ALIEN 40TH ANNIVERSARY SHORTS | ©2019 Fox

ALIEN 40TH ANNIVERSARY SHORTS | ©2019 2oth Century Fox

Rating: Unrated
Stars: James Paxton
Writers: Noah Miller, Chris Reading, Aidan Brezonick, Kailey Spear, Sam Spear
Directors: Aidan Brezonick, Benjamin Howdeshell, Noah Miller, Chris Reading, Kailey Spear, Sam Spear, Kelsey Taylor
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: streaming, March 29, 2019; home video (with ALIEN 40th ANNIVERSARY release), April 23, 2019

The landmark science-fiction/horror film ALIEN is turning forty this year. Directed by Ridley Scott and scripted by Dan O’Bannon from a story he wrote with Ron Shusett, ALIEN introduced us to the working-class crew of the spaceship Nostromo, doing the futuristic equivalent of laboring on a cargo ship. A brief planetary stop infects one crew member and proves catastrophic. We meet an alien that comes in four stages – egg, face-hugger, chest-burster and full-grown xenomorph, all of them deadly – and find out that one of the crew is synthetic.

ALIEN has spawned all sorts of official sequels, prequels, crossovers, novels both graphic and regular print, not to mention all sorts of merchandise. There’s also a thriving fanfic community.

For the 40th anniversary of ALIEN, 20th Century Fox has elevated both the concept of tie-in material and fanfic to a whole new level by commissioning, producing and releasing six short films set in the original ALIEN universe. Six projects were chosen (from reportedly over 550 pitches). The first will debut on IGN Friday, March 29, with future installments streaming each following Friday. All six shorts will be available on the new 40th Anniversary home video edition of ALIEN, available April 23.

Remarkably, all six shorts look and feel so absolutely akin to ALIEN that if someone had tried to present them as cut scenes from the original, they might just about be able to get away with it. Although most were shot in two days, they have what look like studio production values. Some shorts are set on spacecraft, others on labor colonies on bleak, barren worlds. There is a surprising range of plot and characterization within them, though all keep to the original’s mode of people who are generally low-key when not in crisis mode. Between the six shorts, we also get to see every aspect of the alien life cycle. Some focus on only one or two, others provide the full gamut, but all are faithful to the H.R. Giger designs.

In “Alone,” written and directed by Noah Miller, a young woman, the sole remaining crew member on a spacecraft that is deteriorating, tries to cope with loneliness and wonders what is in a locked compartment. In “Containment,” written and directed by Chris Reading, three conscious occupants of an escape pod try to determine if any of them, or their unconscious companion, may be infected. In director Benjamin Howdeshell’s “Harvest,” the remaining crew of a Harvester vessel try to use a motion sensor to avoid an alien while seeking the escape shuttle. In writer/director Aidan Brezonick’s “Night Shift,” we’re planet-side in colony supply depot, where a trucker hopes his ailing buddy will benefit from a drink. In sister filmmakers Kailey Spear & Sam Spear’s “Ore,” we’re down an industrial mine, where a group of miners makes a disturbing discovery. And in director Kelsey Taylor’s “Specimen,” there may be something wrong with one or more of the soil specimens in an off-world greenhouse.

The aesthetic is straight out of the first ALIEN, with layers of gray and deteriorated metal everywhere. The creature effects are sterling. The mostly non-name actors all do solid work. James Paxton, son of the late Bill Paxton (who costarred in ALIENS), does double-duty as a frightened crew member and a xenomorph.

If you ever wanted to see more corners of the universe occupied by the Nostromo and her crew, you must watch the ALIEN 40th ANNIVERSARY SHORTS. It brings you back to the heart of the nightmare, by people who all clearly have ALIEN in their own hearts.

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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Review: ALIEN: 40th ANNIVERSARY SHORTS

 

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