An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original

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Ripley and Jones the Cat in Alien

Amidst rapt excitement about the incredibly unique albeit troubling film Alien Covenant, I neglected all of the film’s predecessors – which was fine, for awhile.  But now that I’ve rambled incessantly about why I think the recently released Alien Covenant is such an excellent movie, perhaps it’s time to return to the film’s roots and take a look at the original Alien, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth.  Frankly, I’ve been meaning to write about the original Alien for a long time, but every time I’m faced with a highly-respected genre classic that’s stood (at least some) test of time, I get a wee bit intimidated, and this is especially true when we move into Science Fiction territory, which is far from my area of expertise.  But a couple of days ago, Michael and I hunkered down to watch Alien and Aliens, and I was mesmerized all over again (since I’ve seen them both before).  One wonderful thing about being me is that I have a horrible memory, especially for a lot of film.  While this could be detrimental to my performance on the imminent PhD candidacy test I keep writing about (for which I have to read and recall over 100 books) it really comes in handy when I re-watch a film.  More often than not, I’m surprised by certain plot twists and character actions all over again!  It’s fantastic!  With that in mind, I think it’s time to pay homage to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and discuss why the film is so freakin’ fantastic.  Continue reading “An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original”

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An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original

“To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant

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Photo Credit – Alien Covenant

Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (you know, that German philosopher with one hell of a curly mustache) once theorized that all of life and human activity rests on the will to power.  Though I am no expert on Nietzsche, this seems to suggest that each individual’s desire to hold power, feel a sense of power, etc. – in a variety of contexts – governs much human activity.  Moreover, we can look at, say, a movie, and understand character actions and motivations at least partially through this context.  Famous theorist Michel Foucault suggests much the same thing when he says that “power is everywhere, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge, and regimes of truth.”  While Foucault examines power on a more sociological level, his viewpoints converge with Nietzsche on the influence and the prevalence – indeed, the omnipresence – of power.  And while there are many elements of Alien Covenant to discuss (I saw it tonight) power seems of critical importance. Continue reading ““To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant”

“To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant

Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon

phoenix forgotten oneWhen it comes to the found footage genre, it seems like everyone has an opinion, and they’re not all favorable.  Personally, I love the genre’s faux-authenticity (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and I don’t hold films that fall under the found footage umbrella up to unreasonable expectations.  CGI’d specters and ostentatious sound effects are necessarily off-limits, forcing the filmmaker to work within certain parameters.  What’s trickier, still, is any attempt to work within the found footage genre while somehow also making the film seem unique and original.  It’s hard to emulate The Blair Witch Project, for example, and still deviate from it enough to produce something that critics will deem “innovative.”  With those observations in mind, I’m going to give the recently released Phoenix Forgotten my seal of approval.  It has been, and will continue to be, lambasted for not being scary enough (and perhaps too imitative of similar predecessors), but as I’ll suggest below, that’s a fairly shallow bit of criticism that doesn’t take into account both how intriguing the film is and how chillingly it concludes.  Continue reading “Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon”

Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon