The Virtues of Cowardice . . .

So, here we go: I watched Alien a few years ago, and I found it kind of boring. I liked Sigourney Weaver in it, of course. Ian Holm and Tom Skeritt were good. I found some of the scenes kind of creepy, especially the one with the alien-busting-from-that-dude’s-stomach. (It’s kind of funny to watch the original scene after growing up with the Spaceballs version—like, why isn’t the little alien singing yet? You mean that doesn’t actually happen?) I may try Alien again at some point—if pacing is my major problem with a movie, then I’ll usually give it a second chance, because sometimes I need to see a film twice to really appreciate how the story moves. But still, my initial reaction? Eh. Not that impressed.

However, Aliens? The cleverly named sequel? Thankfully, that was a lot more fun.

*Spoiler-Free. Originally posted in February in my LJ.*

It’s cool to watch a woman who can pull off both badass and vulnerable in the same movie. You know who doesn’t do it? Jessica Biel in Blade III. You know who does? Sigourney Fucking Weaver, baby.

These are the facts: Ripley and her cat take an unintended 57 year long nap after their last encounter with the big bad aliens. When she wakes up, life pretty much sucks: no one believes her story; she has horrible nightmares every night; she’s stuck with bad 80’s hair, etc. Also: the aliens might be back. While Ripley was busy sleeping, colonists were busy landing and terra-forming the Planet of Doom from the first movie. Now, they’ve suddenly gone all radio-silent, and with the upper-ups thinking, Well, shit, maybe Ripley’s not so nutsoid after all, Slimy Paul Reiser comes in to offer Ripley a consultant’s spot on a trip back to Hell. Ripley, quite appropriately, says, “Fuck off.”

That is, until the plot demands that she changes her mind. Apparently, Ripley has to face her fears. She’ll never get on with her life if she doesn’t face her fears. You know what will also impede her getting on with her life? DYING. Ripley’s a bad ass, all right, but her decision-making skills seriously leave something to be desired.

To round out the team, we’ve got a funny little kid named Newt who’s frankly cuter when she isn’t talking, Michael Biehn as the stoic soldier/flirty love interest, Bill Paxton as the considerably less stoic soldier/funny man, and Lance Henriksen as someone who doesn’t talk like he’s got graveyard dirt lining his throat. It’s a little bizzare, but you learn to go with it. Apparently, there are roles outside of cops and random psychopaths on the road.

For me, Aliens kicked Alien‘s ass in a major way. I know they’re going for two different feels—the first one’s a more haunted house thing, while the sequel’s more in your-face-action, but I thought that the sequel had so much tension and brutality that it worked as a genuine sci fi/action/horror instead of a one genre movie masquerading as two (like I imagine Jason X is, although admittedly I’ve never seen it. Still, it’s just horror in the stars, right? Or Leprechaun 4? That’s comedy masquerading as both sci fi and horror, yes?)

I have to give massive props to a few people, namely Bill Paxton for, one, adding a considerable amount of levity that helps balance out the movie and, two, being the awesome character who just flips the fuck out. I’m serious, man, cowards unite! I adore good survival instincts in a man, just like I love male characters who throw hissy fits and freak the fuck out in genuine freak the fuck out situations. These are good qualities in a movie character—they give you something to relate to. (I also don’t mind women panicking when there’s cause to. It’s just more common to make a female the hysterical one in the bunch, and make all the men stoic. I like my boys excitable.)

Also, Sigourney Weaver’s awesome, like I said before, for pulling out traumatized victim in the beginning and lady who’s got her alien-killing shit together later on. And, surprisingly enough, she isn’t the only badass female in the movie (cause, you know, badass women usually only come in one, like the Asian friend or the black friend.) Jenette Goldstein plays the unit’s Latina chick who, honestly, reminds me of Roselyn Sanchez from Basic. Her character isn’t nearly as developed as Ripley’s, but I nevertheless buy her as the kickass soldier, and she’s fun to watch. In a mostly unrelated note, I desperately want a T-shirt that says “You Fucked With the Wrong Mexican” on it. Maybe when Machete comes out.

And, yes, props to JC as well (that’s James Cameron, not Jesus Christ, although lately, aren’t they kind of the same in the media’s eye?) I know, this isn’t fair. I haven’t even seen Avatar yet (probably tomorrow, I swear) but lately, every time I hear Cameron’s name, I kind of want to throw up a little. Maybe it’s because his award speeches always sound so pompous. Or maybe I’m just tired of the whole ‘he created an entire language’ nonsense. I mean, really? Anyone remember Elvish from Lord of The Rings, or Klingon from Star Trek? What, it’s not the sign of destined geeky virginhood anymore if James Cameron does it? Fuckers.) Anyway, my problems with the man aside, the guy can make a pretty decent movie, and not only is Aliens a lot of fun, it actually makes the Better Than The Original Movie List. There are, of course, other sequels that do this: Empire Strikes Back, as the obvious example, but it’s still a decent accomplishment. So props to JC as well.

So, what’s the moral of the day?

Nightmares suck. But unless Freddy Krueger is laughing it up in your brain, nightmares ain’t gonna kill you. So, instead of going back to the planet of doom where there is almost CERTAINLY a massive alien infestation waiting for you, why don’t you instead do . . . something else. Anything else. For Christ’s sake, even Barry Watson isn’t this stupid. At least he didn’t have any kind of current evidence suggesting that the boogeyman he “imagined” was alive and kickin in his childhood home.

Fuck facing your fear, man. I’m sticking with the damn cat.


2 thoughts on “The Virtues of Cowardice . . .

  1. I think the point is that Ripley wants to see the aliens killed. She knows that unless they take the threat of the alien seriously they haven’t got a chance, so she wants to make sure they know what they are up against and to see them kill it for good.

    She is, quite rightly it turns out, worried about the alien escaping from that planet. And even if someone did say to her “we’ve killed it. It’s over now.” Do you think she’d trust that?

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