Aliens Didn't Ruin a Franchise, It Established One

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Aliens Didn't Ruin a Franchise, It Established One

The Escapist's very own Schuyler J. Dievendorf suggested that Aliens served to ruin a potential horror franchise, I feel compelled to offer a rebuttal.

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I agree wholeheartedly. Sorry Schuyler, but there was no franchise to ruin when Aliens came along. I made the same point Jim did in the comments of your article, but not with as much eloquence as displayed here XD

A lot of people were thinking how you'd respond to this and I don't think they'll be disappointed, Jim.

Fight, fight fight!

While I can see the point that Schuyler J. Dievendorf was trying to make, I don't really agree with it either. I felt Aliens was a very good film for most of the reasons that you gave. The Marines being gung-ho purely highlighted how little that mattered when faced with an alien race that are basically living weapons. It wasn't like most action movies where being a "badass" magically means you can take on anything.

I'd argue that the rather large amount of Alien products outside of original movies have done the most damage. the AvP movies as well as a whole bunch of awful games have made the series rather hard to get into in recent years, as people now expect anything related to it to be just as bad.

Alien: Isolation is the kind of game that sounds fantastic on paper, but thanks to the franchise being butchered so much in recent years, people cannot help but feel cynical about it.

I think this nails why I'm fine with Aliens as a sequel, since it didn't just try to ape the first film which always just leads to shitty sequels and why Alien Resurrection is shit for trying to ape Aliens.

I disagree about the marines. The Aliens got really lucky, and the marines had to be incompetent. If the aliens weren't under the reactor so all the marines had their guns, things would be different. If the lieutenant was competent, and the other ranks were professional, things would be different.

thaluikhain:
I disagree about the marines. The Aliens got really lucky, and the marines had to be incompetent. If the aliens weren't under the reactor so all the marines had their guns, things would be different. If the lieutenant was competent, and the other ranks were professional, things would be different.

Part of what I said was that the marines sucked. They lost their confidence when they didn't have their technology backing them up. So yeah, they were clearly incompetent - and their culture of overconfidence would suggest that's a fundamental flaw for the whole force.

As for whether or not the aliens got lucky, I'd argue they're clearly smart enough to understand how certain things work. The queen can operate machinery after seeing somebody use it once. While it seems to be that aliens get "dumber" the more there are (perhaps their personal instincts taking a backseat to a sweeping and simplified hive mind), it's obvious the one calling the shots for them isn't stupid, and certainly seemed to see the marines coming.

Now, their trap might not have been as good if the marines could shoot, but they had surprise and numbers, and later on, when firepower wasn't an issue, they still had their asses handed to them. Hell, the xenomorphs knew how to effectively cut off their escape by getting aboard the carrier as it was about to lift them off-planet. I think they deserve a bit more credit.

Jesus, I am a fucking nerd.

good point jim.

though i think what people mean is that they want a spiritual successor. if aliens was meant to be that, it failed its task. its still a bloody good movie i think.

Legion:
Fight, fight fight!

While I can see the point that Schuyler J. Dievendorf was trying to make, I don't really agree with it either. I felt Aliens was a very good film for most of the reasons that you gave. The Marines being gung-ho purely highlighted how little that mattered when faced with an alien race that are basically living weapons. It wasn't like most action movies where being a "badass" magically means you can take on anything.

I'd argue that the rather large amount of Alien products outside of original movies have done the most damage. the AvP movies as well as a whole bunch of awful games have made the series rather hard to get into in recent years, as people now expect anything related to it to be just as bad.

Alien: Isolation is the kind of game that sounds fantastic on paper, but thanks to the franchise being butchered so much in recent years, people cannot help but feel cynical about it.

I still don't understand why the franchise has been milked so much more than many other, similarly successful properties from the 80's. You don't see one or two video games from the Terminator franchise every year, right? Just seems weird to me. Are people really asking for this much Alien-themed shovelware?

