Alien/Predator Novel Reviews

Started by Hudson, Aug 19, 2014, 04:55:43 PM

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Alien/Predator Novel Reviews (Read 50,571 times)

Hudson

Hudson

#60
Predator 2/5

I find that this is more of a novelty artifact and worth reading for the pure interest of its quirkiness than it ever will be a decent book. While the writing displays an appreciation for language early on, I think it begins to get lazy as we go. Constantly referring to characters like Dillon, Billy, Hawkins, and Ramirez as "the black man," "the Indian," "the Irishman," and "the Chicano" respectively just got boring, beyond the fact that the racial stereotyping became notably problematic when these constant repetitions are coming from the objective third-person narrator. I'm not sure if this comes from Paul Monette, Jim & John Thomas's original script, or the editors of the book. I thought it got a little old that Dillon was constantly referred to in the context of his race, in just about every instance he is attributed interior thoughts or described by someone else. Particular instances include something along the lines of "...for all intents and purposes, he was the whitest man in the room..." or "...he'd be as welcome as he would at a KKK rally..." and he's straight up referred to as a "nig-nog" by Blain or Mac (I can't remember which, both characters are more profane in the novelization) and directly as "n***er" shockingly by Schaefer. "Spic" or "spick" ends up being used by Mac (who by absence of constantly being referred to as 'the black man' can be assumed to be white here) several times to refer to Ramirez, but in this instance we're meant to take it as an expression of apolitical military camaraderie. And I still find that unearned, considering this is coming from a white author, based on a screenplay by white authors, none of any of whom served in the military either to my knowledge.

Some interesting deviations here include a very abstract characterization of the Predator itself, and some odd motivations for it to hunt and study humans. There's actually a bizarre inner conflict happening with the character, or at least that's how I take it. Something not explored in the movie, because here I believe the Predator to be an embodiment of the earlier concept for the creature, and not what eventually ended up on screen. It's able to take the shape of other animals, and its skin directly changes color I believe. Its blood is orange, and its ship features significantly near the end of the book.

One bat-shit-crazy difference in the novelization included an alteration to the scene where Billy senses the Predator ahead of the team after they leave the destroyed guerrilla camp. In the film, Dutch confronts Billy who admits that it's probably nothing. In the novelization, HE READS THE PREDATOR'S MIND AND THEN FAINTS. This scene was insane! There are other deviations from the film's plot that make the novel worth at least one read.

Overall though, the novelization of Predator does an even poorer job than the film of concealing the fact that there's really no plot. Considering the visual emphasis of the film medium, the final act of Predator goes over just fine. The special effects are impressive as hell, the musical score is dramatic, etc. Unfortunately, there's none of that to redeem the fact that, in the novel, Major Schaefer is the most boring, flat character present. By the time all the stereotyped characters disappear, we're left with nothing but a blank slate and no dialogue. Thankfully, this portion of the story lasts a mere ten pages or less, and then we're done. The problem is, we don't really have any idea what Schaefer desires. For a novel, that's what we need. And for an effective narrative that does its job, we need some kind of change. Does Schaefer become a pacifist for having seen what he's seen? That's just an example of a possibility. The answer is, who knows? Nothing really comes to fruition here. I don't really know if Shaefer gets what he wants or not. As a film, it works as entertainment because of the spectacle. As a novel, it's written with a skilled hand a times, but at other times it feels lazy, and notably problematic even beyond the fact that there's not really a plot with regards to the protagonist.


Alien Resurrection 4/5

This is a delayed reaction, considering I finished this in the fall but never returned to post my update here. I've enjoyed logging my reviews of these novels by the way. In drawing this out over a few years, it's been interesting to come back and read my reactions. In some cases, I don't remember the books very well. With Resurrection, I would actually argue that the novelization is the definitive version of Joss Whedon's screenplay. Bluntly, it's better and more complete than the film and gives the audience a more worthy narrative. I was really impressed by this book, most specifically the separate narrators focalizing the story, and just generally the expansion on every character in the film. I felt like I knew just about everyone in the movie better after reading this book. In particular, I found DiStephano of note as his character appears throughout the novelization and he's built up until he finally joins the group of characters on their quest. I also really enjoyed the sequences focalized through Christie and any expansion of his character, considering he feels a bit absent in the film for my taste. I do think this suffers from some of the same problems as the movie in the way that most of the interesting characters buy the farm early on. Perez, Christie, Elgyn, and Gediman plays a more significant role in this but again spends most of the narrative out of sight, out of mind. The italicized sections that kind of dove into Ripley's interior and the Aliens were handled pretty well. I was pleasantly surprised by this book overall and will label it my favorite of the original four films' novelizations.



