Hubby has been eagerly anticipating Prometheus and while he hasn’t gotten to see it yet, he recently discovered I have never watched the original Alien movies before. He quickly rectified this situation with back-to-back movie nights. While I feel my experience has been tainted by the series’ pop culture impact, they are still stand-outs of the sci-fi genre.
A mining crew is awaken from hypersleep from a distress call coming from a nearby planet. Members of the crew explore the seemingly inhabitant planet and an officer (John Hurt) stumbles upon a collection of alien eggs. He investigates, only to have a creature attack from inside the egg, attaching itself to his face. He is hurried back to the ship where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) insist he be quarantined considering he has an unknown life form attached to his face, but she is overruled by the ship’s medical office (Ian Holm). They later discover the alien must incubate in other living creatures, only to kill their host when they are developed enough to live on their own. The crew fights for their lives and later discover that the whole mission was a plot devised by The Company, who sent the android science officer to ensure this newly discovered alien was delivered to them. Ripley is the only one to survive as she flees and activates the ship’s self-destruct sequence.
Aliens was released seven years later and finds that fifty-seven years have passed since her encounter with the alien. The planet the lifeform was discovered has since been colonized but The Company has lost contact with all that inhabited the colony. While no one believes Ripley’s tales of parasitic aliens, they send her to join a troop of marines on a rescue mission. The crew quickly discovers that Ripley was right and she again has to escape the creature, encountering the species’ queen. When are people going to learn that Ripley might know what she’s talking about?
One thing that’s interesting about this series is that each film has a different director. Ridley Scott’s Alien is moody and mysterious, almost more of a horror film, while James Cameron’s Aliens is more action film. However, the films still have the same basic feel, so the different directors are not jarring. But it probably helps that they take place decades apart from one another.
Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is a landmark protagonist in the sci-fi genre. Up to that point, female characters were mostly in the background and/or not much more than eye candy. Ripley is the film’s protagonist and voice of reason, and besides the panties scene, she’s fairly asexual. This is mostly because the character was not originally written as a female. In the second film, Ripley’s material side is allowed to show as we learn she was a mother whose daughter died while Ripley was in hypersleep for fifty-seven years in between alien encounters. When she later meets Newt, she clearly develops motherly feelings towards the girl and becomes hell bent on protecting her. However, is she a STRONG FEMALE character or a STRONG female character? She is mostly characterized by being tough and unfeminine. We never learn much about her as a person. It takes a whole film for us to find out she has a child (probably because they didn’t think to make the character a parent in the first film). There’s been some increase chatter on the internet about the sexist nature of geek culture, and while I’m not saying Ripley is a sexist character, she’s definitely one to examine when discussing the topic.