Wednesday, March 6, 2013

F This Movie! - Aliens

Patrick and Erich Asperschlager mostly come out at night. Mostly.



Download this episode here. (33.6 MB)

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Also discussed this episode: War of the Worlds (2005); Moon (2009); The FP (2011); Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of James Bond (2012)

26 comments:

  1. Am I hearing things or is there a dog walking around behind one of you when the podcast was recorded? :-)

    I remember seeing the trailer for "The FP" in a theater and the audience being stunned at what they were seeing, some loudly proclaiming that it had to be a bullshit trailer that was going to segue into a 'shut down your cellphone' warning. You mean to tell me that was an actual movie? :-O

    "Everything or Nothing" sounds intriguing but the entire series on DVD and Blu-ray comes loaded with so many good commentaries and bonus documentaries (yes, they're the officially sanctioned one's and don't cover candidly controversial topics like the whole Kevin McClory lawsuit) I don't think I can stand another one. Is "EON" available anywhere else besides Netflix Instant?

    I haven't seen "Aliens" but I own the Blu-ray Quadrilogy Box Set, so I heard the podcast only until the 'Seen Anything Lately' (or 'Upfronts' as Alex Lawson is fond of saying ;-P) segment wraps up. Simple question: should I watch the original theatrical cut or the director's cut of "Aliens" first as my maiden voyage into seeing it for the first time? I've seen the other three "Alien" movies (except for the alternate/director's cuts) so I just want to know which one fits better with the rest of the "Alien" universe, continuity-wise. I'll end up seeing both versions of "Aliens" anyway, just want to make sure I pick the best one first.

    And speak of the devil! My new-to-me movies are all pre-code era James Cagney movies from 1933, all seen at NYC's Film Forum theater in Library of Congress-preserved 35mm prints and all three for the same low ticket price. Really, what the fuck more could you ask for? 8-)

    3/4/13: Lloyd Bacon's PICTURE SNATCHER (1933)

    3/5/13: Mervin LeRoy's HARD TO HANDLE (1933)

    3/6/13: Roy Del Ruth's LADY KILLER (1933).

    Bonus Review: Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) on DVD
    , still the 2nd most violent/gory movie released in '92 (after "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York").

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    1. I would start with the theatrical cut. The extended cut gives some extra information and has some fine material, but I think the theatrical cut works better. You'll understand why after hearing the podcast.

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  2. Although I do have a tendency to pant, that "dog" sound is probably my fat, lazy cat, who decided that during the podcast was the PERFECT time to race around the living room batting the jingly mouse toy she never plays with.

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    1. Cats, dogs... they're all OK on my book as long as they're not living together (because 'mass hysteria!') ;-)

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    2. Is her name "Lucy"? And she's always trying to get into the show?

      :p

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  3. I love 'Aliens' a bunch. I dont have the same problems that you guys have. I think all the marine stuff is great and while the dialogue isnt great, i think the actors have more chemistry and "panache" to make it sound natural (or as natural as "stop your grinnin and grab your linen") can, at least more so than 'Avatar' cause YIKES! So yea, i understand why you guys have your problems but i just like the movie.

    But i think I'm with you, patrick, in liking the idea of James Cameron as a writer/director. Because i think there's so few "BIG SPECTACLE MOVIE" writer/directors. When i think of writer/directors i think of, yea, a Woody Allen or a Kevin Smith. But also would be cool with James Cameron the director and not necessarily the writer. I mean he's got to know he's a bad writer, right? If he knows, i cant understand why he still chooses to write. It's like with George Lucas, who has literally said how bad a writer he is, who wrote the star wars prequels. I dont know, this post was basically stream of conscious and im sorry for dragging on so long.

    GREAT SHOW!!!

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    1. and for using the word "writer" or any of it's variations.

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  4. Not bad for a couple of humans.

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  5. Holy sh*t! I just got to the part where you talk about the giant alien queen model at the Museum of Science and Industry. I totally saw that! Didn't they also have a giant moving Jaws also?

