Spoiler Free Review of Four Films From the Alien 40th Anniversary Anthology

Four of six short films being released for the 40th anniversary of 20th Century Fox's Alien franchise premiered at C2E2 this morning and I was lucky enough to get into the screening.  The six shorts were all created by emerging new filmmakers to celebrate the iconic sci-fi franchise.  I have been a fan of the Alien films for years, so I was quite excited.

A sizable audience was packed into C2E2's main stage room in anticipation of seeing four out of six short films produced by Fox for the anniversary. The lights dimmed after getting the usual warnings against video and photography, followed by a black screen. The crowd cheered when the name Alien faded in.

The first short was titled Containment and started of with a shot of a ship floating through space. It immediately gave the feel of the classic early films. The story as a whole definitely played to the feelings of paranoia that comes from a horrific alien that may or may not be growing inside one of your companions (or possibly youself), as it centered around a group of four who do not understand the creature they face.

Night Shift was the next film and takes place on a mining outpost. A bit of foreshadowing, leads to what you know is coming. The characters, however, are in for a surprise.

Film #3 was called Harvest. I would say that of all the shorts that were shown, this one felt the most Alien of the group. It has a small group of survivors making their way to an escape pod while trying to avoid the horror they know is lurking somewhere in the shadows. This one had more action than the others and also gave us the best look at the full grown xenomorph that fans love.

The last short, Alone, was the most unique and character driven of the selections. Its too much of a spoiler to explain why, but I will just say that its the first time that I ever felt a tinge of actual affection for a face-hugger.

The films had some very good production value, though I personally would have liked to see more of the namesake aliens. Considering these films are meant to celebrate the franchise, I think that is more what fans would want. Still they were entertaining and definitely evocative of the films.

Short films often have to balance character development verses plot/action and these films lean towards the latter. Each one set up an interesting scenario for the characters even if we don't get to know much about them. Then again, when it comes to Alien, those characters may not be around for long anyway.

All in all, if you are a fan of Alien, these shorts were a treat. Each one had the feel of the universe created from the earlier films in the series. I am looking forward to checking out the other two.

The six shorts are being released weekly on IGN starting March 29th.