Tag Archives: Alien

Shoo! Alien, shoo! Leave Prometheus alone!

Oh, Ridley Scott. There you are looking back on your career thinking: “Yeah, Alien rocked. And yeah, Blade Runner totally rocked, too!” And you know what, Ridley, you are actually right. They are both fantastic films. I would argue that Alien is far more fantastic than Blade Runner, but because Alien is so fucking out there mega-fantastic that is like saying “Blade Runner is better than 99.9 percent of all films ever made”. And then Ridley? Then you’re all like: “Yeah, let’s revisit this and make another epic Sci-Fi action flick!” Did I mention that you probably look back on films like Gladiator and think that it was equally as awesome? Now there is the problem. Sometimes your films fucking stink. So, let’s talk about Prometheus, shall we?

via thewertzone.blogspot.com

Nothing in Prometheus makes any sense. Whatsoever.
Yup, it’s all a big bag of bullshit. Oh, a nice and pretty bag of bullshit. So shiny you need to look at it. And amidst all the shit squishing and squashing in there we find ideas and performances that are brilliant. But what makes this movie such a bag of bullshit is the problem that many films have: They could be so fucking awesome but somewhere along the way people started to make mistakes and didn’t stop with them. Prometheus is such a case.

via prometheus-movie.com

Everyone and their grandmother has said it by now, but it is worth repeating: The idea that these characters on this ship are scientist is laughable at best. Offensive really, cause what it shows is that obviously no one involved with this project had any idea of scientific work whatsoever. Or they must have hit their heads really hard. From the dumbass boyfriend being all sulky cause he just discovered alien life-forms on another planet and cannot ask them why they made him (not to mention taking off his helmet, cause he just ‘felt’ that he could probably breathe the air) to the “biologist” whose first instinct upon meeting new and aggressive life forms is to touch them in the face. And dear Elizabeth, our supposed heroine, she is what exactly? An archeologist / medical doctor /biologist /geneticist /what the hell? Girl can do it all. Cause she probably studied science. And when you studied a term that encompasses all the sciences ever, you can, of course, do everything that all sciences ever found out and use as their scientific instruments. Cause you’re fucking scientist, duh!

edgy haircut – he must be a scientist! (via flicksandbits.com)

Ok, we could roll our eyes forever because of how hard these people are clearly not scientists. Shall we look at the supposed science then? There is no use averting our eyes, the crap will still get through. The operation super-capsule thingy. WTF? Can do whatever operation needs to be done if you just press a few buttons and hop in. But oh, damn, thing is gender-programmed. Only works on men… For whatever fucking reason. Cause the hard-drive was too small to fit in the program for women? Are you kidding me? And then of course it also works on women, cause wouldn’t you know, just a dramatic effect. So thing operates a squid alien out of Elizabeth Shaw (and boy will we get to how she is not Ellen Motherfucking Ripley) and stitches her belly so that girl can run and jump and crunch and do whatnot AFTER HAVING HER BELLY BEING OPENED BY A LASER-BEAM AND BARELY STITCHED TOGETHER!! She should collapse within 20 centimeters of that damn machine and bleed out is what she should if that movie had any idea of how human bodies work.
But oh, this film so doesn’t. Guess what: the god-alien-whatever-beings DNA matches 100 percent with human DNA! Whoa! Except for no human beings have DNA matching a hundred percent (ok, twins do) and then again every living being on this planet shares a pretty large percentage of their DNA with ours. So instead of being all like: they created us! And they even kinda somewhat look like us! We should really wonder how the hell these beings are related to chicken, and cheetahs and chimpanzees. There is your scientific question, movie, you can run as fast as you want into the other direction, you won’t escape it.
And please, film, Ridely, whoever, tell me: If these beings come to a planet, dissolve and by that create life on a planet – how do they end up being pictured by cavemen? Did they wait for a few million years to come back and say Hi, uh, by the way look at these stars, if you ever figure out what we mean come and visit us there? Oh yeah, that seems to make so much sense, EXCEPT FOR IT FUCKING DOESN’T. The inconsistencies of this movie are to frustrating, it’s almost painful. Just like having just had an operation and then having to …run? jump? fall? scream? Right, Elizabeth?

Ellen, ermh, Ellie? (via guardian.co.uk)

It’s frustrating because the movie plays this “uh, we’re asking the big and important questions” card but instead of attempting to answer them they fall short of answering even the simplest questions that just derive from the plot and the actions. How come the black liquid goo thing kills Elizabeths boyfriend but turns the other one into a killing monster? Why would it even? Makes no fucking sense. Completely unnecessary, strengthens my disbelief and makes me wonder: if the black goo thingy can turn people so easily into whatever fucking monster it wants them to be, why does it have to go to such great lengths to create super-complicated reproduction cycles like the one of the alien? Tell you why: cause black goo and monsters and alien aren’t really logically related and shouldn’t be related in a movie that has no idea of what it is doing.

via flicksandbits.com

What I hate hate hate in movies is the parents-complex thing. So many movies think they provide their protagoinists with motivation because they do what their parents said, or exactly the opposite or something to get their attention. It is there in the recently reviewed Snow White, it lies at the core of The Dark Knight Rises, which I intend to review next and we find it here with Elizabeth Shaw, David the Android, Charlize Theron’s character and oh, basically all mankind, cause we no have to think of those milky white muscle hunks as our daddies. I fucking hate this shit. Having no other motivation for things than you’re parents is the lamest story-telling device in the history of everything ever. Like Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist because of her father, but also religious, because of him, and neither is she a believable scientist nor does her faith have any effect on the plot whatsoever and is nothing but backstory we’re supposed to swallow to think that she is deep and shit, but really it’s just superficial nonsense. Meredith Vickers relationship with her father is so irrelevant, because we have no clue what is going on, we have no clue what her motivation is, and ultimately none of it plays any role in how these events unfold. It is just there and irritating. Granted, it could have been so much more interesting, if the film had focused on the sibling rivalry between Ms. Vickers and David, but we only get glimpses of that. Waste.

AAAAHHHH!! Why does this plot suck so hard?? (via lightsconnoraction.blogspot.com)

The biggest waste in this movie is David, who is also one of the redeeming qualities. Of course the movie looks fantastic, it is beautiful cinematography, the effects are neat. I like how the aliens look, and even though I find it totally absurd, I like how the aliens evolve throughout the movie. But what is really a saving grace and at the same time the major issue is Michael Fassbender as the android David. Because his performance is brilliant and because his character is actually interesting. All the questions that dumb scientist boyfriend mumbles about are just that same that he asks, but he really asks them and he acts on the impulse to want to find out. And along the way he does dubious things, in full knowledge of their dubiousness. Had the movie about him for 2 hours it would probably have been a better movie.

via cinemaforever.blog.de

BUT this movie wanted to hold on to the alien tradition of strong female character with the introduction of Elizabeth Shaw and FAILED. Now, mind you, I like Noomi Rapace and I think her performance was good. And even though I thought “girl, really?” practically every two seconds I still found her character engaging. But my oh my, does the writing on this character sabotage her. We’re supposed to be thinking of her as Ellen Ripley and then again not, cause she is caring, and crying, has a relationship, is compassionate, is religious, yadda yadda. Then we give her some monsters to run from, some gross beings to kill and everyone will think that she is just as badass as Ellen Ripley. Right? RIGHT?????
Hell to the no. Because that was the brilliance of Alien. For a long time it wasn’t even clear that Ellen Ripley was going to be our protagonist. First she is somewhat of a cold bitch and only after some time we find out that we are probably going to spend the rest of this movie – and the rest of the fight against the alien – with her. And she did kick ass with the weapons she found, with the information she gathered. She sweated and screamed and was terrified yet acted on her instinct to survive. In short: She acted like a human being. She felt like a human being. Like the other characters in Alien. In Prometheus we have none of that. They are all tools. Like characters from any CSI series out there we are meant to think of them as real and deep characters because they have a tattoo, or they like to scream out loud when happy or cry because they can’t have babies and nothing in the world is more terrible for the existence of a woman (and in case you don’t notice, I’m being sarcastic here). That is all bullshit. That is all just nonsense, covering up for the fact that none of these people act like real people would. They make stupid decisions because the plot requires them to and none of it stems from any sort of believable motivation. And if you’re characters are void of believable motivations then your film is, ermh, bordering irrelevance.

