Today Sigourney Weaver turns 70. As one of my favourite actresses, I’ve decided to pay tribute to her. She projects great intelligence, dignity and steely determination onscreen in a variety of movies. Though known as a horror icon, she’s shown great versatility in so many films. So Happy Birthday to Miss Weaver
The quite fabulous Gill is celebrating the career of Michael Caine with a blogathon about him. Naturally, I was more than happy to take part in doing this and I have chosen Half Moon Street to review.
Half Moon Street
- Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Lauren Slaughter
- Michael Caine as Lord Bulbeck
- Nadim Sawalha as Karim Hatami
- Keith Buckley as Hugo Van Arkady
It may be a mixed bag in various aspects, but the dramatic thriller that is Half Moon Street is very watchable and has its moments. It most benefits from the work of Weaver and Caine and what transpires between them more than anything else.
Dr. Lauren Slaughter is an American research fellow residing in London and working at the Arab-Anglo Institute. Slaughter has a PhD from Harvard and has spent a number of years doing field work in China. She is smart, driven and completely frustrated with her job at the moment. Partly, this is due to the ingrained attitudes of men being superior within many in the workplace. Though the job is something she is immensely skilled at, it doesn’t pay well enough and she is struggling with her low wages and is living in a bed sit, that leaves a lot to be desired. Lauren doesn’t know how she’s going to feel at all comfortable in both work and personal life. Her annoyance at events continues as something she wrote is plagiarised by a higher up colleague and she isn’t considered for a prestigious study in Kuwait. One day, she receives a video in the post. It details the Jasmine Agency; an escort agency for wealthy clients, many from the Middle East. Lauren decides to moonlight as an escort for money so she can live without worry and have some semblance of power. In the escorting work, she finds more control over men and independence than she does at her job at the Institute. Her attitude towards things is one of cool confidences, but one particular date makes an impact on her. She meets Lord Bulbeck, a diplomat who is involved with Middle Eastern affairs. The two hit it off and soon a genuine relationship that is more than just sex is developing for them. They are compatible in viewpoints and humour, plus both are somewhat outsiders in one way or another. But it was no accident that Lauren was set up with Lord Bulbeck. A hidden group is monitoring events between the couple and is using both as pawns in an effort to stop Bulbeck in his attempts to forge a peace deal between Arabs and Israelis. Both are not aware of what is bubbling underneath their budding romance.
Bob Swaim is a good director and his sense of style is on display in Half Moon Street can be viewed. But he often over complicates things by trying to say too much with the story and needlessly dragging out parts of it. On the negative side, the film itself takes too long to bring the thriller element out into the open. There is suspense that it manages when the danger hits, but the attempts at mystery feel flat and tacked on. If the thriller areas had been addressed earlier on and given more footing in Half Moon Street, it may have been a different story for the movie. Onto the positive notices and Half Moon Street does have a good few. The script, while requiring several leaps of faith, does have something to say about the workplace and why someone like Lauren Slaughter would turn to an escort job to keep afloat. The most impressive aspect is the relationship between Slaughter and Bulbeck; they have a great affinity with each other and you do buy into their attraction to the other. I liked watching two fine actors create this relationship with each other on screen and do it justice. The material is lifted thanks to the script but mostly the stars. An exotic flourish in the music score, that gets romantic as the characters become closer is exemplary in doing the job of crafting atmosphere in a movie like Half Moon Street.
Whatever faults Half Moon Street has, the performances by Sigourney Weaver and Michael Caine are just right. Weaver has this cool and detached attitude, partnered with a quick wit and a bemused yet sly smile. She really plays the role of Lauren Slaughter very well, balancing the independence and sexiness of a woman getting some control in her life and scoffing at chauvinistic behaviour. Matching her is Michael Caine with a lot of charm and intelligence. There’s a real twinkle in the eyes here and his work as Lord Bulbeck reflects a man of great influence and down to Earth affinity. It helps that both Weaver and Caine share an immediate chemistry with each other as love blooms for the characters. You really believe them together as a couple and that’s really down to the actors and what they accomplish, even if the movie lets them down in many ways. In supporting parts there is Nadim Sawalha and Keith Buckley as possibly shifty men who surround Lauren in their own ways. Both don’t have much to work with however, with the lion’s share of things going to Caine and Weaver.
