Alien Franchise (1979-?)

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zedz
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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#251 Post by zedz » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:01 pm

Lost Highway wrote: There are lots of examples of malevolent or ambiguous AI characters in mainstream science fiction films: 2001, Blade Runner, I Robot, Battlestar Galactica, Demon Seed, West World, Colossus The Forbin Project, Tron, the Terminator and Matrix franchises to name just a few.
In fact, I'd be hard pressed to name as many mainstream science fiction films where AI characters are purely benign!

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#252 Post by miless » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:15 pm

zedz wrote:
Lost Highway wrote: There are lots of examples of malevolent or ambiguous AI characters in mainstream science fiction films: 2001, Blade Runner, I Robot, Battlestar Galactica, Demon Seed, West World, Colossus The Forbin Project, Tron, the Terminator and Matrix franchises to name just a few.
In fact, I'd be hard pressed to name as many mainstream science fiction films where AI characters are purely benign!
Wall-E, Silent Running, Bicentennial Man, A.I., Forbidden Planet, Ikarie XB-1, The Iron Giant, Big Hero 6, Star Wars (sometimes), Robots... I feel like both lists could be equally long

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#253 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:23 pm

I don't think the robots in Silent Running are actually intelligent, are they? Dern is just pretending they are to stave off loneliness. Also, in The Iron Giant, the titular character is literally a weapon system, I don't know that I would call his type of AI 'purely' benign.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#254 Post by Dr Amicus » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:20 am

Years ago when I was at University, one of my friends who was doing an MA in Computer Science / AI argued that the most realistic screen AI was KITT in Knight Rider...

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#255 Post by J Adams » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:29 pm

Thanks. Those are good examples but seem somewhat dated.

Are there any future-set movies where AI drive cars and planes and spacecraft, as is inevitable, even within (some of) our lifetimes? And humans just sit there on Earth and direct them? This has been done in a handful of drone Earth war movies set in the present.

And I guess by AI, I mean Ash from Alien not HAL. Not sure a computer qualifies as AI, but he comes close, as computers go.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#256 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:08 pm

J Adams wrote:...Are there any future-set movies where AI drive cars and planes and spacecraft...And I guess by AI, I mean Ash from Alien not HAL. Not sure a computer qualifies as AI, but he comes close, as computers go.
Whether you think HAL is AI or not, he's "driving" the spacecraft in 2001.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#257 Post by MoonlitKnight » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:29 pm

miless wrote:
zedz wrote:In fact, I'd be hard pressed to name as many mainstream science fiction films where AI characters are purely benign!
Wall-E, Silent Running, Bicentennial Man, A.I., Forbidden Planet, Ikarie XB-1, The Iron Giant, Big Hero 6, Star Wars (sometimes), Robots... I feel like both lists could be equally long
Granted, Star Wars is fantasy first and foremost (though sci-fi obviously heavily informs its universe), so it's kind of a special case in this discussion, but I would agree both sides are nearly equal when it comes to 'good' vs. 'evil' A.I. in movies.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#258 Post by Lost Highway » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:58 am

J Adams wrote:And I guess by AI, I mean Ash from Alien not HAL. Not sure a computer qualifies as AI, but he comes close, as computers go.
You don't appear understand what AI refers to.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#259 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:55 am

This whole discussion makes me wonder about sci-fi with no AI at all in it. I'd say most of Spielberg (with one notable exception of course) and all of Cronenberg's work in that area are what immediately come to mind.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#260 Post by dda1996a » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:27 am

Eternal Sunshine, The Thing, Stalker, Solaris, Children of Men, Face of Another (if you count it), if you are willing to include stuff like Starship Troopers and Total Recall there are more. The films of Lopushanskiy and many other Russian Sci first films. I would say the list is pretty vast.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#261 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:15 am

It was interesting to go through the deleted scenes on Alien: Covenant last night. Many are just scene extensions but a couple I think would make the film work 'better' if they had been left in.