Looks and feels familiar? (via filmkritiker.com)

It is pretty to look at, it sounds nice. I can appreciate that there were good ideas, that some parts were written well (David spending his time alone on board of the ship). As an Alien mega-fan I appreciate going back to that story, to this being. Re-discovering the jockey on that planet. Seeing the alien again, connecting its birth with the terror that awaits Ellen Ripley in the future. But that is all just intellectual meta-level shit. That’s appreciation for what this movie accidentally got right. All in all it got pretty much everything it had going for it wrong. Nonetheless I don’t want to give up hope. The ending screams sequel and you never know, they might just end up making a better movie when we follow Elizabeth Shaw and David the android to the corners of the universe to find out where the creator-beings came from .
Until then we can imagine how other scientists would behave in a movie like this. Mathematicians probably wouldn’t know fractions. Egyptologist would probably never had heard of the pyramids – or would want to blow them up. Directors would make good movies with a coherent plot – oops, wait. That’s no science. Or is it now?

Bye David, see you in the sequel! (via pcgames.de)

Dun-dun-dun!

If you liked this, you can check out my Alien reviews in the directory HERE.

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Saint Ripley to save us all

Just to make a  point and prove that this blog is not dead I will post an awesome picture that ties in with the unofficial theme of this blog – the alien franchise, mind you – and sweeten all of our days.

Enjoy the gloriousness of Ellen Ripley and baby Alien byzantine icon style:

This gem can be purchased over HERE. The illustration was made by artist Jska Priebe, whose website you can visit by clicking THIS LINK.

Drooling over Mr. Shabba’s Classic Sci-Fi Film Posters

Oh, you wonder what plans I have for the weekend?
Go out and party? Hit the flea-markets? Relax and read a book?
There is only one concrete goal I know I’ll pursue these next two days: Get my hands on a print of the amazingly awesome Alien film-poster designed by Mr. Shabba. Why? Have a look for yourself:

L.O.V.E.
Seriously, I need this. Put it over my couch, my bed, frame it for the bathroom, you name it. This is so ridiculously rad, I’m gonna have to kill myself. Or basically really just order it online.
If Alien is not your thing (it certainly is mine and I profess my love HERE), but you’re still nurturing a little Sci-Fi geek inside your soul, you got a few more choices. 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T., Terminator, and Blade Runner are also available from his re-design collection.

all posters (c) Mr. Shabba, you can visit his online Shop by clicking HERE

Out of the rest I like the Blade Runner movie poster the best, but that’s probably due to the fact that I also really enjoyed the movie. Though I liked E.T. as a kid, and I think the first Terminator is pretty neat. So basically, despite the undeniable favoritism regarding Alien, I love the Alien poster most because the design is so gorgeously wicked!
What’s your favorite?

Final verdict on the sole survivor: Ellen Ripley, feminist heroine?

I cheat a little, I admit. I’m just gonna pretend today is the 29th of February, so I can get away with posting my last Alien entry today. If you click HERE you get to the Alien master index, linking to all Alien posts of my “February is Alien month series.” Since the issue of feminism has popped up several times throughout my discussions of the various Alien movies I decided to close this series with talking about Ellen Ripley and her status as a feminist icon. Is it justified, and if so, why?

via 4players.de

Looking at the various Alien movies one thing becomes very obvious: the miniscule presence of female characters, crowned by the major Bechdel-test fail in Alien³ where the only female character is Miss Ellen Ripley herself. However, I’ve said it before, I consider it to be an advantage for the overall plot structure and forgive it on the premise that it was a deliberate decision to create a specific dynamic. And that it does in my opinion, so, okay. In Alien we only have one other woman aboard the Nostromo and she gets killed, and I’d argue that part of the reason why she is on there anyways is to provide a sort of anti-thesis to Ripley. She is afraid, indecisive, and ultimately unable to defeat the Alien, while Ripley is all of this sort of not (yay, grammar!).
In Aliens we have two other female characters and they provide some interesting insights too. There is tough Rambo-woman Vasquez who not only saves GI asses several times but also blows herself up heroically in the end, and who serves as a backdrop to what Ripley once was while she becomes something else: a mother. Cause the other female in the movie is a girl and she primarily serves to awake the nurturing instincts in tough cookie Ripley. She still kicks ass, but she does so, cause she has a quasi-daughter now. Which is about to change radically with the beginning of Alien³.
Alien Resurrection is the first film to present a wider cast of female characters. Among them are scientists (who are stupid and afraid of what they’re actually doing), androids who wonder what it is about being human, and captain’s girlfriend who enjoys foot-massages and breaks down badly once her sweetheart is gone. (I will grace the AvP films only with a bracketed comment: those female characters –tough or not – existed only cause they felt they had to provide Ripley substitutes, and we all know it)

via virginmedia.com

So what about Ellen Ripley herself?
She is the sole survivor, multiple times, and she is because she does not bow down to alpha-male-ish nonsense. She is pretty spot on about what is right and what should be done and about what defo should not be done, like e.g. getting quarantined crew members on board, rescuing the cat, blow a colony up, and kill herself. Ripley, just as the Alien, is a metaphor besides being character, and as such she passes through several stages of female experiences. There is the factor of proving one’s own position and qualifications in a sexist hierarchy, there is the issue of becoming a mother, struggling with the feelings this entails, and also the rejection of motherhood (if we consider her to be pregnant with an alien and deciding to, well, abort the “child”). Questions of female solidarity are touched upon, as is the dealing with sexist remarks and objectification by men. And of course Ripley is more than her gender: the issues she deals with are the acceptance of one’s life story, one’s destiny so to speak, embrace it or reject it, and she remains a self-confident and independent spirit til her very end: she ends her own life, cause it is the only solution she deems acceptable concerning to overall situation and developments. Even as a new and “improved” Alien-hybrid clone Ripley stays true to these traits: she remains in charge of her sexuality (even if it means we have to suffer through abysmal one-liners), she is level-headed in situations of massive crisis, she feels empathy with people even if she does not know them and has no immediate profit in caring about them, and she learns what being human means. The hard way. I guess killing your clone-sister isn’t the easiest thing to do. And well, accepting that the being you fought against the last years of your life is now an inextricable part of you, in the literal sense, even. She once more becomes a mother figure, albeit to an alien this time, and once more she rejects the role, with yeah, terribly racist undertones.
I feel I have to point it out once more: I am not against motherhood, no effin way, mothers rule. But I am against the depiction of female journeys as being complete and meaningful only when they are topped off with becoming a mom. Cause ultimately it means that society tells you that you as an individual are pretty worthless, you only gain worth when having kids. And if we follow the thought through it basically means only being a man really counts, cause a as a daughter the same destiny of having to become a mother awaits you. That is why the glorification of motherhood (meaning that all other conceptions of femininity are rejected or deemed of less value) is often ultimately anti-feminist, or let’s just say it: downright sexist. For all the flaws of the Alien Saga in not only the gender department I truly applaud the series for getting the basic conception of a female and truly feminist heroine right. So: Yay! Feel free to disagree with me tough, but then I challenge you to comment! Muahaha.

