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kempstar

The Alien films

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One of the contestants on Mastermind last night had the Alien films as his specialist subject. The questions were surprisingly easy - generally stuff like what's the name of Ridley's cat? Who did the alien pop out of in Alien? What is the name of the science officer in Alien? etc. The only tricky one was around what Spanish phrase is written on Vasquez's gun, and the only ones I didn't get I think were the name of the Scottish island where Holloway and Shaw find the ancient carvings at the start of Prometheus, and the name of the poet who David wrongly attributes Ozymandias to in Covenant.

 

It feels like they didn't do much research on the subject, you could have picked up most of that information just by watching the films a couple of times. I bet the questions are harder if your specialist subject is a bit more academic. Tempted to go on Mastermind if they allow nerd subjects like this, and the quesitons are so easy. Imagine what an easy ride they'd give someone from here if they chose videogames or Iain M Banks or something.

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They’ve always half-assed specialised subjects that are TV series and stuff. One time they had the history of video games and it was so easy I knew all of them - stuff like who designed Defender.

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It's a bit of a narrow subject anyway, isn't it, 'these six sci-fi films I like. Well, two or maybe three at a push, and the others I guess if you insist'? It's not as if it's Ealing comedies, or German Expressionism or something.

 

Mastermind's not what it used to be. I might enter myself with the Life and Works of Jamie P Barker as my bag. I expect they'd give me as hard a time of it as they did the Alien Mastermind.

 

- Which Channel Island is the setting for the seminal A Year and a Day series of novels?

- The chapter in A Year and a Day - Book One entitled 'Enrique at Work is Such a Fucking Greaseball' introduces which character, who is Jamie's boss at Spar, to the reader?

- In 'Running', Jamie describes a video game made by the Japanese developer Nintendo in which, at 31 hours in, he "just did the fourth dungeon boss." What video game is he describing?

 

On second thoughts, maybe ramone's produced a bit too much material to know truly comprehensively. Might just go with The Solo Albums of Dennis Wilson Out Of The Beach Boys.

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14 hours ago, K said:

One of the contestants on Mastermind last night had the Alien films as his specialist subject. The questions were surprisingly easy - generally stuff like what's the name of Ridley's cat?

 

To be fair, I've watched the films about 30 times each and I don't know the name of Ridley Scott's cat.

 

 

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7 hours ago, SqueakyG said:

 

To be fair, I've watched the films about 30 times each and I don't know the name of Ridley Scott's cat.

 

 

 

Pussy McPusspuss.

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4 hours ago, Gord said:

Alien is hitting the cinemas to celebrate the 40th anniversary in early.march. got my tickets sorted and can't wait.

 

I'll need to keep a lookout for this.  It'll be awesome on the big screen

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20 hours ago, Hanzo the Razor said:

 

I'll need to keep a lookout for this.  It'll be awesome on the big screen

I saw it last year, I don’t know what the occaison was but my local Showcase had it on the Flashback series, it looked stunning and I realised that for all I’ve seen and love Aliens, practically everything that happens in it is a slightly cheap version of what Ridley already did - the set design especially is just beautiful and the dialogue less on the nose, I love the blue collar mechanics especially 

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Thinking about the above and how Aliens quickly became a heavy rotation quotable favourite spawning countless Space Marine spin offs reminded me of one of my all time favourite reviews, by Roger Ebert. I love how this nails one man’s view of the power the movie had when it first came along before we all got too fond of it 

 



The ads for "Aliens" claim that this movie will frighten you as few movies have, and, for once, the ads don't lie. The movie is so intense that it creates a problem for me as a reviewer: Do I praise its craftsmanship, or do I tell you it left me feeling wrung out and unhappy? It has been a week since I saw it, so the emotions have faded a little, leaving with me an appreciation of the movie's technical qualities. But when I walked out of the theater, there were knots in my stomach from the film's roller-coaster ride of violence. This is not the kind of movie where it means anything to say you "enjoyed" it.

 

"Aliens" is a sequel to the very effective 1979 film, "Alien," but it tells a self-contained story that begins 57 years after the previous story ended. The first time around, you may recall, Sigourney Weaver and a shipload of her fellow space voyagers were exploring a newly discovered planet when they found an abandoned spaceship. Surviving in the ship was an alien life-form that seemed to consist primarily of teeth. The aliens were pure malevolence; their only function was to attack and eat anything that was warm and moved. And they incubated their young inside the bodies of their victims.

