually Lindelof had plenty to say about this in his NRP interview from last week. It's worth a listen.
posted by hippybear at 8:59 PM on June 14, 2012


The Alien vs. Predator movies are neither spoiled nor discussed, because that would mean acknowledging their existence.

The first one is a perfectly decent bug-hunt that, for a pg-13 b-movie, looks substantially better than it has to, has acting better than it needs to, and isn't any stupider than it has to be.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd heard someplace about a perhaps non-existant AvP concept, where a human being hunted by a Predator across space crash lands on a planet infested with Aliens, and then both the human and the Predator have to cope with their predicament.

I have no idea if that is actually a plot line in any of the AvP material, but that would actually make for an awesome concept for a movie. Much better than the crappy first movie, which tried to redefine the canon of both series. I haven't bothered with any of the rest of the AvP anything.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 PM on June 14, 2012


Haven't listened yet, but from a skim of the highlights:
And also when you ask huge questions, like 'What is the meaning of life?' or 'What happens when you die?' — both questions that Lost took on, as does Prometheus — it's sort of hubris for me as a writer to try to answer those questions definitively."
Interesting, because immediately before the ending of Lost, he was saying this:
Lindelof: That’s right. It’s order versus chaos, which is what it always was. But first it had to start as science versus faith, because Jack is a doctor and Locke is a guy who got up from his wheelchair and walked. Now the question has been boiled down to its essential root—is there a God or is there nothingness?
Carroll [a theoretical physicist]: Presumably, if it is order versus chaos or purpose versus randomness, there is no right answer. It’s not as if in the finale you’re going to say, “Yup, it was order.”
Cuse: I don’t think there’s a right answer.
Lindelof: But the show can’t have its cake and eat it, too. At the end of the day, if Locke and Jack were to sit down and say, “Well, we were kind of both right,” that would not be satisfying. It has to come down one way or another.
Honestly, between that and " your theory becomes so powerful in your own mind that anything that the storyteller serves up that is different than your theory is basically going to suck" (honestly, I would have been happy with anything that I felt honored the show's initial premise, which was pretty much anything but "the bland characters are what matters and not the incredibly compelling mystery through which we've strung you along for several years") and his general disdain and twitter sneering at anyone who disagrees with his storytelling, I'm fairly reluctant to listen to the entire interview.

I think that's right, but I don't get why you say that we're meant to think that her faith saves her.

I actually do mean it in an extra-narrative sense. Her religiosity is one of many ways the audience is encouraged to empathize with her--among the others are her monogamous relationship and her urge to nurture--and the fact that she survives feels like narrative approval of these traits, I suppose. It would have been more apt if I'd said "we're meant to view her as virtuous in light of her faith," I suppose. Sorry I misspoke.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:19 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was really rooting for Vickers all along anyway

I'm really starting to buy theory put forth in the other thread, that Shaw and her boy toy were really out there quacks, the other scientists are total bottom of the barrel loons, and the whole expedition is generally considered an old man's self-indulgent folly. This would jive with the total incompetence generally displayed by most of the crew.

So that puts Vickers in the role of the special needs school teacher or something, trying to keep all these idiots from inadvertently killing themselves through total incompetence. It certainly explains her instructions to "not contact any aliens they should find, under any circumstances".
posted by Chekhovian at 9:30 PM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


^ this, mostly
posted by djseafood at 10:04 PM on June 14, 2012


The Alien vs. Predator movies are neither spoiled nor discussed, because that would mean acknowledging their existence. Some people will undoubtedly view this as curatorial negligence on our part, but we welcome their scorn.

That's kind of funny considering how similar the plot of Prometheus was to Alien vs. Predator, with the addition of one interesting character and some spiritual fluff. A rich, dying fellow named Weyland leads an expedition to an improbable alien site where he hopes to find life-saving technology. The site was built by technologically advanced humanoid aliens who have been tampering with humans for a long time, and who seem to have a taste for simple architecture and ominous artwork. The expedition encounters weaponized biological technology used by the aliens but which they could barely control, and both humans and aliens are wiped out by Xenomorphs/Xenogoo except for one human woman.

Prometheus was certainly a better film, but at least Alien vs. Predator spared us the nonsense about the aliens being our creators and humanity's final triumph through faith.
posted by homunculus at 10:46 PM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


My problem with AvP is that it's on earth. Every other movie was "we're fucked if one of these ever gets to earth!", but... There were already a whole lot of them here? Way to make them no longer dangerous.
posted by flaterik at 11:24 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm really starting to buy theory put forth in the other thread, that Shaw and her boy toy were really out there quacks, the other scientists are total bottom of the barrel loons, and the whole expedition is generally considered an old man's self-indulgent folly. This would jive with the total incompetence generally displayed by most of the crew.