via sherdog.net

Admittedly the headline is somewhat misleading, cause this post is more about the overall feminist message of the Alien Saga than just the character of Ellen Ripley. And one super-important yet thus far undiscussed issue is of course the alien.
The depiction of the aliens is highly interesting from a gender-issues-perspective. For once, the alien society is strictly matriarchal. No matter how many the host to a queen might take down, she is still host to a queen, killing her is not an option for the regular alien, since it of course endangers the survival of its species. The whole imagery of having an alien queen, together with her laying eggs (and the complicated mode of reproduction), serves to remind us of some mutant insect rather than an intelligent being or even something resembling human. But this premise is subverted, because in the course of Aliens we witness the alien queen becoming protective of her descendants and finally furious with those who killed them (and yeah, wouldn’t you be?). Alien Resurrection picks up on this, the alien queen literally becomes a mother when she gives birth to an alien hybrid (that is fucked-up-edly white *headdesk*) and experiences what it means to be rejected by your offspring.
While the AvP movies retreat to picturing the aliens as mere killing machines, the overall Alien Saga hints at there being more. They are social beings, and while their whole existence differs considerably from the human experience they are not entirely dissimilar. I’ve talked about the inherent racist implications HERE, but it is less obvious what the message concerning feminism is. In contrast to what the overall series does with the character of Ripley, the alien as a female queen is only valuable because of her function as a mother. However, we never really know about the gender of the other aliens or facehuggers. Do they even have one? Aren’t the facehuggers some sort of omni-gender in that no matter what gender the host, they still always succeed to implant little baby-aliens? Interesting, methinks.

via movieguys.org

Okay, I’ll wrap it up! The short version of this post could have been: Yup, Ellen Ripley is a feminist heroine for a variety of reasons. I just went out of my way to come to a point about the series as a whole, kinda.

And yeah folks, that’s it for Alien month. I guess we got it covered, huh? Maybe, with future films…. and the comics….. ah, never say never.

Kill me now, please: Alien vs. Predator

Hokay, we’re close. Let’s have one more review and then some discussion, and then Alien month on Me, all over the place will be over. Don’t cry just now, we’re not done yet. For all Alien Goodness on this blog please click HERE to get to the Alien master index.

via wikipedia.com

Soooo, Alien vs. Predator and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. I should just say it right away: I think that both of them kinda suck. The first one less than the second, but still, you know, they suck.
Alien for me is all about the movies. I know that there is a whole army of comic fans out there that will cry in agony (oh and hey, yeah, the gamers, at least I played the alien video game too, back in the 90s…) but somehow the medium of comic never convinced me when it comes to Alien. I think that somewhere out there is the perfect comic, cause I know they exist for Batman, but what I need is darkness, grit and alla that, and comics are often just too shiny and flashy to convince me of the inherent Alien darkness. So, when I judge Alien vs. Predator, I judge the movies. Just like they deserve it.

via wikipedia.org

The whole idea of having Alien prequels and having Alien without Ripley caused a massive outcry, and I guess producers and everyone else involved noticed, that is why they tried to give us a first AvP that held up some of the tradition. Seclusion, Alien, Weyland industries, and a Bishop prototype. And of coursely: a female hero kicking Alien butt.
This all kind of reconciles me with the overall concept, plus the fact that I just don’t consider it to be canonical. So AvP is kind of ok. Granted, the cast is practically forgettable except for Ms. Superheroine Woods, who is really just memorable because she survives and gets some Predator-loving. But then again it is aptly named Alien versus Predator, since it is really all just about the Alien fighting the Predator. It is all about action, the whole premise is based on fanboys wanting to see Predators killing the Alien, while the Alien takes down some Predators along the way.
It is sort of cute how they try to introduce some depth and mythology by making the Earth a playground for Predators who are basically bringing Aliens to other planets so that they can travel there and kill them, some sort of initiation ritual for Predator adolescents to come of age I guess. I say it is cute, but of course it is really just ridiculous, because really? That is what it has come down to? There is of course an inherent problem with the whole meeting of Aliens and Predators: Predator is kind of this hunting shoot-them-all-down being that primarily exists to provide some testosterone-ridden action. Alien on the other hand is the ultimate creep, lingering around in dark corners, waiting for us humans, being more of a menace than a real opponent. Of course it is also a killing machine, but when it is reduced to that…well, it just loses the implications that it comes with, and I find that to be sad.
Hey, at least we have a female heroine and she is black. As Alien movies go, black characters usually die somewhere along the way (and that actually holds true for many of those action flicks) so that is actually one really big plus, and a surprising one at that. Admittedly, she too sucks as a character, because she is so obviously the oh-so-independent Ellen Ripley rip-off that it hurts, but still. Focus on the positive, right?

via avp.ugo.com

And then there is Alien vs. Predator Requiem. What the fuck, right? The first one was bad enough, but they still manage to deliver even worse. The most tragic aspect of the whole movie is that it is actually a zombie movie, they just substituted the zombies with aliens and Predators and it does not work. At all. I say zombie movie cause it is the good old “monsters invade suburban American neighbourhood” plot with a cookie-cutter ensemble cast that I really don’t care about the slightest fuck (seriously, before writing this and researching some I couldn’t remember in the slightest if there were any human characters continuously present in the movie, I just had some vague memories of dumb jocks lusting after dumb cheerleaders), and they have to hold together, flee into a building and defend their pathetic asses. Just like in zombie movies the people who survive are usually the worst jackasses that you would never want to meet in real life (and yeah, protective mom belongs in the same category this time), and they basically only survive by chance. And usually because the zombies are slow and stupid, but this is the fucking Alien. To reduce it even further (not just Predator prey anymore) to zombie status is an insult to what it potentially stands for, and it doesn’t even work, cause it’s kind of a no-brainer that zombies are stupid, while the alien really is not. The whole move felt like another Resident Evil instalment too me, with just the mistake that they cast the alien instead of zombies. And I probably wouldn’t get so worked up if it didn’t shit so thoroughly on the Alien Saga legacy. I’m really just being overly dramatic, is what I’m trying to say.
However, even in AvP Requiem some interesting things happen, like the Predators having a little mishap, which sets the whole plot in motion, but even more importantly they just nuke out the city (mmmh, or was is the military?) and everybody dies. BUT! But there is this little leftover Predator weapon that they present to a Ms. Yutani – and again my little fan-geek-heart rejoices in the nod, cause as we all know. Ms. Yutani rules a corporate empire that will eventually fuse with the Weyland corporation and create the evil company that we encounter in the first Alien movies. Plus, nice prequel-ly twist, having her have Predator technology to imply this is how it is all coming to space-travel and world domination and stuff. And nice that Yutani is a female company president, cause we really need more of these in real life.

via filme-welt.com

There is really not that much to say about the AvP movies IMHO. That’s probably because the story is just there to justify the whole shoot-em-up scenario and it shows. One interesting thought, stimulated by my dear flatmate, is the idea that the whole fighting has S&M overtones, with the alien and the Predator being both these dark leathery creatures that are all about torturing each other. And then there is the “Predalien,” the Predator/Alien hybrid from AvP Requiem that is basically their child. Ha, nice thought. Don’t ask about the genetic underpinnings, cause you’ll run against a wall, but we already saw in Alien Resurrection that having Alien hybrids is less of a good idea than some people might think.

