Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why "Aliens" May be the Worst Title for a Sequel

Any film buff has inevitably had this happen. You're talking about the Alien movies, and when it comes to the first of the sequel, you really have to make it clear which movie you're talking about. If you mention James Cameron, you're in the clear. If you don't you've probably found yourself overemphasizing the "s" in Aliens. Why? Because you have to make it clear you're talking about Aliens and not Alien. As a result, it sounds like you're talking about a movie called Alienzzz, which sounds like some sort of space invader themed gangster movie from the 90's.

Of course, you could be sacrilegious, and call it Alien 2, but this usually only happens after you've gotten fed up of clarifying whether you're talking about Alien in a singular or plural form.

It's not just in conversation that this is problematic. It can be annoying when it comes time to watch the movie as well. You have to do a bit of a double-take just to make sure it's the original or the sequel you're selecting because the title is a difference of just one letter.

I can understand not wanting to call it Alien 2. Considering how horror movies tend to be sequelized to death, it makes sense to give it a more original sounding name, but  I always thought that Aliens was a bit too clever. I imagine that when it first came out, a lot of the marketing effort must have been spent clarifying to people that it was a sequel, not a rerelease of the original Ridley Scott movie. They could have at least given it a more distinctive name like Alien Hoard or Alien: Get Away From Her You Bitch. Not the most original titles, I know, but you get where I'm going with this.

All of this popped in my head recently because of Prometheus, Ridley Scott's new prequel/spinoff to Alien. I would have left it as definitely being the worst title for a sequel, instead of maybe being the worst, but as I was dwelling on this issue, I realized that The Fast and the Furious movies definitely have Aliens beat.

The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift is the only one of the sequels with a respectable sounding name. (On a side note, this is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies.) Some degree of effort was put into naming two of the other sequels. 2 Fast 2 Furious may be a crap title, but at least it's clear that it's a sequel to the original. Then there's Fast Five. Certainly a better effort than 2 Fast 2 Furious, but still not great. If it were good, then maybe the TV ads for this movie wouldn't have had the voice over guy call it The Fast and the Furious 5 while the Fast Five logo appears on screen.

The worst of these is the fourth entry to this series. They could have called it Fast Four or if they really wanted to strain things, F4ST and the Furious, or 4ast and the 4urious, or some crap like that. Instead they just called it Fast & Furious.

At least Aliens makes sense as titles go. In the original, there was one alien. In the sequel, there are several. (I know it's supposed to be an entire hoard, but ever since reading on IMDB that only 5 alien suits were made for the movie, I've had a hard time not seeing the crew being chased by the same 5 aliens.) On the other hand Fast & Furious is just begging to be confusing. From a cataloguing point of view, those two should share the same spot on the shelf. You can't just look at the title when you pick up one of those movies. You actually have to flip to the back and read the plot description just to make sure which movie you're picking up.

I'm sure a worse title will come along soon enough. Studios always seem to dread just slapping a number at the end of a film title, but aren't always good at coming up with decent names for sequels. If we're lucky, a few summers from now, we'll all be bombarded by ads for Trans4mers.

1 comment:

  1. It may only be difficult to distinguish between "Alien" and "Aliens" if you're prone to mumbling..