*sigh* I've been really working on this as well. I think it has something to do with a massive state of corporate eminence back on earth mixed with my feeling that Weyland has a general mistrust of academia given his back story (although Noomi's character does have a lot of degrees; but none of them dealing remotely with astronomy; she gets a Void-Kampf like test when shes being interviewed in some of the promo junk). What was it, I think, Vickers said, in regards to Noomi's character being on the ship, "Weyland is a very superstitious man." ? I think, in some way, she might have also been referring to the selection process of almost everyone on the crew (excluding Vickers, herself, because he didn't know she was coming, as well as the security team I'm assuming she's speaking towards during the briefing when she says something about having worked with them before). This all makes me so tired.

I could expound more on this but I have to go back to working on my Weyland-is-Actually-Wearing-an-Old-Man-Mask theory.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 2:48 AM on June 15, 2012


Screw that crap, it didn't even have any good lines.

Man, you look just like I feel; I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid. I say we take off and nuke the comment from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by ersatz at 3:58 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Screw that crap, it didn't even have any good lines.

Aliens has plenty, it's Alien which is lacking many memorable lines. Examples:
Stay frosty.

Get away from her you bitch!

Not bad for a human.

Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir, or another bughunt?

Game over man, game over.

They mostly come out at night. Mostly.

Boy's definitely got a corncob up his ass.

All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps!

Hudson: Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?
Vasquez: No. Have you?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:52 AM on June 15, 2012


Picking up on this section:

"WITZKE: Also, just for nerdiness's sake — Benedict Wong showing up is just fantastic. On the Moon commentary, Duncan Jones jokes about how he only cast Wong because he was in Sunshine and now the movies are in continuity with each other. So I guess now Moon and Sunshine are in the Alien continuity as well. The guy's a hell of an actor, too, and sells the shit out of his three or four lines."

Just to say how Right they are about Wong - I saw him play Laertes in in an incredible production of Hamlet at the Young Vic last year, and he was really outstanding.

Incidentally, I sat through the whole film expecting him to be revealed as Mr Yutani...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/youngvictheatre/6388611003/in/photostream
posted by WastedTruth at 5:12 AM on June 15, 2012


Structurally, Ripley must go back for the cat, as this finally reveals the alien's intelligence and planning capabilities, which makes the ending not only a climax-after-a-false-climax, but makes Ripley's victory even sweeter, as she ultimately outwits the alien using human technology.

Yes, but then the damn alien's intelligence and planning mysteriously disappear in the life vessel.

"Sure, I'll just hide here in the one spot where the heroine will be, while she walks around and does things. I will then move so slowly that it has time to put a space suit on, strap itself into a chair, push buttons, then turn around and push more buttons, while I slowly saunter forward."

It's a beautifully shot movie, with great atmosphere and interesting characters, but all those individually great pieces don't add up for me. The film's slow building pace doesn't lead to a satisfying payoff, just an idiot woman going back for a cat and only surviving because the alien turns out to be a big and simple animal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 AM on June 15, 2012


Aliens has plenty, it's Alien which is lacking many memorable lines. Examples:

You forgot:

"Look into my eye."
posted by coolxcool=rad at 6:01 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well if "Sunshine" is set in the same universe as "Alien", then I demand a reshoot of "Prometheus" featuring lots and lots of Cillian Murphy.
posted by gsh at 7:49 AM on June 15, 2012


Can I demand reshoots of everything to include Cillian Murphy? Because honestly, I'd probably vote for a presidential candidate who had that as a campaign plank.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:04 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aliens has plenty, it's Alien which is lacking many memorable lines. Examples:

You also forgot another one which is so well known it's a cliche:

"... nuke the site from orbit - it's the only way to be sure..."
posted by illongruci at 8:10 AM on June 15, 2012


"You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage."

And casting Reiser against type was just brilliant.
posted by endless_forms at 5:18 PM on June 15, 2012


And casting Reiser against type was just brilliant.

Was it really that against type for that point in his career, however? He had been in Diner and Beverly Hills Cop at that point (and Odd Jobs was released 4 months before Aliens and wasn't particularly widely seen), and while he'd shown a gift for comic timing in movie acting, he hadn't yet been in any sitcom at all, and was still six years away from creating and starring in Mad About You.
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on June 15, 2012


I was thinking about the imagery in Prometheus, and I realized something:

Pandora's 'box' is really a pithos. The tapering body, the oblong shape - similar to the canisters and the green glass container that David was examining.

Since Pandora was the punishment for humanity's acceptance of Prometheus' gift of fire (or intelligence, or technology), it follows that the 'black goo' is - what? The ills that haunt the world? Is there hope contained within as well?