You really don’t have to watch them, is all I’m saying. Just to think of all the wasted money they could have channelled into a good Alien sequel…. Too late, I guess.

On the runway no one can hear you scream – xenomorph dressing

After a wordy Alien entry (click HERE to get the to all Alien master index) I felt it was time for another round of photo-heavy Alien goodness, and what better way is there to celebrate Alien and visuals than: Alien Fashion!

That’s right folks, you are so immersed in your love of Alien, you just wanna display it on your body. (No copyright infringement intenden, if you own the right to any pictures displayed here and want them taken down, please contact me. For further info on all the pieces just click the links provided or the images themselves) Now, there are several ways to get there. You can of course always opt for the occasional fan-shirt, be it the iconic chestbuster (found here) or a full body Alien representation (found here) to show your allegiance.

Ok, so T-shirts are not your thing? You wanna go for something more fancy? Don’t you worry, there is always the option to choose an Alien costume. Granted, it is slightly less ready-to-wear-y than a T-Shirt, but you’ll feel much more like you’re on Fiorina161 than ever before, and people will look at you like you just stepped off of the Nostromo (which is a good thing of course). You’re options range from a simple, yet elaborate Alien headpiece (found here), to the DIY version that your kids will hug you for endlessly (found here), but you can also get a little more geeky and channel your inner Kane with yet another chestbuster-themed piece of clothing that requires you to learn how to manage to do things with only one hand (made by geeksix’s Josh, found here), or the Ripley inspired, now slightly Avatar-y, robot costume that might just land you another job (made by alexthemoviegeek, found here).

But the fashion-victim that you are, you of course know that an outfit relies on the details – you need Alien accessories, ASAP! You can keep it classy (read: splatter and sex) by simply have the chestbuster complete your cleavage (found here), or store your stuff in you new favorite backpack (found here). There is always the option to take it up a notch though by going high fashion (Hi, Tyra!) and go with the designs of the late Alexander McQueen: ditch your sneakers and opt for the McQueen Alien-heels (also available in other colors, found here), or screw that ponytail and get your hair did true Alien fashion (as seen on McQueens spring 2010 runway show, found here).

Hey Alex, you’re asking, what are you going to wear? Friends, I just wanted the right mix of high fashion, Alien, costume and yellow, so my pick for tonights outfit would definitely be Blackstore’s latex dress (found here). Cause it’s just too pretty to not wear it to the party!

Alien and the world of fashion, what a nice topic! Too gimmicky, you say? Bah, you can still just put on a white tank top, some olive army-pants, put a grey overall over it and say you’re just copying Ripley’s style. But she’ll know (and she’ll kick your ass for it).

Are you afraid of the Other? A color-conscious reading of Alien

I am a white German man and I enjoy the movies of the Alien-Saga helluva lot. That’s problematic. It might not be for many people, it might not seem so for many people, it might be the unthinkable to many people. But when I watch the Alien movies and find myself thinking: “they’re way cool!” I observe myself wondering: “aren’t you just being a privileged prick?”

Instead of reviewing the remains of the filmic Alien-Saga today (there are still the two Alien vs. Predator instalments) I opt for the editorial-style discussion of issues of racism and color in the Alien movies. Since I haven’t reviewed the two vs. Predator movies yet, and since I think they’re kinda shitty and non-canonical, I will mostly ignore them in this discussion. But then again, I cannot really, cause there we encounter some interesting aspects of the whole issue. For more Alien-related posts, please click HERE to get to the Alien master index.

this looks cute, but our discussion won't be, via fanboy.com

Shall I ease our way into this discussion? The question alone should make clear where I am coming from (talking bout my position within larger human society here): I address somebody who is white, western, thinks of her_himself as colorblind and does not think every other thing should be examined in relation to the issue of racism. If you are a person like that, kudos for being so interested to getting this far, please stay with me. To everyone else: Apologies. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I wouldn’t have that default audience in mind when I start to write? A truly diverse and non-me kind of audience? It would, but I don’t. I started to write and I wanted to write the question of “easing into the discussion” just when I noticed what I’m doing. But I am doing it anyhow, this time around making visible though where my own personal starting point is positioned.

this is what an alien usually looks like, via thefilmstage.com

This wordy entrance provides me with a good starting point to go on about the “easing into” anyways, cause for the beginning, let’s not focus on the alien, nor on the human cast. Let us just look at the actions that inform, more as a subtext than really out in the open, the overall narrative of the Alien movies.
Human beings, originally from our beloved Earth colonize other planets. They have mining colonies, they have prison colonies (hey Fury!), they have colonies on planets where they need to install huge, gritty machines that need to convert the atmosphere to make it inhabitable for humans. Now, you might remember, somewhere in the back of your head, or really just right away: Human beings from planet Earth have quite the history with colonialism. And it ain’t a cute one. It is a history of racial oppression that was desperately in need of racist ideology to justify what was happening in the name of whatnot else. Colonizing space seems to be different at first glance for many people, cause it’s about the future and the explorer-spirit, yadda yadda, but ultimately it is colonialism. And we never see or hear about the colonial struggles that the Earthlings might fight (well, we see one, kinda…). This whole notion of colonialism is further reinforced by presenting us with one huge corporation in charge, Weyland-Yutani, very reminiscent of the various colonisation societies and companies that existed during the days of European and Japanese colonialism not too long ago.
A company is a company, and when we expect it to follow principles and values we usually mean human ones. While that might be helpful when addressing the people in charge of running or employed by companies, a company in itself is not a human being, and in a capitalist world order it has interests that have little to do with being human. That is where the whole corporate craziness from the Alien movies stem from: Humanity meets an alien life form, and the corporate plan is to domesticate it, dissect it, study it and ultimately market it. It is potential profit, that is why it’s interesting and even more so than any of the human staff are. And a lot of the vocabulary should already make it clear, there was a perverted little system called “slavery” that humankind once thought to be a pretty neat thing. It was all about domesticating people (of color, usually), of studying them (people of color, usually), tear them out of their environment (consistent of people of color, usually) and market them (to white people, usually). The Alien, even if we don’t touch upon the issue of looking at it as reminiscent of human or regard its color, is basically being treated and approached like an enslaved subject. My point here? Colonialism and slavery, two terrible things, closely intertwined with the issue of racism and color and we encounter them in the context of Alien, thus this whole discussion is totally worth having, based on that alone. Eased into it already? Good.

how about a different color-scheme?, via artasty.com

Cause the domestication and subjugation of the alien happens on the basis of the argument that it is hostile. And oh, it happens to be black. Granted, not human skin kind of black, but black, as in very visibly not white (ha, not just yet, we’ll get there!), and a kind of black that is reminiscent of human skin color.
Ok, clearly, the alien is not a human being. It reminds us – or at least me – of some sort of reptile/spider-like being that creeps around dark corners, has a body that is set up so very differently from the human form that this alone inserts a factor of insecurity (after all, what can it do? We wouldn’t know) and does not communicate with us in any other way than attacking us. The point I’m getting at, why not just say it now?, is that in light of the history of colonialism, slavery and racist ideas many white people considered people of color to be non-human, to have bodies that differ fundamentally from theirs, to be menacing and violent and ultimately fear-inducing, based alone on the appearance. Don’t go batshit-crazy here, cause I am in no effin way saying “oho, the Alien is like a person of color,” that is not, I repeat: NOT, the point. What I mean is: “aha, interesting, the alien fulfils a vision of fear and menace in white minds that’s been formerly (or still?) occupied by people of color in white mindsets.” And that, I argue, is a racist construction. It was then, it is now, and while white people and people of color do not belong to different races, human beings and the aliens very well do, making the word racism just as appropriate, though somewhat different in overall meaning.

