Alien - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Alien Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 28, 2010
A fantastic blend of sci-fi and horror, carefully elaborated with a perfect pacing and incredibly suspenseful. Scott knows very well how to slowly build a disquieting tension and elevate it to the point of nerve-wracking, and this film is a genuinely scary modern classic.
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2007
A classic.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
It's a rare thing for horror films to get much critical praise and respect, but once in a while that changes. This was especially true in the 1970s thanks to films like The Exorcist, Jaws, Halloween, and, this little entry from 1979: Alien.

It's a simple, even generic, but ultimately brilliant title. It works as both a noun and adjective, and really leaves things wide open in terms of what's going to happen.

The plot is rather simple: a group of workers aboard a commercial towing vessel headed back home have their journey interrupted by a mysterious transmission from a nearby planetoid. They stop to investigate, only to end up bringing an extraterrestrial threat back on board their craft.

The film is basically like a slasher movie in space, and essentially established the modern notions of the 'space horror' subgenre. It's a rehashing of old ideas and concepts, but it's done so well that it feels totally fresh and new.

What I really like about this is how it is firmly both sci-fi and horror. It blends the two quite well, and is a landmark entry in both realms. It's a slow burner, w emphasis mainly on mood, tone, atmosphere, and generating tension and suspense over a strong plot or actions and events. That might seem boring to some, but I rather enjoy its hypnotic qualities, as they draw you in, ramp things up to a high level, then finally release in bursts of scares.

I think it's worse it to sit through the first half because, even though not much really happens, it only makes the second half (especially the final act) that much more thrilling and rewarding.

From a technical perspective, this film is a real marvel, and its influence can be seen in a lot of avenues from films to video games like the Metroid series. There's expert use of matte paintings, practical effects, models, and real ingenuity versus reliance on CGI, and it's cool how this won an Oscar for visual effects.

The cinematography is dark, moody, and really adds a level of dread to the claustrophobic environs of the ship. I really dig the art direction and set design. The use of shadows, steam, and flashing lights also add to the creepy atmosphere, and make things quite intense and disorienting. I tend to overlook the importance of sound design in movies for some reason, but here, I can't help but get drawn in by all the hissing from steam, dripping corridors, and beeps and boops from the computers. Yeah, some of the technology seems a bit dated, but I think it has a nice, surreal charm to it. The ship also has a rugged, lived in look to it that makes things seem more authentic and believable. And then there's the alien: simply put: the creature designs by H.R. Giger are creative, intense, original, and some of the scariest and most unique ever conceived.

In a lot of films like this, the cast are made up of a bunch of unrealistic stereotypes that often seem out of place, but here the crew is just a group of working class blue collar folks, with the youngest being 29. I think this adds both to the realism, and makes things quite relatable. The cast have good chemistry with one another, and it all feels organic instead of forced.

The acting is also fine. It's nothing spectacular, but it does get the job done. I mean, since they're just regular folks, its fitting that they're performances are not all that remarkable. I do have to give special praise though, first to Ian Holm for being terrifically creepy, and to Sigourney Weaver who, as the youngest and least experienced of the cast, had a big hurdle to jump through, and succeeded, becoming a star as a result.

Jerry Goldsmith's score is compelling, and the heart beat like thumping during key scenes is a real nice touch. Ridley Scott provides some superb, subtle directing, showing a real flare for building tension and mood. I like how not a whole lot of exposition is given, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps. I do think that at times things could be perhaps slightly tightened in the pacing department, and the damn cat that is a part of the crew is a tad annoying, though cute, but overall, I don't have any major issues with this one.

