[FILM] "Alien" Series (no "AvP")

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[FILM] "Alien" Series (no "AvP")

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Postby Reichu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:53 pm

If there was a thread for this, I couldn't find one, so might as well start one up. This is for chatting about the four main Alien films -- y'know, the ones with Sigourney Weaver in them.

In my OP, I'm going to talk about the third film, since I just rewatched it and I felt like gabbing about it a little.

--------

I love the Alien movies and they're part of my regular re-watch regime. Although it hasn't been a trilogy proper for years, IMO the first three films still form one structurally.* And I like all three of them. Yes, even Alien 3.

*(Alien Resurrection is pretty superfluous; it's not about the same Ripley or the same Company. Maybe it could have kick-started its own trilogy had things played out differently, but probably for the best that it didn't. All these years later, I haven't warmed up to AR that much. The wonderful 'failed clones' scene might just justify its existence, but beyond that, I find little appeal in its ugliness and grotesqueries.)

My love for Alien 3 didn't come as easily as for the first two, I don't think, but I can't remember ever actively hating the movie. Sure, there was anger over how it completely destroyed the end of Aliens, and how it relied on utter contrivance to achieve this destruction. It absolutely is a disappointing follow-up to the delightfully boisterous Aliens. But there's nothing that can be done about it, no point in maintaining the nerd-rage. The next film didn't erase A3 with the "it was all a dream" cliche (though I wonder if resurrecting the franchise with the "cloning" angle is any less hackneyed); we're stuck with it.

Perhaps once the dust of acceptance settled, I could finally start to appreciate Alien 3 for what it was, rather than for what it wasn't. It isn't like the other two films; its tone is utterly unique. The production design, the clashing ambiance and brimstone, the score, the largely understated performances, the religious motifs: it's incredibly juicy and powerful stuff. There is something about this movie that really seizes me both viscerally and psychologically. I forget about its maligned reputation and its troubled production and just let myself be drawn in.

Today, I just watched the Assembly Cut for the second time. While I liked the film even before the AC came out, this extended cut is, not surprisingly, a much more satisfying experience. I haven't picked up the Blu-Ray version with the re-recorded audio yet -- eh, someday.

Some comments:

- It's hard to come 'round to the idea of an "ox alien". As a "dog Alien", it works much better in my mind, since the creature passes rather close to the "hell-hound" trope. It's a cursorial hunter, nothing at all like a sturdy beast of burden. Additionally, dogs are a species so closely tied to us, it is somehow "fitting" that they'd be the next animal used in-series for egg implantation.

Still, I can't complain about getting access to the originally-filmed version, dead ox prop and all. The abattoir scene is nice for its casual banter between the prisoners, and for the cameo appearance of the "super facehugger". Also a bit of trivia that might not mean anything: the host was originally a female ox, and replaced with a male dog.

I am a bit curious as to why, in Murphy's death scene, they left in his dialogue where he mistakes the alien for his dog. This makes absolutely no sense in the Assembly Cut, since all other reference to the dog Max has been omitted.

- The idea of a quadrupedal Alien is good, and quite well-suited for the film (a sort of hell-beast, as it were)... but the Alien effects can take one out of the movie a little. The full-body puppet looked promising in the footage from the special features, but it looks superbly fake in the film. Before I knew it was a puppet (in most of the shots, anyway), I put it down to shitty CG -- maybe because of that "so poorly integrated into the footage you know it wasn't an on-set practical" effect. The man-in-suit counterpart looks okay, save for the fact that it's clearly a dude in a suit and not the lithe, quadrupedal beast from the full-body shots.

- Why was Golic's face never cleaned off? Out of universe answer is possibly that having a blood-splattered face makes him easily identifiable for the audience, who can't be trusted to tell a bunch of well-shaved white guys apart. In-universe, it doesn't make any sense, since Clemens at least should have cleaned him up, both for hygiene purposes and to make sure the gore wasn't masking any injury.

- Clemens was always awesome, but now he's even more awesome because Dance has gone on to play Tywin Lannister. And... dammit, did he die way too soon.

- I'm also having trouble adjusting to the A.C. version of Ripley's death, that doesn't include the Queen attempting to escape from Ripley. The AC is much more reasonably abrupt about Ripley's plummet, I can't deny that... but there is something gruesomely beautiful about that extended slow-mo plummet into the pits of Hell and the twisted intimacy as Ripley holds the infant close to her.

- Despite his claim to the contrary, I have a hard time believing that the Bishop at the end of the movie isn't a droid. Maybe canon spits in my face here, and Bishop's creator has somehow managed to maintain an unaging countenance, but I find it simpler to think that W-Y has (at least some) droids that bleed red now instead of milk.

- Love the nods to the "Yutani" half of Weyland-Yutani that are all over the facility and its equipment.


I might have had more thoughts to post, but they've escaped me by now, and odds are they're nothing not covered in the various reviews out there. Here are a couple I enjoyed recently:

http://twitchfilm.com/news/2012/06/ripleys-inferno-deep-down-you-love-alien3.php
http://www.thesubstream.com/html-my-week-with-alien-part-3-alienltsupgt3ltsupgt.html

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Postby Sachi » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:12 pm

As it goes without saying, I absolutely love the first two of the series. No need to dwell further on those, since most agree on their magnificence. I've seen the third one, but it's been so many years and it seemed mostly forgettable at the time either way; I'll have to give it another viewing sometime with a more attentive eye. As for Alien: Resurrection, I've never seen the film in full, but I did manage to catch the ending, and it looked pretty horrendous, so I have no interest in it whatsoever (unless I'm vying for more if I ever marathon the first three).

It certainly has been a while since I've given any of these a good viewing. Perhaps I should soon, since I'm excited to see Prometheus and I could use a refresher to brush up my knowledge of the Alien universe; it certainly helped me with the Tron reboot.
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Postby Gendo'sPapa » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:25 pm

I'm glad to see the general outlook on 'Alien 3' has changed over the years. It's always been my personal favorite of the three sequels - though 'Aliens' is clearly the better film.

Alien - is a masterpiece. No question. Horror.

