The crew of a deep space commercial mining ship, the Nostromo, is awakened from hyper-sleep to investigate a strange signal from a nearby planet. While investigating the signal, they discover it was actually a warning, and not an S.O.S. They discover a derelict alien ship on the planet. They send a party out to investigate the ship for signs of life. An alien boards the ship in a very gross but fascinating method. And so the battle begins. H. R. Giger drew the concept art.
The basic story is pretty simplistic: an alien boarding a ship and attacking the humans aboard. But there’s more than meet the eye to this movie. The way the alien boards the ship is gross and disturbing, yet unique and original. The origin of the alien is unknown and it makes the viewers obtusely curious. I know I’ve thought of several possible origin stories. That’s the magic of Alien for me, the intrigue and thinking brought on by the story.
The atmosphere is truly eerie. The dark sets, confined quarters, the veil of foggy smoke, the building tension, and never knowing where the next attack will come from all work together to create a unique horrific atmosphere for a movie which takes place in space. It’s like a futuristic haunted house in space.
Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, the true “human” star of this film. This is one of her first movie roles but I feel that she did a great job, as well as seasoned veteran actors. Her character is second in command. She starts out passive but a stickler for the rules when she gains command. The crew doesn’t really accept her so there’s great tension between them. She just gets tougher, stronger, and more control. Great job!
Tom Skerritt plays Dallas the captain of the Nostromus.
Veronica Cartwright plays Lambert, the other female crew member. Her character is rude and later very scared to the point of almost breaking down. She does great at her role, showing intense emotions.
Harry Dean Stanton plays Brett, one of the crew. Although a veteran actor, he has the weakest performance here. His character is too passive most of the time but it’s doesn’t deter from the movie.
John Hurt plays Kane, one of the crew. His character endures the most horrible and disturbing death of the crew. Good acting.
Ian Holm plays Ash, the crew’s scientist / doctor. Great acting.
Yaphet Kotto plays Parker, the crew’s only black man. His character is very brazen and likes to jump into action without much thinking. Again, great acting.
Bolaji Badejo plays the Alien. He’s black, 7′ 2″, and very thin and sinewy. He wears a very thin costume. All of his movements look perfect – alien and lizard-like.
It has great cinematography! Alien adheres to the concept of seeing less is better and more suspenseful and, in this case, it’s true! Everything is dark and foggy. You can’t see what is in the shadows and it’s truly frightening. The shots are fast-paced and clear with perfect lighting – bright or dark when needed.
The FX and props are top-notch, even by today’s standards. The ships, interiors, alien terrain, and the explosions are perfect. The true star effects are the various developmental stages of the alien (face hugger, chest burster, grown alien). I’ve never seen a more unique and disturbing alien in any movie ever. H. R. Giger’s (Swedish artist) designs are truly genius and these are weak doses of his usual work! The music is very tense and adds to the overall terror and suspense. The audio effects were impressive as well.
I loved this movie! It’s more horror than sci-fi in my opinion. It’s not too futuristic or sleek enough to give me the impression of a purely space movie. It just feels like a horror in space. This is a true classic by all standards. Even now, 25+ years since the original release and it still stands up to the best of today’s horror/sci-fi films. My only gripe is that the full-grown alien isn’t shown as much as I would’ve liked. It is fantastic! If you haven’t this yet, where have you been?? Rent or buy the DVD ASAP!!