It makes me wonder what would have happened if it weren't for Aliens. Would it be a long and repetitive slasher franchise like Elm Street or Friday the 13th (but in space)? Would we be on the second gritty reboot already? Would we have gotten some shit Freddy vs Jason style crossover with another sci fi creature... Oh wait.

EDIT:
Actually;

Alien is a truly incredible horror movie. Aliens is a truly incredible action movie. I think neither movie exists at the expense of the other, and I do in fact believe that they owe each other a great debt. That both movies are so wildly different ensures that the pair of them stand alone as classics. You just don't see that in other franchises, two movies that are so capable of standing on their own as masterpieces of their respective genres.

I'd say that the one other franchise to really pull that off is Terminator itself. The original film is a noir slasher film (less remembered than its sequel, but stands up as a classic regardless) and the sequel is a mind blowingly wonderful balls to the wall action flick. It's odd how closely parallel the situations are.

Jimothy Sterling:
Part of what I said was that the marines sucked. They lost their confidence when they didn't have their technology backing them up. So yeah, they were clearly incompetent - and their culture of overconfidence would suggest that's a fundamental flaw for the whole force.

Ah, ok. I would say that swaggering masculinity doesn't have to fall apart when things go wrong, though, they could have had something to back up their boasting with.

(Which, to me, sorta undermines the threat of the aliens...they are scary, compared to people who've decided to be very sloppy)

Jimothy Sterling:
As for whether or not the aliens got lucky, I'd argue they're clearly smart enough to understand how certain things work. The queen can operate machinery after seeing somebody use it once. While it seems to be that aliens get "dumber" the more there are (perhaps their personal instincts taking a backseat to a sweeping and simplified hive mind), it's obvious the one calling the shots for them isn't stupid, and certainly seemed to see the marines coming.

Now, their trap might not have been as good if the marines could shoot, but they had surprise and numbers, and later on, when firepower wasn't an issue, they still had their asses handed to them. Hell, the xenomorphs knew how to effectively cut off their escape by getting aboard the carrier as it was about to lift them off-planet. I think they deserve a bit more credit.

Jesus, I am a fucking nerd.

They didn't know that the marine's pulse rifles would rupture the coolant of the reactor, or that marines with pulse rifles were coming when they put all the colonists in there. Rupturing the reactor led to them all getting blown up as well. So I count that as luck.

Getting on board the carrier is more incompetence, I'd say. The rest of the marines are fighting the aliens, so they land the ship nearby, and the co-pilot lowers the hatch and wanders off, letting an alien in.

Yes! Yes Jim! For the love of God yes!

I have one more issue with the original article that I don't think was touched on here (not that I want this to turn into a witch hunt or anything), but I took serious issue with the implication that Aliens is just non-stop balls the the wall action with no down time left to spare for character development and tension. I watched Aliens a few days ago, and while I wasn't timing it, I swear it must be about an hour into the movie's run-time before the Xenomorphs actually show up! I guess that hour was just vacuum then, what with all the tension building and character development not existing.

In fact, even after the first battle, the films whole second act is focussed on the few surviving characters trying to stay alive in a claustrophobic space with limited resources, while simultaneously discovering that the hordes of Xenomorphs massing somewhere off-screen to kill them all aren't the only enemy they have to deal with. But no, my mistake, it's all just one-dimensional mehreens jacking off apparently.

Speaking of one-dimensional marines, I won't try and say that Vasquez and the gang are the most complicated characters in the world, but at least they exhibit enough recognisable personality to be memorable, which is more than I can say for the crew of the Nostromo.

Legion:
Fight, fight fight!

Kiss, kiss, kiss.

OT; The "Space" Marines in the Aliens movie struck me as singularly ineffective in their one job. I can't help but wonder if this was intentional or done purely to move the story forward. Were the Marines the worst of the worst because Evil Corporation wanted to preserve the Aliens for use as a weapon? If the training standards were really that low, it would explain why in the movies and games, they are the weakest faction.

We got some truly kick ass computer games out of it, so while it did establish a franchise, but not the one I think they were hoping for.

