I was a huge Alien fan long time ago. The first two Ridley Scott films are easily among the best in the Sci Fi/Horror genre. So predictably, I was excited about this revival of the Alien franchise after Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection destroyed it. I really wanted to like this film, hoping for a return to the suspenseful, tension-riddled space terror. Instead what I just watched was a boring, idiotic, unimaginative mess that makes Alien Vs Predator look like 2001: A Space Oddessy.
To start with the good. This movie looks phenomenal. It’s very well shot, and while 3D films mostly give me a headache, I thought the effects were pretty cool and not as distracting as in The Last Airbender. That’s all I have for the good.
One of the elements that made the first two Alien movies so great was the crew we got to know. Memorable characters, even if they are typecast for the most part, that we loved and wanted to see them overcome this epic struggle. Well, that doesn’t exist here, as the crew aboard the titular ship are the most robotic, unrealistic, and stupid crew I’ve seen in a movie in a real long time. Comprised of scientists of various fields, their task is to discover the origin of these ancient cave paintings found in various locations on Earth in 2089. These paintings are believed to have been left behind by the “creators” as a map for “us” to find them. I’m going to jump ahead here, because this bugged me later as revelations become clear (Once it’s discovered that they potentially want to kill us for undisclosed reasons). Why would they want to Mapquest a road for us to find them if they planned on genocide? It was also never clear if the cave paintings came from the creators themselves or from early man. That really bugged me, but by this time, I caught on to the fact that this is a poorly written movie. back to the crew.
None of them are likeable in any sort of fashion. Elizabeth Shaw, the heroine, talked this mega-billionare old guy into this project of searching for life with the belief that they created us. this is such a major jump to conclusion that one of the scientists might’ve been reading my mind, because he immediately asked her how she knew that. Her reply, I swear to God, was “I don’t know, but I have a hunch”. WORST SCIENTIST EVER!!!!! Okay, I love science, and I understand that curiosity is the essence of the scientific mind, but you’re going to need a hell of a lot more than a damn “hunch” to launch this ungodly expensive expedition into the far reaches of space with only 17 people!! Her love interest is an unrelenting douche whose only real purpose…..escapes me. He was her partner in this groundbreaking discovery, but he seemed to do nothing but shout “WHOOOO!!” most of the time. There’s some other scientists, including a pothead geologist with a bong in his space suit (that was unintentionally funny) who owns these little sphere balls capable of mapping an entire cavern. Mind you, this moron actually got lost later, but I’m jumping ahead again. Charlize Theron plays this lady who I thought was the captain at first. This was never clear as to who was in charge, because the black guy said HE was the captain on the ship. Okay…but Guy Pearce, the rich old guy, said Shaw and Dude were in charge of the expedition. What? So what was the purpose of Theron’s character, since she doesn’t have jurisdiction to boss anyone around? But then after the briefing scene, she brings Shaw and Dude to her quarters, which is this posh, 5-star hotel room looking deal, with a machine capable of performing ANY surgery possible if needed. (Great foreshadowing there, Ridley. I had thoughts of the Lemon Drink woman from The Happening explaining the drain pipe you can talk through for a minute.) She tells Shaw and Dude that no matter what they discover, she wants to make sure that a big deal is not made of this, or something akin to that, essentially beating her chest that she’s in charge. There’s other characters walking about, but I can’t remember any kind of significant traits about them due to the fact that they were more robotic than David the cyborg, who is the only person that can be considered a believable character.
Once they land on the planet, they read that the surface has high CO2 levels, but somehow the subterranean region is perfectly breathable (?). It’s around this point where things begin to take a turn for the stupid. I didn’t want to go into movie recap mode, but for this sequence of events, it’s almost necessary, as this is when shit starts falling apart. They discover gigantic corpses of the aliens in a huge pile. The pot smoker and the guy who asked Shaw at the beginning leave the group and head back to the Prometheus. Time passes and a major storm is heading their way, all the while, the vases are beginning to seep this black liquid. The majority of the crew make it back, Shaw endangering herself to save the giant head. Meanwhile the guy with the geo-tracking map balls and his buddy ARE STILL IN THE BLOODY CAVES!!! So these two are dead meat, but good gravy, you couldn’t think a better way to separate them to become alien chow?!? The guy makes maps as his profession!! What is this bullshit!? But wait, it gets dumber! The black guy who is the fake captain, who has been monitoring the movements of the crew and the tracking balls, somehow missed the fact that they didn’t make it back. He wandered off with Theron to go fuck, I assume, as earlier the two had a stupid discussion about if she wanted to do this to get laid. It was dumb as all living hell, but it gets dumber. Black captain guy contacts the two lost bozos and tells them to wait out the storm and head back in the morning. Then proceeds to tell them that the tracker ball has detected another life signal just near them, and tells them to check it out!! They say “NO” (The smartest thing a character’s done in this movie so far) and head away from it……..right into the previous room with the oozing black stuff, which is pooled all over the place by now. THIS is where you’ll set camp??! I fear the aliens will get stupid by simply eating you!! AND IT GETS DUMBER!! This alien thing protrudes out of the black gunk and observes the two. Now, earlier, they recoiled at the sight of the gigantic corpses piled on each other and wanted out, but now a living creature appears right in front of them and guy’s first reaction is to start cooing at it like it’s a puppy dog. The thing even hisses at the inbred moron, fanning out a hood like cobra, and dickwad is sticking his hand in its face still!!! Predictably, it kills the two. I really can’t believe just how moronic these characters are and I couldn’t wait until they were off my screen. They just aren’t worth rooting for in any real fashion, they’re all wooden, undeveloped red shirts just waiting to thrown to the meat grinder. David comes off a little bit like HAL 9000, and I wasn’t even sure why he infected Dude with the stuff, but I found him to be more rational and naturally curious about creating life and what it means to discover your origins. But any kind of logic or interesting plot point is either never focused on, or completely ignored altogether.
IN CLOSING: I was pissed at how much I hated this movie. I have had mixed feelings about Ridley Scott as a director lately because I didn’t like Kingdom of Heaven much and Robin Hood was just awful. I hoped a return to sci-fi would inject some juice back into his style, but boy, was I wrong. This movie drags, the characters are terrible and stupid beyond conception. the only thing I can really praise are the visuals. Avoid this movie if you can. There are some pretty damn hilarious scenes like Shaw’s insta-surgery (Good gravy) and the dumb potheads messing with the alien. Outside of some guilty pleasure moments, this movie ultimately sucked.