One of the central aspects as to why it is ok to hunt and kill the aliens is that (besides them attacking and killing us) they are constantly dehumanized within the context of the movie. Dehumanizing the being you’re dealing with is the general modus operandi when it comes to white people enslaving and discriminating people of color, it is also firmly in place when it comes to killing animals for fur or skin or meat (but I won’t go there now).
However, there is a paradox inherent in the whole construction of the Alien narrative. If the alien only were an animal that we deem a menace but not really a worthy opponent, the movies would be far less interesting. Therefore, we’ve been introduced to fairly human reactions and interactions, with somewhat of a social system, instincts that lead to the protection of their children, and an intelligence that is en par with that of human beings. They need to remind us of ourselves, in order to make for a worthy opponent, and please don’t go “but their social system, that’s like ants!, or bees!”, cause we as human beings set their social systems in human context, use human vocabulary and thereby think of them as somewhat remotely human, before denying it again on other grounds.
We do a lot of the same with the aliens. Their curious and complicated mode of reproduction, including eggs and parasitic development, rapid growth and an interesting lack of sexual interaction between the queen and any other alien, it is there to remind us that they are not human, that their reproduction cycles do not consist of warmth and familiar gestures. Which kind of reminds me how white “scientists” displayed the genitalia of black women in Europe, cause they were deemed strange and only remotely human. Not to forget white western discourses about how people of color threaten to overpopulate the world, cause they have too much sex, with too many children and too little sense of responsibility (yeah, white people – not all, mind you – think that).
Another popular white discourse has been and still is in some corners of white minds the discourse on how people of color, especially black people are not rational beings but are being led by their instincts that are considered to be primal and void of civilization. Colonial discourses were grounded in that kind of shit, and here in Alien we encounter a being that is defined (even explicitly so) by what it does, and what it does is interpreted as following its own primal instincts, without conscience and without rational thinking. Ermh, similar much?

human/alien hybrid, via cyberpunkreview.com

And then, in Alien 4, Alien Resurrection, there it comes: the alien that is closer to humanity than ever before, cause it reeks of Ripley’s DNA, shows feelings, has eyes, a pink tongue, snarls, and is MOTHERFUCKING white. Umh, the less white you are the less human you are? Is that the message you wanted to send there, stupid producers/everyone else involved? While everyone was probably like “whoa, cool visuals!” (and white) it is really just a horrid subtext displayed there. Cause all of a sudden, even if we were somehow able to ignore all the issues I presented until now, and didn’t connect the color of the aliens and its representation with the issue of racism, all of a fucking sudden Alien Resurrection conveniently links the parts together for us, saying: look, we can think of them as human, and hey, the closer they are to real humans, the whiter they get! Beatings and shootings for everyone on the fucking film set, sez I, but only in the vile places of my personality.
Then there is even the mind-boggling issue of an interracial family (which is still up to this day, unfortunately, a whole issue in itself, cause of the reactions of white society) since Ripley and the aliens are now somehow related, and Mr. Whiterson McWhite aka new kinda alien clearly considers her to be his mother. Let us just briefly think about what happens in Alien Resurrection then: the kid of that interracial relationship that is born with white skin turns against his black mother (even killing her) and family and is ultimately rejected by his white mother (and her family) cause it is still related to the other race. Yes, you may hit your head hard and repeatedly now on the table, to make the pain go away. Not only is it an extremely racist message, but it is even an extremely racist message that doesn’t even try to say it’s not. Whoa, in a not good way, I say to that.

My Little Alien by Mari Kasurinen, via thejunction.de

Having talked a lot about the aliens themselves I still want to discuss the presence of people of color in Alien movies. We all know, Ellen Motherfucking Ripley kicks ass in all the right ways, but she is not a woman of color. Ok, some people are just not (curiously basically every other Hollywood hero though), and hey, at least it is not Erik Ripley, so, yay, female presence! So, how many people of color (who, let me remind you, account for the way larger part of humankind) do we find in the main casts of Alien movies? One in the original movie, he dies. None, really, in Aliens. One in Alien³, and yeah, he dies. And one in Alien Resurrection, wanna guess?, he dies. Yay, diversity…? Obviously, with only one character of color whose name we’re aware of none of the Alien movies pass the Bechdel test adjusted to color. L.A.M.E. In about every way conceivable. At least some Latin descent is hinted at, but let’s not even ask for an Asian presence, shall we? L.A.M.E. Let’s say it together next time!
Curiously, this is where I have to start discussing the Alien vs. Predator movies, cause the first of them, and yeah, just hold your breath and sit down, comes up with one human hero – and she is a black woman. Supposedly she is the new Ripley (without ever being seen in the other AvP movie, though) and that alone makes me even kind of forget how she still needs to be acknowledged by the Predator. As for AvP 2- Requiem, I only saw it once and thought it was abysmal. I don’t even remember – are there any human characters we’re supposed to care about (except for dumb college jocks and their ladies)?
The introduction of the Predators into the Alien Universe just reinforces what I stated earlier though: the aliens become prey, they are beings in themselves, but not respected. Their existence is only permissible to the extent that the Predators can enslave them, play with them, hunt them and kill them. The predators just take over the torch. They become the mightier colonizers and masters, their every racist whim is what is to structure the universe.

Sanaa Lathan as Alexa Woods, via moviesmeter.com

On a final note I should maybe explain why I can bitch about how racist Alien movies are and still like them. Part of it is probably nostalgia, I watched and loved the Alien movies long before I ever contemplated racism and white privilege. Another part is white privilege, I guess I am white enough to not be confronted with the negative end of racist action every other moment, so that I can ignore many implications, even though I am aware that they are there. And then there is of course that part of me that hopes that some of the story and imagery is really not just that bad, tells us something about the human condition that transcends the mere medium of film
Oh and, why should be critical with something mean you have to dislike it? Hm, what do you think?

What it means to be human: Alien Resurrection

Whooopzeeee, it’s the 22nd of fab Feb and we still have some Alien ground to cover (Click here to get to the all things Alien master index)… Let’s just say that life kind of got in the way of blogging these last few days, but it does not mean, we could not resume…soooo:

Remember the days when Winona Ryder was a sought-after and well-paid actress? The fourth Alien instalment is a product of these days. I find it to be the weakest of the first four, but that should not distract from the fact that I still think it to be a very good movie.
Alien Resurrection was released to theaters in 1997, and in keeping with the tradition of having talented directors take the job, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (famous primarily for Amelie) directed this one. That leads to some pros and some cons, but unfortunately the things that make his other movies work are rather the ones that make this one sucky. Probably because the studio had a massive say in what to do with the flick, since they invested all the money into a resurrection of the franchise.

via wikipedia

Ok, first off, can we say cookie-cutter? Jeunet is famous for his quirky characters, they pop up everywhere in his movies, and usually they’re quite charming besides being just one-trick ponies. Problem is: it does not work for Alien Resurrection at all. It’s nice to try a different approach to the whole alien thing, but then again, just making characters quirky by making them obnoxious, overly sexual, macho, thin-skinned or just downright stupid …. well, it doesn’t exactly help making me care for them. And the one major problem with Alien Resurrection is that far too many characters live for far too long while I care far too little about them and their survival. The whole crew of the Betty, scuse me, but they’re mostly pricks who run into trouble cause they basically asked for it. And the evil guy is evil. And the women are feminine. And the guys are manly (read tough and sexist and prone to violence). Urgh, could’ve done without that. The major problem is that they are all too one-dimensional, none of them feel genuine, and while I care for Ripley cause she is after all Ellen Motherfucking Ripley, it is not because she is an overly interesting character in this movie. The whole one-liner crap that most of the characters get (including the abysmal “who do I have to fuck to get off of this ship” one) is really detrimental to make me care about them rather than wish they’d just die, so I don’t have to listen to that crap no longer.

