The Prometheus School of Running Away from Things

Prometheus is the sort of prequel to Alien that answers almost nothing about its universe. After the abysmally bad Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, both franchises decided to go their separate ways. The idea for a prequel came long before the crossover happened. James Cameron had the idea, but Ridley Scott ended up being the one to return. His ideas were interesting to say the least. Since I knew it was going to be a big deal, I made much more of an effort to see Prometheus. Being underaged, my mom had to accompany us. Which wasn’t too bad, since the movie barely earns its R rating.

Prometheus is set between the years 2089 and 2093. It follows a crew/cast of scientists that travel to a distant planet on the ship Prometheus. Elizabeth Shaw hopes to find an extraterrestrial species she believes is responsible for our creation. The philosophical pseudo religious nature of the story can come off as pretentious at times. Her crew includes the captain Janek, supervisor Vickers, her lover Charlie, and an advanced android named David. Michael Fassbender’s performance is a clear standout. For a bunch of smart people, they really do make a lot of dumb decisions. Like touching everything they see or only running in straight lines.

The aliens they do encounter are a bit overly complex. There’s black goo that can either make you sick or turn you into a zombie and a snake-like creature that serves no purpose. The only real question answered is who the Space Jockeys are. They’re big white humanoid “gods” referred to as Engineers. The goo mixed with sex, creates a squid baby, that grows into a giant that facehugs an Engineer, and creates a creature that only sort of looks like a Xenomorph. It’s all very confusing, and so is Guy Pearce in old person makeup playing another Weyland. Prometheus has stunning visuals, but it’s a little over ambitious for its own good.

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An Engineer

Followed by: Alien Resurrection & Alien: Covenant

Planet of the Hunters

Predators is the Predator franchises answer to Aliens. As they figure making it plural will make it better. They sort of succeed. After the abysmally bad Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, both franchises decided to go their separate ways. The first standalone movie to be made was Predators. Since I was still underaged at the time, I couldn’t go to see the movie. Despite not directing it, this is very much a Robert Rodriguez movie. The constant swearing, questionable leads, and brutal violence are very much his style.

Predators takes the hunt away from Earth. Instead a crew/cast of Earth’s most deadly killers is placed on a planet that acts as a game preserve. Adrien Brody plays a mercenary named Royce. He may have gotten jacked, but he’s still not intimidating enough. Royce is joined by soldiers, inmates, gangsters, and a very out of place Topher Grace as a doctor. They eventually run into Laurence Fishburne as a soldier who’s been stuck on the planet for years.

As the title suggests, there are several predators to deal with. Predators even introduces a different faction called Super Predators. Tracker, Falconer, and Berserker are much more intimidating hunters that have a blood feud with the classic predators. They also use dog-like aliens on their hunt. While it can’t compare to the original, Predators at least tries to recapture its testosterone fueled action. By returning to the basic shoulder cannon, wrist blades, and by doing a few callbacks. Predators is probably the closest thing to a good Predator sequel we’ll ever get.

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The Super Predator faces a classic Predator

Preceded by: Predator 2 & Followed by: The Predator

On Earth, it Won’t Matter

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is hands down the worst thing to come out of the Alien and Predator franchises. Although I was still pretty young, I wanted to go see the movie since I saw Alien vs. Predator. But while AVP had an overly sanitized PG-13 rating, AVP: R has an overly graphic hard R rating. It’s like they can’t get the tone right. Seeing the red band trailer and offensive tagline (“This Christmas, there will be no peace on Earth”) was enough to turn me off seeing it.

My first attempt to watch it ended after 10 minutes. When I finally watched it I realized that was a good decision. AVP: R is practically a slasher film. It’s dark, has no actors you’d recognize, the plot is meaningless, and the violence is too gruesome. When I say it’s dark, I mean you can barely make things out half the time. AVP: R takes place immediately after AVP. The chestburster grows into a Predalien. A hybrid of both creatures. It’s pursued by a predator named Wolf that’s tasked with cleaning up all evidence of Xenomorphs.

The setting is Colorado and the only crew/cast is townspeople. There’s something very off about aliens roaming a residential area. Things are taken way too far due to the people caught in the crossfire. A kid is facehugged, a girl’s father is killed in front of her, a love interest dies, and I don’t even want to mention the tasteless hospital scene. In the end, the entire city is nuked leaving only a handful of survivors. Then they try to have a plot by introducing Ms. Yutani. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem crosses a line that effectively killed the crossover franchise.

