Saturday, 9 June 2012
First a fair warning: this blog post will most surely spoil the movie for anyone and everyone who hasn't seen it and wishes to go in knowing as little as possible in order to form their own opinion. I'll let you know at which point the spoilers start rolling so you can stop reading.
The non-spoilery part of the review is as follows: I have mixed feelings about the movie.
The trailer seemed interesting.
And now SPOILERS!!!! *** SPOILERS!!!*** TURN AWAY!!!!***DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!!*** I WILL SPOIL EVERYTHING EVER FOR YOU RIGHT NOW!!!!***RUN AWAY!!!!
The plot goes thusly: Muscly albino humanoid drinks goop at the edge of a waterfall somewhere while a space ships takes off. Humanoid (henceforth known as Mr White) has convulsions and falls into the water where he promptly desintegrates. Que opening credits. Archeologist couple have been compiling a record of a certain constellation reoccurring in images created by various different cultures throughout Earth history. Heap Big Future Evil Corporation Weyland Industries funds their research trip to said constellation and specifically to a moon there that has vaguely Earth-like conditions. We meet the crew and pic out the red shirts. David The Robot has been artistic and sensitive and taking care of everything on the ship while the humans have been in cryostasis. The ship reaches destination and quickly discovers a bunch of humps in straight lines that might or might not be buildings. Crew goes in, finds a bunch of faces and stuff carved everywhere. Probably buildings then. Crew splits, there's a storm, some people get stranded in the building and some stuff from there is smuggled on the ship. The stranded crew members die, love-interest archeologist is infected with nasties, Noomi gets preggers, Weyland is NOT dead but on the ship and Charlize has sex. Love-interest archeologist dies, one dead crew member turns into a crab-zombie and kills a bunch of others and it turns out that Mr White and his mates are total dicks for no reason whatsoever. Noomi gives herself a caesarian, Charlize is Weyland's daughter and there are no xenomorphs. Mr White kills Weyland dead and rips David The Robot's head off and tries to fly the Space Croissant to Earth to smash puny humans. The good ship Prometheus crashes the Space Croissant, Charlize gets squished, Giant Squid Of Anger hugs Mr White to death, Noomi flies off to have amazing adventures with David's head (and the body.. but we don't talk about that) and there's finally something resembling a xenomorph, though not quite. End credits.
Since this is a mixed bag I'll start with the things I did like: The movie is very well paced. It kept me sitting and wondering and not wanting to skip ahead and at least the first act is quite brilliant in building the movie and the story arc up. There's a distinct lack of unrealistic assholes in the cast. These feel like real people, with real dialogue and real depth. Yes, the ones who lose their shit can be picked out from the get go, but they never act out of character or have unreasonable motivations. The first act is brilliant. There is so much set up that you start to genuinely appreciate how intelligently the movie is made. The look of the film is perfectly in-keeping with the first one and it seems like they might even have used further sketches from Giger to complete the set up of the cultures presented here (the structures they find on this foreing moon look like a take on the designs Giger did for Dune before leaving the project, though the giant faces are more reminiscent of Patrick Tatopoulos's work). The characters are given time enough to grow on you and become human. And there are gentle giggles. You genuinely don't want any one of these people to just die already even though you know that that's what's coming.
It's an Alien-film. If you go in not thinking that everyone or at least most of these people, are going to die, then you probably got tickets to the wrong movie. By the time the first seeds of destruction have been planted, that is by the start of the second act, you start feeling that this might be one of those unpleasantly good movies where you don't have quick bloody deaths, but you're going to have to watch these people that you care about slowly and painfully (literally) come apart.
And then it all gets silly.
So the things I really disliked about in this movie: let's start with cloak-wearing humanoids from alien planets wearing tighty whiteys. Yeah. That happened. I guess alien peen was too much to be tastefully covered up by random objects on the screen. So humanoids shop Walmart before getting their druidian cloaks on.
The tone of the movie is frustratingly uneven. The first part promises a wonderfully moody and thoughtful piece where the bits with violence are short and shocking and blunt and where the focus would be on keeping you invested psychologically and emotionally, making you think heap big thoughts about life, universe and everything. And then you're given a Guy Pearce with a bald-cap and a Giant Squid Of Anger and you quickly realize that this isn't as smart as it promised to be. It's actually pretty terrible if it wasn't for the wonderful pacing that keeps you from stopping to think about how silly it's getting for too long.