Find out, next summer, in Prometheuses.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:21 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The genius of Alien is that it doesn't need memorable lines - it's beautifully shot and is wonderfully evocative purely through image and later through tension.
posted by crossoverman at 6:54 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just as a side note, Alien 3 had Pete Postlethwaite in it, so it's got that going for it at least.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:23 PM on June 16, 2012


So, maybe it's all the downward setting of expectations, but I enjoyed the fuck out of Prometheus, Von Daniken cobblers and all.

Probably could have done with a crew I cared more about and less outright fucking idiocy on their part, mind.
posted by Artw at 10:06 PM on June 16, 2012


You have to give Von Daniken some props, without him we wouldn't have had 15 or so seasons of reasonably watchable Stargate Episodes, and the still inspiring wormhole sequence from the movie, without which we would not be able to properly test our big screen televisions and surround sound systems.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:22 PM on June 16, 2012


Well, he was knicking it all off At The Mountains of Madness as well...
posted by Artw at 10:30 PM on June 16, 2012


Man, an SG1/Lovecraft cross over would be sweet. I'm imagining space cruisers going toe-to-toe with elder gods.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:33 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I've mixed feelings about Prometheus being the "offical" prequel to Alien - I kind of see it as really awesomly executed fan fiction that mashes up the Alien production art and At The Mountains of Madness, not that I'm ever really going to be against that sort of thing - but think about this - with a planet of Space Bastards obsessively creating some kind of genetic library of hideous monstrosities in handy goop format it's actually a fucking amazing sequel to the Carpenter version of The Thing.
posted by Artw at 10:47 PM on June 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Its been a while since I watched The Thing, but weren't the Hero Protagonists reasonably competent in that flick? And Lovecraft's heros aren't usually stupid, just terrified and insane.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:51 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, there's Warren, but he's dead...
posted by Artw at 10:57 PM on June 16, 2012


10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Making of Prometheus
posted by Artw at 12:00 AM on June 17, 2012


You know, I've mixed feelings about Prometheus being the "offical" prequel to Alien

It isn't.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 AM on June 17, 2012


"Official" Alien canon, according to me:

Alien
Aliens novelization by Alan Dean Foster
The Dark Horse aliens comics, minus a few iffy ones, and without the renaming of Newt they did in later editions.
Maybe some of the AvP comics too.
Any bits I like from The Book of Alien that fit in with those.
posted by Artw at 3:40 AM on June 17, 2012


No Colonial Marines Technical Handbook?
posted by Chekhovian at 4:25 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having watched the Director's Cut of Alien last night, what bothered me then and now is the complete stupidity of the humans. Yes, let's visit the alien ship and poke around at the alien life forms, then bring on the ship and take it home. Kain, the infected member? Let's hang around him and have a meal and completely forget about the weird shit that just happened. We'll have a few laughs and then go to sleep.

That's probably why I like Aliens better, Ripley and the marine's attitude made more sense i.e. kill them all. Alien was a beautifully shot, gorgeously set, display of human stupidity. I can go cook naked if I want to experience that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:13 AM on June 17, 2012


Well, a lot of that was down to a bastard robot as well...

I love that Ripley is the one that is a hardass about not letting Kane on board, and won't give up on it with Ash even after he lets them in.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on June 17, 2012


what bothered me then and now is the complete stupidity of the humans

Keep in mind they're not a Star Trek-style paramilitary alien contact team. They're merchant marines trained to haul a mining ship, given secret orders that should they disobey could result in losing their bonus from the haul. Kane was brought aboard by Ash in direct violation of an order by Ripley (which of course clearly sets her up as the smart one), then Ash cleared Kane after the face-hugger dropped off. Sure, that barely lampshades the classic horror movie one-bad-decision-after-another-tree, but the ultimate point is that they were set up -- the rest is just detail. Dallas and Kane were probably selected especially for their loyalty and perhaps even curiosity.

It's also important to avoid reviewing the story with hindsight. We know how scary the damn thing is; they didn't. The universe they're in appears to have very limited experience with alien life, period, and virtually nothing that's halfway intelligent.

Besides, I've read plenty of real-life scenarios where people make bad choices, from William Langeweische's plane and ship disasters to Challenger to Columbia to, well, Iraq and the financial crisis. We're human. We're capable of erring in really, really horribly mal-effective ways, even when we have broad knowledge of a subject. Like you, I'm sure we both enjoy stories where people are competent and know their stuff inside and out, but to have conflict you usually need some sort of human failing as a trigger. In my view, the Alien screenplay is as well-constructed as any horror movie can possibly be. You can fix those human failings, if you like, but then you remove much of the possibility of story.
posted by dhartung at 2:19 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love that Ripley is the one that is a hardass about not letting Kane on board, and won't give up on it with Ash even after he lets them in.