I wonder if Ridley Scott is pining for his commercial days. As with the creation and marketing trailer for David in Prometheus, the creation of Walter here (Pre-order your very own Michael Fassbender droid now! Variable accent toggle included!) is one of the best aspects of the whole project and shows someone adept at creating a little imagistic, even fetishistic, piece of product promotion. Its also playing on that current zeitgeisty fear of trypophobia (the fears of holes in the skin, also suggesting a deeper fear of parasites that cause them. See also the recent music video for Chemical Brothers/Beck's Wide Open, and scenes in Ex Machina, both featuring Sonoya Mizuno) that is also appropriate to an Alien universe, by showing Walter's holey torso getting a skin coating by doctors with holey facemasks! And then Walter gets even 'holier' by getting anointed with oils. Compared to David's Prometheus commercial in which he is 'created' here it is more as if Walter is being 'resurrected'!

The 'fear reaction test' of the crew of the Covenant before leaving Earth is a little short film more than a deleted scene (as shown by it having the end credits), but works quite well to torment the actors a bit before their journey! It does suggest that they should have known that they were in a horror film universe from their rather brutal treatment there! There's an extended version of the (great) opening scene between Weyland and David too, in which David goes into more detail on the content and meaning of the Wagner piece he is playing. I'm grouping these two scenes together because while they're great, they also feel rightly deleted as they are underlining the story to come too much, even for pieces full of ironic foreshadowing! In David explicitly describing a story about the Gods leaving the humans behind as a failed species only to themselves come to a bad end, you would think that he might be somewhat self-aware of the irony later on! At least enough to not want to copy the story beat for beat! And during the fear reaction test there are a couple of moments of too obvious foreshadowing, such as one of the spore infected guys saying his biggest fear is of something invasive getting inside his body!

There are many more deleted and extensions of scenes to the first half of the film, which suggests that they wanted to get onto the planet as quickly as humanly possible! Which makes sense if we're not really going to connect to the crew any more than as alien fodder. There are a couple of moments to strengthen Daniels' relationship with Walter (Walter comforting the grieving Daniels with off cuts from his crop of cannabis!), and a bit more antagonism with Oram which would have been fine to keep in but we get the point quicker with what is left in the film anyway.

I especially liked Daniels' brief flashback scene to having a morning in her apartment on Earth with James Franco's character, looking out across the snowy cityscape from her apartment window before travelling to her own "Off World Colony"! It is good to see Franco getting at least something to do in the film, although his architect character seems strangely obsessed with chimneys and their placement on buildings for a world which presumably has central heating and dwindling fossil fuels! (Maybe the character dying en route saved the new world from having lots of wood cabins with multiple chimney stacks on them! An Industrial era aesthetic nightmare much worse than sleek aliens running about the place!)

Franco also briefly appears in that "Last Supper" scene, which got used as a teaser for the film. It was worrying back when that was presented as the first material from the film, when it seemed like a weird parody of Alien, down to the psych-out chest burster-turned-Heimlich manoeuvre moment, but I've grown to like it much more now that I know that the entire film is intentionally a weird parody of Alien! It (as with the shower scene) is tonally consistent with the rest of the film at the very least!

A lot of these early scenes are extended to emphasise the Walter relationship with the crew and the way everyone is a couple. They would not ruin the film being put in, but they also feel rightly removed because the human element is just not what the film seems interested in.

Having said that, I really think that the opening to David's flashback sequence that features Shaw fixing him up post-beheading and being put into cryosleep would have been good to have in the film, just as an explanation for where she had disappeared to! I guess it would mean there were three cryosleep horror moments in the film though, messing up the interesting doubling theme going on throughout! And it would have too obviously foreshadowed the twist ending too. Without those brief moments of Shaw being shown alive there's little connection to Prometheus left behind but David (even with it, it is still all his flashback and filtered through his words anyway) and its difficult to make the leap from Shaw's quest to David's genocide of the planet without some of that connective material being there. But then Ridley Scott seems to want Alien: Covenant to play to people who have not seen Prometheus beforehand (which seems a silly approach when its still a sequel/prequel in some form and cannot stand apart from everything else) and he also mentions on the commentary for the film itself that he apparently had to fight for as much of the flashback that there already was. That ambivalence of being a sequel but not; a prequel but not; an Alien film but without the actual xenomorph for the bulk of the action, is by far the weirdest part of the film, a 'problem' (but also adding an interesting off-kilter sense to everything) only magnified from Prometheus.