I recognize that this won't appeal to all audiences, as it is a deliberately paced and executed affair, but at the same time, due to how well a lot of this is done, and because of its legacy, I think it is one that everyone needs to see. It holds up remarkably well, and is a pretty memorable experience, so of course it is a must see. I prefer the theatrical cut, but the 'director's cut' has a few nice added moments, though the overall pacing is thrown off a tad.
Super Reviewer
August 7, 2013
'Alien' has aged remarkably well as a science fiction film, but not so much as a horror film. Beautiful and atmospheric, yet its formula (a group picked off one at a time) has been recycled so many times since that the movie no longer feels fresh and instead feels slow and predictable. This isn't the film's fault -- it's the genre -- but I had trouble remaining engaged throughout nonetheless.
Super Reviewer
October 20, 2006
The crew of commercial towing vehicle Nostromo investigate a signal from an unexplored planet and unleash a hostile organism. Once again, Ridley Scott creates a totally believable future environment and another classic of modern cinema. Scott uses suspense and atmosphere to gain the desired effect and it is an object lesson to gore-obsessed horror directors everywhere; less is definitely more. Considering the "alien" is essentially a stunt man in a rubber suit, Scott's use of lighting and sparse screen time for the creature makes it far more terrifying than a hundred CGI monsters. Giger's designs are more akin to sculpted works of art than mere special effects and the crew feel like real people having real conversations, who just happen to also be on a spaceship; even the obviously now antiquated technology has a functionality about it so it still does not look out of place. Scott also employs an element of sexuality to the attacks on the crew, creating a sense of anxiety on many levels; the victims are not only attacked, but violated in various ways. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley is also one of the first "action heroines", always ready to take charge and deal with the situations she finds herself in rather than running around screaming, and Scott also pioneers the now familiar "first person camera" viewpoint making the film a bit of a ground breaker. The DVD also features some interesting deleted scenes, particularly the cocoon scene that is expanded upon so effectively by James Cameron in the sequel Aliens. Yet another reason why Scott is one of the most respected directors working today.
Super Reviewer
½ October 13, 2012
A sci-fi horror classic of the finest kind. Director, Ridley Scott crafts a fine piece of terror that stay with you long after its over. A first-rate, edge of your seat fear-fest. It`s loaded with great effects and creepy set pieces and a great cast. Sigourney Weaver kicks ass. No female action hero has ever topped what she has
Super Reviewer
October 6, 2012
three stars
Market Man
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2012
"Alien" is one of the few films that truly scared me. Not only is the alien on board terrifying, the film also takes place in a claustrophobic setting which makes everything much more intense. For being so old the effects are pretty damn good. Sure, sometimes the alien does look a little fake, but it doesn't detract from the overall experience. It's a thrill, that's for sure.
Super Reviewer
½ August 1, 2012
Although Alien can be slow and the editing can be a bit choppy, the film still has eerie direction, realistic and memorable characters, and genuine suspense throughout.
Super Reviewer
October 28, 2011
A sci-fi/horror masterpiece. Ridley Scott's Alien contains some of the most beautiful lighting effects I have ever seen, the computers and lights shine like stars and illuminate the terror to come. I do believe the alien may be the scariest movie monster of all. Blown away.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
April 9, 2012
Alien is a true masterpiece that belongs along with some of the greatest films of all time. It successfully blends sci-fi, horror and psychology to create a really horrific, original and gritty film. This film also contains superb acting,highly iconic scenes and unique yet creepy work from H.R Giger. Alien has even spawned 'Aliens' a highly recognised sequel which matches, maybe surpass this films standards of sci-fi/horror.

This is more than worth a try for any Sci-Fi and/or horror fans.
Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2012
Ridley Scott's 'Alien' is clearly a classic that stands as the most prominent film within the sci-fi horror genre. Watching this film now, the scares may have been greatly diluted, but the chilling atmosphere and sense of doom are still apparent. Watch for classic scenes and one of the most inspiring female protagonists you'll ever see. Enjoy a classic that will not soon be forgotten.
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2012
A 1979 movie that puts so many horror flicks after it to shame. You don't see movies that patiently and methodically pace themselves anymore. Nowadays, quantity is on everyone's minds: An exhausting amount of cheap scares, blaring loud sounds to fright even those with a hearing aid, and extreme gore to churn stomachs. "Alien" may be a bit outdated, but no one can deny the sheer, insurmountable tension it lays on viewers.

Ridley Scott takes the helm of this sci-fi horror flick and does an incredible job with breathtaking cinematography and technically superb direction. Of course, much of these shots were inspired by "2001: A Space Odyssey" but who could blame him? But the real credit goes to Ridley for his masterful direction to convey the chilling horrific events that ensue. "Alien" encroaches on the viewers, slowly creeping it's eerie and mysterious horrors at them. It left me rocking back and forth across my couch, frequently reaching for the remote to lower the volume in hopes to lessen the scare factor. But once the alien strikes, it's not as horrifying. However, it comes to show the marvelous job Ridley has done to make the tension so unequivocally tangible. No cheap gags found here. All the while, the narrative throws new curve balls into the mix, making the alien's characteristics and its dangers much more mysterious which effectively leaves viewers in the dark and needing them to confront the alien again to learn more. It's great and scary as hell. The performances are impressive; the design of the alien and the gore are spectacularly raw and realistic, putting to shame the "Oh, that's CGI" mentality.

