Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Final Final Finale

Tonight I take the last final of this semester.

I have recently been accussed of being a bandwagon jumper. I thought that it was one of the funniest things I had ever heard.

Reflections on the Alien Quadrilogy Box Set

The amount of attention paid to these movies by the DVD supplements is absolutely astounding. Each element of the production is gone into with unflinching detail. Even the shortcomings of each film are dealt with.

This is nothing new, of course. Both Alien and Aliens were released in elaborate CAV laserdisc box sets with huge supplementary sections each (reproduced in their entirety in the ninth disc of the box set).

The evenhandedness of the new material is most apparent in looking at the supplements included with Alien3. Fox basically announced that the film will be released at a certain time, and the fact that David Fincher made something resembling a coherent film out of the resulting clusterfuck is a testament to his skill as a filmmaker. Fincher did not participate in the creation of the box set because he never felt that Alien3 was really his. An alternate version of the film is included that helps define the characters, but doesn't really fix any of the film's other flaws. On the other hand, Vincent Ward's fascinating original treatment is gone into in detail.

Alien3 is an interesting failure, beautiful to look at and nicely advancing the character of Ripley, but it is also one of the worst sequels ever made, destroying, within the first five minutes, everything that was gained in the last film.

Alien Resurrection is a complete mess, and the reasons become obvious when checking out the material about its inception; to be frank, whenever you hear about a French person making a science fiction film, and that French person's name is not Jean-Luc Godard, and the film is not Alphaville... run. It is depressing to see how this film series has descended to a freakshow, which is essentially what Alien Resurrection is. An alternate version of this film is included that is just as stupid as the theatrical.

So... what about the truly successful films in the series?

I have said plenty about Alien, so I refer readers to my previous posts on it anticipating the director's cut and my post-viewing impressions. I will simply say that I consider Alien a masterpiece of cinema.

Aliens is, in my opinion, one of the best sequels ever made, and it is a pulse-pounding action film that delivers thrills, and the extended version adds significantly to the character development of Ripley.

I often find that people of my generation favor Aliens to Alien. This is mostly for the simple fact that most of them have seen the latter film first. Part of what made Alien so compelling for me the first time I saw it is that the creature's life-cycle was so fascinating, and the "haunted house in outer space" setting was brilliantly utilized.

Alien is, first and foremost, a horror film, while Aliens is a roller coaster ride. Both are superb examples of each, but the originality on display in the first film, plus the richness of the cast, makes me favor it.

Ian Holm as Ash

The picture transfer on Alien is remarkably sharper than on the old DVD, especially when viewed in 16:9 (some of the color-timing is different as well), but I am keeping the old disc for two reasons... the first is that it has a different commentary track than what is heard on the Quadrilogy set, and (most importantly), the old disc had the isolated score track, which is essential to have... one only has to cue up the scene in which Ash attacks Ripley and listen to what Jerry Goldsmith composed for that scene... and how amazingly well it fits the visuals...

Aliens looks the same, which means that it is sharp but grainy. The grain is significantly reduced from the laser, though, and feels more textural than dirty. James Cameron actually deals with that issue in his commentary... apparently Kodak was changing the emulsion on their film in 1985, causing a slew of films to be very grainy (check out Predator) because he didn't shoot it in Panavision.
Tags: alien, cinema, reviews
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