And the equivalent scene in Prometheus is further proof that this movie is dumb - Vickers opens up all the doors and threatens them with a flamethrower. Yeah, that'll go well.
posted by crossoverman at 2:44 PM on June 17, 2012


Keep in mind they're not a Star Trek-style paramilitary alien contact team.

One shouldn't need to be specially trained to stay away from new alien life forms or follow establish protocol procedures about new alien forms, especially if you're the commander of the crew and responsible for all of their lives.

You can fix those human failings, if you like, but then you remove much of the possibility of story.

Then it was a weak story if needs continued stupidity by the characters to continue. There's zero reason they shouldn't have simply recorded video of their find and gotten outta there. Or once they found the eggs, decided to find something large to contain one in.

The crew never seems to learn, except Ripley at the end, when the xenomorph turns suddenly docile and lets Ripley arms herself while in goofs off in the cupboard.

Oddly enough, I found Prometheus to be good, despite the obvious plot holes and stupidity there. It works thematically, which I think Alien was trying to do, but wasn't successful at, in my opinion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:02 PM on June 17, 2012


the ultimate point is that they were set up -- the rest is just detail. Dallas and Kane were probably selected especially for their loyalty and perhaps even curiosity.

I haven't seen Alien in while, so I may be forgetting some key moment, but my impression was they genuinely stumbled on the signal from LV-426. The actions of Mother are from a pre-programmed contingency plan that every ship's Mother has buried somewhere in the acres of tape reels clonking and grunting away off screen. They didn't have specific secret orders about what to do on LV-426, they had ALL the secret orders for all the situations.

This fits the theme of working Joes vs. bureaucracy. Even out where no one can hear you scream, you can't make your own decisions. So the crew disobeying inhuman-if-smart orders is stupid but it's clear they are tired and fed up and fearful of getting screwed out of their paychecks, which is probably something the audience can understand if not identify with.

Also of course it's a maritime story and chain of command is strong. They're not just strangers at a roadside diner working out a pecking order and figuring out what they are willing to die for; there's quite a bit of hierarchy and rules and expectations are already in place.

One of the good things about Alien is that the "working class logic" isn't the right thing to do, unlike a ton of movies where the beer-swigging working man's wisdom is supreme. But I guess that's just part of being a horror movie and not an action movie. In the action movie Alien, Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Kotto would have made it back on the shuttle, both of them far too old for this shit.

the xenomorph turns suddenly docile

Well besides being a typical monster movie moment, the xenomorph is supposed to weird and unknowable. It's not always jumping out and going boo. It's a representative of alien-ness oh sorry no it's a mutant baby of Lisbeth Salander, the series will now be re-released and renamed Mutant, Mutants, etc. (Or something; haven't seen Prometheus.)
posted by fleacircus at 3:22 PM on June 17, 2012


It's not always jumping out and going boo.

That's exactly what it does with Dallas, who stupidly decided to go it alone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 PM on June 17, 2012


It has decided on a good place for a snuggle and it is going to stick with it, no matter how inconvenient it is for humans.

So not so dissimilar from the cat.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It had no problem hunting Brett, Dallas or Lambert. Must have been captivated by Ripley in her underwear and just decided to literally put its slimy claws on everything within reach.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:30 PM on June 17, 2012


Maybe it was full. We only know it cocooned Dallas. Maybe it decided she was no longer worth dealing with quickly, or at all, because other goals had been met - for a similar reason for its not feeling the need to kill the cat.
posted by flaterik at 4:37 PM on June 17, 2012


with a planet of Space Bastards obsessively creating some kind of genetic library of hideous monstrosities in handy goop format it's actually a fucking amazing sequel to the Carpenter version of The Thing

You've gotta be fucking kidding...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:59 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha! Watching Twenty Four Hour Party people and Ian Curtis looks a little familiar... it's only Fifield, the most annoying of the disposable characters that actually have names.
posted by Artw at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2012


David J. Williams on Prometheus
posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on June 18, 2012


Prometheus is a monumental tour de force that harkens back to the sweeping sci-fi of the 1970s

And that's where he lost me.

There's too much wrong with this film for me to even want to indulge people's theories about what it all means or what it's all supposed to be about. If it was great characters with mediocre story, but it's not. If it was a great story with annoying characters, fine - but it isn't. It's pretty much only accomplished on the visual level and that's not enough to sustain my interest. It's incompetent on a narrative level; even if it's ideas weren't heavy-handed and ham fisted, it really suffers from being unintelligible on a dramatic level. We're not invested in the characters or the story; we're expected to be engaged by themes alone and that's a bullshit reason to want an audience to like a film.
posted by crossoverman at 10:54 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey, here's an archeological find, let's touch everything!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:05 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love that he's so touchy. He can't kill humans, he can't disobey humans, but he can damn well mess with all the things until *something* happens, and if that thing is KILL ALL HUMANS then, well, whoops.
posted by Artw at 7:11 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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