This creature-feature has, and is, a good time, but it works very hard and spends a lot of money in order to have it. The question is, is it worth it? This question comes up not only because this movie seems much too heavily endowed for the simple, 1950s-style monster movie it essentially is, but also because it gets too little actual use out of its vast material holdings, especially its cavernous sets. The monster itself is most fun in its infancy, but it is hardly more impressive than its close cousins in such penny-pinching horror movies as They Came from Within and Eraserhead; once it reaches full growth, its appearances become annoyingly coy and fragmentary — this monster, like the one in Jaws, is mostly mouth. The storyline is garbled; the camerawork overwrought; the soundtrack sadistic; the computer graphics rather good, particularly the contour drawing of the planet's surface as the spaceship descends to a touchdown. Sigourney Weaver emerges as the unexpected star of the movie, although Yaphet Kotto, as the ship's extroverted and headbanded mechanic, steals more than his share of scenes. Weaver, who has fleeting resemblances to Jane Fonda in her face and voice, ought to make the feminists happy; and if not, it won't be for lack of trying. With Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, and Ian Holm; directed by Ridley Scott. 1979. (1979) — Duncan Shepherd
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