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  6. While I appreciate your many thoughts on Aliens I am afraid I must come out in defense of one Private Hudson played I think brilliantly by Bill Paxton, one of only two actors to be taken out by an Alien, Predator, and a Terminator (the other being Lance Henrikson) For me his overcockiness and false bravado turning into complete and utter pants pissing fraidy cat is one of the things that makes Aliens one of my fav Cameron films.
    Bill practically made a career out of it from the mid 80's through the early 90's.

    One thing you guys brought up that I totally agree with is the whole We aint in Kansas anymore reference from Avatar being outdated. Its like if I got rich today and said to my kids "Hey kids looks like we aren't in Bubonic plagued Europe anymore"

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    1. I hear you. I love the idea of what you describe in theory (it's one of the things that makes Stuntman Mike so great in Death Proof). Paxton's performance just strikes me in a different way -- he's so broad it feels like a kid in a school play. But I'm in the minority in this, because I know that character and that performance is something that most fans of Aliens like best about the movie. And while I'm not crazy about it, it's never been enough to ruin the movie for me, which I still think is super awesome.

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    2. Paxton's performance was one of the things I hated most the last time I watched Aliens, and one of the things I really came around on this time. He IS cartoonishly broad, but so is the movie. If I liked Paxton less, I might react to him the way I do Edward Furlong in T2. He won me over here.

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    3. The "we ain't in Kansas.." line is definitely cheesy and down right bad. That said however, I don't think it will be uncommon for people in the future to quote lines from 20th century pop culture. Just look at all the reference, cliches, and quotes we still have from antiquity. Lines from Caesar's Gallic War, and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex are still repeated over 2000 years since they were penned. Who knows what nuggets we will pass on, it boggles the mind.

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  7. I'm a fan of the Hudson character for the reasons that Bartman mentions. I don't mind that Paxton's portrayal is broad because I think the *character* is performing to impress his comrades and later to convince himself he'll survive.

    Interesting that Erich flip-flopped on the performance. I think this is because the theatrical cut gets the balance for Hudson a little better than the extended cut.

    I usually do watch the extended cut but I always skip the chapter on Hadley's Hope where the colonists go out to find the derelict spacecraft. As you mentioned in the podcast, it undermines the suspense at the beginning of the mission and telegraphs the reveal about Burke. It's interesting that I want to preserve a sense of surprise in a film that I already know backwards and forwards.

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  8. I may be off here but I wonder at times whether James Cameron portrays a rather cynical view of the military in Aliens and some of his other films. (Aliens, Abyss, Avatar)

    In Aliens we have a rather caricatured military mind-set illustrated through all that ooh-rah dialogue. The Pvt. Hudson character is the most gung-ho but if I recall also the first to have his morale break.

    In "The Abyss" the Navy S.E.A.L are all portrayed at first as bad-asses however when the crap hits the fan their leader and possibly the most bad-ass, "Coffee", totally cracks under the pressure.

    However as for the dialogue in general, I have several friends who have served in the Marines and they tell me that the space marines speech is not too far off from what one might hear around the barracks from some of the younger guys. Yes even Apone. One of my buddies said he had a Sergeant just as bombastic. They point me to "Generation Kill" and "Jarhead" from their experience in the corps realistic portrayals of Marine life.

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    1. That reading fits the Vietnam parallel in Aliens, although I'd say Cameron isn't cynical about the military as much as pointing out their hubris in underestimating the enemy. He doesn't offer a better way to survive the Alien onslaught than blowing them the hell up, so it's not a pacifist message. I'm not surprised to hear that the marine lingo is close to reality. It fits into a larger tradition of movie soldier chatter, but it had to come from somewhere.

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    2. I can't bring myself to see Aliens as a negative portrayal of marines. I get what you're saying, and maybe this is my nostalgia talking, but I've always seen Aliens as being one of the best military commercials out there. The bravado dialogue is indeed cocky, but here it's really used as an introduction to the marines. After the early parts of the movie (which establishes several characters really quickly), they're treated more seriously. I don't think they ever really overestimated the situation. If anything their prowess just shows how tough the aliens are if even these guys can't handle them.