Aliens- also a masterpiece. Cameron knew what he was doing & made every safe mainstream decision possible. Aliens is just ball busting fun Hollywood filmmaking. It's not aiming to do anything but entertain & that's magic. Action.

Alien 3 - Has the potential to be a masterpiece. The production may have been a clusterfuck but Fincher does the best he can & almost makes it all work. I actually love the idea of dumping all the characters from 'Aliens' besides Ripley. It's not a smart "Franchise" move to make, but it's a great thematic choice to follow. Alien 3 makes all the wrong moves for a Franchise film in that it doesn't go bigger & even more audience friendly than Cameron did. I wish Fincher had been given the support he needed to make his film - he had an army of producers on set at all times undermining his own decisions & the studio cut the film for theaters without his say - because he truly would've made something special. Alien 3 is a great film but a few hobbles keep it away from being a third masterpiece. Tragedy.

Alien Resurrection - I love it. The flick is damn flawed & while conceptually makes all the right moves for a Franchise film - bringing back the Lead character only more hardcore, bigger action, etc - they still made some crazy decisions like letting Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It's a strange movie but I love it. Weird, goofy, but gorgeous to look at. It's a Black Comedy.

Either way, I love the Alien series. They are what got me into film in the first place.

P.S. I love 'Prometheus' but I'd argue like the AVP films, it's not really a part of the Alien series proper.

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Postby Asami Sato » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:37 pm

^
THIS.

Alien is one of the few true science fiction film series, having quasi Lovecraftian elements, disturbing imagery, a sense of high mystery and suspense. Of course, the intensity of these elements fades as it progresses, but I still like all four films nonetheless.

Even so...

You're a beautiful, beautiful, butterfly.


That is stupid.
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Postby Fazmotron » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:19 am

I made a post about my feelings regarding the Alien films back when I marathoned them all a couple of months ago, but I'll give a bit of a re-cap here.

Alien is a truly special film, a horror film that has mature characters, a brilliantly designed, practically in-defeatable monster, an amazing setting, shocking moments, and plenty of subtext. I really love it.

I also love Alien 3, though only after seeing the Assembly Cut. It's pretty easy to see the difficulties faced during the production, and it's a testament to the brilliance of Fincher to make such a great film out of that mess. The killing off of the rest of the recurring cast is definitely something you have to get past, but the film requires Ripley to be alone, and I don't see how it could have worked otherwise. The small details, like the lice, are just great, and the Alien in this film is so much more menacing than the Aliens we saw in Aliens. For this reason I rate Alien 3 higher than Aliens. While Aliens is a great film, it is a purely Hollywood action concoction. It gimps the aliens and makes them easy to kill, incredibly less threatening and likewise, a lot less scary.

Alien: Resurrection though... I really hate this film. It has none of the intelligence of the previous films, and really no other connection than the Aliens and Ripley look the same, that's it. The similarities stop at appearance, because these are stupid fucking aliens, and a completely different character that we are forced to call Ripley. Why the fuck do the aliens suddenly have the ability to spit their acid blood halfway through the film? Why the hell didn't they do that shit before to escape their cages? How the hell can one guy reach around the back of his head and pull out some of his brain, AND LOOK AT IT, when another guy can get bitten in the legs or some shit and die instantly? Why is this movie so fucking retarded? I could have excused the ridiculous brain pulling, and the acid spitting, if this shit was fucking consistent. I'm fine with any sci-fi film telling me "this is how the crazy shit works in this universe" so long as it sticks to it and remains consistent.

Anyway, enough of my rant, time for some omnislashing.

View Original PostReichu wrote:Love the nods to the "Yutani" half of Weyland-Yutani that are all over the facility and its equipment.

I love the design in all three of the films, but especially Alien and Alien 3.


View Original PostReichu wrote:Despite his claim to the contrary, I have a hard time believing that the Bishop at the end of the movie isn't a droid. Maybe canon spits in my face here, and Bishop's creator has somehow managed to maintain an unaging countenance, but I find it simpler to think that W-Y has (at least some) droids that bleed red now instead of milk.

I also thought it was a bit of a stretch, especially considering his ear and most of his skin is hanging off after he gets hit in the face by that big wrench, but I like the ambiguity of it.

View Original PostReichu wrote:I'm also having trouble adjusting to the A.C. version of Ripley's death, that doesn't include the Queen attempting to escape from Ripley. The AC is much more reasonably abrupt about Ripley's plummet, I can't deny that... but there is something gruesomely beautiful about that extended slow-mo plummet into the pits of Hell and the twisted intimacy as Ripley holds the infant close to her.

I was pretty happy that they cut that out of the A.C. as it seemed pretty stupid as hell that it happened while she was falling, and looked pretty ridiculous too. Though, having it explained to me like that makes me reconsider my opinion.

View Original PostReichu wrote:Clemens was always awesome, <snip>. And... dammit, did he die way too soon.

I really liked that he died quickly, it reinforces the loneliness and isolation of Ripley.

View Original PostReichu wrote:Why was Golic's face never cleaned off?
I just figured it's because he was a nut-job and nobody wanted to go near him. Or maybe it's to mark him of his (supposed) crime.

View Original PostReichu wrote:The idea of a quadrupedal Alien is good, and quite well-suited for the film (a sort of hell-beast, as it were)... but the Alien effects can take one out of the movie a little.

After years of watching old sci-fi films and Doctor Who serials, I'm pretty much impervious to the dissolution that bad special effects can induce.

View Original PostReichu wrote:It's hard to come 'round to the idea of an "ox alien".

I really liked the ox chest burster, I think it was even more gruesome and haunting seeing this huge lifeless body move and thump, though I probably need to watch the Dog chest burster scene again as I haven't watched the Theatrical Cut since I got the A.C.

View Original PostAsami Sato wrote:Alien is one of the few true science fiction film series.

I'd probably disagree with you on that. I like to think of myself as a bit of a sci-fi buff, and while I think these are incredible films I don't think they really encapsulate what true science fiction is to me. Though, maybe I'll have to come up with a definition of what "true science fiction" is before discussing it further...

