Alien: The Sequel that redeemed itself

It’s time to celebrate the birthday of one of the cruelest creatures to exist in the history of cinema, Alien. 35 years have passed since the release of ‘Alien’, directed by iconic filmmaker Ridley Scott. And even though it’s been almost four decades, it has not lost any of its potency to scare, grotesque and fascinate a whole new generation of movie-goers.

However, one film in the franchise that has been scrutinized is in actual fact a masterpiece…

Yes, I’m talking about Alien 3, the most infamous film in the trilogy. I say trilogy because frankly the fourth film erodes any decent pleasure in the Alien universe. Alien vs. Predator holds more humility than the unremarkable piece which was Alien Resurrection.

Alien 3 was a mess, that was until the Assembly Cut was made in 2003, and it’s far more superior cut in 2010 remastering all the footage and audio.

David Fincher, is an auteur. His masterful shots, and suspense-filled scenes should envoke in this final installment in the Alien franchise, and they do in the new assembly cut. Even though Fincher didn’t want anything to do with the film’s new cut – and I don’t blame him., it truly distasteful how much the studios cut out of the film.  The running time for the studio release was 114 minutes compared to Fincher’s envisioned  version of 145 minutes. The studio cut shows banality at best, where people are condescending, the environment is lifeless, and the characters withered down by excessive cutting to being merely pawns for the Alien to kill. The original cut however illustrates intellectual conversations, a process of thought throughout the characters. The first 15 minutes of the film is purely visual letting the audience be drawn in, like Ridley did with the opening of Alien. Like all trilogies. Fear comes full circle.

Alien 3 stands as a benchmark for sequels. Alien provided the suspense. Aliens provided the thrills. Alien 3 provided the mythical beauty. And even though it doesn’t truly live up to its predecessors, it deserves to stand among them.

Alien 3 starts with the Sulaco, the space-shuttle from ‘Aliens’ crash landing on a Ore-refinery/ prison planet, Fury 161. This leads to death of the previous characters Newt (the young girl) and Hicks (military officer). Many fans were outraged by this elaborate plan to kill off two of the most vital characters to the Alien universe beside the titular heroine herself. This in my opinion was a slap in the face in the original cut. However, after watching the Assembly Cut, it makes sense. It resonates with you, the heart break that Ripley feels for these characters, a yearning that she can never get back since the loss of her real daughter at the beginning of Aliens.

The film is colour-graded like any of Fincher’s films, the grey scaling and ominous hints of film-noir. It’s shots a wonder to behold. And what’s even more fascinating is that the Alien is born from an Ox – the body embraces the use of its host to evolve into a killing machine that isn’t as intelligent it’s more frighting, it’s instinct. In the original cut, the film see’s the Alien being born from a dog rather than an Ox, which it too was interesting however, it didn’t fit in with the universe since the film specifically states at the beginning that hair isn’t allowed because of the lice.

The first Alien was about survival. Aliens was about getting even. Alien 3 is about knowing death is coming, and about how are you going to check out. The words used more profoundly, by co-star Charles S. Dutton in Alien 3.

Alien 3 has had a lot of wrap in its time. However, I think it’s time the new version got some praise. I mean, I hated the original cut. And when I saw the newer more authentic version, I haven’t stopped singing its praises. Alien 3 is a masterpiece. It concludes a fascinating, grotesque, beautiful, hateful relationship between one of the most feared creatures in the universe and that of our heroine Lt. Ellen Ripley.

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The Thing 1982 (Review)

Horror meister John Carpenter in 1982 showed us all how truly scared we could be of each other – and not like any other conventional horror film that relies on the cheap tactics of mind-games – which ultimately climax to that of an answer that seems absurd, but the terrifying reality that an alien life-from can change into the people we care about the most. It may be 34 years since this legendary classic graced itself on the silver screen. Hollywood however, marvels and boasts on its perfection for computer-generated imagery and to my dismay, there is no denying that these effects have come in handy. In retrospect, for me being a filmmaker, it’s important to return to the past to analyse texts such as ‘The Thing’ as it relies solely on practical special effects.

