Author Topic: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"  (Read 25841 times)

judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2010, 10:50:48 AM »
"Moon" is about clone labor and features a talking robot (like HAL).  The protagonist is a clone, and the science and technology of the setting play an important part in the plot. Ripley does use that robot suit to battle the monster at the end, and they are on a space ship.  However, that is about as futuristic as it gets.  Sorry, I didn't write the definition of sci-fi. In literature that is how it is defined. I absolutely LOVE both "Alien" and "Aliens", but the science part of the movie is merely incidental.

The androids Ash and Bishop are "talking robots" and main characters, in fact you could say they are more advanced than a HAL-type artificial intelligence.  The concept of cryosleep, the machines, the futuristic weaponry, all of this is peppered throughout the story which makes it an integral part of the setting. 

Your lynchpin of clone labor as making this more of a sci-fi movie is debatable, especially using your earlier criteria for why Alien would NOT be sci-fi.  Most of the "science-fiction" elements of a story usually reveal an underlying moral issue, and with the case of the clones, it's all about  the concept of cheap, expendable labor.  That's why people here and now can relate to it.  So just as earlier you say Aliens could be a story of wild beasts that actually exist, so too could the clones be substituted for immigrants, or a mistreated class of society who are abused. 

I would also say that science-fiction is not exclusively about make-believe technology, or the possiblity of technology not yet put to use.  Biology is a science too, so why couldn't imaginary biology in the case of Alien be science fiction?   There's enough of a development of the alien's instincts and biology to make it more than just a creature-feature.

Of course some movies are going to play up the science-elements more than others, but I agree with droneon that the Alien movies have enough science-fiction in them to be just that, at least for conventional purposes of categorization as opposed to a horror or action movie . 


   

drone on

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2010, 10:39:40 AM »
American Film Institute in 2008 named Alien "Seventh Best Film in the Science Fiction Genre"

Alien received a Saturn Award soon after its release for "Best Science Fiction Film."

MarkM

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2010, 06:34:34 PM »

Movie Taglines
2001:  "Let the Awe and Mystery of a Journey Unlike Any Other Begin"
Blade Runner:  "Man has made its match, now it's his problem."
Moon: "The last place you'd ever expect to find yourself."
Alien:  "In space no one can hear you scream."
Aliens:  "This time there's more."
Event Horizon:  "Infinite Space - Infinite Terror."

Which ones sound most like they are being promoted as Sci-fi?
Which ones sound most like they are being promoted as horror?


judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2010, 10:29:27 PM »
Wow, after this thread, I realize I definitely use the term loosely  ;D  Mark, you make a good point about the overall intent of a movie, but you seem to be using contradictory criteria.  First you said Alien wasn't a sci-fi movie because technology didn't play a prominent role.  Now, you're saying Alien is not sci-fi because it's intent is to scare the audience.  Which is it going to be? 


So is Terminator a sci-fi movie?  Here we have an artificial intelligence as the main character, which seems sci-fi- By your earlier definition:  yes.  However, I'm not sure what the tagline of Terminator is, but the intent of the movie is "be very afraid of this unstoppable killing machine" not sure how Alien differs in intent from Terminator:   By your latest definition:  not sci-fi.


Both definitions you have used are very exclusive.  With "technology as the central element"  you're leaving out movies that classically go by the title of science fiction, like E.T. (no technology involved), like war of the worlds (it's basically a war movie), close encounters of the 3rd kind (much less technology than Alien) 

and anything where the discovery or the technology result in something horrific, well, to quote a fantasy movie, there can be only one... genre, to assign it to, that is...

   


MarkM

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2010, 05:16:03 AM »
I see your point Judd, but I think intent can sometimes tip the hand of what the writers, directors, and producers had in mind.

The setting does not necessarily dictate that a story is sci-fi. Think about it; if one was to put Dracula in place of the Alien, would it be a sci-fi movie?

drone on

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2010, 12:12:22 PM »
Why are you so insistent on arguing Alien is not Sci-Fi, when I have presented irrefutable evidence it is considered so by the majority of the filmmaking community?  If this were a debate, you'd lose, & we've already won many posts ago.  I can see the next post now: the moon landing was a hoax, the holocaust never happened, etc. etc. Some people have to argue about everything... You're making too big a deal about this, which was not even the point of this thread, it was originally about comparing Alien and Aliens, not endlessly debating whether it was Sci-Fi or Horror.  I'm not reading any more posts on this topic, so if you want to debate it do it by yourself, and nobody will listen or care... 8)

hdibrell

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2010, 01:15:37 PM »
I see your point Judd, but I think intent can sometimes tip the hand of what the writers, directors, and producers had in mind.

