There is one movie/tv cliche that has always irked me - and that is what I call the "Ripley Decision". Remember at the end of the movie "Alien", Ripley is about to escape being ripped apart by an alien monster when she realizes that she has to go back for her freaking cat? That is the "Ripley Decision" - it takes place whenever a main character decides to risk their lives for a pet.
Okay - small disclaimer: I don't have any pets. I know that 99.9% of the people in the world do have pets, be it a pet cat, a pet goldfish, or a pet venomous duck. And many of you would step in harm's way for your pet - I understand. But I would think that there are limits to beastie bravery. And Ripley is a prime example of this.
Put yourself in Ripley's place - do you risk being torn apart and eaten alive by an Alien with a really bad case of acid reflux, or do you...save the cat. I would hope that even the biggest kitten lover in the world would say, "Morris, I'm sorry, but I prefer my lower extremities attached and I don't fancy being a monster's uterus. We'll always have Paris, " and shut the escape hatch. Then as the pod speeds through space, you can somehow find away to convince yourself that the Alien, like most ex-girlfriends, *likes* cats, and just hates everyone else.
Regardless of your stance on feline heroics, the fact is that the "risk your life for an animal" is a lousy plot device, unless of course it is the point of the movie - like in "BABY: SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND" or any number of kid flicks (I can't believe I used that movie in making a point! Minus 10 points for me). The "save a kitten" tactic is used in Hellboy - but that is a comedic plot device. Its funny. But in a movie like "Alien", it just doesn't seem like a rational decision by the Ripley character. I understand the point though - "In space, no one can hear you scream." Ripley is terrified of being alone.
But, honestly, shouldn't she be more terrified of being devoured alive...in her skivvies?