Tag Archives: Sigourney Weaver

Alien 3: Assembly Cut (1992) Review

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Alien 3

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Charles S. Dutton as Leonard Dillon
Charles Dance as Jonathan Clemens
Director: David Fincher

After her last encounter, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash-lands on Fiorina Fury 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, Ripley realizes that she brought along an unwelcome visitor.

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Despite the success and acclaim of the previous movies in the series, Alien 3 was a very divisive film upon its release in the early 90s. When I first saw the movie many years ago (around the same time I watched the other Alien movies for the first time), I actually liked it. However it did have its issues, mainly with studio interference, director David Fincher (who has gone on to do make better things) has since disowned this movie. There was an assembly cut put together, which included extended footage, deleted scenes, new digital effects and different key elements. I legitimately think that this version of Alien 3 is great, or at least close to being great.

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Again, the version of Alien 3 I’ll be reviewing is the Assembly Cut, which is widely known as the superior version of the film. It was years since I saw the movie for the first time (which I assume was the theatrical version), so I can’t comment too much on the differences between the two versions. However watching this movie now, I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like without 30 minutes of extra footage. One difference I know for certain was that for the creation of the main xenomorph, the theatrical version has it birthed from a dog, in this version its from an ox. One of the biggest criticisms was early in the movie was the fact that all the characters who survived the previous movie aside from Ripley die at the beginning (not really a spoiler it’s very early on). While I didn’t like that decision for the longest time, now I’ve sort of warmed to that idea now. Killing these characters at the beginning was a bold choice. After the action film that was James Cameron’s Aliens, Alien 3 firmly establishes itself as being a very different movie, a much bleaker and nihilistic movie, and this alienated some fans. Despite this, I think that the tonal departure from its predecessor works to Fincher’s benefit. This film is also closer in tone to the original Alien, being much more of a horror film than an action film. The movie is also set in a more confined location, reasonably large but still closed in and claustrophobic, and while the characters aren’t in space, there aren’t any weapons to fight back with (though the reason behind this does feel a little bit forced). It’s very much its own movie. With all that being said, Alien 3 is one of the most infamous cases of studio interference. The assembly cut puts together the movie as best as possible, and while watching it now I liked what I saw, there was a feeling at points that it was a little rushed. The ending was satisfying, and would’ve been a good place to end the series (and then they made Alien Resurrection for some reason).

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Sigourney Weaver is great as usual as Ellen Ripley, still having that strong on screen presence, I actually think that this is her best performance as the character. Alien 3 really shows the PTSD that Ripley has from the experience of the previous two movies and how those events took a toll on her. The rest of the cast are good, with two standouts being Charles Dance and Charles S. Dutton. Both of them have some quite solidly written characters, elevated by the great performances. Unfortunately the rest of the supporting characters don’t have much to them, though not a whole lot worse than the supporting characters of the previous two movies.

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The direction of the movie by David Fincher was great, and his direction took the film to another level. One of the film’s biggest strengths is the setting, taking place on a prison. Fincher does well at making this location feel remote and dystopian. Despite it being a somewhat large environment, it still feels claustrophobic. The production design was particularly great, with a lot of attention to detail. The cinematography is great and makes the film look so visually appealing, with dark shadows, strong aesthetics, and really adds to that claustrophobic. In the third act, the POV shots from the Xenomorph’s perspective also really worked. One of the more noticeable problems with the movie was that the CGI on the Xenomorph is very much a mixed bag. The actual design on the new alien is great and is something that hadn’t been shown in the previous two movies. Also, whenever the xenomorph is on screen with practical effects, it looks fantastic. However, in some points it will just cut to a very fake looking Xenomorph doing stuff, and the effects even in the Assembly Cut haven’t aged well. The chase scenes are pretty repetitive, though I guess that a whole lot of those moments were inevitable with the movie being a more open environment than the original Alien, and lacking the weapons in Aliens. The score by Elliot Goldenthal is also great, and fits the movie very well.