I find that my 'active' engagement in my fandom with the Alien and Predator franchises seems to come in what I'd describe as waves. Maybe lasts a few months and then I kind of transition away. Last year I read six or seven books or so around spring and I think I might be gearing up to go through another wave of reading through these. I also just ordered Predator 2, and for Christmas received the If It Bleeds anthology. To be honest, whether I find these books good or bad, I always am enjoying the experience of reading them, even the boring ones like Steel Egg or River of Pain.

I'm still on the fence about making the financial commitment to track down the Dark Horse Predator series.

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#61
Funnily enough, I was thinking about the Predator novelisation just last night. I agree with most of what you say. It's not a good book; in particular the fact that most of the characters are unlikable racists really undermines any investment you might have in them.

The main interest in reading is just to see how wildly different that earlier version of the titular creature was, but even that ends up being to the novel's detriment because it's just so out there compared to the film.

If you can manage to get a hold of it (no easy feat), the second film's novelisation is infinitely better.

Hudson

Hudson

#62
Quote from: HuDaFuK on Feb 06, 2018, 11:11:01 AM
Funnily enough, I was thinking about the Predator novelisation just last night. I agree with most of what you say. It's not a good book; in particular the fact that most of the characters are unlikable racists really undermines any investment you might have in them.

The main interest in reading is just to see how wildly different that earlier version of the titular creature was, but even that ends up being to the novel's detriment because it's just so out there compared to the film.

If you can manage to get a hold of it (no easy feat), the second film's novelisation is infinitely better.

I thought Schaefer's use of the N-bomb completely undermined any chance he would have to be the last chance at a likable character in the book. Instead all we learn about him is he was raised Baptist and he might be from Minnesota?

Also, how about the implication that Ronald Reagan is directly involved in their mission?

I'm paying around $18 for the second one, and I'm intrigued based on what I've read about it online. It also sounds more profane than its film counterpart.

I'm not sure how I feel about the earlier version of the Predator. I find it very interesting, but it's underdeveloped and abstract. At the end of the book, I'm still not quite sure what's going on with it. The film version is crystal clear, but motivations in the earlier screenplay draft are more muddled.

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

#63
Quote from: HuDaFuK on Feb 06, 2018, 11:11:01 AM
Funnily enough, I was thinking about the Predator novelisation just last night. I agree with most of what you say. It's not a good book; in particular the fact that most of the characters are unlikable racists really undermines any investment you might have in them.

I'm glad I wasn't imagining that. I thought the book was weirdly consistently racist with how it was describing everyone.  :-\ Like all the novelizations though, I can't help but recommend it just for all the differences with the actual film.

Hudson

Hudson

#64
Quote from: Corporal Hicks on Feb 06, 2018, 02:43:20 PM
Quote from: HuDaFuK on Feb 06, 2018, 11:11:01 AM
Funnily enough, I was thinking about the Predator novelisation just last night. I agree with most of what you say. It's not a good book; in particular the fact that most of the characters are unlikable racists really undermines any investment you might have in them.

I'm glad I wasn't imagining that. I thought the book was weirdly consistently racist with how it was describing everyone.  :-\ Like all the novelizations though, I can't help but recommend it just for all the differences with the actual film.

Is this one you've reviewed on the main page? I've looked at your full-length reviews of the Alien adaptations, but I can't seem to find your complete thoughts on the Predator ones.

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

#65
No, I never reviewed this one and I've only done half the Alien ones. They're on my list of things to do but sometimes I just wanna read them and not think about the review. lol

Wweyland

Wweyland

#66
I checked that the author died of AIDS a long time ago. Wikipedia had this interesting thing about him:
Paul Landry Monette (October 16, 1945 – February 10, 1995) was an American author, poet, and activist best known for his essays about gay relationships.

Hudson

Hudson

#67
Quote from: Wweyland on Feb 07, 2018, 12:16:05 PM
I checked that the author died of AIDS a long time ago. Wikipedia had this interesting thing about him:
Paul Landry Monette (October 16, 1945 – February 10, 1995) was an American author, poet, and activist best known for his essays about gay relationships.