View Original PostAsami Sato wrote:"You're a beautiful, beautiful, butterfly."

That is stupid.

I definitely agree with you on that though.
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Postby Asami Sato » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:37 am

Fazmotron wrote: I'd probably disagree with you on that. I like to think of myself as a bit of a sci-fi buff, and while I think these are incredible films I don't think they really encapsulate what true science fiction is to me. Though, maybe I'll have to come up with a definition of what "true science fiction" is before discussing it further...


Well, we can all have our individual definitions of what science fiction is, right?
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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:40 pm

I can't see Alien and Aliens as anything but two halves of one larger film. They flow into and compliment each other so damn well that it's almost eerie.

In stark contrast, despite Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection being so tonally and aesthetically different, not to mention not sharing any of the same characters, I was shocked to realize that the two share a very logical thematic continuity, even if the narrative has become increasingly tangential and parasitic.

After watching Rob Ager's excellent analysis of Aliens (sorry, video seems to be taken down, so you'll have to read) and learning that, at its core, the first film is about trauma and the second is about overcoming trauma, I looked at the remaining two sequels with an eye set towards Ripley's emotional development. What I got out of it was that Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection sort of form an arc of their own, so I can't, like Reichu said, really look at the fourth as the superfluous start of a trilogy that never existed, because while the third was the perfect way to end the series as a trilogy (in a way, it's sort of a grim epilogue) the fourth builds off its predecessor in a brilliant way despite some hackneyed writing.

In Alien 3, Ripley is marked for death. She looses Newt, her surrogate daughter figure, and is cursed with the unborn Alien Queen, her grotesque antithesis. Despite overcoming her fear and conquering the beast that traumatized her, she's become tainted from the struggle. (Reichu's been dropping tropes a lot lately, so I'll indulge to make her feel less dorky: It's basically (S)He Who Fights Monsters meets Fetus Terrible.) Her hatred has become an obsession. Her relationship with the aliens has gone from exterminator to unwilling accomplice. As she stalks the alien through the boiler room, she tells it that it's been in her life so long that she can't remember anything else. She even calls herself part of the family. The alien refuses to attack her and she uses that newfound closeness to ultimately kill it.

Now, the opening of Alien Resurrection is an ever bigger kick in the gut than Alien 3. The Company may have gone under ("Bought out by Wal-Mart!") but in the first five minutes of the film, the Queen is extracted from Ripley's cloned body and already in the processes of being weaponized for military use by a new fascist government. Despite losing her family, finding a new family, losing them and then giving her life, the alien still lives! Despite being a campy comedy, the film is just as bleak as its predecessor, but now we've given up on taking solace in our suffering; we're so overwhelmed by it that everything is just a sick joke, much like the baffling success of Joss Wheadon himself.

I admit that I watched the extended version, so I don't recall if this was in the original, but Ripley 8 is plagued by memories of "a girl". She can't even remember Newt's face or name. She's lost all hope and now wanders aimlessly, having given up on the beliefs that once drove her. Not to mention, as a result of the cloning process, she is now literally part alien. Her identity is now irretrievably lost in the creature she abhors. Then, in a moment of blackly hilarious irony, the Queen, the grotesque perverted surrogate daughter analogue that she died to kill, gives birth to the Newborn, another grotesque perverted surrogate daughter analogue. The Queen looks down on its white chocolate baby and her abominable features contort in maternal affection. But what does it do? It kills the Queen and imprints on Ripley! The damn thing is a freak bastard that hates both aliens and humans, much like Ripley 8; they were made for each other. She grows attached to and almost adopts the offspring of the creature she once loathed. In the end, she improbably mulches the damn thing through a quarter sized hole out into the vacuum of space but she's visibly saddened.

(This seems largely tangential as this is an analysis, but fuck it, the quality of Alien Resurrection should be addressed. I think about 90% of the unforgivable stupidity in the film is solely contained within that one scene where everyone is climbing up a ladder and being chased by an alien. Most everything else is okay, hilarious even, but within that one five minute span, we have tons of bad CGI, a death scene that makes no damn sense and the atrocious "Hey, I can spit acid? How long have I been able to do that!?" Not even Ron Perlman freaking out and shooting a spider with a pistol launches the scene over-the-top enough to make me regard it as parody instead of simple idiocy.)

The original Bishop (or red-blooded android, whatever) told Ripley that she could still have kids if she came back with him, and ultimately, she still had a kid and someone got the queen. You really have to wonder if Ripley 8, the inhuman, aimless nihilist could even have kids anymore. It's like God's laughing at her. The best case scenario here is that she'll birth a freak child just like herself, the worst is that she'll dissolve a guy's dick with her acidic juices the second he sticks it in and live the rest of her life in celibacy unless they have comically durable condoms in the future. I suppose a theoretical Alien 5 could have dealt with an issue like Ripley trying to live out a normal human life, despite being not at all human anymore, while on the run from the government, and maybe come to terms with the creature she is now (or some crap about the alien home world or whatever). It is a bit disappointing that Resurrection had the most open ending of any Alien film and nobody did anything with it.

But hey, despite Ripley's increasing spiral into misanthropy and hopelessness, at least she and lesbian Winona Ryder-bot have all of Paris to themselves. ;)
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Postby Reichu » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:07 pm

View Original PostSachi wrote:I've seen the third one, but it's been so many years and it seemed mostly forgettable at the time either way; I'll have to give it another viewing sometime with a more attentive eye.

Judging from your Fight Club avatar, you appreciate at least some of Fincher's subsequent work, so that might also make Alien 3 worth another look. Make sure to sit down to the Assembly Cut version.

View Original PostGendo'sPapa wrote:I'm glad to see the general outlook on 'Alien 3' has changed over the years.

It's probably benefited from audience shock settling over the years, Fincher's directorial successes, and the release of the alternate version. But after surveying a number of Alien 3 reviews (which generally ruled in the film's favor, after acknowledging its troubled production), the comments sections seem to indicate that the general audience is still pretty divided. A lot of people really can't get over the way the film "shits on everything Aliens accomplished" and/or its depressing, Gothic atmosphere. (Others hate it for other reasons.)