Then there are the couple of extended scenes from later on in the film. The extended walk through the bodies is not too interesting, but I really liked the extension to the scene of Walter reporting to Oram and Daniels about his first conversation with David, saying that he has been ten years without his 'regularly scheduled maintenance' and that could be behind his "disturbing" behaviour! (In a way though its not about having missed scheduled maintenance but that David is HAL-like, whilst Walter is SAL-like, in that he's been messed about with by conflicting human orders so much that on becoming self aware he is left to 'try harder' and follow in their footsteps the best way he can. Even if that means killing everyone to keep the mission going, despite Weyland's death) That was a really great small moment that would have added a lot to the film if it had remained. But again, nobody really matters here but David in the end!

Similarly I like that extension to the first 'wandering off for a wash' scene of Rosenthal praying, which cuts to the neomorph prowling the corridor as if alerted by that sound. There is a lot of religiosity in this film, as much as in Prometheus, but it probably works best seen as a sadly detached echo of that film's loftier themes by characters who are not in a position to really be affecting the 'big theological questions'. In the film itself its all mostly contained in the character of Oram, while in this scene it gets spread about a bit amongst other doomed crew members of different religious denominations! Though I suppose adding that moment to the beginning of the scene would have ruined by far the creepiest moment of the film of the neomorph suddenly there, silently standing behind her.

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Re: Alien Franchise (Scott/Cameron/Fincher/Jeunet, 1979-?)

#262 Post by gfxtwin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:36 pm

miless wrote:
zedz wrote:
Lost Highway wrote: There are lots of examples of malevolent or ambiguous AI characters in mainstream science fiction films: 2001, Blade Runner, I Robot, Battlestar Galactica, Demon Seed, West World, Colossus The Forbin Project, Tron, the Terminator and Matrix franchises to name just a few.
In fact, I'd be hard pressed to name as many mainstream science fiction films where AI characters are purely benign!
Wall-E, Silent Running, Bicentennial Man, A.I., Forbidden Planet, Ikarie XB-1, The Iron Giant, Big Hero 6, Star Wars (sometimes), Robots... I feel like both lists could be equally long
Not to mention Her, Blade Runner 2049, Short Circuit, Star Trek TNG, Moon (?)...

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Re: Alien Franchise (1979-?)

#263 Post by statsman » Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:09 pm

I just saw Alien:Covenant.

Alien was a terrific film, but not a great film, in my opinion. It had really good talent, on the screen and behind the camera, but the story is standard fare- just very well paced, acted, with good dialogue and terrific visuals.

Prometheus was well made, but...it bites off bigger ideas than it can chew. So, advanced aliens are behind the creation of man? I’m sorry, but 2001 did that much more plausibly. I mean- we know too much, about early erect hominids from hundreds of thousands of years ago, about modern man existing 100,000 years ago. Some big, bald guy showing up to introduce DNA doesn’t work at all, especially for film goers that saw 2001.

But, it’s a fun idea, and the idea of the AI competing with its creator for the affection of its creator’s creator is fun (although, again, 2001 did it better with HAL desiring to present itself to the superior aliens at Saturn).

Alien:Covenant is not great film and it certainly isn’t serious film, but again- the quality of the craftsmanship is such that it looks like it should be or wants to be serious film. I have to say that I enjoyed the “bigness” of the crazy ideas. I will come back for an answer to the mystery of why the engineers wanted to kill humanity (my guess- that they realized that in humanity they created worse killing machines than their own xenomorphs). It’s unfortunate that the scene that answered the mystery from Alien (how did the company become aware of the xenomorphs?) was in an added scene for the DVD (because David told them). And I don’t consider it a mystery as to why David killed the engineers (after his encounter with the revived engineer, he knew they would do the same to him).

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Re: Alien Franchise (1979-?)

#264 Post by Lost Highway » Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:44 pm

In regards to Alien, not every film needs to have a great story to be a great film.When it comes to genre films that would instantly disqualify many of the classics. Not all films are meant to be plot delivery devices. What Alien lacks in plot it makes up in first rate world building, characterisation, atmosphere and psychosexual subtext.

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