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Wolf faces the Predalien (I think?)

Crossover of: The Alien and Predator franchises & Preceded by: Alien vs. Predator

Whoever Wins… We Lose

Alien vs. Predator is the science fiction monster clash fans waited a decade to see. It brings both 20th Century Fox franchises together in one big crossover. By pitting the two vastly different alien creatures against one another. The animalistic Xenomorphs and the technologically advanced Yautja hunters. The Alien quadrilogy lasted from 1979 to 1997. The original was a big game changer and the sequel is one of the best ever made. The follow ups however were less than admirable. The Predator films lasted from 1987 to 1990. The first movie has great action, but the sequel couldn’t recapture it.

So the only logical step was to bring both dying franchises together. Much like another major crossover film that was released just one year prior. The idea for Alien vs. Predator actually originates from a Dark Horse comic. Back when comic book companies used to do all sorts of crazy crossovers. The possibility for a movie only grew when a Xenomorph skull appeared at the end of Predator 2. Despite my age, I was fortunate enough to have seen most of the Alien and Predator movies before the release of the crossover. So I actually saw Alien vs. Predator in theaters. Which I was able to do since the movie got a PG-13 rating for some reason. Even though they’re both very R rated franchises…

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Xenomorph vs. Yautja

Alien vs. Predator could’ve had a stellar cast that included Sigourney Weaver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but instead we’re left with a bland cast of nobodies. Even though the Alien movies were very much steeped in a futuristic outer space setting, AVP brings them to modern day Earth. Which is fine if the movie is non canon, but the inclusion of Lance Henriksen as Charles Bishop Weyland makes it a bit confusing. AVP follows a crew/cast of archaeologists in Antarctica. The only one worth mentioning is Lex. A guide for the team and the sole survivor. She’s no Ripley, but at least she’s the least 2 dimensional of the rest of her crew. Who are frankly just there to be killed off.

Despite dozens of better settings in comics and video games, AVP settles for a pyramid buried beneath the arctic. Predators have apparently been here for thousands of years. They were responsible for building the pyramids and were worshipped as gods. The aliens were bred from willing hosts in order to give predators the ultimate prey to hunt. It’s a ridiculous set up, but I didn’t really care about plot too much when I was a kid. I was only in it for the fighting. My brother and I actually chose sides, since we were both slightly bigger fans of one more than the other. I was team alien and my brother was team predator.

Regardless of the movies quality, that first meeting will always be the best part of any crossover movie. Three predators arrive at the pyramid named Chopper, Celtic, and Scar. An alien kills Chopper and the first showdown officially commences between Celtic and the alien. The fight is awesome well choreographed fan service. Ending with the alien on top. So one alien (now with a grid pattern) killed two predators. Leaving the much more capable predator Scar to fight off the rest. He forms an unusual alliance with Lex, and they both try to kill off the rest of the aliens. Including a queen alien that was forced to lay eggs.

AVP ends with a showdown between Lex, Scar, and the queen. The queen kills Scar, is dragged to the bottom of the ocean, and an elder arrives to collect the predator. The final shot reveals that a chestburster was inside Scar the entire time. Considering a facehugger attached itself to him offscreen. Since an aliens form depends on its host, the chestburster has tusks. Paul W. S. Anderson has a great eye for visuals, but his writing is just as weak as ever. Still, Alien vs. Predator knows action is all anyone cares about.

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A Xenomorph sneaks up on Scar

Crossover of: The Alien and Predator franchises & Followed by: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

Super Ripley

Alien Resurrection resurrects the Alien franchise, but only slightly. Like Alien³, I didn’t bother seeing Alien Resurrection when I was younger. Even though it’s not nearly as bad. My parents simply told us it was icky. Alien Resurrection refers to Ripley. Who was annoyingly killed off at the end of Alien³. 200 years later, she’s cloned in order to bring back the Xenomorphs for military purposes. Since a queen alien was inside her.

The process gives her superhuman abilities including strength, reflexes, acid blood, and a psychic link with the aliens. Don’t worry, it gets weirder. The crew/cast this time is a group of mercenaries recruited by the military. The only ones worth mentioning are one in a wheelchair and another played by Ron Perlman. There’s also 90’s mainstay Winona Ryder as Call. She’s revealed to be a highly advanced android. The aliens aren’t that much different than the original. They most notably kill their own in order to use its acid blood and swim around. Not that there isn’t another alien variation.