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Alien 3 is definitely a flawed film but it’s by no means a bad film, in fact I think it’s really good. The new take for an Alien film is interesting, it’s greatly directed, I like the places that the story is taken, and the performances are great, especially from Weaver, Dance and Dutton. I’d recommend checking out this version of the film. It isn’t as strong as the first two movies, Alien still remains the best film in the series but Alien 3 is at least close to being at the level of Aliens.

Chappie (2015) Review

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Chappie

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Sharlto Copley as Chappie
Dev Patel as Deon Wilson
Ninja as Ninja
Yolandi Visser as Yolandi
Jose Pablo Cantillo as Amerika
Sigourney Weaver as Michelle Bradley
Hugh Jackman as Vincent Moore
Director: Neill Blomkamp

In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. When one police droid, Chappie (Sharlto Copley), is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind.

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Chappie has been one of my most anticipated films of the year but it has been getting mixed to negative reviews since its release. It got the point where some people are worried about director Neill Blomkamp taking on the Alien franchise. Despite all the negative reviews I found myself enjoying this movie. It’s not perfect and I think that District 9 and Elysium are better than this, but I still think it’s a good film and is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it already.

One thing that I’ve noticed about the negative reviews of this film is that they didn’t like the direction that the plot went. This is mainly because of the marketing campaign misled expectations into a different direction to what the movie is about, which is why I recommend not watching the trailer. A lot of the movie has Chappie growing up with some drug dealers (played by the members of Die Antwoord) and are personally my main criticism of the film. It’s not the direction of the plot, I know what Blomkamp was trying to do by focussing on immoral characters, they are supposed to be bad people who are sympathetic but I didn’t feel the latter part, especially when it came to a character named Ninja, who I personally just couldn’t stand. Aside from the writing of those characters however, the other characters are well written and the plot kept me interested.

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Sharlto Copley returns for another Neill Blomkamp film and as usual is great. This time taking on motion capture, expresses a lot through it and he seems real and is shown evolving and learning, like a child and I could really see that through his performance. Dev Patel was also really good and Hugh Jackman was great as the villain of the film. Sigourney Weaver was decent but she played so little part in the role it was a wonder why she was cast. As I said earlier, the biggest fault of the movie are the drug dealers, played by the members of music group Die Antwoord. I have no idea why they were cast, but at times the film felt like a 2 hour commercial for them especially seeing as how they keep their band names as their character names. The actors did fine with what they had but the characters could’ve been better written.

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Like I said before, the motion effects on Chappie look excellent, he seemed real and is the highlight of the film. The action scenes like in District 9 and Elysium are fantastic, with great CGI and its cinematography. I do feel like it’s worth mentioning that Blomkamp overused slow motion a little too much for my taste but it’s not really a big flaw. I also particularly enjoy the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, which really isn’t a big surprise, as every score that he composes is excellent.

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With Chappie, Neill Blomkamp (at least for me) proves once again that he’s a great director who can make really good movies. Even though this film hadn’t been getting a lot of love I still think it’s worth watching Chappie and making up your own opinion about it yourself. While some people are worried about Neill Blomkamp taking on the Alien franchise, I’m not. In fact I’m even more excited seeing as how he’s now successfully made 3 solid Sci-Fi films in a row.

Avatar (2009)

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Print

Time: 162 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Sam Worthington as Jake Sully
Zoe Saldana as Neytiri
Sigourney Weaver as Grace
Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch
Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacon
Director: James Cameron

In the future, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na’vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers Intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na’vi people with the use of an “avatar” identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand – and fight back for the fate of Pandora.

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Avatar is one of the most successful movies and is loved by many people. Although I do think it is a good movie with excellent cinematography and CGI, I have issues with the script which is often predictable and could’ve been much better. Despite this, it is still an enjoyable movie.