How could we ever damn a movie that gave us "Game over, man. Game over!" (A scene which, now that I mention it, stands as a great example of the Marines quasi-shutting down when things start to go wrong.) I agree with Jim wholeheartedly.

Fappy:
I still don't understand why the franchise has been milked so much more than many other, similarly successful properties from the 80's. You don't see one or two video games from the Terminator franchise every year, right? Just seems weird to me. Are people really asking for this much Alien-themed shovelware?

I'm guessing that this is a function of the fact that they made two pretty uniquely, recognizable, and good movies in one universe. Alien catering to survival horror folk / Aliens catering to action shooter folk. Also, there's a few extra movies that reference Xenomorph lore that have happened recently: The Aliens Vs. Predator series, and the big hit (at least among my friends) prequel Prometheus. So, there's a lot of material that lends itself to active markets and Xenomorphs themselves are (maybe) at the top of everyone's minds a bit more.

I'm guessing less substantive ideas have been pitched in corporate boardrooms.

Jimothy Sterling:
Part of what I said was that the marines sucked. They lost their confidence when they didn't have their technology backing them up. So yeah, they were clearly incompetent - and their culture of overconfidence would suggest that's a fundamental flaw for the whole force.

I think it's just the endemic problem of horror movies that protagonists have a horrible lack of common sense. Ripley is just is bad.

When they first get near the xenomorphs they are nested in the coolant system for the nuclear reactor, and Ripley points out that firing armour piercing bullets in there would rupture the pipes and cause an explosion. Fair enough, a meltdown would be more realistic but an explosion is more Hollywood. But she forgot about the acid blood, which would also rupture the coolant pipes. Since they couldn't spill xenomorph blood there, they shouldn't have gone in.

Also, when they knew they had to wait days for evacuation, it was Ripley's idea to hole up somewhere and seal the doors. That was the same plan the colonists had and it failed. Were there really no other plans to consider? Camping outside on a hill where the xenomorphs couldn't sneak up on them? Destroying a bunch of interior walls so the xenomorphs couldn't sneak up on them? Planting explosives on the coolant pipes and detonating them from 20 miles away? Finding some way to shut down the reactor and then blowing up the nest?

Though the biggest idiot is Burke, who shuts Ripley in a room with a facehugger because of his evil plan to make a ton of money, forgetting that she was greatly improving his chances of getting out alive.

NinjaDeathSlap:

I have one more issue with the original article that I don't think was touched on here (not that I want this to turn into a witch hunt or anything), but I took serious issue with the implication that Aliens is just non-stop balls the the wall action with no down time left to spare for character development and tension. I watched Aliens a few days ago, and while I wasn't timing it, I swear it must be about an hour into the movie's run-time before the Xenomorphs actually show up! I guess that hour was just vacuum then, what with all the tension building and character development not existing.

And even during the gun battles, the actual action is pretty simple. In the first ambush, the marines don't really seem to cover a lot of ground once the dying starts. The Last Stand of Hudson battle is just them moving from small room to small room to smaller ventilation system. Even the final showdown between Ripley and the Queenomorph involves a slow moving power loader and some emphatic button pressing. No kung fu to be found.

The overall tone of the action, and indeed the movie, is very claustrophobic and hopeless. Each firefight is a pitched retreat. There's never a time when the marines are trying to attack and defeat the aliens. They just want to escape with their lives.

In terms of Cameron movies, I'd say it's closer to The Abyss than Terminator 2. The tough marines and machine guns make it seem like more of an "action" movie than it really is, when more of the tension and engagement actually comes from the tone and setting.

Fappy:

I still don't understand why the franchise has been milked so much more than many other, similarly successful properties from the 80's. You don't see one or two video games from the Terminator franchise every year, right? Just seems weird to me. Are people really asking for this much Alien-themed shovelware?

I think its more that a Terminator game would either set in future mech-world times, which only one movie has more then tangentially touched upon, and that's largely reviled. Alternatively, it'd be in the present/past, being basically a guy running around shooting other guys, with one slightly stronger guy by virture of being a Terminator. Which is just a generic FPS with very little unique visuals or gameplay spins to make its own.

