Aliens

Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton in Edge of Tomorrow

Note: the following contains no spoilers for the movie beyond what happens in the first act, nor any more than you’ll find in a review. Still, feel free to go in blind and return here after seeing the movie if you wish. There are a few movies that Edge of Tomorrow obviously calls to mind. Groundhog Day is the big one, while the movie’s initial battle scene is reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. The latter would be the more direct visual reference, almost remake rather than homage, but it’s really more than that. Within the plot, the battle is a literal redo of the Normandy landing, so it’s a double-layer repeat for a movie that’s already all about doing things over again. It definitely seems to be intentional, too, that Edge of Tomorrow opens in the U.S. on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Another movie relevant to the appreciation of Edge of Tomorrow is Aliens. Both have Bill Paxton and both have an extraterrestrial threat. The casting of the actor here has to be connected to his appearance in the Alien sequel, and he has even stated presumption of as much in interviews. Specifically, though, he tends to mention just the alien link and that he was desired so that he could say, “Game over, Man!” Yet his character never does say that. He doesn’t need to, because there’s enough recall here to have the audience thinking of the line, so long as they’re familiar with the earlier movie and are consciously aware […]

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Ellen Ripley Alien

It’s one of the most frustrating phenomena in film to watch, seeing someone so clearly correct and potentially wise get shut down by the people around them because their theories or warnings seem too far-fetched. As an audience, we know that they’re right – that monster is ripe for striking the city, that megastorm is about to hit mainland any day now and that kid is up to something suspicious – but our poor, long-suffering protagonists just don’t have the luck of getting their pleas heard in time. If only people had known these crackpots were right all along. Here are 7 cinematic Cassandras.

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Bechdel Test

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell applies the simple, ever-relevant Bechdel Test to a number of high profile movies…  The Bechdel Test, if you’re not familiar with it, is a benchmark for movies developed by Alison Bechdel in 1985. For a movie to pass The Bechdel Test, it must contain just one thing - a scene in which two or more named female characters have a conversation (that is, back and forth dialogue) about anything at all besides men. Anything, even if it’s something stereotypically feminine, like shopping or shoes. It could be about dog poo. It doesn’t matter. Sounds simple, right? Then it might be kinda shocking to find out that out of 2,500 movies, only about half pass the test. And to be clear, passing doesn’t mean the movie’s good or bad. Failing the test doesn’t mean the movie’s evil or anti-woman, or that passing makes it some sort of strongly feminist movie. It’s just to get people thinking about gender and how it’s presented in film. In fact, the example Bechdel gave as a film that passed the test was Alien, simply because Ripley and Lambert have a brief conversation about the alien. (Let’s ignore the fact that the alien was a walking penis-monster, as this was before the Xenomorphs had established sexes - the Queens weren’t introduced until 1986′s Aliens.) But it’s still surprising to find out that some of the […]

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IntroOneRole

Imagine if Edward Norton had made Primal Fear and decided to just bounce after that, or if Johnny Depp called it quits after Edward Scissorhands. Even though he was in a few films before that (including Nightmare on Elm Street), had that happened, no one would have thought twice about the guy – not unlike how zero people really think twice about the following actors and actresses…

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molly weasley in action

Moms have been an important part of cinema since the beginning, as one of the first humans to appear in a film was Sarah Whitley, mother-in-law of inventor/director Louis Le Prince, in the extremely short 1888 work Roundhay Garden Scene. Since then, we’ve had mothers serving important roles in quintessential masterpieces of Soviet cinema (Mother), Bollywood (Mother India), experimental film (Window Water Baby Moving), animated features (Bambi, Dumbo, etc.), documentary (Grey Gardens), political thriller (The Manchurian Candidate), science fiction (The Terminator), horror (Psycho, Friday the 13th, Carrie, etc.), comedy (The Graduate) and of course melodrama (the whole maternal subgenre). And we’ve all grown up identifying with certain movie moms, and actresses who often played moms; for me they were usually portrayed by Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Dee Wallace Stone and Diane Wiest. Therefore it would be an enormous task and read if I were to attempt to either list all or narrow down the best movie moms ever let alone handpick only a handful of scenes we love involving matriarchs. So I’ve asked the other FSR writers to help out by selecting a single maternal character they favor, and with one from yours truly included we honor ten of these varied women below.