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The writing for me is the weakest part of the movie; to clarify it’s not the world of Pandora I’m talking about, that was done okay, it’s the story. The story for me was predictable, even when I was 10 years old watching this in cinemas, most of the time I could see where this story was going, this type of story has been done before. This movie is very similar to Dances with Wolves; you may as well call this movie “Dances with Wolves with blue Indians”. Also another flaw in the writing is the characters, none of the characters really stood out to me and often there are certain characters that are only there to move a plot point along like the general who is quite clichéd. Another thing that should be added is that there were a lot of moments in the middle of the film that I felt wouldn’t make much of a difference if they were taken out. It shows Sam Worthington’s character learning how to become one of the Na’vi but at times it seems just like a montage. Overall the story is functional but still could’ve improved immensely. If you put this story in a place without big special effects, I think people would more likely notice the glaring issues with the script.

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The acting was decent enough from most people. Sam Worthington gives a pretty good performance and does what he can with the script, despite his character not being very interesting. Zoe Saldana gives the best performance in the movie and plays probably the character that’s closest to standing out the most. Stephen Lang plays the general as I mentioned above and like I said, his role just seems to just be the clichéd bad guy. No character information is given to him so as a result, his performance didn’t leave an impression on me. Other actors like Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver also do the best of what they have.

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The special effects elevated this movie and are probably the only reason I’ll overlook the writing’s flaws, at least a little. This movie really makes you feel like you are in the world of Pandora. The battle scenes are also well filmed and unlike some battle scenes in other Hollywood movies today, you can actually see them from a good distance. The CG and the motion captures of the Na’vi are done excellently.

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Avatar isn’t a great movie in my eyes, only when considering the special effects. I heard that there will be sequels to this movie and I have to say I don’t understand why. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, do so. Technically this film is well made with a great look; just don’t expect a great movie.

Aliens (1986)

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Aliens

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Carrie Hann as Rebecca ‘Newt’ Jordan
Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks
Lance Henriksen as Bishop
Jenette Goldstein as Private Vasquez
Paul Reiser as Carter Burke
Bill Paxton as Private Hudson
Director: James Cameron

The only survivor of the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) awakens half a century later (after the events of Alien) after her escape vessel is recovered and taken back to Earth she soon learns that the human colony of LV-426 which is on the planet the alien she found, lost contact with Earth. Ripley is called back to the planet as an adviser with space marines to investigate.

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The idea of having a sequel to a film which was a horror movie, which is now an action movie, seemed like a recipe for disaster. However, this movie is greatly directed by James Cameron and even manages to still contain some of the fear elements from Alien. It is always hugely entertaining and has led to many other sci-fi movies. Aliens is a thrill ride that never lets up at gaining your attention, scaring you or entertaining you.

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One thing noticeable is the pacing which isn’t as slow as its predecessor; it is slightly faster which is good for the type of movie it was going for. The ways the Xenomorphs (the aliens) work are shown so we get an idea about how powerful they are. However, Cameron doesn’t show all of it or explain it; he gives enough information necessary for the audience to understand. The film also manages to balance the action scenes with the suspense scenes. The film’s action scenes build up over time and are always satisfying. The final act is particularly enjoyable and entertaining and is Ellen Ripley being a pure badass.

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Ellen Ripley is more developed here than in Alien and therefore Sigourney Weaver’s performance here makes her character so great; her performance even being rewarded with an Oscar nomination, despite this mostly being a sci-fi movie. She is stronger in this movie and you can clearly see her develop as the plot goes on – like Sarah Conner in Terminator 2. The side characters have more personality than in the characters in Alien; however as there are more of them, this means that a lot of them die, which results in some being more developed than others. There are some stand out characters that are focussed on more such as Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henrikson, Jeanette Goldstein, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton – and all of these actors were really good in their roles and carry the movie along with Sigourney Weaver.

