Alien (1979)

Heresy! Blasphemy! Doesn't everyone like this movie? I didn't. If a film is going to scare me, it has to make me believe what's going on in order to set me up for a good fright. I stopped believing in the plot and characters of Alien very quickly. Some of my issues:

o Nostromo is a deep-space ore ship? Did we use up all the minerals on the moon and in the asteroids?

o What's the safest way for non-explorers to investigate something on an unfamiliar, hostile planet? You all get into the shuttlecraft and crash on the surface, leaving no one back on the ship except the cat. Brilliant.

o Speaking of the cat, could someone tell me how he closed himself in that small locker so that he could jump out and scare the crewman? Do cats evolve thumbs and sense of humor in the future?

o The final scene aboard the escape shuttle is a real puzzler. Apparently a well-designed shuttle contains an assortment of poisonous gases that you can easily release into the passenger compartment...just in case.

I really wanted to like this movie; it remains a visual wonder. But I left the theater that day feeling cheated. I think we're all accustomed to cutting film-makers a bit of slack, but there were just too many times during this movie when I thought, "Oh, come one!" One faux pas was not fatal, but together they ruined the movie for me.

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I agree. There was some stunning stuff, like the alien coming out of John Hurt's chest. But I did wonder why an interstellar tugboat routinely carries a thermonuclear self-destruct device.
That wasn't a thermonuclear device the Nostromo carried; it was it's primary power plant. The destruct sequence consisted of cutting off coolant to the plant, thereby causing it to overload.

That said, I liked Aliens WAY better than I liked Alien.
Lord of the Rings

While Jackson's visual artistry was obvious throughout, I got nothing out of these films and don't consider them worth the time they take to watch.
Since I'm apparently the one person in the world who wasn't impressed by the books (I thought they were inordinately average), I watched the films and thought, Gee, if the books were this exciting I might have enjoyed them a little more. I detested the character of Sam (in the books) with a purple passion, the little toady; he's the personification of everything wrong with the British class system.

As far as I'm concerned, the only reason for reading the books was they made Bored of the Rings even that much funnier to read.

As for the films, they were quite pretty, and exactly worth the time it took to watch them. Once.
If the books are ordinary, that's probably because they've been imitated by decades.

I don't have the almost religious reverence for them that some do, but they're good stories and the more I learn about Tolkien the more subtle intricacies I become aware of.

I HATE Sam in the movies, but after reading the books more than once I consider the real Sam to be a very interesting character. I actually considered writing my undergraduate thesis on Sam.
Sorry to step on your toes. I know the problem about someone looking ordinary because people who followed him copied him so much. I have the same problem about Charlie Chaplin--I hear so many people calling him a genius, and while I do think he was good, I'm not that impressed. Yes, lots of people copied him and thus diluted what he did...but then I think of his contemporary, Buster Keaton. There was the true genius, because nobody has really been able to improve on what he did. Keaton was the true original, but while many people acknowledge that he still hasn't gotten the same acclaim as Chaplin.

I think I'm wandering off topic a bit. Anyway, the upshot is that I think the movies and the books of LOTR were overrated. There, I think that's succinct enough.
Toes intact. Fortunately, I usually have my steel toed asskicking boots on when I visit the internet ;)

I agree that both Chaplin and TLOTR in terms of individual talent readability/watchability but both impressive in what they did for their genres as well as how deliberately crafted they were.
Chaplin's Great Dictator is terrific, though I haven't seen much else he did. Gotta love Buster Keaton, though, and Harold Lloyd.

Peter Jackson's LotR did the books justice, I thought, though I missed the scouring of the Shire in the films as well. I was more upset that Frodo was such a wuss in the films compared to the books, where he actually fought back against the ring wraiths when they stabbed him. Tolkein could be a little sleepy, and the Sam character was kinda weird, but LotR essentially invented a genre.
The lawsuit (just stumbled into this googling) between New Line and the Tolkien Trust has been resolved an they are going to make The Hobbit.

I thought the scourging of the shire was a great addition to that book - it showed that 'happily ever after' could be more complicated than that.

But both Ralph Bakshi's animated version (where you can literally see him run out of money and then give up) and Jackson's awesome adaptation skipped the most interesting and enigmatic sequence about Tom Bombadil.

Sam was the actual hero, IMHO, btw. He was Tolkien's little 'everyman.'
Ah. I was waiting for somebody to bring up Bombadil. A lot of people really love that character, but I always have seen that section of the novels as detour. The only real reason it seems to be there at all is that's how the hobbits acquire their weapons (apart from Sting). When you're looking for things to cut when turning a massive trilogy into a reasonable amount of film, it's an obvious excision.

Bakshi's version of the first half of the trilogy was dreadful, though not as dreadful as the Hanna Barbera second half (with the sole exception of the song "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way"). I thought they were done by separate teams because the rights were auctioned separately, for some mad reason.

I can see what you mean about Sam being the hero, particularly given the ending where he's the one that ends up back in the Shire, settling down and having kids. But I think Frodo's claim is stronger, since the action really does all revolve around him. It's an oddly structured story, to say the least.
You forget that Bombadil was the closest thing to an atheist in the story - unaffected by the ring - or even the current conflict. Given Tolkien was a techno-phobe ...
Er, I actually thought religion was conspicuously absent from LotR. There don't seem to be any deities. The afterlife is merely referred to as "shadow". There are no churches or any overt worship of any kind. A little weird, considering Tolkein's Catholicism.




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