A movie that can be both tedious and extremely gripping depending on which way it’s going, Half Moon Street elicits fine work from the two main stars and has some atmosphere of which it can be proud of.
- Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill
- Harrison Ford as Jack Trainer
- Sigourney Weaver as Katharine Parker
- Joan Cusack as Cynthia
- Alec Baldwin as Mick
- Oliver Platt as David Lutz
- Kevin Spacey as Bob Speck
Working Girl is an effervescent and feel good comedy from Mike Nichols, that satirizes the corporate business world and conveys a woman grabbing the opportunity to make something of herself. Light and funny yet also intelligent, this combination, when aided by a very accomplished cast ensures Working Girl is a triumph.
Having just turned 30, Staten Island raised secretary for a stockbroker Tess McGill wishes for something more and wants a job of an executive nature. Sadly, no matter how hard she strives, nothing much seems to come of her diligence. And after a run in with her boss, she is reassigned to a financial firm. She is to be the secretary for Katharine Parker; a seemingly affable and powerful woman who appears to take Tess under her wing and encourages her to pitch ideas. Tess comes up with a pretty neat idea for a lucrative merger that she passes by Katharine, but nothing seems to come of it. Then Katharine is injured during a skiing trip in Europe, which enables Tess to look after business while she recovers. It is here that Tess discovers that Katharine was about to go forward with her idea, without giving her any credit. But two can play at that game and Tess decides that is she wants to make her name for herself, she must take action. And action is what she takes, by styling herself into the persona of a higher executive. Though a risky move, her smarts and innate mind for business make up her artillery as she mounts her idea to a potential merger. Along the way, she enlists the help of the handsome executive Jack Trainer, who could be very handy in aiding her business plans. The thing is Jack believes that Tess is someone higher up in the job than what she is because she is so convincing with the ins and outs of making deals, and Tess manages to keep her proper status this under wraps though. Along the way, Tess and Jack develop romantic feelings for the other. Tess finds herself on the cusp of closing this deal and winning Jack, but a spanner is put in the works with the return of conniving Katharine.
Mike Nichols has always been a director who I admire, mainly for his perceptive probing of people and his approach to the characters. He infuses Working Girl with a funny surface that chimes well with the personable elements of the story, but like always, he cuts a bit deeper and has a ball dissecting big business in New York and the often ruthless tactics employed in it. Nichols work has a crisp and unobtrusive approach to it, knowing exactly when to use the camera for something different and when to just let things flow effortlessly. A stellar example of his craftsmanship is the opening that circles the Statue of Liberty while following Tess on her journey into the concrete jungle, the feeling of enormity and big dreams is very strong here. You get the best of both worlds with Mike Nichols in the director’s chair; on one hand there is the self-made Cinderella story with oodles of 80’s style and then a witty examination of someone striving to make it big in a cutthroat world of sharks. There are those who will view Working Girl with cynicism for its feel good overtones, mainly stemming from the idea that someone can succeed in this kind of world with simply pluck and intelligence( which I could understand, but don’t think it detracts from the enjoyment of it.) But to think of the film purely like that is to miss the rousing and inspiring nature of it, which will win over even the most dejected and grumpy person, as underdog Tess takes destiny and shapes it for herself. You seriously will find it hard not to laugh, due to the sparkling dialogue from Kevin Wade and screwball tropes that are updated to a world of shoulder pads and big hair, befitting of the 80’s colour and atmosphere. And the romance in the film is thankfully something that doesn’t descend into ridiculousness that could have seriously dragged the film down. In actual fact, it extended the enjoyable factor watching Tess and Jack put their heads together and slowly fall for the other, in a dazzling mix of business and pleasure. Add in parts of significant tension, that can be found as the identity of Tess is frequently nearly revealed, Working Girl is a pleasing winner. Only that it is a tad overlong is an extremely minor blemish on a delightfully mounted and performed comedy that nary puts a foot wrong. Lashings of 80’s glamour cover Working Girl and while it’s easy to scoff at some of the outfits, they actually make a good representation of how clothing makes the person which is something Tess knows all about once her Pygmalion style transformation starts. And no discussion of the film would be worth reading without mentioning the music. Largely based around the rousing Carly Simon song ‘Let the River Run’, the music sweeps you up and brings the feel good to the film in large quantities.