Peter Weyland of the Weylands That Are The Root Of All Evil In The Corporate World is played by Guy Pearce. Guy Pearce in the most unconvincing old age make up since Radu from Subspecies. And that's Peter Weyland as opposed to Charles Weyland who we've seen being played by Lance Henriksen in all the other movies, because.. Lance Henriksen isn't in this one. So we get Peter The Less Handsome Weyland Brother. Who looks like an actor doing a terrible job pretending to be old. And I'm not saying Guy Pearce is a bad actor, it's just that that amount of latex would make anyone look like a muppet. And I doubt it's a huge surprise to anyone that Weyland isn't really dead, but on the ship and that Charlize Theron's Meredith is in fact his daughter. Some spectacularly clunky dialogue follows when exposition is delivered on things that everyone already guessed (but for some reason the writers felt needed to be hammered home) and when plot points that require some huge leaps in logic are pointed out since the movie failed to show rather than tell. The famous croissant-shaped space ship is immediately identified as a space ship underground, even though no motors or control rooms have been located. It's shaped like the croissant from the first movie, so it must be a space ship.. that can fly. In space. Because.. croissants from space! The cylinders and the gunk in them the crew find are recogniced as Weapons Of Mass Destruction and the structure they're in is obviously a weapons manufacturing facility, because.. well, that's just how the universe rolls. We haven't even met the people who made them, but yeah... they're all weapons as opposed to foreing food that might have gone off in the 2000 years it's been sitting around. And the people who made them hate us. Because of The Reason.
In some of these cases (like the fact that there are several buildings found on the moon the crew land on and that this movie doesn't actually answer any of the questions it, or the first movie, poses about the nature of The Space Jockey Guys) the movie is fully aware that it doesn't deliver and has the characters plainly say so. "We don't know why they created us and now want to kill us". "I have to find out why they hate us". Yeah, we the audience were sort of asking the same thing. There's no motivation for being violent and evil and ripping androids' heads off. And the movie agrees. And then gives an ending that would've been better suited for something with a lower budget. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) goes off with the head off Michael Fassbender in one of the other ships the big nasty aliens left, to go find their home planet and presumably ask nicely why they hate us just before getting stomped to death under their giant albino feet.
So if the humanoids who hate us and made these bio-weapons that have oh-so-many-ways of killing us accidently kind of had an accident in one of the weapons' manufacturing facilities and died in that one facility, whatabout the guys in the other facilities? We see a bunch of the factories at the beginning. Were the other facilities already empty when they had their booboo in this one? Did they get bored of their work in 2000 years and think "Well fuck this killing-all-the-earthlings shit. I'm going fishing in my cabin in Alpha-Centauri."? Did they all die at work of old age? Boredom? And then the Space Jockey continuity got completely screwed when he wasn't killed by a xenomorph in his seat but by the Giant Squid Of Anger.
And what's with carving giant faces in your storage lockers and on top of your factories? It's like the biggest fan club of Skeletor was in charge of your weapons industry.
The xenomorphs we know and love turn out to be a bug created specifically as a bio-weapon. It's an interesting concept but the idea is a bit all over the place. Is it a parasitic thing that you put in the ecosystem that then proceeds to adapt to all other species and kill them off? Is it a zombie virus that re-animates dead crewmen and their cameras and makes them into bendy berserkers? Fucking bio-weapons, how do they work?! In 2000 years these highly adaptable little buggers that killed ya'll guys (the humanoids that made them) didn't manage to evolve any further? They had a whole planet to play with, you know. Nope, they're just gonna swim along in their black, unexplained goop and look phallic and vaginal all at once.
Oh yeah, there's a ginger rage-zombie who stalks his victims from a crab-position for no particular reason but because it makes for a neat visual. Ugh.... hate it when that happens. Or when you only know a crew member is alive (or undead) when their personal, helmet-mounted camera works.
There's further stupid when Noomi's love interest Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) heroically commits suicide because he's infected and would burst all over his space suit at any moment. So he forces Charlize Theron to burn him alive. Which would be terrible and effective.. if he wasn't wearing that space suit that can take quite a beating. The end result is a burst scientist in a a hot, but intact, space suit. Clever, that.
And because of his sexytiem with Noomi just before turning to goop, our heroine is now preggers with a squid. Not a xenomorph, but with what will eventually turn into a Giant Squid Of Anger with some serious vagina dentata. Squid-silliness aside, this is an interesting premise, which is immediately and unceremoniously resolved by her performing a caesarian on herself and then proceeding to jump and run all over the place. This bit was probably written by someone who didn't quite grasp what happens when you have a baby and need to cut it out of a uterus.
Oh and Noomi manages to beat some people up to get to the operating table and no one seems to really mind that. Eh, just another day in space camp.
Speaking of the Giant Squid Of Anger: it should be noted that CGI and squids should only be used together when the intention is to cause hilarity.
Giant Squid Of Anger by Coahtemoc
And in the end Charlize is squished by the Space Croissant because Flying Space Croissants can only fall on witch-like protagonists and not anywhere else on the planet they're above.
So do the cons outweight the pros? I honestly don't know. The first act is brilliant and then it gets really silly and careless and non-xenomorphic and inconsequential. But it's still not a bad film. It's just scitzophrenic. Like after the beginning someone said "Wait, we're making an Alien-movie. We need to kill everyone right now! The world is a terrible place! We can't have all this pondering philosophical stuff.. it'll make everything lame! More Giant Squids!".
Final thoughts? A lot of people are going to like this and I'll continue on getting more and more angry about all the little things that were wrong with it because it could have been thoroughly brilliant. It could have been genuinely intelligent. But then someone took scissors to the script and glued a whole other script where the last 2 acts were supposed to be.
I'm happy for the Giant Squid Of Anger finally getting a role (s)he could sink their teeth into.
And that's all I have to say about that.