The ickiness really kicks in when the also mutated queen alien gives human-like birth to a disgusting alien/human hybrid called a “Newborn.” Something Ripley’s bizarrely affectionate towards. Until she throws it into deep space in an overly graphic way. Sigourney Weaver’s unusual performance is fine, but she’s definitely not the Ripley we used to know. While the director isn’t noteworthy, Alien Resurrection was written by Joss Whedon. Proving that he wasn’t always a master writer. Alien Resurrection is watchable, but style is clearly more important to them than substance.

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Call encounters the Newborn

Preceded by: Alien³ & Prometheus

Acid in the Face

Alien³ does everything in its power to insult fans of the previous Alien films. I’ve known for a long time that Alien³ was a movie that my parents genuinely hate. That’s why I ignored it when I was younger, only seeing it later as an adult. Since it’s one of a few movies my parents considered walking out of. SPOILER ALERT! Alien³ kills off beloved characters Hicks and Newt within the first few minutes. So what’s the point of sticking around after that?

Ripley and an egg containing a queen are the sole survivors of a crash that lands them on an all male prison planet. Meaning Alien³ is the only movie in the Alien quadrilogy that doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. While there, Ripley is isolated and has her head shaved. It brings down the progress Sigourney Weaver made severely. The only crew/cast is a small group of prisoners. The only interesting thing we learn about the Xenomorph is that the host determines the form of the alien. A facehugger attaches itself to a dog and becomes a dog alien. A slender creature that runs on all fours.

The only thing I can call good about Alien³ is the iconic shot of Ripley with an alien next to her face. She isn’t killed because she has an alien growing inside her. In the end, Ripley dies by leaping into a fiery furnace with chestburster in hand. Like most franchise movies that are this terrible, Alien³ suffered from rewrites and studio meddling. So you can’t really blame first time director David Fincher too much. That being said, Alien³ is still a gloomy, overly depressing, orange colored mess.

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A Xenomorph gets dangerously close to Ripley

Preceded by: Aliens & Followed by: Alien Resurrection

Concrete Jungle

Predator 2 turns up the heat for a sequel now set in an urban jungle. Unlike the first Predator, I definitely shouldn’t have seen Predator 2 at such a young age. My dad got us the movie on VHS and I think he didn’t realize how much graphic nudity was in it. Victims are stripped naked instead of skinned for some reason. Despite releasing in 1990, Predator 2 is set 10 years after the events of the first movie.

1997 Los Angeles is currently dealing with an increase in drug and gang activity during a heat wave. One that draws the attention of a new predator. Only this one is equipped with even more weapons. Along with the ones seen previously, the predator now has a spear, a net cannon, and a throwing disc. Kevin Peter Hall once again plays the titular hunter. Since Arnold didn’t want to return, Danny Glover now plays the lead. He’s up to the task, but not quite the same physical match. Glover plays a cop named Harrigan who crosses paths with the predator along with his crew/cast of fellow cops.

Bill Paxton plays a cop that ends up getting killed by the predator. Meaning he bares the distinction of being killed by a terminator, an alien, and a predator. Gary Busey plays an agent with knowledge of the predator’s alien origins. Harrigan’s fight with the predator takes them all the way to its ship. Where a Xenomorph skull is seen (more on that later). The predator is killed and an elder predator comes to reward him with a trophy. Along with its over-the-top nature, my biggest problem with Predator 2 is that it just goes too far in a generically gruesome direction.

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The Yautja looms over the city

Preceded by: Predator & Followed by: Predators

Get to the Choppa!

Predator introduces us to the deadliest hunter of them all. Resulting in one big testosterone fueled smash hit. From John McTiernan, the man who would direct Die Hard just one year later. He enlisted only the biggest, most muscular action stars at the time. Since I was a big fan of aliens and Arnold Schwarzenegger growing up, Predator was a perfect combination. As this was the peak of Arnie’s acting career. Even though Predator is R rated and clearly not meant for kids. Despite the toys, comics, and video games that were eventually spawned from the franchise.

