Set in the year 2122, 1979’s “Alien” sees the Nostromo finishing its routine mining mission and bringing its cargo back to Earth. Destiny intervenes when a signal is intercepted and the ship’s onboard computer, “Mother” forces the 7-person crew to investigate its origins. What they find is far more deadly than expected and it may just challenge what they thought they knew about the company they work for…
Alien is without a doubt an iconic film. So much so that when Disney announced their intention to purchase 20th Century Fox, one of the first memes to surface was a Xenomorph with Mickey Mouse ears. But why is that? In this reviewer’s humble opinion, that is because it refuses to fit into a genre and mixes the best elements of several instead.
On a surface level, it can be labelled as science fiction horror. But I believe that this sells a cinematic masterpiece short. It can also be called a film of two halves, functioning as a deliberately paced character piece with simmering tension in its first half and as a rapidly accelerating slasher film in the latter. But it is this slow start that makes the exhilarating climax so worthwhile. A world is meticulously built around us with believable, fleshed-out characters. This works because we care once the titular alien is on the prowl, killing people that we feel we know and understand.
Of course, all of this is achieved due to a truly stellar cast, with Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, the late, great John Hurt’s Kane and the late, great Ian Holm’s Ash being particular highlights. I should mention however that I’m not diminishing any acting performance throughout the entire cast because, as I hinted at earlier, Alien is effectively an ensemble cast picture with a body count. Ripley may have eventually become the cornerstone character of the franchise but she’s practically a co-star here.
After talking about standout acting performances, it could be argued that the music score is comparatively subdued. I don’t necessarily mean that as a negative. Most of the time it works in the background to masterfully build tension. But I have to admit that very few of the motifs or riffs from the soundtrack particularly stuck in my mind as memorable, even if it served its purpose perfectly.
In conclusion, Alien is a legitimate masterpiece. Not just for the horror genre but for the entirety of cinematic history. While I could potentially see the slow pace and deliberately built tension putting off someone who came for an adrenaline-soaked gorefest, that doesn’t change the fact that this film took its time creating a fascinating, bone-chilling world that’s still being explored through countless different mediums today.
Ranking: 5 stars out of 5
Disney Plus Presentation
In this section of the review, I’ll take a look at how the film is presented on Disney+. I believe that for many subscribers, it isn’t just about the film itself being entertaining but also feeling that they’re getting both the most out of their home cinema setup as possible and getting as close to a DVD/Blu-ray experience with special features as possible. Especially when Disney+ is theoretically capable of delivering both.
Alien is available in Ultra HD with the full spectrum of HDR and Dolby Atmos surround sound features on capable devices. Put simply, short of buying a physical copy at $30+, you’re unlikely to find the film in better quality. So, if you have the home cinema set up to take advantage of it, Disney+ will offer a very good viewing experience.
However, there are 2 slight marks against the presentation. Firstly, only the theatrical version is available. While Disney+ is capable of serving up alternate versions on a film’s page, that is not the case here with no Director’s Cut option as of writing. Furthermore, no extra features are included within the “Extras” section, with only a standard “promo clip” available for viewing.
Presentation Ranking: 4 stars out of 5
You’ll find “Alien” available to stream now on Disney+ in many countries including the UK.
What did you think of the original “Alien” film?