The setting does not necessarily dictate that a story is sci-fi. Think about it; if one was to put Dracula in place of the Alien, would it be a sci-fi movie?
Ooh, ooh! How about Paul Rubens in place of Arnold in Terminator? ;)
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.

judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2010, 01:38:00 PM »
Unfortunately droneon has fallen by the wayside, but I'll be back after a little work this evening, to soldier on and carry the torch.  Mark, do you have any closing arguments? 

Harry, that'd be hilarious, with Paul Reubens' signature smirk, saying a nasally "I'll be back... huh huh huh" 

judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2010, 11:26:40 PM »
I see your point Judd, but I think intent can sometimes tip the hand of what the writers, directors, and producers had in mind.

The setting does not necessarily dictate that a story is sci-fi. Think about it; if one was to put Dracula in place of the Alien, would it be a sci-fi movie?


That's interesting, so what is the "intent" of a sci-fi movie... well with the better ones, the ones I prefer, the intent if any is usually to show an aspect of our own morality by presenting an angle that simply isn't possible in our present reality- which means although sci-fi has an intent, the setting is just as crucial.  Maybe through technological advancement, or it may be through our interaction with other lifeforms, how they treat us, or how we treat them (District 9 being the most excellent recent example)  But to me, that doesn't mean that all sci-fi movies are going to effectively question anything.  Most are simply entertaining, often action packed, and yep, sometimes scary. Why can't a sci-fi movie be scary?  

Let's take 3 movies with other lifeforms:  The Abyss, Alien, and District 9.  With the first, the aliens are basically benign, or they spare us, or whatever.  With the second example, they prey on us and arouse our most violent instincts, just to survive them, but the temptation to exploit them also causes tensions within the human characters.  With the 3rd example, it is us who abuses the lifeforms.   But why would you need 3 different genres to represent these different circumstances?  Now, with Alien, there's no question they could've played up more the philosophical aspects of the story- it was a feature to the stories, usually with someone who represented the company and was working behind the backs of everyone else, trying to "save" the alien for bio-weapons back home.  But the fact is, the Alien saga effectively delves into the biology of the species, and there is a moral issue here, however thinly entwined.   If the movie in question was John Carpenter's The Thing, perhaps we wouldn't be having this lovely philosophical debate. 
 
But back to the intent of a film.  Take Gattaca for instance.  It's a story about a guy who overcomes his own deficiencies and circumstances to achieve his dreams.  Wow.  Sound like sci-fi, really?  Might as well be the Pursuit of Happyness or any other feel-good story of overcoming obstacles.  The main difference though is it's set in the future, and the "science" is pretty minimal to the story, yet that setting of a "possible future" is what separates this when categorizing the movie.  Gattaca by most standards is a sci-fi movie.  Here, the setting is pretty much the determining factor.  

And Dracula in space?  I wouldn't put it past these audiences of today to enjoy that... ::)
« Last Edit: April 30, 2010, 11:41:22 PM by judd stephens »

Altus

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2010, 11:35:57 AM »
Space vampires?  See Lifeforce.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089489/
Good 80s flick. :)
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cromag

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2010, 11:29:35 PM »
I was going to mention Lifeforce, too!

But you may have liked it more than me!  :-X



 ;D
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MarkM

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2010, 04:44:01 PM »
Space vampires?  See Lifeforce.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089489/
Good 80s flick. :)

Sorry for the delay in responding. I was down in Atlanta for the City Skies Festival.

No, not just any vampires: Dracula.  The "Alien" setting would be the same, but the antagonist would be a classic horror character like Dracula. Would you still classify the film as sci-fi?

What about the Three Stooges movie when they went to the moon, "The Three Stooges in Orbit"?  Sci-fi or comedy?  I think intent plays an important role in classification.

