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"Alien: The Director's Cut"

Directed by Ridley Scott.
Written by Dan O'Bannon.
Starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, and Yaphet Kotto.
Release Year:  2003 (the original was released in 1979) 
Review Date:  11/3/03


Tonight, the movie group I hang out with on Sundays wanted to go old school...and, since I’m down with the old school, “Alien: The Director’s Cut” was all good to me.

I last saw “Alien” about a decade ago; I had only seen it once, and I remember thinking it was pretty good.  Well, seeing the new version in theaters is a ton better.  About a half-dozen scenes from the DVD that were deleted have been added back into the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic.  For those few souls that have not seen it, the movie stars Tom Skerritt and Sigourney Weaver as members of the space vessel Nostromo.  The Nostromo, a towing vehicle that is supposed to be headed back to Earth following a mission in outer space of the distant future, is reassigned to investigate an SOS on a remote planet...which turns out to go REAL bad for the seven-person crew onboard the towing vessel thanks to a life form that makes its way onto the ship.

Seeing this in a theater was just awesome; seeing it on a digital projector was phenomenal.  Of course, you will only really be able to notice digital projection if you see a lot of movies; the print for “Alien: The Director’s Cut” is digitally restored with some effects cleaned up, and this just looks cleaner on a digital projector than on a regular film projector.  The colors are much more vibrant as well, which helps since so much of the film takes place in the dark.  The added scenes of the film were not all that noticeable to me, save for a key scene near the end of the film involving a scene straight out of “Aliens”; the added moment with Ripley (Weaver) and some lost members of the crew is the only very vital addition to the storyline.

For a man with such a storied career, the pacing of this brilliant sci-fi film might be Scott’s best work...which is saying a lot, considering the resume almost 25 years after “Alien” was released.  “Blade Runner”, “Gladiator” (a Best Picture winner), “Thelma and Louise”, “Black Hawk Down.”  I still think “GI Jane” is a guilty pleasure, and from what I hear, “Matchstick Men” was a pretty good film as well.  He’s nearing 70 years old, and he seems to be putting out more and more products as the years progress.  “Alien” helped cement Weaver as a star; she is not the main attraction here, but she does some great work as things start to go wrong with that little extraterrestrial problem running around the ship.  Co-stars Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto and Ian Holm (as the android Ash) do great work as well...and, who can forget John Hurt’s performance as the ship’s second-in-command?

It was already a great film before this version, but “Alien: The Director’s Cut” is a great time at the movies that can be justified even if you already have seen it the first go-round.  It is only showing on about 400 screens, but if you live in some semblance of a major city, you should be able to find the film.  Plus, we even got a little teaser for next summer’s blowout “Alien vs. Predator”, which got cheers from my audience even though the teaser is only 30 seconds long.   Damn, do we love teasers or what?

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09