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Aliens takes advantage of its higher budget and makes use of really good effects, especially for the aliens, though they aren’t CGI, which is great. As with Alien, this movie has really good cinematography and lighting, which were some of the things that made Alien so effective as a horror movie. As this now takes place on a colony, where as Alien took place on a ship, Aliens has a larger place to work with and therefore have a lot of impressive sets that were used. The sound design and editing are also good, like in Alien. The soundtrack composed by James Horner is also good, adding to the atmosphere the tension and the feeling of the unknown.

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Aliens proves that there are times where a horror movie can become an action movie – you just need the right people who can make it so. This is one of the rarest cases where a horror movie to action movie translation actually works, and in this case brilliant. You won’t get as many scares as you may have from the previous movie but this is still a great experience. This is my favourite movie in the Alien franchise. Aliens is a great action sci-fi movie that gives the audience exactly what they want, when they want it.
10/10

Alien (1979)

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Alien

Time: 117 mins
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
Tom Skerritt as Dallas
Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
John Hurt as Kane
Ian Holm as Ash
Director: Ridley Scott

A commercial crew aboard the deep space towing vessel, Nostromo is on its way home when they pick an SOS warning from a distant planet. What they don’t know is that the SOS warning is not like any other ordinary warning call. After picking up the signal, the crew realize that they are not alone on the spaceship when an alien stowaways on the cargo ship.

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The pacing of this movie is slow at first. The first half an hour or so is build up for the rest of the movie, which is absolutely perfect because it manages to create a very tense atmosphere. Alien is one of the best examples of how to create atmosphere in a movie, you take the pacing slower and let it build the atmosphere build up over time. This film also manages to give a feeling of claustrophobia and vulnerability that is present throughout the entire film.

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One reason that the alien is scary is because unless you’ve seen the other movies, you don’t know how this alien works and what it can do. The alien looks different every time we see it, and leaves us wondering what it would look like every time it’s on screen. If there is one thing that the alien represents, it’s the unknown. Like other well-made horror movies it doesn’t give all the answers to the creature that stalks the characters, all the viewer can do is watch. It’s quite a while before the alien gets seen or even mentioned. When it does, it only appears on screen every so often but that’s what made it scarier than if it was frequently popping up. The film’s scares don’t come from jump scares alone, it takes advantage of its atmosphere and uses it to help its scares. This led to one of the biggest scares I’ve ever seen in a movie. I won’t tell which scene it is or any of the other scares; in case you haven’t seen it. Like Psycho, many of the scenes are so easy to spoil it’s best to watch those moments yourself without prior knowledge. Another thing great about this movie is the fact that it doesn’t have action that could’ve ruined the amount of tension. Granted, James Cameron’s sequel manages to balance it out nicely but Alien succeeds in the type of movie it’s aiming to be: a haunted house in space.

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The actors still do a good job reacting to everything that happens despite the fact that they aren’t anything special. When you go to a horror movie you aren’t looking for great acting but fortunately the actors here to a much better job than most actors in most horror movies. While you don’t get to learn much about the characters, again, most horror movies aren’t about the people. We are with these characters for the whole movies so they needed to feel real enough, which they do.

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The alien is always a presence in this movie, even when it’s not on screen. This is due to many things, the camera work, the lighting, the sound design and the score. The score by Jerry Goldsmith in particular gives the movie an eerie vibe. The sound design should also be commended for managing to convey a feeling of emptiness. The camera’s tone is quite bleak and dark. The lighting in this movie in some parts is quite dark, leading viewers to wonder if the alien is on screen or not. All of those film techniques results in the film have a very creepy vibe.

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Although I still personally prefer Aliens over this movie, I will say is that Alien is scarier than its great sequel. Even though Aliens has a lot of action, don’t go into this movie expecting that same thing. It’s a slow, horror movie that builds atmosphere, and actually is a great example of how to create suspense, scares, atmosphere and an overall good horror film.