One thing I found interesting about this film prior to its release was just how much some of the people behind the film were trying to distance themselves from the original Alien movie. They really seemed hellbent on trying avoid being tied in with the original because they wanted this movie to have its own feel and tone and to stand on it’s own. And it is original, standing out from the first film even though this is the prequel to it. What I don’t understand is why be so adamant about trying to distance yourself from what is now considered a classic.
“Why?” is a question I was asking myself quite a bit with this movie. LIke, why was Ridley Scott ok with a script that has some major holes in it? He’s usually more focused than this but the movie’s script comes off a bit scattershot as does some of the direction behind it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good film worth watching, great, at times in fact; but it has some really odd plot points that just don’t make sense.
It’s hard to go into without spoiling it so I’ll just pepper you with a couple things to keep an eye out for and ask yourself “why?”. There’s a major character that gets sort of “poisoned” by another major character but it’s never explained as to the purpose. The android character (played by Michael Fassbender) has some odd moments where he just kind of does things without accountability and even displays a strange, calm sense of malice(?) towards humans. At times he even seems to torment with subtlety but you never know what his beef with humans is.
And why cast Guy Pearce, bury him under prosthetics as an old dude and never show him young? Why not just cast an older actor instead of spending a lot of time and money on makeup that looks like makeup? From a filmmaker standpoint, that just doesn’t make sense. I’m a big fan of Guy Pearce by the way, but he’s way under-utlilized here in this role and doesn’t do anything special that any other actor couldn’t have done just as easily – act old and feeble. Seems like a waste of talent and budget.
The acting is pretty good although there aren’t any real standouts in my eyes. Noomi Rapace is ok but lacks the charisma and strength of some of her fellow actors. Charlize Theron is in here but admittedly I thought (hoped) her character would be a bit more pivotal. She’s one of those actors that’s always good (which is why I would’ve like to see her stand out more), no complaints there. But another oddity – at one point she mentions that she’s getting “suited up” to go in to the alien ship at one point, she seems like there’s a big reason for it in fact, but never does and it’s never mentioned again. Huh? What? Why? Overall, I would’ve rather seen Charlize Theron as the lead and Noomi Rapace in Theron’s character instead.
Visually, the design and effects are beautifully done. The love and skill of the craftsmanship behind the design is obvious. Some definite HR Giger influence in here but not overly so, it’s more subdued as the movie strives to create it’s own identity. Perhaps they focused on that a bit too much though and should’ve been more concerned about that big question that keeps crashing into you but never gets answered – why? Interestingly, that’s one of the reasons the crew embarks on their journey in the first place, to meet our creators and ask “why”? Perhaps they should ask the screenwriters more of that question.
Anyway, if you enjoy Ridley Scott movies and have an appreciation for the first Alien film, check this out in the theater and try not to let the “why” of it bother you too much as it’s still a pretty damn cool movie.
reviewed by Sean McKnight