Melanie Griffith is inspired casting for Tess; her airy voice and expressive eyes used perfectly to imbue the part with a strength and occasional vulnerability. Griffith triumphs at making Tess a go-getter who isn’t going to just fall by the wayside and takes events, with a little subterfuge, into her hands and puts her business acumen to good use. You root for the character in her search for something worthwhile and you feel her plucky personality emerge through Griffith’s subtle yet endearing interpretation of the part. And seriously, everyone has to agree that Melanie Griffith looks adorable in this film, right? Harrison Ford contributes an affable and low-key performance as the often bewildered but honest executive, who unwittingly becomes the object of affection for both of the main ladies. Ford is a natural with light comedy and his facial expressions and awkwardness induce many laughs, plus his chemistry with both women is excellent. A tremendous supporting turn from Sigourney Weaver is also worthy of note. Playing the high-powered bitch, Weaver imbues the part with a sly charisma that sucks others in and belies her larcenous and greedy tendencies. Fabulous is the best word to describe Sigourney Weaver here, and even though she is wicked, she makes it looks so devilishly fun through her entertaining portrayal of a grinning shark in a corporate capacity with the shoulder pads to match. Joan Cusack provides countless laughs and wisecracks as the wildly dressed best friend, with nowhere near as much ambition as Tess but a supportive enough outlook for advice and salt of the Earth friendship. Alec Baldwin is here as the ne’er-do-well boyfriend who may be a hunk initially in the eyes of Tess( I mean, does this guy actually own a shirt?) but is a philanderer to put it lightly. In small appearances early in their careers, Oliver Platt and Kevin Spacey catch the eye as a pair of downright sleazy guys.
Sparkling, romantic and amusing, the executive suite comedy of Working Girl makes it a ticket to success and enjoyment from the fantastic Mike Nichols and his cast.
- Sigourney Weaver as Helen Hudson
- Holly Hunter as M.J. Monahan
- Dermot Mulroney as Reuben Goetz
- Harry Connick, Jr. as Daryll Lee Cullum
For some reason, I always think that Copycat is an underrated movie that deserves more recognition. After all it’s a well crafted and creepy thriller with style and excellent acting . I’m hoping with this review I can bring it to the attention of more people. Anyway, back to my review of this 90s chiller.
Helen Hudson is an intelligent criminal psychologist who often gives lectures on the subject of serial killers in colleges and universities. On one such visit, a traumatic event befalls her. One of her former patients, the highly disturbed Daryll Lee Cullum attacks her in the bathroom and nearly kills her. As a result of this brutal attempt on her life, Helen becomes severely agoraphobic and seals herself away within her high-tech apartment. Her only contact with the outside world is a sympathetic friend and a computer. Meanwhile, a spate of grisly murders of young women has been alarming the San Francisco area as there are no leads. The murders come to the attention of Helen, who calls the police suggesting that the slayings are connected. The police originally write her off, but the sharp head of the investigation M.J. Monahan thinks that Helen may be on to something. Along with her good-natured and eager partner Reuben Goetz, she enlists the help of Helen, who can be difficult because of her traumatic experiences that have left her suffering from immense panic attacks and horrible dreams, but is very sharp when it comes to the mind of a killer. As their investigation goes on and the murders become more brutal, Helen unearths that the killer is taking influence from notorious serial killers when committing these acts. Yet the killer cottons onto the fact that Helen is investigating and very soon she is top of his list of victims . And he makes this fact known by ways of creepy emotional torture and cryptic messages. Can Helen, M.J., and Reuben manage to unearth this twisted killer before his campaign of terror reaches the traumatised Helen?
