Tag Archives: Aliens

The Game-Over Man: Remembering Bill Paxton, 1955-2017

hudsons_equipment

For NPR, I wrote this fond remembrance of the actor Bill Paxton, a man who lived but one colorful life but who died onscreen an absurd stupid lot of times, in some of my all-time favorite film. He was in great big movies like Aliens and Titanic, he was in not-great big movies like Twister, he was great in little movies like One False Move and Traveler and A Simple Plan. He was great, basically.

I strongly endorse the episode of WTF with Marc Maron on which Paxton appeared only three weeks ago. He spoke at least as much about his upbringing in Texas as about his 40-year career in movies, but it was a wonderful interview, warm and revealing. But please read my piece, too. I literally ripped a sleeve from emphatic typing while working on it. Continue reading

They Mostly Come Out at Night, Mostly: ALIENS, recalled briefly on All Things Considered.

I was thrilled to get an invitation from All Things Considered to blab briefly with the great Audie Cornish about one of my favorite movies on the 30th anniversary of its release: SpaceCamp. No, it was ALIENS. Duh. The segment aired at the very end of an ATC that started off with live audio of the “Roll Call Vote!” chant from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. They’re coming out of the goddamn walls, just like Private Hudson said.

You can hear the segment here. I had more to say than they could use, but that’s radio, and hey, this is a show primarily devoted to, you know, real news. One of the first pieces I ever wrote for NPR was largely about ALIENS. I have a narrow range of interests, I guess. And Fox just released a new batch of stills and behind-the-scenes photos from the movie, many of which even I have never seen before, so I’m posting those, too. Enjoy.

Prose and Retcons, or Don’t Fear the Rewind, or Mulligans’ Wake

“Well, everyone knows Ripley died on Fiornia-161. What this ALIEN movie presupposes is… maybe she didn’t?”

I have a long, long “Exposition” essay up at The Dissolve today inspired by (uncertain) reports that District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Alien movie may be a ret-con scenario that undoes the events of 1992’s Alien-little-three, or Alien Cubed – anyway, the one where Ripley died. The piece is about retconning in fiction in general, and why it doesn’t much impair my ability or inclination to suspend my disbelief at all.

If you’re quite comfortable in your chair, and you’re stout of heart and nerdy of temperament… Onward!

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Edge of Tomorrow and Noble Failures

It’s always a thrill to be invited back on Pop Culture Happy Hour. I joined Linda, Stephen, and Glen to talk about Edge of Tomorrow — the best would-be summer blockbuster yet in a year that’s already seen several strong ones — plus noble failures. We agreed on the B topic before Edge of Tomorrow opened to less-than-stellar business, despite near-universal acclaim from critics. I hope we didn’t jinx it, because this is exactly the kind of shrewd, fresh, self-aware big movie that seems to be perennially in danger of extinction.

I’d been summoned to PCHH this time at least in part because of my enduring affection for the 1991 caper comedy/Bruce Willis vanity project Hudson Hawk. This is, to my mind, a creatively successful film that also just happened to lose something north of $50 million in 1991 dollars.

I always over-prepare when I’m invited on a podcast. I came in ready to talk about a few other movies big genre films whose reach exceeded their grasp: Kathryn Bigelow’s ambitious social sci-fi Strange Days, Bryan Singer’s way-emo Superman Returns (to which Man of Steel‘s shrugging, genocidal violence was, I’m convinced, a direct, and stupid, reaction), and Alien 3, the fascinating, troubled sequel that marked David Fincher’s feature debut and that he refuses to talk about to this day. Of those three, only Strange Days was a big money-loser like Hudson Hawk was; the other two did okay but fell short of their aesthetic objectives. Notes on "Strange Days" for Pop Culture Happy Hour.

I’d even jotted down a quote from Roger Ebert’s four-star review of Strange Days to read on the air. Having come from a screening of Steve James’ wonderful documentary Life Itself — about Ebert’s life, career, illness, and death — just hours ago as I’m typing this, I’m doubly sorry I didn’t get to. We didn’t even get to everything I meant to say about Hudson Hawk. Hey, it’s a discussion, not a lecture.

I’ll correct one of those omissions right here: One of Hudson Hawk’s villains, Caesar Mario, is a guy who had a chip on his shoulder because he’s the lesser-known brother of a more famous gangster. This character is played by Frank Stallone. That’s a good casting joke, there.

Recorded but cut for time was an acknowledgment — initiated, would you believe, not by me but by my Pal-for-Life Glen — about Edge of Tomorrow‘s homages to ALIENS both large and small, from the armored power suits to the gender-neutral division of action-hero labors between stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, to the presence of Bill Paxton, doing a hilarious 180-degree inversion of Private Hudson, his panicked, “Game over, Man!” Marine from ALIENS.

Anyway, listen here or find the podcast on iTunes.

FURTHER READING: I wrote about Edge of Tomorrow and blockbuster fatigue, and about PG-13 vs. R-rated cine-violence and about how seeing ALIENS on VHS 400 times as a kid set up expectations that the 2012 ALIEN prequel Prometheus could not possibly satisfy.

Click on any photo to see a beautiful, high-res version.

What Gravity Should’ve Learned from ALIENS

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Admittedly, ALIENS is a film I’ve loved unconditionally since I was a kid. I need very little prompting to think about it, and only a little more prompting than that to write about it. But a deleted scene from that 27-year-old movie highlights what is, to me, the sole flaw in Alfonso Curaon’s still-fantastic new space movie Gravity, and how audience expectations have changed in the generation since ALIENS. This is the subject of my first piece for Slate, which you can read here.

There Will Be Acid-Blood: Musing on Prometheus

I owned this.

Over at NPR Monkey See today, I write about about the Sisyphean task Ridley Scott has taken on in trying to make his breathlessly-awaited, origins-of-life epic Prometheus compelling enough to compete with my adolescent obsession with the seminal films of the ALIEN franchise. (Ongoing, sadly. My fascination, not the franchise. But that’s ongoing too, obviously.)

I had fun writing it. I hope you like it. Prometheus is the sort of problem film where you know that diagnosing its failings and parsing its mysteries is the greater, more lasting pleasure than actually watching it (though I did enjoy watching it), a trait it shares with the latter two ALIEN joints. The best I can hope for is to go to my grave having purchased only one home-video version. If you’re interested in used VHS copies of the original release cuts or extended special editions of ALIEN or ALIENS, or the ALIEN Quadrilogy DVD set, I will totally give you a deal.