Alien

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Alien Movie Poster Image
Dated but still extremely scary. Not for younger kids.
  • R
  • 1979
  • 124 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 53 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 185 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A bloodthirsty alien, devoid of remorse or conscience, kills off crew members of a deep-space mining ship. But Ripley conveys the strong message to never give up and to do eveything you can to try to save your friends and co-workers. 

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Courageous female crew member Ripley shows tremendous resolve and presence of mind during a traumatic event. She even takes the time to rescue the ship's cat as surviving crew members attempt to escape the ship. 

 

Violence

A character sitting down to dinner with fellow crew members falls into convulsions, then dies a bloody death as an alien burrows out of his chest. One by one, characters are killed by the alien. While their deaths aren't always shown, gruesome deaths are strongly implied. Characters shoot a flamethrower and fire a cattle prod while trying to defend themselves against the alien. Horror movie suspense of the "What's that around the corner?" variety abounds. 

 

Sex

Toward the end, a character takes off her space uniform, stripping down to a half-shirt and panties. In one of the pods, there are pictures of naked women, breasts shown. 
 

Language

Expletives when faced with alien outbreak: "f--k off," "son of a bitch," "horses--t," "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Early in the film, a character is never shown without a cigarette in his mouth. At a celebratory dinner, a character is shown drinking from a can of beer, but does not act intoxicated. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alien is a classic of sci-fi horror, and while not as gory as most horror films, it's too intense for younger viewers. In its most iconic scene, a character is killed after an alien burrows out of his chest, shooting blood everywhere. Unrelenting suspense permeates every scene after the first 15 minutes. While the deaths of the characters aren't always shown, gruesome killing at the hands (actually, tentacles) of the alien is strongly implied. One of the characters smokes, and all of them in their panicked states use profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byOneVeryLongUsername March 3, 2015

"Alien" - Parental and Artistic Review.

Sexual Content: One of the cabins is full of pornographic magazines and posters. The posters adorn the walls, but they aren't viewed up close and the image... Continue reading
Adult Written bylibbybowen December 16, 2015

Alien

i think 9 is old enough to watch
Teen, 15 years old Written byJaysnake June 27, 2011

A classic Horror

This movie is very suspensful and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole movie. Suprisingly there was not much blood and gore. You should see this movie i... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 30, 2016

Sci-fi/horror epic isn't for the squeamish; however, creative, mature tweens and teens alike will love it

Overall, the rating shouldn't stop teens and tweens alike from enjoying this masterpiece of science fiction and horror; for those who are easily grossed or... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ALIEN, the Nostromo, a cavernous and ill-lit interstellar mining ship, is manned by a miniscule crew of seven. They are awakened out of hibernation by an order from faraway Earth to investigate a mysterious distress signal on a dark and stormy planet. There the miners find a huge, grounded spaceship from an unknown civilization, with a long-dead alien pilot. A parasite, apparently the same type that took down the other craft, affixes to the face of a Nostromo crewman. After the crewman seems to recover, a hostile newborn alien bursts out of the doomed man's chest in front of the rest of the crew. The crew struggles to kill the fast-moving, fast-growing, unwelcome visitor before it gets them.

Is it any good?

Kids like scary movies, and this one definitely succeeds; small kids are better off with E.T., though teens can take this movie for the thrill ride it is. Being scary, in new and disturbing ways that hadn't been done before, was the mission of Alien. For a generation of moviegoers, Alien was a state-of-the-art shocker, even though it basically has a second-hand monster plot and characters that behave like cliched horror-movie victims, wandering alone in the dark or waiting like sitting ducks to be picked off. Alien did defy stereotypes of its time in the brilliant move of making the ultimate survivor a vulnerable-looking young woman, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), who courageously fights back against the alien marauder.

The 25th-annivesary DVD of Alien includes a few minutes of restored footage of what the alien does with captured prey -- considered too grim for 1979, but no surprise for anyone who saw the sequel, Aliens, or any of the later followups. Most of the violence here, in fact, is suggested in quick edits rather than directly shown, just like the skittering, skeletal/serpentine alien parasite itself. While this once-shadowy monster species has been exposed in inferior sequels, video games, and comic books (even Superman battled them!), some of the best minds in cinema tried to ensure this movie would be a nightmare-inducer, and parents should keep that in mind.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Alien was so effective in evoking fear.

  • How do you think Alien compares with other futuristic outer space movies featuring aliens? 

  • How do you think the alien in Alien compares with other movie aliens? Do you imagine aliens as friendly or deadly-scary?  

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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