The SuperFox (my wife) hooked me up with the Alien Anthology set during the holiday season, so I recently had a chance to watch all four of the original Alien films. I greatly enjoy the franchise, but mostly because of the strength of the first two entries. I always felt that Alien was a really good horror film, and I think of Aliens as a genuine masterpiece. Upon my first (and only) viewings of the third and fourth film prior to this endeavor, I found the third to be good but overly somber and the fourth to be total garbage. Would I view things differently upon a second viewing?
First off, I still rank the first two pictures the same way. Alien is a solid horror film, but it's probably not in my top ten. I love the talent involved, the atmosphere, and especially the cinematography, and it is surely a fantastic movie--but it isn't a great one, at least not in my humble opinion. Aliens is positively incredible. It's easily the best sci-fi/action picture of all time, and if you want to look at it solely as an action film, it might rule that list as well. It's tense, it's exciting, it's a lot of fun, and I just don't know that movies get much better than Aliens. I love it.
Now, Alien 3 is a different story. Talk about a buzzkill. The overly bleak nature of the piece is so much more evident if the picture is viewed right on the heels of Aliens. It can't help but suffer by comparison. Honestly, this time out, I found that I enjoyed Alien 3 far less than Alien Resurrection--and it's a much better movie. It's just such a downer. I'm trying to do this whole thing spoiler-free, but suffice it to say that elements of the plot that are disclosed in the opening reel drag the whole thing down, and it never gets any happier. The direction is fine, the action setpieces (few though they may be) are riveting, and there are a couple of likable characters in play, but the whole thing is a major downer. If Aliens is as much fun as you can have watching a movie, Alien 3 is aiming squarely at the other end of that spectrum.
So is Alien Resurrection any good? No, it's not. To be completely honest, it's rather awful. But hey, it is colorful, and a bit unpredictable, and the direction is genuinely unique. Despite a multitude of flaws, it's a lot of fun, and it has some incredibly creative sequences that are deserving of a better picture, but the plot is lacking and the closing reel is so bad that it's damn near offensive. Having said that, at least it isn't a total pisser like the third entry in the series.
The Anthology set itself is beautiful, and packed with value. It contains two versions of every feature and two discs full of bonus content. Anyone looking for the inside scoop on the Alien franchise will find all they could hope for and more included in this gorgeous set. All in all, I was greatly pleased, and any fan of sci-fi, horror, or action must spend some time with these movies. Of course, if it was up to me, the series would end with Aliens, and I may try to convince myself that Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection don't exist. I'm fairly confident that I won't ever view them again. but that's okay--I'll continue to rock with Ripley, Dallas, and the Space Marines for as long as I live.