What really drew me into Copycat was the attention to detail and style of it. There is a real sense of creepy menace as we are made, at a number of points to observe from the killer’s perspective as he plots his next murder. The disorientating camerawork when Helen is present is an excellent touch that gets to the heart of her intense agoraphobia and how she is worn down by it. Director Jon Amiel knows how to shoot a scene and keep us on the edge of our seats as Helen comes to see that she is intended target for the next killing as he toys with her emotionally by sending her disturbing messages and imagery via computer. And what a climax this movie has with nail-biting terror ever-present as Helen has to overcome her fear to survive a face to face encounter with the twisted killer. There are those who watch Copycat and think that it offers nothing new in the genre of cat and mouse thrillers but there is one excellent thing that it has in its arsenal, character development. Thanks to an inventive script, the characters are no mere cardboard cut outs but characters with a lot of dimension, especially Helen and M.J, who both have multitudes of layers to them. A score from Christopher Young reverberates with flourishes of menace and ambience as the investigation into the copycat killer takes a good few turns and becomes more terrifying.
Sigourney Weaver, who ranks as one of my favourite actresses, is emotionally convincing and vivid as the terrified Helen. With Weaver in the role, Helen becomes a woman who may be broken down by her fears, but still has her intellect and wit to stop her from completely falling into despair. It’s safe to say that Sigourney Weaver delivers sterling work once more. Holly Hunter is also highly impressive at portraying the inspector on the case. Coming off as warm and cheerful, but with an unmistakable steel and determination beneath the surface, Hunter embodies the many facets of M.J. with aplomb, creating a well-rounded character that she inhabits beautifully. Dermot Mulroney has the boyish charm and good humour that is ideal for the role of supporting inspector on the case of these brutal murders. In the main villainous role Harry Connick, Jr. gives off slimy and sleazy creepiness as the man whose attack on Helen left her the way she is and who is also called in to help as he may know something about this copycat killer. When he is on the screen, it is chilling to watch as he taunts Helen once more via a link to his prison cell, all the while revealing what he knows about the killer.
Disturbingly effective and bolstered by strong cast and style, Copycat is one nerve-shredding suspense thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the get go.
1990's, Alien Resurrection, Brad Dourif, Dan Hedaya, Dominique Pinon, Gary Dourdan, Horror, J. E. Freeman, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Kim Flowers, Leland Orser, Michael Wincott, Raymond Cruz, Ron Perlman, Science Fiction, Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder
- Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
- Winona Ryder as Call
- Ron Perlman as Johner
- Dominique Pinon as Vriess
- Gary Dourdan as Christie
- J. E. Freeman as Wren
- Raymond Cruz as Distephano
- Brad Dourif as Dr Gediman
- Dan Hedaya as General Perez
- Michael Wincott as Elgyn
- Kim Flowers as Hillard
- Leland Orser as Purvis
Coming after the misunderstood and much maligned Alien 3, Alien Resurrection emerges as a mixed bag. We’ve got the horror and action for entertainment as well as some interesting and very stylish ideas, but also some wasted opportunities that could have been expanded on.
Two hundred years after Ripley sacrificed her life to kill the alien that was growing inside of her, scientists aboard the spaceship Auriga, have managed to create a clone of her, as well as the Alien. The corrupt and greedy scientists are part of an illegal experiment in raising the creature and developing many other like it. The operation is overseen by General Perez, corrupt scientist Wren and creepy Dr Gediman. Perez enlists the illicit services of a group of mercenaries in bringing human cargo aboard. The group of mercenaries consists of leader Elgyn, sarcastic Johner, enigmatic Call, paraplegic Vriess, weapon-bound Christie and Elgyn’s romantic interest Hillard. Once aboard, the cargo that they have provided will be used as the hosts for the Alien. Meanwhile, because of the cloning procedures, Ripley has developed super strength, acidic blood and a mental link to the Alien. Her personality has drastically changed and she is now a slinky, ambivalent and almost predatory shadow of her old self. The Alien itself has also evolved and is now more dangerous than ever. The mysterious Call discovers Ripley and it is revealed that she is part of a resistance movement that want to kill the cloned Ripley, in order to wipe out the Alien. Call is too late and soon enough the intellectually advanced beasts manage to escape and leave a trail of bodies in their wake. The newly cloned Ripley teams with the group, which also acquires the services of soldier Distephano and Purvis, one of the humans who was used as a host for the Alien spawn. There is also the presence of the Newborn, a loathsome hybrid of human and Alien that has been born from the Queen Alien to contend with. With time running out before the ship lands on Earth and carnage erupting from every possible place, Ripley and the group must fight to stay alive and make it out safe.
