Alien (1979)

Link: Alien Anthology

Summary: After exploring a strange planet where another spaceship crashed, a crew returns to space with an extra passenger onboard, and not a friendly one.

Thoughts: Here’s another classic sci-fi film that I finally watched for the first time.  However, this one is so classic that I basically knew almost all the storyline before watching the film.  (Especially as a fan of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! books, the titles of which refer to a plot device used in this film, in which the main character saves a cat to help make her character likeable.)  The special effects are terribly outdated (charmingly cheesy, perhaps I should say), but otherwise the look and feel of the film is awesome, and it looks fantastic on blu-ray.  I love the design of the spaceship, how things look used and the spaces looked lived in.  The plot itself was classic a “monster in the house” plot, and, along with Jaws and Jurassic Park, is one of the best films of this sort, in my opinion.  (They don’t seem nearly as popular these days, do they?  I don’t recall seeing a very modern one lately.)  The plot and pacing were tight.

I didn’t notice it until listening to some of the commentary, but none of the characters have backstories.  Yet they all have very unique easy-to-recognize personalities.  I wouldn’t have even noticed if someone had mentioned this on the commentary, but it’s rather brilliant, isn’t it?  We never see one of those cheesy moments when someone looks a picture or watches a recording of some loved one they’ve left behind.  We never get hints that characters had romantic flings before the film began.  I can easily imagine a novice writer (myself included) wanting to put such things in naturally, taking them for granted.  Yet this films cleverly avoids all that, magnifying the jeopardy of the situation.

Really fun film.  Very easy to see why it’s such a classic.

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