To the people who aren’t familiar to the premise of the film, it’s the story of an Antarctic base and its crew that are terrorised by an alien life form that can form the shape of its victims. Based on the novella “Who Goes There” by John W. Campbell, “The Thing” generates a certain atmosphere that horror movies rarely do these days. And that is create a tone that instills the imagination to wonder. Imagination is human’s greatest strength and weakness. While re-watching the film a couple of nights ago, it came to my attention – what would happen if an alien came down and duplicated the shape of my friends and family – how could anyone possibly know. And, that to me is more frightening that any ghoul that jump scares me (Paranormal Activity franchise stop trying). There is a reason as to why films such as the Exorcist, The Conjuring, Halloween and the Thing are considered classics – it’s the fear of the unknown. The film provides a few stereotypical characters, however that is looked over when presented with a sheer terror – one such scene that makes me squirm is that of the Husky (The Thing) is put into a cage with the other (normal) canines. And, when in the brief isolation of their cage we hear the formidable screeching of the alien transforming into its true self as it devious the other dogs for replication.

Even though this film has attained a considerable cult-following, it’s surprising how little the film made at the box-office, in my honest opinion I believe it be the cause of the more critically and financially successful alien film, “E.T” released two weeks earlier.

In closing my first review I would like to ponder on the fact that ‘The Thing’ has stood the test of time, unlike many of its predecessors of the 1980’s and frankly, most of the decades. It’s premise alone is enough to engage, but the style that Carpenter employs is one that cannot be missed.

Game Salad: An exegesis on the game and Tricky Dicky

In a culture fascinated with technology – it feels we are living the cyberpunk films of the nineteen eighties, just without the gloomy outcome. In saying that, it’s important to know and respect the building blocks of the past – mine could be considered a satirical take on things, but let’s dive into what I believe is a interesting approach to gaming. So, in New Media Art class, I was instructed to create a piece of gaming from Game Salad. Using the knowledge and basic understanding of how to make a electronic game. I set about using Doodle Jump as inspiration. This brought about the game – Nixon Goes to Heaven (however, I am thinking of renaming it to ‘Tricky Dicky’). Using an 8-bit sprite created by yours truly, I created a game that uses the basic components of the Doodle Jump template, and designed a game where former President Richard Nixon must make his way to heaven after the Water Gate Scandal. As scandalous as this sounds, it was motivation for me to create a game based on nostalgia and returning to the past. In tackling the task, I used attributes and simple gaming coding to create the dynamics of the game. I an 8-bit cloud design for the sake of making it look heavenly like.

Interactive art work

This interactive art work is a reflection of nostalgia;  by applying certain attributes from previous games developed back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and building on them. This interactive art piece has been simplified to it’s most basic form, and uses elements from consoles manufactured in the past 30 years. However, this art piece is a reflection on the nostalgia process, forming a bond with using a computer mouse to work it. The basic coding of the block elements reflect how times were back in the early days of gaming. This effective application of basic HTML coding has formed an interactive art piece whose purpose is to trigger the nostalgia feeling of games past.

Coming from a background immersed in film, it’s clear to identify that games have evolved to marvel and almost compete within the filming world. In hindsight, my interactive artwork breaks that trend, and removes the technicality, which makes it raw and produces a nostalgic approach to gaming.

“The most important difference between films and games is that, in games, the viewer clearly controls the camera and/or its movement. A theatrical film is linear and is watched passively; the viewer does not have control of its progression (except for simple linear operations like pause and rewind). Games are generally nonlinear, meaning that they will be slightly different every time”. (Okun & Zwerman ch. 8, pg. 707)

In reflection, the game inspires one to pause, and remember, the days when games were simple and effective. It reminds us just how easily some simple programming can create a piece of interactive work.

 

Reference:

Okun, J A & Zwerman, S (2010). The VES Handbook of Visual Effects Industry Standard VFX Practices and Procedures. Elsevier Inc, UK.