Alien Resurrection may aim for the claustrophobic impact of the spaceship setting of the original Alien, but there’s something hollow to it here that doesn’t match the iconic first film. Sure, the set design is great with slippery surfaces, dark tunnels and Alien nests to get through, but this style is not enough to sustain an impact. The ghost of the previous and more effective films hangs over Alien Resurrection and thus makes it a weaker sequel to such illustrious predecessors. There is also a wealth of interesting themes at play here, such as the dangers of cloning and hybridity, but they are not developed enough to be sufficiently interesting for the audience. Where Alien Resurrection succeeds is the action and horror, which are both in high supply. Standout sequences include the gang having to swim to another chamber while being chased by the rapidly advancing Aliens, Ripley’s descent into the nest and the gory scene of the Alien’s putting in motion their brutal escape from confinement. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is in the director’s chair and brings an unusual and eerie quality to this entry of the science fiction saga. Always keen visually, he brings verve to the corridors of botched clones, slimy pits and blood that score highly in my book. There can be an over reliance on special effects to be found in Alien Resurrection, but at least for the most part, Jeunet manages to keep it under wraps. The score provided makes uses of slithering percussion and punctuating brass, twinned with bristling cymbals and twinkling piano to symbolize the link between Ripley and the Alien, as well as the growing terror that the characters are plunged into.
Sigourney Weaver imbues this version of the Ripley character with slinky sex appeal, eerie cynicism and effective strength. Weaver really seems to relish showing us this newly modified Ripley, who may not have the humanity of her human counterpart but still has the unmistakable steel and wits to survive. Essaying the role for the fourth time, Sigourney Weaver is once again as riveting as ever. Winona Ryder brings a mix of pluck and vulnerability to the role of the enigmatic Call, who has own agenda for coming aboard the ship. Ron Perlman brings his familiar quality of being a super bad ass to the part of the dryly humorous Johner, while Dominique Pinon as the wheelchair-bound but heavily armed Vriess is clearly having a blast. Gary Dourdan brings intensity to the part of the skilled fighter Christie, whereas J. E. Freeman oozes oily menace as one of the corrupt scientists aboard the ship. Raymond Cruz is wasted as a renegade soldier who teams with the survivors, while Brad Dourif chews the scenery as the twisted Dr Gediman. Unfortunately Dan Hedaya, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers and Leland Orser and chronically underused and given barely anything really memorable to do in the film.
A film very much full of ideas but not as thrilling as it could have been, Alien Resurrection is despite its flaws quite entertaining and manages to just about get the job done.
1990's, Alien 3, Brian Glover, Charles Dance, Charles S. Dutton, Danny Webb, David Fincher, Holt McCallany, Horror, Lance Henriksen, Paul McGann, Pete Postlethwaite, Peter Guinness, Ralph Brown, Science Fiction, Sigourney Weaver
- Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
- Charles S. Dutton as Dillon
- Charles Dance as Clemens
- Brian Glover as Superintendent Andrews
- Ralph Brown as Aaron
- Paul McGann as Golic
- Danny Webb as Morse
- Lance Henriksen as Bishop
- Pete Postlethwaite as David
- Holt McCallany as Junior
- Peter Guinness as Gregor
Coming after the effective Alien and action-packed Aliens, Alien 3 didn’t really stand much of a chance. Add to that studio interference and a troubled production that later saw debut director David Fincher express his dislike of the film, Alien 3 wasn’t received warmly upon release. But with the emergence of The Assembly Cut that restores crucial parts to the story, Alien 3 does still have its effective moments. It may still be flawed, but The Assembly Cut is well worth seeing as an improvement upon the version that hit cinemas.