"Alien" is nothing more than a traditionally creepy thriller, but man, it's one damn good one. It takes its time; it isn't loud and obnoxiously in-your-face, but once it confronts the viewers, it leaves them in a nail-biting, frozen-stiff state.
Super Reviewer
January 18, 2010
After witnessing numerous sci-fi films throughout my life, I can honestly say that this film is the most terrifying sci-fi adventure ever to be placed on the big screen. I absolutely loved the story and how every character seemed like your average ordinary scientist who was able to go into space. After a discovery, a team is sent into space to check it out. Within the first 30 minutes of the film you will be hooked, on the edge of your seat, and waiting to see what is actually out there. For it's time, the effects are pretty good and the action does not disappoint. I can see why many people could become bored while watching this film, but as for me, this is one of the greatest space films of all time!
Super Reviewer
½ March 8, 2011
As Prometheus is hitting cinemas around the world, I felt it might be good to revisit the Alien trilogy and brush up on Ridley Scott's universe. Being that it has been over ten years since I had seen it last, the film has aged really well over the years. Antiquated computer systems aside, the story is just as fresh and as frightening as ever before.
Space may be the final frontier, but Scott seems weary about humanity's ability to conquer something so vast and recondite. Space isn't depicted as a place of beauty and wonder, but as rather dark, desolate, and possibly full of things that are best left undiscovered. Curiosity killed the cat, and this film suggests that it may soon do the rest of us in as well.
Aside from being an effective warning in this new age of exploration, it is at it's core a monster movie.
Rather than being a barrage of cheap gags, Scott & the editors effectively make this film a slow burn in which anything feels possible. I mean, i'm a 26 year old horror movie buff who has seen this film before, but could barley curb the desire to cover my eyes every time the face-hugging alien appeared on screen.
Scott exploits these moments of impending doom by filming some of these scenes at low angles. Making the audience wonder if we are seeing the alien's POV, or will it rear it's ugly, sometime's phallic head in some other corner of the room? Also, the camera slowly creeps from room to room at an agonizingly slow pace. This marvelously builds tension until it is almost unbearable.
The film is also well cast. Sigourney Weaver is great as the cunning Ripley. Ian Holm is also down-right creepy as an android hellbent on bringing back the alien life form and Harry Dean Stanton is...well...Harry Dean Stanton. That is always a good thing.
On top of this, for 1979 the creature effects are absolutely stunning. These creatures are more realistic than most of the schlock that passes for monsters in films nowadays. That one scene which features a close up of the alien's face as the water cascades down it's jowls is alone worth the price of admission.
Alien is a prime example of a monster movie done right. From it's excellent direction, to it's striking visuals and capable cast, Alien is a testament to the power of a good sci-fi film. It is equal parts imaginative, entertaining, and as frightening as hell. With a product this good, it should be no surprise that Scott would want to get some more miles out of the material.
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2012
With the release of "Prometheus" coming out next month(it's an "Alien" Prequel"), I figured I would go back and rewatch the "Alien"series. I honestly don't remember anything from the series except that Sigourney Weaver was the star and she battled big black aliens. The version I watched of "Alien" was the director's cut released in 2003, and honestly I don't know if there is any significant difference from the original. On the way home from a mission for the Company, a spaceship called Nostromo's gets a distress signal from a nearby planet. The ship sends a rescue team to the planet where they come in contact with an Alien. Sigourney Weaver is the star as Ripley, who turns out to be the smartest and biggest badass on the ship. Over 30 years old, this movie holds up incredibly well. The suspense is absolutely still there, and there is a real claustrophobic feeling on being on the ship. The acting is good, and the effects, while dated, are still very well done. I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi movies, but this is terrific. If your a fan of horror movies, then this is right up your alley, as I'd say this is more horror than sci-fi. After watching this, I'm actually excited to watch the rest, and even more pumped for "Prometheus". If you haven't watched this in a long time, then you should go back and revisit, you won't be disappointed.
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2007
Not as cool as the second in my opinion but chillingly goosebump inducing with a case of mild to feverish nail biting. So well made, the look is so realistic you can almost smell the sweat and fear, its Ridley at his perfectionist best, every tiny detail is accurate.
Awesome hands on effects and probably the greatest creature ever created for the silver screen!!, just the ultimate monster film along with 'Predator'. Perfect cast that show gritty blue collar 'grunts' at their best, I just prefer the second because of the action, but this is still amazing, Ridley is the king.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2012
Well that was just amazing. Probably one of the best sci-fi films I have ever seen and proves that Ridley Scott has true potential as a director and story teller. Genius Film.
Super Reviewer
June 25, 2007
By far one of the best films ever crafted concerning a space-shift which makes a detour to an alien planet to investigate possible life forms, where an alien comes on board through one of the astronauts, and as a result the mission of returning home and more importantly, survival of all those on board, are put at risk. This is without question one of the most influential movies of all-time, and one of my favorite films. The suspense director Ridley Scott develops over time here is masterful, creating a monster so vicious and rarely seen that it ranks amongst the best in terms of villains. Sigourney Weaver's debut is solid and workmanlike, and a talented supporting cast of Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, and John Hurt gives us reason to care for the characters and root for their survival. The mysteriousness and haunting dimension that Scott gives to his film makes it all the more terrifying. The last forty minutes of the film are downright arresting, with a sick twist conclusion that will leave you breathless when the credits roll.
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