Aliens- also a masterpiece. Cameron knew what he was doing & made every safe mainstream decision possible. Aliens is just ball busting fun Hollywood filmmaking. It's not aiming to do anything but entertain & that's magic.

Even despite being "safe, mainstream entertainment", the film isn't soulless and stupid. That's what makes it great, IMO.

Alien Resurrection - I love it.

Is it easier to appreciate this film after having seen Jeunet's other works? (It's been on my to-do list for years.)

Fazmotron wrote:Alien: Resurrection though... I really hate this film. It has none of the intelligence of the previous films, (...)

I'm generally inclined to agree.

I feel like it's also strangely bereft of humanity -- like all the characters are, at best, weird caricatures of people. Maybe this is somehow intentional: when I think about it, the not-totally-human Ripley and the android Call strike me as the most human characters in the whole schlockfest. Alternatively, I'm unconsciously struggling to see shades of profundity where absolutely none exist. Whatever the case, the cast gives me a weird "uncanny valley" feeling, and maybe a few other things I can't put a finger on right now, that makes them all profoundly, viscerally unlikeable. (Though I will admit, some of the performances are rather entertaining and memorable.)

these are stupid fucking aliens

Odd you should say that, since they were trying so hard to turn the aliens into "raptors" here, down to giving them theropod feet. :hahaha:

I just figured it's because [Golic] was a nut-job and nobody wanted to go near him. Or maybe it's to mark him of his (supposed) crime.

People had to go near him to put him into a straight-jacket, at least. :tongue: But like I said, it's weird that Clemens did nothing, isn't it? Even if he thinks Golic is a nutter, he committed himself to the medical care of the prisoners; their personal psychoses shouldn't make any difference there.

I really liked the ox chest burster, I think it was even more gruesome and haunting seeing this huge lifeless body move and thump

Yeah, but... it's so fake-looking. :tongue:

Another reason, I think, that I prefer dog over ox is that I don't feel any emotional connection to the ox carcass, so the potential resonances from the juxtaposition with Dillon's words at the cremation are much more limited.

Dillon wrote:Why? Why are the innocent punished? Why the sacrifice? Why the pain? There aren't any promises. Nothing certain. Only that some get called, some get saved. She won't ever know the hardship and grief for those of us left behind. We commit these bodies to the void with a glad heart. For within each seed, there is a promise of a flower, and within each death, no matter how small, there's always a new life. A new beginning. Amen.


You see the oxen once, and then, bam, you have Babe's lice-covered carcass and the prisoners joshing about how a dead ox is better than a live one, or whatever. Nothing setting up the idea of Babe being an innocent victim (even though she was) who died so that the alien could live. While it would have been possible to pull this off without changing the species of animal, that ship has sailed... The replacement footage involving Max and his owner Murphy gets the job done.

Asami Sato wrote:"You're a beautiful, beautiful, butterfly."

That is stupid.

That part was actually kind of funny, IMO, maybe on account of how absolutely fucking random and bizarre it was.

EDIT:
Muggy: Great post; you've made me want to subject myself to AR again. :lol: I'll get a reply in once I've done that.

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Postby Asami Sato » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:47 pm

David Fincher is a great director. What Alien 3 lacked to be a great film was a better script. It is good in its own right, and following Agent Smith's advice, I watched the alternate cut and it is truly much better than the original cut. The setting is very interesting: an all male prison with a woman all alone there, with no weapons and isolated from the rest of civilization. That's pretty terrifying to me.

Resurrection was written by Joss Whedon, whose only real good products so far have been Serenity and the delicious Avengers.
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Postby Reichu » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:41 pm

Okay, just finished rewatching Alien Resurrection. (What was I thinking?!)

Muggy: I guess when I said AR could be thought of as 'the superfluous start of a trilogy that never existed', I was working from the viewpoint that A3 wrapped up Ripley's story in proper trilogy style. In that sense, AR was a completely unnecessary attempt to resurrect the franchise. It could have become the start of Ripley 8's story, but despite the completely open ending it never went anywhere. (Fox thought AvP was the better investment, apparently.)

Even saying that, I can see definite value in your proposal, wherein A3 and AR form a sordid arc arc of their own. ("Death & Rebirth"? :nyao: ) Your analysis is quite interesting -- it makes AR more interesting than, I find, it is on its own.

Now for the post-rewatching list of miscellaneous notes and observations...

- The extended cut opening, with the cartoonish bug, is totally worthless. I've not infrequently had this sense that AR relishes in being gross just for the sake of being gross, and this sequence embodies that to a T.

- The film suffers from an identity crisis as severe as Ripley 8's. Yes, the "black comedy" and "camp" aspects are quite visible, but they're not the only forces at work. There are, for example, dramatic elements as well, even some deeply emotional and human stuff. (The scenes in the clone lab and the chapel are highlights here.) The overall effect is an extremely uneven, patchwork tone and a lack of coherent "vision", with the film undermining itself every step of the way.

The clone lab scene might serve as a case study in some of these problems. I think this scene is the film's best feature, hands down. It's emotionally poignant, Weaver's performance(s) is (are) great, the designs of the failed clones are great, and it says so very much with almost no dialogue.* On the other hand, it feels like a side-quest within the film as a whole; it could be excised and the rest of the movie, strictly speaking, wouldn't be affected at all. (Aside from being that much suckier by virtue of its loss.) It's not well-integrated into the movie, in other words. This also shows in the self-defeating way the scene concludes, with the terribly executed "throw down the gun" standoff between Ripley and Wren, along with an "obligatory" one-liner from Johner.

* (I don't think fire was a particularly humane way to mercy-kill Ripley 7, and I don't really understand how a flamethrower could shatter all of those tanks so easily... but I suppose in the grand scheme, the potent associations between fire, destruction, and purification make it all work.)

My other example is one of the Ripley/Call moments, and these generally work well. (Though Ryder's performance is, too, rather uneven, and her delivery frequently feels stilted and unconvincing. Maybe she's just unsuited to the film, as some say. I don't really know.) So, props for that. But even if these are effective on their own, and integrated well into the film's narrative flow, they still have to deal with the film's overall identity crisis. How do we parse the moments when the film is going for "dramatic", "serious", or microcosms of human warmth and intimacy when it is making a grotesque mockery of itself at every turn?

- I really hate the Jurassic Park treatment that the aliens got here. This is evident in the visual design (look at the legs), the sound design (they roar like Hollywood dinosaurs, in addition to the squealing and hissing from the previous three movies), and in their "clever" behavior. The really fake-looking silvery teeth and drool is a big turn-off, too. The changes (aside from the "cleverness" factor, inconsistent as it is) make no sense considering these aliens are even more human in their pedigree than usual.

- The Queen's "birthing pains" remain unconvincing. AFAIK, human birth hurts so much because there is a massive head attempting to pass through a somewhat limited pelvic canal. ("For the doctor's convenience" birthing positions don't help any.) The Queen here is giving birth through a modified ovipositor that shows more than ample room for the oversized fetus to emerge ("human reproductive system", my ass). Yes, the Queen flailing around in labor pains makes for some dramatic shots, but it's pretty nonsensical in the end. They should have saved her anguished screaming for when the fetus emerged. :3

- The Newborn succeeds in being a repulsive abomination, but in my opinion it is a miserable failure beyond that. In a lot of ways, Giger's original design was more measurably human than this supposed "hybrid". The thing is simply ridiculous: the beady black eyes, the nose, the giant mouth and tongue, the pasty skin, the lumpy fused cranium and torso, the hyperelongate limbs, the boobs (on a neonate -- seriously? and it was going to have developed hermaphroditic genitals at one point, too?), etc.

Were we supposed to feel anything for this creature? Are we supposed to feel Ripley's attachment and subsequent loss on any genuine level? To the extent that the film establishes any personality for the Newborn, it's hard to see it as more than a despicable, two-faced monster, a bloodthirsty brat: roaring and gleefully dismembering with one breath and plaintively cooing with sad puppyish mannerisms in the next. It's never established why it rejects the Queen (and why it is so violent about it, for that matter) and believes Ripley is its mother. If you can't even get me to swallow the basic premise, Movie, forget about me giving a shit about the rest. Soon as that thing appears, I'm counting off the minutes until it dies.

But even hating the Newborn as much as I do, the way it's dispatched is still excessively disgusting to this day. (I'll tip my hat to the effects team for pulling that off in practical, though. Very inventively and effectively done.) Not to mention physically impossible. "Mulched", hah! I'll remember that, Muggy.


I think I have more in me, but that's all for one post.

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Postby Bagheera » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:50 pm

Let's see if I can address this in a concise fashion:

Alien and Aliens work as well as they do because the one totally and completely subverts the other, but does it in a way that both honors and complements it. That's why the two work so well together. Here's what I mean by subversions:

Alien does horror, Aliens does action.
Alien does violation, Aliens does connection (Ripley and Newt, Hicks, Bishop, life in general)
Alien gave us Ash, Aliens gave us Bishop
Alien gave us an implacable monstrosity, Aliens gave us a species doing what it needs to to survive
In Alien the enemy is the alien; in Aliens, the enemy is the Company (though that's true in Alien as well)

But it's not just that. The theme of violation is very strong in Alien, and it's remarkable because it's almost always men getting violated. Lambert gets it too, but Ripley doesn't. Having a female cast member not get hit with that is astounding, all the moreso because this happened more than 30 years ago and filmmakers seem to have completely forgotten it since. Except for Jim Cameron! In his flick the themes of violation are subdued, and all other aspects of femininity are celebrated -- motherhood, nurturing others, cooperation vs. competition, the whole bit. And it's not just on the human side, either: the central conflict is between the maternal instincts of Ripley and those of the Alien Queen. Remember the showdown between the two when they first meet? They manage to have a conversation without saying a word, and it all goes to hell because the Queen threatens Newt. Ripley gives her That Look, and it's on. "You threaten my child, I'll burn yours!" And the Queen goes berserk and chases Ripley to the ends of the world to get revenge.

Simply put, Aliens was every positive female trope wrapped up into a tidy package men would eat up with a spoon, and none of it was exploitative in the least, and Cameron totally sold it. And on top of that it was a great piece of military SF and a solid action movie and a flick filled with awesome characters and great visuals and lots of ambiance and so on and so forth. It has so much going for it on every level that it's impossible to do it justice.

And then we have Alien 3. :sigh:

I'll admit, a good chunk of my ire at Alien 3 is nerdrage. I'm offended that my favorite characters were killed, alright? I admit it. I also admit that Alien 3 would make a very fine film in its own right -- if it was a standalone piece I think it would be fantastic. But there's just one problem: It's not a standalone piece. Alien already did everything it brings to the table. I don't see anything new here, and it doesn't complement the earlier two in any discernible fashion. Bishop's coolness is tainted by the human/other android, who is very much not the swell guy Bishop was. Ripley's tainted by an alien and the loss of everything she fought for. The narrative's tainted by an undercurrent of religion which, while appropriate in its own right, clashes with the tone set forth in the earlier films. And so on. The violation is there but it isn't as overt, isn't as clever as what we've seen before, and the action just doesn't impress given the multitudes seen in Aliens. Yes, it's a fine movie in its own right, but it is the third in a franchise and it really, really suffers for its position. It would suffer even if it was brilliant and problem free, and it is in fact neither.

Also, none of it inspired me. That's a me thing, not something I can really hold against it, but the setting et al utterly bored me.

Alien: Resurrection . . . :nono:

Okay, I'll be honest: I wanted to like this one. I liked the look of it. I liked the characters (or what they could have been). I thought Call did something interesting with the android premise, even if the religious bits pissed me off. And, on an intellectual level, I liked the concept of encountering the earlier failures, of experimenting on the aliens, of Ripley's strugle, etc.

But the script . . . oh gods, the script. That script was unforgivable. Yes, Muggy, you have some damn good points. I hadn't considered the way AR interacts with A3, and there's something to work with there. But even still AR is an atrocity, and like its predecessor it really has nothing to offer the franchise (well, corruption, I guess, but given that the first dealt with violation in spades I don't see that as much of a novelty).