After surviving the events of Aliens, Ripley is in orbit while in hyper sleep with Hicks, Newt and what is left of the android Bishop. A fire on board the spaceship causes their escape pods to be released, resulting in them crash landing on Fury 161. The planet is a bleak place for male prisoners who have now taken on religion in the hopes of repenting for their sins. The Facility is run by Superintendent Andrews, who is helped by his lap dog Aaron. Unfortunately for Ripley, Hicks and Newt perish in the landing which devastates her. Her already grim outlook on things is not helped when she finds evidence that an Alien was in fact on board their ship. Stranded on this hostile planet, Ripley, her hair shorn as a precaution against lice, gains the trust of medical officer Clemens, who has a mysterious past. Andrews however is not too happy about Ripley’s presence among the dangerous prisoners. Matters later become shocking as brutal deaths involving inmates are committed. Ripley soon sees that her old nemesis is back and on another killing spree. At first alienated from the inmates, she later gets assistance from Dillon, the wise leader of the prisoners who believes her story. As bodies continue to mount, it’s only a matter of time before the Alien gets to Ripley. But a shocking revelation that links Ripley with the savage creature casts a different light on the subject and Ripley must decide her ultimate fate.
I think I’ll get the flaws of Alien 3 out of the way first. For starters, it gets a little confusing identifying certain characters because they all look very similar with shaved heads and bar code tattoos at the base of their necks. There is also the matter of the design this time around for the Alien. It is still terrifying to look at, but some dodgy CGI involved with it really detracts from some of the effective scenes of horror. Some of the film does feel disjointed and occasionally Alien 3 leaps from scene to scene without a thought. With those negatives out the way, here are the positives, of which many will be surprised that there are quite a lot in this film. David Fincher, although later disappointed with the film, actually makes a good stab at it. He creates a gloomy and hopeless atmosphere of dread among the prison, with roving camerawork capturing every dark corner and dimly lit corridor to Gothic perfection. He also directs some very creepy scenes of horror, including the Alien cornering an unarmed Ripley and the prisoners using themselves as bait in a terrifying chase. The killing of Hicks and Newt may have detracted many and I was very sad that they died, but I have to say it was a really ballsy idea. The deaths of the characters further contributes to the feeling of a grim future and outcome as the traumatized Ripley must contend with the loss of those closest while trying to remain alive. Out of all the Alien films, Alien 3 is the one that feels most like a requiem for the characters, most of all Ripley who has endured so much suffering at the hands of the Alien but has managed to fight back every time. Elliot Goldenthal contributes a gloomy score of Latin chanting and doom heavy synths to capture the religious beliefs of the inmates and the savagery that will soon befall many of them.
Sigourney Weaver is once again on powerful form as battle-scarred and hard-edged survivor Ripley, filling her with pain, strength and emotional depth. Ripley has become such a rounded character over the course of the last two films and much of this is down to the incomparable work of the talented Sigourney Weaver, who brings so much to the role and delivers an outstanding performance. Charles S. Dutton is supremely effective as the leader of the prisoners, who inspires them with his speeches but will stand for no one stepping out of line and disobeying orders. Charles Dance is used very well as the informative but slightly mysterious doctor who takes a liking to Ripley, while Brian Glover brings gruff and blustering actions to his role as the superintendent of the prison. Ralph Brown is suitably cast as the assistant to the superintendent, who seems to repeat everything he says and doesn’t know what to do when confronted with a mounting crisis. Paul McGann is frightening as the disturbed prisoner Golic, who develops a fascination with the Alien, while Danny Webb is droll and sarcastic as prisoner Morse. Lance Henriksen is unfortunately underused this time as the battered Bishop and this is a real shame. The same goes for Pete Postlethwaite, Holt McCallany and Peter Guinness who are given barely anything to do as other inmates of the facility.
Flawed it may be, but Alien 3, primarily the Assembly Cut, certainly has its merits in terms of atmosphere and main performance from Sigourney Weaver.
- Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
- Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks
- Paul Reiser as Burke
- Carrie Henn as Newt
- Bill Paxton as Private Hudson
- Jenette Goldstein as Private Vasquez
- Lance Henriksen as Bishop
- William Hope as Lieutenant Gorman
- Al Matthews as Sergeant Apone
Coming seven years after the horror masterpiece that was Alien, Aliens is a different kind of beast. Whereas the first film was a slow-builder of tension and atmosphere, Aliens is a more action-packed and breakneck film. Saying that is a very effective sequel and its very interesting watching the change in direction and the impressive work once again from Sigourney Weaver. One note before the review begins, I will be reviewing the Director’s extended cut version of this film, not the theatrical edit.
After successfully battling the Alien and destroying her ship in the last movie, Ripley is found floating in her escape pod through space in hyper sleep. Although she originally thought her rescue ship would be picked up soon, 57 years have actually gone by. She is picked up by her employers Weyland-Yutani who ask her questions about why she blew up the ship and doubt her story about battling the Alien. Burke, the slimy financier of the corporation seems to believe her, but Ripley has a tough time getting her point across. Also she learns that her daughter back on Earth died while she was in hyper sleep which devastates Ripley. In another horrifying revelation, she learns that the planet that she landed on, named LV-426 has been colonized. Traumatized by her encounter with the Alien, Ripley is soon taken seriously when communications with the colony are mysteriously wiped out. Knowing that Ripley is the only person to face the creature, Burke persuades her to join a team of marines on a mission to the planet. The marines are led by the inexperienced Lieutenant Gorman and among those in the squad are the level-headed Corporal Hicks, joker Private Hudson and tough cookie Private Vasquez. Also joining the party is Burke and Bishop, an android who encounters hostility from Ripley after her experience with Ash in the last movie. Ripley predicts that the mission is doomed and sure enough upon landing on the planet she is proved right. She isn’t just facing one alien this time, there is a multitude of the vicious creatures to contend with. Along the way, Ripley rescues a traumatized young girl nicknamed Newt, who becomes something of a surrogate daughter for her. As terror increases and the body count rises, Ripley must protect herself and the other from the threat of the Alien, including the fearsome Queen that spawns the eggs for the creatures.
The change in direction of Aliens is an interesting thing as the action is brought into the forefront. James Cameron’s assured direction and skill at shooting explosive set pieces is on full display here. If Alien was the lone battle in a floating spaceship, Aliens is the war zone of conflict and bloodshed. While the action and the horror are amazing to behold and crafted with care, Aliens never scrimps on the story beneath it. Most primarily Ripley’s personal and emotional journey this time around, as her maternal instincts brought on by the presence of Newt give her the steely strength and fire she needs to take down the Alien. When she faces the Queen Alien, it isn’t just a battle of human vs animal, it’s a battle of mothers as well. James Horner provides the electrifying score of military drums, slithering strings and menacing brass. Visuals in Aliens are outstanding with the dark interiors of ships and buildings becoming menacing and soaked with blood as the group of aliens attack all who enter and created a cocoon like environment to store their hosts.
Sigourney Weaver is once again on fine form as Ripley, showcasing strength, sadness and grit as she battles to protect herself and those around her. Aliens is the film in which Ripley really comes into her own as an iconic character, as we witness her take on the creatures with intelligence and resourcefulness. It is one outstanding performance by Sigourney Weaver that really adds to the impact of the film. Michael Biehn makes for a likable character in the form of Corporal Hicks, who knows how to handle an extreme situation like the one the group finds themselves in. Paul Reiser imbues Burke with a slimy and avaricious quality as he attempts to bring the creature back to the corrupt company in increasingly nefarious ways, with little regard for the people who die in the process. With her wide eyes and wispy voice, Carrie Henn is excellent as the traumatized Newt, who comes to see the determined Ripley as her mother figure. Bill Paxton brings a dash of humour to the role of Hudson, whose loud actions and panicked behaviour do nothing to quell the anxiety building around the group. Jenette Goldstein nails the tough chick part of Vasquez with feisty energy and aggression. Lance Henriksen makes an impression as the sophisticated and intelligent android Bishop, while William Hope as the inexperienced and fear-stricken Lieutenant Gorman and Al Matthews as the chain-smoking Sergeant Apone have memorable parts.