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IntroMundaneBadass

In reality, no job is actually mundane unless you make it that way. Washing dishes or delivering mail can be terrific if you’re happy, and you’re with people who make you happy. My point is – a job is whatever you want it to be. You can quote me on that. “A job is whatever you want it to be.” – Man wearing pajama pants Anyhoo – in the movie world this tends to be different. Very rarely do we see a character shuffling fries and acting completely content. The best however, is when a mundane job is used to juxtapose the badassness of the character – or better yet, the badass character just happens to have a mundane job attached to them. These are by far the best combinations of “boring” vs “badass” I could think up in a single afternoon while not wearing any pants. Shop smart, everyone:

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IntroBadassWounds

So you’ve been shot/stabbed/eaten/burned/dismembered/amputated/face melted by an ancient artifact, what are you going to do next? If you answered, “go into shock while screaming like an asshole” then you’re probably on track. In the movies, of course, that’s a different story – people like to do cool stuff while dying in movies, act all badass for our amusement. Let’s look at 20 such fallen heroes. Spoilers should go without saying. But we said it. Right there. So no one can complain.

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IntroRelatives

Being on a movie set can be a blast – especially when you don’t have to do anything. It’s not hard to imagine that with every great actor or director there’s probably a nagging cousin or sibling who wants to be part of that sweet sitting around action. And how the hell are they going to say no? Giving mom a line is a small price to pay for 18 years of guaranteed food and shelter, right? How can an actor resist sticking their kid in a shot or two? It happens a lot – so much so that the following 15 are only the tip of the iceberg.

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Dark Skies Trailer

Over the years we’ve seen so many alien home invasions in movies that we’ve grown to believe that visits from extraterrestrial beings aren’t necessarily a big deal. Maybe the alien who comes for a visit could even be a cute little friend who lives in your closet and develops an addiction to Reese’s Pieces! And heck, worst case scenario you get pulled out of your bed, anally probed up on the mothership, and then they drop you right back off like nothing happened, right? Maybe not. Scott Charles Stewart’s (Priest) new thriller Dark Skies asks what it would be like if the aliens stuck around for a while and tortured your family. If the new trailer for this film is to be believed, an extended occupation of your home by extraterrestrial forces would not just include objects in your kitchen being mysteriously stacked and dazzling lights glimmering off of your ceiling, but it would also bring an unwelcome plague of birds, brandings and blackouts. Oh my. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are starring here as a suburban couple who get tormented by the little green menace, and watching them deal with flocks of birds mysteriously slamming into their windows, strange marks being burnt into their kids’ skin, and their minds getting repeatedly taken over by some mysterious force can be some pretty harrowing stuff.

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The Resident Evil film series has always been a directly self-aware and reflexive property, an aspect that became all the more obvious with the fourth installment, which featured the most knowingly gratuitous 3D spectacle since the format’s digital resurgence began. Part five, the newly released Resident Evil: Retribution, is similarly in your face, both with its use of screen-popping 3D and with Paul W.S. Anderson’s typical straightforward exposition and an action style that’s so clear it’s cocky. Yet there also appears to be a subtext we tend not to expect from these movies, one involving a little girl who metaphorically represents the film itself. This child, Becky (played by 11-year-old Aryana Engineer), is found by series protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) in a suburbia simulation within an undersea Umbrella Corp. complex used for trial exercises in mass T-virus infection. Mistaken for the girl’s mother (who was a blonder clone of Alice), the heroine feels a need to protect and save the kid, even if this holds her and the rest of the mission back. And even if it would also seem the girl is barely a legitimate human being. On a superficial level, Becky simply seems to be Anderson’s latest homage to the Alien movies, specifically to the Newt character in Aliens. But unlike Newt, Becky has no significance to any movie centered on themes of motherhood. And why is she deaf? That’s a question I don’t think can be answered solely by the fact that the actress herself is partially […]

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Alien and Prometheus Movie Books

Tired of hearing about Prometheus? If your answer is yes, consider moving on. If you’re still coming to grips with the film or if you’re a huge fan of the Alien universe, then read on, because we get our dirty little mitts on three books that will take you deeper into the movies than ever before. From Titan Books, Ridley Scott’s newest, Prometheus, gets a wonderful hardcover “The Art of the Film” treatment from author Mark Salisbury, while the original film is highlighted in the recently re-published The Book of Alien. Space Marines, form up, as the stars of James Cameron’s installment are highlighted in the re-published Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual.

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Aliens Commentary

Who’s to say we can’t break away from the Summer movie season tie-ins for a while? There isn’t much to connect with Rock of Ages. Or That’s My Boy. Does Happy Gilmore even have a commentary track? This week we felt we wanted to stick around the Alien universe a little bit longer. Besides, this Alien Blu-Ray box set is truly a thing of beauty. Scientists are going to be finding this thing centuries from now and think it was something we worshipped. They wouldn’t be too far off. This week, we’re digging into the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Alien, James Cameron’s Aliens, a film so highly regarded by fans of the series, there are those who claim it’s the only sequel in any franchise to ever surpass its original. That’s another debate for another day. What isn’t arguable, though, is that Cameron’s sequel brings with it as much iconic imagery and memorable moments as the 1979 original. The Alien Vs. Aliens debate will carry on for ions, long after Cameron has built his kingdom by the Mariana Trench and brought the world to its knees with the wave of his fist. Come to think of it, James Cameron would make a good Bond villain.