If I say that I still enjoyed the movie there have to be redeeming qualities, right?
One minor plus is the insertion of the guy who is host to an alien that could just bust through his chest any effin minute. And they know it and he knows it and at some point we even get there, but the insertion of the character itself creates such an interesting dynamic (let alone a pretty hilarious and visually interesting solution to the villain-problem in this movie) that I wish they would have played more on that.
What it also means is the general reversal-trend noticeable in this movie. By Alien Resurrection the franchise-keepers were well aware of the whole feminist-hero discussion surrounding Ellen Ripley, at least that’s my guess. And as a “funny” twist, haha, they decided to counteract it throughout the movie and later let her be all feminist hero. Except that it goes wrong. The central operating system is no longer named “Mother” but “Father” cause after all 200 years passed since Alien³. The guys are tough, but get to act even tougher, and the Betty crew-woman who does not serve a purpose but mourn her man gets also to be the kinda sexualized object of desire. The only effective yet unintended counteracting of this parade of sexist stereotypes that don’t even get dissolved is the insertion of host-guy, cause that puts an interesting spin on the whole pregnancy-imagery associated with being a host to an alien. But…

via moviereporter.net

…but then there is Ripley being a real mother. Not only were producers and director aware of the feminist subtexts of the earlier movies, but they thought it was a good idea to make the whole pregnancy/host association more explicit. So Ripley in this one was host to a queen (again, remember) and they extracted it. It is not only kind of her child, cause it grew in her body, but actually the queen-child gives birth to another alien that is actually a real alien-human hybrid. Don’t even try to think about it, it doesn’t make sense, cause for most of the movie the alien queen just lays eggs like they usually do and then all of a sudden she is pregnant because she “inherited” human reproductive organs and gives birth to an alien that looks different (more on that in a second) and feels a closer connection to his chosen human mom Ripley.
The alien hybrid not only has human eyes (whereas aliens don’t have any eyes visible to us ever), but he also has a long pink tongue and he is MOTHERFUCKING *headdesk*inlgy ARE YOU BATSHIT CRAZY? white. Again: the alien-human hybrid is W.H.I.T.E.
That is so fucked up, I almost have no words. But I write a blog, so: the aliens are all killer machines who remind us of creepy insects or reptiles or whatnot and are black. But once the aliens mix with human DNA they get all the more human and to indicate that the producers thought it was an awesome idea to make it WHITE. ????. *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* Seriously, WTF? That’s not only wrong on so many levels, it is even just so incredibly wrong on the surface level that we have to wonder: Were they out of their fucking mind? How could anyone sit there and not think this is ultra-fucked-up? Urgh, I say to that and shudder.

via stampede-entertainment.com

The alien-human hybrid is just on of the many evolutions the aliens make in this movie. Suddenly they can swim and they can spit acid. Okay, but then again: how? Sometimes it’s a good thing if movies don’t try to explain stuff, but in this case, it really isn’t, cause it doesn’t make any effin sense. They had how long to go through evolutionary processes? 4 weeks? Five? Ermh, no.

Where do they get the new DNA-input from? Ellen Ripley, of coursely. Because: Ellen Ripley is not really Ellen Ripley (she died, remember?) but a clone of Ellen Ripley. 200 years later and they cloned her, cause they wanted to get the alien queen she was host to. Don’t even ask how alien queen DNA was just randomly in the blood sample they picked up from the floor of somewhere, but while it is an intriguing concept it is also one that I have fundamental problems with because I do not believe in the predetermination of human beings by their genomes. “What, do not believe?” you probably ask. Granted, DNA has enormous influence on who we become, but most of who we are, I argue, is who we are because of our socialization. What I’m saying is that the little dried puddle of blood is – in my conception of the world – not very likely to remember every other thought that the original Ellen Ripley had and thus supply the new cloned Ripley with these memories.
Having said all that the whole clone story makes for the most powerful imagery of the movie, when this-movie-heroine-clone-Ripley with her “8” tattoo finds out that there were seven other clones preceding her, all of them rather horrible combinations of human and alien DNA. Six of them were not able to survive, but one did, and actual heroine Ripley has to kill terribly cloning-gone wrong Ripley who begs for her death. I’ll just go out there and say: all the suckitude in this Alien movie is made up by the powerful imagery and associations that this scene alone provides us with.

via onlygoodmovies.com

And this ultimately leads us to the question that is the underlying theme of the whole movie. What does it mean to be human? Turns out, the most “human” of all them humans presented are Ripley, who is really an “enhanced” version, in that part of the alien DNA became part of her own genetic make-up, and Call, who is really an android. That is heavy meta-discussion in terms of going back to the roots of the series and the issue of not being able to trust an android versus finding out that you actually can. This time we meet one that Ripley can trust, but who doesn’t trust herself, cause she feels deficient in not being human. Great thing is that she learns that being human is really just a deficient concept for talking about compassion and common sense actually, so yay, she ultimately qualifies. Though alien-hybrid pseudo baby (yes, white!!! *headdesk*) does not, so go figure. You still have to be pretty enough and kill the right ones to qualify for “human” even if you don’t have to actually be a human being. Mind-boggling. And inconsequent. Bwrah, unsatisfying.

via sbs.com.au

In the end, all existing aliens (at least those known to the human species) die, because the space station is crashing onto the face of our very planet earth. While that is kind of a cute idea, it is also a disturbing one in that we never learn about all the people who will have been killed by such an event, and we never learn, if all the Aliens really died and if there wasn’t some miraculous survival that will cause some serious trouble on earth.
Furthermore the story ends with Ripley, Call, Johner and Vriess surviving, and they’ll arrive on earth soon after the movie’s over. While that is a nice and hopeful ending it doesn’t really create much desire to follow their stories any further from this point, so maybe it is more of an ending to the saga than the third instalment actually was. Then again, with good writing and a clever twist there might be something to the story to make it worth being told, but I’d rather not take chances.
For us this means: Bye-bye, Ellen Ripley. Have fun on earth! Enjoy the finally alien-free time, you deserve it!

Yep, it’s a mixed bag. Still, considering you want Science-Fiction and action, this is still superior to a lot of other movies that are being produced within the genre, so: Go watch it. Even if it is just for the *headdesk*ing experience of seeing the alien-human hybrid and being able to bitch about it afterwards.