 

Weaver was the only survivor of that first expedition, and after saving her ship by expelling an alien through the air lock into deep space, she put herself into hibernation. She is found 57 years later by a salvage ship, and when she awakes she is still tormented by nightmares. (The script does not provide her, however, with even a single line of regret after she learns that 57 years have passed and everyone she knew is dead.) A new expedition is sent back to the mystery planet. Weaver is on board. She knows what the aliens are like and thinks the only sane solution is to nuke them from outer space. But in the meantime, she learns to her horror that a human colony has been established on the planet and billions of dollars have been invested in it. Now Earth has lost contact with the colony. Has it been attacked by aliens? Are there stars in the sky? The crew is made up of an interesting mixed bag of technicians and military personnel. My favorites were Lance Henrikson as a loyal android, Jenette Goldstein as a muscular marine private and Michael Biehn as the uncertain Cpl. Hicks. Also on board is the slimy Burke (Paul Reiser), who represents the owners of the planet's expensive colony and dreams of making millions by using the aliens as a secret weapon.

 

The movie gives us just enough setup to establish the characters and explain the situation. Then the action starts. The colony has, of course, been overrun by the aliens, all except for one plucky little girl (Carrie Henn) who has somehow survived by hiding in the air ducts.

 

The marines explore the base on foot, which seems a little silly in view of the great speed with which the aliens attack. Nobody seems very interested in listening to Weaver's warnings. After all, she's only the one person who has seen an alien, so what does she know? And then the movie escalates into a nonstop war between human and alien.

 

It's here that my nerves started to fail. "Aliens" is absolutely, painfully and unremittingly intense for at least its last hour. Weaver goes into battle to save her colleagues, herself and the little girl, and the aliens drop from the ceiling, pop up out of the floor and crawl out of the ventilation shafts. (In one of the movie's less plausible moments, one alien even seems to know how to work the elevator buttons.) I have never seen a movie that maintains such a pitch of intensity for so long; it's like being on some kind of hair-raising carnival ride that never stops.

 

I don't know how else to describe this: The movie made me feel bad. It filled me with feelings of unease and disquiet and anxiety. I walked outside and I didn't want to talk to anyone. I was drained. I'm not sure "Aliens" is what we mean by entertainment. Yet I have to be accurate about this movie: It is a superb example of filmmaking craft.

 

The director, James Cameron, has been assigned to make an intense and horrifying thriller, and he has delivered. Weaver, who is onscreen almost all the time, comes through with a very strong, sympathetic performance: She's the thread that holds everything together.

The supporting players are sharply drawn. The special effects are professional. I'm giving the movie a high rating for its skill and professionalism and because it does the job it says it will do. I am also advising you not to eat before you go to see it.

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On 9 February 2019 at 13:11, Gord said:

Alien is hitting the cinemas to celebrate the 40th anniversary in early.march. got my tickets sorted and can't wait.

 

Thanks for the heads up.

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On 10/02/2019 at 20:15, Commander Jameson said:

Booked my ticket for Alien just now. Can't wait to see it.

Me too. Just remember. In the cinema everyone can hear you scream. 

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I saw it last night as well. It's still amazing. Time flew by. Can't believe how little screen time the Alien actually gets. Never picked up before the line "Kane's son" that Ash says. So creepy.

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4 hours ago, Stoppy2000 said:

I saw it last night as well. It's still amazing. Time flew by. Can't believe how little screen time the Alien actually gets. Never picked up before the line "Kane's son" that Ash says. So creepy.

 

Yes, that’s one of the lines I heard for the very first time! Was it really always there?

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I saw it on Saturday night at the cinema as well and picked up the "Kane's son" line as well for the first time. Strange that we'd all never picked up on it before. 

 

It was fantastic seeing it on the big screen. 

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It's just such a beautiful, gorgeous film. I've owned it over various formats over the years and yet will almost always watch it if it's on the telly regardless. It's incredible to think it's 40 years old because it looks utterly timeless.

 

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The only thing in it that's aged are the computer displays. Yet any other medium for Mother doesn't feel like it would provide the same cold, unfeeling response that is "crew expendable" in green phosphor.

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It is a properly wonderful film. The design is sublime. It nailed the "people just doing this shit for a living" thing, only in space and in the future. I think that was a big ask - it's why a lot of sci-fi ages badly - it makes the future too good to be true. Alien's setting was wonderfully world-weary, broken and imperfect. Harry Dean Stanton enjoying the shower from a leak above some rusty chains is a moment that sticks in my mind - it's just normal people getting by the best way they know. These are grunts doing grunt work for minimum wage for a company that could not care less about them. 

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It's amazing how it just doesn't age. Along with 2001 and Star Wars, it has that magic combination of design and execution that makes it truly special to look at.

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