Alien, upon first glance, is nothing more than a typical haunted house story, but in a science fiction setting. Originally intended to be a B-movie with an A budget, alien went on to become a masterpiece of filmmaking that transcends genre conventions and remains effective as both a science fiction and horror movie to this day. As a sci-fi, it has all the obligatory spaceships and artificial intelligence that have become so common in science fiction, but what makes Alien so much better than the typical science fiction movie is the way that it portrays the world of the future. Much like Ridley Scott's other sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner, which came out 3 years later, Alien paints a bleak vision of the future, where earth is dominated by large corporations that have supplanted the government. Alien also explores themes such as isolation, discovery, and asks us what happens when one organization is given too much power. But it is on a horror level that Alien works best. The fear is so personal, playing on the audiences deepest anxieties about the unknown, and, while not particularly gory, the violence is so unsettling because of how personal and intimate it is. In the case of one character, it even seems vaguely sexual. The design of the Alien itself is unsettling, with its phallic head, inner jaw, and long snakelike fingers, but even in the scenes without the Alien, there is a pervasive sense of tension and unease that keeps us on the edge of our seats, and the movie doesn't become overly reliant on cheap jumpscares (not that jumpscares are inherently bad, just commonly overused). One of the greatest aspects of Alien is the pacing. It gets off to a slow start, introducing us to the characters and environment. The calmness of the first half makes the rest of the movie seem even more horrifying. After the Alien's first appearance, things are really kicked into high gear, with non-stop tension until literally the end of the movie. Another great element of Alien is the characterization. Every character is well developed, and each one follows their own story arc. Take, for example, Parker. He is stubborn, always wanting to be a leader, but when in a dangerous situation, he grudgingly allows Ripley to take control, because she is the true leader. The acting is excellent, and each character feels relatable and realistic. The superbly written screenplay by Dan O'Bannon allows each character to subvert the genre clichés and become a real person. Yet another reason Alien is so good is the cinematography. Ridley Scott makes extensive use of tracking shots in the film, that serve very well to acquaint and immerse us in the environment. Ambient lighting is also used extensively, with the lights of various machinery creating interesting patterns and illuminating the surrounding environment in different ways. The set and costume design are also done very well. These people are essentially truckers in space, and their clothing reflects that. The interior of the Nostromo appears very industrial. It is all function over appearance. The various symbols on the walls and the trinkets on the dining table aid in making the environment feel authentic and lived in. The mechanical environment of the Nostromo contrasts sharply against the interior of the alien ship, which appears organic, almost dripping wet. Finally is the score. The music is masterfully composed, incorporating haunting sound effects and ambient noises that appear (or don't) in all the right places to accentuate the terror. Alien, from my personal, subjective view, is the greatest movie of all time. From an objective, critical perspective, it is a masterpiece of filmmaking that should be viewed by all. Violence- 7/10: A crablike alien creature attacks a man and latches onto his face. A baby alien creature burrows out of a man's chest, showering the entire area with blood. The Alien kills several people using various methods, including using it's inner jaw to bite people's heads, with accompanying blood. A woman is killed. While we do not see it, the accompanying sound effects are very graphic and disturbing. The Alien also clubs a man with it's tail. In the Director's Cut, two men are seen cocooned to a wall. A woman burns them with a flamethrower. A woman is beaten badly by a man. He is then decapitated with a fire hydrant, SPOILERS revealing him to be an android SPOILERS END. SPOILERS The Alien is shot into space. SPOILERS END.
Sex & Nudity- 3/10: In one scene, posters of naked women can be seen on a wall in the background, with breasts shown. They are somewhat blurry and out of focus, but they are explicit. A man makes a joking sexual remark to a woman. This may go over younger kids' heads. Language- 5/10: 6 or 7 uses of f*ck, several uses of sh*t, ass, damn, and G*ddamn. There are also a few misuses of Jesus' name. Drinking, Drugs & Smoking- 1/10: People are seen using tobacco in a few scenes.