Pregnant in Prison: Alien³

This is not a post about three aliens in one movie, but it is a post about one alien film times three, logically leading us to conclude that we deal with the third instalment of the Alien-Saga. Which is really just a lot of blabber to welcome you to another review in “February is Alien month.” If you want to read the other stuff posted in relation to Alien month, click here to get to the master-index.

via wikipedia

Two of the most memorable moments in the Alien saga happen in this instalment: Ellen Ripley, our own very favorite female superhero of choice, gets to have some sexy-time with a man (who doesn’t get to let this experience sink in for too long), and our beloved Fiorina161 resident Alien gets an up close head-to-head shot with a very scared and bald Sigourney Weaver.
Ellen Ripley shaved her head before G.I. Jane did (and yeah, where did Demi Moore’s career go?), and I’m glad she did, because it adds much to the movie in that it reveals how people might look very alike and be in very similar circumstances, but are nevertheless individuals and thus react and behave very differently.

via rioranchofilmreviews.blogspot.com

But let us enter into this discussion with a little more grace and get done with the technicalities first, hokay?
Alien³, opting for some typographical terrain nouveaux, was released to theaters in 1992, so in real-life-time, the third act arrived 13 years after the whole thing started, which seems like an awful long time to wait for me. Then again, the stories are pretty much self-contained, it is not like there was this huge cliffhanger that kept us all waiting for how it is going to get resolved.
By now one thing becomes crystal-clear: Sigourney Weaver IS Ellen Ripley (yeah, I think being an actress is actually her role) and the Alien series attracts director-talents. David Fincher took the job, who also directed music videos and movies like Se7en, Fight Club, Benjamin Button and most recently The Social Network.
I’ll be upfront about it: for a long time I considered this movie to be the weakest of the original three, and practically on par with the fourth film Alien – Resurrection. But the tides have changed, folks, nowadays I appreciate it much more than I originally did, although I still don’t think it lives up to the standard that Alien I and II have set. Lemme ‘splain, will ‘ya?

Much criticism back in the day, from such prominent likes as previous director James Cameron, was directed at the decision to kill of the three characters (Newt, Hicks, and Bishop) that survived Aliens with Ripley. I strongly disagree, in fact I’m happy for the decision, cause I think it makes Alien³ a stronger film. Watching Alien movies I have certain expectations, and I feel that if we would have witnessed Ellen Ripley with new quasi-daughter Newt and potential military husband Hicks it would have been, ermh, problematic. Too much melodrama is never a good thing (which is where some of the problems of Alien 4 are located), and I’m glad we got around it.
Alien³ is a harder and tougher film for it. Given, it wants to be, with all the macho-males in prison blah, but the grit and roughness stems much more from the cold-heartedness of events and Ripley’s character. The prime example is her basically ordering the autopsy of Newt, having the doctor cut up the girl and searching her intestines for an alien-parasite. It upsets everyone around her, and they don’t understand. Ripley does, but she’s not dramatic about it.

via fandomania.com

The cold-heartedness lies at the very center of Ripley’s character. I’m glad we got to see the softer side of her in Aliens, when she kind of adopted Newt, but ever since the original movie Ripley has been the pragmatic type. She appreciates you more when you’re level-headed and girl is out to survive. And give her a break, will you? She sums it up so perfectly herself in this movie: her life has been dominated so much by the existence of the aliens that she cannot even remember how it was without them. And it is hard to imagine an Ellen Ripley with a life devoid of Alien-struggle. Ever since the Nostromo woke her from hibernation she had to fight for survival. There is nothing (or at least not much) else.
The little else we get this time around is getting cozy with the prison-doctor Clemens. They have sex, share intimacy in an environment that is highly unlikely for any sign of affection, and while it seems to relieve Ripley somewhat from all the struggle, we also get the sense that she is detached from it. She is not falling in love here. She takes a little break from fear and anger and both of them know that this is pretty much it. Plus, Clemens does not stick around for a love affair, the alien makes sure of it.

via best-horror-movies.com

The approach to the topic of sex in Alien³ is one of the fresher aspects of the movie, specially in terms of feminist readings of it. For the first time (and the only among the first four) an Alien movie does not pass the Bechdel test, since Ripley is the only female character alive in this picture. While that is somewhat lame, it is also explicitly deliberate: it’s not like in other movies that the singularity of female presence just happens by chance (yeah, right…), but it is the premise of the narrative. The ship crashes down on a prison planet with only male inmates and Ripley suddenly finds herself in an hostile and sexist environment. Interestingly, the movie thereby highlights our position as viewers: the female character, envisioned and directed by male writers and directors, consumed by us through this male gaze is being watched, evaluated and desired by an ensemble of male characters.
It makes us realize once more how bad Ripley can kick ass, but it falls a little flat because most of the prisoner-characters (including the religious revival thing and the deliberate seclusion) are rather one-dimensional and ultimately uninteresting. They’re alien-fodder and we know it, it’s not like we expect them to outshine Ripley or even survive (though some actually do). The idea of the prison planet Fiorina 161 is amazingly neat though, cause once more the SF-reality feels more real for all the grit and human darkness that we are presented with. And it is Australia. ?, I know. But once more the colonialism-idea is taken up and we witness a planet being colonized for the sole purpose of dumping convicts there. Wicked, sez I. The whole industrial-complex-ness of it makes for some amazing images along the way, including chopping up of people by large fans, drowning the alien in liquid lead, and finally those huge ovens that serve as the grave for someone we know.

via geektwins.blogspot.com

In retrospect it is fascinating to see, how much the whole Alien saga surrounding Ellen Ripley is connected to the issue of motherhood. It is of course not unproblematic, especially if one wants to argue for the feminist position of Alien movies.
The interesting thing about the third Alien movie is how it puts a spin on the whole motherhood issue. If the series had ended here we would have been left with an indeed feminist stance on womanhood and the rejection of motherhood – because Ripley’s children (her biological and adopted ones) all are dead by the beginning of Alien³, and she decides not to “give birth to” the alien queen, a quasi-abortion by killing herself (though technically you could also argue for child-slaughter). On the one hand the whole thing is terrible, because Ripley is dead, but the justification lies in the fact that she erases the alien queen that would bring more terror to the universe. But if we remind ourselves how hard the whole franchise plays on the motherhood imagery that comes along with being an alien-host, there is this other ring to it. (Oh and let me clear it up here, before shit hits the fan, I don’t consider motherhood to be detrimental to feminism, but glorifying female-ness and consider women to be complete only when mothers, that is something I consider to be very unhelpful to the feminist cause).
Having Ripley finally being the victim of face-hugger-y that “impregnates” her with a chestbuster rounds up the whole issue of constantly crossing paths with the deadly being. It’s cool, but what is kinda sucky IMHO, is the whole chosen-one crap about it. I get it, Ellen Motherfucking Ripley, special connection, yadda yadda, but did it have to be a queen she’s got in herself? Like, the ultimate antagonist, there’s nothing less to settle for? While it’s thrilling the first time around, thinking about it reveals the inherent lame-ness of the concept. Way better is the encounter with the one alien of this film, though only enabled by her being with a queen (yeah, my dilemma, I know), when they are literally face to face and Ripley is in terror. For all her kickass-toughness, she is afraid of these beings and that is what drives her. She ultimately overcomes the fear, and it makes her stronger, but only to the extent that she knows about the desperate situation she is in. She will die, inevitably, by the hands of an alien, one way or the other. The only thing she can do is to take matters into her own hand and end her own life. And that is what she does. Ellen Motherfucking Ripley, heroine of all universe, jumps into molten steel and dies a tragic, quiet death on Fiorina 161. No press, no parade, no friends nor family. The alien exits her body – literally and figuratively – but she takes it down by killing herself. Bam, devastation hits us in the face.

via flickr.com

Some unresolved issues to talk about are our favorite corporate friends from Weyland-Yutani, who are still only interested in the alien for the profit it might generate, and their wicked little realization that extremely friendly Androids could be more efficient in getting human beings to do what you want. We thus encounter a “fake” Bishop who stands in stark contrast to the broken version she talks to in the prison-dumpster, who is all the more human for his pragmatism and honesty.
Also extremely fascinating, at least to me, is the realization how little human beings mean to the aliens: the alien they fight in part three is one who was “born from” a dog. Whatever, it seems to say, I just need a host, why not use the dog. Do you wonder, too, what being connected to the organism of a dog does to alien psychology? I see a whole field of research lying right in front of us…

I’m kinda glad I didn’t see Alien 3 when it came out, cause I was just too young and innocent. It probably would have killed me to know: this whole thing is over. Ripley is dead as can be and so is the last Alien the human species knows of. Case closed. As intriguing as it is to see something really end (cause as we’ve witnessed by now, franchise extensions are not always for the better), I’m glad there was – and hopefully is – more.