Yeah. I found it fascinating to note how the first few pages reference that--by this point--he'd written two books of poetry. He later went on to win the National Book Award for a memoir in 1992.

You can look up his NBA winning speech online, in which he self-deprecatingly refers to his poetry writing in the past, among other things he seemed to hold in a low regard by that point in his career. I assume he lumps this book into that category.

Wweyland

Wweyland

#68
That perhaps explains the hateful undertones in the book.

Hudson

Hudson

#69
Predator 2 3/5

This wasn't as unexpectedly different from the finished product as the first film's novelization, and Simon Hawke's writing at the sentence level is pretty cut-and-dried compared to Paul Monette's, but I guess I would say this is technically 'better.' I was looking to see the extra scenes which contributed to the original NC-17 version of Predator 2, although I'm not so sure there's a ton in here. The sequence in which King Willie is attacked by the Predator seems to be identical from the movie, when I had assumed there was a lot more missing. All that's present in the novel that isn't in the movie is that he takes an Uzi out and shoots up the alley when the Predator first drops down. Heinemann has a quick subplot present in the novelization (which by all accounts was filmed) in which he's sort of a good cop fallen from grace, a former friend of Harrigan's. But now the two are enemies because of how much of a bureaucrat Heinemann has become (this is identical to Schaefer & Dillon's friction throughout the first novel, and to a lesser extent the film). Leona's husband, Rick, appears for once scene in the bar Ray's where the gathering is stated to be for Leona's birthday. Some other interesting deviations include scenes which are focalized by Tony Pope & Captain Pilgrim, among others such as Ramon Vega, who gets a fairly detailed passage of contextual backstory. The Predator's death is actually notably different in the novelization as well. This book is known for sections in italics which come from the Predator's perspective. I think they're pretty successful and they do an interesting job of tying the first film's events in while also explaining some more of the final chase sequence (the Predator's trying to get back to the ship because he's suffocating). While I would say the first film's novelization is--for all intents and purposes--a bad book, the Predator 2 novelization was actually less interesting to read. It doesn't expand on the characters to the extent that the Alien Resurrection novelization does (we learn just a tad bit more about Harrigan), and it doesn't deviate from the finished product to the extent that say Predator or Alien 3 do from their respective films.

I think this book is worth reading, but the price (I paid about $11 for the first book and $18 for this one) is pretty steep for what doesn't end up being as much of a fascinating novelty or artifact as Monette's Predator.

EDIT:

So I decided to really commit to assembling my collection of Alien/Predator novels. I placed a bunch of orders on Amazon for the Dark Horse Predator novels (3/4 of them at least, not South China Sea yet). I ended up having some time to waste today and I walked over to the used bookstore near where I work.

I ended up placing an order cancellation request for Predator Forever Midnight because the store had a brand new copy for half the price that I ordered it! Talk about a satisfying moment. Even the guy taking my money at the register said, "Don't think we can get this one anymore." The craziest thing is they have a very extensive used bookstore in their basement, and it doesn't contain any of these books. Somehow managed to find it brand new, unread.

SM

SM

#70
Nice.

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

#71
Quote from: Hudson on Feb 11, 2018, 09:45:55 PM
So I decided to really commit to assembling my collection of Alien/Predator novels. I placed a bunch of orders on Amazon for the Dark Horse Predator novels (3/4 of them at least, not South China Sea yet). I ended up having some time to waste today and I walked over to the used bookstore near where I work.

I ended up placing an order cancellation request for Predator Forever Midnight because the store had a brand new copy for half the price that I ordered it! Talk about a satisfying moment. Even the guy taking my money at the register said, "Don't think we can get this one anymore." The craziest thing is they have a very extensive used bookstore in their basement, and it doesn't contain any of these books. Somehow managed to find it brand new, unread.

You really can't argue with that! The Predator ones are just gold dust these days. I've got no spares left. I have come into some spare DH Press Alien ones but they're pretty easy to get new thanks to Titan.

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#72
Quote from: Corporal Hicks on Feb 14, 2018, 08:52:11 AMI have come into some spare DH Press Alien ones but they're pretty easy to get news thanks to Titan.

;D

:P

Corporal Hicks

What do you need?

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#74
I don't have any of the DH Press books yet. To be honest, I've not even looked, are any of the Aliens ones especially troublesome to get hold of?

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