I was definitely a fan, but it was really my brother who was obsessed with it. He really got into the technology that the titular predator uses. Of course my parents were the ones who initially got us into it. Originally titled Hunter, Predator surprisingly originated from a joke made about Rocky IV. With the simple premise of the muscular hero fighting an alien. Luckily they didn’t go with their original predator design. Which would have been Jean-Claude Van Damme in some sort of bug suit. It was thankfully redesigned with Kevin Peter Hall bringing him to life. Big action stars, cheesy one-liners, and bloody violence were the 80’s at their finest…

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The Yautja roars

Predator crosses action and science fiction with horror, because nothing is scarier than being hunted like an animal. We already know the predator is an alien due to the spaceship revealed in the opening shot. Predator centers on a ragtag crew/cast of elite special forces operatives. Arnold plays Major Dutch, the leader (and last surviving member) of his team. His team consists of Mac, Blain, Billy, Poncho, and Hawkins. Joining them is CIA operative and old friend of Dutch, Dillon. Whom he greets with the manliest handshake ever. Only Carl Weathers can pull that off.

Their mission is to rescue hostages held by guerrilla forces in the Central American jungle. Arnold of course spouts off a stream of cheesy one-liners. Including “Stick around,” “If it bleeds… we can kill it,” and the often quoted “Get to the choppa!” But it’s actually Jesse “The Body” Ventura who gets the cheesiest line of all. After getting shot he says “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Ironically both Schwarzenegger and Ventura would become state Governors. While Sonny Landham who played the stoic Native American Billy would be less successful in his political career.

Bill Duke previously collaborated with Arnie in Commando. Although the oddest cast member would have to be writer/future director Shane Black. Anna is the only female cast member, but she does survive as well. The titular predator (or Yautja) has a very distinctive design. Although most of the movie it’s unseen because of cloaking technology. Which only builds up the tension of the hunt. When the Predator is revealed, its shown to be carrying a variety of weapons. Like Retractable wrist blades and a deadly shoulder mounted plasma cannon. It also carries a medical pack and something to clean its trophies after skinning bodies. Since a predator is drawn to heat, it only makes sense that they have reptilian skin.

Dutch manages to survive by camouflaging himself with mud. Since predators can only see with thermal vision. After holding it off with a series of booby traps, the predator finally takes its helmet off. Revealing itself to be one ugly motherf***er. With alien dreadlocks and tusks surrounding its mouth. Their final confrontation ends in Dutch’s favor. But the glowing green blood soaked predator has one more trick up its sleeve. A self-destruct device that it activates while strangely laughing manically. In the end, Predator is a classic because it shows that man is the true deadliest hunter.

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Dutch faces a Yautja

Followed by: Predator 2

Get Away from Her You B*tch

Aliens is one of the greatest sequels ever made, because it took its story and did something big with it. While Alien was a horror movie set in space, Aliens is much more of an action movie. One that still has enough sci-fi terror to keep with the tone of the original. Something only master filmmaker James Cameron can pull off. He was chosen as director right after the success of The Terminator. Which is why previous collaborators like Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn play a part. It’s also why the sequel now deals with themes of war. Since the horrors of war are a common theme in James Cameron movies. He was also able to give the sequel a look all its own.

The titular aliens now have a more skeletal design. Rather than the smooth design we saw previously. Probably Cameron’s best contribution to the franchise would have to be further developing Ripley’s character. To the point where Sigourney Weaver received a Best Actress nomination. A landmark nomination for a science fiction film. It ended up winning Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing. Despite still retaining an R rating and featuring more bloody violence, Aliens was definitely the Alien movie that my parents suggested the most…

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Ripley and Newt meet the Queen

Aliens builds up the tension by simply making its title plural. Instead of just one alien to deal with, there are now hundreds. After blasting the original alien out into space, Ripley (and her cat) have tragically been drifting in hypersleep for over 57 years. Until they’re rescued by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. A corporation that was merely hinted at before, but is now given even greater significance. Since James Cameron is also fond of corrupt businesses.

We learn far more about Ripley and the aliens. Ripley’s first name is revealed to be Ellen and the aliens are given the classification Xenomorph. Nobody believes Ripley’s story and she suffers from nightmares of having a chestburster inside her. It’s not until contact is lost with a now terriformed LV-426 that they’re willing to listen to her. That’s where the Colonial Marines come in. A squad of ultimate badasses that supplies the movie with its 80’s style hyper violence and harsh language. Aliens easily has the best crew/cast of any Alien film.