Tense, action-packed and thrilling, Aliens is a refreshing sequel with cool direction and a powerful turn from Sigourney Weaver.
- Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas
- Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
- Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
- Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
- Ian Holm as Ash
- Yaphett Kotto as Parker
- John Hurt as Kane
Alien is a classic hybrid of science fiction and horror that brought a lot to the table upon its release. The claustrophobic and horrifying influence of this chilling film can be felt on many a horror flick, but I don’t think anything has ever matched its shocking and frightening power. With the talented Ridley Scott at the helm and Sigourney Weaver entering cinematic history with her performance as Ripley, Alien still holds up as one of the most effective horror films I’ve ever seen.
Set in the future, the commercial spacecraft Nostromo is returning to Earth. The ship is controlled by a sophisticated system code-named Mother. The crew comprises of Captain Dallas, Warrant Officer Ripley, navigator Lambert, engineer Brett, Science Officer Ash, second engineer Parker and Executive Officer Kane. The crew of seven are in hyper sleep but Mother picks up what seems to be a distress signal coming from a nearby planet. Although many of the crew are doubtful of what to do, according to the laws of the company, they must answer the signal. Upon landing on the planet, the ship is temporarily broken and in need of repair. Dallas, Lambert and Kane set foot on the planet in an attempt to find the cause of the distress signal. What they find is a strange ship apparently abandoned, but filled with multitudes of egg like objects. Unfortunately for Kane, one of the eggs hatches and a strange creature attaches itself to his face. Fearing for him Dallas and Lambert bring him back to the ship where Ash lets them in. Ripley is infuriated by this as it could jeopardize their safety or bring harm to any of them. After a while the creature seems to vanish and Kane appears to be fine. But during breakfast after the ship has been fixed and is in orbit, the real horror of the situation arrives. Kane convulses violently before dying as the creature emerges from his chest and flees into the bowels of the ship. With the beast on the loose and safety in danger, the crew attempt to kill it. But as bodies hit the floor and the alien grows rapidly into a terrifying creature, it all comes down to Ripley to survive the carnage and kill the alien.
The first thing to praise about Alien is the direction. Ridley Scott balances the interesting characters and the encroaching carnage with certainty and skill. The pace of Alien is magnificent as suspense builds and builds before erupting into terror and horror. The visual design of the Nostromo is second to none as well as the Alien itself, a horrifying creature that bleeds acid, has a double jaw that can pierce skulls and the ability to blend into its surroundings. A tense atmosphere of ghoulish uncertainty gives Alien a slow-building but effective backbone that brings many fears to light in disturbing fashion. We have the fear of bodily intrusion as the Alien lives inside a host before hatching, the fear of the unknown thing stalking the members of the crew and we have the fear of entrapment as the layers of the spaceship become a prison for the crew as they do battle with the creature. Jerry Goldsmith’s ambient score is a terrific asset in Alien’s already impressive arsenal, bringing that humming menace and gradually building terror to the forefront as the alien turns the ship into its personal hunting ground.
The effective cast brings a refreshingly adult sensibility to the film and it’s really refreshing to see grown ups instead of screaming teenagers running around. Tom Skerritt brings weariness to Captain Dallas, as he realizes that bringing Kane back onto the ship was a bad idea. The real revelation of Alien is Sigourney Weaver as the tough Ripley. Weaver brings inner vulnerability, grave authority and determined strength to the character as she gets in touch with the warrior inside in order to eliminate the threat posed to her. Ripley would go on to become an iconic character in the science fiction genre and rightfully so because of Weaver’s talent and power in the part. Veronica Cartwright is suitably wide-eyed and scared out of her wits as Lambert, while Harry Dean Stanton is sarcastic as Brett, a blue-collar worker complaining about company procedure. Ian Holm brings a quiet sort of uneasiness to Ash, who is concealing many secrets beneath his humane demeanor. Yaphett Kotto is great as Parker, Brett’s sparring partner and fellow mechanic, while John Hurt brings something devastating to the part of the tragic Kane and enters cinematic history as a result.
Haunting and horrifying, Alien is one of the best science fiction/ horror films out there and its impact can not be underestimated.