The main problem with both A3 and AR is that the Alien franchise never needed to be more than a duology. The first two films said everything that needed to be said about the matter, and after that . . . meh. More of the same on the one hand, and slick commercial goatshit on the other. There are virtues to be found in both films, yes (though far more in A3 than its successor), but so what? There's still nothing of consequence to be said there.

Fuck. I said I'd be concise, and here I am. Ah well. -o-;
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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:37 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:Muggy: I guess when I said AR could be thought of as 'the superfluous start of a trilogy that never existed', I was working from the viewpoint that A3 wrapped up Ripley's story in proper trilogy style. In that sense, AR was a completely unnecessary attempt to resurrect the franchise. It could have become the start of Ripley 8's story, but despite the completely open ending it never went anywhere. (Fox thought AvP was the better investment, apparently.)


I see where you're coming from, but I'd always seen Alien 3 as being a bit superfluous as well; like Bagheera said, the first two films already wrap up Ripley's story perfectly. The opening of the third immediately severs almost all connections to the previous story and seems to do nothing more than rub salt in the wounds, but because it ends with a note of such finality, I sort of see it as an epilogue instead of the ending of a trilogy. Maybe that's a bit pointlessly semantic, but whatever.

Then Alien Resurrection comes along and seems to subvert Alien 3 in similar ways that Aliens subverted Alien. I guess in a way, I see the latter two films as a single, incredibly uneven and essentially pointless sequel to the first two instead of the whole mess being a tetralogy. Maybe this is just my way to rationalize how needless and frustrating the latter two films are, despite the fact that I ultimately enjoy them. On one hand, you have this very concise, smooth and self contained narrative in the first two that wraps itself up perfectly, then you have this totally jarring, uneven, open-ended, ultimately meaningless successor. It's like two mirrors held up to each-other and one's smashed to pieces.

Reichu wrote:Even saying that, I can see definite value in your proposal, wherein A3 and AR form a sordid arc arc of their own. ("Death & Rebirth"? Nyao~ ) Your analysis is quite interesting -- it makes AR more interesting than, I find, it is on its own.


I take it as a very high compliment that I intrigued you enough to go and immediately re-watch a crappy movie.

Reichu wrote:The extended cut opening, with the cartoonish bug, is totally worthless. I've not infrequently had this sense that AR relishes in being gross just for the sake of being gross, and this sequence embodies that to a T.


That really threw me for a loop. I hadn't seen Resurrection in any form since I was a kid and on my recent re-watch, I didn't remember that utterly bizarre opening in the slightest. I also didn't remember Ripley naked in a tube quoting Newt, but after seeing again, I'd distinctly remember seeing it before, but it was buried deep in the recesses of my mind. How did the theatrical version open again?

I don't know why they decided to cut the extended ending with Ripley and Call in Paris. I guess the theatrical ending where they're only seeing clouds basking in the sun ends on a more optimistic note and is ambiguous enough to be interpreted as finality, to an extent. (After all these years, Ripley has finally made it home in some form!) Yeah, there's the line about her being a stranger, but you could read that as blackly comic self-depreciation. The Paris ending, in contrast, is comically bleak and highlights how much everything has gone to shit, which probably helped inform my analysis of the rest of the film.

Reichu wrote:- The film suffers from an identity crisis as severe as Ripley 8's. Yes, the "black comedy" and "camp" aspects are quite visible, but they're not the only forces at work. There are, for example, dramatic elements as well, even some deeply emotional and human stuff. (The scenes in the clone lab and the chapel are highlights here.) The overall effect is an extremely uneven, patchwork tone and a lack of coherent "vision", with the film undermining itself every step of the way.


I like that you compare the film's jumbled tone directly to Ripley 8's mental state. That's sort of a plus for me, in a weird way. The art direction of the films have always mirrored Ripley's state of being to a degree, so the whole film being an inconsistent mess of conflicting parts makes it a perfect reflection of its protagonist. On the other hand, I'd hate to pass up a chance to mock Joss Wheadon, who's probably responsible for most of the stupid shit. If Frenchy wanted to do a serious film, he really should have chucked Buffy-man's script in the shredder and hired someone who wasn't a total dork.

Reichu wrote:It's never established why it rejects the Queen (and why it is so violent about it, for that matter) and believes Ripley is its mother.


I'd always just assumed that--through some nonsensical contrivance of magical science--that the Queen was basically acting as a surrogate mother for a creature born of Ripley's genetic material. I don't know, maybe the doctors screw up and implanted a uterus in the queen or something and it grew. It makes about as much sense as an ovipositor mutating into a not-womb. I really don't need to provide any answers for why I think this, as nothing in the movie makes any sense anyway.
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Postby Bagheera » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:04 pm

It occurred to me earlier that Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection might have worked a lot better if they made use of a different main character. It wouldn't take much to change A3's setup such that it involves someone other than Ripley, and if she ran her course in that flick and was brought back in (a far more intelligent version of) AR the two films might have worked well as their own sort of duology. That would leave Ripley's story to stand on its own and this new story to deal with themes of loss and corruption/transformation as the original duology dealt with violation and recovery/empowerment. I think that, had they gone this route, fans would have been much more willing to accept and embrace the third film.

(Ironically, this exact thing was done in reverse with the comics when A3 premiered; Hicks and Newt were renamed in the comics featuring them up to that point, and previously printed material was republished with the new names and slightly altered backstories. It didn't work very well, but at this point I'd be surprised if anyone remember 'em so it probably doesn't matter much.)
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Postby Reichu » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:21 am

Bagheera: Well, keep in mind, the Alien 3 that came to pass did so with Sigourney enlisted (she'd been on board at least since the Vincent Ward phase) and wanting her own character to be killed off. Not to mention, the final script was being cobbled together while Fincher was filming it. So giving Ripley the "Newt/Billie"* treatment, and trying to make Fincher's troubled Alien 3 work with a different female protagonist... well, I suspect the film would suffer that much more for not having two movies' worth of emotional history behind it.