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  9. Erich Asperschlager's Film Festival From Hell:

    Natural Born Killers
    Armageddon
    Scary Movie
    Transformers
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    Bad Boys 2
    The Doors
    Avatar

    All films guaranteed to be 100% nuance free!

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    1. I was going to correct you on Natural Born Killers and The Doors, but it's been a long time since I've seen either. The rest are dead on. Especially Armageddon. &#@!-ing hated that movie.

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  10. Aliens is my favorite James Cameron movie and in my opinion his best. I know there are the usual Cameron script problems & overwrought characters (Paul Reiser’s greedy, soulless corporate executive) but the action, James Horner’s score, practical effects, intense tone, & Weaver’s phenomenal performance are almost executed to perfection.

    Patrick was comparing how Aliens has some of the same character & script problems that Avatar also has but it wasn’t as pronounced or obvious as it was in Avatar. The main difference is with Aliens, Cameron wanted to make an action packed sequel to the horror based original Alien. With Avatar, Cameron wanted to show off his new 3D tech & shove a steel-chair-to-the-head, ham-fisted message movie down our throats. When Commander Stephen Lang said “Shock & Awe”, he might as well be saying “DICK CHANEY IS EVIL” & “IRAQ WAS ALL ABOUT THE OIL!”.

    In Aliens, I was 100% with Ripley, Hicks, & the others trying to survive & getting off the planet to nuke the bastards. I don’t care what anybody says, Bill Paxton was awesome with his over the top macho trash talking performance but when it came to actual combat, deep down he was a wussy coward. As Steve Power once said, it’s The Paxton Factor. With Avatar, Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully was such a wishy washy character, (Worthington’s stiff performance didn’t help either), Michelle Rodriguez being the dumbest idiot ever to paint her ship so that it screams “Shoot Me!” to the other ships, & the rest of the unlikable Navi, I found myself cheering for the bloodthirsty marines in the big battle.

    By ten touchdowns, Aliens has better characters & a superior script.

    BTW, I’ve seen the director’s cut & except for the unmanned turret guns shooting sequence, there is really nothing in there that improves the original theatrical cut. Stick with the original, I say.

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    1. I would agree with everything you said. Even though I like Avatar.

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  11. I finally listented to the podcast (and the James Cameron one by fellow dvdverdict podcast 'The Came From The North') after watching the theatrical cut of "Aliens" for the first time. It's like a crash-course on what was cool for kids growing up in the 80's with "Aliens," stuff that at 13 I may have found fascinating (though I chose to ignore it back then) but that at 40 I find annoying. You guys touched on it, but I can't tell you how much I hated the space marines' trash talk and macho bravado. It doesn't work as irony to me that the marines' weapons and posing are made mince of by the aliens because, until we're down to the final survivors (and Ripley takes over), Cameron frames and portrays the space marines as likable characters/heroes worth rooting for. Vasquez and Hudson were annoying on first sight, and they're the last one's to go. Thanks a lot James! :-(

    Don't misunderstand me though, as a whole the movie kicks so much ass and manages to maintain tension (real tension, as in I'm sweating in anticipation even though I know what happens in "Alien 3") for most of its running time it's a model for 80's action filmmaking. This Ripley (action heroine and protective foster mother of Newt) is new to me, the perfect balance between the scared crew member in "Alien" and the genetically-engineered clone warrior in "Resurrection." When she came out wearing the mechanical suit and utters 'the line' to the queen alien I was pumped and cheering. The whole reveal of where the eggs comes from is fantastic, and the final 25 or so minutes of "Aliens" is freaking relentless and balls-slamming awesome... so good! ;-P

    I will revisit this movie many more times and having to put up with the space marine crap will be tough, but it's a worthy sequel (entirely different direction/genre, just like the other two sequels) to a pretty consistently solid franchise. It even managed to win Patrick and Erick over, when from their comments it sounds like they were ready to rip it to shreds and bail out on it being as good as they remembered.

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    1. I was never ready to rip it to shreds. I really, really like this movie, even with its problems.

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