Seth Carter:

Fappy:

I still don't understand why the franchise has been milked so much more than many other, similarly successful properties from the 80's. You don't see one or two video games from the Terminator franchise every year, right? Just seems weird to me. Are people really asking for this much Alien-themed shovelware?

I think its more that a Terminator game would either set in future mech-world times, which only one movie has more then tangentially touched upon, and that's largely reviled. Alternatively, it'd be in the present/past, being basically a guy running around shooting other guys, with one slightly stronger guy by virture of being a Terminator. Which is just a generic FPS with very little unique visuals or gameplay spins to make its own.

I could see Telltale doing a story-driven, modern setting Terminator game. In fact, that'd probably be pretty fucking cool!

Jimothy Sterling:

thaluikhain:
I disagree about the marines. The Aliens got really lucky, and the marines had to be incompetent. If the aliens weren't under the reactor so all the marines had their guns, things would be different. If the lieutenant was competent, and the other ranks were professional, things would be different.

Part of what I said was that the marines sucked. They lost their confidence when they didn't have their technology backing them up. So yeah, they were clearly incompetent - and their culture of overconfidence would suggest that's a fundamental flaw for the whole force.

As for whether or not the aliens got lucky, I'd argue they're clearly smart enough to understand how certain things work. The queen can operate machinery after seeing somebody use it once. While it seems to be that aliens get "dumber" the more there are (perhaps their personal instincts taking a backseat to a sweeping and simplified hive mind), it's obvious the one calling the shots for them isn't stupid, and certainly seemed to see the marines coming.

Now, their trap might not have been as good if the marines could shoot, but they had surprise and numbers, and later on, when firepower wasn't an issue, they still had their asses handed to them. Hell, the xenomorphs knew how to effectively cut off their escape by getting aboard the carrier as it was about to lift them off-planet. I think they deserve a bit more credit.

Jesus, I am a fucking nerd.

I don't really feel like the Aliens got lucky at all, they used the camouflage of the secreted resin and waited for the marines to walk into a trap. This isn't luck, it is strategy. I personally don't think the Aliens get stupider when in groups either, they simply know they posses less importance by value of sheer number.

In Resurrection, the Xenomorphs willing tear apart one of the group to allow their escape, a valuable sacrifice. Sure the marines could have done a bit better but the Aliens had plenty of power left to attack with while at the reactor, it was a losing battle for marines, no matter what...not every marine can be Hicks after all.

Now I feel like a nerd too.

Fight! Fight! Fight!....aaaaaand Kiss.
Your move Schuyler.

Agree completely. One of the things I love about the franchise is that each of the 4 movies has its own distinct feel (I put AVP stuff into another bin...the dust bin...also known as the garbage...get it? because they're terrible). Each of the four directors added their own personal takes on the xenomorph mythos and I believe that the series, as a whole, is better for it. We all know how well horror franchises hold up to repeated sequels that try to simply ape the original.

I. Can't. Even.

You know what an Aliens geek is? Someone who was going through the software list at work and noticed that an application was still assigned to "Lee Brimingcombe-Wood" and got nerd chills.

As Jim says, Aliens is a milieu subject to varying interpretations. Think of H.R. Geiger's alien as the modern science fiction equivalent of vodka.

You can mix it with anything. Your opinion will vary based on your tastes, but it still gives you a pleasant buzz, even when it's mixed with ****. Although you might have a nasty taste in your mouth after.

Regarding the behaviour of the marines...

Foremost, the scene is a commentary on incompetent leadership. Secondly, it's about our response to the unknown. The marines were portrayed appropriately given the situation, i.e. confusion and panic.

I doubt the USMC has 'Fighting giant bugs in the dark, in close quarters, with flamethrowers and pistols 101' in either basic or advanced training.

"Without my rifle, I am nothing," is a basic part of the marine creed. In the immediate scene previous they are told to sling their pulse rifles and smartguns.