Scott M2

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2010, 07:11:11 PM »
Moses parts the Sea of Tranquility - Sci-Fi or Biblical Epic?

mystified

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2010, 08:59:59 PM »
Surf pic-- water is featured.
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judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2010, 09:34:20 PM »
I understand the point.  It's like Back to the Future uses time travel, which is usually considered a sci-fi theme, but who would characterize that movie as such?  But the flip side of the issue is when you rely on intent all the time, you'll change a lot of movie's established genre.  One obvious thing to me is a lot of sci-fi that is basically in intent just an action/adventure movie with futuristic technology or aliens.   

What's the intent of Terminator? How is the intent of Terminator any different from a psycho-killer movie? How would you classify War of the Worlds?  How is its intent fundamentally different, if at all, from Alien?

You can credit a lot movies for ingenuity when they successfully straddle the line of genres.  Of course sometimes its a big flop when they try to do too much, but some genres can blend well- take Shawn of the Dead as a great blend horror-comedy, or Jackie Chan's inspired Kung-fu comedy.

To even more serious issues though, if it was actually a clone of Moses, set in the future, and he's parting the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, well that's a toughy  ;D




judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2010, 09:58:24 PM »
kinda coincidental that this topic came up, because right before this started last week, a co-worker practically jumped me for daring to refer to Children of Men as a sci-fi flick.  I was surprised that she was so adamant, but I guess before that, I've just about always referred to any movie set in the future as sci-fi. Because, after all, in those kinds of movies, the setting is essential to the message.  Granted, the possible future is just an excuse (as is often an alien invasion theme) to demonstrate human nature from another angle. 


Mark, what's the intent of a sci-fi movie in your opinion?  I think that question needs to be answered, if intent is so important. 

If it's all about technology, than my friends, the final burning question is answered:  Waterworld is no sci-fi movie. And remember this:  even if a resurrected Moses parted the sea to help Kevin Costner find land, that movie would still suck...

MarkM

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2010, 04:43:51 PM »
In my opinion the future is not essential for a story to be sci-fi, but it is essential to implement science and/or discovery, and these must give the story plausibility. For example, I would classify Shelley's novel, "Frankenstein", as a Romantic, Gothic sci-fi tale. I would not classify "Dracula" as such.

judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #37 on: May 04, 2010, 04:52:28 PM »
In my opinion the future is not essential for a story to be sci-fi, but it is essential to implement science and/or discovery, and these must give the story plausibility. For example, I would classify Shelley's novel, "Frankenstein", as a Romantic, Gothic sci-fi tale. I would not classify "Dracula" as such.

Alien definitely featured science and/or discovery.  But you haven't described the intent yet.  What is the intent of sci-fi? 

MarkM

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #38 on: May 04, 2010, 05:28:54 PM »
Science and discovery were written into the plot of "Alien" but they certainly weren't the driving force in the movie. They were merely window dressing for the setting.

Intent?  Well, that all depends on the what themes the author wishes to bring to light. Themes usually reflect the human condition.  To scare the heck out of you is not a theme. "Alien" does have a theme regarding the corporation putting the crew's lives secondary to the monster being captured and being used as a weapon, yet that evaporates quickly as the crew plays hide and seek with the creature. There's not a huge difference in suspense and intent between the Halloween's killer and the Alien: hide, seek, and kill.  Perhaps another theme might be that the human being, male or female ("Alien" is one of the earliest action/adventure movies where the female is the warrior/hero), can outwit the perfect killing machine.

judd stephens

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Re: Ridley Scott's "Alien" vs. James Cameron's "Aliens"
« Reply #39 on: May 04, 2010, 06:16:07 PM »
I'm not sure why sci-fi has to have a theme.  The good ones surely do, but not all of them do.  Again, like I said, if it doesn't have one of those themes then you're throwing out a lot that fall into the typical science fiction genre in the video stores, in searches, and so on.  I liken it to another genre where setting almost always determines this genre:  the Western.  You might have a really good Western with complex characters and themes, like Unforgiven, or it might just be a Cowboy and Indian shoot 'em up.... same with action movies- Bourne Identity vs. Missing in Action: same category, but worlds apart in terms of quality or depth of story.  That's how I treated sci-fi. 

That is the reason why I wouldn't call Robocop, or Terminator, War of the Worlds, or any silly b-rated space opera an action or horror movie- Robocop's theme is really revenge, Terminator's and War of the Worlds' is to scare you.  What about the Abyss, even?  That's more of a character-driven movie, until the end where we see the alien. The better ones explore the complexity of the human condition, but they all are considered sci-fi.

That's why sub-genres and crossovers are great.  They keep you guessing  :D