Yeah, you know the drill: Go watch it!

Let’s kick some serious Alien butt: Aliens

Who is this James Cameron guy again? Yeah, you might have heard of Titanic, the movie ‘bout the boat? No? Maybe you came across Avatar, the Pocahontasy smurf adventure on another planet? No? True Lies maybe? Terminator (either one or two)? No? You might have never heard of James Cameron, which is very unlikely, but now you should start remembering his name, because he gave the world Aliens. And I thank him for that.

via wikipedia

What is this fuckery, asketh-you, Aliens? Did not Mistress Ellen Ripley erase the one Alien that killed all her crew on that beautiful spacecraft Nostromo except for the awesome cat? Yes, my friends, so she did, but.
We are talking Science Fiction here, dear reader, so naturally Ellen Ripley, badassest woman of all galaxy, went into hibernation and hoped for being rescued at some point. That is where the sequel takes off. She does indeed get “rescued” or rather found, only to get hit in the face by reality real hard, cause our favorite flamethrowing heroine was in hibernation for 57, yes, fifty-seven fucking years.

That is where Alien 2 that is really named Aliens starts from. It was released in 1986 and saw Sigourney Weaver reprising her role as Ellen Ripley. And that is wonderful, of course.
So Ms. Ripley was in hypersleep for 57 years. That’s pretty long and the Alien was pretty dead, so who do we have to blame for another Alien battle? You guessed it: Weyland-Yutani, our favorite evil corporation. Cause that is once again and actually some more the theme in this movie: There are huge corporations dominating our lives, and what they want is money, they don’t care about your life. Therefore we have to revisit the homely planet of LV-426 again, where the Nostromo-crew landed in the first movie and encountered all those eggs. Surprise y’all, those eggs have hatched, and they have found some unwilling hosts.
Who are those unwilling hosts exactly? Another major theme just about to hit your head: Colonialism. Bam. Just like that.
Because although Aliens does not make it explicit, the history of colonialism on our planet had a lot to do with people wanting to make a profit and detaching themselves from the inhumane aspects of it by creating companies to approach the subject matter in a more practical manner. Market oriented. And Weyland-Yutani cetainly is that, cause they wanna make sure that their colony-equipment (atmosphere-converters? Hello future, you look grim and gritty) and colonists aka their investments are safe, and even if not, that they can at least still get their hands on the alien to profit from its extraordinary physique. Which is most likely the reason they sent those colonists there in the first place. This whole thing with the colonies is an interesting issue, really. Like, what is the movie even trying to get across as a message (on an unintentional level, methinks)? Colonialism is bad because ultimately the planet/species conquered will strike back an kill us all? That is kind of the terror of the whole Alien universe: We leave the Earth and get out there just to encounter something that is going to wipe us out. Though curiously, this really is usually what the colonist does. Human history lesson one: Colonialism, we all know, is not terrible because wah-wah, poor colonists, but because colonists destroyed millions of lives and wiped out entire cultures. And may I add: this happens here as well. Ellen Ripley, though I root for her, wipes out the little home the aliens have built for themselves. Given, those aliens killed all the humans first. Honestly, I can’t even really make up my mind about that point. But interesting to keep the colonialism-thing in mind (specially if you encounter the wonderful phrase about us living in postcolonial times….).

via playworksonline.com

Speaking of colonialism, where would we be without our dutiful soldiers in Aliens? Nowhere that is. In good old Blackwater-fashion we have a company that is by the looks of it dominating the globe and probably dictating politics, with its own little army of GI beef to see their interest protected. Yup, they all turn out to be cannon fodder, but even though they are basically that, the few brushstrokes that the film uses to make them characters are eerily efficient, cause after the first initial killing in the tank-car is over, I find myself caring about those GIs. And yep, good old Ellen Ripley needs them, but haha, turns out, they need her even more. We need them this time around specifically because civilians won’t cut it anymore. There are more aliens now, all the eggs seem to have hatched, with basically all colonists dead by chestbusting, thus leaving us and Ripley with her soldier-crew with a multitude of aliens that are not happy about the violent visit.
This is where the movie could have gone terribly wrong, cause the first Alien movie was so efficient and forceful since there was just one terrible creature taking them all down, but this time, the interesting thing is when we get to realize that they took the colony over, made it their own and have a social structure. The alien is not a mere killing machine, it is a living organism, a being that cares about its reproduction and the safety of its existence. And that is one awesome twist for it gives the aliens an aura of realness, all the while having terrible implications about how interstellar racism could turn out to look like.

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So with the aliens being a species with social hierarchies all of a sudden, we hit another major theme. Let us label it: Mothers amongst themselves.
The aliens have a queen. She is huge and scary and constantly laying her eggs. She is also furiously protecting them, but that does not sit well with another mother in this movie, namely: Ellen Ripley. Wait, whud? Ellen Motherfucking Ripley is not technically a mother (although she apparently was, but her daughter died while she was in hibernation), but finding the colonist girl Newt she takes personal responsibility for her and places the protection of her life above all else. That directly leads us to the showdown of mothers, meaning Ripley protecting Newt and the alien queen protecting every alien and egg on that damn station. And the tricky part of it is: I’m not even sure who I’m rooting for. Granted, it is great to see Ripley single-handedly bringing down the deadliest beings in the universe, but then again, those beings are so central and interesting by now, that everytime the alien queen appears on screen I’m totally excited for what awesome plan is sitting in her ginormous head. Elevator rides? Sneaking into spaceships? Fighting against giant robots? Miss Queen is not above those things, in fact, she fucking rocks at all of that
But once more some intellectual exercise: We, the feminists we are, wonder of course: what is the message? Mothers fight mothers? That is the driving force of the universe? Whatever happened to female solidarity? Letting the kids play together? Here it is either you or me with a lot of dead babies on team alien and raging fire from intergalactic superwoman Ripley. Does that make her a feminist hero? Or does it make her an anti-feminist warrior?
Interestingly, and again barely I’d say, we have Aliens passing the Bechdel-test (Ripley and Newt) and featuring super-butch Jenette Vasquez. So basically the characters who kick ass in the baddest way possible in this movie are a) Ellen MF Ripley, b) muscle-GI Jenette, and c) Alien Queen Herself. Making it a testosterone driven action vehicle that is actually more of a chick flick.

via pootergeek.com

We haven’t even talked about the good Droid yet. Bishop is a robot who, unlike his predecessor, is actually caring about the human beings surrounding him and protects them, even if it means going against the profit interests of the corporation that sent him on that mission. Ripley hates him/doesn’t trust him, but ultimately finds out, that artificial intelligence is also intelligence and not too bad. Cookies and milk for everyone, thanks to resident robot Bishop we even have four surviving characters this time around. Okay, one is terribly hurt and in a coma, the other one is an Android and broken in half, but hey, the two girls made it!
Wonder what’ll happen to them….

Did I already mention: Aliens is a fucking fantastic film. So if you haven’t seen it yet, or it’s just been too long, go and re-watch!

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