**/**** Image A Sound A Extras B+
starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride
screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper
directed by Ridley Scott
by Bryant Frazer It's rare that a perfect film is also financially lucrative. Ridley Scott's Alien is one such title--a scary movie that really cuts across demographic boundaries. Think of it as a science-fiction slasher flick or a deep-space old-dark-house thriller with a crew of likeably blue-collar mopes facing off against a shape-changing menace that's part axe murderer, part wild grizzly, and part serial rapist. It works because it's non-specific. But in the space of its 117 minutes, it finds what frightens you. Alien stands as a singular achievement. Still, because it was released in the age of the sequel, studio 20th Century Fox eagerly founded a franchise on it, and the series immediately begin deconstructing itself. James Cameron's Aliens was downright reactionary, replacing the first film's working-class heroes with a bunch of Heinlein-esque space marines, transforming its boogeyman into an opposing army of boogeymen, and saddling Ripley with motherly duties, blithely undoing Alien's celebrated subversion of such tropes. In Alien3, the game was truly on: Director David Fincher straight-up murdered Ripley's new nuclear family before powering the film's narrative towards a climactic conflagration depicting a Christ-like sacrifice and unalloyed abortion metaphor. This was much more in keeping with the subtextually-rich original--but it was decidedly audience-unfriendly. It took another five years for Joss Whedon and Jean-Pierre Jeunet to stick a fork in the franchise; Alien: Resurrection was the first Alien movie that genuinely didn't seem to give a shit about Alien movies.