In fact, now that I've started up my whambulance...

Give me some examples of good horror franchises?

At best, you're looking at 2 decent films per 5 made in the horror oeuvre as a rule. The Jason, Friday the 13th, Scream and Final Destination series are all hailed as superior horror franchises, but how often do they rise above mediocre?

Aliens did the franchise a massive favour by basically establishing that the property should have lots of money spent on it. Whilst this isn't a requirement for a decent film or even a guarantee of an OK one (sorry Keanu), it stopped the Aliens franchise quickly slipping into rubber tentacled cash-ins although Prometheus is no Hovis advert.

Also, the disappointment when a re-branded 3rd rate Mummy script was used for the AVP movie instead of the plot from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aliens_Versus_Predator_(comics) - was physically palpable (in the sense of being rabid flecks of spittle collecting on my friends' foreheads).

If you are a fan of "Aliens" but are intimidated by the vast amount of fluff and collectibles, the above link is to one of the most solid examples of cross-over fiction written.

*Breathes*

Sorry about that.

Legion:
Fight, fight fight!

Editorial Wars: this time, it's personal!

Probably not. It was just amusing to see an editorial against another editorial on the same site.

But it was worth a look, anyway.

Jimothy Sterling:
While it seems to be that aliens get "dumber" the more there are (perhaps their personal instincts taking a backseat to a sweeping and simplified hive mind)

Perhaps they are ninjas?

Fappy:

I still don't understand why the franchise has been milked so much more than many other, similarly successful properties from the 80's. You don't see one or two video games from the Terminator franchise every year, right? Just seems weird to me. Are people really asking for this much Alien-themed shovelware?

The Alien franchise lends itself well to multiple genres of games, so maybe people are just hoping the next one will get it right. I suppose that could also be said for the Terminator franchise, but I've never seen the same level of fan fervor for it. So maybe that answers the question: one plays more on an active userbase than the others.

Or maybe I'm full of it.

NSGrendel:

I doubt the USMC has 'Fighting giant bugs in the dark, in close quarters, with flamethrowers and pistols 101' in either basic or advanced training.

Well, of course not! They needed to make room in the schedule for zombie apocalypse 101!

I thought Jim might have something to say.

I just... didn't expect him to put up his own article.

Next the No Right Answer guys're gonna get in on this.

Legion:
Fight, fight fight!

Definitely yes!

Let's get ready to WRIIIIIIIIIITE!!!

DragonWright:
I thought Jim might have something to say.

I just... didn't expect him to put up his own article.

Yeah, I was expecting a movie defense force or something in response to the original article. As an Alien fan I'm sure Jim has had this conversation before so it probably wasn't a big deal to quickly get a response out. I really like the idea of escapist contributors writing opposing view points and getting to see everyone's perspective.

Seth Carter:

Fappy:

I still don't understand why the franchise has been milked so much more than many other, similarly successful properties from the 80's. You don't see one or two video games from the Terminator franchise every year, right? Just seems weird to me. Are people really asking for this much Alien-themed shovelware?

I think its more that a Terminator game would either set in future mech-world times, which only one movie has more then tangentially touched upon, and that's largely reviled. Alternatively, it'd be in the present/past, being basically a guy running around shooting other guys, with one slightly stronger guy by virture of being a Terminator. Which is just a generic FPS with very little unique visuals or gameplay spins to make its own.

If they lacked anything resembling imagination yes. However, I would love to see Bethesda pick up the franchise at some point and throw in their signature open world style in. I mean, they've already done post-apocalyptic with the Fallout games, so it's not much of a stretch.

I'm very happy that they chose to focus on the first film for the upcoming Alien: Isolation.

Even back when I first saw Aliens all those years ago, I still didn't walk away from it impressed, and while it's far from a bad film, it pales in comparison to the original.

Jimothy Sterling:

Part of what I said was that the marines sucked. They lost their confidence when they didn't have their technology backing them up. So yeah, they were clearly incompetent - and their culture of overconfidence would suggest that's a fundamental flaw for the whole force.