 

Portfolio Website Exegesis

The site that I used to create this website was Weebly. I used this web-maker program because it’s simple and effective to effectively illustrate my work as whole. Being a filmmaker, it was effective to compile evidence from my previous film work to the page. My work consists of writing, filming, cinematography and photography work – to show case this on a website provides people with insight into my work. And this showcasing further exemplifies my portfolio so, that if I want to go on and do my Master, or for an employer to engage in the work ethic that I have provided and can give to the table. The website is split into categories. One for film which consists of links from YouTube of previously established films of mine and co-workers. The second one consists of excerpts of some of the writing I have been engaged in for the past couple of months. And the third category associates itself with the work that I have been previously working on in class for New Media art. There are three works of an interactive game created through flash which consists of using your computer mouse to navigate your way through a minefield of boxes. Another through Game-salad, which is a send off to Doodle Jump and uses the sprite of Richard Nixon, a personal touch to a very well-known president. And finally, a video-art work that was posted through Vimeo – and is a pastiche about the ocean and derives from the narrative of love.

 

Video Art Works – My exergesis

Exegesis:

Thy Ocean is vast, just as my love.

This experimental video art derives on the longings of love, loss and picturesque scenery – these themes resonate as a way to engage the audience on a level built on human senses . Playing out like a metaphor, the video performs as a symbolic interpretation for the ocean and indeed ones’ own heart. The artwork opens on the sound of the ocean, juxtaposed against a black screen – the audience is imagining. We are introduced to steps on built into a miniature hill of green. The steps are act as a catalyst for the story, which then leads the audience precariously close to the edge– engaging in a fear of the unknown. The ocean lays below, crashing onto cliff face, blindingly eroding rock with its only source of power, time. This artwork is to engage on the splendor of all the themes aforementioned. The love of film, picturesque scenery, and even the song choice. Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’ juxtaposes the natural atmospheric sound, its sole purposes is to enhance those themes, since Beethoven was deaf, his love of music was so profound he still created the music with his heart. His mind was thy Ocean.

In analytical terms, I used inspiration from a variety of sources. In my research I had come across art works that prescribed the notions of social commentary – actually all of them dealt in a social theme, rather than a story that most short films partake in. Video art is more than a telling of a story, but an idea of changing the perception of the viewer. “Lollipop” by Eva Michon was a key inspiration, as her her ability to create a short story in two minutes intrigued me, and the possibility that all four women, played by the one person fascinated me. And, by first observation it was engaging. Using lyrical beat created by the person’s mouth was the social commentary – it was to insinuate song. Then, it build to a sensational uplifting triumph of music persona, meaning the way the art performs to the senses of hearing. This film is for listening, using the video as a guide to provide clarity to the narrative. And so, with that in mind, I wanted mine to be about hearing, feeling the senses of what video art could do. I wanted this to be a senses-type film. Engaging on the eyes and the ears. The sound of the ocean is continually present before the visuals start and after. And the brief but sudden credit sequence enforces and idea of the ocean and love – that is being developed in the brief video art sequence.

 

Video is in the link below:

Week 11: Choose something from ‘Journal Tidbits’ to analyse (or your own research findings).

Im-projection:

In the new age of technology, it’s quick to dismiss the newest and brightest software. But what everyone has to realise is that software has been in the developmental process for the better part of thirty years. And one particular piece is ‘MAX’ – a revolutionary product dedicated  to visual programming language for music and multimedia. Indeed, I am not familiar with the regular use of the software. However, that does not mean I can’t sing its praises. By researching, and looking over a website called ‘Cycling 74’, the technology becomes apparent. Tyler Tekatch, one such artist in the works with MAX software delivers a splendid use of interactive artwork. ‘Terrors in the bedroom’ works in the way of the viewer can influence the art work. Max reflects a new wave in which programming can be used – using an image can’t be changed into a text format – html coding for the basis of art. Pictures or films have to be used as they are – and MAX provides that. By Tekatch’s artwork being able to be influenced by the visitor it encompasses a new form for which depending on the visitor can result in a different outcome. All this would have already been done in the development stage of the work.