* [I don't fondly remember the comics like many of the fanboys do, since I've never read them, but I remember being subject to the novelizations at some point. All I really remember is that Billie was raped at a sanitarium and eventually has sex with an android. I... think? (Don't feel like embarking on a local archeological dig for the paperbacks to double-check.) Also something about some cult leader being enthralled with a pregnant prostitute. I don't recall being impressed with it or any of the other novels. They had that distinctive "edgy" writing style overdependent on sex, profanity, and violence -- in other words, pandering to the "teenaged boys who love their toys" crowd. (My gamer brother, unsurprisingly, liked the books -- no reservations added. Maybe he'd feel differently if he revisited them as an adult; maybe not.) Didn't leave me wanting to seek the original comic versions out, anyway.]

Now, things could get interesting if one dug into the massive Alien 3 discards pile and semi-started from scratch. A spin-off duology that looks at the alien creature through a new lens -- no more pathologically obsessed, misanthropic corporation/military, plzkthx -- with a new heroine, and constructs her story around the arc Muggy described. It might be interesting to make use of Vincent Ward's monastic satellite (the so-called "Wooden Planet"): have the new protagonist end up there and bring the "Devil" with her. )Oh... I see what I did there.) We'd find out who she is, what she's lost, and why this alien was on her ship over the course of the film. And she'd die at the end, I guess...

As for being "brought back", I think the idea of a protagonist dying and being revived through cloning is a [s]retarded[/s], er, problematic trope.* "Genetic memory" is a hackneyed as hell device to maintain continuity of self between one body and the next; something better is needed. Similarly, AR's conceits about DNA, endosymbosis, and cloning** are so contrived and moronic, they go into the worm bin, no questions asked. So this raises the question, I suppose, of to what degree AR's premise is actually recoverable, within the bounds of this nerdy thought experiment.

This gives me the bizarre thought that the heroine could be designed as a 'replaceable person' from the start, sort of along the lines of Rei. Maybe she's a new type of 'artificial person' and doesn't know it. (Replace Ripley with a modified, expanded, and biological version of Call, in essence?) There would be means by which her brain pattern is regularly backed up and sent to 'home base', without her knowledge. For instance, any stay within a cryo-tube; any medical scan using equipment fashioned by her makers. If, like Ripley in A3, our heroine is impregnated with a parasite and ultimately dies with it, the final back-up of her brain could be dispatched in the same way as Ripley's attention-getting med scan in A3.

If I had a suitable pile of disposable cash, I'd hire Muggy to write a treatment for A3'. Remind me about this if I ever start to mention a "paying job" anywhere, Mugs.

* (EDIT2: I just realized that my current creative project actually involves a variation upon "resurrection through cloning", so let me backpedal a little... :hahaha: )

** ("Hey, we got a blood sample of Ripley post-impregnation somehow, and if we try hard enough we can grow it and the queen embryo will magically be there when Ripley's an adult! oh yeah, and both host and parasite are 'hybrids' now, except they're still human and alien respectively in every important way except what the script specifies otherwise.")

Okay, I thought about that long enough that I'll respond to Muggy's post later.

EDIT1: But, here's a consolation gift! Speaking of the Aliens 3 discards, I was reading about the unused scripts here and one of them has an evil lady "Dr. Rand". Made me think of you immediately, Muggy. Here is the script she's in, but purportedly it is pretty awful.

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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:24 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:But, here's a consolation gift! Speaking of the Aliens 3 discards, I was reading about the unused scripts here and one of them has an evil lady "Dr. Rand". Made me think of you immediately, Muggy. Here is the script she's in, but purportedly it is pretty awful.


That was fascinating. I'd had a vague idea of the multiple drafts before, but I'd never read anything this detailed. Despite the weak narrative, the 'wooden planet' would have been an excellent place to set some kind of story, even if not necessarily an Alien one, but the idea of backpedalling from Giger to Bosch is rather novel and appealing. It really could have been salvaged if they actually had some way to make it a logical outgrowth of the events and themes of Aliens.

That whole "Main Street U.S.A. in Space" draft sounds like the stupidest fucking thing I've ever seen. There's the potential for a subversive, satirical story, but the idea of alien farm animals is beyond laughable. Having unrelentingly awful writing is also a pretty dampening prospect.

Your proposal is a decent one, Reichu, but the whole corruption angle is sort of downplayed if our new heroine was already artificial in some way. We can attach the wooden monastery idea to Gibson's Cold War genetic engineering idea and say this new girl is carrying an altered alien queen in some way. She was kept at some kind of base, caused a biohazard or something and fled as it blew-up, so she's the only surviving specimen, blah blah rhubarb. She doesn't necessarily have to die at the end. Sure, she may think she's giving her life, and maybe she is legally dead for awhile, but suppose the embryo mutates its host, through some kind of two-way DNA exchange wherein the host receives traits from the embryo. Maybe she still throws herself into the furnace, but her body doesn't completely dissolve, it's recovered by the Company and regenerates. We still end up with a woman corrupted and changed, but without laughing in the face of science as loudly.

Yeah, this is kind of stupid and I feel like a dork talking about it. Jesus, we're having a round-table discussion about a theoretical fanfic. I kind of like what you came up with, but my idea sounds awfully contrived.
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Postby The Eva Monkey » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:40 am

Alien: A terrific film that has changed the way we look at science fiction and space in film just as much as 2001 has. It holds up pretty well these days. Beautiful cinematography and excellent production design.

Aliens: Hands down, my all-time favorite movie. Whereas Alien was a terrific film, Aliens is a terrific movie. It took a solid foundation and elaborated upon it. While it repeated many of the same plot beats, it did them in new and satisfying ways.

Alien 3: A missed opportunity to be every bit as terrifying and suspenseful as the original. Fincher did the best with what he had, the cinematography and overall style is gorgeous. Sadly, the script, and end product leaves much to be desired.

Alien Resurrection: I pretty much only watch this movie when I'm watching through the whole series in order, I never just watch it on its own. There are a few cool things going on here, but generally, it's an boring mess. Joss Whedon's only mistake was agreeing to write Ripley back into the story through bizarre means. Ripley should have stayed dead.