They certainly had an incompetent officer and a discipline problem, they didn't really strike me as the elite force they were meant to be.
They charged straight in and it took a civilian to point out that a firefight in a nuclear reactor might be a bad idea. Being Colonial Marines you might have thought they would understand the environments that they would be called on to fight in.
Then when they realised they couldn't use their main weapons, did they stop to think? Frost did. "What are supposed to use man, harsh language?"
At this point they should know that aliens are clearly a threat, that there's probably hundreds of them, they know they are an ambush predator etc etc. But they only seem to start thinking "Ok, what are we actually up against here?" after they get ambushed.

Overconfident and sloppy.

Jimothy Sterling:

Now, their trap might not have been as good if the marines could shoot, but they had surprise and numbers, and later on, when firepower wasn't an issue, they still had their asses handed to them. Hell, the xenomorphs knew how to effectively cut off their escape by getting aboard the carrier as it was about to lift them off-planet.

Later on they were down to 3 military personnel (ok, 4 if you count Gorman), one tough woman and a little girl. Vs 200+ xenomorphs. Personally I wouldn't fancy their chances if they had been up against 200 unarmed civilians.

Alternatively they just picked off the outlying members of the herd like most predators would.

Jimothy Sterling:
Jesus, I am a fucking nerd.

Hey, Aliens is cool, my mum said so.

You know what, I just knew I would see a Jim response to that article. I didn't think it would be an article of his own though...

I agree with you but I still don't like Alien 3.

Jimothy Sterling:
Jesus, I am a fucking nerd.

And we thank God for that.

I suppose I have to agree with this, even though I agreed with the other article also. I definitely prefer Alien over Aliens but one doesn't ruin the other. Of course, I just don't like franchises in general. If the entire 'franchise' was just Alien and then Aliens, and never ever was brought up again, totally happy with that.
I don't like how everything has to be a franchise.

Jimothy Sterling:
The Escapist's very own Schuyler J. Dievendorf suggested that Aliens served to ruin a potential horror franchise, I feel compelled to offer a rebuttal.

Well said. And, once again, I thank the gods for you. That's twice in one way!

I always liked Aliens better than Alien anyway. Never been a huge fan of horror movies, but I love action sci-fi movies.

Jimothy Sterling:
Now, their trap might not have been as good if the marines could shoot, but they had surprise and numbers, and later on, when firepower wasn't an issue, they still had their asses handed to them. Hell, the xenomorphs knew how to effectively cut off their escape by getting aboard the carrier as it was about to lift them off-planet. I think they deserve a bit more credit.

Jesus, I am a fucking nerd.

I'd argue that their trap still would have worked. They managed to capture Corporal Dietrich right off the bat before anyone knew what was going on. Private Frost got killed thanks to panic fire from Corporal Dietrich which would have happened regardless of her weapon (and honestly, Frost's death probably would have been far quicker and less painful if she'd had her M-41A Pulse Rifle instead of the M240). They also managed to grab Master Sergeant Apone without him putting up any fight.

The only really iffy ones are Private Crowe and Private Wierzbowski. Crowe would have probably survived a bit longer, since there wouldn't have been any bag of ammunition to explode in his face. Wierzbowski, like Dietrich and Apone, also got dragged off without a fight... but it could be because he was distracted by that ammunition bag.

Drake probably would have still died from acid burns. And honestly, if everyone had been firing their Pulse Rifles, there probably would have been more acid wounds (explosive tipped ammunition can do nasty things to organic targets, let alone organic targets full of pressurized acid).

So yeah... Dietrich, Frost, Apone, and Drake most likely still would have been casualties, even if they'd had their service rifles. Crowe and Wierzbowski are the wild cards, and all of the survivors would have been at greater risk to acid wounds.

Oh, and before I forget, from an Alien fan who enjoys all of the movies in the quadrilogy... great rebuttal, Jim! Thank GOD for you!

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