Along with Ripley, the crew is made up of: Hicks, Hudson, Vasquez, Gorman, Burke, and Bishop. Bishop is a far less sinister android that Ripley is initially hesitant to trust. While Burke turns out to be the untrustworthy one. Like Ripley, Vasquez is a badass female presence. Hudson starts out cocky at first, but falls apart after their first encounter with a swarm of aliens. Bill Paxton’s constant complaining and iconic line, “Game over man,” make him a standout. Hicks is the one who teaches Ripley how to fight. Making her the badass movie heroine we all know today. Her softer side is shown in her interactions with Newt. A girl who somehow managed to survive the aliens. Lines like “They mostly come at night… mostly” prove that adding a kid to a cast isn’t always a bad idea.

The scariest scene would have to be Ripley and Newt trapped in a room with two facehuggers. The aliens prove to be more resourceful than ever. By cutting the power or using their acid blood as a weapon. The best addition by far is the introduction of the queen alien. A giant alien that was responsible for laying the eggs. After nuking the colony (and presumably the queen), Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop make it to safety. Until the queen survives long enough for a very similar climax. Only with the added excitement of Ripley in a cargo-loader exosuit. Delivering one of the most badass lines in movie history, “Get away from her you b*tch!” Scenes like this are why Aliens is a perfect sequel that ends the series on a hopeful note.

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A Xenomorph sneaks up on Newt

Preceded by: Alien & Followed by: Alien³

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream

Alien is the perfect combination of science fiction and horror. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest and scariest ever made. Since today is my birthday, I thought I would talk about one of my biggest obsessions growing up. Even though Alien is R rated and clearly not meant for kids. Despite the toys, comics, and video games that were eventually spawned from the franchise. I enjoyed watching the movie on DVD and crawling around like the titular alien. My parents were the ones that initially told us it was a must watch. Since we were very much into aliens at the time.

It’s kinda surprising that its simple title hadn’t been used until now, but Alien stands out for several reasons. The teaser trailer is one of the best ever made. Starting with an egg in space that cracks. Followed by an eerie sound accompanied by mysterious flashes of an astronaut crew that gets progressively more intense. Until it suddenly ends with perhaps the most iconic movie tagline of all time, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” It makes me wish I was around during the 70’s to see that trailer for the first time…

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The Xenomorph attacks

Alien is basically a haunted house movie set on a spaceship. With astronauts as the victims and an extraterrestrial as the monster that hunts them down one by one. Ridley Scott perfectly captures the claustrophobic nature of the ship matched with its moody atmosphere, in what would turn out to be only the second film he directed. Alien centers on the crew of a space freighter called the Nostromo. A small crew/cast that consists of only 7 people. The ship’s captain Dallas, Ripley, Lambert, Brett, Kane, Ash, and Parker.

The crew awakens from hypersleep to answer a distress signal on the moon LV-426. Where they discover a mysterious vessel containing eggs. The titular alien (or Xenomorph) is one of the most unique aliens ever created. Most defined by its equally unique lifecycle. Kane becomes an unwilling host when the spider-like “facehugger” attaches itself to him. A process that makes most people assume there’s a sexual overtone to it. This leads to the film’s scariest scene that was a complete shock to everyone (including the actors themselves). While eating dinner, Kane begins to choke, convulse, and suddenly blood spurts out of his chest along with a “chestburster.” A snake-like creature that growls before slinking away.

It could have been killed if not for Ash. Who turns out to be a murderous milky android that intends to bring the alien back to Earth. After shedding its skin, the alien takes on its iconic adult form. A biomechanical creature with a long banana shaped head, no visible eyes, claws, a razor sharp tail, acid for blood, and a retractable second mouth. Thanks to the use of practical effects, Alien won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The creature itself was performed by a tall African man. The alien is able to pick off the crew due to its body blending in with the ship. Crew members are killed from above, in the air ducts, and off screen.

While it seems like the captain is the main character, Ripley ends up being the lone survivor. Although the role was intended to be male, making her female was a stroke of genius. Ripley is a smart resourceful badass brought to life by Sigourney Weaver’s star making performance. Her cat Jones is a really good actor too. When the ship’s computer (Mother) self destructs the Nostromo, it seems like she’s safe. Until the alien survives long enough to be shot into deep space through an airlock. Above anything else, Alien made us fear the unknown. Which is why Alien has made such a lasting impression on both the horror and sci-fi genre.

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Ripley straps herself in

Followed by: Aliens