FUCK YOU I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT AVP

Alien Vs. Predator: The last five minutes are silly but cool, kind of like the end to Aliens, but the rest of this movie sucks. It's written like a hollwood movie. It's dumb. Just really really dumb.

Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem: I really liked Requiem. It has tons of action and fan service, and more importantly, it's written like an AVP comic book, which is what I really liked and appreciated.

Prometheus:

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Postby Blue Monday » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:39 pm

For those who may be interested, William Gibson tweeted a link to his unused script for Alien 3 earlier:
http://home.online.no/~bhundlan/scripts/alien3/gibson.htm

Versions of it have been floating around the net for years IIRC, but this seems to be the full version or the first draft he said had yet to see the light of day (or so to speak).
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Postby Elect G-Max » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:57 pm

Well, it looks like I don't need to defend Alien 3. People here are at least smart enough to "get" that one, which is rare.

View Original PostThe Eva Monkey wrote:FUCK YOU I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT AVP


Fuck you, I'm going to stand up for Alien Resurrection.

Resurrection has only one real flaw: everything looks like shit. I mean literally, everything looks like someone with the most horrible bowel problem imaginable ran onto the set and sprayed everything - the sets, the props, the aliens, etc. - with green-and-brown diarrhea. The extreme fisheye zoom-in close-ups were also annoying. The script, however? Flawless. Now let me explain:

There's the "why would cloning Ripley also clone the alien?" thing.

There's the "room of failed clones serves no narrative purpose" thing.

Both are wrong, because these two aspects of the story answer each other. The blood sample from Fury 161 was tainted with DNA from the alien that was inside Ripley, right? So if you try to clone something from it, you're going to get some chocolate in your peanut butter and some peanut butter in your chocolate. The whole point behind the 1-7 room is to demonstrate that the United Systems Military tried 8 times to separate the chocolate from the peanut butter, and that's how they got the alien. So really, all you're left with is how they got an embryonic alien from an adult Ripley if both have had an equal time to incubate, but nobody seems to notice that problem. Also, nobody asks why the alien inside that one guy still hasn't burst out and grown up yet, but a simple "something happened that wasn't worth spending screen time explaining" works well enough for me.

I found nearly all of the jokes funny, though a few of them were in bad taste.

The "beautiful butterfly" line wasn't for shits and giggles - it was to place the concept of metamorphosis firmly in our minds. It was to tell us "this isn't some sterile failure - this will be the next step in the evolution of this species if you don't kill it"

The supporting characters are just there to get eaten. We've known that since the first movie. They don't need to be well-developed. POP QUIZ: name one of Captain Dallas's personality traits. Or Drake's. Or Bishop's, for that matter. Hicks? Fuck, those last two actually survived to the end of a movie. Do we really expect to think of the alien food as anything other than "the guy with dreadlocks", "the guy in the wheelchair", etc.?

Yes, the Newborn looks horrible, but the director, in one of his rare moments of brilliance, makes excellent use of lighting and the creature's eyes. Specifically, when showing the alien creature doing something horrible, light doesn't shine directly into the eye sockets, and the creature's face looks like a human skull - it is death, in every sense that the pure aliens were, and it must be destroyed along with them. But when it's trying to bond with Ripley, its face is lit directly, and light not only illuminates but reflects off its very human-looking eyes. This is to emphasize that it has both human DNA and human emotions - we wouldn't be able to connect with the creature if it showed just one or the other. As a result, seeing it getting sucked out the window is painful, not just because it's visually disgusting, but because we sympathize with the creature as it is dying - it's the same reason why the dog's death in Alien 3 is painful to watch. It's also painful to Ripley to watch, and was a painful decision for her to make, even though she knows there's no alternative.

View Original PostThe Eva Monkey wrote:I really liked Requiem


Requiem was all of the bad things about Alien Resurrection, but without any of the emotional depth or humor :\

View Original PostThe Eva Monkey wrote:Image


le sigh. I've often compared that movie, unfavorably, to Revenge of the Fallen. Do you have any idea how hard a movie has to suck in order to out-suck Revenge of the Fallen?
"Whatever the story or the development of the characters, I made them without a plan... We only started working on the next script once the previous one was done." - Anno, 1996

"Sometimes, putting your toothbrush in its holder upside down can express your feelings towards life in general, your secret desire to commit suicide, the feelings for your long-lost mother that you never got to know, and your favorite color. But sometimes that toothbrush is simply a toothbrush." - Nuclear Lunchbox

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Postby Bagheera » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:56 am

View Original PostElect G-Max wrote:Well, it looks like I don't need to defend Alien 3. People here are at least smart enough to "get" that one, which is rare.


Meh. It's less getting it and more getting the story behind it, and contrasting what was with what could have been.

Fuck you, I'm going to stand up for Alien Resurrection.


Waste of time. This thread already has the most forgiving analysis of the film one can expect, and even so no one was high enough to call the script "flawless". That you do tells me you're squarely in TDSA-land and judging things by entirely different standards than the rest of us.
For my post-3I fic, go here.
The law doesn't protect people. People protect the law. -- Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass
People's deaths are to be mourned. The ability to save people should be celebrated. Life itself should be exalted. -- Volken Macmani, Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra
I hate myself. But maybe I can learn to love myself. Maybe it's okay for me to be here! That's right! I'm me, nothing more, nothing less! I'm me. I want to be me! I want to be here! And it's okay for me to be here! -- Shinji Ikari, Neon Genesis Evangelion
Yes, I know. You thought it would be something about Asuka. You're such idiots.

Elect G-Max
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Postby Elect G-Max » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:26 pm

Yeah, don't bother actually addressing my points or anything. :rolleyes:

What's TDSA?
"Whatever the story or the development of the characters, I made them without a plan... We only started working on the next script once the previous one was done." - Anno, 1996

"Sometimes, putting your toothbrush in its holder upside down can express your feelings towards life in general, your secret desire to commit suicide, the feelings for your long-lost mother that you never got to know, and your favorite color. But sometimes that toothbrush is simply a toothbrush." - Nuclear Lunchbox


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