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Culture Warrior

For filmgoers frustrated with a visionary filmmaker whose films’ quality provided diminishing returns as he became ever more prolific, Prometheus was anticipated as a welcome return to form. For those hungry for R-rated, thinking person’s science fiction, Prometheus provided a welcome respite from a summer promising mostly routine franchise continuations. For those who see the 1970s and 1980s as the height of modern Hollywood filmmaking, Prometheus promised a homecoming for a type of blockbuster that was long thought to be dead. Prometheus even beat out The Dark Knight Rises as the most anticipated summer film of 2012 on this very site. But then the reviews came in. And thus began the qualifying, criticizing, parsing out, hyperbolizing, dissecting, backlashing, and disappointed exhaling. There were many responses to Prometheus, but very few of them were the songs of praise that a film this hotly anticipated – and highly desired – by all means should have satisfyingly warranted.

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Prometheus

It was perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year after The Dark Knight Rises, but Ridley Scott‘s return to the Alien world in Prometheus has been anything but universally embraced. While many enjoyed the film, an equal (at least) amount disliked it. Regardless of what camp you fall into, I think we can all agree that the crew of Prometheus the ship and Prometheus the movie were pretty stupid, for being future geniuses and all. Here, we count down the ten stupidest decisions and actions made by the crew in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Of course, there are tons of spoilers inside.

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Boiling Point

Editor’s Note: The following article contains discussion of events from the third act of Prometheus. You’ve been warned.  Prometheus just can’t get a break. From poor reviews to my upcoming list of the 10 Dumbest Crew Member Mistakes, you’d think we’d have picked on Ridley Scott’s revisit enough. But we haven’t! This just isn’t about Prometheus though. Hollywood has a long history of illustrating stupid people doing stupid things. One that has always bothered me is when people are fleeing gigantic objects. Whether it’s a falling spaceship, a collapsing building, or a gigantic beast, there’s one tried and true method of escaping – and it ain’t running in a straight line.

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Scenes We Love: Alien

If you haven’t guessed it by know, this weekend is all about the release of Prometheus. With Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to the genre where he got his beautifully executed start, the Alien franchise has been reborn with a prequel/side-story that is a clear beneficiary of modern visual technology. In short, Prometheus is a gorgeous film filled with all kinds of sci-fi visual pornography. It even looks great in 3D. But to truly enjoy what has come to pass this weekend as 20th Century Fox rakes in the cash from Scott’s return to Alien, it’s important that we look back to where it all began — to a sci-fi/horror franchise so iconic that mere mention of its name drives nerds into fits of heated discussion. What were the greatest moments in the films by Scott, Cameron, Fincher and Jeunet? What are the great scenes from each of the Alien films? We sat our resident experts, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter, down in a room and refused them food and water until they emerged with the answer. In legit geek fashion, they emerged five minutes later. Because even with so many great moments in this franchise, the answers all seemed quite clear… Obligatory Spoiler Warning: If you have not seen the entire Alien franchise and would rather not have these decades old films spoiled for you, do not read any further. Many of our favorite scenes are the likes that you should see within the context of the film the first time.

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we’re always a hit…with elderly mimes and people whose favorite band is The Jerky Boys. This is the Internet’s best place to wait around for articles on the sites you like to load – sort of a cyberspace truckstop. And like a truckstop, we celebrate things that most people cast off as “trivial” or “base” or “seriously detrimental to one’s memory and critical thinking skills.” We are too! Wait, what was I saying? Anyway, this week we’ve had the very rare privilege of stumbling across a little gem of a rotten turd that will be playing a limited engagement of roughly ten shows a day in every single theater across the country. The arthouse maestro Peter Berg has taken the board game Battleship, that wonderful tool for teaching children all the necessary tenets of blind, desperate warfare, and extrapolated its meager mechanics into a two-hour cinematic testament to the struggle between Hollywood and your brain. Incomprehensibly bad as Battleship may be (read: totally is), I couldn’t help but wonder if the “plot” on the screen wasn’t merely a smoke screen for something that, like the invading alien ships, lurked just below the surface. So I gathered all the best minds in the Junkfood Cinema war room, which may or may not be my pet name for the corner booth at my local TGI Friday’s, and formulated some theories on just what the hell was going on here. My hope was to come up with a […]

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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When talking about the upcoming live action version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie his Platinum Dunes production company is helming, fan favorite and media whipping boy Michael Bay wandered into a non-controversy that is apparently still news. Fans of TMNT and Bay-haters alike got all up in a tizzy after the Transformers director made a statement about the film and casually dropped the info that the turtles will actually be aliens, not mutants. I’m surprised you didn’t feel the earthquake that happened shortly thereafter, because the world is ending.

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